Sunday, May 20, 2018 • Afternoon Edition • "At least we're not Newsarama!"

Your Top Teams part 37

Written by Chris Mitchell on Tuesday, June 30 2009 and posted in Features
A couple of teams I never imagined getting this high on the list, especially with first place votes.




 83. Astonishing X-Men (35 points)
"This book and its team actually got me interested in the X-Men. It was cool and easy to get into not like for myself who found it difficult to understand what was happening in Uncanny or the now called X-Men Legacy books. And when Whedon left the series I lost all interest in the X-Men."

"Kitty returns and is finally being written decently since Ellis. Gifted, one of the best of the best X-stories of the past 10 years. A new love for Cyclops, a new sidekick for Wolverine, a new look for Beast, and an old flame returns for Shadowcat. The art and dialogue for this book is astonishing. This is X-Men being told in its classic fashion. A great tribute to the past."

"The X-Men as a superhero team. The roster was a well-balanced homage to teams past and each character played out to his or her maximum potential. Hank possessed the best qualities of all previous Beasts, Emma was complex and catty, Kitty and Piotr were the heart and heat of the team, Cyke was the leader he was always meant to be, and Logan returned to his role of solid supporting character, a warrior who spoke only when necessary. Their dynamic is essential X-Men."

"Joss Whedon's run on this book was so awesome. He did the impossible for me....he made Cyclops cool. Not to mention how well he wrote the rest of the cast...especially Emma."

"Whedon was born to write this series."

Uh, I don't think so Mr. Voter, I really do not. The series started out awesome in the first arc, but got more and more meh as it went on. The art was beautifully drawn, but the story just lacked something. The third arc of the series was a big letdown. I was so excited for the return of the Hellfire Club and what not, and trying to figure out who Perfection was. But once the reveal was done, it was groan worthy, I found. And what happened to Kitty at the end of Unstoppable, well, I was not amused. But as you see by the quotes above, many do not agree with my thoughts. Oh well, c'est la vie.

In 2004, Marvel used the title Astonishing X-Men for the ongoing X-Men series written by Joss Whedon and illustrated by John Cassaday. It is a continuation of Grant Morrison's New X-Men title and features a similar line-up of characters, including Cyclops and Emma Frost (as co-team leaders), Beast, Shadowcat, Colossus, Lockheed and Wolverine. This team became the usual focus for most X-Men limited series from then on as well.

Whedon/Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men introduced a number of original characters into the Marvel Universe including Special Agent Brand, S.W.O.R.D., Hisako Ichiki, Ord of the Breakworld and Blindfold.

Also many large scale events in the Marvel Universe such as House of M, Decimation, Civil War and other Marvel crossovers have been ignored almost completely during the run, due to the long delays between issues and Whedon's own stated desire to remain away from big cross-overs, which he personally dislikes, and what he saw as hectic and unfollowable X-Men continuity

The first story arc focused on the introduction of several key characters and their involvement on the team. Whedon introduced a "mutant cure" designed by Indian Benetech scientist Dr. Kavita Rao, who was secretly sponsored by warrior alien Ord. The perspective of "real" humanity aroused a heavily-mutated Beast, who visited Rao where he discovers that the drug is the product of illegal human experimentation on an unknown victim. The X-Men raided Benetech and were reunited with Colossus. With Colossus' help, the team took down Ord, but not before it was revealed that a mutant (most likely an X-Man) would destroy Ord's home planet, — the Breakworld — within the next three years.

With this 2005 arc, Whedon brought in Colossus four years after his comic book death in 2001. The arc was critically lauded and won the 2006 Will Eisner Award for "Best Continuing Series". IGN called the arc "best X-Men run in a decade" and lauded Whedon for flawless character dynamics. The 2nd Whedon arc features a Sentinel attack with a mystery mastermind. The culprit is the Danger Room, who is becoming sentient and appears as a robot called "Danger". Whedon establishes that Professor X imprisoned Danger and made it an unwilling host of the Danger Room, leaving the X-Men disgusted. Whedon also revealed that Emma Frost is aligned with the newly formed Hellfire Club.

The X-Men are manipulated by a new Hellfire Club, consisting of Cassandra Nova, Emma Frost, the enigmatic Perfection, Negasonic Teenage Warhead, and Sebastian Shaw. Whedon established that Emma Frost is blackmailed into servitude by Cassandra, that the "new" Hellfire Club is only a psychic projection, and that Cyclops's non-control of his optic blasts is result of a childhood trauma. Nova initially beats the X-Men (save Shadowcat) by mind control, but Shadowcat frees her colleagues. At the end, the X-Men fight Nova to a standstill. But before the conflict can be resolved, the X-Men are forcibly teleported away by S.W.O.R.D. to a spaceship headed for the Breakworld.

The final panel of issue 15, in which Shadowcat crouches in a sewer clenching her fists, was an homage to the final panel of Uncanny X-Men #132, in which Wolverine did this gesture.

In the final arc, Unstoppable, Whedon wrote an adventure taking place on the alien Breakworld. The X-Men square off against the Breakworld leaders, who are intending to destroy Earth by firing a giant bullet. The Danger subplot is also resolved, and Whedon established that Danger is hard-coded not to kill. In the end, Shadowcat phases inside the Breakworld bullet, and when it reaches Earth, makes it intangible, so that the bullet passes through Earth. Shadowcat seemingly sacrifices her life, comic book death-style.

Oh, I want to make a note that all the votes for Astonishing X-Men were for Whedon’s era, not the Ellis era on now.


82. Umbrella Academy (35 points - 1 first place slot)

"They are so gloriously awesome and freaky, how could anyone not love them? I only read the first mini (trade-waiting), if I had read the second, perhaps they would be higher. But with that competition... perhaps not."

In retrospect, I shoulda asked my outsourcer to do this write up, I know he is a huge fan of the series. But alas, in my busy schedule and brainfartieness I forgot to ask him. Oh well, I apologize. I am sure this will not do this title justice.

The members of the Umbrella Academy, a disbanded group of superheroes, reunite after the death of their adoptive father, "Sir Reginald Hargreeves". Hargreeves, an alien disguised as a famous entrepreneur, collected the members of the Umbrella Academy shortly after their birth and trained them to save the world from an unspecified threat. After his death, the members carry on his plan to save the world.

Way has stated that the biggest influence on this piece of work is his favorite writer, Grant Morrison of Doom Patrol. He has also stated that Pat McEown of ZombieWorld: Champion of the Worm was a big influence on his work. Way has said that Edvin Biuković is his all-time favorite artist and that "his Grendel Tales are like my bible to draw from".

The six part series, Apocalypse Suite, began with the release of the first issue on September 19, 2007. One issue is to be released on the third Wednesday of every month for six months. The series editor is Scott Allie, and the series assistant editors are Rachel Edidin and Sierra Hahn. The series designer is Tony Ong. In an inexplicable worldwide event, forty-seven extraordinary children were spontaneously born by women who'd previously shown no signs of pregnancy. Millionaire inventor Reginald Hargreeves adopted seven of the children; when asked why, his only explanation was, "To save the world."

These seven children form The Umbrella Academy, a dysfunctional family of superheroes with bizarre powers. Their first adventure at the age of ten pits them against an erratic and deadly Eiffel Tower, piloted by the fearsome zombie-robot Gustave Eiffel. Nearly a decade later, the team disbands, but when Hargreeves unexpectedly dies, these disgruntled siblings reunite just in time to save the world once again.


81. The Midnight Sons (35 points - 2 first place slots)

"I know it's not a popular team. I know it's considered one of the bad things of the 90's by some. But I don't give a fuck. I love the Marvel horror characters. They are just awesome and have some great looks. And this team had all of them. Danny Ketch, Blaze (with Hellfire shotgun and no Ghost Rider powers), Morbius, The Nightstalkers, Strange (not cool), Dr Strange (Very cool), Werewolf by Night, Vengeance, Caretaker, and others brought together to fight the biggest baddest demons in the Marvel U. I don't care how much shit I get for this, they are my favorite team."

The origin of the Midnight Sons started with Daniel Ketch aka Ghost Rider. While Ghost Rider as well as Johnny Blaze were trying to find a way to save Daniel Ketch who was killed by Blackout. Minutes later Ghost Rider has a vision of Lilith and her children raging war with Ghost Rider and a group of supernatural characters being the only ones to stop her. Ghost Rider tells Blaze about the situation and agrees to join. After winning an attack by the Lilin at Blaze's carnival, Ghost Rider and Blaze go out to seek the other members of the Mystic Nine. They first go to Manhattan to find Morbius. Morbius had a hard time to come to his senses because of his blood lust and is almost killed by both the Lilin Fang and Doctor Langford during this event. Later on Ghost Rider goes out to find the Darkhold Redeemers Victoria Montesi, her body guard Interpol agent Sam Buchanon, and occult expert Professor Louise Hastings.. Lilith, the Lilin the Darkholders, and even a spell caused by the Darkhold almost killed Victoria Montesi, but with the help of Ghost Rider and Blaze, they survived. They would then go to find the Nightstalkers which consisted of Blade, Frank Drake and Hannibal King who had just defeated Dracula. The Nightstalkers were tricked by Lilith to kill Ghost Rider and Blaze, but the plan failed when Blade noticed the Lilin Meatmarket spying on them. The entire Midnight Sons would then be teleported by Doctor Strange to Greenland where Lilith was planning to release a whole army of demons. The Midnight Sons were victorious, but Ghost Rider died in battle (but was later brought back by Doctor Strange). However while all the Lilin were dead, Lilith survived after all the Midnight Sons left the battle.

During the Midnight Massacre storyline, Blade wanted to rid the world of vampires and read a page of the Darkhold that made him possessed by the Demogorge turning him into Switchblade. Switchblade would go on a killing spree of all things supernatural. During this time, many of the Midnight Sons were murdered. The death list included the members Hannibal King who was the first to get killed, Johnny Blaze, Victoria Montesi, Morbius, and Ghost Rider but his Penance Stare weakened him. Demogoblin, Modred, and Werewolf by Night were also victims of Switchblade. With the help of Louise Hastings, Switchblade was defeated and Blade was back to normal. Everyone that Blade killed came back to life.

Nine months later, Lilith and the reborn Lilin returned with the aid of the soulless Centerious. Both were looking for the Medallion of power. During this event, Daniel Ketch's mom was kidnapped, Ghost Rider fought Deathwatch again, Blaze would be injured by Skinner and the Lilin but would come back as a powerful force, Vengeance would team up with Ghost Rider and Blaze with the help of Caretaker, and it was the return of Zarathos. Ghost Rider also learned that Blaze was his brother. The Midnight Sons with the help of Caretaker and Doctor Strange would fight against Lilith and a dark demonic mist. But this time Zarathos was with her. During the siege, Morbius was possessed by Lilin blood and killed Louise Hastings, Doctor Strange became the being Strange, Victoria Montesi found out she was carrying the author of the Darkhold, and Ghost Rider was killed by Zarathos. After the defeat of Lilith and the Lilin due to Ghost Rider, Blaze, and Vengeance using the Medallion of Power, the Fallen have returned to Zarathos. In the final battle, Blade stabs Zarathos defeating him.

The Midnight Sons would get caught up in a few side adventures. Ghost Rider and Blaze would end up stopping an evil demon of the Darkhold.

Morbius would be stalked by the hunter Gunner and stop the other living vampire Bloodbath. He would also team up with Ghost Rider and Brother Voodoo to stop an unstoppable zombie. The Darkhold Redeemers would also have more run-ins with pages of the Darkhold. Blade and the Nightstalkers would fight more demons and other vampires. At this time Doctor Strange was in another dimension with the surviving Lilin Sister Nil while his alternate version of him self Strange and Vincent Stevens were out in the world. At one point the Midnight Sons would get together to stop a demon version of Spider-Man called Spider-X. Morbius, Vengeance, and Werewolf by Night would be pawns of Mordred during a battle with Salome'. At one point, Mordred, Scarlet Witch, and Strange were kidnapped by visitors from the future and saved by Blade and Man-Thing.


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