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15 Marvel Properties That Need to Be Revived
Marvel Comics We Think Should Be Brought Back From the Comic Book Dead
By Kurt Anthony Krug
March 17, 2010
15 Marvel Properties That Need to Be Revived
© Mania/Bob Trate
Marvel is almost always revamping and relaunching its characters, big or small. Its Avengers franchise is getting a major relaunch after The Siege mega-event, where everything Avengers starts over at number one. Plenty of second-tier characters in recent years have also gotten extreme makeovers, such as Luke Cage and the original Spider-Woman thanks to writer Brian Michael Bendis.
It’d be great to see Marvel breathe new life in the following properties:
Yes, “Nightwatch” was a “Spawn”-wannabe with a similar look and somewhat similar powers (their costumes had minds of their own) to Image’s flagship title, created/chronicled by one-time Spider-Man auteur Todd McFarlane. “Nightwatch”’s dubious origins aside, the character does have potential and he can be a strong supporting player in the hands of the right creator. Remember, Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley made lame-o, C-grade villain Screaming Mimi into Songbird, a strong, popular character.
14. Silver Sable
This cold-blooded mercenary was a major supporting character in the Spider-Man titles in the 1980s and 1990s. She even graduated to a monthly title that had a respectable run (35 issues) from 1992-95. Marvel should’ve been using her to hunt down super-heroes refusing to sign the registration act in Civil War. It also would’ve been nice to see her reaction to Norman Osborn and H.A.M.M.E.R. as major players in the intelligence community. Time for her to get another chance. Don’t abandon some of the character’s super-hero trappings, but do inject a little more grittiness into the title.
This is one little piggy who went to Marvel instead of the market as the comics giant spoofed its flagship character Spider-Man and many other characters in its vast pantheon with animal versions, such as Spider-Ham and Captain Americat. It’s cute, innocuous stuff that had a strong cult following. Definitely something that should be brought back to lampoon many trends in the comics medium today (similar to Bongo’s Simpsons comics). Either that, or use it as part of Marvel’s All-Ages line.
12. Squadron Supreme
The late Mark Gruenwald took Marvel’s bargain-basement JLA in directions DC Comics wouldn’t dare to go, making them their own characters in the seminal 1985 titular mini-series and subsequent Death of a Universe graphic novel. Yes, J. Michael Straczynski did an “ultimate” version of the Squadron with Supreme Power, but it would be wonderful to see the original versions of these characters again, last seen in 1998’s Squadron Supreme: New World Order. In it, ruthless corporations turn America into a police state with the Squadron’s utopia project technology. The original team reunites at the conclusion, but this storyline has never been resolved. It’s time and past that it is.
Believe it or not, this series was based on an obscure toy from 1979, but took place in the Marvel Universe proper as Rom teamed up with the X-Men, Avengers, and Rick Jones, among others. The toy flopped, but the series lasted 75 issues (and 4 annuals), the brainchild of Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema, and Al Milgrom. It successfully merged Stranger in a Strange Land with Invasion of the Body-Snatchers. Rom appeared here and there after his series ended, but was totally absent from 2000’s Space Knights mini-series. He had a small cameo but he could not even be mentioned by name because of legal issues, never mind the fact that the toy had been out of circulation for years. If there’s any way for Marvel to get around that, go for it because fans definitely want to see Rom again.
Yes, you can find New Universe comics in quarter bins. Yes, the New Universe was a mess. However, there was a diamond or two in the rough, and Paul Ryan and the late Mark Gruenwald’s D.P.7 was definitely one of them. The character-driven title chronicled the lives of seven people who gained superhuman powers, turning them more into freaks than super-heroes. This was a precursor to Heroes (when it was good) 20 years before the TV show debuted. What made this the best New Universe book was the fact that Gruenwald and Ryan stayed on the entire series from start to finish (a rarity with those books), giving it consistency. It’d be a treat do see these characters again in a mini-series that moves them forward with Ryan involved somehow.
9. Silver Surfer
Many of Marvel’s cosmic characters have had a successful resurgence since Annihilation, Nova being by far the most successful. So why doesn’t the Silver Surfer–Marvel’s premier cosmic hero–have an ongoing series? This is certainly a glaring omission on Marvel’s part. Get the Surfer back to basics with Marvel’s current cosmic climate as a backdrop. What would really be a coup is to have Steve Englehart, Ron Lim, and/or Jim Starlin involved in some capacity or another since they know how to do cosmic.
8. Namor the Sub-Mariner
Marvel’s first character has had ongoing titles that have ebbed and flowed over the decades, John Byrne’s series being one of the better takes on Namor. Byrne moved him beyond the spoiled, arrogant princeling who always shouted “Imperius Rex!” and had an infatuation with Susan Richards. Under Byrne, the character matured; there was a noble, regal side to him not seen too much, a side that’s been forgotten in recent times. There are plenty of layers to this character worth exploring.
7. Vision and the Scarlet Witch
Two of Marvel’s most popular Avengers, these two have a rich and oft-times confusing history. Nonetheless, they are good characters with plenty of power–and potential. Scarlet Witch has been a funny farmer since Avengers Disassembled; it’s time for her to redeem herself and rejoin the Marvel Universe. The Vision was “died” during Avengers Disassembled and is now the teenage Vision 2.0, who loves Cassie Lang. There’s so much you can do with Vision and his many personalities: Simon Williams, Alex Lipton, the original Human Torch, and Iron Lad. Also, Wiccan and Speed are believed to be the couple’s long-dead children. So much story material boiling over with potential. Marvel needs to return these characters to greatness ASAP.
Forget that awful New Invaders series a few years back. With the success of Avengers/Invaders, The Torch, The Marvels Project, and Bucky’s resurrection in Captain America (projects that involved Ed Brubaker and Alex Ross), it would make sense to have another Invaders series, preferably done by Brubaker. The award-winning writer, who wrote various flashbacks involving the Invaders in Captain America, can give it a gritty, emotional resonance a la Saving Private Ryan, as well as retcon it as needed to accommodate Marvel’s continuity like he did with Sharon Carter’s relationship to Peggy Carter (they were once sisters, but now they’re niece and aunt, respectively).
5. Cloak & Dagger
Another successful 1980s property fans are chomping at the bit to see again. Created by Bill Mantlo and Ed Hannigan, Cloak & Dagger are vigilantes with powers of darkness and light, respectively, preying on drug-pushers, pimps, and child pornographers. They’ve appeared in Civil War and Dark X-Men, interacting more with the Marvel Universe, which is very appealing. Who’s to say a new series can’t have a mixture of street-level grittiness, interaction with other Marvel characters, and involvement in global threats–they’ve proven versatile enough for all of the above. A new mini-series was announced in 2008, but no dice so far.
4. What If?
It would be ideal to see Marvel take a page from DC Comics’ Elseworlds books and publish 4-6 issue mini-series with What If? focused on a particular storyline. That would be much better than a multi-part saga crammed into a done-in-one issue. For instance, have a What If?: X-Men–Days of Future Past storyline occur over several issues and have a good artist assigned to it who’s not phoning it in. One of the banes of the 1989-98 What If? series was that the art was atrocious at various points and the stories were rushed. Adopting the Elseworlds format would give creators much more freedom.
3. Solo Avengers/Avengers Spotlight
The original Solo Avengers (later Avengers Spotlight) was a normal-size split book starring Hawkeye in the first half and the Avenger of the month in the second half. The era of the split book is over. With Avengers now a franchise and the Heroic Age in the wings, Marvel should publish another Avengers Spotlight, featuring 4 to 6 issue arcs (for the inevitable trade) of Avengers without a book (Monica Rambeau, Jack of Hearts, Black Knight) or a group of Avengers on a specific one-time mission. It would be a great platform to see old favorites again, maybe even serve as a springboard to launch a character into a new monthly title.
2. Strikeforce: Morituri
Created by Peter Gillis and Brent Anderson, this was one of Marvel’s most underrated titles that occurred outside the mainstream Marvel Universe and the New Universe (it was mistaken for the latter as the two properties were initially published around the same time). Morituri was an intelligently-crafted, character-driven title centering around a team of humans who become super-heroes to battle the Horde, an alien race of plunderers. The catch? They know their powers will kill them within a year. Defying the “nobody ever stays dead” convention in the comics medium, they do NOT come back. After Gillis and Anderson left the title, the next creative team veered from the original concept and it was soon thereafter cancelled. There were plans for Gillis to relaunch Morituri in the mid-‘90s, but they fell through. The Sci-Fi Channel has optioned Morituri as a TV series called One Thousand Days, but nothing’s happened yet. Let Gillis relaunch this title now that he’s returned to comics.
Malibu Comics launched a new pantheon of super-heroes in 1993 that boasted the talents of Steve Englehart, Darick Robertson, Len Strazewski, Norm Breyfogle, and James Robinson, to name a few. Prime was a latter-day Shazam, Mantra was a man trapped in a woman’s body, Night-man was Batman without money–very compelling characters. Marvel bought the Ultraverse in 1995, did many crossovers between the two universes, then discontinued the line. However, the Ultraverse has a passionate fan-base who’d love to see these characters return. Should we see the Ultras again (they’re good characters that don’t deserve to be left on the shelf), a crossover with Marvel’s characters is inevitable (look at Wildstorm and DC), but keep them in a separate universe and make the crossovers non-canonical if possible.