Ever since hitting it big in the movies, Iron Man has become one of the biggest characters in Marvel Comics. A staunch member of the Avengers and a high-flying in his own right, Iron Man is arguably the mascot of the Marvel Universe outside of Spider-Man and the X-Men. This wasn’t always the case, however, and at one point, he was part of a much different superhero team.
Named Force Works, this team of somewhat lesser-known heroes was meant to act in a more proactive manner. This ironically made them fairly similar to a team from DC Comics. Sadly, despite Iron Man founding the team, Force Works quickly became a forgotten relic, and it’s remained that way for the team ever since.
Force Works Was Iron Man’s Alternative Avengers
The team debuted in their eponymous first issue, Force Works #1, which was created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning. Force Works rose out of the ashes of the West Coast Avengers, with many of the members being recycled from there. These included U.S. Agent, Scarlet Witch, a now-forgotten version of Spider-Woman, and Wonder Man. Their unofficial leader was Iron Man, who wanted them to be more proactive than other superhero teams. Instead of just combating threats, Force Works would prevent danger from ever happening, using a “Chaos Computer” and Scarlet Witch’s own powers to predict future events.
Unfortunately, they never made much of a splash, perhaps due to how unpopular the starring characters were at the time. As mentioned, Iron Man himself wasn’t nearly the A-lister he currently is, and adding the likes of a far-removed Spider-Woman and Wonder Man did little to move the needle. Force Works barely operated for even two years before the tumultuous events of “The Crossing,” in which it was revealed that Iron Man was under the control of the time-traveling Kang the Conqueror. The team regrouped following Civil War and in the Iron Man 2020 event, but for the most part, it seems like force didn’t work in the Marvel Universe for too long.
Iron Man’s Force Works Was Marvel’s Version of Batman’s Outsiders
Though Force Works may not have made a huge impact on the world of comics or the Marvel Universe, they did share some striking similarities to a team from DC Comics. The Outsiders were a team formed by Batman when he temporarily left the Justice League to form a superhero group that took more initiative in dealing with threats. To that end, his new team of “Outsiders” didn’t feature familiar faces such as Superman and Wonder Woman, but rather more street-level figures such as Black Lightning, Katana, and Metamorpho.
These B and C-list characters could be compared to Wonder Man, Julia Carpenter, and even Scarlet Witch at the time that Force Works was founded. Likewise, the fact that they weren’t familiar heavy hitters. The two teams even showed up in somewhat forgotten cartoons, with Force Works showing up in the ’90s Iron Man cartoon (which was released around the same time as the team’s comics) and the Outsiders being a part of Batman: The Brave and The Bold. A major difference, however, is that the Outsiders have had far more appearances than Force Works, both inside and outside the comics.
The Outsiders are forever tied to Batman, even during the time when Nightwing led the team. The same goes for Iron Man and Force Works, but his popularity just hasn’t rubbed off on them at all. Given how paranoid Tony Stark can sometimes be and the lengths he went to in order to control superhumans in Civil War, his leading Force Works fits him perfectly. Hopefully, a creative team comes along that can properly utilize the team and their premise, making them more than just a failed ’90s expansion of the Avengers and into a force to be reckoned with.