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17 October 2007 @ 01:51 am
5 Types of Superhero Team Members  
5 Types of Superhero Team Members

Months ago I was in an online discussion where I reacted to someone else’s question by suggesting, off the top of my head, that there seemed to be two basic ways to create a new superhero team at Marvel or DC: Sweep up an awful lot of existing characters who were currently available to work on a team, or invent a whole bunch of new characters who had banded together for some special reason, and then you could develop their personalities any way you liked. The latter course had the disadvantage that you were working with people whom the fans had never heard of before in their lives, but also the advantage that you probably had more elbow room in deciding what you could do with them for dramatic purposes if you had created your own cast out of thin air and didn’t have to “share” the use of them with the writers and editors of other books that were simultaneously being published, featuring the solo adventures of Superman or Spider-Man or whoever.

Someone correctly called me on that. I don’t recall their exact words, but the general idea was that I had oversimplified in the heat of the moment – after all, some new teams have started out with a good blend of “Old Characters” and “New Characters” as the team first goes into action. And, of course, the membership can fluctuate back and forth later on. Quite right. There’s no rule that says you can’t mix-and-match from different types.

That got me thinking about this subject in more detail, trying to organize the vague ideas I’ve picked up on team memberships over the years. I eventually decided that just labeling members in two categories, “Old” and “New,” doesn’t really make the necessary distinctions. I ended up with an expanded list of Five Types, and here we go!

5 Types of Team Members

1. Established Star
2. Newcomer
3. Retread
4. Shared
5. Reboot


1. Established Star

“If this gig with a new group doesn’t work out, I’ve still got my own series to keep me in the public eye.”

These days, being an Established Star means the character already existed as the star of his very own title. (In the days when comics were typically 64 pages, with several short stories in each issue, a “star” character might simply have a regular feature as part of a larger title that also carried the adventures of several other people in their solo acts.) This type of gathering seems to have begun with “All-Star Comics #3” in the Golden Age, with the first appearance of the Justice Society of America. The JSA started with a membership of nine, and each of the nine had already showed he had some staying power as a solo act in a regular feature in one regular “anthology” title or another. The Sandman, The Spectre, The Flash, Doctor Fate, Hourman, Green Lantern, Hawkman, The Atom, Johnny Thunder.

I believe the general theory goes like this; If you have a bunch of costumed characters who are each getting decent sales in their own books (or, in the old days, as regular features within a larger anthology title) then perhaps sticking them all together on the cover of a new team book will get even better sales by drawing in their respective fans as customers of the new package deal? In this day and age, I don’t know how often it actually works out that way (some modern readers have been known to get very fussy about who is writing a group title, instead of just worrying about which superhero faces are drawn on the cover), but it was the original theory.

Two decades later, the JLA started much the same way. The seven earliest members in the Silver Age were: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, and The Flash. Several of them had their own titles; others had regular features in anthology titles. The Martian Manhunter, for instance, had already been a fixture in the pages of “Detective Comics” for years. For a long time after that, only heroes who had already proved themselves in their own features had any chance of being added to the ranks of the JLA.

Likewise, a few years later the Avengers began as a collection of some of the solo acts Marvel already had – Iron Man, The Hulk (a very brief membership, though, given his stupidity and temper), Thor, and Ant-Man and his partner The Wasp. However, the Avengers started welcoming more obscure members much faster than the JLA did as the years went past.

A problem with havings lots of Established Stars on a team is that the editors and writers working on a particular Established Star’s own book (or books) may be entirely different people from the editors and writers involved with this team book, and the guys who concentrate on telling stories about the Established Star probably won’t want to concede to their “rivals” the power to make any sort of Significant and Drastic Changes in his lifestyle. For instance, if his superpowers are going to change, or he’s going to get married, or die or be maimed “permanently” for that matter, it would probably happen in his own book and not

As an example of how such possessiveness can be taken to ridiculous extremes:

In his autobiography, Man of Two Worlds, Julius Schwartz talks about being the editor of the JLA when the concept was just getting started. He asserts that the editors of the Batman titles and the Superman titles (Jack Schiff and Mort Weisinger, respectively) didn’t want their pet heroes to get “overexposed,” and so there was a period when they wanted Julie to make sure that those two weren’t used on active duty in the JLA’s cases every single issue – just occasionally to help out in a special case, or on other occasions get mere cameos to show they were technically still members of the team - and they weren’t to be featured on the covers at all!

Schwartz says, regarding how this turned out in the long run:

When the circulation began to slip a little, I went in to the publisher to try to come up with some ideas to boost sales. “Gee, I’d like to use Superman and Batman on the cover,” I said.

“Why haven’t you used them all along?” he demanded.

“Because Mort and Jack don’t want me to,” I replied.

“You go in and tell those [CENSORED] that Superman and Batman belong to DC Comics and
not to Mort Weisinger and Jack Schiff!” he bellowed loudly.

Thus Superman and Batman began to show up on the covers and take part in the adventures, and sales increased dramatically.
(Man of Two Worlds, Part 3, Page 96 in the paperback edition.)

On the brighter side: If some of DC’s editors once feared the thought of seeing Superman or Batman featured in more than two or three books a month, then their successors seem to have thoroughly conquered that fear a long time ago.

2. Newcomer

“I sure hope this title is a hit – nobody ever heard of me before, and without the group, I’m probably headed straight into Comic Book Limbo!”

The Newcomer is a character newly created for the occasion so that the writer may do whatever he pleases with the guy without stepping on the toes of any other writers and editors at the same company. There are some obvious advantages when you compare and contrast to the situation with Established Stars who must be shared with other titles – if the Newcomer character falls in love with someone, or seems to have gotten crippled or killed, or faces other dramatic change in his personal and/or professional lifestyles in the pages of the group title, the reader can more easily be caught up in the question of how these ongoing subplots in the team title will be resolved, because the alert reader knows there is a serious chance that any changes which occur may turn out to be Significant and Permanent Changes (at least for the next couple of years, until another writer comes along who says, “Hey, let’s put everything back the way it used to be!”

For instance, if I picked up an issue of JLA and at the end of it, Batman appeared to have just perished in a terrible explosion, I wouldn’t lose too much sleep on the subject because I would know darn well that the various Batman titles were still coming out every month and had not recently announced that they were about to be cancelled due to the impending demise of their leading man. (Remember that when Superman “died” in 1992, none of his four monthly titles were announced to be scheduled for cancellation in the foreseeable future. This was a big fat clue – or rather, four big fat clues! - that their title character would be recovering from his slight case of death before it became too utterly ridiculous to be publishing all four of those series without his active participation!).

On the other hand, Jean Grey (aka Marvel Girl, Phoenix, and probably some other names) has never had her own regular title. If I pick up an issue of X-Men and she appears to have died in it for the umpteenth time, it’s at least remotely possible that this time she really is gone for good! (Hey! Quit laughing so hard! I only said it was possible – not that I would actually bet money on it!)

Ahem. Okay, maybe Jean wasn’t the best possible example. But you get my general drift, I hope – if no other writer and no other monthly title is using a particular character, it’s easier to treat her as “expendable” for the sake of having a really shocking, dramatic scene in the group title where she has been a fixture for awhile. Even if she eventually comes back, it won’t have to happen within the next several months as a result of pressure from people who were also using her in another title all along.

Entire teams of Newcomers have been sprung upon us at various times.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the entire membership of the Fantastic Four from scratch. Mister Fantastic, The Thing, The Human Torch, The Invisible Girl. Later on, they did the same with the original crop of X-Men: Professor X as the mentor, and Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast, and Angel as his first five students.

The Legion of Super-Heroes was almost entirely composed of characters who were newly created for the occasion – beginning with the first three, and then adding others bit by bit over a period of many years whenever someone wanted to do a story about another interesting youngster joining the Legion. (With the exceptions of two 20th Century characters who often worked with the Legion, but had been created in separate stories that had nothing to do with the Legion's group adventures: Superboy and Supergirl.

3. Retread

“This is it! My chance for a big comeback! Nobody has paid any attention to me in years, but now I’ll show them I deserve some respect!”

A “Retread” is my nickname for a character who is well-established in a universe’s continuity, with various other adventures already on record, but is not currently a regular face in any ongoing title until he gets drafted into a newly created group. Sometimes this character actually used to have his very own title, but if so, it’s dead and buried now.

This can be almost as good as “newcomers” as far as having sole control of the character’s fate is concerned. If nobody else has done much of anything with that particular character in the last year or two, and if that wasn’t scheduled to change in the near future either, then the writer who has reached into the company’s inventory and dusted off this old character is likely to feel that he can have a pretty free hand as he fiddles with the guy’s personality, powers, love life, and anything else he feels like fiddling with. Some veteran writers, after landing a gig on a team title, use the opportunity to recruit a character whom that same writer once created and still cherishes.

For instance, Gerry Conway wrote the “Firestorm” series of the late 70s, which featured a hero he had created and only lasted five issues. However, Conway also spent several years writing the JLA around the late 70s and early-to-mid 80s, and so he drafted Firestorm to become a new member of the team for awhile. Apparently the character gained enough of a following from his regular participation in the JLA title that DC finally gave the green light to a new monthly series called “The Fury of Firestorm,” which was then written for the first fifty-odd issues by a man named – wait for it – Gerry Conway! (Never saw that one coming, did you? )

Presumably, if Conway had not gotten the JLA gig, but had been the writer who revived the Teen Titans in the early 1980s, Firestorm would have joined that group – and if Conway had instead ended up writing a book about some brand new super-team in the Pre-Crisis era, he probably would have made Firestorm a founding member of it!

As an example of using Retreads to fill out most of your team, all at once:

When Fabian Nicieza wrote “New Warriors #1,” he made heavy use of obscure characters who had been floating around in the Marvel Universe for years, but who weren’t actually doing anything else in 1990. The first six members of the group (who first got to guest-star as a newly formed group in a story in the “Thor” title that logically must have happened after the later-published “New Warriors #1” when they first met each other) were:

Marvel Boy (Vance Astro)
Firestar (Angelica Jones)
Nova or Kid Nova (Richard Ryder)
Speedball (Bobby Baldwin)
Namorita (Nita Prentiss)
Night Thrasher (Dwayne Taylor)

Only one of those six, Night Thrasher, was a brand new face in the superhero business, a Newcomer specially created for the purpose of gathering together, and leading, the New Warriors. Each of the other five was a Retread who had been around the Marvel Universe longer, sometimes considerably longer – Nova had even had his own regular title written by Marv Wolfman for 25 issues in the 1970s, before “losing” his powers in a Fantastic Four story and going back home to live with his parents on Earth, where he quickly faded into obscurity for many years. But since no else seems to have been terribly interested in doing anything with those five old-timers, Nicieza presumably figured he had a free hand. If he had tried to make it a regular title featuring the adventures of the Sub-Mariner, Spider-Man, the early-90s Ghost Rider, Dr. Strange, and the Punisher, he might have had a considerably more difficult time when it came to convincing fans that anything significant would actually happen to one of those characters within the pages of the group title instead of within the pages of their own respective titles.

4. Shared

“I don’t have my very own title – but there’s more than one series that wants to use me as part of the regular cast!”

This was how the original Teen Titans got started back in the 1960s. The first five members were basically a Junior Justice League; a collection of sidekicks, each of whom duplicated the principal powers and/or gimmicks of an adult mentor and still adventured with that mentors in each one’s respective title(s) from time to time. Robin (Dick Grayson), Kid Flash (Wally West), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), Aqualad (Garth), and Speedy (Roy Harper). It would not be until the Post-Crisis era that one of these people (Wally West) first got his own title, and at that, he only managed the trick by abandoning the name of "Kid Flash” in favor of taking over his Uncle Barry’s role as The Flash. (And in the years since then, only one of the other four has also “graduated” up to having his very own regular monthly title. Dick Grayson as Nightwing.)

But on the other hand, suppose Bob Haney had tried to have Robin and Wonder Girl, for instance, elope together in a teenage romance, with the intention of having it “stick” in regular continuity from that time forward? (As opposed to having it be then declared to be a dream sequence, an Imaginary Story, a hoax meant to deceive some troublemaker into completely misjudging the situation by thinking Robin and Wonder Girl would be gone on a honeymoon for the next two weeks, or some other excuse to make sure the story had No Lasting Impact on anything important?)

What would have happened? Right – the idea would have been shot down in flames because of the anguished screams from the various writers and editors who worked on the regular titles about Batman and Wonder Woman (and their juvenile sidekicks). They would have seen such a nasty development as a trespass upon their sacred prerogatives. Haney’s chances of, say, “permanently” maiming or killing one of those first five members were equally low, for the same sort of reasons. (I’m not saying he ever wanted to kill, maim, or marry off any of the early Titans in the first place – I really wouldn’t know. I’m merely pointing out that he never would have had the option of getting away with it even if he had a really beautiful idea lined up, something along the lines of what Claremont and Byrne ended up doing – almost by accident – in the Dark Phoenix Saga many years later.)

For a long time, Oracle (Barbara Gordon) was a prime example of this “Shared” category. She was never the star of her own title as a solo act, but she was half of the permanent membership of the “Birds of Prey” concept. First in some one-shot specials, then in a four-issue miniseries, and eventually in a regular monthly title which is still alive today. Simultaneously, she was constantly doing online detective work and other computer-related and telecommunications-related services for Batman in his various titles, as well as for Robin and Nightwing and later the newest Batgirl in their respective titles. Before anyone ever heard of “Birds of Prey,” in the early 90s she had worked for the Suicide Squad in a similar capacity. Likewise, after the current JLA series started in the mid-90s, she occasionally was mentioned as having been entrusted with the primary responsibility for their Watchtower’s information security and similar tasks. So there was no single title exclusively dedicated to showing Barbara Gordon as the one and only “star” – but she was not just a member of the supporting cast in a single team title either. She probably showed up – or at least was “heard” voicing dialogue in another superhero’s ear- in at least five or six different comics in the same month on multiple occasions!

I haven’t been a regular buyer of any of the Batman titles since before “War Games,” but I am told that in the wake of its traumatic events, Oracle has terminated her previous working relationship with Batman and I believe she doesn’t have much to do with Nightwing, Robin, or Batgirl either these days. Whether or not she still has an active involvement in meeting the computer-related needs of the JLA, I don’t know. But I have gotten the impression that she comes much closer now to being “exclusively” a member of the regular cast of “Birds of Prey” than she did for several years before.

(On the other hand, a recent report has it that DC will be launching a “Batwoman” title next year. It has not been announced just who will be wearing the costume, however – one theory goes that someone at DC has decided it’s time to get Barbara out of her wheelchair after all these years and back on her feet, with most of the necessary rehabilitive therapy having occurred offstange, thus taking advantage of the “One Year Forward” thing that will occur in connection with “Infinite Crisis” early next year in the regular titles set in the modern DCU, but I gather that at this exact moment that’s just pure speculation rather than confirmed fact.)


5. Reboot


“Sure, you think my face is familiar – but you’re supposed to forget all the wild and crazy adventures I’ve previously had in one series or another! Starting over from scratch, I am!”

This one can get particularly convoluted. There are two general approaches: The entire group is getting rebooted all at once, or just one or two members of the group are getting rebooted but everything else that faithful longtime readers think they already know about the group’s long years of published history is supposed to stay the same (don’t ask me how!).

Earlier I mentioned that the Silver Age Legion of Super-Heroes had a huge membership and most of them were created from scratch for the Legion’s adventures and never had much of a life outside of those stories of group adventures (except for Superboy and Supergirl). There was once a “Karate Kid” series in the 70s that lasted over a year, but that was pretty much it. In the last 11 years, however, it’s gotten much more complicated for the Legion: In late 1994 there was the Post-Zero Hour Reboot, and in 2004 there was yet another Reboot. Both times, all the old continuity about all of their old members got wiped out for all practical purposes (as I understand it – although some say the more recent “reboot” is actually more complicated than that if you look at the rationale carefully enough, which I haven’t done).

John Byrne recently did something similar to the Doom Patrol. I haven’t actually read any of those.

On the other hand, it can get more complicated when one member in good standing gets Rebooted – but the rest of the team’s history is supposed to stay pretty much the same. The Legion had a problem with that when Superman got rebooted Post-Crisis. The original concept had been that the teen heroes of the 30th Century Legion of Super-Heroes had been heavily inspired by the legends of Superboy (not just the grown Superman), and furthermore that thanks to time traveling, Superboy (of Earth-1) had ended up joining the Legion and working with them on many an exciting adventure. In the years between Crisis and Zero Hour, the Rebooted Superman continuity said there had never been a Superboy identity for Clark Kent – but all of the old Legion stories were still supposed to be in force. This contradiction was eventually resolved with the creation of a “pocket universe” that had its very own Superboy living on its very own Earth, and he was now retconned as having been the Superboy who was previously affiliated with the Legion.

Later on, a new storyline made use of this pocket universe to introduce us to the first Post-Crisis Supergirl, aka Matrix. However, the continuity was getting so convoluted that there’s a report that in the early 1990s, Superman editor Mike Carlin wanted to take the position that the Pocket Universe, and its Superboy (already dead anyway), and its Supergirl (Matrix, who was supposedly still alive, but floating around offstage in comic book limbo at that moment) had never existed after all! Sweep it under the rug and forget it! Didn’t work out that way, but the fact that he seriously considered junking several issues of Post-Crisis continuity in an effort to simplify things shows how messy the picture had gotten because of what began as a “quick fix” to a problem where one key character had been rebooted, but a large group whose continuity was supposed to be heavily tied in to his Pre-Reboot self didn't get Rebooted at the same time. (Eventually, of course, the Legion got Rebooted itself in the Post-Zero Hour DCU, and then the old arguments about Earth-1 Superboy’s involvement in their old continuity became an academic point since their old continuity had gone up in smoke, just like the Earth-1 Superboy )

On a similar note, Wonder Woman (Earth-1, Silver Age version) had originally been a founding member of the JLA in the Pre-Crisis Continuity. But then she got Rebooted in the Post-Crisis DCU – and for reasons I don’t claim to understand, she wasn’t Rebooted the same way Superman was, as a character who had “already” been around for years. Instead, she only made her debut as a Superhero in the “modern era” around the time of Legends, long after such groups as the JLA and the Titans had already been fighting crime for years and years. (Which implicitly made Donna Troy, the first Wonder Girl, a much more experienced superhero than this new kid on the block called Wonder Woman – which was a terribly flawed idea, but that didn’t stop DC from doing it anyway! It was almost as silly as it would be to claim that Dick Grayson had been a superhero under one name or another for at least six or seven years before Bruce Wayne ever came along and decided to dress up as a bat!)
One effect of this was that we were now asked to believe that the Silver Age Black Canary had joined the JLA much earlier than we previously believed, and had somehow used her canary cry and martial arts expertise and fishnet stockings to do whatever Wonder Woman had previously done in Silver Age JLA stories using her superstrength, magic lasso, invisible robot plane, bulletproof bracelets, and so forth. (Not a very good fit, frankly.)

A Few Words about Mixed Bags and Confusing Cases

So far I’ve deliberately listed groups where all or almost all of the starting membership represented the same type of member, whatever type that might be. Obviously there is no hard-and-fast rule that says a new superhero team “must” draw most or all of its initial recruits from a common category. Let me offer a few examples where we had a more motley assortment of members in the early days of a new team.

When Marv Wolfman and George Perez revived the Teen Titans concept in their collaboration on the title “The New Teen Titans” in 1980, they started out with a core membership of seven in that incarnation of the group (with some other Titans of the 60s and 70s occasionally being mentioned as having “reserve” status, I believe), and it stayed that way for about two and a half years before the eighth full-time member, a character Wolfman and Perez created for the occasion, was added to the list. (Although she later turned out to have been a traitor all along.)

Here were the seven regular members of the early 1980s.

Robin (Dick Grayson), originally a Batman sidekick, but one who wasn’t getting much time onstage in the Bat-titles at that point – not after “Detective Comics” quit being a large anthology title and cut back to a regular 22 pages of storytelling a month, anyway.
Kid Flash (Wally West), originally a Flash sidekick, but one who wasn’t getting much time onstage in the “Flash” title at that point.
Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), originally a Wonder Woman sidekick, but one who wasn't’getting much time onstage in the "Wonder Woman" ”itle at that point. AND a younger version of Wonder Woman via time travel
Changeling, formerly known as Beast Boy (Garfield Logan), who had been part of the supporting cast of the Doom Patrol (which no longer existed). Unlike the three names already listed, however, he had been a fairly “original” character concept instead of just a younger carbon copy of the distinguishing characteristics of any member of the original Doom Patrol.
Raven, a Newcomer.
Starfire (Princess Koriand’r of Tamaran), a Newcomer.
Cyborg (Victor Stone), a Newcomer.

So we had three characters who could be viewed largely as Retreads rather than Shared characters, since they were former sidekicks who no longer did much with their old mentors. Those three were also Founding Members of the earliest version of the Titans from many years earlier.

We had one other Retread whose prospects for appearing anywhere regularly except a new Titans book were, to say the least, slim.

And we had three Newcomers about whom we knew very little at first glance. They added some extra mystery and potential to the team because in their early appearances we only knew as much about their personalities, origin stories, family history, precise superpowers and abilities, etc., as Wolfman and Perez saw fit to tell us. Without them, the newest revival of the Titans might have looked like a bunch of second-rate versions of the Justice League, trying to get together and

A few years later, Mike Barr’s Outsiders team (originally referred to in the title as "Batman and the Outsiders" to make sure prospective customers knew who was leading this group) also began as a mixed bag. The first six members were: Batman, Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Geo-Force, Katana, and Halo. Batman was obviously an Established Star; he did not need the exposure he might gain as a charter member of the Outsiders to help him break out of utter obscurity after all those years, and finally attract some serious attention from the comic-buying public

Black Lightning and Metamorpho, on the other hand, desperately needed all the help they could get in that department. They were Retreads who had nothing else to do. If the book got cancelled anytime soon, they’d probably fade right back into obscurity for awhile longer until someone else took mercy on them.

And Geo-Force, Katana, and Halo were Newcomers, created from scratch for the occasion, giving plenty of opportunity for them to be at the centers of future stories delving into their mysterious backgrounds, and so on and so forth. (In Halo’s case, even she didn’t know what her own mysterious background was! Pesky amnesia!)

The Changing of the Guard

If a superhero team becomes a big hit and stays in print for a long, long time, you have to expect that sometimes old and new members will drift in and out for one reason or another, changing the size and mix of the team. (This has even happened on the Fantastic Four, which on the face of it you might reasonably expect to stick to the four people originally referred to in the title.) Or a veteran member may stay with the group, but his status in the company changes as measured by the rules I used in defining five different categories. He might lose his own monthly title, or he might finally get one. Or he may die or retire and be replaced in his “role” by some other character using the same name and the same costume (or a similar one), temporarily or more “permanently,” and this Newcomer may or may not be treated as if he automatically “inherited” membership just because his more experienced predecessor had been a member in good standing of a particular team.

I am told that in the 1990s, when Diana of Themyscira was replaced as “Wonder Woman” by a Bana Mighdal Amazon named Artemis, Artemis was very upset at the discovery that the Justice League didn’t feel that membership in their team should automatically carry over to any stranger who was currently wearing a Wonder Woman costume.

This sort of thing can get particularly confusing when a superhero is trying to pretend - even to his "friends" on the same team - that he is actually a different person, and thus a different type of member, than he really is! A reader who only came in during the middle of such a situation could end up getting a tad confused about just what was going on and how much previous superhero experience this guy was actually supposed to have!

For instance, when James Rhodes (“Rhodey”) replaced Tony Stark as Iron Man for awhile, back around the mid-80s, he initially tried to bluff it through with the Avengers, hoping they would believe that the man inside the armored suit was still the veteran superhero who had helped found the group way back when. To be fair to the man, I should mention that eventually – I think in the last issue of the “West Coast Avengers” miniseries that initiated the long period when there were two active Avengers teams, each with its own title, based on opposite sides of the USA – Rhodey voluntarily confessed the truth to his current teammates about his general lack of experience at Avengers-style activities, but he sure had taken his own sweet time about getting around to it!

And on the flip side of the coin, years later there was a period when Tony Stark was back in harness as Iron Man, both in his own title and as a regular participant with the WCA in their regular title, but was trying to maintain a pretense that the original Iron Man had recently died and that the guy currently inside the costume was a real Newcomer to the superhero business, Iron Man the Third or some such thing. Even though he was supposed to be a Newcomer to the job, the Avengers apparently let him hang around and work with them because he wasn’t a bumbling idiot and the firepower of an Iron Man suit is nothing to sneeze at. However, as time went by, several of the other long-time Avengers evidently spotted flaws in his act long before he finally broke down and admitted what was really going on - but apparently they had been too polite to say so to his face after they figured out he really was the veteran Avenger who had fought beside them so many times in the good old days! (After the experience with Rhodey, one can see why they would have become skeptical about any claims a masked Iron Man made about himself until they had a body of evidence to use in gauging his performance and expertise, and thus his sincerity or lack thereof!)

***********

Anyway, that was my best attempt to organize my thoughts on the distinctions between various types of team members - and count your blessings! It would have been even longer if not for all the other paragraphs that I wrote in my rough draft - but then deleted after I realized you could probably get by just fine without them!