Friday, May 20, 2022

An Old New Universe: A Comics Counterfactual

In another comic book counterfactual, I want to take a look at what might have been if Marvel's New Universe had been created in period where the Silver Age of comics was becoming the Bronze. Why? Well, I feel like there's a kernel of a good idea in some of the New Universe stuff but it's not always a good fit for the "world outside your window" concept. Just imagine...

Nightmask: A young adult gets the power to enter dreams through the actions of a villain that killed his parents. The high concept pitch for this is Spider-Man meets the 70s Sandman. Steve Ditko would be the ideal artist, but maybe Starlin takes over as it moves into the 70s.

Star Brand: Blue collar key becomes a powerful superhero. Works well enough in a more standard superhero context. He'd need a different costume, though.

DP7: Another easy one. A little bit X-Men, a little bit Doom Patrol.

Kickers, Inc.: This title says Jack Kirby to me. Sort of Challengers of the Unknown were football pros. They need to fight monsters. Like, a lot of them. Probably still only gets a short run before cancellation.

Spitfire and the Troubleshooters: Jenny (called "Spitfire" due to her notorious temper) and her friends are a group of smart, prankster college students, who are forced to get serious when her inventor father is nearly killed by the bad buys. Donning his experimental suit of powered armor, Jenny (with the help of her friends) decides to bring them to justice. Its female lead and assemble cast would be an attempt to branch out beyond standard superheroics.

Justice: A knight from another dimension. The concept already pretty much fits the era, though the execution would be different. The name isn't great though.

Mark Hazzard: Merc: A bit less Commando and a bit more Sgt. Fury, Hazzard would be a "mercenary" like the A-Team, where he only takes on virtuous jobs. 


Dick McGee said...

More thoughts for Silver/Bronze versions:

Mark Hazzard - I see him more as Jon Sable than Sgt. Fury, which would still lean toward more ethical work but with the occasional very dark story reflecting a less heroic past coming back to haunt him. Just a hint of Moon Knight in that element. I could see him getting tangled up with Psi-Force quite a bit, perhaps to the annoyance of both.

Kickers with Kirby in charge sounds great, but I'd expect something as gonzo as his Jimmy Olsen run was. Have the team get entangled in a cosmic sports league, mashing up something like football with gladiatorial combat and "playing" against aliens and supernatural entities for the fate of the Earth. Big, bombastic, and full of far-out ideas. Vince Colletta isn't allowed within a mile of any of it. Could easily go from one of teh worst books in the real line to one of the best when re-imagined.

Nightmask could also have elements of Doctor Strange and the Phantom Stranger, showing up (in dreams, most likely) as a support character/advice-giver in other books where the protags are facing psychic/suprenatural/otherworldly threats. Could easily see him teaming with Psi-Force, DP7, Star Brand, Justice, or even an "in way over their head" Spitfire or Hazzard. Maybe start the series with Nightmask younger (late teens/college age) so he can go looking for advice while he's still getting a grip on his powers, as well as giving insights to others on the weird dream stuff?

Spitfire I think I'd take some cues from Tom Swift and Doc Savage books. Make Jenny as young supergenius with an equally inventive father, and the Troubleshooters become her version of Doc's companions - each outstanding in some field or another, far beyond what their age suggests. Keep it light in tone, though - don't kill dad, just have him kidnapped for most of the series.

Never much liked the original Justice, but revamping him into an actual alien knight instead of a delusional psionic would be a marked improvement. Maybe keep some of the old "split persona" idea by doing an early Captain Marvel thing where Justice has a human host that gets replaced/stuck in limbo when he's active?

Trey said...

@Dick - I accidentally deleted your comment pointing out I forgot Psi-Force, which indeed I did!

While a Jon Sable-esque remake of Hazzard would work, that isn't really a very Silver/Bronze Age border version, as Sable doesn't appear until 1983 and is very much a product of that era.

Dick McGee said...

S'okay, I don't even recall what I said about it beyond the series existing. Did I make a Captain Planet reference? Because the Psi-Hawk gestalt entity had a lot of similarities to Captain Planet, without being nearly as irritating or having such absurd villains.

For a more "cusp of Bronze" Hazzard, how about something along the lines of DC's Human Target?

Really quite enthusiastic about the Kirby Kickers, Inc cosmic football/gladiator idea. That should have existed, at least as the first story arc. Maybe the team wins and comes back to Earth to do slightly more prosaic super-stuff afterward, going down the Challengers/Fantastic Four weird stuff/monster-busting road.