The Avengers are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and Earth’s Worst Personnel Managers. An organization that can look at a Norse God and an ant and think “They’re about equal threats,” obviously has trouble recognizing what kicks ass. They’ve had fewer powerful guest stars than Oprah. The following five failures didn’t just appear in the comic, they were fully accredited members of the team, proving that Marvel’s premiere title has looser entrance requirements than the Keystone Kops.
(And we didn’t count The Great Lakes Avengers because they’re copyright infringers.)
You might be expecting Hawkeye, what with the whole “Waving a bow around men who can command lightning” schtick, but Clint Barton is actually a genius. He’s noticed that the only things guns can hit in his universe are Captain America’s shield or Iron Man’s everything. That’s why he runs around with a bow and arrow: it’s the highest-tech projectile weapon which still works.
If you want an idiot you need Hawkeye’s mentor, who decided “I shall use a weapon that requires I stand right in front of the Hulk.” The Swordsman ran around armed only with his eponymous blade. And “eponymous” is as close any adjectives comes to a compliment about his stupid name. He tried to kill the Avengers several times, so they invited to him join the team. So he did. And tried to kill them again.
We’re not sure how intense the Avengers’ background checks are, but when someone has been a member of the Lethal Legion, Emissaries of Evil and the Legion of the Unliving, your combat strategy shouldn’t be giving them the keys to your house and a paycheck.
Starfox’s real name is “Eros of Titan”, the interplanetary equivalent of introducing yourself to the neighbors as a sex offender. He has the ability to control the emotions and erotic feelings of other people, meaning his superpower is date-rape, made worse by how he’s one of the Eternals of Titan. One Titanian year is a thousand Earth years. For him everyone in the universe is jailbait.
<—And he does not care.
He comes from the war-torn moon of Titan, and it’s hard to use the word “comes” when he grins like that. Ugh, and the word “hard.” He abandoned his people’s desperate battle for good against evil because he just wanted to get laid. He’s a superpowered deserter, the cosmic equivalent of a sailor jumping ship directly through the window of a Hong Kong brothel, so of course he was prime Avengers material. Oh, and he’s recently been arrested by the State of New York, beaten by his own lawyer, She-Hulk, for messing with her mind, arrested by Titan, beaten by the She-Hulk again for using his powers to make her sleep with other people, and finally stripped of his abilities because Jesus, did you read the previous part of this sentence?
Doctor Druid fails so hard he violates causality. He manages to be a sad ripoff of Doctor Strange despite being created two years earlier. Although created 25 months in advance, he was also retired 20 months in advance, as in “advanced sucking.” He stayed gone for nine years and that remains the only smart thing he’s ever done.
He wielded weak hypnotic powers with minor magical flourishes, making him the only Avenger less powerful than Criss Angel. He not only joined the Avengers, he briefly led the team, and in accordance with the Avenger’s “hire and promote any lunatic who tries to kill us, especially if they look like a homeless person living in a derelict costume store” policy, this was when he was being mind-controlled to kill them all. Then he took over the Secret Defenders, and was mind-controlled to kill them too. He’s spent more time in costume being controlled by others than a gimp and was worse at hurting people. The Avengers mansion’s refrigerator was a better hero because at least it couldn’t be reprogrammed for murder.
He was so terrible that they gave him his own four issue miniseries just to kill him. A miniseries normally means relaunching a character, probing popularity for a possible ongoing series, or just shining the spotlight on a loved lesser character. For Druid it meant bringing in Warren Ellis just to kill him, and in comics that’s a more lethal fate than facing Dr Doom in a nuclear warhead factory. Druid was beaten up by the Devil, pantsed and depowered by a zombie witch, shot several times, killed by a Devil who’d come back because he just couldn’t get enough of beating the Druid’s stupid face, and his corpse was burned in a filthy Manhattan trash can. We know comic deaths are normally less permanent than the measles, but they couldn’t have made their point clearer if they’d renamed Captain America as Captain Doctor Druid Is Never Coming Back.
Stingray is an underwater Iron Man, and we don’t want to make Marvel’s robotically-suited oceanographer look stupid, but Iron Man already works underwater. In fact, the only time Iron Man met Stingray it was:
a) underwater and
b) to kick his ass.
This picture where Stingray is running like hell? That’s the best he looks in the whole issue.
It turned out to be a misunderstanding, and while heroes beating each other up usually leads to a team-up, this time Tony Stark just shrugged, “Hell, guess I didn’t need to kick this guy’s ass” and flew off without even waiting for him to wake up. Which is something Stark can do because his super-suit works outside of the water. Dr Walter Newell actively worked not just to join a class of superheroes whose brightest stars are Aquaman and Namor the Submariner, but to become third-best in it.
He was only allowed to join the Avengers as caretaker of the “Hydro Base” because giving him an ID card was cheaper than paying him rent. Then they left him there as a super-janitor while they flew off to do cool things above sea level. So at least now we know the Avengers are smarter than the Justice League, who couldn’t work out a way to trick Aquaman into staying home.
All heroes are based on fads, but some fads last longer than others. The “Norsemen kicking ass” trend spread blonde hair over a quarter of the globe, often against the globe’s wishes. Plastering things in flags and attacking anyone foreign is sadly more popular now than it was in the ’40s. But by far the most tragic fad-power was the 3-D Man.
His entire power is being 3-D. Meaning he’s either taking the piss out of comics by mentioning the third dimension, or taking the piss out of comics for being so incredibly stupid. 3-D Man had ludicrously unlikely powers, even for comics, and it actually happened twice, because they ran out of ideas decades ago. The first was an air force test pilot imprinted on a pair of glasses by exploding spaceship radiation. The most kickass of all the fictional radiations. When his crippled brother concentrated on the glasses he could conjure 3-D Man but fell unconscious in the process, making 3-D Man the rawest deal in all comics. The glasses made the buff test pilot even buffer and the crippled nerd even more crippled.
3-D Man had triple the abilities of a normal human. So he’d be a kickass member of your ultimate frisbee team but sort of sucked standing next to people made of indestructible metal. They never dealt with how “healing three times as fast” meant that he’d only take four months to learn to walk again after one punch from any supervillain, as opposed to the full year, probably because they already had Professor X as the wheelchair character.
The most tragic part was that this Avenger was the second iteration of 3-D Man, a disgraced drug-abusing athlete given powers by an alien-worshipping celebrity cult who stole them from the original 3-D Man, who was actually a ‘70s fake of a ‘50s hero (no, that sentence is not supposed to make sense). He was a greater mockery of athletic ability and authenticity than Mark McGwire breaking Roger Maris’s home run record. He got onto the team when the cult applied PR pressure to the team, forcing them to swap Captain America and Thor for the equivalent of three regular guys.
…which was still one of their better hires, because at least 3-D Man didn’t try to molest or kill them.
Scrub your brain clean with Luke’s roundup of Six Characters We Actually Want to See in Street Fighter X Tekken, or sully it further with The Lamest Versions of The Avengers to Ever End Up on Film.