Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, it’s highly likely that you’ve heard of The Avengers and The Justice League, those all-star team-ups where superheroes get together and fight the battles they couldn’t win alone have resulted in some amazing stories. The concept of the superhero team is almost as old as the superhero himself. Not long after Superman and Batman came the Justice Society of America, the first high-profile superhero team. Captain America was in a team called The Invaders during the 1940s.
Where one hero may be good, sometimes several heroes are better. So, it’s no surprise that Marvel, DC, and others have sought to form other teams in order to meet demand. Some of them though, are a little more obscure than others.
Here are 12 Superhero Teams You’ve Probably Never Heard of.
12. The Champions
The Champions are a team of superheroes published by Marvel Comics. The team first appears in The Champions #1 (October 1975) and it was created by writer Tony Isabella and artist Don Heck.
While on the surface it may seem to be a team of Avengers rejects, the team was actually pretty well-balanced. Iceman and Angel from the X-Men and Hercules and Black Widow from The Avengers were joined by the Spirit of Vengeance, Ghost Rider.
The team fought a variety of familiar villains such as Titanium Man and The Griffin and even began to develop their own rogues’ gallery, with newly created characters such as Rampage and Swarm. Later additions to the team, including The Black Goliath, failed to generate the new readers that the creative team were hoping for, and the book was cancelled in 1978 after a mere 17 issues.
11. The Great Lakes Avengers
The Great Lakes Avengers (also known as The Lightning Rods, The Great Lakes X-Men, The Great Lakes Champions, and The Great Lakes Initiative) is a team that appears in Marvel Comics. The characters were first introduced in West Coast Avengers vol. 2, #46 (July 1989).
The team is formed after Craig Hollis discovers that he is immortal and begins a crime-fighting career as Mister Immortal. After being shot several times, he decides to put out a wanted ad for other costumed crime fighters, as he felt a team would be more effective. He recruits Dinah Soar, Big Bertha, Flatman and Doorman but rejects Leather Boy due to him being a leather fetishist with no actual superpowers.
Played for laughs during much of their run, and not taken seriously by the rest of the superhuman community, the team have fought and defeated villains such as Maelstrom and Graviton. Their greatest moments have usually come due to their recruitment of Squirrel Girl who, despite appearing to be one of the most ridiculous superheroes of all-time, has had the inexplicable ability to take down villains such as Doctor Doom and Thanos.
Squirrel Girl eventually leaves the team after they get lazy and play cards while relying on her to defeat the bad guys for them. They are briefly joined by Deadpool, but expel him from the team after his obnoxious behaviour proves too much for them.
10. The Pet Avengers
Also known as “Lockjaw and The Pet Avengers,” this team featured in a four-part limited series in 2009 and was written by Chris Eliopoulos with art from Ig Guara.
When Mister Fantastic of the Fantastic Four is visiting Attilan, searching for the Infinity Gems, Lockjaw finds the Mind Jem first and is gifted with telepathy. Using it to read Mister Fantastic’s mind, he decides to use his teleporting power to round-up the other gems first.
Lockjaw encounters and recruits Hairball, the dragon Lockheed (the companion of Kitty Pride), Redwing (Falcon’s pet), Throg (a frog with Thor-like powers), Zabu (Ka-Zar’s sabre-toothed tiger) and Miss Lion (a puppy). The group, despite their obvious shortcomings, endeavour to unite the Infinity Gems as “The Pet Avengers”.
Inexplicably, they manage to unite the six gems, but in doing so attract the attention of the mad titan, Thanos. Defeating him, the group go their separate ways, but maintain a psychic link due to their shared experiences with the gems, and vow to unite once more should they be needed.
9. Force Works
Force Works was a Marvel Comics superhero team written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning and initially drawn by Tom Tenney, which debuted in Force Works #1 in July 1994.
Spinning out of the pages of the Avengers and West Coast Avengers series, Force Works was formed by Iron Man, who had left the Avengers due to a dispute as to the role of superhumans. Force Works maintained the outlook that rather than be a reactionary force, they should try to pre-empt both natural and man-made disasters.
The team was initially composed of Iron Man, U.S. Agent, Spider-Woman (Julia Carpenter), Scarlet Witch, and Wonder Man. By the end of their first mission, Wonder Man was thought dead at the hands of the invading Kree, and shortly thereafter the alien Century took his place. The team fought in several battles, but only lasted two years. The characters were mainly re-absorbed into the ranks of The Avengers, with some, such as Century, fading into obscurity.
8. Freedom Force
Freedom Force Debuted in Uncanny X-Men #199 in November 1985 and were created by Chris Claremont and John Romita Jr.
Freedom Force was essentially a renamed Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Mystique, their leader, felt that with human/mutant relations at an all-time low her team could no longer continue in their role as revolutionaries and offered her services to the United States government.
The team is renamed Freedom Force, and their first mission is to arrest Magneto in order to prove their loyalty. Though defeated by the X-Men, they are given government backing and become a legitimate super-team.
Additional members are added, mostly former villains and vigilantes (and Spider Woman also joins for a time). They are given many unpopular tasks, such as enforcing the Mutant Registration Act and arresting the X-Men. They also clash with the heroes of X-Factor, then consisting of the original X-Men.
Mystique leaves the team after the death of Destiny, and the team is sent on a dangerous mission to the middle east. The team fails without Mystique’s leadership, and following the disaster of the mission, disband. They are quickly replaced by the second incarnation of X-Factor.
Nextwave was a Marvel comic book series by Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen, published between 2006 and 2007.
The Nextwave series features a collection of minor Marvel superheroes: monster hunter Elsa Bloodstone; Monica Rambeau, the former Captain Marvel; Tabitha Smith, formerly of X-Force and Aaron Stack the Machine Man. They were also joined by a new character, simply called The Captain.
The entire series is intentionally humorous and pokes fun at the established Marvel Universe. The team is assembled by H.A.T.E., the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, to fight Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction (U.W.M.D.s), and quickly learn that H.A.T.E is secretly a terrorist organisation run by Dirk Anger, himself a parody of Nick Fury.
6. X-Men 2099
X-Men 2099 was a comic book series published by Marvel Comics from 1993 to 1996 that chronicled the adventures of an X-Men team in the year 2099. It was an extension of the 2099 imprint that featured future versions of Spider-Man and Hulk.
Much like the mainstream X-Men, the team consisted of Mutants and were inspired by the teachings of Charles Xavier and attempted to honour the legacy of their predecessors.
5. Neo Knights
The Neo Knights were a short-lived team of super humans, created by Simon Furman, appearing in the later issues of the Transformers comic book published by Marvel Comics. Implied to be made up of Mutants, they were assembled by industrialist G.B Blackrock (who bore more than a passing resemblance to Tony Stark) to fight the Decepticon Transformers. The team consisted of Thunderpunch, Rapture, and Dynamo, with the existing character Circuit Breaker joining during their first mission.
The team had the backing of the United States government, who felt that super humans could succeed where their previous military forces had failed. In their first mission, they were successful in defeating the Decepticon Starscream. Later, they were ordered to intervene in the Decepticon Civil War when it threatened to spill into the streets of New York City. They were present when The Transformers were teleported to their home world of Cybertron and were accidentally taken along for the ride. Also present when the planet-eater Unicron tried to destroy Cybertron, they were instrumental in helping the combined forces of the Transformers in defeating him.
They remained in the comics as minor characters until its cancelation with issue #80, where it was stated that they would finally return home. They were pitched to Marvel as a new team focussing on tech-based threats, but were never taken any further than that
4. The RoadJammers
Another team appearing solely in the pages of the original Transformers comic book by Marvel, the RoadJammers made a single appearance (in issue #46) before being forgotten about entirely.
The team consisted of unsavoury bounty hunters Burn-Out, Randy “Roadhog” Horton, Felix, and Skunge. Each were approached by the Z foundation, a seemingly benevolent organization worried about the rampaging Transformers. They were each given a device called a “jammer,” capable of rendering a transformer inert and tasked with capturing a recently freed Autobot and delivering them for a large bounty.
Being distrustful of the Z Foundation, the RoadJammers altered the devices to allow them to remote-control the captive transformers and turned the tables on the Z Foundation when they were revealed to be Decepticons. Despite not claiming the bounty on the Autobots, they planned to strike out on their own, as they figured others would pay for their robot-hunting services. Whether or not they were successful remains to be seen, as they have never been heard from again.
3. The Strangers
The Strangers was a comic book series written by Steve Englehart and published by Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse imprint.
The Strangers were just that, a random group of people who were sharing a cable car ride when it was seemingly struck by lightning. The lightning bolt was later revealed to have been a “jumpstart” from “The Entity” on the moon, intended to give them super powers.
They reunite at the site of the crash, and after a brief conflict, join together as superheroes, backed by the finances of team member Elana, who had made a fortune in the fashion industry. They develop a solid working relationship with local law enforcement, while gathering more information regarding the origins of their powers.
The Strangers appeared in the final two episodes of the Ultraforce animated series. This was supposed to be a back door pilot for a Strangers animated series, but plans were canceled following Marvel’s purchase of Malibu.
Psi-Force was published by Marvel Comics under their New Universe imprint from 1986 to 1989. It ran for 32 issues and an annual. The series followed the exploits of a group of young people affected by the “White Event,” which created most of the paranormals of that universe.
Psi-Force was among the most popular of the “New Universe” publications, with readers identifying with the team of young people that were being hounded for being different. The team frequently suffered from internal disputes, but always came together when needed. A familiar concept to readers of the X-Men books of the era, they varied from the established formula by lacking the co-ordinated costumes of the teams of the day.
The team was brought together by CIA paranormal investigator Emmett Proudhawk, himself a telepath following the White Event. When the team combined their powers they could generate a gestalt entity known as the “Psi-Hawk” which greatly enhanced their abilities.
1. The Outsiders
The Outsiders, a comic series published by DC comics, refers to several incarnations of a team formed by superheroes that do not fit within the mainstream superhuman community of the Justice League.
The original incarnation (from 1983) was formed by Batman after his ties to the Justice League had become strained. The team was notable for having several new characters, such as Geo-Force and Katana. When Batman left, re-joining the Justice League, the team continued on without him, becoming unofficial agents of Markovia in order to receive Markovian funding. They would later relocate to Los Angeles. After several further adventures, the team reunites with Batman who gives them use of an LA based Batcave in order to operate.
There have been several incarnations since, most featuring heavy ties to the Bat-Family and even being led by Nightwing on occasion. The last incarnation formed following Batman RIP, where a hologram of Batman appears to Alfred Pennyworth, tasking him to form a new team of Outsiders, each one to fulfil a specific aspect of his legacy.
Got any teams even more obscure than the ones we’ve listed? Tell us all about them in the comments section!