Big Bertha (comics)
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Art by Paul Pelletier, Rick Magyar and Will Quintana
|First appearance||West Coast Avengers vol. 2 #46 (July, 1989)|
|Created by||John Byrne (writer and artist)|
|Alter ego||Ashley Crawford|
|Team affiliations||Great Lakes Avengers|
|Abilities||Skilled aircraft pilot
Superhuman strength and durability
Ability to alter size and mass of her body and leap great distances
Big Bertha (Ashley Crawford) is a fictional character, a mutant superheroine appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. Created by John Byrne, she is a member of the Great Lakes Avengers and first appeared in West Coast Avengers vol. 2 #46 (July 1989).
Fictional character biography
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.
Hawkeye and Mockingbird saw Bertha and the team in action, and later agreed to become their mentors. With the team, she helped Hawkeye and the West Coast Avengers against "That Which Endures." They also assisted Mockingbird in a holding action against Terminus. After aiding the Thunderbolts against the villain Graviton, the team clashed with the mercenary Deadpool.
During the G.L.A. mini-series, the team took on Maelstrom who was trying to destroy the universe. After Dinah Soar's death, Big Bertha began to think of quitting the team to focus on her modeling career but decided to stay. She later captures Leather Boy, a rejected GLA member, who had infiltrated the team's headquarters disguised as Doctor Doom and killed Mr. Immortal and Monkey Joe, Squirrel Girl's sidekick. During the final battle, she tried to save Flatman from being sucked into a vortex made from the device that Maelstrom created to achieve universal destruction. Fortunately, it turned out that only his clothes had been sucked off and he was merely standing at an extreme angle so he wouldn't be seen naked. 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. After discovering that they were all mutants, the team changed their name to the Great Lakes X-Men, complete with new costumes.
During the GLX-Mas Special, the team confronted Dr. Tannenbaum, who had released an army of living Christmas trees on the citizens of Wisconsin.
Great Lakes Champions
The team 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 rename themselves 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.
Civil War/The Initiative
All of the Great Lakes Champions registered with the United States government as required by the Superhuman Registration Act, as revealed when Deadpool mistakenly attempted to apprehend them for violating the Act, only to be defeated and informed that they had already registered.
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 and was captured by A.I.M., who planned to use his powers to cause mental instability on all the superheroes they consider a threat. 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.
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. They later appeared to welcome Gravity as leader of the team, after he was transferred to Wisconsin by Norman Osborn.
During the Fear Itself storyline, the team confronts 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.
Powers and abilities
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 leap great distances and purge most fat from her body through vomiting to take on a slimmer appearance.
In addition to her mutant powers, Ashley is also a skilled pilot of conventional jet aircraft.
In other media
- Big Bertha makes a cameo appearance in the Wolverine and the X-Men episode "Greetings From Genosha".
- Great Lakes Avengers #4 (Sept. 2005)
- West Coast Avengers #46
- West Coast Avengers #48-49
- Avengers Annual #19
- Thunderbolts #15–17 (June–August 1998) and #25 (Apr. 1999)
- Deadpool #10–11 (November–December 1997) and #61 (2002)
- GLA: Misassembled #1–4 (2005)
- GLX-Mas Special #1
- Thing vol. 2 #8 (2006)
- Cable & Deadpool #30
- Avengers: The Initiative #1 Character Map
- Deadpool GLI Summer Fun Spectacular #1 (2007)
- Avengers: The Initiative #19 (Dec. 2008)
- Avengers: The Initiative #25
- Fear Itself: The Home Front #6
- G.L.A. #3