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Comic Book / Great Lakes Avengers

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"I got a message from the Great Lakes Avengers
They offered me a membership, but I did not accept
'Cause they're a walking disaster!"
Kirby Krackle, 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 from Wisconsin. The original roster included:

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 and Deadpool 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:


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 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.

In 2018, it was announced Squirrel Girl and Mr. Immortal would make their live-action debut as members of the New Warriors on Freeform. But the series was ultimately cancelled in 2019 after Freeform passed on the pilot and Marvel Studios unable to find another network to run it. Mr. Immortal would eventually appear on She-Hulk: Attorney at Law in 2022, although with a completely different backstory and personality.

The team received a short-lived series as part of Marvel NOW! (2016), where the team moves to Detroit.

Provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Squirrel Girl is undoubtably the strongest member of the group- so much so that she later decides to leave after the group lets her do all the fighting.
  • Acronym Confusion: Living Lightning thinks 'GLA' stands for 'Gay-Lesbian Alliance.'
  • Aliens in Cardiff:
    • In the 4-issue GLA series, Maelstrom manages to create his universe-ending device successfully, and has only the titular D-List team to face him. He notes that he succeeded in creating his doomsday device because he didn't go to a major city like Los Angeles, London, or New York, but instead went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin!
    • In the Marvel NOW! (2016) ongoing the team is moved to Detroit. Complete with random Detroit citizens wondering if maybe the super people got lost on their way to New York.
  • 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!"
  • Back from the Dead:
    • This is literally Mr. Immortal's power.
    • Doorman when the cosmic entity Oblivion choose him like his new angel of death.
  • 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.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Bertha in the 2016 Marvel NOW Series has chosen to become this, keeping a few hundred pounds around at all times- is now a plus sized model to boot.
  • Blessed with Suck: Mr. Immortal's power is very useful, only not in superhero fights. The problem is that he is not invulnerable; his power doesn't work until he dies.
  • Christmas Light Chaos: Doorman lost his estranged dad when the latter slipped and fell off his roof while hanging up Christmas lights. Happily for him, Doorman is a Psychopomp who just happened to get assigned to collect his dad's soul, so he got an opportunity to say goodbye and clear the air between them.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The miniseries is a deconstruction for the entire concept and a few of the members: Mr. Immortal's immortality is treated more as Who Wants to Live Forever?, as he'll outlive everyone he cares about, Big Bertha's throwing up to downsize from being Big Bertha is treated as horrifying instead of a joke and her bankrolling the team is slowly bankrupting her, and finally the team's joke status nearly causes Mr. Immortal to end it due to constantly being sidelined by the real Avengers until he hears the originals ended. However, despite the team's flaws, they're still shown as good people whose powers can be useful in the right situation as well as True Companions. Mr. Immortal's ability, while still a case of Blessed with Suck, is shown to be so powerful he'll seen the end of time, and Bertha decides that she'd rather have a true family who likes her for who she is than money any day.
  • Digital Piracy Is Evil: Played for laughs in the intro of GLA #2, where Squirrel Girl warns readers not to do anything Mr. Immortal does in this issue, "especially on page seven. That's where he downloads stuff off the internet for free."
  • Distaff Counterpart:
  • 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. This ends up being a Call-Back in the team's first on-going as it's revealed that Flatman registered the Avengers name for copyright and thanks to a lot of oversight, the original holders, the Maria Stark Foundation, lost it and it went to him. This is what kicks off the Marvel NOW! series.
  • Exploited Immunity: Mr. Immortal once talked Omnicidal Maniac Maelstrom into a Suicide Pact. To show his commitment, Mr. I went first. After Maelstrom followed through with his half of the bargain, Mister Immortal came back to life and switched off his doomsday machine.
  • Fallen Hero: Nain Rouge (one of the Marvel Now 2016 villains) claims this about himself, which failed to impress either Good or Bertha one bit. He went from Z-lister Daredevil expy to Corrupt Politician basically, albeit he still sees himself as Well-Intentioned Extremist, which would fly better as an interpretation if he wasn't a corrupt politician.
  • 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.
  • Fastball Special: Squirrell Girl threw Tippy-Toe at M.O.D.O.K. this way. They called it the Fuzzball Special.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Squirrel Girl and her squirrels. When she and Deadpool team up in a GLA special, the Fourth Wall doesn't so much break as slink away quietly with its tail between its legs. Rather than explain to her in detail what happened to her boyfriend Speedball, Deadpool just hands a copy of the relevant comic to Squirrel Girl and lets her read it.
  • From a Single Cell: Mr. Immortal. His is true immortality, which means that he cannot be permanently killed by any means. Once he reaches the point of death, he regenerates from any and all injuries, often returning to life almost immediately. When non-fatally injured, he heals at a normal human rate. However, those injuries will rapidly heal the next time he dies.
  • Giant Woman: In the climax of GLA's 2016 run, Bertha combats the villains' explosive growth into a massively fat giant monster- by taking the same pills(derived from her DNA)to match him in size. Her teammates are both suitably impressed and terrified.
  • Gender Bender: Good Boy is female in her normal human form, but her big blue werewolf "fursona" is male.
  • Godzilla Threshold: What kicks off the Marvel NOW! series - Stark's lawyers approach Flatman in wanting to trade a large sum of money for the Avengers' name. However, when he takes interest in the suitcase they keep brandishing, they're forced to use it - in return for returning the "Avengers" name, the team would become an official and permanent part of the Avengers. "May God have mercy on our souls."
  • The Grim Reaper: Doorman. The cosmic entity Oblivion summoned him declaring that he could prove useful to him because of his connection to the Darkforce Dimension, akin to Deathurge, who had been recently captured by Mr. Immortal. Doorman therefore replaced Deathurge and became Oblivion's new angel of death.
  • Guardian Entity: Deathurge to Mr. Immortal as his "imaginary" childhood friend/guardian.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Yeah, the GLA's powers aren't as flashy or notable as those of the Avengers of X-Men. But Mr. Immortal's inability to die left him the only one able to defeat Maelstrom; Big Bertha's massive bulk grant her supreme strength and durability (up to stopping vehicles and bullets); and Doorman is in league with the omnipotent embodiment of nothingness. Mess with them at your own peril.
  • Hilarity Sues: See when Tony Stark sued the Avengers name from them. Or the first two issues of the 2016 run where they gain official Avengers branch status and a new member.
  • Imaginary Friend: Mr. Immortal's imaginary childhood friend turns out to be Deathurge.
  • Interspecies Romance: Mr. Immortal and Dinah Soar (who is an alien or mutant). She was the only one able to calm his fits of rage after being revived.
  • Leatherman: Leatherboy was a rather notable version of this when he tried out for the team. Turns out he wasn't the gay member.
  • Legacy Character: Grasshopper. Multiple character have take his name...just to be killed.
  • Mad Scientist: Doctor Tannebaum, the GLA's arch enemy who operates with a Christmas theme.
    • Also, Doctor Nod, who tries to replicate Bertha's weight changing powers for a weight loss pill.
  • Medium Awareness: Squirrel Girl is fully aware that she is in a comic book, but due to contractual issues she is only allowed to break the fourth wall during the recaps. However, Monkey Joe and Tippy-Toe are not limited by that limitation, so for them there is no fourth wall.
  • Mood Whiplash:
  • 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—since she can redistribute her fat at will, she can emphasize her curves in any way she wants.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Whether Mr. Immortal's powers come from Deathurge, or Deathurge is merely helping him reach his destiny as Homo supreme.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Monkey Joe and Tippy Toe to Squirrel Girl.
  • 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.
  • Not That Kind of Doctor: So what exactly is Flatman a doctor of? Turns out: Nothing. He is a community college drop out. He isn't even called Val Ventura, but he thought if he will be going by a fake name for the rest of his life, then he might as well add a fake doctorate and a fake fake epithet. Let's face it "Dr. Val Ventura, Man of Science!" sounds a lot better than "Matt, from the coffee shop" or "Matt, the Mr. Fantastic cosplayer".
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: Good Boy is from a family of hereditary werebeasts. She is a werewolf, her brother Lucky a two tailed werefox. She explains the situation by making a comparison to having a fursona in real life.
  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: An inversion of the trope, as in their werecreature forms Good Boy (who is a girl) is blue, while her brother is pink.
  • 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: The first Grasshopper's powers are derived entirely from a powered suit, metallic green in color and with an appearance reminiscent of his namesake. The suit's primary ability is that of a fantastic vertical leap, powered by long robotic grasshopper legs. These legs can also deliver devastating kicks. Its secondary abilities include "Insectroid Sensors", which work as an early warning system, and Zoom Lenses, which provide long range sight. Voice activated commands can be used to initiate some of the suit's powers. A notable fault of the suit seems to be that, despite its stiff and sturdy appearance, it offers little to no armor protection to the wearer.
  • Powers as Programs: Dr. Nod uses the DNA of Big Bertha and MGH to concoct a pill that grants her powers for 24 hours. He plans to sell it as a weight-loss supplement.
  • Resurrective 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. It's not an attractive prospect 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.
  • Seen It All: The nurse at the hospital Good Boy's brother is taken to. The only marginally interesting thing about a were"wolf" (actually werefox) to her is the unusual coloring (he is pink).
  • Self-Deprecation: 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.
  • Self-Imposed Exile: Mr. Immortal once spent an entire year buried alive, away from his teammates, as a way of forcing himself to get sober after all the drinking and erratic behavior he engaged in after the death of Dinah Soar.
  • 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 is a forgotten friend. Plus, #3 of the 4-issue-special is called "Mistaken Identity Crisis".
    • The design and functions of the Grasshopper armor (insectoid in appearance, delivers powerful kicks) is very reminiscent of the various Kamen Rider heroes- the green color scheme resembles Black RX (albeit in a lighter shade of green), while the exposed face recalls Riderman.
    • 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 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 can talk to squirrels.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Squirrel Girl for New Warrior Speedball. She defeats his enemies for him, she breaks into dungeons for him, she invades sovereign countries for him, she travels through time for him, and her fan letters to him are screened by the FBI! And ignoring that time when he was too deep for her, he has responded to her crush with what's seemingly equal attraction. She's not a fan of Penance.
  • Stout Strength: Big Bertha's major power—swelling up her body mass grants her immense strength and durability. At her heaviest, she can quite literally stop a truck moving at full speed.
  • Suicide Dare: This is how they defeated Maelstrom in their miniseries: Mr. Immortal convinces the villain that life isn't worth living, and even "goes first" to cap his argument, prompting said villain to blast their own head off.
  • Take That, Audience!: Monkey Joe and Tippy Toe like to mock comic book fans.
  • 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.
  • Temporary Bulk Change: Big Bertha's mutation allows her to swell her body fat immensely, going from a conventionally-thin supermodel to a super-sized, super-strong bruiser. She can undo this effect through "power puking." Said puking is- fortunately for us and Bertha- nowhere to be seen in the 2016 series.
  • They Killed Kenny Again:
    • Mr. Immortal. His one power is the ability to come back from the dead after a few minutes. Since he has a considerable lack of fighting skills, this mostly translates to him frequently dying in a variety of hilariously painful and bizarre ways. Death by giant novelty scissors, death by impalement from a remote control, death by alcohol poisoning from a ray that was only supposed to make him drunk...
    • An interesting variation in the succession of Grasshoppers that join the same team; none of them are the same character, but all of them take the hero name Grasshopper, join the team to replace the last Grasshopper, and then get killed in various ugly ways, each with less panel time than the one before.
  • The Thing That Would Not Leave: Squirrel Girl kicked Deadpool out of the GLI clubhouse when he wouldn't leave. She was alerted in a Meanwhile, in the Future situation: she had gone to the future, and the team leader (who is immortal) had waited 90 years to ask her to go back in time to kick Deadpool out.
  • 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.
  • Trade Snark: The lawyer of the Avengers would only ever refer to her clients as the Avengers™. Yes, trademark sign included.
  • True Beauty Is on the Inside: Big Bertha is concerned about this, as many people only pursue her for her slender model form. When she finds out that Deadpool was attracted to her big form because he's a Chubby Chaser, she lectures him about how he is no better than the reverse. Deadpool, rather than taking offense, says that he's been waiting for someone to say that to him, unmasking and declaring that, on the inside, he's a real catch. Of course, his true face is so horrifying that Big Bertha throws up at the mere sight of it.
  • 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.