Whether you were on the side of angels or demons, it paid to run in a pack this past year.
Indeed 2011 proved a good time to have friends or at least allies watching your back as the Marvel Universe provided challenges nearly impossible to overcome on one’s own. Heroes banded together to face their fears. Villains solidified bonds to become more effective than ever. And even in the face of a tremendous schism, a species stuck together, albeit in factions thousands of miles apart.
To celebrate the start of a new year, Marvel.com looks back at our favorites from 2011, beginning with the teams of the Marvel Universe.
This list reflects a vote conducted by members of the Marvel.com editorial staff and should by no means be considered official ranking or representative of anything but their specific tastes
10. THE NEW MUTANTS
Roster: Dani Moonstar, Cannonball, Karma, Sunspot, Magik, Magma, Warlock, Cypher, X-Man
2011 in Review: After the back-to-back challenges of escaping Limbo and surviving the Age of X cost her half her team, Dani Moonstar rallied the New Mutants by petitioning Cyclops for a new mission statement to clean up the X-Men’s unfinished business. This far the second generation Children of the Atom has rescued and recruited X-Man, aided Hela during Fear Itself and most recently tracked down the missing Blink.
Why They Make the List: Rather than sit around waiting for the elder X-Men to have use for them, the New Mutants under Dani’s direction became a pro-active force, dealing with the messes their one-time mentors forgot about and getting results. Furthering this stance, they moved off Utopia following Schism and took up residence in San Francisco itself to be closer to the action and people who need them.
Digital Highlight: NEW MUTANTS (2009) #19—The team’s final battle against Project Purgatory!
9. THE YOUNG AVENGERS
Roster: Patriot, Wiccan, Hulkling, Iron Lad, Hawkeye, Stature, The Vision, Speed
2011 in Review: The Young Avengers found the missing Scarlet Witch and have spent the rest of the year dealing with the fallout. They’ve traveled through time, opposed both the Avengers and X-Men, battled Doctor Doom and lost one of their own as they remain committed to standing by one another and offering Wanda Maximoff the chance for redemption.
Why They Make the List: Despite the world’s most prominent heroes standing against them, the Young Avengers have refused to budge in their conviction that everybody deserves a second shot, even The Scarlet Witch. It has cost them greatly and perhaps robbed them of a bit of that youthful innocence, but they have truly earned their stripes as heroes.
Digital Highlight: AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE #3—The Scarlet Witch returns and she’s not the only one!
8. THE X-MEN (TEAM WOLVERINE)
Roster: Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, Beast, Iceman, Rogue, Marvel Girl, Gambit, Husk, Armor2011 in Review: After Schism split the X-Men, Wolverine took those loyal to him and any young mutants looking for a place to learn back to Westchester, New York, establishing the Jean Grey School and taking on the unfamiliar role of headmaster. These X-Men’s first challenge came in getting their certification from the board of education even as the new Hellfire Club besieged their grounds with genetically engineered monsters, a feat they accomplished through unconventional but effective means.
Why They Make the List: You have to admire Wolverine’s willingness to become a fish way out of water as the mentor to the next generation of mutants, putting his money where his mouth is as far as giving them a choice for their future. Also, it’s just nice to have X-Men in New York again. Digital Highlight: UNCANNY X-MEN #522—Kitty Pryde makes her way back to the X-Men!
7. THE HELLFIRE CLUB
Roster: Kade Kilgore, Manuel Enduque, Baron Maximilian von Katzenelbogen, Wilhemina Kensington
2011 in Review: 12-year-old super genius and sociopath Kade Kilgore rented out his mechanical knowhow to help the Hellfire Club launch a Sentinel attack against the X-Men that in part led to their Schism, then poisoned the venerable villains so that he and his similarly psycho prepubescent pals could acquire the name. The new Club has since made its presence felt by disrupting the opening of the Jean Grey School with a monster attack. Why They Make the List: Kade Kilgore orchestrated the death of his soulless father to acquire his inheritance and then teamed with his buddies to oust the Hellfire Club in murderous fashion then nearly end the X-Men. Also, it’s a group of 12-year-olds in suits mouthing off to Wolverine—what’s not to love?
Digital Highlight: UNCANNY X-MEN #532—Hellfire Club veterans Emma Frost and Sebastian Shaw battle it out!
6. THE THUNDERBOLTS
Roster: Luke Cage, Songbird, Fixer, MACH-V, Moonstone, Ghost, Juggernaut, Man-Thing, Satana, Boomerang, Centurius, Mister Hyde, Shocker, Troll 2011 in Review: A bevy of mystical threats occupied the early part of the Thunderbolts’ year before they plunged headlong into Fear Itself, battling teammate-turned-Worthy member Juggernaut and attempting to stem the destruction caused cross country by his new crew. An errant spell by Satana ended up hurtling most of the team into the past, where they have since teamed with the Invaders and helped solve a Victorian murder mystery while in the present Luke Cage, Songbird and MACH-V attempt to bring them back.
Why They Make the List: For a collection of oddballs and unrepentant rogues all too quick to stab anybody in the back, the T-Bolts proved pretty effective for the good guys in Fear Itself and their adventures through history have been entertaining to say the least. The unpredictability of how well redemption will take with this group always makes them stand out.
Digital Highlight: THUNDERBOLTS #150—The Avengers vs. the Thunderbolts!
5. THE FUTURE FOUNDATION
Roster: Mister Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, The Thing, Spider-Man, Franklin Richards, Nathaniel Richards, Valeria Richards, Alex Power, Bentley 23, Dragon Man, Leech, Artie Maddicks, Korr, Mik, Tong, Turg, Vii, Wuu, Doctor Doom
2011 in Review: The seeming death of The Human Torch brought to an end the Fantastic four, but gave rise in its place to the Future Foundation, a new organization dedicated to exploration and protection of Earth and beyond as well as the education of extraordinary children. Almost immediately after their formation, the FF found itself thrown into the War of Four Cities, a massive conflict involving the Inhumans, Kree, Atlanteans and more that continues to rage on.
Why They Make the List: The Fantastic Four always stood in contrast to other Marvel teams as a true family, but the Future Foundation branched that metaphor further, providing an extended safe haven for individuals possessing incredible gifts and looking to make a positive difference. Varied recruits from the innocent Leech to ultimate reclamation project Doctor Doom have found a home in the FF, dealing with problems the scope of which truly require a genius or three minimum.
Digital Highlight: FF #1—The formation of the Future Foundation!
4. THE X-MEN (TEAM CYCLOPS)
Roster: Cyclops, Colossus, Storm, Magneto, Psylocke, Dazzler, Jubilee, Emma Frost, Namor, Danger, Domino, Hope, Magik, Warpath
2011 in Review: After his ideological split with Wolverine, Cyclops consolidated his forces on Utopia and marshaled the most powerful mutants among the populace into his new “Extinction Team.” The nascent group faced their trial by fire against a reinvigorated Mister Sinister, driving him away from San Francisco and staring down the cosmically powered Celestials in the process. Meanwhile, Storm led a smaller squadron to corral Sentinel activity in Eastern Europe and prevent international aggression alongside War Machine.
Why They Make the List: The world may always hate and fear the X-Men, and Cyclops has decided he’s ok with that, provided they also leave his people alone. Gathering perhaps the most powerful and certainly the most intimidating group in X-Men history with his Extinction Team, Scott Summers has resigned himself to safeguarding his species and protecting the world at large no matter what it takes or who he upsets as he goes; it’s risky, but you have to respect his guts and commitment.
Digital Highlight: UNCANNY X-MEN #534.1—As part of his ongoing efforts to establish the X-Men’s credibility, Cyclops attempts the daunting task of rehabilitating Magneto’s image!
3. THE SECRET AVENGERS
Roster: Steve Rogers, Black Widow, Beast, War Machine, Moon Knight, Ant-Man, Valkyrie, Sharon Carter, Prince of Orphans, Shang-Chi
2011 in Review: While their war with the Shadow Council continues into the present, the Secret Avengers did manage to score two key wins over their enigmatic adversaries by preventing the full resurrection of Shang-Chi’s villainous father and liberating John Steele from his servitude. Beast, Valkyrie and Black Widow all stepped up during Fear Itself and the full team continued its campaign against the Council with impressive results as the year wound down.
Why They Make the List: While their contemporaries engage in lengthy campaigns against world-shattering threats, the Secret Avengers stay on the clock 24/7, undertaking new missions every day against the encompassing menace of the Shadow Council as well as anybody else threatening global safety and security. In the same period the primary Avengers team may fight a pitched battle with Kang or Ultron, Black Widow, Moon Knight and company execute a half dozen surgical strikes against evil.
Digital Highlight: SECRET AVENGERS #9—The team takes on the Shadow Council to try and prevent the rebirth of Shang-Chi’s father!
2. THE AVENGERS
Roster: Captain America (Steve Rogers), Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, The Vision, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America (Bucky Barnes), Spider-Woman, The Protector, Red Hulk, Quake, Storm
2011 in Review: When your year starts off with The Hood in possession of the Infinity Gems, it’s hard to imagine things getting much worse, but Earth’s Mightiest Heroes can say otherwise. After calling in major reserves to turn back that particular challenge, the Avengers spread their numbers in stemming the destructive tide of Fear Itself, with Red Hulk attempting to safeguard Manhattan from a Worthy-possessed Thing while another group took on The Hulk in Brazil. When the dust settled, a new team emerged to be greeted by the renewed menace of Norman Osborn.
Why They Make the List: Being the world’s most high profile team puts you on the front lines when things get bad, and the Avengers held their ground against world class foes like The Serpent and his Worthy. When sheer strength or power couldn’t get the job done against an empowered Hood or the seemingly unstoppable hammer-wielders, heroes like Captain America and Iron Man turned to their wits as well as the vast cumulative skill of their teammates. Their lineup may change, but the Avengers continued living up to their moniker as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Digital Highlight: AVENGERS #12.1—Portents of things to come when the Avengers face the Intelligencia!
Roster: Wolverine, Archangel, Deadpool, Fantomex, Psylocke, Deathlok, Nightcrawler
2011 in Review: Following their harrowing initial mission that ended with Fantomex shooting a child clone of Apocalypse in cold blood, X-Force regrouped as best they could and faced an army of Deathlok androids from the future intent on acquiring the secrets of The World and dealt with the return of The Shadow King. From there, the Dark Angel Saga unfolded, with the team journeying to the Age of Apocalypse and fact, once again engaging the Horsemen, and finally needing to pull out all the stops and make huge sacrifices in order to halt the ascent of their corrupt teammate, Archangel.
Why They Make the List: Nobody likes taking out the garbage, but somebody has to do it. X-Force served this role in the Marvel Universe, getting their hands dirty with jobs others shied away from despite the tremendous toll it took on their souls. When even Deadpool expresses guilt, you know you’re facing steep challenges, but Wolverine’s black ops squad still forged ahead. They didn’t grab headlines or get tickertape parades, but really doesn’t that make what X-Force accomplished even more commendable? We’re sure they don’t feel like the top team of the year, but for all they gave up to keep safe a world that never knew it, we believe they earned at least one accolade.
Digital Highlight: UNCANNY X-FORCE #5.1—X-Force must save the X-Men from Lady Deathstrike and the Reavers without them knowing about it!
I want to know who your favorites are for 2011. If your team isn’t on the list, comment and tell me why they’re your favorite.