Spider-Man Led Marvel's Forgotten Suicide Squad

For much of his comic book history, Spider-Man has been a loner. Even so, on several occasions, Peter Parker has joined teams like the Avengers. One of the most off-beat groups that Spider-Man joined was a rag-tag team known as the Outlaws.

This group originally formed in 1989's Web of Spider-Man #50, by Gerry Conway and Alex Savuik. At this time, photographic evidence of Spider-Man breaking into the mansion of Winston Walker was turned into the Daily Bugle, depicting him as a common thief. This delighted J. Jonah Jameson, but it also attracted the attention of some of Spider-Man's former villains.

This list of old foes included Puma, Rocket Racer, Will O' The Wisp, Prowler and Sandman, who all went to investigate Spider-Man's alleged crime. This immediately got Spider-Man into a fight with Puma, while Rocket Racer and the Prowler battled as well. Evading Puma, Spider-Man pursued Walker away from his mansion and acquired an unidentified object from him.

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The Web-Slinger brought this item to Silver Sable, with whom he appeared to be working. Once the pursuers caught up to Spider-Man and Sable, a massive fight broke out. After a long, drawn-out battle, the hero stopped everyone, and revealed what he had taken. Apparently, there were records that Walker was laundering money for the Maggia. Spider-Man and Sable were working together to expose Walker's crimes. Impressed by everyone's performances in battle, Sable offered them all freelance work.

The Outlaws would reassemble in 1990's Spectacular Spider-Man #169, by Gerry Conway and Sal Buscema, when Spider-Man called them in to fight the Avengers. Earlier, the Web-Head worked with She-Hulk to release a strange object from a crypt belonging to Wilson Fisk, and she attacked him. As a result, Spider-Man sent the Outlaws to investigate the crypt, before accompanying them to confront the Avengers. In truth, the Space Phantom had tricked both teams into fighting each other. Learning this truth, the heroes worked together to uncover the secret of the crypt and the creature inside. Working together, the Avengers and Outlaws resealed the mysterious organism inside the crypt. As it turned out, all of this was a plot by the young god, Calculus, to keep the crypt away from Fisk.

In 1991's Excalibur #36, by Scott Lobdell and David Ross, the Outlaws returned, minus Spider-Man, to take down Dr. Walshe for stealing Symkarian technology. This got the team into a fight with Excalibur, before Walshe was revealed as a robot created by Arnim Zola. Ultimately, the Outlaws and Excalibur teamed up to defeat Dr. Walshe.

Related: Spider-Man: How Tombstone Tormented One of Peter Parker's Oldest Allies

The Outlaws' final mission began in 1991's Amazing Spider-Man Annual #25, by David Michelinie and Alan Kupperberg. Silver Sable reunited the Outlaws to rescue the daughter of a Montreal government official from a radical political group. The Outlaws got into conflict with the Sandman, since he was working undercover for the group. Fortunately, after fighting the team, Sandman helped the Outlaws defeat the radicals and save the girl.

As a team, the Outlaws were quite unorthodox. It's unusual enough that the Outlaws were comprised of former villains working for hire. Similar groups like the Thunderbolts and the Suicide Squad could be just as dysfunctional at times. Moreover, the Outlaws seemed to fight each other almost as often as they fought their opposition. This trait exemplified how unusually volatile the Outlaws were. The dysfunctional nature of the Outlaws was quite fitting for Spider-Man, who wasn't much of a team player at the time.

Spider-Man was also considered an outlaw quite often, a fact which turned out to be a prime factor in the formation of the team. It was only natural, then, for Spider-Man to form this group, comprised of misunderstood former criminals. Not only could Spider-Man relate to the Outlaws, he also showed much compassion for their plight by working alongside them. Much like the longtime hero, the group was comprised of misunderstood misfits who were just trying to do the right thing, and it was that quality that made Spider-Man and the Outlaws just right for each other for the time that they remained together.

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Nabeel Gaber (586 Articles Published)

Nabeel Gaber is a longtime follower of comic books, cartoons and anything sci-fi. He's based in Houston, Texas, keeping up to date with all of the latest comics, movies and television series. Nabeel is a graduate of Trinity University, working now as a freelance comic book features writer. In his spare time, Nabeel enjoys running, improv comedy, and, above all else, reading comics. Feel free to follow Nabeel on Twitter at @book_column and check out his blog, thecomicbookcolumn.com!

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