Poll Position: Who Leadeth the … Led?

Our Poll Position question this week is pretty straight-forward:


What I always loved about the "Magneto Leads the X-Men" stories was how it really fleshed out Magneto as a character. A lot of writers take the easy way out with a villain, giving them the storytelling equivalent of a curled black mustache and no redeeming qualities whatsoever. But Magento's villainy arises from the same roots as Xavier's heroism, making them two sides of the same coin in many ways. Putting him in charge of Charles' team brought out those essential qualities and highlighted them. Magneto changed, and that's the core of a great story.

So when thinking about which characters might be equally interesting if put in the same situation, I wondered whose villainy arose from the same seeds as heroism, who might have it in them to take over a team and be changed by them.

  • The Red Skull leads the US Army. The Red Skull and Captain America, like Xavier and Magneto, have a lot in common. Both are used to leading groups of soldiers. Both fight on behalf of their country. Both leave no hair on their heads exposed. Granted, that's because the Red Skull HAS no hair, but still. I don't doubt that the Skull could effectively lead any army, even that of his country's greatest enemy. But while the US Army is filled with good men and strong patriots, I don't know if it has the kind of super heroism it would take to turn a megalomaniac into someone willing to consider the welfare of others above his own.
  • Lex Luthor leads the Justice League. We've had Elseworld type stories before with Luthor being the President, but I think the smaller and more direct leadership required for a group like the Justice League would be much more revealing. He's also led teams of super villains, like Magneto did, so he knows what he's doing with supremely powerful individuals. And egos. I actually think he's capable of growing into the role, of being changed by it like Magento was.
  • Ultron leads the Avengers. This could be a cool concept if done well. Granted, UItron is a mechanical killing monstrosity, utterly devoted to ending all life, so I'm not sure how this would ever come about, but the creation meeting (and leading) its creator has a certain appeal.
  • Dr. Doom leads the Fantastic Four. This has probably already happened a dozen times over. My Four-Fu is weak.
  • Sinestro leads the Green Lantern Corps. I imagine Sinestro completely making over the GL Corps into a much more ruthless, much more aggressive force. I don't think he'd be much changed by it, though.
  • Mumm-Ra leads the Thundercats. Mumm-ra never struck me as having much of a personality beyond "Kill All Furries", so I am dubious that he'd be much interested in leading the lost cubs of Thundara.
  • Deathstroke leads the Teen Titans. Again, this probably happened at some point. But I like Deathstroke a lot as a character; I find him multi-layered and interesting, much more than just the cold-blooded soldier of fortune he's made out to be. Plus he already has white hair, like Magneto, so that's practically the same thing right there.
  • Skeletor leads Eternia At one point, Skeletor and He-Man had two halves of the Power Sword, and even joined forces to defeat a common enemy. He's used to leading groups of warriors of various stripes, so I think he could handle the likes of Man at Arms without much trouble. And let's face it, when She-Ra gets all up in your skeletal grill, you're going to be readjusting your thinking.
  • Megatron leads the Transformers I'm betting even Megatron can't tell one transformer apart from another. In fact, I bet it's fairly common in the middle of a meeting for several transforming robots to stand up and admit they got confused about who they were following home, and sheepishly back out to go join their actual team. So it's possible this scenario has already happened, only no one noticed.
  • Cobra Commander leads G.I. Joe This is not a stretch at all. In fact, with more cutbacks, the Joes might just have to start hiring mercenaries anyway.

The one with the most appeal to me is Doom leading the Fantastic Four, but since I'm pretty sure that's been done before, I'll go with Luthor leading the JLA. I have a soft spot for bald guys in leadership positions.

What about you, what would you pick?

(Image © Marvel Comics, from "X-Men" number 200.)

22 Responses to Poll Position: Who Leadeth the … Led?

  1. Nick Hentschel says:

    Sinestro *has* led the GL Corps, briefly, when Hal went bonkers. And I think Skeletor may have had his day, too(?) I’ll go with the Red Skull leading the army, if only because I can imagine it happening, all too easily!

  2. McKnight57 says:

    I’m much more inclined to believe that Lex Luthor could lead the Justice League. There have been several times when he has come from either the future or a parallel dimension to help them out. I could see I happening as Jeff described Sinestro leading the GLs. He would do it much more slowly however, possibly even getting Batman or the Flash on his side, with Superman, of course being the last person to remain skeptical.

  3. Myro says:

    This was a difficult one for me. I kept flip-flopping on the choice of Luthor in charge of the JLA, or Doom in charge of the Four (although there were some other interesting possibilities in a couple other options).

    I think what it really came down to was trust. I could see that if Luthor could really convince the Justice League that he had turned over a new leaf (real or not), they would eventually accept him as a member, and potentially, their leader. On the other hand, while the situation would have to be more specific for the Fantastic Four to allow for a team-up with Doom, the situation is even more intriguing. Reed has known Doom since college, and respects his intellect, so he could, under specific circumstances, trust Doom. And once that happens, he could convince Sue and, *Spoiler Alert!* despite the fact that he’s now dead *End Spoiler Alert with a little more resistance, Johnny, the fact is that Ben has never seemed to trust Victor von Doom on any level. As I said, the story arc would probably have to be on a shorter run, but the entire time, Ben Grimm would just be waiting for the hammer to drop, and Doom to betray them, and it would be interesting to see if Doom likewise tried to force a rift between Ben and the rest of the team to try to cement his power base.

    Just the way I see it playing out.

  4. MScat says:

    IDK…Doom leading the FF is a little too obvious…NOW Galactus leading the team would be interesting! But with the one member of the team dead I can see Doom replacing him (Unless hes the one that killed them then thatd be weird…but I honestly havnt read the story so I dont know what happened)

    Megs leading the Autobots is interesting…but then whod they fight? Starscream? PFFFT AS IF! Unicron? Maybe. Since the Transformers are robots I could see Megatron getting blown up and the Autobots rebuilding him and reprogramming him. Thats the only way I could see it happening but then I thing that Megatrons ruthless and caloused nature would still be there and it would cause friction between them and eventually lead him back to the dark side.

    There have been alternate versions of Lex where he WAS in charge of the JLA. I could deffinately see this happening but itd take something major like Superman getting posessed by an evil being that causes Lex to lead the team.

    Those 3 are my choices…i don’t like the others because the stories wouldn’t be that interesting. (Ultron CAN be rebuilt and made into a good guy and possible leader like Vision was, but what kind of leader would he make? I don’t think that story would be that interesting)

  5. MScat says:

    On a side note I thought of a great way for Megatron to become leader of the Autobots: If Optimus and Megatron’s sparks fuzed. That would be interesting since Megatron has always been more powerful and Optimus has the matrix of leadership and a kinder gentler side. I think the personalities fuzed would be an interesting story.

  6. EnderX says:

    A question that needs to be asked – which version of the character(s) in question are you using?

    The modern-day Lex Luthor, I cannot see even -wanting- to join the League; he’d be more likely to try (as, in fact, he did) to create a replacement he could mold in his own image. However, I can easily see any of the following as a leader for the League: The Luthor of the Time Trapper’s pocket dimension (never had the lab accident that made him turn to evil; creator of the Matrix Supergirl), the Luthor of the Trinity run (was, in fact, a member of the League, albeit the League itself was an underground superhero team), or even the Silver Age version, circa Lexor. (The one planet in the universe where Lex Luthor was, in fact, considered a hero.)

    I bring this up because I’d be interested in seeing a few of the ‘Megatron leads the Transformers’ variants – I’ve not managed to read it, but according to the Transformers Wiki, at least one comic line had a world where Optimus Prime and Megatron shared the rule of Cybertron, and the Armada anime (at least in America), ended with Megatron sacrificing himself in order to protect all Transformers from Unicron. I figure several of those variants would be fun – my own favorite ‘daydream’ version would be to place the heroic Shattered Glass (mirror universe) version of Megatron in charge of the G1 Autobots…while leaving his G1 counterpart as the leader of the Decepticons.

  7. William A. Peterson says:

    Probably not a dozen times, but, yes, Dr. Doom has led the FF before…
    As to the Ultron thing, there WAS one version of Ultron that had ‘grown up’, reconciled with Hank Pym, and otherwise mellowed out…
    The other Ultrons had to destroy him, of course, but how long does THAT gag ever last?

  8. punkjay says:

    With gi joe i think Storm Shadow leading the joes would make more sense since he always seemed never to really get along with Cobra. He also has a code of honor and if he was to be saved by a joe he could be persuaded to switch sides.

  9. Joshua says:

    DOOM: Hebert…you’ve managed to accomplish what Richards, The Beyonder, Uatu the Watcher, and a 50 year slew of writers could not: you’ve left Doom at a loss for words. Let Doom understand the issue– you began selecting Doom as logical choice to lead The Fantastic Four, then, through faulty rationalization, you backpedaled and choose a lesser stag; a folically-challenged one at that.

    What’s it going to take, Hebert? What’s Doom going to have to inflict on you before you realize that these popularity contests for your pore-clogged, culturally-deficient masses will be your undoing?

    To the sub-creature, “MScat”…Galactus isn’t fit to grovel at the feet of Doom. The creature should have allowed itself to perish when the entropy enveloped it’s previous universe; that would have been humane and with dignity. Now, it waits– it QUIVERS– when the time shall come that Doom conquers it. Bah!

    Finally, to the one Doom calls “The One Who Doom Has Decreed Shall Live”, or as you know him, “Myro”. You’ve chosen wisely.


  10. Kalkin says:

    I think it would be hilarious to watch Mumm-Ra lead Thundercats. He’s a massive ham that can’t change into his combat form without yelling slogans about evil and Thundercats are corny about goodness and honor to the point of making my teeth hurt. Forcing those to sides to work together has by far most potential for juicy drama and comedy. You see, both drama and comedy are based on conflict that cannot be resolved by a simple punchout – that’s what Mumm-Ra + Thundercats has most of.

  11. MScat says:

    @Joshua: I don’t believe iv ever been so scared to comment…lol

  12. B. Clouser says:

    Megatron leading the Transformers. Something about that would be so bitter as they went into battle. The hatred between them would be tense. But let’s also remember how much more badass Megatron became as Galvatron. That was a leader. I also like to think about the destructive, evil things Mega would order the bots to do. And his insatiable greed for energon cubes. Ha. It would be fun to watch for sure.

  13. Myro says:

    Joshua (9): I knew that as soon as Doctor Doom’s name came up in this column, you’d be on here transcribing the words of our future Lord and Master. I’ve come to expect it by now. LOL!

    Something’s been nagging me about two of the scenarios offered. I admit, I might be coming off a little naive here, but why would the American military or an international elite military unit like the Joes allow themselves to be led by,not only their respective nemesis, but a wanted terrorist and/or war criminal at that? Especially given the current international political climate? I guess if the Islamic fundementalist insurgency around the globe made business bad enough that Hydra or Cobra had to ally themselves with the world leaders to take them out, but I don’t see Red Skull or Cobra Commander making deals with anyone unless they have something worthwhile to bring to the table (namely the combined forces of Hydra or Cobra respectively), but even then, I can’t imagine them being left in charge another force, rather being regarded as a seperate allied unit in the chain of command.
    I’m not saying I’d be interested in reading these stories, but I would be interested to see how the writers set it up.

  14. Nicholas/GtaMythMaster43 says:

    Joshua’s Doom comments are always ballsy and I find them pretty hilarious.
    Lex Leading the JLA is what I voted for, that’d just be awesome.

  15. nakiato says:

    interesting ideas. I think megaton would consider leading the autobots against a common enemy but I don’t ever see him changing as a result of this. Likely he would turn against them as soon as their enemy was gone. Megatron is kind of wacked out and crazy. but then again I am not a Transformers expert. (I am basing my thoughts on the cartoon not the comic which I havn’t read)

    As for cobra commander leading GI Joe.. well that just wouldn’t happen at least not directly. The only time GI Joe fought along side Cobra was against Cobra commander (or at least an impersonator of cobra commander)Cobra Commander is a fanatical terrorist, However he is also very cunning, I could definitely see him winning a presidential election which would make him the leader of GI Joe. I am actually surprised he never tried.
    anyway Cobra Commander as a strong hatred towards democratic and just society because he blames the corruption of government for the death of his brother. He uses deceit and cunning to create personal gain. GI Joe is the embodiment of the American ideal, (keep in mind the current franchise began in the Regan years)Even if Cobra commander did lead GI Joe. He would not be changed by it. (I am basing my comments on the comic book not the cartoon.)

    In short Megatron wouldn’t be changed by the auto bots because he is a psycho who enjoys destruction. Cobra Comander wouldn’t change from leadership of GI Joe because he is a Fanatic. It would be like Osama or Hitler leading the U.S. military.

    on another note:
    I always wondered what would happen if Cobra commander led the decepticons or if megatron led cobra?
    Comic book wise I cant really say much because I never read the transformers comic.
    But I think if cartoon megaton led cartoon cobra they would win.
    in the cartoons Megatron had some decent plans but one of his troops always screwed things up or got ambitious and tried to take over (except soundwave that guy was loyal) Megatron’s failures usually resulted from some screw up by one of his soldiers.
    Cartoon Cobra commander on the other hand usually had stupid plans, and became is own undoing. His soldiers where loyal and his officers where intelligent. But Cobra commander just didn’t listen to them. his failures usually resulted from his own screw up instead of his troops (comic Cobra Commander is much more intelligent but like cartoon megatron has a lot of disloyalty in his ranks)

  16. Whit says:

    [personal commentary] I figured, if Red Skull’s purpose is to subvert the efforts of the US Army, maybe that would mean that he would pull us out of all these wars as their leader. [/personal commentary]

  17. X-stacy says:

    Oh, sure, Myro, it seems ridiculous that the Red Skull or Cobra Commander could lead any US forces–but what if they wore latex masks that made them look exactly like somebody trustworthy and in no way made them appear like men wearing latex masks? What about then?

    (All the same, I voted for Doom. Because who am I to deny the will of Doom? Although it would probably turn out to be a Doombot with faulty programming if a sincere heel-face turn was involved.)

  18. Jeff Hebert says:

    The Green Freaking Goblin was put in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. after Civil War, wasn’t he? Or am I misremembering? It’s comics, anything goes!

  19. Myro says:

    Oh X-stacy (17), you Queen of Wit, I was waiting to see if you’d chime on this. Sadly, you have a point. If it’s good enough for The Chameleon, it’s probably good enough for a terrorist and/or war criminal.
    Jeff (18), not exactly the same thing. Norman Osborn was just a regular criminal, and one that seemed to be trying to reform himself under the Thunderbolts program. And he was the hero that ended the Skrull’s Secret Invasion. On top of which, SHIELD was viewed by the government with suspicion after the perceived general incompetence and illegal actions if its previous three directors, so as far as governmental oversight committee that put Osborn in charge was concerned, there was no way that he could do any worse. And boy were they wrong.
    Still, my point is that in the real world, this would never happen. And even in the comic book world, the plan had better be good, Which is why I’d be interested to see how the writers set that up.

  20. Yeah, Greenie lead sheild….To bad Marvel pussed out and didn’t finish the story ark….It was freakin cool!

  21. X-stacy says:

    Come to think of it, it’s probably canon that the Red Skull has at least one astonishingly life-like mask. He would have to, wouldn’t he? I mean, it’d be tough for him to go buy groceries without being recognized. And I can’t really see a hoodie and sunglasses cutting it for him.

    Also…Queen of Wit? More like queen half-wit! 😛 (Seriously, I think half my brains leaked out while I was formatting my hard drive and reinstalling everything over the last couple days. I was planning on entering my first-ever character contest–with a joke design titled Five Easy Pisces–but I lost my work in progress and also my will to continue. I wouldn’t have won, anyway, as I’m nowhere close to the bar y’all have set, so at least there’s that!)

  22. Myro says:

    Queen of Wit sounded better than resident smartass.