Comics
Published April 30, 2019

Meet D.C.'s Greatest Heroes

Washington, D.C., that is! Get to know the group that appeared in last week's 'Avengers' #18!

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Ever since the Squadron Supreme of America showed up in AVENGERS, readers have been wondering what the group's deal is. We learned a bit more about the people under the masks in last week's WAR OF THE REALMS tie-in, AVENGERS #18, but there are still plenty of mysteries surrounding a team with some long, strange, and twisted roots...

AVENGERS #18

To fully dig into the team's past, we have to look back at a different version, the Squadron Sinister, which debuted in 1969's AVENGERS #70 by Roy Thomas and Sal Buscema. In a story that began the previous issue, the Grandmaster challenged Kang to pit quartets of super people against one another. While the time traveling despot chose the 20th century Avengers as his champions, the Grandmaster had the supercomputers of his home planet narrow down his own powered pawns.

The Grandmaster's computers told him which specific humans to pick from the time stream, before turning them into super powerful villains. The results—Dr. Spectrum, Hyperion, Nighthawk, and Whizzer—soon fought Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and Clint Barton during his stint as Goliath.

In the ensuing contest of champions, Cap defeated Nighthawk, shell-head bested Spectrum, Thor trapped Hyperion, and a surprise appearance by the Black Knight led to Whizzer's downfall—an interference the Grandmaster did not appreciate one bit.

Avengers (1963) #70

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That story went on to see good triumph over evil...and also saw the Grandmaster abandon his creations. The team later appeared in DEFENDERS #13 and fought that new team, but Nighthawk decided to become a hero and joined up with them. Doctor Spectrum fought Iron Man a few times and became separated from the Power Prism which has bonded with a variety of characters since. Hyperion then died in battle on Earth-712 at the hands of his counterpart and Whizzer continued his life of crime under the new name Speed Demon.

So...if that's the Squadron Sinister, what's with the Squadron Supreme? Excellent question! That particular hero team debuted in 1971's AVENGERS #85-86 by Roy Thomas, John Buscema, and Frank Giacoia.

In that tale, Scarlet Witch, Vision, Quicksilver, and Goliath (still Barton) wound up on Earth-712, the home of a team much like their own made up of Nighthawk, Dr. Spectrum, Hyperion, Whizzer, Lady Lark, Tom Thumb, American Eagle, and Hawkeye.

Though the Earth-616ers foresaw a devastating event in that parallel Earth's near future, their presence at Squadron Supreme headquarters—located in the same relative location as Avengers Mansion—led to a big fight. After receiving word from Spectrum about a launch, the Avengers put two and two together and realized that the ship would cause the destruction they witnessed in the future.

Defenders (1972) #13

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Once the heroes of the two worlds finally got on the same page, they managed to stop the evil plan of Brain Child and saved Earth-712's future, before the Avengers returned to their home world which would play host to its fair share of Squadron Supreme appearances later on.

If you're wondering why the two initial Squadrons shared four members who looked almost identical to one another, writer-artist Mark Gruenwald explained in the SQUADRON SUPREME limited series when he established that the Grandmaster's computers actually used the Squadron Supreme of Earth-712 as the templates for the Squadron Sinister!

In addition to the renowned mid-'80s limited series by Gruenwald, readers received a SUPREME POWER reboot and even a new team set on Earth-616 consisting of time-displaced members from previously existing alternate realities. The jury may still be out on the Squadron Supreme of America featuring in AVENGERS right now, but if the team's past is any indication, they could fall on either side of the law...

Squadron Supreme (1985) #1

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Read these issues and more on Marvel Unlimited! And pick up AVENGERS #18 at your local comic shop today!