This article contains minor SPOILERS for Great Lakes Avengers #1.
The word ‘superhero’ conjures up images of star-spangled, chiseled women and men clad in spandex and capes, flying through the air, shooting heat-rays from their eyes, and crushing evil foes (pronounced e-vile) wherever they stand. Then, there’s the Great Lakes Avengers, who… don’t quite fit the bill. Nevertheless, they’ve managed to carve out their own brand of heroism – and a fan-base – thanks to offbeat Midwestern charm and misadventures, in addition to encounters with other Marvel Universe teams. Unfortunately, a cease-and-desist order from the REAL Avengers ended their run, scattering the team to the wind.
Even the Great Lakes Avengers’ most famous member, Squirrel Girl, left their ranks for less-snowy pastures. But things are looking up for the team, as a twist of dumb luck is reuniting the Midwest’s wackiest heroes in the Marvel Universe. In Great Lakes Avengers #1 by Zac Gorman and artist Will Robson, the aptly named Flatman (a.k.a. Dr. Val Ventura) receives a visit from the Avengers’ attorney Connie Ferrari with news that will change their lives forever.
Thanks to some legal mumbo jumbo, Flatman now owns the copyright to the Avengers name (interesting that Stark Industries would let it lapse, but there are other major Marvel events to contend with). Ventura cuts a deal to regain the team’s proper Avengers title – and also lands them in some sweet new digs in a rundown section of Detroit’s industrial area.
Flatman wastes no time in reassembling his own Avengers team, texting everyone from Big Bertha to Mr. Immortal to Squirrel Girl (who’s dining with her main Avengers squad when the message arrives). Sadly, only Doorman and Big Bertha show up, but with a limited team, they get set up in Detroit, right down the street from a supervillain HQ. Mr. Immortal has been detained indefinitely and things in the city are looking rough, so the team will have to find a few new members before they’re ready to take down Motown’s terrors.
First introduced during the oddball run of West Coast Avengers, the Great Lakes Avengers have popped up from time to time, including a brief mentor session from Hawkeye and Mockingbird, as well as teaming up with Deadpool. They also found roles during the Secret Invasion and Fear Itself plot arcs. The wacky assemblage of Mr. Immortal (who cannot die), Big Bertha (who can change size at will), Flatman (who is, well, flat) and Doorman (who can create a portal from just about anything) owes its success to its blend of superhero satire, pop cultural savvy, and lighthearted action/adventure.
For all its whiz-bang superhuman action, Marvel usually manages to find a balance between humor and heroics in their books. Of course, certain teams and characters – such as Deadpool, Gwenpool, or Rocket Raccoon and Groot – tend to play for laughs first and adventure second (not that there’s anything wrong with that). In addition to poking fun at superhero tropes, the book features cameos from the aforementioned Squirrel Girl and the rest of the Avengers proper and gives fun second and third-string villains like Shriek and Firebrand a chance to strut their stuff.
Of course, Great Lakes Avengers isn’t for everyone. People who don’t like to laugh, or prefer their superheroes dour and violent probably won’t find much here. Combining Gorman’s clever pens, Robson’s playful and cartoonish inks, as well as a host of self-deprecating, identifiable characters, GLA is perfect for anyone who doesn’t take life or super-heroics too seriously. It would also be a great read for someone just getting into comics, as well as the rest of us square-pegs who don’t fit the superhero ideal.
Great Lakes Avengers #1 is currently available online and in print.