The Wrecking Crew


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The Wrecking Crew

(pop culture)
Although the purveyors of wanton violence have little prestige among super–bad guys, villains who smash things nevertheless possess an evergreen working-class appeal. Thus did the Wrecking Crew—jointly created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Len Wein, Chris Claremont, and Sal Buscema—become the quintessential 1970s “blue collar” Marvel Comics supervillain group. This garage band of mayhem was founded by a convicted robber known as the Wrecker (Dirk Garthwaite), an antisocial former demolition company laborer who can raze buildings and challenge gods, thanks to a 4-feet-long iron crowbar powered by stolen Norse magicks (Thor vol. 1 #148–#150, 1968). After the Wrecker escapes from Ryker's Island with three fellow inmates (Defenders vol. 1 #17–#19, 1974–1975), he recovers his confiscated crowbar, only to experience a freak lightning strike that transforms his confederates into thematically simpatico supervillains: the armored juggernaut known as Bulldozer (Henry Camp); the ham-fisted pummeler called Piledriver (Brian Philip Calusky); and the wrecking ball–wielding Thunderball (Dr. Eliot Franklin, the team's only arguably “white collar” member). Under the Wrecker's leadership, the quartet has demanded enormous ransoms in exchange for not demolishing New York City skyscrapers and engaged in nuclear blackmail before being temporarily recaptured by Dr. Strange, the Hulk, Nighthawk, and Luke Cage. From the 1970s through the early 1990s, the Wrecking Crew was out of stir for clashes with such superheroes as Captain America, Iron Fist, Thor, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman II, the Avengers, Iron Man, Hercules, Excalibur, Code: Blue, and even the ectoplasmically powered Ghost Rider. Brawlers at heart, members of the Wrecking Crew clearly have little compunction about getting sideways with one another or with other supervillains, such as Venom. The Wrecking Crew finally transcended their “street level” status when they were transported across the universe by the mysterious entity known as the Beyonder to participate in a gigantic heroes-versus- villains battle royale in Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1–#12 (1984–1985). But the Crew's newfound cosmic stature didn't last; they were back on Earth and in prison within the year, courtesy of Spider-Man and Spider-Woman II. Freed yet again and re-powered by Doomsday Man, in the late 1990s the Wrecking Crew attacked the Statue of Liberty, only to be thwarted by the young Thunderbolts superteam; they later took over the extradimensional realm of Polemachus, until its legitimate sovereigns Arkon and Thundra, along with the Avengers, booted them out and re-imprisoned them. Though they languished behind bars in the mid-2000s, the Wrecking Crew waits patiently, in Ralph Kramden–like fashion, for yet another opportunity to seize the day.
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