Superhero crime fighting teams

by Christian Bryant

randomly compiled by Christian Bryant


It would be blasphemy to begin this conversation without paying homage to the Justice League. This group was introduced by DC Comics in 1960, originally comprised of Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman and Martian Manhunter. The likes of these talents have been fighting crime and taking down supervillains for over half a century. Not to mention the numerous comic books, television shows and spin-offs adapted from the original group. The Justice League is to crime fighting what Webster is to the English lexicon — they wrote the book on this stuff.


In my opinion, “Voltron” is the harbinger for machine-based crime fighting teams in the US. This group featured five pilots charged with protecting the planet Arus by commanding robot lions. When duty called, the pilots link their vehicles together to form a larger sword-wielding robot named Voltron. This group, created in 1983, shares a likeness to “Mobile Suit Gundam,” the Transformers and the “Power Rangers.” Did I mention that “Voltron” got a shout out by Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA on the track “Shame On A N***a?”


“By the Eye of Thundera!” The ThunderCats debuted in 1985 featuring a cast of feline superhumans and defenders of the planet Third Earth. Lion-O — the leader and possessor of the “Sword of Omens” — is aided by Chetara, Panthro, WilyKit, WilyKat and Snarf in protecting Third Earth from evil villains like Mumm- Ra and Jakalman. “ThunderCats” may have given Americans some of the most popular catchphrases — “ThunderCats, ho!” — by which to identify sci-fi geeks.


These four turtles in a half shell first appeared in comic book form in 1984. Between then and the early ’90s, Leonardo, Donatello, Michaelangelo and Raphael blew up into household names through a television series and a line of toys. These mutated turtles were instructed in the art of Ninjitsu by their sensei, a mutated rat named Master Splinter. Wielding katana, nunchaku, a bo staff and a pair of sai, the Teenage Mutant Nina Turtles took on a slew of criminals that included Master Shredder and his Foot Clan. These pizzaloving crime fighters were the original NWA (Ninjas With Attitude).


The Avengers were birthed at Marvel Comics shortly after the Justice League debuted, touting that they “fight the foes that no one superhero can withstand.” The 1963 inaugural issue of The Avengers featured an original cast of Ant-Man, Wasp, Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk. They later rotated characters and Hawkeye, Spider- Man and Captain America joined the ranks. Fans of the Avengers will be pleased to know that a Captain America feature-film is slated to hit theaters in July. Even more exciting, the Marvel Comics universe will collide when Stan Lee and his team bring the Avengers to the big screen. “Box-office hits, assemble!”


Cap’n Planet and Co. would most likely get their keisters kicked by these other teams (including the very last on the list), but that doesn’t diminish their role as noteworthy crime fighters with a purpose. Known as an early example of an edutainment cartoon, “Captain Planet” brings the lives of five teenagers into the fray of environmental protection. Each of them receives a ring accessing a specific element of nature. When individual powers aren’t enough to defeat whatever threat is imminent, they use their rings collectively to form Captain Planet. Imagine an environmentally conscious Superman that looks like a blue James Bond Jr. Yeah, that’s Captain Planet to the T.


Jedi Knights are an integral part of the Star Wars saga. The Jedi are warrior monks that use the power of the Force to navigate altercations and expert swordsmanship to eliminate the opposition, first introduced in the 1977 film Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope as protagonists fighting for the Republic. Over the life of the saga, audiences watched Luke Skywalker, Obi- Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Mace Windu, Ki-Adi-Mundi, Kit Fisto, Yoda, Darth Maul and Darth Vader (Anakin Skywalker) unsheathe their lightsabers to slice through metal, amputate limbs and even destroy other Jedi. The Jedi clearly belong on this list… because they forced me to put them here.


The Watchmen graphic novel departed from the norm of superhero crime-fighting teams. The story narrates the lives of retired superheroes the Comedian, the second Nite Owl, Dr. Manhattan, the second Silk Spectre, Ozymandias and the aptly named Rorschach. In the story’s alternate reality, superheroes emerged in the middle of the 20 th century and helped dictate the course of history. The graphic novel was followed up by a 2009 movie that presented to some and introduced to others the concept of the antihero. “Who watches the Watchmen?” According to astounding box office numbers, we did.


Charles Xavier’s school of mutated misfits turned disciplined superheroes are another part of the Marvel Comics empire. The X-Men comic book first debuted in 1963 featuring Cyclops, Angel, Iceman, Beast and Jean Gray. The group later expanded to include Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Rogue and the always delightful Wolverine. The television adaptation did wonders for my childhood. I still have VHS tapes of several episodes. If only I could find a VCR….


The city of Townsville is always waistdeep in criminal activity, yet they left the dirty work to three adolescent girls. Blossom, Bubbles and Buttercup were birthed by Professor Utonium’s concoction of “sugar, spice and everything nice.” He assumes the role of father figure as the girls continuously answer calls from a mayor that rivals Mr. Magoo whenever the city of Townsville is in danger. The greatest part about the show is how the Powerpuff Girls’ offset personalities complement each other, not to mention the motley crew of villains they come across. Anyone want to take a stab at describing “Him?”