Take 10

Take 10: Spin-Off Teams

Get a look at the Secret Cabal’s favorite Marvel groups from off the beaten path

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Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas. The New Defenders became the latest Marvel super squad to take up the legacy of another this week when they re-christened themselves in FANTASTIC FORCE #1. While the Avengers, X-Men and Fantastic Four have long handled the big, flashy threats to hit the Marvel Universe, all three groups have spun off, sometimes by choice and sometimes not, specialty teams uniquely suited to deal with certain problems. Regardless of the circumstances that led to their creation, many of these satellite teams have become legendary in their own right. This week, the Secret Cabal names their 10 favorites. For each team you get the quick rundown as well as a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited. As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!
 

10. X-FACTOR INVESTIGATIONS First Appearance: X-FACTOR v2 #1 (2006) How They Formed: Jamie Madrox recruits former allies to aid him in his new venture as a private investigator specializing in cases involving mutants. Learn More About Them…here Notable Members: Jamie Madrox, Strong Guy, Siryn, Rictor, M, Layla Miller Why They Make the List: "If you're looking for the true outcasts of the Marvel Universe, look no further than Jamie Madrox and his not-always-so-merry band. Patrolling the outskirts of the world the X-Men and Avengers tend to neglect, X-Factor Investigations helps the victims who fall through the cracks. Providing a pleasant mix of noir, action and dark comedy, this random assortment of mutants is actually a group we wouldn't mind sharing a few drinks with." – Secret Cabal member Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: X-FACTOR v2 #9—Madrox and the rest of X-Factor must pick a side during Civil War!

9. GENERATION X First Appearance: UNCANNY X-MEN #318 (1994) How They Formed: After rescuing the next generation of mutants from the Phalanx's clutches, the X-Men re-open the Massachusetts Academy to train the youngsters under the guidance of Banshee and Emma Frost. Learn More About Them…here Notable Members: Jubilee, Chamber, M, Husk, Skin, Synch, Penance, Banshee, Emma Frost Why They Make the List: "For years after the New Mutants 'graduated' to become X-Force, there was a void in the X-Men Universe. Since the early days of the original five, there had always been young mutants who were as concerned with learning to live in a society that shunned them as they were with fighting Magneto. Generation X was truly a teen team for—pardon the pun—a new generation. They were a little more bizarre than those who had come before—Chamber and Skin certainly made the likes of Wolfsbane and Magik look positively normal by comparison—with a harder edge to match, accentuated by former villain Emma Frost being their erstwhile mentor. But the 'kids' of Generation X definitely represented an era where young people were forced to grow up a lot faster and gave voice to that group of readers." – Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: GENERATION X #63—The students of Generation X must deal with sweeping change to their world!

8. THE GREAT LAKES AVENGERS/X-MEN/CHAMPIONS/INITIATIVE First Appearance: WEST COAST AVENGERS #46 (1989) How They Formed: A group of oddball outcasts with bizarre powers band together to protect the Great Lakes region in rare instances of danger. Learn More About Them…here Notable Members: Mr. Immortal, Flatman, Big Bertha, Doorman, Dinah Soar, Squirrel Girl Why They Make the List: "You probably won't find a more eclectic and unlikely team of heroes than the Great Lakes Initiative—or whatever they're calling themselves this week—but you'd also be hard-pressed to find one with more collective heart. In many ways, the GLI represent the average comic fan, as they are fairly ordinary folks who still have a pressing desire to make a difference like the heroes they look up to. They do a lot with a little and you've got to respect that. Plus, a gag like Mr. Immortal just never gets old." – Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: DEADPOOL/G.L.I. SUMMER FUN SPECTACULAR #1—The Great Lakes Initiative teams with the Merc With a Mouth in a series of offbeat adventures!

7. THE WEST COAST AVENGERS First Appearance: WEST COAST AVENGERS #1 (1984) How They Formed: In an attempt to expand the influence of the Avengers, the Vision commissions Hawkeye to relocate to California and found a second branch. Learn More About Them…here Notable Members: Hawkeye, Iron Man, Wonder Man, Tigra, Mockingbird, USAgent, Spider-Woman II, the Scarlet Witch Why They Make the List: "This motley mix of characters, aptly nicknamed the 'Whackos' forged a quick bond, becoming a family, opening their doors to new recruits and going toe-to-toe with some of the greatest threats any Avengers ever faced. The dramatic aspects of the team were highlighted as they examined emotional trauma, marital separation, and internal betrayals. But they always seemed to rise above it stronger, and lived to share another burger over the grill at their famous barbecues." – Secret Cabal member RunawayJ Spotlight Comic: AVENGERS #347—Both Avengers branches unite during Operation: Galactic Storm!

6. X-FORCE v2 First Appearance: UNCANNY X-MEN #493 (2007) How They Formed: In the midst of "Messiah CompleX," Cyclops secretly places Wolverine in charge of a black ops group to operate outside the X-Men's moral boundaries. Learn More About Them…here Notable Members: Wolverine, X-23, Warpath, Wolfsbane, Archangel, Domino Why They Make the List: "More than perhaps any other team in the Marvel Universe, the X-Men operate in a dark, hard world. They face oppression and hatred every day, not to mention some of the more viciious, bloodthirsty villains around. And yet there is a line that Cyclops and most of his ilk can't cross—and that's why we have the current X-Force. Wolverine has always been the X-Man his teammates turned to when they needed dirty work done, and now he has a whole team of badasses ready to do the same. In a perfect world, maybe the X-Men wouldn't need an X-Force, but we'd sure as heck miss reading about them." – Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: X-FORCE v2 #1—The new X-Force hunts down the Purifiers!

5. THE NEW MUTANTS First Appearance: MARVEL GRAPHIC NOVEL #4 (1982) How They Formed: Thinking his X-Men dead, Professor X accepts a new class at his School For Gifted Youngsters. Learn More About Them…here Notable Members: Cannonball, Dani Moonstar, Sunspot, Wolfsbane, Karma, Magma, Magik, Warlock, Cypher Why They Make the List: "This team was forged in fire and forced to grow up quickly. They were among the most ethnically diverse teams ever seen in comics, and their stories were often based off their heritages. Always in the shadows of their predecessors, these kids were meant to be the X-Men of tomorrow, but found their own identity, and continue to prove that friendship and the experiences you share growing up together are tighter than any bond!" – RunawayJ Spotlight Comic: NEW MUTANTS v1 #21Warlock crashes a New Mutants slumber party!

4. X-FORCE v1 First Appearance: NEW MUTANTS v1 #100 (1991) How They Formed: Frustrated by the lack of progress made by the X-Men to make the world safe for mutants, Cable transforms their protégés, the New Mutants, into a pro-active paramilitary team. Learn More About Them…here Notable Members: Cable, Cannonball, Domino, Shatterstar, Boom Boom, Warpath, Siryn, Rictor Why They Make the List: "The safe future of mutantkind will be secured through peace, love and understanding, right? That's Xavier's way, so that must be true. Wrong! Bad boy from the future, Cable, stepped in and turned the New Mutants from a rag-tag group of lackluster students into a lean, mean fighting machine. And when he had to skedaddle, did they fold? Heck no! X-Force persevered, carving their own niche into the landscape of mutant teams for over 10 years." – Secret Cabal member Agent_M Spotlight Comic: X-FORCE #1 (2004)—Cable reunites X-Force to aid him against a menace from his past!

3. EXCALIBUR First Appearance: EXCALIBUR: THE SWORD IS DRAWN (1987) How They Formed: With the X-Men seemingly dead, former members Nightcrawler and Kitty Pryde relocate to England where they help to found a new squad of mutants fighting for good. Learn More About Them…here Notable Members: Captain Britain, Nightcrawler, Shadowcat, Phoenix II, Meggan Why They Makes the List: "Who says the United States is the only country that needs mutant protectors? While not fully staffed by Children of the Atom, Excalibur did include its fair share of former X-Men over the years, often looping in and out of proper X-affairs. But it was the team's penchant for dealing with the weird stuff across the pond that really separated them from other teams. Plus, putting Captain Britain on the team makes them like the UK Avengers. And who doesn't love the Avengers?" – Agent_M Spotlight Comic: EXCALIBUR v1 #1—The original Excalibur faces the mayhem of the Warwolves!

2. THE YOUNG AVENGERS First Appearance: YOUNG AVENGERS #1 (2005) How They Formed: With the Avengers disassembled, the time-travelling Iron Lad uses data from the Vision to form a group of young heroes with ties to the original team. Learn More About Them…here Notable Members: Patriot II, Iron Lad, Hulkling, Wiccan, Stature, Hawkeye II, Vision II, Speed Why They Make the List: "Can you believe that when this team was first announced, the general comic book public scoffed at the idea? Raise your hand if you were one of them. Go on. It's ok, how could you have known that this team, most of who had surprising ties to the old school Avengers, would turn out to be one of the greatest new creations in comics? With groundbreaking characters and compelling storylines, this team is full of possibilities and future stories. They're here to stay—and they've forgiven you for laughing at them." – RunawayJ Spotlight Comic: YOUNG AVENGERS SPECIAL #1—Solo stories shedding light on the secret origins of the Young Avengers!

1. X-FACTOR v2 First Appearance: X-FACTOR v1 #71 (1991) How They Formed: The United States government recruits Havok to lead a team of mutants under their guidance and endorsement to foster goodwill and enforce U.S. policy. Learn More About Them…here Notable Members: Havok, Multiple Man, Strong Guy, Wolfsbane, Polaris, Forge Why They Make the List: "The Havok-led incarnation of X-Factor popularized by writer Peter David and artists like Larry Stroman and Joe Quesada in the early 90's broke from many Marvel Universe traditions. For one thing, it was a government-sanctioned team that wasn't the Avengers and in fact presented fictional legislators with a very quirky alternative to Earth's Mightiest Heroes. It was also the first real instance of mutants going 'mainstream' and being put in a position of authority within the Marvel U. And it was funny—there was action and pathos, but when you've got a dude codenamed 'Strong Guy' on your team, it's tough not to sometimes go for the chuckles. This version of X-Factor is much beloved and well-remembered by many because they were truly different than anything else out there, which has to be the biggest goal of any spin-off team." – Annihilator882 Spotlight Comic: X-FACTOR v1 #87—It's group therapy time with Doc Samson for X-Factor! Check out the official Marvel Shop for your favorite Marvel Heroes! Download episodes of "X-Men: Evolution" now on iTunes!

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14 comments
The_Greatest_Username
The_Greatest_Username

I kinda think the original X-Factor should be up there...and X-Factor Investigations should be much higher...

thehulkster94
thehulkster94

I think both verssions of x-force should be higher up, and young avengers should be more in the range of 6 or 7 :domino:

x1v9a2
x1v9a2

Yeah, YA was great with Heinberg for the first story line (sidekicks), the 2nd (family matters) was okay, and then after that... nuttn'. I personally dislike how marvel keeps on lumping YA with Runaways. Having never been a runaways fan, I didn't like YA/Runaways Civil War special (though I did like Nor-Varr's inclusion), and only took a passing glance at the YA/Runaways secret invasion before putting it back on the shelf.Marvel has a tendency to book a writer, but then the title falls apart when the artist leaves....ex: Heinberg on YA, Stracynski (JMS) on Supreme Power, Charlie Houston on Moon Knight, Miller on Ultimate X-men (sorry, I lost interest after he left 'cept when Bendis was writing it), Miller/Hitch on Ultimates (was pretty dull after they left).What I wish Marvel would do is publish less issues, and better issues, with good writers, and less delays. Of course, I'm not in charge, which is probably a good thing.

arachnid75a
arachnid75a

Wow. Where did all this Young Avenger hate come from?! In my local comic shop, they were scoffed at FIRST. I wasn't interested at all, thought they came out of nowhere... and then I read it. I actually considered watching the OC(since that's where Heinberg came from), which looked like a prime time teeny-bop soap opera. I love Young Avengers, even though the stories haven't been as good since Heinberg left, but I guess he couldn't do the comic schedule. And in my comic shop, everyone else loves them, too. At least I've never heard anyone spew hate their way... I really find it hard to believe that book could garner that kind of hatred, ha. But then, my local comic shop has always seemed to have different, if not better, taste in comics.

Wichien_Maat
Wichien_Maat member

Excellent list, I think they got it right on the dot, also. My only complaint is they left off one of the best characters on Peter David's X-FACTOR team, Quicksilver! Pietro's inclusion is what made the team special and different for me. And it was the interaction between Pietro and the other team members, most especially Maddrox, that produced some of the more witty and entertaining moments.

D-Man-AS
D-Man-AS

Excalibur would be my #1 choice; and Force Works should have been up here, too. Considering the plug for the "new" Fantastic Force, I'm surprised they didn't put Franklin Richards' original FF on here.I do applaud them for including the Great Lakes Avengers/Initiative/XMen/Lightning Rods. I'd guess they are really more of a spoof than a spinoff; but great fun.What about the Secret Defenders? Or does a non-team spinoff of a non-team not count?

Cosmic_Avenger
Cosmic_Avenger

I think that they got it right on the dot, guys. Well, with the exception of #8. I mean, I think that #10 should be higher up....but that's just cause I'm a huge Madrox fan.

johnnysword
johnnysword

I don't get it either. The Young Avengers just seem like a bunch of cheap younger imitations. These aren't good legacy characters at all.

Man_Kind
Man_Kind

Good list overall, but Generation X should definitely have been higher on the list. Awesome series.

squirrel
squirrel

Gotta agree, Excalibur was a sweet book for a long time. Great stories, Mojo's Warwolves, Technet, Cross Time Caper. Should have taken tops.Gotta come up with other over looked spin-offs though.Heroes for Hire was the Tighty-Whiteys for a second. Colleen Wing, Misty Knight, Shang-Chi, Humbug, Tarantula, that paladin dude was weak but Humbug turned into a cool character until he went buggy and then they ended the book with his decap. Probably the best WWH related series though.

AoANightcrawler
AoANightcrawler

I simply dont understand why the young avengers are popular. Honestly I picked up the title because I liked Runaways so much but it was horrible, single worst series I ever tried to read, if it wasn't for Cheung's art I would never have even made it through the first 6 issues. It seems to me that Marvel simply wants us to enjoy the young avengers, and this list only seems to further my point.

x1v9a2
x1v9a2

I so agree about Young Avengers. Why do good comic book start off freakn' awesome, and then slowly languish and delapidate? (Young Avengers, Moon Knight, Exiles, etc.). I truly wish YA had maintained its momentum. The last issue I read of YA made it all cartoony... I loved YA because of its rather series tone (Kang stabbing himself, Jewel losing her baby due to time line changes, Billy's mom getting vaporized, cmon!)I believe Force Works would have been a higher candidate than YA. Marvel should take a look at the lesser-known teams: fantastic force, force works, the Abominations (anyone?), that weird team that split off of Guardians of the Galaxy (I forget the name)...

R_Nitelight
R_Nitelight

I still scoff at the Young Avengers.I double scoff at their high ranking on this list.

neling
neling

Nope! All wrong. Excalibur (first series) is the #1 spin-off team.