<i>by <a href=http://www.twitter.com/graemem>Graeme McMillan, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>This week sees the release of DC's new <em>Justice League of America</em> series, with Steve Trevor and Amanda Waller ensuring that the United States has... Well, yet <em>another</em> superhero team to defend its shores. <p>But what about the rest of the world? Who keeps <em>them</em> safe? There are, it turns out, some lesser-known super-teams outside of the U.S. taking on that thankless task and here are 10 of them. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>
Originating from a storyline during Grant Morrison's <em>JLA</em> run, the little-seen IUC set up shop in a floating city called Superbia (years before the BOOM! series of a similar name) above the ruins of Montevideo, promising to keep the world safe from super menaces before essentially disappearing from view until Morrison returned to the Justice League in <em>JLA Classified</em>, where they were torn apart by mind-controlled gorillas. <p>Clearly not the greatest of superteams, but at least they brought the Knight and Squire back to comics.
Another particularly unsuccessful international superteam, the People's Defense Force were the Chinese response to the Avengers (replacing the similarly named "China Force"), appearing during Dan Slott's run on <em>Mighty Avengers</em> and... well, pretty much finding themselves being slaughtered by the Unspoken after their first appearance, really. <p>This is what happens when countries that aren't the U.S. decide to fill their super-ranks with characters that are, essentially, <a href=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redshirt_%28character%29">redshirts</a>. (See also: <a href="http://marvel.wikia.com/Triumph_Division_%28Earth-616%29">The Triumph Division</a>.)
Ah, the simpler days of the Silver Age, when superheroes from around the world could just get together to hang out and socialize, maybe solving some crimes while they're at it. The International Club of Heroes started life as the Batmen of All Nations in 1955's <em>Detective Comics #215</em>, before renaming itself as the Club of Heroes years later presumably in an attempt not to embarrass Batman. <p>Thanks to <em>Batman, Incoprorated</em>, of course, this team still exists in New 52 continuity although, judging by the apocalyptic events of recent issues, that might not be the case for much longer.
Starting out as a product of the comic book tie-in to DC's <em>Super Friends</em> cartoon in 1977, the Guardians didn't actually receive their team name for five years, making their official debut as the Global Guardians in <em>DC Comics Presents #82</em>. <p>They've never been the luckiest team, having found themselves shut down by the United Nations following the formation of the Justice League International in 1987, being re-activated as mind-controlled drones of the super villain the Queen Bee shortly afterwards, and then being murdered off-panel in <em>Justice League: Cry for Justice</em> in 2009. <p>We've yet to officially meet the team in the New 52 although they're mentioned in <em>Justice League International</em> possibly because they're worried about what will happen to themselves when they do appear.
Marvel Comics' Winter Guard have been defending Russia since 1998 without the kind of terrible, group-killing tragedy that has seemingly come to affect most of their international heroic brethren. The creation of Kurt Busiek and Sean Chen during their <em>Iron Man</em> run, the team is made up of many of Marvel's soviet characters who had been created as villains trying to undo the American way of life being able to serve their country in a more heroic light... Even if, it seems, they tend to need the help of decadent westerners to deal with a large number of their troubles. (Well, they <em>are</em> the ones with the comic books, after all...)
The premiere Chinese superteam of the DC Universe first appeared in 2006's <em>52</em> and came from the ever-fertile mind of Grant Morrison. Made up of 10 all-new characters based in Chinese mythology, the team made further appearances in <em>Checkmate</em> and their own nine-issue series (because, of course, why would a team of ten characters with the word "Ten" in their name have any more than nine issues?) before The New 52 came and seemingly dissolved the concept. <p>August General in Iron, one of the members of the team, served with the <em>Justice League International</em> in the current continuity, and is apparently destined to also join a new Global Guardians.
The creation of future <em>Ben 10</em> co-creators Steven T. Seagle and Duncan Rouleau during their <em>Alpha Flight</em> run, Big Hero 6 is the result of Japanese authorities and business interests co-operating to build a better super-team, with members including GoGo Tomago, Honey Lemon and the spectacularly named Wasabi-No-Ginger. <p>Having quietly headlined a couple of mini-series since their late '90s debut, the team is preparing for their highest profile gig yet: Starring in the first full-length Disney Animation/Marvel collaboration.
Yes, Marvel's <em>Excalibur</em> was originally made up of two Americans, two Brits and a German elf, but subsequent incarnations of the team have... Well, confused the nationality issue even further, really. (Remember the Dazzler/Juggernaut version?) <p>Nonetheless, as the name suggests, this is a team known for its British roots, the result of co-creator Alan Davis' country of origin and collaborator Chris Claremont's love of all things U.K. Although the team has continually been subjected to particularly unrealistic and stereotypical portrayals of life in Britain, the Paul Cornell-written run remains a high-point even if the book happened to be called <em>Captain Britain and MI-13</em> at the time.
The concept of the <em>JLI</em> a Justice League for the rest of the world! has ultimately proven to be stronger than the execution in almost every attempt, sadly, but that's likely because the concept really is just a great one. <p>Unfortunately, in filling out the ranks of what should be The World's Greatest Super-Heroes, the team members have tended towards DC's B- and C-list characters (like during Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire's beloved run on the series, which started as <i>Justice League</i>) with bigger names being reserved for the more high-profile <em>Justice League</em> (or, earlier, <em>Justice League [of] America</em>) series... and with a surprisingly high number of Americans on the team for a title that should, by all rights, be made up of almost entirely non-American characters. <p>It was a New 52 launch title that got cancelled after 12 issues and an annual, but it's probable readers haven't seen the last of the JLI.
Should we just go ahead and admit that John Byrne's <em>X-Men</em> offshoot even though <a href="http://www.byrnerobotics.com/FAQ/listing.asp?ID=2&T1=Questions+about+Comic+Book+Projects#10">he didn't think the team could carry a book by themselves</a> is possibly American comics' most successful non-American super-team? <p>Sure, they've been cancelled many times, but they're one of Marvel's more popular B-list concepts, and have had their own series no less than four times in the three decades since their creation. Clearly, there's something to the visual of heroes with pointy ears fighting alongside giant orange hairy hulk-alikes...