Big Bertha (comics)

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For other uses of the term, see Big Bertha (disambiguation).
Big Bertha
Art by Paul Pelletier, Rick Magyar and Will Quintana
Publication information
Publisher Marvel Comics
First appearance West Coast Avengers vol. 2 #46 (July, 1989)
Created by John Byrne (writer and artist)
In-story information
Alter ego Ashley Crawford
Species Human Mutant
Team affiliations Great Lakes Avengers
Abilities Skilled aircraft pilot
Superhuman strength and durability
Ability to alter body size and mass

Big Bertha (Ashley Crawford) is a fictional character, a mutant superheroine appearing in comic books published by Marvel Comics, notably as a member of the Great Lakes Avengers. The character was created by John Byrne and first appeared in West Coast Avengers vol. 2 #46 (July 1989).

Fictional character biography[edit]

Not a lot is known of Bertha's life before she responded to Mr. Immortal's advertisement for a hero team, the team who would become the Great Lakes Avengers. It was revealed in the G.L.A. mini-series that Ashley is in fact a mutant.

When not using her powers, Ashley is a proverbial 'big fish in a small pond', being the most famous fashion model in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, her hometown. Although offers have come her way numerous times for more prospective opportunities, she has declined them all, choosing to stay in Milwaukee with the team she considers family.

Bertha was with the rest of the Great Lakes Avengers when the team first encountered Hawkeye and Mockingbird.[1] With the team, she then assisted Hawkeye and the West Coast Avengers against "That Which Endures."[2] They also assisted Mockingbird in a holding action against Terminus.[3]

During the G.L.A. mini-series, the team took on Maelstrom who was trying to destroy the universe. After their victory, they returned to their headquarters only to find that Tony Stark had sent a cease and desist notice ordering them to stop using the Avengers name. They changed their name to the Great Lakes X-Men, complete with new costumes.[4]

Bertha and her teammates participated in a charity superhero poker tournament hosted by the Thing, where Flatman beat their host in the final round. Flatman's status as champion inspired the team to take the new name of the Great Lakes Champions, after being discouraged from affiliation with both the X-Men and the Defenders by members of those teams present at the tournament, ignoring the protests of former Champions of Los Angeles member Hercules.[5]

Civil War/The Initiative[edit]

All of the Great Lakes Champions registered with the United States government as required by the Superhuman Registration Act, as revealed when the mercenary Deadpool mistakenly attempted to apprehend them for violating the Act, only to be defeated by the GLC and informed that they had already registered.[6]

Ashley is one of the registered superheroes who join the Avengers Initiative following the Superhuman Civil War.[7]

Big Bertha and her teammates became the Initiative group in charge of Wisconsin, calling themselves the Great Lakes Initiative. They were given a rescue mission to save Dionysus after he fell from Mount Olympus. During the task, Deadpool ambushes Mr. Immortal and Flatman. Flatman recruited him as a reserve member of the team but the mercenary eventually overstayed his welcome. In an attempt to evict Deadpool from their Initiative-sponsored headquarters, Big Bertha agrees on one date. Confusion reigns as she appears for the date in her slim form. After saving lives in a dockside all-you-can-eat restaurant, Bertha realizes that Deadpool was only attracted to her large form. She lectures him, telling of her experiences of only being valued for her looks in her slim form. In response, Deadpool removes his mask revealing his cancer-scarred face. Bertha promptly vomits in the parking lot, much to Deadpool's chagrin. Later, Squirrel Girl manages to evict Deadpool.[8]

Secret Invasion[edit]

During the Secret Invasion storyline, the team confronted a Skrull disguised as Grasshopper, with help from Gravity and Catwalk. While Mr. Immortal was shocked at the discovery, Big Bertha thought that it was ridiculously obvious.[9]

Fear Itself[edit]

During the Fear Itself storyline, Big Bertha and her teammates end up confronting Asbestos Man who takes advantage of the fear and chaos that is happening. None of the group actually wish to touch the man, due to the toxicity of his suit. Mr. Immortal talks him into giving up in return for being remembered by the others.[10]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Big Bertha has the ability to make herself superhumanly strong and durable (to the point of being bulletproof) by becoming extraordinarily obese. She can also purge most fat from her body through vomiting to take on a slimmer appearance.[11]

In addition to her mutant powers, Ashley is also a skilled pilot of conventional jet aircraft.

In other media[edit]



  1. ^ West Coast Avengers #46
  2. ^ West Coast Avengers #48-49
  3. ^ Avengers Annual #19
  4. ^ GLA: Misassembled #1–4 (2005)
  5. ^ Thing vol. 2 #8 (2006)
  6. ^ Cable & Deadpool #30
  7. ^ Avengers: The Initiative #1 Character Map
  8. ^ Deadpool GLI Summer Fun Spectacular #1 (2007)
  9. ^ Avengers: The Initiative #19 (Dec. 2008)
  10. ^ Fear Itself: The Home Front #6
  11. ^ GLA #2

External links[edit]