Looking through my Twitter Feed a month or so ago, I came across the following tweet from Sean Taylor’s:
“You’re given the task of making a clean break (a la DC Golden Age to DC Silver Age) for Marvel and can only keep four existing characters to continue unscathed into the new Age. Who are they?”
It started the wheels turning in my head. And while Sean was only wanting a list of characters, I began sketching up ideas for who would be there in this fictious future version of the Marvel Universe.
The interesting/funny thing here is that they sorta have done this at least 2x already. When Marvel launched the Fantastic Four ushering in their version of the Silver Age, this was an effective launch/relaunch of their existing universe. And while maybe continiuity was fairly fast and loose back then, it wasn’t long before they brought back a couple of characters from their Golden Age stories. You had the Human Torch as a part of the Fantastic Four – a direct call back to the Golden Age Android version and in some ways more along the lines of how DC Comics seemed to update their characters with Flash and Green Lantern.
Avengers 4 then brought back Captain America making it a more direct line to the 1940s (even if he’d had an ongoing comic book throughout the 50s as well).
Finally, the other “main” one was Sub Mariner who, in a twist, they brought back as a villain. And while the years have softened that version of him, he still wins the award for most likely to find himself hanging out with other big named villains more so than any other hero in Marvel.
The second time they did this is with the 2099 launch in the mid-90s. There they had 4 titles. Spider-Man 2099 was a brand new version with no real ties to Peter Parker other than taking up the mantle. Punisher 2099, who in the regular universe was one of their most popular characters (he had 3 ongoing series at one time), received a version of the character who I honestly don’t know enough about to talk about. Doom 2099 who either was the Doom from our time and was time-displaced or was someone who thought he was Doom from our time and was time-displaced. I’m not 100% on where we ended up with that one to be honest. Finally they had Ravage, a brand new character to help usher in this new line.
In both cases those 3 or 4 characters really helped jump start their respective universes.
So going along those lines we could go a few ways:
Think about who the most popular characters are, and then make sure you have updated versions of them. This helps to solve the problem of not having someone who can sell comic books.
Who are Marvel’s best sellers right now? Spider-Man, Wolverine, Venom, randomly Moon Knight (the comic is really good right now), X-Men, Daredevil… those are the ones I see in the top 25 of sales. Maybe you could throw Deadpool in just due to the movie side of things. From a movie point of view, you would have to include pretty much any of the Avengers and Guardians (basically anyone who showed up in Infinity War and End Game).
However, even before we get into that, we should probably think about the situation. Is there a potential time jump that we have going on here? Has 20 years passed since the last generation of heroes? Is this more of a thought process where we have to save Marvel from flagging sales (maybe along the lines of their Ultimate Universe in the 00s)?
It’s also one of those things you don’t want to copy things specifically because it has come before without some form of a twist. With the Marvel Silver Age, those other characters were enhancements to all the new ideas which eventually led to the juggernaunt that it has become.
Strictly speaking, if we are going to go with the best sellers approach then my list might look something like this:
Spider-Man has to be there in some form or fashion. He is the heart of the Marvel universe. In we have the time jump version then perhaps he can now be the retired hero we were all hoping for with wife and kid(s) that eventually can be the one that trains the youngsters? And that doesn’t consider what happens if we use Miles for this…
Wolverine is your immortal character who can kind of swiss army knife things in this new world. You need to older teacher, got it. You need a wild man out in the wilderness who needs to tracked down? Got it. You need to touch on the Mutant side of things, he’s your connection.
Iron Man – This one I can see as the inheritor/pure update to the old idea. It’s either a long lost relative to Tony Stark or perhaps even better he is a relative to one of Stark’s enemies who decides to do something good with the suit of armor. Maybe even set this up as a bit of a mystery at first with him (her?) showing up in the other books before finally revealing the person under the armor and launching their own book.
The fourth character feels like it should be someone low key. Someone who in current comics isn’t a big deal but now in this new world could become that new hero. Or potentially someone who never got by before and now could go on to the villain (or at least anti-hero) side. This would be the someone like Elsa Bloodstone or Speedball or something like that. I don’t have anyone specifically in mind here.
But then it occurred to me, one of my favorite things about the Marvel Universe is that it can be so many different things to so many different people. So what are the main pillars of the Marvel Universe? And then which characters let us focus on those ideas and build?
In my mind, the four major pieces of the Marvel Universe are the following:
Those you pretty much touch nearly all the characters who currently exist within the comics. And while it is a little bit of a cheat to lump Magic and Tech together, given that so many quotes from the comics and movies talk about how Magic is simply technology we haven’t figured out the science for… I’m going to say it works.
With that in mind, here are my four leads:
He’s such a singular character within the greater framework of Marvel, and he allows you to tell as many adventures as you’d like throughout the cosmic side of things. He is an immortal style character, so whatever time jump might have happened, he might have been there at the EVENT.
When written well, he becomes a focal lens for all the cool stuff you can do in comic books.
Allows you to have those true connections to the Golden Age of X-Men while not leaning on Wolverine for the 1000 time. She could allow you to have an X-Men style team with her role as more in the Prof. X stylings. This would be a woman who perhaps has learned the original Dream is dead, but that doesn’t mean the struggle isn’t still ongoing.
My favorite character in Marvel, I would be remiss if I didn’t include him in some way. That said, this would be a version of Doom that we only ever get to see glimpses of most of the time. This is someone who finally decided to put the pettiness behind them and actually strives to be something better. And that all came about because Dr. Strange is no longer the Sorcerer Supreme (whether he died or retired or whatever would be a portion of the story). Doom then assumes this mantle and with it the responsibilities it requires. You wouldn’t have the FF “baggage”, at least at first, and could focus Doom on things again we don’t see a ton of – the magic side of things.
This would be my brand new person wearing the suit slot. A new ‘Devil’ for Hell’s Kitchen to lend some hand to the little people. Not sure they’d need to be a lawyer, but whatever their profession it should give the writers something to play with as that’s one of the things the Daredevil character does the best – weave his daily life into his night life.
Of course, if I thought about this more, I’d probably come up with about ten other combinations of characters to restart things with. That’s really the beauty of the comics, anything can find a way to grab a reader and never let them go.