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CSBG Archive

Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #67

This is the sixty-seventh in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous sixty-six.

Let’s begin!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Grant Morrison and Mark Millar had a pitch for a revamp of Marvel’s 2099 line of comics.

STATUS: True.

As has been the case for most of comic book history, if you want to try something really new and different, the best place to try said ideas is in a low-priority comic book, because people won’t be as upset with the changes.

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Note how much freedom Warren Ellis had with his storyline in Doom 2099 where he basically had Doom take over the United States, affecting all 2099 titles, causing them to be titled “A.D.,” After Doom.

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Well, thanks to a poster on the Millarworld boards, MikeLun, who linked to an old column Scott Braden did for Overstreet, we can see how Grant Morrison and Mark Millar were ALSO willing to try to take advantage of the 2099 Universe.

Braden explains how Marvel asked Morrison and Millar to pitch something, so they figured something involving the 2099 Universe would be cool, so they figured out a storyline (circa 1994) titled Apocalypse.

Braden quotes Morrison, on the background of their two new additions to the 2099 Universe:

“Marvel heroes (in the past) were always characterized by their less-than-super alter-egos,” Millar wrote in his and Morrison’s proposal to Marvel. “We had the lame Donald Blake, the puny Peter Parker, the blind Matt Murdock and so on. This is what made these secret identities so much more interesting than their counterparts at other companies.”

With that in mind, Morrison and Millar were going to start Apocalypse off with a BANG–launching two new titles; Captain America 2099, a series detailing a broken man’s transformation into the new Sentinel of Liberty, and Iron Man 2099, the ongoing adventures of 2099′s Armored Avenger.

“Our Iron Man was completely spastic power-wise,” Morrison laughed. “We dreamed him up as the most fantastic scientific mind on Earth who had created this wonderful war suit. Imagine, when he’s in the war suit, when he’s Iron Man, he can do anything. He can change shape, become intangible, travel through space…anything. But the minute something happens to that suit, he’s just a guy whose body is completely worthless.”

“I wanted to base him on the British scientist and writer, Stephen Hawking,” Millar added, “a man with a super-brain trapped inside the body of a disfigured invalid. A handicapped superhero would seem genuinely fresh in an industry still cluttered with successful yuppie super-people.”
Another twist they wanted to add was that their Iron Man, although working for Stark Industries, would not be Stark himself.

“Iron Man wouldn’t remove the helmet until the fifth issue,” Millar admitted, “when he finally would reveal his true identity to the book’s love interest. She, with the reader, would suspect it’s Stark, and becomes disgusted when she finds out it’s instead this poor, disfigured man. Stark, on the other hand, would’ve probably been a major villain.”

Like their Iron Man, Morrison and Millar’s Captain America 2099 was also a tragic hero. Unlike the chemically-enhanced Steve Rogers, he was a very human war veteran who, after fighting a war over a certain resurfaced undersea kingdom (a conflict Morrison compared to America’s war with Vietnam), came home to search for the “American Dream.”

“We had Atlantis rise up from the ocean floor,” Morrison explained. “All the Atlanteans, except Namor, are dead because of pollutants from the surface world, so it’s now just this mysterious jungle world covered with weird ruins that were built thousands of years ago. And with Atlantis re-surfaced, both America and some unnamed Eastern super-state try to claim it as their own, resulting in this terrible, messed-up war.

“Our Captain America was a Marine who fought in that war, and now his life is completely shattered. He fought the war thinking that (the legendary) Captain America would come back to save them. But with no sign of Cap, and with America losing, he’s lost everything. His mind’s gone and he has nothing left to believe in. He doesn’t believe in America. He doesn’t believe in anything.”

They were then going to have their unlikely hero find a menial job as a janitor for Stark Industries, obsessing over Captain America’s absence. Not understanding why Captain America hasn’t come back in what he perceives to be “the hour of his country’s greatest need,” he sets out (to the amusement of his fellow employees) to either find the Living Legend, or become one.

“The guy decides that he wants to be Captain America,” Millar revealed, “so he goes to the bombed out ruins of Avengers Mansion, and digs up Captain America’s corpse. There he finds Captain America with the costume still on him, still holding the shield….”

“And like Arthur finding Excalibur,” Morrison added, “he just pulls out the shield (from Cap’s skeletal hands), holds it up, and that’s it. Suddenly, he thinks, ‘I’m going to be the dream.’ Even with his mind shattered and his confidence completely gone, he sets out to become Captain America and suddenly finds the dream again.”

Millar continued, “The important thing was that our Captain America was someone who perpetuated the ‘American Dream,’ as well as inspired the same in others.”

They then planned to tie in the Martian invasion from Killraven into 2099 continuity, even making Ravage a descendant of Killraven!

Braden quotes them on the description of how the story would tie in, and another Marvel hero they would have worked in:

“Our idea was that the Killraven stories had actually happened, but Earth somehow got itself back together. It’s now one hundred years later, and the Martians are attacking again, meaning that all the superheroes were going to have to deal with them, obviously. Or rather, a group of superheroes.”

Morrison and Millar were going to have Cap, Iron Man, as well as other 2099 heroes join forces in an attempt to drive off the Martian Invasion. As Avengers, they were going to be all that stood between conquest by the Martians and freedom. At the same time this was going on, readers would also have learned that some former Avengers are still alive and well in the “World of Tomorrow”…sort of.

“Giant-Man is around,” Morrison said, “although he’s been comatose for over one hundred years. He’s reached this huge size, and he just stands with his feet straight in the Hudson River. He’s just this huge monolith. I mean, kids paint slogans on his feet and stuff. He’s just been there forever. His heart beats once a day, and it resounds through the gates and ships; it makes the Earth shake.”

The next plot would have involved Galactus, with the heroes of Earth being basically screwed against the combined attack of the Martians and Galactus.

Braden recaps Morrison’s take on the story:

Cap even tries to rouse the man-mountain that was Giant-Man, but to no avail.

“Captain America gives an impassioned plea at the feet of this mighty Goliath,” Millar said, “but Giant-Man just stares out into space, hearing and feeling nothing. He’s beyond the cares of humanity, lost in the lonely worlds of gods.”

Though they fight on valiantly, the overwhelming numbers of Martians teamed with Galactus’ sheer power prove too much for the new Avengers. But though they’re down, they’re definitely not out.

“The team has been beaten down, and all the heroes are just lying there bloodied and battered,” Morrison said. “All of a sudden, Captain America gets up and starts rallying everybody. He holds up his shield and cries out, ‘AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!’”

Affecting all around him, Captain America’s call-to-arms even wakes the sleeping giant that was Henry Pym. After a century of near-slumber, Giant-Man’s eyes open as if to meet his destiny. Morrison and Millar then cut back to Cap and a nearly defeated Avengers, fighting with their last ounce of strength, when suddenly they realize that a man-god once again walks the Earth.
“From off panel, we hear the sound of thunder,” Millar said, “enormous footsteps getting closer and closer. Captain America and the others look up, wiping the blood from their eyes and hope radiates from their faces. The reader turns the page and we have a big, double-page spread where a two-hundred foot Giant-Man stands before a two-hundred foot Galactus, ready to fight.”

“He then just walks over and decks Galactus,” Morrison laughed.

With Giant-Man knocking Galactus on his ass, the Avengers were given some precious time, no matter how limited, to think. How were they going to win this?

“Galactus needs a world to eat,” Millar said, “and Earth’s involved in a war against an aggressive alien force. Their solution is to give Galactus Mars.”

With the newer, tougher Avengers offering Galactus alien worlds for lunch, the only question that remained was why should he take them up on their offer? Morrison explained, “Galactus is not a bad guy. The heroes go up to him and say, ‘you can’t do this to us, but why not them?!!’ And he says, ‘Okay, I’ll spare you, but you have to give me something in return.’ So he goes and leaches the energy of Mars, destroying all the Martians in the process. Then he just goes on his way forever.”

This big mini-series would lead into an Avengers 2099 ongoing series that Morrison and Millar would have co-written, but it was never to be.

Pretty darn cool, though, no?

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Ed Brubaker came up with the idea behind there being a secret team of X-Men before the All-New, All-Different Team.

STATUS: False

The recent mini-series, Deadly Genesis, was a big turning point in the X-Men’s lives, as they learn that there was a hidden secret in Giant-Size X-Men #1, that no knew about.

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The secret was that Professor X had gotten together a “secret team” prior to the famous team debuting in Giant-Size X-Men #1, and now that secret is coming back to haunt the X-Men.

Something else that was fairly secretive was just who came UP with the idea for Deadly Genesis? It has been put on record that Ed Brubaker was put on to the project, but speculation existed that Brubaker may have been hired to do the project, but the idea of the secret team was his.

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Finally, in last week’s Marvel Spotlight, the question is put to rest, at least regarding Brubaker’s involvement in the idea.

Here’s a snippet from the extensive interview:

Spotlight: Now, the drama behind Deadly Genesis was stoked by the revelation that Professor Xavier had sent a team of mutants to defeat Krakoa previous to the All-New, All-Different team that premiered in Giant-Size X-men #1. Was that your concept? And can you walk us through how you put all these variables in place?

Brubaker: No, that wasn’t my concept. I think that might have been Axel Alonso. It was him, or Joe or Brian, or one of those guys — This is what happens at those summit meetings, as we all kick around ideas, and everybody says, “Well, what about if this?” And then people go, “Oh yeah! That’s awesome!” There were two or three elements that I was sort of given, and that was the major one. It was gonna tie into Giant-Size X-Men #1, because it was the 30th anniversary of that story. There was also gonna be a secret from Xavier’s past that tied into that, and the secret was gonna turn out to be that there had been a second team, a previous team of mutants before the new X-Men. Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler and those guys, they weren’t the first to do a rescue attempt on the original X-Men.

Now we just need to know whose idea it was to kill of Banshee!!!

COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Chris Claremont was going to bring Kitty Pryde into the cast of the Fantastic Four.

STATUS: True

A reader named Kirayoshi asked me about this one, and the question was, he heard that Chris Claremont intended on adding Kitty Pryde to the cast of the Fantastic Four, and he wanted to know if it was true. And apparently, the answer was yes.

Claremont took over Fantastic Four soon after the Heroes Return book began, as writer Scott Lobdell exited the book.

Surprisingly (okay, predictably), the first storyline Claremont had involved some characters from his Excalibur run, Technet.

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So it should come as no surprise to see that Claremont also intended to bring an old favorite of his, Kitty Pryde, into the book as well.

I asked for a quote on the subject, and a CBR poster provided me one here :

“My intent was to have Sue [Storm] “adopt” Kitty, seeing in her a classic troubled teen on the verge of going majorly bad. She would sort of function as Franklin’s big sister. (Since nobody was using her in the X-Men, I figured nobody would mind me sliding her over to the Fantastic Four. My mistake. Boyoboy can Marvel editors be territorial!) So that plot thread crashed and burned, and then when I tried it in X-Men (2nd Series) #100, it crashed and burned, and then when I tried to launch Kitty’s mini series, that got approved, got an artist assigned to the project (Lee Moder) and then it got shot down, crashed and burned!”

Eventually, Claremont WAS able to get Kitty Pryde her own mini-series, Mekanix.

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Recently, though, Joss Whedon has added her to the cast of Astonishing X-Men.

Well, that’s it for this week, thanks for stopping by!

Feel free to drop off any urban legends you’d like to see featured!!

43 Comments

Hmm, I normally don’t like Morrsion, but that storyline sounds great…

I never got into the 2099 books, but that might have been different if that story had ever happened. I’m not quite sold on the idea of a guy picking up Cap’s shield and instantly becoming Cap, but I’m sure they would have had a more detailed explanation of that in-story.
Nice finds, as always!

Invisible Woman adopting Kitty sounds just awful. Plus, Kitty as a troubled teen about to “go bad” just doesn’t ring true, it’s just not in her character. It’s strange how Kitty keeps reverting to teenhood, but I guess it’s no stranger than the much older Rachel Summers suddenly becoming even younger than Kitty!

Wow, that might have made me actually care about 2099.

Good stuff.

I might well be the only person who misses the 2099 line…

Am I the only one who is having the comments show up oddly?

No, they’re showing up on the side of the page rather than the bottom.

moose n squirrel

September 8, 2006 at 6:17 am

While the Millar/Morrison 2099 revamp sounds alright in a fanboyish sense, it doesn’t sound all that great, especially compared to what Ellis had already done – the storyline with Doom’s takeover and Captain America’s return as a corrupt, drug-addled puppet was daring, incredible stuff, while Millar’s description seems more like the sort of future fannishness the 2099 line devolved into after Ellis left (by the end, everyone from the FF to the fricking Phalanx were dropping by).

Also, their revamp doesn’t sound all that 2099ish. Marvel 2099 had a very specific setting that lent itself to certain stories more than others. You didn’t have aliens and Atlanteans running all over the place, and while it feels exotic in a cyberpunk sense, it’s more grounded in that most of the time the heroes were fighting corrupt powers in their own society instead of Galactus and the Skrulls. This made aliens something you could really appreciate: the one time they do show up, it’s pretty cool.

Yes, the comments section seems to have a bug.

Didn’t Claremont actually bring a supporting character from Excalibur to Fantastic Four when he was writing the book? I vaguely remember this, and I remember thinking it was a terrible idea. But, yeah, bringing Kitty to the book sounds even worse. Not only do I agree that it would have been out of character for her to go bad, but she matured into a responsible adult when Warren Ellis was writing Excalibur. Turning Kitty into a troubled teen would have been a weird regression.

moose n squirrel

September 8, 2006 at 6:54 am

By the way, was Kitty Pryde de-aged at some point? I distinctly remember getting the impression in Ellis’s Excalibur run that she was in her early-to-mid twenties, and was no longer a hapless teenager.

Are there any neat Urban Legends that have happened in the past few years?

I’m not always the biggest fan of the millar/morrison collaboration, but when you put them somewhere that they can’t do much damage to canon and characters, like 2099, then it could have been fun.

As for Kitty, I don’t complain too too much about her getting “deaged” since her getting aged in the first place made no sense. She went from her 15th or 16th birthday 30 or 40 issues back to being at an age where it wouldn’t be completely creepy for Ellis to do his Pryde/Wisdom romance.

If one writer can just ignore what he wants and age the character, then I suppose another one can deage her just as easily. Though two wrongs don’t necessarily make a right.

Um, I already commented in one of these awhile back quoting an interview Brubaker gave where he said killing Banshee was his idea, as the only logical step in the story. Pretty crappy, as it was the most illogical part of the story.

Yeah. I dig the Morrillar 2099 pitch… Hell, it would’ve had me interested in Iron Man! That’s never happened before!

moose n squirrel

September 8, 2006 at 9:42 am

but when you put them somewhere that they can’t do much damage to canon and characters, like 2099

Except that their revamp would’ve done a ton of damage to the canon and characters of 2099, where it would more or less demolish the 2099 concept. The world of 2099 was meant to be an update of the mainline Marvel Universe, not an extension of it. Ellis’s story worked because it was very much in keeping with the basic premises of the 2099 universe: idealism versus corporate greed in a futuristic dystopia. Morrison and Millar would’ve turned it into Guardians of the Galaxy, with half the mainline MU still hanging around a hundred years into the future.

To the extent that the 2099 books had problems, they were either problems of execution (why did John Francis Moore never manage to figure out what the X-Men were about in the future?) or problems intrinsic to the market in which they were launched (in which there was more demand for a Punisher or Ghost Rider book than for a character that would’ve made sense). The basic concept, though, was pretty great, and made for two very solid titles that provided more compelling versions of their respective title characters than anything Marvel’s canonical books have published in nearly a decade.

Fixed the comments problem! It’s funny what kind of effect just ONE unmatched tag can cause.

during cc’s ff run i rember a guy who was tangible and was after sue storm..he could turn invisible..and he was saying things like he had to kill sue..he attacked them at the pier base….but cc never got back that that.what was the bad guy for? why was he attacking??

i think it would be neat if you did an urband legend side coloum on old plot lines that never got finsihed and give us what could have been.

Claremont and Alan Davis already did that “permanently huge and immobile Giant-Man” thing in a long-ago issue of Excalibur and it kind of sucked then. I have trouble imagining even Grant Morrison could make me like it any better — much less the team of him and Millar, which never seems as good as either of them working solo — and worse, I feel pretty certain they had to have known of the earlier use of the idea. Tsk tsk!

Pretty darn cool, no?
Damn. And instead of Morrison and Millar’s Avengers we get Bendis’ monstrosity. Stupid, stupid Marvel.

Of course, Morrison and Millar (particularly Millar) weren’t as good as they are now, and this synopsis seems to be written from hindsight. It would be cracking if they did this now, but if they’d done it in 1994 when they pitched it, it may not have worked as well.

Surprisingly (okay, predictably), the first storyline Claremont had involved some characters from his Excalibur run, Technet.
I believe that the Technet were an Alan Moore creation, from his Captain Britain run, and originally came from his Doctor Who stories, where they were called the Special Executive or somesuch.

Rohan: “I’m not quite sold on the idea of a guy picking up Cap’s shield and instantly becoming Cap”
I think you may have misread that bit. I don’t think there’s any kind of Mjolnir-style magic involved, it’s just a slightly delusional man picking up the shield and becoming so inspired by it that he thinks he is Captain America.

i think it would be neat if you did an urband legend side coloum on old plot lines that never got finsihed and give us what could have been.
I suspect it would be filled mainly with Claremont plots, mid-90′s X-Men plots, and Spider-Man’s daughter.

Well, first of all, Morrison peaked in 1989-1993 with Doom Patrol, so this would have been right around the time he was as good as he was ever going to be. Second, the first four issues of Millar’s Swamp Thing were co-written with Morrison, as were 10 issues of Aztek, so I think the two of them working together would be fine. I know everyone drools over Millar’s Ultimates, but it seems that Morrison actually reins him in a bit, so that might have worked.

“Marvel heroes (in the past) were always characterized by their less-than-super alter-egos,” Millar wrote in his and Morrison’s proposal to Marvel. “We had the lame Donald Blake, the puny Peter Parker, the blind Matt Murdock and so on. This is what made these secret identities so much more interesting than their counterparts at other companies.”

I’ve never bought this argument. DC’s heroes may have not necessarily have physical handicaps, but the mental ones were just as interesting. Clark Kent having to pretend to be meek and nerdy when he can move planets, Brice Wayne pretending to be a wussy dandy when he could kick the crap out of just about every non super on the planet (and many of the supers). On top of this, I call Bullshit on Matt Murdock being “blind”. The guy can even read newsprint with his fingertips. And as for Peter Parker being puny, costume or no, this guy could still bench a truck.

Millar needs to get himself a copy of the Champions Roleplaying Game and specifically read the section on disadvantages. I think he’d quickly figure out it doesn’t matter if the hero has a bunch of physical limitations or psychological limitation, it’s all good.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

September 8, 2006 at 4:54 pm

“. I know everyone drools over Millar’s Ultimates, but it seems that Morrison actually reins him in a bit, so that might have worked. ”

Morrison also has the good habit of showing us things happen, whereas Millar has the bad one of just telling us it happened, so it’s always good to see that put in his stories.

Actually, the more I think on it, the more Millar desperatly needs Morrison for his stories to be as good as he thinks they are.
I mean he’s stuffs alright, it’s just that he (and way too many others) think it’s the best shit ever.

moose n squirrel

September 8, 2006 at 9:05 pm

Well, first of all, Morrison peaked in 1989-1993 with Doom Patrol

I have to disagree with this pretty strongly. The ideas in Doom Patrol are pretty interesting, but the execution is incredibly raw and unpolished compared to Morrison’s later work. The dialogue in his Doom Patrol run tends to be stilted, overwrought, and weighted down with unnecessary exposition, while Morrison clutters the story itself with gratuitous narration. This is more a failing of the era than anything else – writers back in the late 80s/early 90s really hadn’t learned to just shut up and let artists show you what’s going on – but it’s also very much a sign of Morrison’s relative inexperience as a writer.

moose n squirrel

September 8, 2006 at 9:35 pm

DC’s heroes may have not necessarily have physical handicaps, but the mental ones were just as interesting.

I think Millar’s whole point is that Marvel’s heroes traditionally do have psychological handicaps. It’s not that Donald Blake has a limp, it’s that he’s a frail mortal. It’s not just that Peter Parker’s a nerd, it’s that he’s human, and has to deal with all the problems a human deals with, before and after he puts on his costume. Ditto to Matt Murdock’s blindness. Murdock’s blindness just underscores the fact that despite his alter ego’s daring swashbuckling act and rooftop-leaping, the man himself is as vulnerable as anyone. None of these handicaps are there to really give characters physical problems to overcome; they’re about drawing attention to the fact that these are relatively normal people who can be hurt and made to suffer like anybody else.

By contrast, DC’s heroes have traditionally only had personal problems to the extent that they wanted to have personal problems. Yes, pre-Crisis Superman had to pretend to be goofy Clark Kent and Batman pretends to be a spoiled dandy as Bruce Wayne, but neither of these characters identify primarily as Clark Kent or Bruce Wayne. Their vulnerabilities are only for show, and point to no underlying weakness within the characters themselves. Superman pretends to be a weakling in order to mask his invincibility; Batman pretends to be a fool to conceal the fact that he’s one of the smartest and most competent men on the planet. Now, this has changed within the last couple decades, but note that it’s changed precisely because Marvel’s approach to characterization proved wildly popular – so much so that “feet of clay” have become the norm in these stories.

(For the record, despite the fact that I think their actual Avengers/Galactus 2099 pitch is weak, I like the Morrison/Millar Iron Man idea. Iron Man, like all Marvel heroes, has always been at his best when we see the frail human under the armor; that’s why so many writers have tried to redo “Armor Wars” and “Demon in a Bottle” so many times. They’re the only really successful attempts to inject an element of humanity into the character.)

Here’s anoter forgotten plotline for you – Who was the real identity of the villain FACADE in Spider-Man in the 90s?

Dunno. They stopped that storyline midstream and went to the Clown Saga instead.

Thanks for answering my question about Kitty. I had heard reports about Reed and Sue essentially hiring Kitty to be Franklin’s live-in nanny, but this is the first I’d seen attributed to Claremont himself.

Dunno if I buy Kitty ‘nearly turning majorly bad’ although Claremont’s more recent Kitty stories (from the ‘Reloaded’ launch on) had him nearly turning her into a rage-a-holic. One of the things I’m glad Joss scuttled; seeing her occasionally pissed is fine, but constantly steamed? That bugged me.

Re Kitty becoming a teenager again, blane Joss Whedon. I think he’s acknowledged Kitty as the model for most of his “cute” female characters – Willow Rosenberg, Fred Burkle, Kaylee Frye.

Yeah, but Kitty’s not _that_ much of a teenager in Astonishing, is she? I mean, she seems to me to be about 19, 20, maybe even 21 or 22…still young, but old enough to be faculty at Xavier’s academy without too many eyebrows being raised, so she can’t still be sixteen or so.

I’m just glad they got Claremont off of the FF…that was a run that hurt, and hurt bad. “Reed’s been trapped in Doom’s armor–now I have to marry him!” Oy.

“Millar needs to get himself a copy of the Champions Roleplaying Game and specifically read the section on disadvantages.”

Ha ha! No, I doubt that anyone needs that.

“The basic concept, though, was pretty great, and made for two very solid titles that provided more compelling versions of their respective title characters than anything Marvel’s canonical books have published in nearly a decade.”

No, not really. It was pretty straight-up dystopian future sci-fi. Throw in some alternate, more bad-ass versions of the characters and you’re set. And New X-Men was profoundly better and more compelling than any of the 2099 books.

Superman pretended to be a complete nerd; Spider-Man actually was. DC’s heroes all have weaknesses, sure, but they’re all external: while Spider-Man is worrying about the rent or his family’s well being, Superman is worrying about a magic green rock.

Of course, when they tried to make Batman a Marvel-style hero (his problem was his psychology, not the fact that he could get hurt like anyone else) they went too far and made him into a borderline mental patient and drove away what made the character great – his supporting cast…

moose n squirrel

September 9, 2006 at 5:53 pm

No, not really. It was pretty straight-up dystopian future sci-fi.

What made Marvel 2099 an interesting concept was that it flipped the standard superhero setup on its head. The typical role of the superhero is to preserve the status quo from the forces of evil that want to disrupt it. By putting superheroes in a dystopia, though, you end up with heroes whose job is now to overthrow an evil and corrupt status quo. It’s not a question of stopping the bad guys from winning; the story starts off with the bad guys having won ages ago. This isn’t a new or unique concept, of course, but the use of familiar characters lends it a lot more resonance. So when an iconic supervillain like Doctor Doom becomes the world’s best hope for reform, and an iconic superhero like Captain America becomes a symbol of the corruption of the ruling powers, it underscores the point in a very dramatic way.

And the whole point of using a “pretty straight-up dystopian future sci-fi” setting is to do social commentary (see “Batman: Year 100″ for a more recent example). Warren Ellis wasn’t just playing with superhero tropes in his Doom run; he was carving out a space for political commentary in a mainstream superhero book. When Doom holds up the unmasked alien insect skull of the most powerful CEO in America and screams at the country for never bothering to notice that its corporations were literally being run by giant parasites, it certainly isn’t subtle, but it is remarkably refreshing.

Was the line a total success? Of course not; in fact, I’d really only credit Peter David’s Spider-man and Ellis’s Doom as the books that really exploited the potential of the concept. But the concept was a good one, and Millar/Morrison are talking about something fundamentally different.

And New X-Men was profoundly better and more compelling than any of the 2099 books

Who said anything about New X-Men? This is about Morrison and Millar’s 2099 pitch, not about Morrison’s X-Men run a decade later.

The dialogue in his Doom Patrol run tends to be stilted, overwrought, and weighted down with unnecessary exposition, while Morrison clutters the story itself with gratuitous narration. This is more a failing of the era than anything else – writers back in the late 80s/early 90s really hadn’t learned to just shut up and let artists show you what’s going on – but it’s also very much a sign of Morrison’s relative inexperience as a writer.

I actually think with DC, they’re actually worse with gratuitous narration now than they were back then. They just can’t stop narrating every single panel, it’s like they’re trying to write a bad noir novel that combines the worst elements of Frank Miller and Chris Claremont. I read “Batman and the Monster Men” and got so sick of the constant narration I just resolved to skip all of it halfway through, which made the book a lot more enjoyable. Another great example of stupid nonstop DC narration was Countdown to Infinite Crisis.

Does anyone else think that Chris Claremont has to get over Kitty Pryde and Excalibur? It seems like everytime he touches a project, he somehow brings them back into it. His run on the Fantastic Four was terrible!

I can just imagine him pitching for the Avengers:

Editor: So what plans do you have for us?

Claremont: Okay… so Saturnine shows up, right? And Merlyn’s been killed… but Captain Britain can’t handle it alone, so he and Meggan go and recruit the Avengers to help. But they need someone who’s really good at technology and can phase through walls… so they pick up Kitty Pryde and of course Lockheed comes along.

Heck, it wasn’t just the Technet. In his FF run, Claremont also did stories featuring Charlotte Jones (Archangel’s girlfriend), Genosha, Warwolves, Saturnyne and Roma. He created Scots heroine “Caledonia,” who was a member of the Captain Britain Corps and an alt-reality version of an “Excalibur” supporting character, and even managed to cook up a new “Marvel Girl.” It was the goddamn X-tastic Four.

“idealism versus corporate greed in a futuristic dystopia”

Yeah, that’s never been done before.

and

“carving out a space for political commentary in a mainstream superhero book”

The problem with political commentary in a medium that is meant to be entertaining is that it drives a huge part of your potential market out the door or up the wall.

I can’t remember her name but there was some lady that took over ‘New Mutants’ back in the late 80′s early 90′s who basically chose to use it as her soapbox to preach about how evil the CIA was and every other pet peeve she had. She lost me really quickly. (Of course if she had been able to tell good stories in the midst of her preaching I might have been able to stick around but damn that magazine sucked…)

I’d read that Kitty was supposed to be Franklin’s Nanny as well. One of the early issues of Claremont’s run had Franklin give some sort of mental cry for help and Kitty was among those that heard it, which would have been foreshadowed her arrival.

As for the overuse of X-Men or Claremont characters in Fantastic Four, sure it might have gone a bit overboard, but it did mean the F4 got to visit other parts of the Marvel Universe that they hadn’t before like Otherworld and Genosha and I liked that.

I think that it would almost make sence that Kitty would be hired on as Franklin’s nanny. One she has been a hero for almost as long as franklin has been alive, two the fantastic four and the x-teams have always been shown as friends, and three She and Franklin already have a relationship. Franklin stood by her when she was sick and they became friends.

Also about Kitty and Franklin, don’t forget the “Days of Future Past” storyline from the X-Men where Kate and Franklin are in a close-knit group of mutants on the run from the government’s Sentinels. Claremont has had it in his head for a LOOOOOONNNGG time that they have a very close friendship relationship of some kind in the future.

Back when I was trying to break into comic books as a writer, I sent a letter to the 2099 Unlimited editor, proposing a story.

My idea was concerning the bits of armour that the Jim Rhodes Iron Man had discarded when they stopped working after returning from Secret Wars. He dropped them in a snow-covered wilderness.

I had them found and taken to a research facility and shuffled around and experimented on. And, then, they achieved sentience (like Spider Man’s costume had done) and killed everyone in the facility.

A group of people are investigating the facility, when they find it. It attacks and attempts to bond to one of them.

He finds that in exchange for parts of his own mass that the creature converts to energy (similiar to how Warlock “ate”) he could control the metallic symbiote. With it, he could change shape, fire energy, exist without air, ignore pressure changes, and manipulate metal by touching it. He could pass through metallic walls, but not wooden, ceramic, etc.

I got back a form letter telling me that Marvel didn’t accept “new character submissions.” I wonder if maybe I’d come a little too close to what Morrison mentions?

Theno

ParanoidObsessive

November 10, 2008 at 8:27 pm

>>> She and Franklin already have a relationship. Franklin stood by her when she was sick and they became friends.

Guessing you’re referring to the Fantastic Four/X-Men crossover in which Reed and Doom are forced to work together to undo Kitty’s state of “permanent phase”, which she was stuck in ever since the Morlock Massacre, and which was slowly killing her?

Because she definitely spent a good portion of that series unable to talk, with Franklin and his dream-self the only one who could even communicate with her at all, and they definitely became friendly there. So a tie of sorts was certainly established.

>>> Does anyone else think that Chris Claremont has to get over Kitty Pryde and Excalibur? It seems like everytime he touches a project, he somehow brings them back into it.

It’s not just Excalibur, though. Consider that, in the early 80′s, he was bringing Captain Britain characters and Spider-Woman characters into the X-Men title, his Avengers annual was the one that created Rogue and basically turned Carol Danvers into an X-Men supporting character instead of an Avengers one… and so on. He’s always been very keen at tying past favorite characters (even if he didn’t invent them) into newer stories on different titles.

It usually doesn’t bother me – he tends to come up with at least semi-plausible reasons for the inclusion, and it does foster the idea that all these people are living in the same universe, rather than keeping everyone’s supporting cast eternally trapped in their own separate story ghetto. Though sometimes (like in the FF case in question), he does seem to be forcing it way too hard.

>>> The problem with political commentary in a medium that is meant to be entertaining is that it drives a huge part of your potential market out the door or up the wall.

The trick is that it’s possible to write political commentary that is also entertaining, even to those with different beliefs – thus creating something very near akin to “art”. The flaw is that, all too often, the writer is so concerned with getting their agenda out there and bashing the idea into the readers’ skulls, they forget the “entertaining” part, and it just comes across like a preachy sermon.

David’s run on Spider-Man 2099 was awesome as well, and over on Ghost Rider 2099 we had great art from two of my favorites, first Chris Bachalo, then Ash Wood.

Agree that Morrisson/Millar’s pitch doesn’t sound like the Alchemax-steeped 2099 we know and love, but I can’t help getting fannish chills from that proposed “broken Cap” origin.

Does anybody know what happened to the artist for most of the Doom 2099 series,Pat Broderick? He seems to have disappeared from comics?

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