"I got a message form the Great Lakes Avengers
They offered me a membership, but I did not accept
Because they're a walking disaster!"
, in their song Great Lakes Avengers.
Created for Marvel Comics by John Byrne in the July 1989 issue of West Coast Avengers
, the Great Lakes Avengers
were a group of Mystery Men
from Wisconsin. The original roster included:
- Craig "Mr. Immortal" Hollis: Team leader. He dies, a lot, but gets better. Originally went solo, but realized a team might come in handy while he's reviving. Depending on who's writing, either Homo supreme, or his mother made a Faustian bargain with Deathurge. Or both.
- Dr. Val "Flatman" Ventura: Team deputy leader. Very flat, and stretchy. Often mistaken for the Fantastic Four's Dr. Reed Richards. Out of the closet. Mutant.
- Ashley "Big Bertha" Crawford: The team's original source of funding, she's the greatest swimsuit model in all of Wisconsin. Her powers allow her to shape the fat on her body as she pleases (explaining her supermodeling), and the ability to add "superbulk" to her body, though she has to throw it up to get rid of it. Mutant.
- Demarr "Doorman" Davis: Originally a mutant with the power to teleport things through his body (but only to the next room), he eventually took over Deathurge's job when Oblivion noticed his powers tapped into the Darkforce Dimension. Token black member.
- Dinah Soar: Member of an otherwise unknown race of pink flying reptiles. She is able to speak to only one person at a time; she chose Mr. Immortal. She communicated with the other members of the team via a whistle. Killed in GLA #1.
The team appeared sporadically in Avengers
titles during the early 90s, and were even briefly joined by more "official" Avengers
members Hawkeye and Mockingbird. After a few years absence, the team returned, renaming themselves the "Lightning Rods" after the Thunderbolts
, who were popular at the time, and appearing in both the Thunderbolts
comics of the time. Eventually, they reverted back to the name Great Lakes Avengers in time for a series of very small cameos in the JLA/Avengers
crossover. (It should be noted that this is around the time the team started calling themselves the GLA. Coincidence?
And apparently this confirms that they are actually "real" Avengers after all somehow.)The team roster gained their first solo book in June of 2006, thanks to Dan Slott, with the four part GLA
miniseries. This was also the first major roster change since their introduction, as Dinah Soar was killed and Flatman and Doorman went on a recruiting spree. New members included:
- Gene "Leather Boy" Lorrene: Revealed to be an actual founding member of the team who was kicked out early due in part to not actually having powers and partly because he was a Leatherman and BDSM enthusiast who totally missed the point of Mr. Immortal's first call for "costumed adventurers". Angered at this, he eventually joined the team's Rogues Gallery, along with Dr. Tannenbaum and Deathurge the squirrel.
- Doreen "Squirrel Girl" Green: Mutant with squirrel like agility, the ability to talk to squirrels, and a tail. Despite this laughable powerset, she's regarded by S.H.I.E.L.D. as the greatest superhero combatant alive. Gone up against, and defeated Dr. Doom, M.O.D.O.K., Thanos and Deadpool (twice). Left the team when she felt she was "holding them back".
- Monkey Joe and Tippy Toe: Squirrel Girl's squirrels. Have a tendency to speak to the reader. Monkey Joe was killed by a vengeful Leather Boy; Tippy Toe became his replacement.
- Doug "Grasshopper" Taggert: The original "Grasshopper" was a Roxxon security guard with a grasshopper themed Powered Armor. Killed within 5.8 seconds of joining the team with a thrown sai to the face. Others have taken up the mantle, but they didn't do much better: one accidentally jumped all the way to space, one was killed by an angry Deadpool, and another turned out to be a Skrull infiltrator.
- Wade Deadpool Wilson: Technically still a member of the team, he originally joined out of boredom and to chase after Big Bertha. Caused more conflicts than he helped with. And yes, at one point Deadpool was technically an Avenger.
Since then, the team has appeared sporadically in a wide variety of titles. At the end of the GLA series, they were forced to change their name for in universe legal reasons
. They first settled on the Great Lakes X-Men (after they realized that all their members were mutants), then became the Great Lakes Champions after winning a poker game. They registered during the Civil War
event and became the official Initiative team for the state of Wisconsin, and changed their name once again to the Great Lakes Initiative, momentarily taking on Deadpool
as a reserve member. Some time after the Secret Invasion
, Nevada team leader Gravity was transferred as punishment
to head up the Avengers in his home state. Squirrel Girl has recently joined the New Avengers
in New York
as official nanny for Luke Cage and Jessica Jones.
Flatman and Squirrel Girl did make a guest appearance on Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes
as part of a Terrible Interviewees Montage
. Both were rejected. Flatman also appeared in The Super Hero Squad Show
, while Squirrel Girl appeared in one of the video games based on the property.
Provides examples of:
- Acronym Confusion: Living Lightning thinks 'GLA' stands for 'Gay-Lesbian Alliance.'
- Superheroes in Wisconsin
- The Alleged Car - The "Quinjetta," a pun on the Quinjet transports the main Avengers use.
- And This Is for... - Monkey Joe!
(The Ghost Of) Monkey Joe says: Whatever. Not like it's gonna bring me back or anything. Feh, I'm outta here.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: Squirrel Girl, Dinah Soar, and the Grasshopper.
- Anyone Can Die - Though it's usually Grasshopper.
- And always Mr Immortal. Often more than once.
- Armed With Canon - "That happened in a story by Steve-freakin'-Ditko, so it is so in canon!"
- Ascended Fan Girl - Squirrel Girl
- Back from the Dead - Doorman
- The Beastmaster - Squirrel Girl
- Beware the Nice Ones - Squirrel Girl, though only if you're a supervillain.
- Big Applesauce - Averted, though Flatman does take advantage of it for recruitment purposes.
- And lampshaded by Maelstrom as he gloats over his plan to build his base not in New York, but Lake Michigan.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor - Makes fun of comic book fans and creators.
- Blessed with Suck - Mr. Immortal.
- Or Cursed with Awesome. Mr. Immortal's power is actually very useful, only not in superhero fights. The problem is that he is not invulnerable; his power doesn't work until he dies.
- Brought to You by the Letter "S" - Mr. Immortal.
- C-List Fodder
- Cool (Alleged) Car - The Quin-Jetta.
- Darker and Edgier - Both parodied and played straight in the miniseries.
- Deal with the Devil - Mr. Immortal's mother, granting him immortality.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? - The team without Squirrel Girl.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu? - Squirrel Girl.
- Distaff Counterpart - Tippy Toe for Monkey Joe.
- Big Bertha has the same power as X-Men enemy The Blob, the difference being that she can revert back to normal body build (if you consider a swimsuit model's body build "normal").
- Dude, Where's My Respect? - Mr. Immortal and the others actually once saved the universe from complete annihilation all on their own. Did they get any recognition for doing so? Nope. In fact, they were forced to drop the Avengers name because of it.
- Family-Unfriendly Death - Well, all of them, but Monkey Joe's especially, which was a direct Take That at Sue Dibny's infamous death in Identity Crisis over at the Distinguished Competition.
- Fuzzball Special
- Fight Unscene - Squirrel vs. Thanos.
- Fourth Wall Observer - Squirrel Girl and her squirrels.
- From a Single Cell - Mr. Immortal.
- Fun Personified
- Grim Reaper - Doorman.
- Guardian Entity - Deathurge to Mr. Immortal.
- A Half-Dozen Guys in a Basement
- Heart Is an Awesome Power - While Squirrel Girl is the queen of this trope, the other team members get their own moments.
- Imaginary Friend - Mr. Immortal's imaginary childhood friend turns out to be Deathurge.
- Interspecies Romance - Mr. Immortal and Dinah Soar.
- Leatherman - Leather Boy.
- Legacy Character - Grasshopper.
- Lethal Joke Character - Squirrel Girl.
- Lethal Harmless Powers - who'd have thought very short range teleportation or stretching would be dangerous. or the sheer power granted by talking to squirrels
- Medium Awareness - Squirrel Girl and her squirrels.
- Mood Whiplash - The 4-issue special is packed with this.
- The GLX-Mas special gives us a double mood whiplash when Demarr visits his dad, who lectures him about where his life is going. (After all, being a super-hero isn't a very lucrative career.) Turns out, Papa Davis has been dead for the past few hours, and Demarr is here to bring him to the next world. Dad's reaction to finding out his son is the new angel of death? "Wait'll I tell all our relatives on the other side!"
- Most Common Superpower - Big Bertha, in a literal example.
- Multiple Choice Past - Whether Mr. Immortal's powers come from Deathurge, or Deathurge is merely helping him reach his destiny as Homo supreme.
- Nigh-Invulnerability - Mr. Immortal. Well, in the long run, anyway. In the short term...
- Non-Human Sidekick - Monkey Joe and Tippy Toe.
- Not Blood Siblings - Mr. Immortal once had a romantic relationship with a foster sister. Now, if he could just hook up with some sort of undead, he'd have the near Squick trifecta.
- Overused Running Gag - Squirrel Girl defeating major villains.
- Petting Zoo People - Squirrel Girl.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything - They are superheroes on paper, but in reality they just play card games. Then they attempt to do something heroic, they are upstaged by the real Avengers.
- Powered Armor - Grasshopper.
- Rage Against the Author - Squirrel Girl at Monkey Joe's death.
- Random Power Ranking - Mr. Immortal is an Omega Level mutant.
- Which makes a little bit of sense as he litterally cannot die. Ever.
- Red Shirt - Mr. Immortal is essentially a full red shirt army by himself. He even got a red shirt during Glx-Mas.
- Resurrective Immortality / Complete Immortality - Mr. Immortal's only superpower is the ability to resurrect in perfect health immediately after dying, regardless of the method of death. It is implied that he is homo s. supreme, having evolved beyond death, and will survive to see the end of the universe. Not really an attractive prospect (especially given what happened to the guy who survived to see the end of the previous universe). He can take advantage of it by killing himself to heal any persistent injuries, so it's not entirely a bad thing.
- Running Gag - Grasshoppers getting killed, each with less screen time.
- Shout-Out - Monkey Joe's death is a very intricate shout-out to that of Sue Dibny in Identity Crisis, with details down to the scorching to death, the off-panel killing, the footprints on the brain, and the fact that the murderer being a forgotten friend. Plus, #3 of the 4-issue-special is called "Mistaken Identity Crisis".
- Issue #2 of that series had an extended sequence with the GLA reaching out to every superhero they could think of to join their team - and all of them saying no. This was a reference to the then-recent first issue of DC's Villains United, where Lex Luthor's villain squad contacted every baddie imaginable to join up, most of them saying yes.
- The Slow Path - Squirrel Girl travels to the future and meets Mr. Immortal, only to find he isn't there using a time machine.
- Speaks Fluent Animal - Squirrel Girl.
- Stalker with a Crush - Squirrel Girl for New Warrior Speedball. She's not a fan of Penance.
- Super Zeroes - Though they've gotten better over time. They still don't get respected, though.
- Take That, Audience! - Monkey Joe and Tippy Toe like to mock comic book fans.
- Take That, Us: Squirrel Girl, in the miniseries, breaks the fourth wall numerous times to deliver swipes at the Darker and Edgier and Hotter and Sexier trends in comics at the time.
- Taking You with Me - A very hilarious zig-zag. When the villain Maelstrom created a device that would bring about the end of the universe, Mr. Immortal convinced him that if he destroyed everything, there would be nobody left to study what remained. This started to depress Maelstrom, which Mr. Immortal took advantage of. He convinced Maelstrom that the best course of action was suicide. Just to seal the deal, Mr. Immortal even agreed to a suicide pact and die with him. Mr. Immortal shot himself in the head to show he was serious, after which Maelstrom followed suit. Mr. Immortal woke up a few moments later to shut down the device.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave - Deadpool.
- Tonight Someone Dies - Promised, and more or less made good on, for each issue of the "GLA" miniseries. And that's not even counting Mr. Immortal.
- Weak, but Skilled - Probably one of the most effective Initiative teams, as they've actually trained together.
- And then there's their invincible superweapon.
- Great Lakes Team
- Lampshaded by the Vision, who asked them if the name "Midwest Avengers" wouldn't make more sense. Mr. Immortal argued that no, the name should have something to do with coasts.
- What Kind Of Lame Power Is Being A Door Anyway - Or being flat? Or dying a lot? Or being fat? Or
talking to squirrels?
- Who Wants to Live Forever? - Mr. Immortal.