Sunday, December 17, 2017 • Evening Edition • "Guest-starring Wolverine's cold, dead corpse!"

Your Top Marvel Heroes part 64

Written by Chris Mitchell on Monday, May 10 2010 and posted in Features
Three Avengers in this batch. {nomultithumb}

61. Quasar (61 points)

quasar.jpg"The GL of the MU. Up beat and a nice guy who never lost it. Like Ms Marvel, had all the makings, but never yet got to shine to his fullest."

Wendell Vaughn was just a kid from Wisconsin when he dreamed of bigger things than the Packers and cheese. In time he found his way to the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy. Trying to become an agent but failing as he didn't have the killer instinct, he ended up on guard duty at a research facility.

Freshly sent to the lab were two wristbands formerly owned and used by the recently returned Marvel Boy (calling himself the Crusader). The Crusader was killed by the very wristbands he wore and the scientists wanted to find out what made them tick. Realizing the only way they worked was if someone wore them, they were given to a top field man to try. He died almost instantly unable to control the power. Shortly after, A.I.M. Agents raided the facility. Vaughn saw little choice and donned the bracelets to save the staff. He did just that but the energy began to build. He fled to space to keep the staff safe from the oncoming explosion but quickly found that if he just relaxed he could control them. Turns out his lack of the killer instinct was the difference maker.

Back in the lab he found that the bracelets (Quantum Bands) could not be removed. S.H.I.E.L.D. realizing what they had here, enrolled Vaughn in a new Super-Agent program as Quasar. Vaughn excelled but the program soon dissolved.

Using his credentials, Vaughn took assignment as head of security at Project Pegasus. While there he helped stop numerous attacks by the likes of Nuklo, Deathlok and the Nth Man. He also began a friendship with Ben Grimm (the Thing) who often was at Pegasus for personal reasons. He would eventually leave Project Pegasus.

Wanting to discover the origins of the bands, he went to the Crusaders old home on the planet Uranus. They he encountered a cosmic entity called Eon. Eon proclaimed Quasar as the Protector of the Universe as the last (Captain Marvel) had died. His powers expanded, he returned to Earth and after an adventure with the Avengers, he accepted the offer to join their ranks.

During an adventure, Quasar encounter Maelstrom had his hands chopped off and later, killed. He got better. He saved the Earth by stopping a nega-bomb during Operation Galactic Storm. He became the love interest to Her (a beautiful artificial woman whose only crime is that she wanted to sleep with Vaughn). In battle against Magus, he is lost in a new universe and only returns home after obtaining (and burning out) the Star Brand. Quasar later, in order to save the Earth again, absorbs Ego, the Living Planet into him which forces him to exile himself from Earth forever.

Quasar is later killed by Annihilius during the Annihilation

But he gets better as a being made of quantum energy (and eventually gets a real body back from an evil dimension).

60, Captain Bucky (63 points - 2 first place slots)

buckycap.jpg"Is redeeming himself by donning the Stars and Stripes and leaving behind the shadow of the Winter Soldier."

Steve Rogers left instructions for Tony Stark in a letter written before his death to "save" Bucky and that the mantle of Captain America should go on. After the murder of Steve Rogers, the man who was Captain America, Cap's former partner during World War II, James "Bucky" Barnes, agreed to don the mantle. And even as he struggles with the sins he committed as the Winter Soldier, the Soviet mercenary he was brainwashed into becoming during the Cold War, the new Captain America finds his pasts as both Bucky and the Winter Soldier colliding with his present.

When the Winter Soldier (Bucky) was brought into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, he managed to escape. His cybernetic arm had been removed and was being examined by S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists. They were surprised at how much of their own design was in place. Either the Russians had a mole in S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Winter Soldier was working for Nick Fury. The arm sent out an electrical shock to one scientist, rose up and knocked out the other two. It then crawled up the wall and into a ventilation shaft to seek out it's owner. When the Winter Soldier was free his only goal was to attack Iron Man.

he two fought to a standstill until Stark mentioned the letter from Steve. Bucky wasn't sure that Cap had meant for him to actually become Captain America. Tony said that there's no way Bucky would let anyone else fill those boots and asked if he wanted to be the one to let Steve down. Bucky said he'd do it under two conditions. The first was that his mind was completely probed to ensure there was no trace of brainwashing or fail safe code-words left over from when he was under control was the Winter Soldier. The second condition is that he doesn't have to answer to S.H.I.E.L.D. or to Stark, just as Steve didn't. Tony thought about it and agreed. Bucky donned his own new Captain America costume as he did not feel right wearing Steve's. On his first mission Bucky with Black Widow at his side fight an A.I.M radical group to which he easily defeats. He is later confronted while training with the shield by Clint Barton aka Hawkeye who does not approve of him being the new Captain America. Clint attempts to fight Bucky who merely blocks his attacks. Upon learning that they were basically thought the same moves Clint departs warning Bucky not to let the name of Captain America down. After the revealing of an impostor Captain America Bucky goes to confront him despite being told by the Falcon not to. Bucky sneaks into a room to find information only to be taken by surprise by the impostor Cap and is punched through a wall. The impostor Cap is able to defeat Bucky resulting in him getting thrown of a building but saved by the Falcon just in time. The two later knowing that the red skull will want to retrieve the impostor Cap use him as bait to gain the location of the Red Skulls base.

Bucky Since becoming Captain America he has stop the Red Skull's plans and saved the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, winning public applause. He also restarted his relationship with the Black Widow and joined the New Avengers, also giving them a new hideout. James later participates in search for Luke and Jessica's child, Danielle. When the New Avengers find out about Norman Osborn's "Avengers" James and the rest of the team try to think of a way to show that world that Osborn is still as evil as ever. They send in Spider-Woman to try and join Norman's Avengers into a trap, but Norman figures out this plan and sends The Hood and his gang to try and take the New Avengers down, the Avengers make their way out of the ambush and try to think of a new plan.

One night Bucky was up late talking to Black Widow about what he did as the Winter Soldier, Widow kept telling him that it wasn't his fault, he went out to think but ran into Batroc, they fought but Bucky was defeated, later he and Widow went to the U.N. to find some answers, they find out that the U.N. is covering something up, Bucky then goes to the black market to find answers, he found out about the U.N. transporting something the next day. The next day Bucky ran into Batroc again trying to steal what ever the U.N. was transporting, they began to fight, then The Man With No Face jumped into the fight, Bucky defeated Batroc, but even with the help from Black Widow The Man With No Face got away with what was left of the Original Human Torch.

James teams up with Namor and goes after The Man with No Face and Professor Chin (the man who created The Man with No Face), while Black Widow works on getting more info on this Professor Chin. Cap and Namor use Namor's old ship to sneak into Professor Chin's base and they split up but Namor is captured. James then changes into his old Winter Soldier uniform and makes his way through the base, Professor Chin begins to experiment on Namor while Black Widow makes her way to Namor's ship and sees that James is not wearing his Captain America uniform. James breaks into Chin's lab and orders Chin to let Namor go, but The Man with No Face attacks James. During the battle Chin injects Namor with some kind of chemical, but Namor is unaffected because of him Mutant-Human gene. Black Widow then joins in the fight and helps James beat The Man with No Face, as well as helps both James and Namor to escape. While on their way home, Namor mentions how good of a team James and Natalia make. Back home Namor, Norman Osborn, and others put the Human Torch to rest and James later comes to grave to pay his respects to an old friend.

On his birthday, Bucky was on patrol above the streets of New York City, when he was suddenly attacked by a group of rocket men, as Bucky ran across the roof tops avoiding heat-seeking missiles he was able to get a picture of his attackers and sent it to Clint Barton asking him to find out who these guys were and why they were trying to kill him, as this was going on Bucky started to remember other birthdays he's had over the years, remembering himself getting into a fight after getting drunk on his 16th birthday, then remembering his 18th birthday when Toro tried to get him a cake and accidentally giving themselves away to the Nazis and having to fight them off. In 1945 on his 20th birthday, Bucky spent his birthday helping Steve interrogate a German spy, during his time as Winter Soldier, Bucky just says "There were No birthdays then". Clint Barton was able to find out that Bucky's attackers were a militia group called The Watchdogs, a group of so called patriots who claimed that they pretty much worshiped Captain America. As Bucky fought The Watchdogs, he saved a lady and her child from one of The Watchdogs missiles, Bucky took two of the men out with his shield then shooting the other, making him crash into the street, Bucky then asked the guy why he was trying to kill him and the guy states "You ain't the real Captain America". Bucky then tells the guy "Believe me, I know that better then anyone...but I'm trying'..." then hitting the guy with his gun knocking him out. When Bucky returned home, he was surprised by a birthday party that Black Widow and the New Avengers had made for him, before Bucky blew out almost eighty candles on his cake, Mockingbird asked him if he's going to make a wish, as Bucky was surrounded by his closest friends and allies he just tells her "Nah...I'm good" then blew out the candles.

Since the return of the original Captain America, Steve Rogers, Bucky continues to wield the shield as Captain America after being asked by Steve to do so.

After getting an upgrade for his bionic arm from Nick Fury, Bucky learns that Bad Cap has gathered a group of terrorist known as the Watchdogs in Idaho. He and Falcon then head to Idaho to bring Bad Cap in. Bucky manages to get inside the Watchdogs' training camp and spends a week training with them. Bucky and Falcon ambush a group of Watchdogs who were on a scouting mission, possible looking for new recruits from a nearby army base. Bucky enters the camp as a new recruit in hopes of stopping Bad Cap's plan, but their own plan backfires and both he and Falcon are captured. Bad Cap then forces Bucky to dress up in an old "Bucky" uniform as they head to the Hoover Dam where Bad Cap plans to make a statement that will be heard around the world by blowing up the dam. Bucky is able to escape Captain Unamerica's restraints thanks to his bionic arm, and with the help of Falcon, who was able to escape his captors as well, the two heroes fight off Captain Unamerica's men. Bucky tries to reason with Bad Cap as he is just about to set off the bomb that will destroy the dam, but in the end, Bucky is forced to shot Bad Cap, knocking him off of the dam and supposedly to his death in the waters below, but his body was never recovered.

59. Wiccan (66 points - 1 first place slot)

wiccan.jpg"Billy's the moral compass of the YA and a real shining beacon among the next generation of Marvel heroes."

Billy Kaplan never had a problem being different than other people. It was other people that had a problem with him.

Being raised in a normal home in New York with his loving mother ( Rebecca Kaplan), father ( Jeff Kaplan) and two brothers, Billy had the average problems for a gay teenager. In school, he met a tremendous amount of hate and fear because he was different. Billy's issues escalated as he grew older and entered high school where his differences became the source of endless torment and violence.
John Kessler was Billy's main nemesis and after receiving a beating that left him sore and bloody, Billy went to his favorite place to calm down -- The Avengers Mansion. A woman jogger passed by and asked him if he was okay because she saw the boy was bleeding. Billy explained to the woman what had happened and was shocked to see the woman was none other than Scarlet Witch. Flabbergasted, he then admitted that she was his favorite Avenger.

Once Scarlet Witch had heard the full story of his troubles at school, she told him that next time he was threatened the best thing to do would be to stand up to Kessler. Billy scoffed at her advice and told her maybe if he had powers like her he could. She reassured him that "Everyone has some gift," and advised him that next time he encounter Kessler, not to back down.

Billy did not take Scarlet Witch's advice. He avoided Kessler at all costs until one day he saw Kessler had found a new victim. Unable to allow another to suffer Kessler's abuse in his place, he confronted Kessler. While being attacked, Billy's powers manifested for the first time. Unable to control them, he electrocuted Kessler, nearly killing him. Shocked and afraid at what he had done, Billy ran back to the Avengers Mansion to talk with the Scarlet Witch but she was nowhere to be found.

Billy met Iron Lad at the Avengers Mansion while seeking Scarlet Witch. Iron Lad explained he needed help protecting himself from his future self ( Kang). Iron Lad had used a system he found in the remains of the Vision which helped locate alternative members for the Avengers for the next generation. Iron Lad had found Teddy Altman ( Hulkling), Elijah Bradley ( Patriot) and now Billy Kaplan (as "Asgardian") who all three agreed to help him, despite their lack of experience.

They started off by helping out the community, such as saving people from a burning building. However, the act only attracted unwanted press. Kat Farrell of the Daily Bugle was at the scene, dubbing them the "Young Avengers" and after reporting to J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle he decided to put Jessica Jones on the assignment of finding out who they were.

The Young Avengers later encountered both Kate Bishop and the daughter of the late Ant Man (Scott Lang), Cassie Lang. Billy and the other Young Avengers were then confronted by Iron Man, Captain America, and Jessica Jones who disapproved of their unsanctioned vigilantism. It was during this time that Iron Lad's future self, Kang the Conqueror arrived to bring Iron Lad back to the future and convince him to accept his destiny.

The confrontation led to a battle between Kang and the Young Avengers. During this battle, Billy revealed his ability to cast spells where he had previously limited himself to lightning projection and flight due to his inexperience. The battle culminated with Iron Lad killing Kang which altered the past and present. The Young Avengers agreed that in order for reality to stabilize , Iron Lad must return to his own time. Understanding that there was no choice, Iron lad returned to the future, bidding his teammates farewell.

After these events, Captain America ordered the Young Avengers to disband. Instead, the Young Avengers continued to function as a team, now using Kate Bishop's resources to support them. Kate had new costumes designed for the team, who now operated out of an old abandoned warehouse owned by her family. She and Cassie also convinced Billy to change his alias from "Asgardian" to "Wiccan" in acknowledgment of his new powers (and due to "Asgardian" being exploitable by the media in relation to Billy's sexuality and relationship with Hulkling).

The team continued to fight crime on the streets, including busting dealers of Mutant Growth Hormone, which granted superpowers to ordinary humans. During this time, Billy attempted to tell his parents that he was a superhero, only to accidentally come out to them. His parents openly accepted his sexuality and welcomed Teddy as a member of their family.

A confrontation with the villain Mr. Hyde led to Wiccan's discovery that Patriot had been abusing Mutant Growth Hormone. After defeating Mr. Hyde, Patriot admitted that he had not inherited his grandfather's Super Soldier abilities and promptly quit the Young Avengers. While still trying to decide how to continue their activities while staying under the radar of the New Avengers, Hulkling was kidnapped by the Super-Skrull.

The Young Avengers managed to escape to Billy's household. However, the Super-Skrull tracked them down, revealing Hulkling's mother to be a Skrull (who was charged to raise him on Earth by Hulkling's birth mother, the deceased Skrull Empress Anelle). The Super-Skrull killed Hulkling's foster mother and captured Hulkling to his ship to take him back to the Skrull Empire.

The team arrived at the Avenger's Tower and with the help of the newly reformed Vision, located additional assistance to rescue Hulkling. Wiccan discovered that he and the newest recruit, a youth with super speed by the name of Tommy Shepard, were identical in appearance. The team confronted the Super-Skrull and freed Hulkling. The Super-Skrull revealed to Teddy that he was "Dorrek VIII" the rightful heir to the Skrull Empire. They were interrupted by a troupe of Kree soldiers who revealed Hulkling to be half-Kree as well and the son of their greatest warrior, Captain Marvel. As a Kree, Hulkling was to be enlisted in the Kree army, by force if necessary. The Young Avengers and the Super-Skrull fled the Kree. During this time, the Super-Skrull stated his belief that Billy and Tommy's similarities in appearance and powers indicated that they were the twin sons of the Scarlet Witch and the Vision. The Super-Skrull noted that Wiccan seemed to have inherited the Scarlet Witch's magical and reality-warping abilities while Tommy has those of her twin brother, Quicksilver.

Vision confirmed the story of the twins. Wiccan was greatly convinced that their connection to the Scarlet Witch was evident, though Tommy was more skeptical. Before the Vision could reveal the identity of the father, a battle erupted between Kree and Skrull forces over the fate of Hulkling. Wiccan and the Young Avengers fought alongside the New Avengers to end the conflict. The battle was negotiated when the Super-Skrull disguised himself as Hulkling and agreed to spend time with each empire before deciding which to join. Thus the real Hulkling (disguised as the Super-Skrull) was able to stay on Earth.

Wiccan continued as a member of the Young Avengers (now including Tommy as " Speed") until the events of Civil War and the Superhero Registration Act forced the team to go underground as part of Captain America's anti-registration team of superheroes. Recognizing the Runaways under attack by registration agents on a monitoring screen, the Young Avengers set out to assist them and convince them to join the anti-registration side. The Runaways rebuked their offer, but joined together when Karolina Dean, the Skrull Xavin, Hulkling and Wiccan were captured by agents of a secret alien-observation base called The Cube. Wiccan and the others were eventually rescued by their teammates and continued avoiding registration.

During a trap laid by Iron Man and the pro-registration heroes, Wiccan was captured and sent to the N-Zone prison for his involvement with the underground Avengers. Stature later defected to the pro-registration side, stating that she did not want to go to prison like Wiccan had. Wiccan and the other imprisoned anti-registration heroes were later freed by Hulkling who disguised himself as Hank Pym to infiltrate the N-Zone prison. The two sides clashed until the battle was ended by Captain America's realization that their position was being fought in a manner that only endangered more citizens.

Like many other heroes, Wiccan and the Young Avengers were granted amnesty following the conclusion of Civil War. Wiccan and the rest of the Young Avengers (excluding Stature) decided not to register, Hawkeye and Patriot serving with the underground resistance team known as the Secret Avengers. Billy gave up his superhero career, being mostly grounded by his parents who urged him to register.
He and Teddy continue to be in a relationship. Teddy assisted Billy by posing as him while he and Speed went on a search for the Scarlet Witch to learn more about their past. Wiccan hoped that revealing their existence to Wanda would help her regain her sanity and return to the Avengers. During their search, Wiccan and Speed openly referred to the Scarlet Witch as their mother and to one another as brothers. Their search took them to various significant locations to the Scarlet Witch, finally ending at the former home that she shared with the Vision. There the boys encountered Master Pandemonium who further strengthened their belief that they are the reincarnated souls of the Scarlet Witch's twin sons. However, Master Pandemonium stated that their past was steeped in chaos and tragedy and convinced them that rather than search for who they were in the past, they should embrace who they are now. The advice from Pandemonium helped Billy, who is sated for now. He recognizes that the Scarlet Witch may not be ready to be found and feels that he is happy enough with his present life.

Billy and the Young Avengers are the first team to respond to invading Skrulls in New York. The team is quickly defeated even after the team of Initiative recruits arrive. Wiccan, Speed, and Hulkling team up with Xavin and the Runaways to defeat the Super-Skrulls that are sent to assassinate Hulkling.

Wiccan and a few of the other young avengers are turned to stone by some sort of magic. They are then released because the mighty avengers defeated the source of the magic. Billy is then seen on the street stopping a speeding car with a lightning bolt. Then Doctor Strange congratulates Billy, but he says he needs practice, then asks Billy to breakfast. Doctor Strange then tells Wiccan he's looking for the new Sorcerer Supreme, and that maybe he could be the one. When the doctor spots the Hood across the street he asks Billy to leave.


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