When I wrote my “top 10 fictional organizations” list, I explained that I haven’t considered any superhero team to be included in it since a whole new list can be made from the subject. This is that list.
10.) LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN
This team is not actually made up of the traditional costumed, superpowered individuals that we identify as “superheroes” but it instead consists of iconic characters of Victorian era literature. Nonetheless, the idea of an all-star team of literary characters is just too brilliant to ignore that it just needs to be included in this list despite not being a “superhero” team of the traditional sense. It also counts that Alan Moore – the creator – originally intended it to be a Victorian-themed “Justice League” of superheroes before settling with a mash-up of established fictional characters of Victorian literature. My main beef with the team, though, is it has no Sherlock Holmes – arguably, not only the greatest fictional detective ever, but the greatest Victorian fictional character ever – in it!
9.) SUPER SENTAI/POWER RANGERS
The concept of a Super Sentai series – rip-offed and known in the States as Power Rangers – has always been the same. It usually starts with the introduction of the main characters and the bestowment of powers to them – either through technological or magical means – to fight evil threats (usually, alien in nature). A Super Sentai team consists of, usually, five members who wear color coded costumes with the red being the usual leader. Each episode, they have to face off with a monster summoned by the antagonist group’s leader/s; this monster is usually accompanied by the antagonist group’s generic minions. The finale of the encounter would always be the enlargement of the monster that would force the Super Sentai team to summon their giant robotic animals/vehicles that can combine into one giant mecha to combat the now enlarged monster. In each series’ final story arc, the Super Sentai heroes are finally pitted against the antagonist groups’ leader/s. Super Sentai has been around since 1979 and each year, a new series – consisting of a new team and motif – is produced. In 2011, to commemorate the 35th year of the Super Sentai series, the film Gokaiger Goseiger Super Sentai 199 Hero Great Battle was released, which featured all Super Sentai teams – consisting of 199 heroes – as of date. I grew up watching both Super Sentai and Power Rangers and absolutely adored the franchise as a kid, thus, even though I don’t watch it (regularly) now, I have a soft spot for it in my heart.
8.) THE AUTHORITY
This controversial team is probably the first superhero anti-hero team I ever encountered. They aren’t bounded by any moral codes like other superhero teams. They do what any means necessary to get the job done, even through unethical or violent means. This uniqueness has made the team very popular and interesting. The two most popular members of the team are Apollo and Midnighter; despite being a gay couple, they are thrilling characters for being enhanced versions of Superman and Batman, respectively.
What makes this team unique is it consists of characters (mostly alternate versions of established characters of the regular Marvel Earth-616 continuity) – usually X-Men-related – from the different universes or realities of the massive Marvel Multiverse. It has a rich roster history due to continuous line-up changes (usually, due to death of members), but the mission remains the same: to fix any reality problems or deviations – known as “hiccups” – of the universes and timelines of the Marvel Multiverse.
6.) THUNDERBOLTS/DARK AVENGERS
Now, what’s so special about the Thunderbolts? This superhero team is consisted of former and reformed supervillains, or supervillains who are forced to work for the good side (with a full-time superhero sometimes serving as the leader/handler of the team). This has always been the general identity of this team. At the present, the Thunderbolts’ book – carrying the Thunderbolts’ “a superhero team made up of former supervillains” concept and roster with it – has been renamed into Dark Avengers (its original identity being villains pretending to be heroes) and – through Marvel NOW! – the “Thunderbolts” team name is now possessed by a new group of anti-heroes led by the Red Hulk. To be honest, I haven’t thoroughly checked out this team’s D.C. counterpart, the Suicide Squad; therefore, I haven’t considered the Suicide Squad for this list. The point is I really love the concept of a superhero team consisting of members with supervillain backgrounds – a concept that I encountered with the Thunderbolts. The Suicide Squad – a team with the same concept – could be the better team, but I won’t be able to tell since I didn’t quite follow its comicbook.
5.) FANTASTIC FOUR
This team has the smallest roster in this list, but they are nonetheless quite a beloved and dynamic team. There had been many temporary lineup changes due to fill-in members replacing absences of the original members (at one time, the entire original four was absent and the team had an interesting roster consisting of Spider-Man, Wolverine, the Gray Hulk [Joe Fixit], and the Spirit of Vengence) but the core members remain to be Mr. Fantastic, Invisible Woman, Human Torch, and the Thing. The charm of the Fantastic Four is that they have always been a family more than a team. And this bond as a family is their greatest strength, making them a great and formidable superhero team.
4.) THE ULTIMATES
The Ultimates is the version of the Avengers in the Ultimate Marvel Universe (Earth-1610). The members of the Ultimates are more realistic than their Avengers counterparts, i.e. they are flawed and likely to act like real people, i.e. the Ultimates can behave like real jerks. Unlike Earth-616’s Avengers, the Ultimates was created by S.H.I.E.L.D. and was intended to be a government-sponsored superhero strike team that would have to deal with the most extreme of threats. What I like most about the Ultimates is the fact that though they don’t have the ample amount of heroes in their roster that the Avengers have, but working under S.H.I.E.L.D., they have the benefit in their missions of having the help of “support teams” and “strike teams” made up of S.H.I.E.L.D. soldiers, agents, engineers and scientists; and elite reserves/support teams like Rocketmen and Giant-Men. Moreover, it also greatly enhances the value of the team considering that their leader, Captain America (Ultimate-version), is the President of the United States of America.
3.) JUSTICE LEAGUE & 2.) THE AVENGERS
Everyone already knows what the Justice League and the Avengers are all about: the Justice League is D.C.’s all-star superhero team and the Avengers is Marvel’s all-star superhero team. Everyone knows this, so I will just combine my discussion about these two teams. However, don’t mistake that their spots in this list are interchangeable. Clearly, the Avengers are superior to the Justice League – so no. 3 is for the Justice League while no. 2 is for the Avengers. However, I haven’t always thought so. I used to consider the Justice League as the better team. It has just been a few years ago that my sentiments switched. I have grown up more of a Marvel fan than DC fan, however, the Justice League had appealed to me more than the Avengers. Maybe because the Justice League has always had all of D.C.’s popular heroes in its roster as far as I can remember. This was not the case with the Avengers. The Justice League had Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash. But though the Avengers had A-list heroes like Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor as regulars, the Avengers didn’t have Marvel’s two most popular superheroes: Spider-Man and Wolverine (who is an X-Man). Aside from the two, other popular heroes like Daredevil and Dr. Strange aren’t members, too. With arguably four of the six most important and popular superhero teams – Fantastic Four, Avengers, X-Men, and Defenders – Marvel had to “distribute” its prominent heroes among the four teams. Moreover, guys like Spider-Man and Daredevil had always been the solo-type of heroes. Thus, the Avengers was not able to have as rich as a roster as the Justice League’s back then. This all changed a few years ago as heroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil, Dr. Strange, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Wolverine, Storm, and the Thing (the last three becoming simultaneous members of the Avengers and their parent team) finally became members of the Avengers, greatly making the roster more packed and more interesting than the Justice League’s! And because of Marvel NOW!, for the first time, Marvel’s top six superheroes – Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man – are all going to be in one Avengers team.
The X-Men – a superhero team made up of mutants, those who were born with an “X-gene” that gives them supernatural abilities – have always been my most favorite superhero team. The founder of the X-Men, and whose dream the philosophy of the team is grounded, was Professor Charles Xavier. From his initial recruits of five – Cyclops, Marvel Girl (Jean Grey), Iceman, Angel, and Beast – the team would grow on through the years until it became the most varied collection of the most interesting superpowered individuals you can find in comics. The struggle of the X-Men in “protecting a world that fears and hates them” really moves me. In spite of the discrimination, prejudice, and bigotry they receive from most the humans they do good for, they continue to hold on to the idea that mutants and humans can co-exist in the world peacefully. If that’s not true heroism, then I don’t know what is. Oh, they aren’t perfect individuals. They sometimes have conflicts among themselves (especially at the present, there are two to three X-Men factions) and do wrestle with their personal demons. However, in spite of these, they would remain united when mutantkind or the X-Men’s dreams are attacked by external forces. Aside from the thematic and moral appeal of this team, I love the X-Men because they are just too friggin’ kickass!