In 2005, Marvel was experimenting with the Avengers, breaking the team up with a couple (temporary) deaths and a new line-up that was meant to represent a true all-star team of heroes for that era. But then there was a new team called the Young Avengers, a group the older heroes initially didn’t quite sanction but who all became prominent characters in the Marvel Universe in their own right.
Except, maybe, for the Patriot.
Now, it should be noted that “Patriot” was not a new superhero name in the Marvel Universe. A somewhat obscure Golden Age hero went by that name after being inspired by Captain America. But that’s not the Patriot I want to talk about.
I likewise won’t address the more current Patriot, a young man named Rayshaun Lewis who replaced the second one, particularly since it’s the second one I want to talk about. His name is Eli Bradley.
Anyway, Eli was one of the original four member line-up of the Young Avengers, a team so green that on their first mission, stopping bad guys at a wedding, one of the bridesmaids had to help out. That young woman turned out to be future team member Kate Bishop, who would eventually pick up the name “Hawkeye” since the original appeared to be a bit dead.
But the original line-up had four members, all of whom looked like original or near-original Avengers despite the fact that only one of them had any connection whatsoever to said original, and it was a tenuous one at best.
The four were:
- Iron Lad
- And Patriot
Now, with names and appearances like that, it would suggest stuff like a connection to the Realm Eternal, a Stark International internship at least, and some gamma radiation. It turned out that arguably Eli was the most honest to the reader about his origins as Asgardian and Hulkling were just given codenames and costumes by Iron Lad, and neither claimed to have any connection to Thor or the Hulk. In point of fact, neither knew exactly where their powers came from at first. Eli said his grandfather was Isaiah Bradley, and he further claimed he inherited his grandpa’s powers. Isaiah Bradley was, of course, the black Captain America.
So, what was going on with this team? Iron Lad turned out to be a teenage version of Kang the Conqueror, out to stop his adult self from doing awful things. Asgardian changed his name hero name to “Wiccan,” discovered he had a twin brother named called Speed, and both brothers were the reincarnation of the Scarlet Witch’s two dead boys. Essentially, Wiccan’s powers were magical. As for Hulkling, he was the son of the Kree Captain Mar-Vell and a Skrull princess, meaning his powers were really Kree strength with Skrull shapeshifting. Oh, and Wiccan and Hulkling became a couple.
Additional members of the team, like a teenage version of the Vision, Cassie Lang as the size-changing Stature, and the aforementioned Kate Bishop rounded out the line-up.
Now, Eli did have a good storyarc in that, while most of the original four had mysterious backstories, Eli was lying a bit about the nature of his own abilities. It turned out he hadn’t inherited powers from his grandpa and had been taking Mutant Growth Hormone to fake it. That led to health issues and then he really did get his grandpa’s powers thanks to a blood transfusion. He also had a connection to the Winter Soldier as opposed to Captain America, and he and Kate started dating.
But then he quit the team and seems to have disappeared. The rest of the team still seems to get around. Iron Lad (as Kang) is a bit obvious, and the Vision returned in his adult form. Cassie has appeared in the MCU with some speculation that the size-changing will be a thing there as well. Hulkling and Wiccan joined a couple Avengers teams, and Hulkling seems to be a central character in Marvel’s upcoming Empyre crossover. True, I’m not sure where Speed is these days, but Eli was a founding member, and the creative types just gave the name to a new character.
Then again, Eli was apparently almost in the MCU himself as a supporting character in Black Panther, so maybe he isn’t as forgotten as he might appear to be.