Friday, October 31, 2014

A Halloween Visit to the Darker Corners of the Marvel Universe

Happy Halloween, everybody! Instead of a normal recommended reading, or a post of the kind you normally see, I thought I'd do something different. After thinking about Doctor Strange, I realized that while most corners of the Marvel Universe have been reawakened and retooled in recent years, the supernatural corner remains dormant. So, Dan and I sat down and came up with some ideas for ways for Marvel to do some new supernatural titles! It's a fun little trip into our brains, so don't get too scared!

Doctor Strange

As I stated when I talked about Doctor Strange earlier this week, Strange has had any number of reboots and new series, so coming at him from a new angle was tricky. But I got to thinking about the Ancient One, Strange's master, and the numerous apprentices Strange has taken over the years. So, what happened if Strange learned that, through some magical confluence, thirteen children were born, each with a different magical gift, and the balance of all magic would rest on whether or not they chose light or dark magic? With the kids now teenagers, Strange must race across the globe, gathering these kids and then training them, all the while competing with someone else, let's say Baron Mordo, to keep them on the side of the light. It's got a similar vibe to classic X-Men stories, only told from Xavier's point of view instead of the students, or Harry Potter from Dumbledore's perspective, clearly with Strange in the Xavier or Dumbledore role. It would introduce a group of new magical characters, characters who could be from any country, of any race, religion, or sexual orientation, meaning it works with so much of what Marvel has been doing to diversify their line. And Strange can team up with various other magical characters, like Doctor Voodoo, to help teach the kids different disciplines. Extra points for a convenient crossover with Uncanny X-Men, when one of Strange's team turns out to not only be magically gifted but a mutant, and Strange must work with his ex-apprentice, Magik, and team his kids up with the kids from the New Xavier School.


OK, I know, I know. I'm a sucker for Pete Wisdom, and I would probably try to pitch a new book featuring Wisdom to Marvel in any way I could. But bear with me. Nearly all stories of MI-13 and Wisdom have had some magical angle, so we give the British spooky intel agency a new specific mission. With S.H.I.E.L.D. overwhelmed with all the supercriminals and terrorists, international magical items trafficking has skyrocketed, and Maria Hill goes to the experts: Pete Wisdom and MI-13. Now MI-13's goal is to shut down an international cartel that is selling, and in some cases handing out, magical items of incredible dark power. What exactly is their angle? And exactly who is the mastermind behind it? With a core team of Pete Wisdom, Spitfire, Black Knight, Union Jack, and Excalibur, there could be any number of supernatural heroes who could guest star. Blade's a little busy over in Mighty Avengers, but he could come back, as could Captain Britain and Megann, but I think Elsa Bloodstone, who is free since the end of Fearless Defenders, would make a good replacement for Blade as monster hunter extraordinaire. I'd also like to keep Alistair Stuart around, and reintroduce the original version of Romany Wisdom, the hippy magic user version, as she is both Pete's sister and Union Jack's ex, as the support team for the unit.

Dracula and the Legion of Monsters

When Mark Waid brought the Legion of Monsters back in Daredevil, he gave them a mission: track down and contain the dispersed pages of the Darkhold, the most evil books of magic in existence; picture the Marvel Universe version of the Necronomicon and you get the idea. So, when team leader Jack Russell, the Werewolf by Night, discovers a page of the book that allows the possessor to control vampires, Jack and team hunt down the vampire of vampires, Dracula. And this is the Dracula of Tomb of Dracula, Doctor Strange, classic X-Men, and Captain Britiain and MI-13, the one designed by Gene Colan. He's no longer wearing red armor and wearing his hair all long and white; nope this Dracula has style. Russell uses the page, and Drac is now under his control. Well, sort of. Dracula can't turn on Russell and his team, but whatever they ask him to do, he can do in whatever way he sees fit, so it's a classic monkey's paw situation: use Dracula to track down more pages, but say one false word and he'll massacre everyone between him and the page. And Dracula is always scheming to come up with a way to get the page from Russell so he can be free and exact his revenge, giving a constant sense of tension to every issue.

Midnight Sons of Anarchy (working title only) 

Marvel relaunched Ghost Rider earlier this year with a new host for the Spirit of Vengeance, Robbie Reyes, who drives a black muscle car instead of a motorcycle. Frankly, I see a missed opportunity here. Because you know what’s cooler than one Ghost Rider? A gang of them. A Spirits of Vengeance series ran from 1992 to 1994, teaming up original-recipe Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze with Crystal Pepsi Ghost Rider Danny Ketch. I say revisit the series, uniting Blaze, Ketch, Reyes and the Alejandra and Vengeance characters, along with some new recruits, as a team of demon-possessed hotheads riding together, righting wrongs and whipping people with hellfire-covered chains. Yes, it would be a blatant rip-off of the popular FX series Sons of Anarchy, but that fruit’s hanging low for a reason.

Resurrect Gail Simone’s Night Nurse MAX series 

Years ago, Simone and artist Jill Thompson were developing a mature-readers series featuring the Night Nurse, a superhero health care worker and the sometimes girlfriend of Dr. Strange. The series was shelved in early 2002, and Simone went on to write Deadpool/Agent X. Brian Michael Bendis made the Night Nurse one of his pet quasi-Avengers in the 2000s, patching up anti-registration heroes in the pages of New Avengers as well as Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker’s Immortal Iron Fist. If nothing else, should a new Dr. Strange book comes out in time for the movie in 2016, I’d love for the Nurse to be a part of it.

House of Z 

Pretty sure this one hasn’t been leaked along with the kajillion other crossover redux teasers for next summer’s Secret Wars. Zombie Wanda Maximoff grunts “No more zombies” to avoid having her brains eaten by her brother, Zombie Pietro, and magically undoes the zombie virus for all but 198 of them. A restored humanity led by some of the company’s best supporting characters – Thunderbolt Ross, Pepper Potts, J. Jonah Jameson, Dum Dum Dugan, Foggy Nelson, etc. – must figure out how to live in a world destroyed by zombies. In so doing, humans become the hunters, and the zombies are chased across the country onto an island in the San Francisco Bay that the humans nuke without a second thought, because, as Ross tells Nelson, “Can’t destroy a world that’s already been destroyed.” In promotional materials, Marvel will act like they’re finally getting rid of all the zombies, as a red herring to distract those who’ve said Marvel’s done too many zombie stories. But the blast actually radiates the zombie virus and makes it airborne, creating a whole new batch. This sets up House of Z 2, in which the remaining humans scour the globe searching for Zombie Wanda, whom they failed to round up the first time around. 

Now, go out and enjoy Halloween!

No comments: