10 Marvel Teams That Exceeded Expectations – CBR – Comic Book Resources

The world of Marvel is full of superhero teams. Some of them seemed less than promising but still managed to exceed fans’ expectations.
When Marvel re-entered the superhero market in the Silver Age, their first book wasn't a solo comic, but Fantastic Four. Ever since then, team books have been a very important part of Marvel's DNA. Superhero team books are always a lot of fun; they're a way for fans to see all of their favorite heroes in one place.
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Over the years, Marvel has debuted many teams but some of them have risen higher than others. Marvel teams have conquered the sales charts and become household names. Sometimes, the teams that no one expects become popular, reaching the top of the industry.
X-Force was strong right out of the gate, but no one really expected too much from the team. They were all style and very little substance, as befits anything co-creator Rob Liefeld works on. However, once Liefeld left, the book shifted, becoming more about the fan-favorite characters. It was an interesting look at teenage heroes that was different from other similar books.
X-Force ran out of steam after the turn of the millennium but came roaring back in the '00s and '10s. The team became the black ops arm of the X-Men and since then has dealt with the morality of its actions multiple times. It's a far cry away from what it once was — and better for it.
The Guardians of the Galaxy are household names because of the MCU, but the team as it exists now is very different from the one that first appeared at Marvel. Hailing from the 30th century, the original Guardians battled against the threats of the future, vying with evil alien races like Badoon. This version of the team would eventually fade away.
Annihilation brought the cosmic side of Marvel back and introduced an entirely new Guardians of the Galaxy, combining B and C list cosmic heroes. The version of the team became hugely popular and inspired the MCU version. It took a dead concept and made it into something amazing.
The Defenders have served a very important role in the Marvel Universe. If the Avengers are the A-List — aka, the team that everyone wants to join — the Defenders are the plucky underdogs. They're the heroes who don't always get along and have been called a "non-team." ​​​​​​
The first roster of Doctor Strange, Hulk, Silver Surfer, and Namor set the tone for the group, creating a unique team. The Defenders may not have had the staying power of some other big Marvel teams, disappearing and coming back, but they're a more beloved facet of the Marvel Universe than anyone would have imagined.
X-Factor originally existed as a showcase for Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Iceman, and Angel. It was a good book, but beyond introducing Apocalypse and transforming Angel into Archangel, it's not exactly a blockbuster X-Men book. All of that changed when the original five went back to the X-Men. This opened X-Factor up and saw the team move in new directions.
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Since then, many mutants have called X-Factor home. Whether the team is working for the government, acting as a detective agency, or working with the X-Men, it's become an integral part of the X-Men mythos, showcasing lesser-known mutants and giving them a place to shine.
The first ads for Young Avengers didn't exactly inspire a lot of confidence. The team seemed like it was a group of DC-esque legacy heroes, something that really wasn't Marvel's forte. However, fans got shocked at just how different the book was. It wasn't a legacy book, but something else: a team of new teen heroes that grabbed fans.
The original line-up was great, but things only got better as the years went by. The Young Avengers introduced readers to the new generation of Marvel heroes, injecting diversity into the Marvel Universe like no other book. The team proved to be unlike anything else out there.
The Avengers had a tumultuous go of things in the '90s. The team's popularity fell off a cliff and while 1998's Kurt Busiek/George Pérez relaunch brought readers back, the book still petered out again in the early '00s. Desperate to make the team a force in the Marvel Universe again, Marvel launched New Avengers with Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch, taking the world by storm.
The team combined the most powerful and popular heroes in the Marvel Universe. People expected great things from the team, but it completely shattered expectations. It became the biggest team book in comics, beating even the X-Men.
DC always dominated the teen superhero market. From sidekicks to the Legion of Superheroes to the Teen Titans, DC was teen hero central. The closest Marvel had for a long time was the original X-Men and Spider-Man, but the original X-Men crashed and burned. It wouldn't be until the '80s that Marvel tried to get into the teen team market again.
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The New Mutants were first introduced in a graphic novel before getting their own book. Right away, they proved to be different from the X-Men and kept proving that as the years went by. The team got more and more popular, morphing into X-Force before coming back stronger than ever.
There have been some powerful Avengers line-ups over the years, but the most unique was the Dark Avengers. Led by Norman Osborn wearing modified StarkTech armor as the Iron Patriot and starring Akihiro, Bullseye, Venom, and Moonstone as Wolverine, Hawkeye, Spider-Man, and Ms. Marvel, Ares, and the Sentry, it was a book that was more entertaining than anyone imagined.
It combined all the tropes of a villain team with great action and humor. It was different from other supervillain team books that had come before it and is a highlight of writer Brian Michael Bendis' time writing the Avengers.
Thunderbolts #1, by writer Kurt Busiek and artist Mark Bagley, seemed like it was going to be yet another '90s comic introducing a new team, albeit one by a top-notch creative team. The Thunderbolts had already appeared once in The Incredible Hulk #449, and it didn't seem like there was much special about them. However, the end of the first issue changed everything.
Revealing that the team was the Masters of Evil in disguise, the twist took a team that no one expected to last long and made them legendary. The book just kept getting better as time went on and created a new successful non-mutant team in Marvel lore for the first time in years.
The X-Men have been around for decades, spending most of the last forty years as the bestselling team in comics. However, it wasn't always that way. X-Men was not a big seller, becoming a reprint book after issue #63. It wasn't until Giant-Size X-Men #1 that it became a truly successful comic. X-Men soon became Uncanny X-Men and conquered the comic industry.
The X-Men went from the humblest of beginnings to the highest heights, beating every team in comics. Uncanny X-Men created an empire unlike anything else. The mutant side of Marvel is basically its own universe. No one would have predicted the team would go so far.
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David Harth has been reading comics for close to 30 years. He writes for several websites, makes killer pizza, goes to Disney World more than his budget allows, and has the cutest daughter in the world. He can prove it. Follow him on Twitter- https://www.twitter.com/harth_david.
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