I picked up my first comic books in 1990. There was an Amazing Spider-Man drawn by future Savage Dragon creator Erik Larsen; an issue of Detective Comics written by one of my favorite comics writers, John Ostrander; and an issue of Avengers written by Larry Hama and drawn by Paul Ryan. The story in question there would introduce such classic Avengers foes as the Tetrarchs of Entropy and a hallucinating Russian cosmonaut called Surge, but only on the cover of the next issue.
Never heard of them? Never mind that. We also got Rage. He stuck around for a while.
The issue in question had the Avengers (Captain America, Sersi, Thor, She-Hulk, guest star Iron Man, and a few others) rebuilding Avengers Mansion for some reason (I never did find out why) when Cap finds a new hero looking to join up. The guy in question is calling himself Rage. He’s massively strong, and rather angry. His costume looks like something he threw together from his closet: yellow ski mask, sleeveless leather vest, combat boots, fingerless gloves, and a lot of zippers. Rage wanted to know why there weren’t any black people on the team. When Cap reminded him of the Black Panther and the Falcon, Rage dismissed the Panther as a foreign king and the Falcon as useless when he wasn’t flapping his wings.
Oh, and then there was the usual misunderstanding and the other Avengers attacked. Rage tossed She-Hulk aside rather easily and was holding his own with Thor when Cap broke up the fight and Rage left. She-Hulk and Thor were both knocked out later that same issue, and I can safely say I was not overly impressed with either of them.
Also in that same issue, Rage was seen outrunning a subway train. Then he pulled a crack house down like something out of the Bible, specifically the section on Samson.
I thought he was pretty darn cool.
Let’s keep in mind I was 16 and more easily impressed in those days.
Rage’s outfit actually made more sense when the Avengers changed their collective minds and let him join the team. Sent off to a private room to get his background checked by the computer system while respecting his secret identity, the reader learned his real name was Elvin Haliday. He lived with his Granny. Oh, and he was about thirteen years old.
Young Elvin had an accident involving toxic waste that caused him to grow up very fast. Like, he looked like a very large adult despite the fact he’d probably barely hit puberty before the accident. He was superstrong, next to impossible to injure, and had all kinds of ideas about what kind of superhero he was going to be. The outfit would look about right for some young kid in the early 90s trying to play superhero with what was in his closet.
Plus, after saving his neighbors on his first day with the Avengers, his Granny told him he looked like a stupid hoodlum.
Now, the Avengers wouldn’t normally take a kid that young for the team. Mostly because they didn’t know how young he actually was. Eventually they found out and Rage had to leave. Given the mission involved the Hatemonger, Rage learned to be less…rageful. He didn’t mind, and the Hatemonger mission involved another team that Rage would fit into better: the New Warriors.
See, the Warriors were originally Marvel’s young hero reject pile. Tossed together from mostly forgotten characters (seriously, at the time, Speedball and Namorita were probably the most recognizable), the Warriors were actually fairly popular and had a series that ran for a while on its own. Though not an original member, Rage fit in well. He palled around with team clown Speedball, and found a good mentor in team leader Night Thrasher.
Then some bad guys killed his Granny. Rage found a reason to be raging again. He also changed to a much spikier version of his costume.
Fortunately, Night Thrasher was also a rich guy who could adopt the now-homeless Elvin. Given their respective back stories, it was almost like Batman adopted Spider-Man.
The character does still pop up from time to time, most recently as a supporting character in the Initiative series where, for some reason, he was sent to the boot camp training mission and had to listen to a super powered drill sergeant named Gauntlet, who used “New Warriors” as an epithet of derision for anyone not meeting his high standards. Rage and a few other former Warriors ended up joining with said sergeant as a rebel group when Normal Osborn took over the Initiative following a collective brain fart from the entire Marvel United States that forgot Osborn was a psychotic serial killer and put him in charge of the nation’s superhuman national security apparatus.
Rage hasn’t really been seen much since. Maybe he’ll turn up again before he’s old enough to vote.