Archive for May 30th, 2011


mighty marvel minimalism

A brief post because I’m tired after a long but enjoyable game of BrickQuest, run by our man Foner.  (Maybe Charlatan will share pictures and recollections.)

On the heels of yesterday’s post wondering what Marvel Comics would have looked like without Jack Kirby, here’s another probably pointless thought experiment:

What happens if you only used the superheroes featured in the 1984 Marvel Super Heroes Role-Playing Game?

To refresh, that would be . . .

What If . . . 9 (second series), Rich Buckler pencils

  • Spider-Man
  • Wolverine
  • Captain America
  • Captain Marvel
  • Thing
  • Mister Fantastic
  • Invisible Girl
  • Human Torch
  • Thor (mentioned)

And on the villain side:

  • Doctor Octopus
  • Radioactive Man
  • Scorpion
  • Beetle
  • The Fixer

If you wanted to include guys with speaking parts in the rule books:

  • The Watcher
  • Doctor Strange
  • Beast
  • Professor X
  • Jarvis
  • Doctor Doom
  • Arcade

As noted in the Kirby post, it wouldn’t look too different, since most of the Marvel Universe was explored by the Fantastic Four.  There’s some version of the Avengers, and references to the X-Men.  Presumably the line-ups of both of these teams would be wide-freakin’-open for brand-new characters, created either by the Judge or by the players.  To me, it seems to hold just enough of the familiar Marvel Universe to be playable, but also so much is absent that  it’s practically a blank canvas.

Almost all of the villains are technological super-genius types.  The Scorpion, of course, is a lackey mutated into a freakish form by science run amok–presumably he’s out for revenge or dominance against other super villains, as well as against heroes.  And Arcade is, apparently, the deadliest assassin in the world–maybe he wiped out all the other X-Men.  (Ugh, it kills me to write that.  Arcade is a terrible character.)

Presumably Doctor Octopus and Wolverine have something in common in their origins: both are cyborgs.  Doctor Doom, scarred after his college experiment, may have studied sorcery under the tutelage of Doctor Strange.  Spider-Man and the Scorpion were both belted with radiation, possibly linking them to the Radioactive Man somehow.  Professor X and the Fixer may once have been close allies (replacing Magneto and Mentallo, who fulfill reciprocal roles for each character), until the Fixer betrayed him by harvesting DNA from Xavier’s students.

It’s possible that without the Puppet Master, there’d be no Alicia to take the edge off the Thing–meaning he’d still be carrying a torch for the Invisible Girl, and might still be in his raging, hair-trigger mood from early in the series, sort of filling the niche vacated by the Hulk.  And without the Hulk to have epic battles with, maybe the Thing takes his aggression out on Thor from time to time.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.  D&D blogs occasionally ask, “What if we only used monsters from the Fiend Folio” or whatever, so I figured I’d go through an analogous exercise.  I think where I end up is, “Gee, how about that . . . Okay, moving on.”

Past Adventures of the Mule

May 2011

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