A troop of imprisoned criminals make their escape during an electrical storm and thanks to an enchanted crowbar, each receives mystical enhancements. Together they form the Wrecking Crew to wreak havoc.
Electrified Mystical Enhancements
Years ago, Dirk Garthwaite, a small-time burglar known for wielding a crowbar, breaks into a hotel room and overpowers its occupant, the Asgardian trickster god Loki Laufeyson, AKA Loki, who had just requested mystical enhancements from Karnilla the Norn Queen. Accidentally receiving Loki’s enhancements, Dirk becomes the costumed Wrecker, rampaging and battling Loki’s stepbrother Thor Odinson, AKA Thor. Following Thor’s defeat at the hands of the Asgardian Destroyer construct, Wrecker battles Thor again, striking the electrified third rail of a subway track, causing his mystic power to be transferred into his trademark crowbar.
Sent to Ryker’s Island prison, Dirk befriends fellow inmates Dr. Eliot Franklin, Brian Philip Calusky, and Henry Camp, eventually arranging a jailbreak to retrieve his crowbar. The foursome then venture out during an electrical storm, where a bolt of lightning transferred Wrecker’s powers into each of the inmates, splitting the Wrecker’s strength amongst them. While this lowered the Wrecker’s superhuman strength, it granted the others the ability to lift 10 tons. Using their newfound power, Franklin becomes Thunderball, Calusky becomes Piledriver, and Camp becomes Bulldozer. Together, they form the Wrecking Crew.
The team is led by the Wrecker, though Thunderball has been known to try to usurp his power and position. It creates mistrust between them, but they eventually reconcile. Anytime that the team loses their abilities, they all work together to get them back. This desire for power often drives their criminal endeavors.
The Wrecking Crew sometimes overcome but also suffer many defeats at the hands of Thor, Loki, and several members of the Avengers, who are their most formidable and persistent foes. Considering also that the group is empowered by mystical enhancements that were meant for Loki, Loki tries to take that power from them and succeeds.
When they were among Earth beings kidnapped by the Beyonder for a superhuman war, the Crew face Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, Thor, James Rhodes, AKA Iron Man (later War Machine), Peter Parker, AKA Spider-Man, the Avengers, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, Bruce Banner, AKA the Hulk, and Julia Carpenter, Spider-Woman (later Arachne).
Other foes the Crew faces includes the sorceress Morgan le Fay, and several iterations of the Thunderbolts, members of the Midnight Sons, street level heroes, the Defenders, Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division (S.H.I.E.L.D.), and many other major Super Heroes.
Over the years, the Wrecking Crew has remained active as super criminals and the team is loyal to each other…most of the time. Despite occasional betrayals by Thunderball and the other crew members, the Wrecker keeps reassembling the group, regarding them as a sort of twisted surrogate family.
The Crew often allies themselves with other vile villains including the Masters of Evil and Hydra’s Army of Evil. Their most consistent alliance is with Parker Robbins, AKA the Hood’s army and later his gang.
After discovering Thunderball’s previously built gamma bomb, the Wrecking Crew opted to reclaim it from Richmond Enterprises executive J.C. Pennysworth and use it to hold New York for ransom. Tearing apart Richmond Enterprises buildings in search of the bomb, the Crew attracted the attention of the Defenders, including Kyle Richmond, AKA Nighthawk.
Upon their defeat, the members of the Crew were dispersed to different prisons. Soon regaining his crowbar, Wrecker freed his allies and they decided to salvage their reputations by defeating Thor. Encountering Daniel Rand, AKA Iron Fist, and Misty Knight, the Crew used them to enter Avengers Mansion, finding only Captain America, who teamed with Iron Fist to defeat them once again. Sent to Ryker’s Island, Wrecker concentrated upon the crowbar’s power and used it to compel a guard to release him. Regrouping once more, Wrecker and his cohorts were soon bested by Thor. Escaping prison, Thunderball acted solo for a time, battling James Rhodes as Iron Man, and later recovering Wrecker’s crowbar for himself, using it against Spider-Man. The wall-crawler defeated him and returned him to Ryker’s.
The Wrecking Crew were freed by the cosmic Beyonder and transported, along with numerous other heroes and villains, to the Beyonder’s composite “Battleworld,” where the Crew served Victor von Doom, AKA Doctor Doom, against the gathered heroes. Upon their return to Earth, the Wrecking Crew joined Helmut Zemo, AKA Baron Zemo’s Masters of Evil and helped provide intelligence on the Olympian Heracles, AKA Hercules, uncovering the Avenger’s tendency to drink heavily. The Wrecking Crew joined Erik Josten, AKA Goliath (later Atlas), and Calvin Zabo, AKA Mister Hyde, in a savage assault on Heracles, AKA Hercules, as part of a larger invasion of Avengers Mansion that left Hercules comatose. When Thor came to avenge his comrade, he used his hammer’s power to transfer the Crew’s power back into Wrecker’s crowbar, with the Wrecker being defeated by Captain America. The Wrecker quickly escaped prison and freed his friends, using Zemo’s remaining resources in preparation to regain their powers. Thunderball’s previous use of the crowbar left him craving its power, and he soon turned on the Wrecker. Due to infighting, the Crew fell to the combined might of Spider-Man and Arachne.
Shortly thereafter, the Wrecking Crew participated in the so-called “Acts of Vengeance” conspiracy, with Thunderball battling the Fantastic Four, Wrecker fighting Tony Stark, AKA Iron Man, and the entire Crew battling Damage Control (who was secretly aided by Thunderball, a friend of Damage Control’s John Porter). Due to Thunderball’s previous attempts to claim his power and leadership, Wrecker soon began hunting the now-powerless Eliot Franklin, tracking him to a Yancy Street safe house, where he encountered Ben Grimm, AKA the Thing. Imprisoned yet again, the Wrecking Crew participated in the mass breakout staged by Eddie Brock, AKA Venom, at the Rocky Mountain’s Vault prison.
Still desiring a leadership role, Thunderball opposed Venom’s leadership and led his own splinter team of escapees against the Avengers, eventually siding with them to help stabilize the Vault’s core breach.
Eventually escaping, but not fully trusting one another, Wrecker and Thunderball formed a working relationship soon after facing Hercules again and inadvertently helping the Olympian overcome a fear of combat that he developed from his earlier beating. After the Crew battled the NYPD’s Code: Blue task force, Loki began to desire the power originally meant for him. During a battle against Thor and Daniel Ketch, AKA Ghost Rider, Loki had Amora, AKA Enchantress, and the rock troll Ulik take down each of the Crew except the Wrecker, whom Loki tortured and banished to another dimension. Without the Wrecker’s power, Thunderball worked with the Secret Empire, gaining a suit of armor that mimicked his previous abilities and joining them to harness the powers of Richard Rider, AKA Nova. Opposed by Spider-Man, Marc Spector, AKA Moon Knight, Chris Powell, AKA Darkhawk, Dwayne Taylor, AKA Night Thrasher, and Frank Castle, AKA Punisher, Thunderball and the Secret Empire ultimately surrendered. Thunderball soon after designed a “Trans-Dimensional Power Siphon,” which temporarily restored and heightened the Crew’s strength into the 90-ton range. Despite Wrecker returning and regrouping the Wrecking Crew, the group’s powers began to wane as Odin Borson, AKA Odin, attempted to evade Ragnarök (the twilight of the gods), and the Crew were soon defeated by Code: Blue before being hired and given a temporary power boost by geneticist Arnim Zola to battle the Thunderbolts, who gave the Crew yet another defeat.
After a battle against Spider-Man, Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Thing, the Wrecking Crew were freed from prison by Kerwin Korman, AKA Doomsday Man. Given the power to absorb energy into their bodies to further boost their strength, the Wrecking Crew were tasked with capturing Carol Danvers, AKA Warbird (later Captain Marvel). Robbing banks to lure her out, the Crew ended up facing the Avengers, whose Wanda Maximoff, AKA Scarlet Witch, accidentally sent the group to the otherworldly realm of Polemachus, where they defeated its rulers, Arkon and Thundra. The Avengers followed and dethroned the Wrecking Crew, who had assumed control of the realm. With the Doomsday Man’s subsequent defeat, the Wrecking Crew’s strength returned to their normal levels.
Next, battling Thor and the Warriors Three, Thunderball nearly killed Hogun the Grim, AKA Hogun, before Thor caught up to the Crew and defeated them. Following this defeat, the Crew was shuffled through various prisons, including the Cage, Seagate and the Big House, making escapes along the way to battle the Fantastic Four. Morgan le Fay soon made the group her pawns, replacing Thunderball with her magical Knight, as part of her plan to claim Thor’s enchanted arrows, which were held by Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye, but the Crew was defeated by the Avengers and Kelsey Leigh, who was resurrected as the new Captain Britain after the Knight slew her.
Piledriver next decided that the Wrecking Crew should prepare for their later years by training a new generation, bringing his teenage son Ricky into the group as the Excavator. Learning of the Los Angeles-based Pride’s apparent deaths, the Crew began robbing Los Angeles banks, bringing them into conflict with the Pride’s children, the Runaways.
Despite attempts to return Ricky to his grandparents’ custody, the Runaways beat the 5-man Wrecking Crew, leaving them for the police. Sent to the Raft, the Wrecking Crew escaped during a mass breakout, with Wrecker and Piledriver traveling to the Museum of Modern Art to retrieve Wrecker’s “spare crowbar” hidden there. Defeated by Patrick Mulligan, AKA Toxin, Wrecker managed to get away, only to be recaptured by the new Avengers team formed in the aftermath of the Raft breakout. As part of a plot by Baron Zemo, the Wrecking Crew were apprehended, along with numerous other villains, and forced to serve in Zemo’s Thunderbolts army before escaping and running into Cain Marko, AKA Juggernaut, who had given up crime and was severely weakened by his power source, Cyttorak, as a result. Severely beating Juggernaut for turning his back on his old life, the Crew was defeated by Juggernaut’s teammates in Excalibur.
Following the passage of the Superhuman Registration Act, the Wrecking Crew escaped to Canada, terrorizing its citizens until confronted by Walter Langkowski, AKA Sasquatch, whom they beat severely. Moving their crime spree into Toronto, the Wrecker was drawn to a museum housing an ancient doorway into the realm of the Great Beasts. Using his crowbar to mystically open the doorway, Wrecker and company entered in hopes of obtaining greater power. Drawn to the museum, the alien Beta Ray Bill confronted the Crew, who were granted additional power by the Great Beast Tanaraq. Subduing Bill, the Wrecking Crew released demons from the realm and battled the Canadian government’s Omega Flight team, allowing Tanaraq time to escape and possess Sasquatch. Tanaraq was soon imprisoned within Michael Twoyoungmen, AKA Shaman’s magic bag by Omega Flight’s Elizabeth Twoyoungmen, AKA Talisman, effectively removing the Wrecking Crew’s increased power and allowing Omega Flight to easily defeat the Crew. Imprisoned in Manitoba, Thunderball hatched a plan to escape, purposely chiding Wrecker into attacking him. When the guards pulled Wrecker off, Thunderball used a self-made bomb to free the Wrecking Crew, priding himself on a successful jailbreak. Angry that he had been left out of the plan, Wrecker beat Thunderball senseless, reminding him who led the Crew.
Returning to America, the Wrecking Crew joined up with the Hood’s army of Super Villains. As part of the Hood’s army, the Wrecking Crew participated in one of the largest bank robberies in history and joined the Hood in a massive attack on Dr. Stephen Strange, AKA Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum, where they met defeat at the hands of an outlaw team of Avengers before escaping. Following this setback, Thunderball and Bulldozer briefly terrorized Hell’s Kitchen before regrouping with their teammates in the Hood’s army.
The Crew aided fellow Hood ally Billy Russo, AKA Jigsaw, in one of his attempts on the Punisher’s life, only to find the vigilante defended by the Aleksei Sytsevich, AKA Rhino. When alien Skrulls invaded Earth, the Wrecking Crew, along with the rest of the Hood’s army, was forced to team up with many of Earth’s Super Heroes to repel the invasion. Following the invasion, the Wrecking Crew accompanied the Hood’s army in attacking the Avengers in a trap set by Norman Osborn, AKA Green Goblin, only to be knocked unconscious by Carol Danvers, AKA Ms. Marvel (later Captain Marvel). After being hired out to Lonnie Lincoln, AKA Tombstone, for use against Wade Wilson, AKA Deadpool, the Wrecking Crew nearly quit the Hood’s gang until Jonas Harrow discovered depowering technology, using it against the outlaw Avengers. With the Hood’s de-powering and subsequent disappearance, the Crew joined the other members of the Hood’s gang in working for Norman Osborn.
They next joined the newest iteration of the Masters of Evil. The Crew assisted them in several criminal acts and helped fight the Superior Six led by Spider-Man, whose body was inhabited by Otto Octavius, AKA Doctor Octopus, though they lost that battle. Following their time with the Masters of Evil, they joined Nathaniel Essex, AKA Mister Sinister, to help him obtain James Howlett/Logan, AKA Wolverine’s body. The Crew was then taken prisoner by S.H.I.E.L.D. at Pleasant Hill where Kobik, the sentient Cosmic Cube, messed with their minds to transform them into better people. Zemo helped free them from their imprisonment and restored their memories. They battled the Avengers and defeated them, only Kobik healed Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Joining Zemo’s next iteration of the Masters of Evil, the Wrecking Crew attacked the newest Thunderbolts, who were captured in their efforts. Though several of Thunderbolts’ team members joined the Masters of Evil after a fight led to Man-Killer’s death. Following this change of roster, they joined the Masters of Evil in carrying out a plan of the subversive organization Hydra to take over the United States, which they did under their leader, an alternate version of Captain America, AKA Hydra Supreme, whose history was rewritten by Kobik. The Crew joined fake Hydra Supreme’s Army of Evil, fought several heroes in Washington D.C., and killed S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Moth Squadron in a warehouse. The sole survivor Daisy Johnson, AKA Quake, escaped and used her vibration manipulation powers to bring the warehouse down on them.
Surviving Quake’s attack, the Crew and the Army of Evil were placed in stasis by Hydra who had successfully taken over the U.S. and feared them. After the Underground formed, a group of Super Heroes against Hydra forced Zemo to awaken the Crew and the Army of Evil to help defeat Hydra, though T’Challa, AKA Black Panther, and Bucky Barnes, AKA Winter Soldier, prevented him from doing so. Hydra was soon defeated.
The Crew were later seen at a meeting held by the Wizard to discuss Doctor Doom’s recent change in lifestyle as the new Iron Man, but the newly minted hero took them down. The Crew joined an ambush against Doom and Hood’s gang to steal Doom’s money and defeat him. They went up against Doom’s Doombots but both Bulldozer and Piledriver were either knocked out or taken down in the process. Doom as Iron Man took down the remaining Crew members Thunderball and the Wrecker, the latter of which warned him that the Underworld would take their revenge, and sure enough Hood’s gang did so immediately.