Archive for May 29th, 2011


marvel minus kirby

What would the Marvel Universe look like without Jack Kirby?

Daredevil 7

My rule: all characters commonly credited to Kirby are out.  Furthermore, all characters who debuted in a title created by Kirby (Wolverine in Incredible Hulk 181) or in a spin-off of a Kirby title (everybody in New Mutants) no longer exist.

Titles we simply wouldn’t have:

  • Avengers
  • Capt. Savage and his Leatherneck Raiders
  • Fantastic Four
  • Incredible Hulk
  • Invincible Iron Man
  • Journey into Mystery (The Mighty Thor)
  • Marvel’s Space-Born Super-Hero, Captain Marvel
  • Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos
  • Sky-Rider of the Spaceways, the Silver Surfer
  • Tales of Suspense (Captain America)
  • Tales to Astonish (featuring Ant-Man & the Wasp and the Hulk)
  • X-Men
  • (Several late 70’s titles like 2001, Black Panther, Devil Dinosaur, Machine Man and Eternals)

A small handful of Silver Age titles would survive:

  • Amazing Spider-Man (pace authorship disputes)
  • Here Comes . . . Daredevil, the Man Without Fear
  • Strange Tales (featuring Doctor Strange)
  • Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner

It’s the loss of Fantastic Four that really hurts.  No Negative Zone, no Inhumans, no Kree, no Skrulls, no Blue Area of the Moon.  Without the other titles no Asgard or Stark Industries.

You lose female superheroes, at least in the Marvel Silver Age: there weren’t many to begin with, and without Kirby there are none.  The first black superhero wouldn’t be the Black Panther (Fantastic Four 52, July 1966) but instead the Prowler (Amazing Spider-Man 78, November 1969).  Jimmy Woo was among the very first Asian-American leading heroes in comics (Yellow Claw 1, October 1956), but he’s a Kirby character too.

And you lose creators.  Claremont, Byrne, Englehart, Starlin, Gruenwald and Simonson are all best-remembered for their work on Kirby-created titles or spin-offs, and under this experiment their voices would fall almost entirely silent.

what’s left?

By the 1970’s things expand out a bit:

apparently you had to be there

  • Adventure into Fear with the Man Called Morbius, the Living Vampire
  • Beware!  The Claws of . . . The Cat (a/k/a Tigra)
  • Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu
  • The Most Supernatural Superhero of All, Ghost Rider
  • Giant-Size Man-Thing
  • Howard the Duck
  • Iron Fist
  • Luke Cage, Hero for Hire
  • They Came from Inner Space, Micronauts
  • Night Nurse
  • The Man Called Nova
  • Omega the Unknown
  • Red Sonja
  • Rom, Space Knight
  • Savage Sword of Conan
  • Shanna the She-Devil
  • Skull the Slayer
  • Son of Satan
  • To Know Her is to Fear Her . . . Spider-Woman
  • Supernatural Thrillers: The Living Mummy
  • Tales of the Zombie
  • Tomb of Dracula
  • The Power of Warlock (okay, I’m cheating a little)
  • Werewolf by Night

Moving into the 1980’s…

  • Cloak and Dagger
  • Comet Man
  • Dazzler (arguably)
  • Elektra: Assassin
  • Jack of Hearts
  • Killraven, Warrior of Worlds
  • Longshot
  • Marc Spector, Moon Knight
  • Power Pack
  • Punisher War Journal
  • Rocket Raccoon
  • Speedball, the Masked Marvel
  • Team America
  • U.S. 1

put that into a cliche-larded archetypal game setting

In the grey centuries before the dawn of History, men and women fought demon-spawn.  With cultists fleeing the sinking of Atlantis came the Serpent Crown, bringing with it madness, death, and power.  The insidious litany of Set was memorialized in the Darkhold, repository of the foulest sorcery, and from its black pages were created the nosferatu and zuvembies.

These horrors stalked among us for millennia uncounted.  The blood tide of chaos was only cast back through steel and sorcery wielded with desperate courage.  (Welcome to Conan, Red Sonja, and so on.)

That legacy of evil persists even into this very age.  Unearthly things creep through the Nexus of All Realities and strike bargains with the unsuspecting or sire children with the unwary. (Okay, so, our modern day super-horror titles like Man-Thing, Son of Satan, and Ghost Rider.)

Memories of bygone days have faded, and ever anon man yearns to know that which is forbidden to him, prying matter apart to glean its secrets.  No surprise that in these vain experiments have left a mark on unlucky witnesses, who are lauded and shunned in equal measure.  (Spider-Man, Daredevil, Cloak & Dagger, Power Pack, etc.)

Yet this time mankind does not struggle against the darkness alone.  Across cosmic gulfs, alien intelligences–no strangers to the endless conflict between Law and Chaos–have sent strange emissaries to Earth to aid, inspire, and lead.  (Yep, Rom, the Micronauts, and Rocket Raccoon.)

isn’t this pointless?

Yeah, I guess so.  It beat doing real work.  Plus it lets me toss up this cover, which in this hypothetical would not be a sideshow curiosity, but rather  a huge frickin’ deal:

art by Michael Golden


Past Adventures of the Mule

May 2011

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