A Brief History of Team America, Part Three
For three pulse-pounding days days, the ISB's been devoted to the adventures of comicdom's most ridiculously awesome counter-terrorist motorcycle racers!
For three spine-tingling nights, they've battled HYDRA, Team Mayhem, and the common sense that usually stops me from devoting an entire week of blog entries to a short-lived early-80s toy tie-in!
But tonight, it's all on the line, for this is...
By the way, that's got to be my favorite last-issue cover blurb since Transformers #80.
Anyway, after the senses-shattering spotlight issues for each character and a stopover for a Mint 400-esque off-road race through the desert surrounding Cairo--an issue that includes the revelation that Wolf is afraid of flying and Honcho's clandestine meeting with an old CIA contact in broad daylight at McDonald's, among other things--it was probably pretty obvious that sales on the book weren't exactly "kicking it into high gear," leaving the creators of the book to do the only thing they could to boost sales:
Because if you like Iron Man, you'll love a team of dirtbike racers who tend to get beaten up by everybody and their sister until a mysterious plot device rides in and rescues them. Make Mine Marvel!
Finding themselves broke in Brooklyn, Team America's confronted with wrecked motorcycles and dwinding prospects when the Marauder--after doing a bit of soul-searching atop the Brooklyn Bridge, as Marvel characters are wont to do--decides to make the ultimate sacrifice and leaves his souped-up motorcycle for TA to find the next morning, which they use to win a few races and then almost immediately sell to Stark Industries R&D.
Okay, so it's actually more like they fail to read the fine print of their contracts and end up accidentally turning over the Marauder's bike, but still, the theme of the issue here is "Team America Sells Out!" and that's about as exciting as it sounds. In a perfect world, that would've been the moment that sparked Civil War--Mantlo Style!, with the supporters of proprietary technology--your Hank Pyms, for instance--lining up behind Iron Man and the small businessmen of the Marvel Universe siding with Team America, with Scott Lang's loyalty hanging in the balance. And it also would've included many, many more panels of Wolf exploding into latino fury, requiring forty-three other men holding him back from beating something to death. Just one of those is simply not enough.
In reality, it doesn't quite work out like that. Instead, the Marauder and Iron Man have more of a friendly meeting where Tony returns the Marauder's bike and then gives Team America a truckload of money and sends them on their way, which marks the only time in the history of Bill Mantlo's career that a problem that could've been solved with punching actually wasn't.
The Ghost Rider story, on the other hand, suffers from no such impediment, probably because it actually makes sense for Team America to run across a stunt cyclist and part-time demonic avenger like Johnny Blaze over the course of their travels.
Unfortunately, that's not what's memorable about this issue. Because when your comic features one of the protagonists going out on a long, uncomfortable sex-charged date with what appears to be a nine-year old girl, that tends to overshadow things. Here, see for yourself:
Yep. He kidnaps her out of the back seat of her parents' car. But just wait.
Shower all you want, folks, but after seeing those two panels, you're never going to truly feel clean again.
Eventually the other members of Team America show up to the carnival to watch Johnny Blaze and Red Fowler ride, at which time Honcho gives Wolf a stern look and reminds him that "It isn't wise to get involved with the local chippies," a piece of dialogue that really should've read "Holy fuck, Wolf, are you dating a child?!" and eventually--mercifully--Mary Michelle and Wolf part ways...
..with him leaving her dissheveled in the middle of a seedy carnival after she tells him that he's "opened [her] eyes so much in such a short time."
And just in case you were wondering, that's why the moustache went out of fashion.
To be fair, her parents are HYDRA agents, and about three pages later she's referred to pretty definitively as being 19, but man. The only thing I can think of is that artists Dave Simons and David Weiss somehow missed the first digit of Tom DeFalco's script, but figured since the plot came from EiC Jim Shooter, they might as well just draw it and be done with it. Still, though... Jesus. That's enough to make a guy uncomfortable for the rest of the issue, even with an all-out brawl with HYDRA and a scene like this...
...where The Ghost Rider tries to beat the Marauder to death with a bike chain while they fly through the air on their motorcycles.
And that's pretty much what leads into...
Yes, this is the one where it all comes together, kicking off with--at long last--the shocking revelation of the Marauder's true identity! And it is, of course...
Wrench's Girlfriend Georgianna! But more on that later.
Even more important than that, Team America #12 features their final clash with a character that surpasses even Team Mayhem to easily become my favorite character in the entire series:
And if ever there was a character that needs to be in Nextwave, she's it, because despite the fact that HYDRA is a clandestine organization led by a Nazi scientist bent solely on world domination, she's never killed anyone, is on a first-name basis with her sinister underlings, and, in fact, is only in it for a $250,000 annual salary and incredible benefits package. But, as should be expected, this does not stop her from karate kicking the living hell out of anybody who gets in her way. Fan-tastic!
So yeah, she's definitely my favorite villain of the series--although considering that her main rival for that title is Monique Areadite, whose desire to humiliate her male opponents and giant pink triangle belt buckle could pretty much just be replaced with a t-shirt bearing the words "EVIL LESBIAN," that might not be saying much.
Eventually, after Supreme Hydra decides to kill her because Ghost Rider went apeshit on a bunch of tanks when they tried to take out Our Heroes last issue, she goes rogue and heads to Team America, where, in exchange for their help stopping HYDRA from vaporizing her family with a gigantic laser cannon, she explains that they're all the product of a thirty year-old eugenics experiment designed to create super-soldiers by putting additives in their parents' food. See, the members of Team America are, of course, mutants!
Well, technically, I suppose, they're one mutant: In times of trouble, their psychic link allows them to project their various skills and strengths onto a host body (in this case, Georgianna), in what one of Tuesday's commenters rightly termed Marvel's ass-kicking dirtbike-riding version of The Infinity Man. And yet, she still doesn't explain why Wolf has super-strength.
They are, of course, victorious, but decide after the battle that maybe this whole motorcycle racing anti-terrorist thing isn't working out so well. So, after Wrench and Georgianna finally tie the knot while riding motorcycles...
...Honcho heads back to the CIA to battle HYDRA full time, Reddy reconciles with his father, Cowboy goes off to open a school full time, and Wolf, struggling with the fact that he was forced to kill a man... well, pretty much goes back to being a shady drifter who leers inappropriately at young girls, I expect. And in the world of Team America, that means that everything works out okay.
Well, at least until they show up in New Mutants as the Thunderriders and team up with the Thing, anyway.
The Mysterious Marauder!
The set is now complete! Find the "How To Trick Ride" pages your own damn selves!
I didn't mention Team America #10, which falls between the Iron Man issue and the Ghost Rider team-up, above, mostly because outside of the fact that Honcho fights a chemist-turned-guru who invented a chemical compound that can turn the human body to dust within ten seconds of contact, it's not very remarkable. But I will say this:
That's the most well-endowed cultist I've seen outside of Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose.
More From the ISB's Brief Histories:
| Firestorm, Part One |
| Firestorm, Part Two |
| U.S. 1, Part One |
| U.S. 1, Part Two |
| Nemesis, Part One |
| Nemesis, Part Two |
| Gen13, Part One |
| Gen13, Part Two |