The Captain America We Need

When Spring arrives, I try and regularly scour local listings for garage sales in the hopes that some day I will have to run across someone selling old RPGs and Comics. I have come close several times, and far more often find offers advertising comic books. Too often, the books are overpriced, or remnants of the speculative-heavy 1990s. But I always love flipping through the possibilities.

187962_1041582_1044Today is Free Comic Book Day. Go out to your FLCBS and pick up some free comics. Some companies do special issues just for FCBD, others do reprints, and others are companies and comics you might never have known existed: “There is a Keyser Soze comic?!?”

Marvel usually puts out a special zero issue tying into their next big event. It’s savvy. This year, of course, they are promoting Secret Empire, the Cap-Hydra story.

Captain-America-black-costume-and-shield-h1Spoilers were released ahead of FCBD, find those, or pick up your free copy and revel in the stunning reveal.

Secret Empire continues to draw lots of attention, most of it bad. This is not the book our current political clime needs is my reaction. Captain America has been many things, and worn many mantles, he rejected the government and donned a black costume, he was a wolf, he was a Nomad.

He has never had a mullet though.

superman-mullet-wonder-wonder-woman

When i find comics at garage sales, I often give in and buy some based solely on the cover, because this is what used to make comics awesome.

16f45d76e472641a16735836279b2f7bI recently picked up Captain America 267, because without even reading, I knew, this was the Captain America we needed.

Probably.

Or maybe he has been Hydra all this time, after-all, he is taking on Everyman.

Would my $2 be a worthwhile investment? The comic came boarded and bagged, so I had to wait until I was home safely to see what was between the covers.

The year was 1982 for the story titled “The Man Who Made A Difference.”

IMG_07761First impression: Mike Zeck is a woefully under-rated artist. Look at the cap, almost cartoonish, but larger-than-life.

But look closer, there is a real charm to these pencils:

IMG_07771

The text and dialogue is by DeMatteis, it is classic Marvel- bordering on silly, grand and sparse at the same time.

Onto the story:

A student protestor spits on Cap, upset about Cap’s version of the American Dream. Tigra and Cap make a cameo. Cap is spit-on again by a different angry young man.

The villain, Everyman, represents “America’s most silent majority,” those living in poverty, and challenges Captain America to a duel at the Statue of Liberty. However, in this Marvelous tale, which hits many ideals from a 70s comic, there is more, or rather less, to the villain than meets the eye, and sure enough, Cap, who worried for the safety of those protesting against him, saves the day, and after that, makes a speech as timely today as it was 35 years ago.

Not only is today’s Cap an agent of Hydra, where is his tumbling, and his motorcycle, and pirate boots, and the teenagers obsessed with dating him?

Do not take my tone to be ironic or sarcastic, truly, this was not a comic worthy or inclusion into any “all-time greatest single issues” list, but it was solid storytelling, and a reminder of what Captain America, and more importantly what comics can be.

Plus, Daredevil takes on Baby Face Johnny in a Hostess ad and there is an awesome D&D on the back cover!

And, I think Everyman really misunderstood the American people if he believed that his bizarre costume and electrified rapier would make him a hero of the people.

Marvel Team Relaunch

FINAL ROSTERS, Ellie:

  • GEN X- Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, Molly Hayes, M, Quentin Quire, Hellion, Eyeboy
  • Heroes For Hire- She-Hulk, Jessica Jones, Misty Knight, Hellcat, Silk, Collen Wing, Maddie Cho
  • Alpha Flight- Carol Danvers, Mantis, Aurora, Brand, Puck, Talisman, Sasquatch
  • New Warriors- Squirrel Girl, Kamala Khan, Sam Alexander Nova, Nico, Speedball, Firestar, Hazmat
ELLIE: Just before the draft, the New Warriors television series (starring Squirrel Girl) was just announced. It seemed as good a jumping point as any. I figured the New Warriors are a group of cool 20-somethings (and a few teens) who just wanted to do good. Think the Champions without the social media pressure. The New Warriors are about fixing and improving not only their image, but who they are as people.

Generation X was my final pick. I didn’t have it totally nailed down, but I wanted to have the “little brother” and “little sister” characters from a few different generations of X-Men on the team. I also wanted to have a series that could be about 90% guest cameos of awesome X-characters.

Without further ado, here are my pitches (Marvel, you can totally @ me on these):

Generation X
Kitty Pryde, the X-Men’s original little sister, returns from space. Equipped with more knowledge of the world, she returns to find her purpose in life. She knows she wants to help mutants expand their boundaries, both physically and in terms of knowledge, and so she starts Generation X, a special class of students and former students who join together to travel around the world, act as mutant liaisons, and represent the next generation.

Kitty acts as the team leader, but turns to M and Jubilee, two of the original Gen X, to help her expand everyone’s boundaries. M and Jubilee represent the worldly and the down-to-earth, respectively, and the trio covers 3 different, but not dissimilar, perspectives.

The four main students I drafted were Quentin Quire, who has the potential to create or destroy the world and therefore needs to learn about the people of the world, Hellion, Laura’s ex and someone who needs to expand his perspective beyond his privileged world, Eyeboy, with the power to see everything, but who’s experienced little, and Molly Hayes of the Runaways, who’s seen a lot in her young life, but needs help continuing to see the good in people.
The series would have occasional guest stars that visit to teach the students (and ultimately help the team), such as the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Wasp and her GIRLS, Husk and Chamber (of course), the O5, and plenty of other X-folks!
(In retrospect, I could have easily done a “Logan’s Angels” team, with Rogue, Kitty, Jubes, Armour, Idie, Laura, and Gabby. I regret not doing this.)

Alpha Flight

Alpha Flight is funded through NASA and the Canadian government. They’re a little bit home country and a little bit space race.

Led by Carol Danvers, Alpha Flight is trying to figure out its place in the world. Are they the Guardians of the Galaxy? Well, not quite. The Avengers? Not really. So what do they actually do? Well, come back to us about that one.

Abigail Brand continues to oversee the program, but has brought on Mantis, the former Guardian’s empathy, because there’s a disturbance in the Force. No, not the Force, wrong book. It’s really that something’s a bit weird in this reality, which Mantis is in tune with, and it seems like someone needs to fix that problem.

Who better to do that than Sasquatch, Aurora, and Puck? Along with Talisman, who’s magic seems to be compatible with the multiverse and string theory, Alpha Flight fights for Earth. Or Earths, I guess.
Ultimately, Alpha Flight would explore the concept of alternate realities, but also the concept of finding your place in the world.
Heroes for Hire

Luke and Danny have moved on from Heroes for Hire. Not intentionally; they’re just busy guys. So it comes to Misty Knight to make Heroes for Hire work.

And she does this by turning it into a public service: think non-profit meets community center and you’ll hit it. She and Colleen Wing pull together the greatest heroes they can thing of who all just happen to be tied to New York and helping people, not other superheroes.

Jennifer Walters is the first one to volunteer, leaving her law firm to start working as a public defense attorney. Patsy Walker quickly follows her bff, tying her super powered temp agency into the Heroes for Hire brand. Jessica Jones begrudgingly joins, wanting to move out of the costumed spotlight, as the organization’s private detective. Silk stumbles into the team by accident, and brings Maddie Cho, who’s left her brother Amadeus to fend for himself, with her as a security blanket, and the team’s Oracle.

The fact that the Heroes are all women is totally coincidental: they’re there best there is, regardless of gender.
New Warriors

Squirrel Girl always idolized the New Warriors, and her mega crush Speedball, so all the coals the team has been raked over, time and again, really upset our peppy heroine. She’s determined to take the New Warriors and turn them into what they were always supposed to be: the next generation of Avengers.

Doreen turns to founding members Speedball and Firestar to get their blessing, and the two hop at the opportunity to do some good again. Ultimate fangirl Kamala Khan finds out what SG is doing, and offers up herself and her Nova pal, Sam Alexander, as team members. Former A-Force and Runaways member Nico Minoru, who happens to be on a secret heroes only message board with Kamala, decides that she needs to put herself back out there as a hero (again). Finally, Hazmat, the Avengers Academy and Avengers Arena survivor, who is dealing with her PTSD but still wants to help others, join the team.

The team’s meant to represent a little bit of everything in the Marvel Universe: Mutants (Firestar), Inhumans (Ms. Marvel), space (Nova), magic (Nico), accident (Speedball), genetics (Hazmat), squirrels (Squirrel Girl), and pet Avengers (Niels).

The New Warriors follow the tone of the current Squirrel Girl comics, where unexpected non-violence is ultimately the answer to all conflicts. Cause punching people is great and all, but what does it actually get you? Hurty knuckles, that’s what!

FINAL ROSTERS, Mike:

  • Avengers- Captain America (SRogers), Odinson, Iron Man (TStark), Pym, Clint, Janet, Banner
  • Invaders- Winter Soldier, Namor, Union Jack, Spitfire, Hammond, Toro, Le Peregrine
  • Space Knights- Star Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Richard Rider Nova, Vance Astro, Moondragon, Quasar, Beta-Ray Bill
  • Fantastic Four- Ben Grimm, Reed Richards, Jane Foster Thor, Rita, Black Knight, Dr. Druid, Stingray

1678922-avengers_lineup01MIKE: The Justice League is the big 7, so that is what I was hoping to do with my Avengers team, but figured I would lose a few of my hopefuls to either Barak or Ellie.  I didn’t as I literally was able to draft the 7 heroes I envisioned.  The Avengers are the prime super-hero team.  Everyone wants to grow up to be an Avenger, and when the Avengers call, you say yes! Captain America (Steve Rogers) was selected first, both because Barak threatened to take him and he was going to be the team leader. Thor (Odinson) and Iron Man (Tony Stark) round out the Big 3. Giant Man (Hank Pym), Hawkeye (Clint Barton), Wasp (Janet Van Dyne), and the Incredible Hulk (Bruce Banner) fill out the core team.  The fact that I had to list secret identities as identifiers for every single hero shows exactly what I feel is wrong with Marvel right now.  Let your big guns be your big guns.

Invaders_Vol_1_20Just as the Justice League had their fore-bearers the JSA, the Avengers would have the Invaders.  The first super-team put together to fight the Nazis, the Invaders would evolve as heroes retired and passed on their identities but still be guided by the principles of the founding team (or in some cases the principals). Winter Soldier was going to be the tie to the Avengers as well as the team leader.  Bucky all grown up is joined by fellow original team members Namor, Spitfire, Human Torch (Jim Hammond), and Toro.  The third Union Jack fills in for the original Union Jack and for the final spot I wanted to add a character that filled what I feel was a glaring omission in the original team-either a French or Soviet super-hero.  I went back and forth with Ursa Major and Vanguard before settling on Le Peregrine.

When you think Marvel comic super-teams, after Avengers and X-Men, the Fantastic Four has to be in the conversation.  Typically a “family” team I was going to focus on the adventurers side.  I wanted a team of heroes who weren’t necessarily out there fighting crime, but out there exploring the world.  With so many potential scientist based heroes, I realized I needed a hero who would keep the team grounded in reality.  While Reed Richards is usually the leader of the team, I feel Ben Grimm (Thing) would serve better as this team’s leader. Reed (Mr. Fantastic) of course would be on the team as would fellow scientists Dane Whitman (Black Knight), Walter Newell (Stingray), and Rita DeMara (Yellowjacket).  Rounding out the team would be medical doctor Jane Foster (Thor) and mystical specialist Anthony Druid (Dr. Druid). As noted by the way I listed them, the book would focus on their exploration of the new Marvel Universe as scientists, and not so much as super-heroes.  Think Challengers of the Unknown meets Planetary.

Space Knights is the team that fills the role of the Watcher on the Wall.  It’s a great concept, the first (and sometimes only) line of defense against alien invasion.  But no offense to them, but Nick Fury and Bucky Barnes are not suited for the job.  You need a team of aliens to fight aliens, and who better to lead them then a human who sees himself as an alien?  Peter Quill, Star-lord, is joined by his former Guardians of the Galaxy teammate Rocket Raccoon and future GotG member Vance Astro.  They are joined by 3 other cosmic heroes who were born on Earth: Moondragon, Nova (Richard Rider), and Quasar. The final slot again was a tough call, as I had a short list of Groot, Bug (from the Micronauts!), one of the Galadorian Space Knights, or Beta Ray Bill.  The power of Beta Ray Bill was too much to pass on.  Also, the fact that most of my team also served as analogs of Green Lantern Corps members didn’t hurt.  Peter Quill/Hal Jordan. Rocket/Ch’p, Vance Astro/Rond Vidar, Moondragon/Guardian of the Universe, Richard Rider/Kyle Rayner, Beta Ray Bill/Kilowog, and really who is Quasar, but a Marvel Green Lantern?

FINAL ROSTERS, Barak:

  • West Coast Avengers- Dazzler, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, Kate Bishop, Shroud, Tigra, Striker
  • Champions- Darkstar, Northstar, Black Panther, Tempus, Defensor, Namora, Radiance
  • USAvengers- Hercules, Amadeus Cho, Scott Lang, Cass, American Eagle, Echo, US 1
  • Defenders- Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Spider Woman, Nighthawk, Hellstrom, Sue Storm, Cloud

BARAK:

West Coast Avengers I wanted to be characters associated with the original team, or associated with fame. i wanted a somewhat misfit group of heroes, looking for s second chance, or looking to do the hero thing somewhere other than Manhattan. I have always been a fan of Shroud, and I thought Striker would be a great addition to this veteran team, getting some hero-training by some of the best in the biz!

My idea for Champions came from a passing comment from Mike, that Marvel didn’t really have a Global Guardians team. What better moniker than The Champions? Darkstar was a throwback to the original team, and represented Russia/ Europe. Northstar represents Canada, and is a character I have always been a fan of. Tempus is great because she is an Australian character without being an Australian cliche. South America didn’t really have a whole lot to choose from, so why not a callback to one of my favorite series, the one that started them all, Contest of Champions. namora representing Atlantis, and for my final pick, I really debated. An argument can be made that Russia is a part of Asia, and if so, I considered grabbing a most unlikely hero, Infamous Iron Man, AKA Dr. Doom. Instead I went with the recently introduced Radiance. I’d see Black Panther leading this team representing every inhabited continent, Marvel’s answer to Stormwatch/ The Authority, as well as Global Guardians.

U.S.Avengers_Vol_1_1_50_State_Variants

Just a big tease.

USAvengers: The Team With No Name. Not a team, but a book about wandering heroes traveling the US and doing good. Each issue might be a self-contained story, or might contain parts of multiple stories continued in the following issues. Herc and Cho, Scott and Cass, American Eagle, Echo, and US 1 bring some interesting characters to the table, and would allow us to explore some lesser seen parts of the country, and deal with some way lesser-known villains. I wanted to draft Team America/ ThundeRiders, but draft rules dictated I would need to take them individually, so I settled for US 1.

dfad1Defenders: Just like the classic non-team, I didn’t really have an idea. NYC based, helping people, fighting villains and organizations the hoity-toity Avengers don’t have time for, some dramatic tension with Sue Storm on the team, touching upon topical matters in the news as well much more than most of the the other team books (USAvengers would also allow for this type of interesting exploration and examination of news and society). I went with Hellstrom instead of Strange as he has had some dealings with danny and Luke recently. I enjoyed the recent Spider-Woman series. This one was a blank canvas in many ways, but would be a lot of fun to write.

Marvel, give us a call. We can make these team books work. I bet these 12 could sell more than your top 12 team books are currently selling! Bold words, indeed!

Marvel Draft Final Day

This is it, the final day of the draft, as teams look to round out their rosters, and come up with the starting seven!

hellcatwalker2ROUND 4:

  • Defenders- Nighthawk
  • F4- Rita Demara Yellowjacket
  • Space Knights- Vance Astro
  • NW- Nico Minoru
  • H4H- Hellcat
  • USAvengers- Cass Lang
  • Champions- Tempus
  • Alpha Flight- Abigail Brand
  • Invaders-Spitfire
  • Avengers-Hank Pym Giant Man
  • WCA- Kate Bishop
  • GenX- M

 

ROUND 5:

  • GEN X- Quentin Quire
  • WCA- Shroud
  • Avengers- Hawkeye Clint Barton
  • Invaders- Jim Hammond Human Torch
  • Alpha Flight- Puck
  • Champions- Namora
  • USAvengers- American Eagle
  • H4H- Silk
  • NW- Speedball
  • Space Knights- Moondragon
  • F4- Black Knight
  • Defenders- Sue Storm

3129351-ohotmu+defenders+#1+-+page+8ROUND 6:

  • Defenders- Hellstrom
  • F4- Dr. Druid
  • Space Knights- Quasar
  • NW- Firestar
  • H4H- Colleen Wing
  • USAvengers- Echo
  • Champions- Defensor
  • Alpha Flight- Talisman
  • Invaders- Toro
  • Avengers- Wasp (Janet Van Dyne)
  • WCA- Tigra
  • GenX- Hellion

 

ROUND 7:

  • GEN X- Eyeboy
  • WCA- Striker
  • Avengers- Hulk Bruce Banner
  • Invaders- Le Peregrine
  • Alpha Flight- Sasquatch
  • Champions- Radiance
  • USAvengers- US 1
  • H4H- Maddie Cho
  • NW- Hazmat
  • Space Knights- Beta-Ray Bill
  • F4- Stingray
  • Defenders- Cloud

Cloud, rightfully, picks up the title of Captain Irrelevant.

FINAL ROSTERS:

  • GEN X- Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, Molly Hayes, M, Quentin Quire, Hellion, Eyeboy
  • West Coast Avengers- Dazzler, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, Kate Bishop, Shroud, Tigra, Striker
  • Avengers- Captain America (SRogers), Odinson, Iron Man (TStark), Pym, Clint, Janet, Banner
  • Invaders- Winter Soldier, Namor, Union Jack, Spitfire, Hammond, Toro, Le Peregrine
  • Alpha Flight- Carol Danvers, Mantis, Aurora, Brand, Puck, Talisman, Sasquatch
  • Champions- Darkstar, Northstar, Black Panther, Tempus, Defensor, Namora, Radiance
  • USAvengers- Hercules, Amadeus Cho, Scott Lang, Cass, American Eagle, Echo, US 1
  • Heroes For Hire- She-Hulk, Jessica Jones, Misty Knight, Hellcat, Silk, Collen Wing, Maddie Cho
  • New Warriors- Squirrel Girl, Kamala Khan, Sam Alexander Nova, Nico, Speedball, Firestar, Hazmat
  • Space Knights- Star Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Richard Rider Nova, Vance Astro, Moondragon, Quasar, Beta-Ray Bill
  • Fantastic Four- Ben Grimm, Reed Richards, Jane Foster Thor, Rita, Black Knight, Dr. Druid, Stingray
  • Defenders- Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Spider Woman, Nighthawk, Hellstrom, Sue Storm, Cloud
249px-Woodgod

Mike could’ve made Woodgood a contender.

COMMENTARY: Tomorrow, we will hear from the teams, and have each present us their concepts, let us look at the Top 10 Undrafted Free Agents:

  • Spider-Man (Parker)
  • Wolverine
  • Dr. Strange
  • Vision
  • Storm
  • Beast
  • Spectrum
  • Black Widow
  • Rogue
  • Woodgod

 

Marvel Hero Draft Day 2

Day 2 of the Hero Draft will see teams adding the 2nd and 3rd members to their teams, and should hopefully give us a better idea the direction they are going.

ROUND 2

  • Defenders- Luke Cage
  • F4- Reed Richards
  • Space Knights- Rocket Racoon
  • NW- Kamala Khan
  • H4H- Jessica Jones
  • USAvengers- Amadeus Cho
  • Champions-Northstar
  • Alpha Flight- Mantis
  • Invaders- Namor
  • Avengers- Odinson
  • WCA- Wonder Man
  • GenX- Jubilee

Northstar-Alpha-Flight-Marvel-Comics-h1.jpeg

ROUND 3

  • GEN X- Molly Hayes
  • WCA- Mockingbird
  • Avengers- Tony Stark Iron Man
  • Invaders- Union Jack
  • Alpha Flight- Aurora
  • Champions- Black Panther
  • USAvengers- Scott Lang
  • H4H- Misty Knight
  • NW- Sam Alexander Nova
  • Space Knights- Richard Rider Nova
  • F4- Jane Foster Thor
  • Defenders- Spider Woman

Acotilletta2--Nova_memorialTEAMS SO FAR:

  • GEN X- Kitty Pryde, Jubilee, Molly Hayes
  • West Coast Avengers- Dazzler, Wonder Man, Mockingbird
  • Avengers- Captain America (SRogers), Odinson, Iron Man (TStark)
  • Invaders- Winter Soldier, Namor, Union Jack
  • Alpha Flight- Carol Danvers, Mantis, Aurora
  • Champions- Darkstar, Northstar, Black Panther
  • USAvengers- Hercules, Amadeus Cho, Scott Lang
  • Heroes For Hire- She-Hulk, Jessica Jones, Misty Knight
  • New Warriors- Squirrel Girl, Kamala Khan, Sam Alexander Nova
  • Space Knights- Star Lord, Rocket Raccoon, Richard Rider Nova
  • Fantastic Four- Ben Grimm, Reed Richards, Jane Foster Thor
  • Defenders- Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Spider Woman

 

COMMENTARY: The second round saw the first controversy, as Joe Quesada announced Hellcat as the Heroes For Hire pick, but the official draft card reported Jessica Jones. Draft rules state that the draft card is the official pick of record.

It looks like our instincts were right with Avengers, Invaders, New Warriors, and Gen X. Space Knights seems to be Guardians of the Galaxy redux, Defenders seems to be shaping in name-sake non-team fashion, Fantastic Four took an odd turn in the 3rd Round, Heroes For Hire is exactly what Ellie said it would be, West Coast Avengers and Champions draft strategy seems unclear or at best, not necessarily compelling, along with USAvengers.

Tomorrow will conclude the draft, be sure to tune in, and see who takes the title of Captain Irrelevant!

Marvel Hero Draft: Day 1

With the teams set, and with some regrets (I forgot about First Line and Illuminati) we move onto the first day of player drafting. As with the more prominent draft happening,

4146340-0096847310-19190

Lockheed not included!

the first day will just be the first round.

  • GEN X- Kitty Pryde
  • WCA- Dazzler
  • Avengers- Steve Rogers Cap
  • Invaders- Winter Soldier
  • Alpha Flight- Carol Danvers
  • Champions- Darkstar
  • USAvengers- Hercules
  • H4H- Shulkie
  • New Warriors- Squirrel Girl
  • Space Knights- Star Lord
  • F4- Ben Grimm
  • Defenders- Iron Fist

COMMENTARY: Dazzler and Darkstar give nothing away from the draft rooms of the West Coast Avengers or Champions, Ben Grimm is a great pick-up, and with Iron Fist and Kitty Pryde, Barak and Ellie expectedly drafted some of their favorite players.

What to Look For On Day 2: Tomorrow will see teams drafting their 2nd and 3rd (of 7) players. Look for Mike to go for some of the Big names (Iron Man, Thor, etc) for his Avengers team, and some classic heroes for his Invaders team. Ellie is looking like a female led young X team for Gen X and young heroes for New Warriors, is a reunion with Speedball in the cards? Will Barak grab Luke Cage at the top of the 2nd round, and how bizarre will the West Coast Avengers and Champions rosters be?

Marvel Team Draft

Gifted the power of Editorial Control, Ellie, Mike, and I set into plan the first phase of our rebooting of the Marvel Universe, or, more correctly, our 12 team books that will move product for Marvel. Today, we drafted our teams. Any Marvel team was available. The draft order was randomly determined, and it went down like this:

c1ecaa17b4621589894908b0c7eb0f64I assigned each of us the numbers 1-4:

  1. B3- DEFENDERS
  2. B4- CHAMPIONS
  3. M4- INVADERS
  4. E1- ALPHA FLIGHT
  5. M2- AVENGERS
  6. E2- NEW WARRIORS
  7. B2- WEST COAST AVENGERS
  8. B1- USAVENGERS
  9. E3- GEN X
  10. E4- HEROES FOR HIRE
  11. M1- FANTASTIC FOUR
  12. M3- SPACE KNIGHTS

Going first, I had to go with my heart, and pick two of my favorite teams and team books. Unabashedly, unapologetically, I love the Defenders and the out and out craziness of the Champions. Any super-group cool enough to get named dropped by Del the Funky Homosapien is a legacy cool enough to get their own book, and USAvengers, Well, ever since Marvel did the cover tease of each state having a hero, they have angered me by not following through. Long have I said that The Initiative should have been a 52 issue weekly comic with each issue detailing one of the teams in each state. I had an idea, i would of course have to wait until the hero draft to see if I could make it a reality.

Ellie: “I have to say, I went into the draft with an unclear picture of what I wanted. As much as I like the X-Men, I’m not a “team” girl. I never really read Avengers or Justice League, and to this day, I don’t really buy them.The only teams I collect retroactively are JSA/Justice League Europe (because Power Girl), New Mutants, and late 1970’s Defenders (I’m a sucker for Hellstrom and Hellcat, both classic and in general). I completed my Generation X collection about 3 years ago, and it was totally worth it.

Ellie: “Anyway, not much into teams. I’m more interested in how characters interact and are human. I love reading the humanity in unreal characters, romance, and I do love books about teens interacting. So, while I could have drafted the Avengers or X-Men right off the bat, I didn’t want to. Thinking on it, my favorite “teams” in comics were weird ones, outliers like the short lived Lady Liberators, the more focused on time travel Excalibur, and the oh so Canadian, eh, Alpha Flight, or non-teams like Heroes for Hire, Daughters of the Dragon, or the Future Foundation.

Ellie: “So I went off the idea of the most unusual teams. I knew I wanted to pick Alpha Flight first. I like that Alpha Flight has transitioned from Canada’s super team to the team that guards the perimiter of the Earth. I also figured that Mike or Barak were pretty likely to try and pick AF as one of their later teams.

Ellie: “I also knew I had to go for Heroes for Hire. I love the idea of super powered people helping the everyday Joe, and I’ve played with the concept of a superhero backed non-profit organization for some years now. Heroes for Hire would be that non-profit (converse to the name, I suppose).”

Mike: “It’s a brand new Marvel U! I’ve been tasked with coming with 4 new teams to kick off the Marvel U.  We started out picking franchise names.  Barak picked Defenders and Champions right off the bat and I figured Ellie would pick an X book or A-Force, so I picked Invaders and Avengers with my first picks.  I had my pitch all set for those two teams.  I was planning on using Alpha Flight as an international team of heroes, very similar to DC’s Global Guardians, but alas, it was not to be.  I knew I was going to have some international flavor with my Invaders squad, so I was good on that end.  I compiled a list of team names that intrigued me and waited.  I was really surprised to see both West Coast Avengers and US Avengers get selected, but whatever, they can ride the coattails of the Avengers if they need to…As it dropped to me, I had a list of 8 team names (and concepts) that I wanted to explore.  I went with Fantastic Four and Space Knights, over the following team/concepts:

  • First Line: I assumed Barak was going to scoop this one up. A team of lost/forgotten heroes who are the first line of defense against cosmic-level threats.
  • Exiles: I thought Ellie might put together a team of misfit mutants, but I was thinking I would go with a team of mutants plucked from history in the moment before their deaths to stop a dystopian future from occuring.  Apocalypse would have been the big baddie here.
  • Squadron Supreme: This team has a soft spot in my heart and I would have updated it some by taking heroes who fit the mold of a Justice League.  Hyperion, Hawkeye, Quasar, Hercules, Jessica Jones, Namor, Quicksilver, Douglock.
  • Slingers: I loved, loved, loved, this band of Spidey-inspired heroes. I would have updated it with a bunch of heroes who literally sling things.  Captain America (or USAgent), Hawkeye, Nomad, Elektra, Night Thrasher, Speedball, Ricochet.
  • Thunderbolts: Again, another team I love.  Villains seeking redemption or a Suicide Squad style team led by Victor Von Doom.
  • X-terminators: A group of heroes/mutants on the run for a crime they didn’t commit.  Framed by Mr. Sinister, despised by the world, these heroes need to find the truth.  A blend of New Warriors, Runaways, and mutant cast-offs.

Mike: “And so we were on to the draft.  I was feeling pretty good with my team concepts. Being a DC fan, my standard for teams are the Justice Society of America and the Justice League.  There is a lot of connection between the two, so I was hoping to create the same feel.”

Stay tuned, True Believer, tomorrow the fate of the 616 is in our hands!

Dear Marvel: Stop Copying.

A fellow i know used to constantly say that marvel always copied DC. This was at least 5 years ago, when Marvel was selling way more books than the Distinguished Competition. I had issue with this statement.

That was then.

Marvel-Legacy-Cover-by-Joe-Quesada-720x344

Now, Marvel is a husk of what they once were. Not a Husk. A shell. A pale shadow. Marvel promises that Marvel Legacy will “break the Internet.”

Zeist to Marvel: you already broke the Internet with Nazi Cap. And you’ve pissed off a lot of people. You’ve already broken your fan-base. Looking to your not-so-Distinguished Comepetition as they attempt to rebuild trust after crapping on their readership for so long is not the way to start selling books again.

Mike and I were debating this, he works in retail and as has been established, is a huge DC guy. Even though I would argue that DC has not fulfilled their promise to return unto him Blue Beetle, he is drinking the Bat-Kool-Aid, and believes DC is on top because they are selling books with the iconic characters people care about.

the-flash-batman-crossover-the-button-21-spoiler-returns-231851-1280x0.jpegReally, I don’t recall Superman having had a baby before all the BS that DC has dragged readership through of late? I don’t recall Batman being just a tad older than his sidekicks. Dc is doing better right now, because Marvel is sucking so bad. They are doing well because they are skull-fucking the contract that Alan Moore signed with DC in regards to Watchmen. They are desperate so they have come up with some contrived storyline incorporating  Watchmen into the DCU. Wait until Frank Miller Dark Knight is brought in. It will happen. Because those books are selling. “Give them what they want,” is the DC motto right now.

Marvel’s motto seems to be “Oh, shit, our sales are plummeting, DC is selling books, we should do what they are doing.”

Dear marvel: You are not selling books because your storytelling sucks. Mike argues that people are not interested in many of the new characters, he uses Jane Foster, Amadeus Hulk, Kid Wasp, and Doom Iron Man as examples. He believes Marvel will be on top if they return to the classic version of characters.

“If it was F-4 in Monsters Unleashed and not Elsa Bloodstone, it would have done better.”

My position is that Marvel’s strength comes from telling stories that are character driven. Mike asked me for examples.

  • World War Hulk
  • Jessica Jones
  • The recent Ant-Man book
  • Civil War
  • Any number of Daredevil stories from the Benids+ run
  • Herc and Cho
  • New Avengers
  • Dark Phoenix
  • Divas
  • International Iron Man

It is a mixed bag, some recent, some not-so-recent. But all have stories driven by the characters, not just random superheroes with certain superpowers. All of them have to do with the characters beneath the cowl as much as the superheroic identity. WWH works because it is about a character who has been betrayed by those he thought were his friends.

Champions doesn’t need to be a top-seller. It is a good book, about characters. But Avengers should be a top-selling book. I think there is another factor at play, which is that Marvel doesn’t know how to reconcile their BILLION DOLLAR cinematic franchises with their publishing arm. that’s a whole different issue. DC doesn’t give AF, they have their cinematic U, multiple animated Universes, animated movies, Arrowverse, etc.

Marvel needs to commit. To not sucking. I predict that post-legacy Marvel will not be on top if their stories continue to suck. It is not about bringing back the characters readers know well, that can be part of it, it is more about making the stories good. After Secret Wars, Marvel launched with Pleasant Hill. An event that had potential and featured many of the conic characters. Same with Civil War II. Both events were not good. And thus, sales were not good. It is that simple.

Marvel Draft Preview

spiderman-footballcomic

Mike owns this!

One week from now, the fate of the entire Marvel line of comics will forever be changed, as the first ever Marvel draft is held, allocating heroes to teams, and shaping the foundation of the 616 going forward.

Mike, Ellie, and I will each draft 4 teams, with the team draft occurring first followed by 7 rounds of hero drafting.

Mike tends to be a DC guy, and is still in love with Rebirth. He thinks Marvel should bring back the iconic characters, because these are the characters he cares most about. Ellie likes books that focus on interpersonal relationships, and has a soft spot for the X-teams, and I will go out on a limb and say that she will draft more female than males. Me, what is my strategy, what are the books I am looking to for inspiration? I want a combination of interpersonal relationships along with compelling stories, preferably with a fair share of stories that can be resolved in less than 6 issues. Re-reading some of the Marvel Epic Collections I have, I always long for the days when, in 22 pages, there was a supervillain conflict, interpersonal relationships and drama, and often a b-plot. Now, everything is 6 issues long, with little to no focus on the flawed characters beneath the cowls. Plus, I have a soft spot for oddball characters.

hulk-football

 

Marvel Generations: Back From the Dead

Those who know me, know me to think myself clever. Years ago, at my local con, the Sunday of the con was that day when folks hunt for eggs and eat chocolate, so, of course, I ran a zombie game, and this zombie game led me to write up a small RPG supplement, one that ostensibly made any Zombie RPG session have the pacing and paranoia of a zombie movie. As I scanned the monitors at Planet Zeist HQ, I noticed I had nothing scheduled for this year’s celebration of chocolate rabbit murder.

And then, I recalled the upcoming Marvel event, Generations, which will be bringing back (from the dead or obscurity) several iconic Marvel heroes and pairing them up with the heroes carried on the legacy. The dead coming back, perfect!

I found this article, and gave it a once over. Just as Rebirth has rejuvenated interest in Marvel’s Distinguished Competition, I am sure Marvel, with the diminishing sales, is hoping to catch Black Lightning in a bottle. Ignore the fact that we at Planet Zeist are working on solving this problem by actually writing quality books, let us take a look at what Generations is proposing, and how significant it might be.

  • Iron Man (Tony Stark and Riri Williams): written by Brian Michael Bendis

    (Bendis has written an Iron Man I care about, I will get this one)

  • Spider-Man (Peter Parker and Miles Morales): Brian Michael Bendis

    (If Peter is still just the 616 version of the MCU Tony Stark, my interest will wane very quickly)

  • Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan): G. Willow Wilson

    (I like both characters, and think this will be worth reading)

  • Thor (Odinson and Jane Foster): Jason Aaron

    (The saga of Odinson I have enjoyed, and fear this is where Generations proves unnecessary and might actually make one characters irrelevant, and that is not good)

  • Hawkeye (Clint Barton and Kate Bishop): Kelly Thompson

    (I like Kate, Clint not so much these days, and they have already told this story)

  • Hulk (Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho): Greg Pak

    (Totally Awesome Hulk bothers me. A lot. I love the Cho-Banner relationship, but negating Banner’s death, and keeping Cho as Hulk, blech)

  • Jean Grey (young and older): Dennis Hopeless

    (I find young Jean Grey strangely compelling, bringing back old Jean Grey has some wonderful potential, if they touch upon her very complicated history and heel-turn)

  • Wolverine (Logan and X23): Tom Taylor

    (Oh look, Wolverine is back. Again. Because we already have Old Man Logan. Not really interested)

  • Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell and Carol Danvers): Margie Stohl

    (Does anyone care about a character whose death was over 30 years ago? And since his death, how many have worn the mantle of Captain Marvel? many. This one seems to be reaching for a fanbase that I think left a long time ago)

  • Captain America (Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson): Nick Spencer

    (The assumption is that post Secret Invasion, Steve Rogers will be a good guy again. I don’t really care. Cap is a character I can give or take in terms of my interest in a solo title. Will this book be a gripping character drama about politics? That might get me interested. Likely not)

But, who is missing, what characters could be well-served by Generations?

  • Goliaths: Hank Pym & Tom Foster. (Dr. Pym works with the Bill Foster’s nephew, an MIT grad and reclamation project.)
  • She-Hulks: (Trouble seems to follow Lyra at Mid-Town High, so Aunt She-Hulk has to step up her game.)
  • Kitty Pryde and Wolverine (X-23) (Kitty and Laura journey to Japan, paying reference to the original story when Kitty and Logan made the trip)
  • Immortal Weapons (all of the Immortal Weapons including Iron Fist are legacy characters; bring back these great characters, exotic locales, awesome martial arts, etc!)
  • Avengers: Scott Lang, Cassie Lang, Riri Williams, Jane Foster, She-Hulk (Scott Lang leads this team paying homage to the original 5 characters and their power-sets)
  • Abyssal Detective Agency: Daimon Hellstrom and Satana (Brother and sister, at times heroic, antiheroic and villainous, team up in this noir styled book with liberal amounts of humor and family quibbles)
  • The Cat: (Tigra and Hellcat are intrinsically linked together, but when this former model’s superhero temp agency gets hired for some super-babysitting, things take an unusual turn. Neither babysitting nor girls’ night out will ever be the same.)
  • Captain America: (Steve Rogers and Winter Soldier have both worn the mantle of Captain America, and both have had their fair share of problems, reunited they realize they are still needed, but also that they must adapt and grow.)
  • Phoenix Force: (Rachel Grey takes Quentin Quire, and young Scott Summers under her wing in an attempt to help these two young mutants, one of whom is destined for the Phoenix Force, the other…)
  • Alpha Flight: (Prime Minister Justin Trudeau brings back Canada’s premier super team: Heather MacNeil Hudson- Guardian, Northstar, Aurora, Zuzha Yu- Puck, Talisman, Snowbird, Marrina, and Sasquatch.)

 

Secret Convergence: Amalgam@20

It was twenty years ago today, Dr. Strangefate saved the day.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t exactly 20 years ago, to the day, and I am no Lennon/ McCartney, but that does not change the facts.

The Amalgam line of comics, one of the most interesting and singular events of comic publishing, ever, debuted twenty years ago!

The Amalgam line of comics spun out of the much hyped, Marvel Vs. DC (or was it DC Vs. Marvel) miniseries.

This miniseries pitted characters from each of Big Two against one another to once and for all settle the nerd-arguments of who would win.

There were eleven fights in all, with fans deciding the result of five of them.

Aquaman beat Namor. (No way!).

Elektra overcame Catwoman. (A peculiar matchup, but I could see it going either way).

Flash outraced Quciksilver. (No contest).

Robin (Tim Drake) defeated Jubilee. (Another peculiar matchup, but I won’t argue the result).

Silver Surfer bested Green Lantern (Kirby FTW!).

Thor was victorious in combat vs Captain Marvel Shazam. (A push, could have gone either way).

And in the fan-voting: Superman over Hulk (No. Way.), Spider-Man over Superboy (It was the 90s, but Spidey still gets the edge), Batman over Captain America (My heart says this is a push, but I will say Batman has a slight edge), Wolverine over Lobo (See Spidey and Superboy, but yeah Wolverine. Snikt!), and Storm over Wonder Woman (Nope).

This event itself was pretty huge, although there had been battles between singular heroes (and team vs. team matchups) in the past, this was far more epic and orchestrated.

Prior to this epic series all we had were Supes vs Spidey (which came before Superman vs Muhammad Ali), Supes and Spidey, Batman vs Hulk, Uncanny X-Men vs. The New Teen Titans, Batman/ Punisher, Darkseid vs. Galactus, and Spidey and Batman. And, unofficially, we had Mantis in the Justice League (Justice League of America #142) .

Post-Amalgam, there have been more, but that is neither here nor there.

Although these crossovers were uncommon, they did happen. And of course, the Big Two often had nerd fun with their own publishing.

And sometimes real life made it even more interesting.

The premise of Amalgam was simple: The Big Two universes merged, creating a new universe. Characters in this Amalgamated Universe consisted on one part Marvel, and one part DC.

The internet is awesome, and you can very easily find a breakdown of all the titles, instead how about i give you some highlights: John Byrne, Dave Gibbons, Ron Marz, Mark Waid, Jim Balent, John Ostrander, and Mike Wieringo were all involved with Amalgam books released in 1996. So, this was not a shim-sham event, they brought out the big guns. In terms of original ideas, Assassins gets my vote! Catsai (Elektra+Catwoman) and Dare the Terminator (Daredevil+Deathstroke)! The latter sounds like it should be an MC name. What was coolest… they were both female!

Twelve titles were released, and we all thought that was cool. Until…

DC/Marvel: All Access, a miniseries that continued the story of Access, the character who can move between the worlds. Most notable is this cover, which is just too cute. In this series we got more fighting.

Until 1997, when a second wave of Amalgam-verse titles were released!!!

Once again, they got some pretty big names, though I would argue, none as big as Byrne, but this time, the creators were more relevant to the time period: Peter Milligan, Priest, Kurt Busiek, Bryan Hitch, and John Romita Jr. The latter had the book that in my opinion encapsulated a perfect amalgam, one that made a reader say “Sweet Christmas! Why had no one thought of this before?” Thorion of the New Asgods! Unless Kirby came back, or Tom Scioli could be had, the art is absolutely spot-on! Find this in the your local back issue bins and pick it up now!

And after this wave of Amalgam titles was over, another miniseries came out: Unlimited Access, this one was awesome because it gave us even more amalgams!

And of course, it was the 90s, so there were trading cards, which gave us more details about the Amalgam-verse.

If you’re obsessive, as I have been known to be, you might love perusing the wikipedia stuff for Amalgam, but before wikipedia, there was this site which remains the definitive source for the deep cuts.

But, you’re probably saying, it is done, forgotten, a footnote in comic history, perhaps worthy of entry with a numerical Marvel Earth designation, but little else. Certainly, there were less issues published than for Heroes Reborn, which also happened around this time. Or, what about John Byrne’s Genesis, which we can only no one hopes is coming back with the DC Rebirth non-event.

Wrong! It lives on, in the hearts of fans, some of whom are creators. Joe Mad (above) even gets involved, because that guy isn’t a fan! Bendis pranks us all on March 31, two years ago.

But then Secret Wars and Convergence happened. And at AoG HQ, as we tend to do, we got out the white boards and started speculating… talk about a perfect cap to these two very similar events, the return of Amalgam comics!

It didn’t happen, or should I say, it hasn’t happened yet!

NOTE: Most of the art below is from various artists on the interwebs, and not necessarily reflective of what my art direction would be, but also is a fine example of the thriving community of people interested in the amalgam concept.

It’s fun to see what other amalgams are out there. Take a character or characters you like and see what folks have created. I like the idea of amalgam so much that my home RPG campaign is set in an amalgam universe. I let the players come up with ideas for amalgams, not just for their player-characters, but for some NPCs as well. It is awesome, because we I introduce a new character, I say they are an amalgam of X and Y, and just knowing that gives the players some info about what to expect.

Because my home game has been going on for so long, and so many characters have been made, I can say that some of the amalgams work, and some also work, just not as well. So, I think about what I would do if I could make an amalgam-verse. Boy, have I put too much thought into this over these many years, and now you get to see some the results of my madness.

I think for an amalgam to be successful, they should capture the core essence of the character, as well as the related characters. So, as much as I think the idea of a Batman+Daredevil amalgam is awesome in so many ways, it fails because DD doesn’t have nearly the supporting cast that Batman does, I am thinking specifically of members of the Bat-family, sidekicks and the like. So, I have to chalk this one up as a non-starter.

I always come back to the Big Three, resolve these characters and I think much of the rest will fall into place.

Superman: Noble, heroic, and several characters with related powers and origins.

Captain America seems like a good choice, but after years of deliberation, I think I have an even better amalgamation.

Superman+Spiderman

And then falling into place are: Powergirl+Jessica Drew, Ben Reilly+Superboy, Supergirl+Silk! Etc… I call this one a success!

Onto the Dark Knight. The stumbling block with him has always been the sidekicks. The sidekicks need to work. And who in Marvel has embraced this trope of sidekicks? Captain America. I don’t have a name for my amalgam yet, my creativity often fails me with some of the details, but I present to you the 2nd of the Trinity:

Batman+Captain America! This one works especially well when all the dominoes fall into place: Falcon+Nightwing. Black Widow+Batgirl. And, most significantly, the two most famous dead sidekicks now amalgamated into one… The Red Soldier!

Onto the last of the Trinity, Wonder Woman. (whenever I put those words together, I always hear the Lynda Carter show music!) I have considered many ideas over the years, and am going to present an idea so out there many will call me crazy. (too late).

Wonder Woman+Iron Fist.

I couldn’t an amalgam for this pairing, so the image to the left will have to…. suffice. Female, of course. Champion of a people from a mystic locale? Check. Mystical origin? Check. I considered many other combinations, but this one feels right, and works. You might be asking, what about Troia? What about Luke? I have to be honest here, this idea is so full of awesome-sauce, I know when Quesada and Didio get in touch with me, working with Johns and Bendis I will work out those minor details.

Maybe this character might look more like this?

I think there is a lot of potential with this Amalgam-verse, and I know I will continue working on this project, because I’m nerdy like that.

I know in my heart, that Grant Morrison has Secret Convergence Wars all plotted out somewhere, and we will get together and realize how great minds do indeed think alike.

Until then…

 

 

 

MAKE MINE AMALGAM!