Generally, they are a comedy team – most members are incompetent losers going through parodies of super-hero tropes. However, the comedy often turns dark with little warning.
Full Name: Currently unrevealed (formerly Great Lakes Avengers, Lightning Rods, Great Lakes X-Men, Great Lakes Defenders, Great Lakes Champions, Great Lakes Initiative)
Purpose: Not really. They occasionally fight crime (and less occasionally stop it).
Modus Operandi: Fight bad guys.
Extent of operations: Wisconsin and beyond.
Bases of Operations: Milwaukee.
Major Funding: Big Bertha, formerly the Initiative.
Known Enemies: Doctor Tannenbaum, Leather Boy, Maelstrom
Known Allies: Few who’ll openly admit to it.
Number of active members: 4.
Number of reserve members: 0.
Organizational structure: Mister Immortal is kind of in charge (when not dead, and not raging).
Membership requirements: Willing to join.
Great Lakes Avengers
When Mr. Immortal placed a personal ad for other costumed adventurers in Milwaukee, the recruitment drive was attended by Big Bertha, Doorman, Dinah Soar, Flatman, and Leather Boy.
Leather Boy was asked to leave when it was realised he had no powers and had completely misinterpreted the ad. The others decided to call themselves the Great Lakes Avengers (GLA).
Gaining local notoriety by actions such as foiling a robbery at the Milwaukee Farmers & Merchants Trust Building, they drew the attention of actual Avengers in the form of Hawkeye. Hawkeye happened to be nearby after storming away from the West Coast Avengers (WCA). He was accompanied by Mockingbird, who’d been trying to calm him down.
The pair lured the GLA into the open. After a brief scuffle Hawkeye announced he’d take over the team to shape them into actual Avengers. This irritated current leader Mr. Immortal.
Receiving an Avengers Quinjet emergency signal, Hawkeye led the GLA to Absolom College of Robotics in Texas. There they helped rescue the Scarlet Witch, Captain America and She-Hulk from That Which Endures, a sentient gene collective consciousness which was trying to eliminate humanity in favour of mutants.
Despite all his efforts, Hawkeye couldn’t get the other Avengers to accept and endorse the GLA. Frustrated, he soon quit to rejoin the WCA.
The team continued without him. Howbeit, most of their cases weren’t the type of thing to make national news (saving a suburb of Muskego, Wisconsin from Doctor Tannenbaum and his giant robot snowmen). Still, they did help the actual Avengers when Terminus threatened all life on Earth.
They battled Terminus at the St. Louis Gateway Arch, and managed to keep him occupied until the Avengers arrived to deal with him.
While enjoying a day at the Bay City Aquarium, the team spotted the criminal Deadpool and tried to apprehend him. Following the destruction of sections of the Aquarium, the freak interaction of Deadpool’s teleporter and Doorman’s body sent Deadpool and his sidekick/abductee, Blind Al, back in time.
With Doorman severely affected and linked to the time-displaced pair, the team had to help them return to the present. They parted on good terms with Deadpool (although he did blow Mr. Immortal up by way of a farewell).
When the truth about the Thunderbolts became known the incensed Lightning Rods swore vengeance, and forced their assistance on S.H.I.E.L.D. to bring the Thunderbolts to justice. When S.H.I.E.L.D. located the Thunderbolts they let the Lightning Rods fight them first.
The first battle ended in the Lightning Rods’ defeat, the Thunderbolts taking their costumes to sneak past S.H.I.E.L.D..
They caught up with the Thunderbolts while they were battling a rampaging Hulk in Wyoming. The Hulk turned out to be a robot that was gathering energy to allow Graviton to return to Earth. Due to the Lightning Rods’ interference it succeeded, and Graviton returned, quickly subduing both teams.
They survived, but the Thunderbolts got away again, and the Lightning Rods gave up the chase and the name.
Returning to being the GLA, the team continued with marginal success. They protected the residents of Medina, Ohio from freak tornadoes caused by the Masters of Evil’s global scheme; but being easily upstaged by the real Avengers when the Ani-Men attacked the Milwaukee Convention Centre.
Mr. Immortal, despondent over their failures, was on the verge of disbanding the team. The news then came through that the Avengers had disbanded in the wake of disasters caused by the Scarlet Witch. Seeing it as their chance to step up, they eagerly went into battle when Maelstrom constructed a machine to end the universe so he could learn its secrets.
While they managed to obstruct his plans, Dinah Soar was killed in the fight.
With Mr. Immortal severely shaken and depressed over Dinah’s death, Flatman took over leadership of the team. He and Doorman travelled to New York to recruit new members. Despite a number of refusals — and a few laughing in their face — Squirrel Girl and her sidekick Monkey Joe (a squirrel) eagerly accepted.
Squirrel Girl makes anything better
Going to the aid of Grasshopper when he tried foiling Batroc’s Brigade’s attempt to steal from Roxxon, they offered him membership. Grasshopper accepted, only to be tragically killed by Zaran the Weapons Master seconds later.
Leaving Monkey Joe on monitor duty, with the moping Mister Immortal also around the HQ, the team tried tracking down Maelstrom.
When they returned to the HQ they found Mister Immortal and Monkey Joe dead at the hands of Leather Boy. He’d been thrown into a rage at the news of Squirrel Girl joining the team when he hadn’t been. Big Bertha sat on him, ending his threat.
Mr. Immortal (who can’t die, it’s in the name) learned Maelstrom’s location from Deathurge. The team thus invaded his base under Lake Michigan. While the rest of the team faced Batroc’s Brigade, Mr. Immortal snuck past them to confront Maelstrom.
Sensing loneliness in Maelstrom, Mr. Immortal used it to convince him of the futility of life. He punctuating that by shooting himself in the head. The depressed Maelstrom followed suit. Mr. Immortal returned to life in time to shut down the doomsday machine.
Great Lakes X-Men/Defenders/Champions
Receiving a cease and desist letter from the Maria Stark Foundation requiring them to stop calling themselves the Avengers, the team — realising they were all mutants — renamed themselves the Great Lakes X-Men, and adopted new uniforms from a mysterious benefactor.
When the benefactor was revealed to be Leather Boy, still after revenge, they returned to their original costumes.
Thanks to Squirrel Girl helping out the Thing, the team were invited to a Superhero Poker Tournament he’d organised. When their new name was overheard by the real X-Men, Marvel Girl (Rachel Grey) mentally convinced them to change the name.
Deciding to become the Great Lakes Defenders, Doctor Strange mystically convinced them to choose another name. When Flatman won the tournament they decided to call themselves the Great Lakes Champions. Hercules was about to physically persuade them to take another name when he was convinced to let them have it.
Great Lakes Initiative
They were among the first to register under the Superhuman Registration Act, actually waiting in line the day the act was announced. They were hardly the most famous, though. So when Deadpool wanted to become a bounty hunter of unregistered heroes he picked the team as his first target. They fought, and Squirrel Girl beat him easily.
Renamed the Great Lakes Initiative following the Civil War, they teamed up with Deadpool. The job was to stop AIM using the kidnapped god Dionysus to inebriate all the super heroes so they could take their technology.
Deadpool’s regenerative abilities made him immune to the effect. And when encoding the country’s heroes into the device to be targeted, nobody remembered the GLI (even though A.I.M. were using the secret base of the GLI’s arch-enemy, Doctor Tannenbaum).
They offered Deadpool reservist status on the team. He accepted, and proceeded to stay with them for a while using up their Initiative budget on fast foods, pay-per-view porn, and various other unsavoury expenditures. Eventually Squirrel Girl had to throw him out.
When Norman Osborn took over control of the Initiative, Wisconsin native Gravity was assigned to lead the team, to his dismay. He didn’t stay long after Osborn’s ousting.
Feeling the team were coming to rely too much on her, and so not developing on their own, Squirrel Girl left the team and returned to New York, where she become nanny for Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ daughter.
During the Serpent’s reign of fear the team finally got the attention of the people of Milwaukee, who formed a lynch mob. Running from them the team encountered the villain Asbestos Man (dragging an oxygen tank around with him due to his cancer).
They were reluctant to go near him due to the asbestos. But he – despondent over his failure as a villain – willingly surrendered when they said he’d make their top five villains list, if only by virtue of there only being another four on the list.
The lynch mob saw this and, realising what a bunch of losers they were, returned to ignoring them.
Even the members themselves don’t seem too sure what the team’s name now is.
DC Universe History
The team named themselves the GLA after the JLA (although they haven’t decided what their A stands for yet). Green Arrow and Black Canary mentored them for a while, following his angry departure from the League.
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Source of Character: Marvel Comics
Writeup completed on the 5th of December, 2012.