I grew up in a tough culture, the kind of place where it wasn’t uncommon for a dispute to be settled by asking someone to “step outside.” When I was a kid, I always had that imagery from a fisticuff culture in the back of my mind when I would read Spider-Man comics that featured the Wrecking Crew.
The Wrecking Crew are bruisers, all of them. Just check out the lineup:
- Piledriver — Piledriver fights with his over-sized pile-driving fists.
- Thunderball — Thunderball wields a huge demolition ball on a chain, but ironically is actually the thinker in the team.
- Wrecker — Wrecker wields an indestructible crowbar with magical properties and typically served as team leader.
- Bulldozer — Bulldozer has an armored metal helmet and fights by ramming his victims head-first. (Was later replaced by his daughter).
- Excavator — Excavator wielded an enchanted shovel that broke in his very first battle when he smashed it over Molly Hayes’ head, merely irritating her. He was teenage son of Piledriver and served on the team about 5 minutes because he was a putz.
But despite the tough-guy culture I grew up in, I’m actually a really peaceful guy, although my catch phrase is definitely “You Better Check Yo Self Before You Wreck Yo Self,” as it’s only fitting I do that as a middle class white suburban male. So with my true zen state in check let’s live vicariously through the brawling Wrecking Crew by sharing some of their greatest “hits” from the comics.
The Wrecking Crew’s Violent History
First of all, the Wrecking Crew was formed when Dirk Garthwaite, the Wrecker, was mistaken for Loki and given godly powers through his crowbar. Later, the enchanted crowbar was struck by lightning, so not only did this petty criminal receive powers, but the lightning transferred powers into other violent criminals as well, forming the Wrecking Crew. Comics, y’all.
What happened next was a pattern of the Wrecking Crew escaping from prison to jump right back into crime, only to have heroes beat them down and send them back to prison. Seriously, this has happened a trillion times in the life of the Wrecking Crew.
First, they escape from prison and are beaten down by Luke Cage with the help of the Defenders. Later, they are beaten down by someone who goes on to become their main foe: Thor. Turns out that hammer beats crowbar.
But the Wrecking Crew have battled Captain America, Iron Fist, the Runaways, Spider-Man, the full Avengers, the Sub-Mariner, and Thing. Every time they are beaten down and sent back to prison, but it sadly is often only after the Wrecking Crew hurt innocents.
In fact, the Wrecking Crew once killed everyone in a Canadian bar, then were subsequently beaten down by Alpha Flight. And Canada certainly isn’t known for their tough guy swagger, eh?
Only once have the Wrecking Crew dealt out a big beating of their own, but it was a biggie as it was against a god. The Wrecking Crew nearly beat Hercules to death during a siege of Avengers Mansion by the Masters of Evil.
The Wrecking Crew Finds Peace
I could go at this all day, simply listing the times that the Wrecking Crew escaped prison only to be beat down, be we all have things to do. But the point is that the Wrecking Crew have had a great run in the comics, largely serving as the “tough guy” act, only to be shown that they aren’t so tough at all.
We’ve all heard it said that “if you live by the crowbar, you die by the crowbar'” and the Wrecking Crew is proof that violence only begets more violence (and jail time). Ultimately, one could hope that the Wrecking Crew could leave their violent past behind and learn to check themselves with peace and zen. But that wouldn’t make for very fun comic books, would it?