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G.L.A. #1: Review

Apr 2005
Dan Slott, Paul Pelletier

Story Name:

Great Lakes Avengers misassembled

Review & Comments

4 stars

G.L.A. #1 Review by (November 4, 2023)
This issue's title is an obvious play on Avengers Disassembled.

GLA history:-
The team came to the attention of Hawkeye and Mockingbird in West Coast Avengers #46. The duo trained them in their subsequent WCA or Avengers apps during which they were made official.
The Avengers disappeared as a result of the Onslaught crossover, and the Thunderbolts rose to take their place. The GLA joined the bandwagon by renaming themselves the Lightning Rods in Deadpool (1997) #10–11. When the TBolts were unmasked as villains, SHIELD sent the Rods to apprehend them in Thunderbolts #15–17. And after that they've reverted to Great Lakes Avengers.

We didn't know anything about the Giant Robot Snowman before now but we'll learn more in subsequent issues.

Although Deathurge collects souls of the dying he has no known connection to Death. Instead he has worked for Oblivion, who gave him his powers, and Maelstrom, from his 1st app in Marvel Two-In-One #72 to Quasar #25. After that he seemed to be an independent agent from Q#39 to the Rune/Silver Surfer 1-shot.
I'll mention here that a man on flying skis who collects the souls of the dead is obviously a riff on the Black Racer that Jack Kirby invented for DC as part of his New Gods titles.

Maelstrom himself also debuted in MTIO#71-72 and continued through with Deathurge to Q#25. Since then he only showed up (without DU) in Fantastic Four Unlimited #10. Now both of them are here for this whole mini-series.
The Marvel Chronology Project think the Maelstrom in this series and FFU#10 is a clone in order to resolve a continuity problem. But I suspect it solves 1 such problem only to create another.

This is the only app of the animal rights protesting Ani-Men. They have no known connection to previous teams with the same name, but they do sport the same large earphones with large antennas.

The flashbacks to Craig Hollis' childhood are obviously Mr Immortal's earliest apps. Similarly for Deathurge except for an FB in Q#2 in which he ages ago presided over the deaths of the Uranian Eternals.
The same is true for the other GLAers for the formation of the team.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

G.L.A. #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
In the 1st page Squirrel Girl (with her squirrel sidekick Monkey Joe) and Grasshopper address the 'audience' in front of a curtain as though they're on a stage to say that they're not in this issue but they'll be in #2. Squirrel Girl also tells any kids reading not to imitate what chars inside do, especially Mr Immortal. Grasshopper says it's not kids who read these comics anymore. Monkey Joe will pop up occasionally with extra messages.

The rest of the issue has a voiceover from Mr I (Craig Hollis) telling us the tale of his life and that of the Great Lakes Avengers. But it starts with a future scene labelled July 13th, 5:28 PM - the end of everything, where Mr I shoots himself in the head while the elastic Flatman hangs on to Big Bertha to stop himself being sucked into a hole in space.

Craig Hollis was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and his mother died in childbirth. The baby vaguely saw Deathurge ski in to take her soul away, but 1st he promised to look after the child. D'urge, as Craig called him, became the child's 'imaginary' friend, repeatedly leading him into dangerous situations without harm. When the kid became fascinated with fire D'urge advised him not to let his father see. So he played with it under the house until he eventually burned it down, killing his father who Deathurge then took away too.

The next phase in Craig's life was to be an orphan 'looked after' by abusive Mr O'Doughan. But on the bright side young daughter Terri became his 1st friend, then his girlfriend, then his wife. He forgot about D'urge. The happy couple settled down in Milwaukee where Craig got a job at a fast-food joint where they let him take home leftovers. Until 1 day he got home to find a goodbye note. Distraught Craig committed suicide by jumping out of a high window ...

... and that's when he discovered he couldn't die. Temporarily very mangled possibly, but not dead. He used several other tried and trusted methods but none of them took. Until he realised there was an upside to his condition ...

... he created a spandex costume and the catchy name Mr Immortal (or as the costume say Mr I) and became a superhero. His 1st task was stopping a jewellery store robbery. But the armed thieves just shot him in the head. He recovered obviously but the thieves got away. He worked out what was the flaw in his strategy ...

... he didn't have a team to take up the slack when he got killed. So he put out an ad inviting other costumed characters to get together. He was lucky enough to immediately get the other GLA members Big Bertha, Dinah Soar, Doorman and Flatman. (Plus S&M aficionado Leather Boy who misunderstood the ad.) Given that the Avengers was now a franchise (with East and West Coast branches) he suggested they set themselves up as a 3rd branch. The Milwaukee or Wisconsin Avengers was suggested but Mr I was thinking bigger - and the Great Lakes Avengers was born.

We see some early solo exploits. A woman accidentally locks her dog in her car and Doorman makes himself a portal into it and reaches through himself to retrieve the pooch. A man can't get a front door unlocked so Flatman slides his 2-D arm under the door and unlocks it from within. As the somewhat dim hero walks away the man enters and robs the house. Big Bertha holds up a falling girder until workmen can get out of the way. A little girl admires her but her mom calls the extremely fat Bertha a freak. Flying dino Dinah Soar rescues a child's escaped balloon but everyone runs away when she tries to return it. Leather Boy seems to still be hanging around too.

They have a wall in their base with pictures and cuttings of their greatest moments, and also some 'trophies'. They worked with Hawkeye and Mockingbird, and renamed themselves the Lightning Rods when the Thunderbolts replaced the missing Avengers, but reverted to GLA when the TBolts were revealed as villains. They foiled a Giant Robot Snowman and kept its head as a trophy. Their other trophy is a giant pair of scissors used to open a new mall.

We now see them playing bridge without Big Bertha. Mr I has to relay Dinah Soar's bids (even though she's in the opposing pair) because he's the only 1 who can understand what she says. Then Dr Val Ventura (Flatman) takes a call from the model Ashley Crawford to say that her photo-shoot is being attacked by a new version of the Ani-Men protesting animal rights. She then turns into Big Bertha, bursting (literally) out of the phone booth. The rest of the team leap into their quin-jetta car and navigate traffic to the site. Only to find when they get there that the Avengers (Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Thor and Vision) are dealing with it. Hawkeye ignores Flatman's attempt to get his attention.

Craig and Dinah get up from the bed they share and he tells her he thinks the team should disband. But at breakfast they learn that Ant-Man, Hawkeye and Vision have been killed and the rest of the Avengers have 'disassembled'. But Mr I realises that now *they* are the Avengers, and there's no-one to steal their thunder anymore.

They go out on patrol and pick up news that a supervillain has broken into a research lab at the university. When they get there they see Maelstrom using his energy powers to steal a huge piece of machinery. An energy bolt fries Mr I but he starts to get better as Dinah consoles him. She reminds him that she like him is very long-lived and they will have centuries together. And then a Maelstrom-bolt kills her.

The villain escapes with his prize. And Craig sees a dino-shaped Deathurge coming to collect Dinah's soul. Craig hasn't seen D'urge since he found Terri's farewell letter.  Which was a suicide note saying that she couldn't escape the memories of her abusive father. He found her in the bath with an empty pill bottle. And D'urge was there saying that Terri had called to him.

Craig begged to be taken with her then, and he so begs now. But both times he's ignored by Deathurge. He's left to the comfort of the remains of the team.

It's apparently 2 weeks later that on July 13th he blows his brains out while Big Bertha and Flatman are in trouble.

And Monkey Joe tells us that another GLA member will die next issue.

Paul Pelletier
Rick Magyar
Wil Quintana
Paul Pelletier (Cover Penciler)
Rick Magyar (Cover Inker)
Wil Quintana (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Dave Lanphear.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: Joe Quesada.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Big Bertha, Deathurge, Dinah Soar, Doorman, Flatman, Great Lakes Avengers, Leather Boy, Maelstrom, Mr Immortal, Squirrel Girl.

> G.L.A.: Book info and issue index

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