Warning: minor SPOILERS for Thor: Ragnarok ahead.
Forget Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – in Thor: Ragnarok, the God of Thunder forms his own alternative to the Avengers: The Revengers. But the MCU’s version is a little different to what we got in the comics.
Marvel’s latest epic is about to take theaters by storm. One of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s more offbeat outings, the third Thor features a wild, extraterrestrial frontier and plenty of action. It also reunites two of the Captain America: Civil War “outcasts”, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Fans missing the classic team dynamic also won’t be disappointed either, since Ragnarok contains its own heroic assemblage.
Dubbed by Thor as “the Revengers”, they’re made up of Thor, Hulk, Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and the ever-shifty Loki (Tom Hiddleston), joining forces to save the Nine Realms from Hela (Cate Blanchett) and her insatiable appetite for conquest. As exciting as this fearsome foursome sounds, this isn’t the first time Marvel brought together a group known as the Revengers – and these previous versions are far-less noble than Ragnarok’s formidable champions.
The Original Revengers
The first officially sanctioned Revengers hailed from an alternate universe, Marvel Comics 2 (MC2 or Earth-982) – a dimension which spun off from an issue of What If? where Spider-Man retired, handing his mantle to his daughter May. Led by Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne’s daughter Hope, the Red Queen, the anti-Avengers attempted to destroy the legacy squad in A-Next #12, mostly because Hope felt they were an insult to her father’s memory (he died as an Avenger). After her brother recognized her madness, though, Red Queen’s crew failed to kill Earth’s Mightiest Alternate Heroes.
Several other squads went by the moniker as well. One version was a short-lived counter-team by Simon Williams (a.k.a. Wonder Man) in New Avengers Annual vol. 2 #1. A former Avenger himself, he lost faith in his superhero comrades and organized a D-list hero squad, with the likes of Demolition Man, Atlas, Anti-Venom, and others, to take down his former teammates. Much like the previous Revengers, his crew was also defeated.
During the build-up to Civil War II, yet another iteration took the name – or at least a variation on the theme. Founded by Ultimate Reed Richards (or The Maker, originally from Earth-1610), the squad called themselves the New Revengers and took on the now-heroic Advanced Idea Mechanics (or A.I.M.) in New Avengers #7. Using the superhero in-fighting to his advantage, the Maker struck. Fortunately, Bobby da Costa and his New Avengers were on the case and fended off the Maker’s warped scheme.
As hardcore as these anti-Avengers are, by and large, the most disturbing iteration is the Revengers of the Cancerverse.
The Cancerverse Revengers
During writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s (or D’nA) run on Guardians of the Galaxy – which introduced the group’s current film lineup, alongside Adam Warlock and Quasar – the galaxy faced one of their direst of challenges. Black Bolt explodes a Terrigen bomb to end the Kree-Shi’ar war in the “War of Kings,” but the explosion rips open a tunnel between universes appropriately titled “The Fault.”
In Realm of Kings #1 (2010), Quasar explores the Fault, coming face-to-face with the twisted version of the Avengers. Consisting of corrupted versions of Captain America, Iron Man, Scarlet Witch, Ms. Marvel, Thor, and others, they exist in a realm where Life conquered Death and no one can truly die; hence the universe overflows with the “cancer” of perpetual life, as well as plenty of H.P. Lovecraft-like beasties.
The Revengers sought to expand their rule, turning all other realities into a deathless hell. In the finale event, “The Thanos Imperative,” Thanos allows himself to be sacrificed in a ritual to bring about perpetual life. However, his passing conjures the abstract entity of Death to collect him, and she wipes out much of the unnatural realm. Nova Prime Richard Rider and his Nova legacy Sam Alexander also encountered the nasty cadre after Rider’s own escape from the Cancerverse, once more eluding the dimension and the Revengers.
With the future looking positively cosmic, the Cancerverse and their Revengers could rear their malformed heads on the big screen. In the meantime, though, moviegoers can thrill to Thor’s far-less evil (and more amusing) team in Ragnarok.
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