One-Shot: The Wraith


Jason and I have had such grand plans for this website, and there have been suggested commentaries on Grant Morrison, James Robinson, the state of hot writers, and the recent cancellations of various comics that we have vowed (to each other) that we would bring to our readers. Sadly, I have been buried under various projects at work, and just as busy (if not busier) in my personal life when I am not on the job. Jason has also been busy, as well as fighting a series of winter illnesses. Unfortunately, these circumstances have combined to make our postings much quicker than intended.

Currently, I have a window of time in which to post, and was planning on starting a deep and philosophical discussion. However, I quickly realized that while I have time now, I won’t have much more today, tomorrow is going to be busy, and Friday and Saturday I will be out of town on business. Therefore, if I start something deep and meaningful today, I won’t likely have the time to follow up on it until next week. Hence, the One-Shot: we can get some content on the blog, and still make our other commitments.

The Wraith is a character from Marvel Team-Up who first appeared in the late 1970s. He is the brother of policewoman Jean DeWolff, an important part of Spider-Man’s supporting cast before she was killed off in the appropriately titled “Death of Jean DeWolff” storyline. Brian DeWolff, our focus for this one-shot, was a policeman who was shot by criminals. His father found him, and used an experimental process to nurse his son back to health; this process also endowed Brian with psionic powers. For a time, Brian had no control over himself, and his father used him as a puppet, making the Wraith a criminal. Brian finally was able to regain his senses and wanted to become a hero, but wasn’t seen much in that capacity. Finally, he was killed by Scourge, without ever getting the opportunity to really show what he could do.

Brian DeWolff (Earth-616)
Personally, I’ve always liked the Wraith, and regretted his death at the hands of Scourge. However, did he really die? His powers made it quite easy for him to fake his death, and I’d love to see this character return to the Marvel Universe (although Marvel does have a cool looking new Wraith in their cosmic comics, so this one might need a name change). I’d be curious to see what a creative person like Jason might do with him. So, have at it Jason! Make me proud!

Ah, right…the ol’ “cop shot by criminals is conveniently rescued by dad who zaps him with experimental technology that gives him brain powers” origin. Classic Marvel. The interesting part about this character was that he had the ability to read minds, induce illusions in others, zap folks with mind bolts and even possess someone, but he himself was also susceptible to being controlled. He was the monkey in the middle. He could have been the puppet master and the puppet at the same time…which really begged the question of who was truly in control of the third person. Was it Wraith or the person controlling Wraith? That’s weird.

Sadly, Marvel saw to it that this unique anomaly was removed from the character as he developed, which left him as just another bland mind-powered dude in a funny costume whose Spider-Man-obsessed sister was killed by a bad guy. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen a bajillion of ’em.

Regardless of his abilities, bringing him back from the dead is no big hurdle. He had already transferred his consciousness from one body to another after he was killed by Scourge, so there’s no reason to believe that he couldn’t have done the same exact thing right before he was killed A SECOND TIME by Morbius. Yes, that’s right, Morbius.

See, John left out the part where Wraith went cuckoo after Sin-Eater killed his sister. He decided to take it out on the entire NYPD, because whenever I drop a quarter down a manhole I send scathing emails to Microsoft too (see how much sense that made?). He showed up at a random police station which just happened to be the same random police station that Scourge was hanging out in, dressed as a policeman, waiting for a chance to shoot Flash Thompson (because evidently Flash Thompson was some secret third or fourth-tier supervillain whose costume was out-of-date or something). Nothing about this makes any sense, so I’m just winging it. Oh, and then he led some sort of anti-vampire clubhouse gang which ticked off Morbius enough to cause the good doctor struggling with his inner demon to commit cold-blooded murder on an obviously mentally impaired man. I guess a restraining order was just too much paperwork.

To recap: A cop is shot by criminals. His dad saves his life with a super brain machine. He becomes a quasi-superhero. His sister gets killed by a crazy dude, so he goes crazy in return and is killed by Scourge. However, he transfers his spirit into another body only to then be killed by Morbius. That’s where we stand.

My solution? Well, obviously, he transfers his spirit to another less-dead body (perhaps one that is bulletproof and teeth-proof). Let’s assume that each time he transfers his consciousness that there is some degradation and that degradation takes the form of reverting back to his previous mental susceptibility. Boom! Problem solved. Wraith is back, baby! And he’s only one of, technically, four Wraiths currently operating in the Marvel Universe. That shouldn’t be too confusing.

The angle I would take would be to make this “consciousness jumping” a prominent power. He previously had the ability to possess up to one mind at a time, but I say we take it a step further and say that he actually transfers his whole spirit into that body and makes it his own. Now, this could come in handy in using Wraith as a decoy or a spy…he could technically be “disguised” as anyone and still have the ability to infiltrate and use his mental powers on people.

I could see him as an ally of someone like Captain America. Cap needs a way to get inside Hydra, for example. Wraith simply possesses a Hydra operative and walks right in to the eye of the storm. Cap then guides Wraith to use his head-zapping skills to get whatever info or create whatever situation is deemed necessary. Then Wraith hops a ride back out in someone else’s brain and no one is the wiser. Talk about your Secret Invasion! ZING!

Hell, he wouldn’t even need the goofy costume shown up above. He could be anyone and anywhere at any time! It blows the mind.

Of course, that brings up the ethical issue of using someone to achieve your goal. It’s kind of a sick trick. And might be best suited for more of a horror angle. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like pursuing that.

And, I’m spent.

One-Shot: Trevor Fitzroy


So, you thought you were going to hurt me with Nightwatch? He can’t be worse than Trevor Fitzroy, an X-Men villain who popped up in 1991 as a precursor to Bishop appearing.

Fitzroy was a time traveling mutant who came from the same era and world as Bishop. He was a teleporter and a timeporter and he had to drain the life essences of others to power his abilities. He was being set up as a major X-Baddie, and clashed with the team on quite a few occasions, even joining the lamest of the lame in the villain group The Upstarts. After that, he joined the Hellfire Club, so obviously someone thought this guy had potential. Now, Bishop eventually killed him, but since he was a member of the Marvel Mutant Menagerie, we have to assume that his death wasn’t permanent. I’m sure he could be brought back.

So, sock it to me. How would you realize the potential that Marvel must have once seen in this guy?

Trevor Fitzroy

Gosh, I could fill a book with all of the things I know about Trevor Fitzroy…a matchbook! ZING!

Seriously, if we had to delve into the ridiculousness of the whole Bishop angle and all of his time-hopping, angsty buddies, couldn’t we have at least gone with Shard? She’s someone I can somewhat comprehend. Trevor Fitzroy is a waste of ink. Sigh…let’s get this over with so I can get back to dying slowly.

Well, at least you’ve given me an easy out with the whole time travel thing. There’s this anomaly thing with time travel that really screws up timelines. Whenever a character goes back in time and ends up in the near vicinity of his past self, it wreaks havoc. Especially if he then jumps forward only to jump back again a few seconds earlier…now there are three of him at the same moment. Considering how much of a coward Fitzroy was and how he always seemed to just bounce away whenever Bishop showed up, this scenario is a distinct possibility. And, as long as one of the displaced identities remains alive, the timeline remains intact (I’m thinking of the Back to the Future scenario where Marty McFly was worried about becoming his own father…or ceasing to exist because something happened in the past that made him unknown in the future).

Seriously. I could go on with this time travel explanation forever. Let’s just suffice it to say that the Fitzroy that was killed was a duplicate from a displaced timeframe. The actual Fitzroy has been saving up his energy in a pocket universe…diving into the timestream and picking off rogue versions of himself for sustenance. He’s kind of a creepy self-vampire.

By merging continuously with himself, he’s created a shift in his abilities that has turned him into more of a sentient energy than a human being…his autonomy in this pocket realm has made him a nebulous force. I imagine him sitting back and watching these various streams fly past him, casually reaching in now and then to feast. However, something interesting catches his eye and he decides this is the time to make his move and defeat Bishop and his X-friends once and for all.

See, Trevor Fitzroy views Forge bringing Nimrod back online (from a recent New X-Men plot). He watches the whole episode unfold, with Forge creating a new body for Nimrod, Nimrod gaining control of it and attacking, the New X-Men disabling Nimrod and Surge blasting Nimrod out of the timestream. Knowing that Nimrod is just a husk…a powerful husk…Fitzroy transfers his sentience into Nimrod and starts jumping in and out of the timestream at crucial points in X-Men history to create an unlimited army of Nimrod clones.

It’d get a bit convoluted, but WOW. That would certainly start an epic battle. Nimrod was always a pretty impressive adversary and the added guile and strategic skills of Fitzroy would just add to the danger.

God, I hate Trevor Fitzroy.

One-Shot: Nightwatch


Sorry we haven’t been as attentive to the blog this week. John and I both got hit hard by real work that pays actual money to us for the effort. Imagine that! I haven’t even read my comics for the last two weeks. But, with the holidays fast approaching, I’m hoping we have some extra time to do a few interesting things with “Meanwhile…Comics!” Or at least the same old stuff. Either way, I promise we’ll get to the Grant Morrison critique next week.

Anyway, I’ve been threatening John with this ridiculous one-shot for a while now and I thought today was as good as any to spring it on him. I really, really, really want to know what he would do to make Nightwatch an interesting and relevant character in the Marvel Universe again. More importantly, I want John to explain how Nightwatch isn’t just Spawn with a stupider origin.

The year was 1993. The Image boom had taken its toll on the creative spark at the “House of Ideas.” And, like all good plagiarists before them, Marvel thought it would be a good idea to (almost a full year later) jump on the bandwagon and drum up a character that looked and acted exactly like Spawn, in the hopes that some overzealous, junior speculator fanboys would blindly confuse the two and maybe buy a couple dozen extra copies of the Marvel book instead. Oh, and they made the character crossover with Spider-Man in nearly every appearance, especially that god-awful Maximum Carnage storyline. Guilt by association, Spidey!

Nightwatch, I believe, was created out of sheer boredom by Terry Kavanagh (who, in the 90s, quickly became one of the most hated writers Marvel ever had on staff). His first appearance was, technically, made in Web of Spider-Man #99 and his origin was some convoluted chronological loop strategy where he came back in time to warn himself not to come back in time…or something…I dunno.

His powers were the ability to turn invisible, to glide (using his semi-sentient cape) and to suck very, very badly. Horribly, in fact. Awful enough to cause serious pain. And tears. Many, many tears.

Thankfully, Nightwatch died in the rehash of his ridiculous self-fulfilling origin. I realize that this will make any sort of revamp a little more complicated, but honestly, the character is so irredeemable that anything you come up with would be an improvement. This may be the most useless character Marvel ever created. Worse than Irving Forbush. Even if you resurrect him using a profanity-spewing unicorn and a handful of creamed corn, it’ll make more sense than this lame hero ever did.

Good luck and have fun. Hugs and kisses.

Man, when you kept threatening me with a horrible one-shot, I had no idea how cruel you were going to be.  Geez, what did I ever do to you man?  Did I run over your dog or something?  Hell, for giving me this loser, I’d think that I ran over your wife!

I’ve never actually read a Nightwatch comic, so I have no connection to this character (although it kind of sounds like no one has a connection with this character).  I’ve read the history I can find about him (surprisingly, there aren’t a lot of internet sites run by his adoring fans) and that just resulted in a headache.  I love the fact that, when he realized that he was destined to die, he ran and hid on a deserted island.  How does one do that exactly?  Can you call up your travel agent and ask for a one way ticket to whatever deserted island is in this year?  Can you buy a tour book, Fodor’s Guide to Deserted Islands?  Are they that easy to find?

The first problem in using this character today is that he’s dead.  Of course, this being comics, that’s really more of a mild inconvenience than a full blown problem, but we should attempt to work with it.  Luckily, he’s traveled through time, so the problem is almost immediately solvable through the use of a time paradox.  It seems that Nightwatch is continually living the same events over again.  He finds his dying self, uses that technology to become a superhero, then dies trying to warn himself not to do the things that kill him.  This cycle repeats ad infinitum, but it could be easily interrupted.  That’s how we bring him back. 

Kang the Conquerer is having one of his fights with the Avengers, and thanks to Thor’s hammer, the adversaries are actually moving back and forth through time, battling each other fiercely.  During the battle, the chronal energies they’re throwing around knock Nightwatch off course, and instead of landing in the past where he normall does (where he gets in a fight with terrorists and dies) he lands in the present day.  Kang and the Avengers don’t even notice what they’ve done, and their battle continues; we’ll see no more of it in the comic.  It’s inconsequential to our story.

Nightwatch is a little surprised by this, but he’s still fatally wounded (which he was when he traveled back in time originally) and he collapses on the street.  He’s found by some citizens and taken to a hospital, where we find that his wounds weren’t as fatal as he thought and that advances in medicine in the past few years means his life can be saved.  After convalescing for a few weeks, he’s released, only to learn that he has been declared legally dead and that his personal life, in many ways, is over.

Nightwatch wanders the city, trying to figure out what to do.  He’s a little shellshocked, but he learned a few things.  First, as a hero, he was horrible.  He tried to jump into the fray, fighting alongside big names like Spider-Man, but wasn’t really able to contribute much, and when he finally tried to adventure on his own, that lasted for only a few weeks before he died.  Second, he’s such a small cog in the scheme of things.  The Avengers and Kang didn’t even notice him when they saved his life, and he assumes Spider-Man wouldn’t remember his name either.  Finally, his life was saved today, not so much by the cape and cowl crowd, but by normal people and some skilled doctors.  They were the real heroes.

Now, Nightwatch is also a doctor and he decides that he’s going to devote his new life to helping people with his medical skills just as much as he does with his powers.  Unfortunately, he has no money and no identity, since the world considers him to be dead.  However, he has courage and conviction, and that’s going to have to be enough.  He spends the next few weeks prowling the back alleys of the city, using his powers to steal small amounts of food and looking for people who might need a doctor.  He’s not trying to stop crime per se; he’s trying to help victims of it.  He finds mugging victims or those injured in the passage of a superhero brawl, and he sneaks in and saves them.  Since many of his powers are stealth oriented, it means he doesn’t have to fight every villain just for the sake of it.  If he sees Shocker knocking over a bank, and it’s after hours and no one’s inside, he may not get involved.  However, if he sees someone mugging an innocent civilian, he’ll stop the mugger, and then do what he can to treat the injuries of the victim.

I’d probably run with that premise for perhaps a year, introducing some street folk as supporting characters.  Then I’d have Nightwatch save someone who has money, and who, grateful for having their life saved, wants to help Nightwatch save even more people.  It would be a slow process, as Nightwatch wouldn’t want to take the money at first, but eventually this patron would convince Nightwatch of his (or her) sincerity, and would bankroll a free clinic that Nightwatch could run.  This would give him a permanent setting, and a supporting cast, and he could spend his days healing the sick that come to the clinic, while still going out at night to find those in danger in the city.

Maybe he and Night Nurse could work together, although I see Nightwatch being less specialized in super powered injuries, and more willing to help anyone who came to his doors.  It would be a great way to involve him in plots, parading a wide variety of sick and injured people to his door.  I think it could work.

One-Shot: Maggott


I admit, I was a bit flippant in my response to the Owl One-Shot. But I have an excuse: I’m actually on vacation right now and I have people staring at me because they want to go do things. So, I have to make this brief.

Right then, you must have known this was coming sooner or later. I’m really looking forward to you explaining this guy:

Maggott was a member of the X-Men and, briefly, Generation X, who spoke in a dialect of South African slang and whose primary power was derived from the two semi-sentient slugs who lived in his gut. Yeah. Instead of a digestive system, he had two giant gastropods in his belly who would come out, eat pretty much any substance, and then rejoin with him, giving him increased strength and stamina. He could also, somehow, psychically replay past events from his immediate vicinity. I have no idea how all those things were technically connected.

He was killed at the Neverland concentration camp run by Weapon X. But what if he wasn’t exterminated? Just how wonderful could he have been? And do you think it hurt if people poured salt on his head?

Maggots?  I’m eating maggots Michael (sorry, The Lost Boys flashback)?  Seriously?  I even tried to be nice to you.  I see where that got me; a character I despise.  The only reason I don’t hate him more is because I tried to avoid any comic in which he’s ever appeared.

Yeesh.  This is taking some thought; in fact, I even turned off the iPod so I could puzzle this out without Green Day in my ear.  That’s a level of commitment that you just don’t see very much these days.  Sadly, it hasn’t helped me puzzle this loser out yet.  You know, I often rant about the powers that comics characters get these days; they’re somewhat dull and derivative of what’s come before.  Well, points to Scott Lobdell, who certainly came up with different powers for this guy.  Of course, if mutations are supposed to derive from a single source within a person, it doesn’t make sense that a mutant would have two powers (digesting maggots and the ability to replay events in his area) that are so dissimilar to each other.  What if Maggot wasn’t a true mutant at all?  What if he wasn’t even <gasp>, human?

Since Maggot died, one of his lower-case ‘m’ maggots has been seen in the lair of Mr. Sinister.  I postulate that Maggot was always one of Mr. Sinister’s creations.  Mr. Sinister built this guy in one of his labs out of some stray genetic material, and planned to use him as a spy.  His mutant power was supposed to be superhuman strength and limited invulnerability and then he was going to be given a secret power, which would enable him to replay any events that had happened within his immediate vicinity.  The plan was to send him where he was needed, Maggot would hang out and pretend he was a good guy, and then he could come back to Sinister’s hacienda and replay the day’s (week’s/month’s/year’s) worth of events for his silver skinned master.  Unfortunately, Sinister hadn’t created a creature from scratch before, and had trouble finetuning the details.  He couldn’t get the creature to work out and finally just dumped him in a small town.  When Magneto happened upon the kid, and tried to jumpstart his powers, his technique combined with the odd Sinister-science to create his maggots, which eventually gave him the superstrength, and his ability to replay events, although that didn’t work out the way Sinister originally intended either.

I imagine that Sinister may not have even realized that Maggot was his creation for some time, until one of the smaller maggots fell into his possession.  While examining it, he recognized his work and has been deciding what to do with it.  He decides to recreate Maggot, allowing his creation to retain free will, but also inserting a sort of “back door” or “genetic suggestion” into Maggot, so that, if necessary, Sinister can seize control of his puppet.  He’ll even be able to control Maggot for a time, and then release that control, and Maggot will never remember he’s been controlled.  Sinister hopes to use Maggot as the spy he should have always been, and the X-Men will be none the wiser.

So, Maggot returns to life, which doesn’t surprise the X-Men, since everyone returns to life in their world.  He rejoins the team, but unknown to himself and his teammates, he’s feeding information to Sinister whenever he’s commanded to do so.  It soon becomes clear that there is a traitor on the team, but no one can figure out who.  In the end, you can do the big story where Maggot realizes he’s being manipulated, and he can either die fighting the villain to redeem himself, or manage to break the control.  I’d prefer death.

One-Shot: The Owl


This is a One-Shot that I think may have some actual potential, although you may disagree.  I would like to call your attention to Leland Owlsley, also known as The Owl.

Owl 001.jpg

He’s actually one of Marvel’s earliest villains, first appearing in Daredevil #3, way back in 1964.  He started his criminal career as a legitimate businessman and financier, who was involved in some crooked dealings.  He finally decided he was tired of hiding behing a veil of respectability, and he would throw caution to the winds to become a master criminal.  It wasn’t a good career move.  Since then he’s bounced all around the Marvel Universe, mostly fighting Daredevil and Spider-Man.  He was supposedly killed by The Hood a few years ago, when Brian Michael Bendis was using the cheap trick of killing a long established character to lend a sense of threat to a newly created character.  I hate that trick.  However, there are rumors that he may not be dead.  Let’s assume he’s not.  What would you do with this guy?  Could he become the master criminal he always hoped to be?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Bendis revamp Owl as a lower-level version of Kingpin? Y’know, before he offed him? Not that that would stop me, of course. We all know how…uh…disappointed…I’ve been with some of Bendis’ work. Here’s me quick take on what to do with Owl…

Let’s say he’s socked away some of his “earnings” over the years. As I said, he worked as a sort of mob boss for a while and was certainly grabbing a percentage of his underlings’ take. He was smart enough to know that nothing would last forever, so he instituted a contingency plan: he bought some real estate. Let’s say he bought up a couple of wind farms in upstate New York…this led to a high-rise in downtown Manhattan where he now has his offices. He calls his company Aviary Air. And his office is on the top floor of the highest building in the skyline. What better place to put his perch?

But not is all as it seems. See, the Owl could never escape his criminal ways and is soon offering attractive opportunities to other bird-themed villains. Folks like Killer Shrike, Black Talon, Vulture and…uh…Bird-Man all make their little nest eggs working for Owl. Maybe they go by some stupid name like “The Flock.” It doesn’t really matter, because, honestly, who’s intimidated by idiots dressing up in wings and feathers?

Seriously, crime is for the birds.

The Owl would probably just end up as a florist or something.

One-Shot: Kismet


Man, I really wanted to give you Deathcry, since she was also from the 90s and Avengers related. Sadly, it appears that she’s dead. Personally, I’m devastated. There shall be a wake tonight, in her honor. All of her fans will attend. The location will be my hall closet, although I’m concerned that we won’t be able to find enough of her fans to fill it.

So, I’m going in another direction. Let’s talk about Kismet, also known as Paragon, also known as Her, also known as Ayesha. Perhaps only Hank Pym has had more names than this character. She was created at the Beehive by a group of creepy old men called the Enclave, so she’s already got some strikes against her. She also started out her existence as a man, making her perhaps the first transgender in comics. Oh, those groundbreaking scamps at Marvel! She’s been all over the universe and has popped up in such classic and popular series as Alpha Flight, Quasar and Marvel Two-In-One. So, what are you going to do with her (or is it “do with Her”)?

Right. A golden chick in a Baywatch swimsuit who was created as the “Eve” to Adam Warlock. And she has those vague cosmic powers that I relish so much. Excellent.

Does it seem odd to anyone else that a bunch of random dudes who live in a beehive can harness this weird cosmic energy to create a fake chick who can pretty much disintegrate them with a sideways glance? That doesn’t really add up for me. Not to mention the strange fact that the Enclave seemed to enjoy kidnapping women (Alicia Masters, Medusa) and creating female versions of characters named Warlock (they also cloned the New Mutants member). That’s a pretty odd obsession. But I digress.

Kismet…the Arabic word for fate…for some reason all I can think of is that the movie version would undoubtedly be played by Jessica Simpson. She strikes me as a character who is ridiculously powerful but kind of lost and clueless. She’s like an intergalactic Paris Hilton or a pan-universal Pam Anderson (especially given her chosen attire). How do you improve upon that?

She’s a blank slate made entirely of Teflon. That is to say, nothing sticks. Her existence is meaningless and holds no purpose whatsoever in the big picture of the Marvel Universe. She was created as an issue filler in the early days of the Fantastic Four title. I say we kill her off, but we make it an event (like all those cosmic things seem to be).

Here’s the plan: She realizes (at least in her own artificial mind) that she was meant to be the “first woman.” That clicks something in her head putting her on a path to rewind the progress of the entire universe…basically making herself the origin of life. Of course, to reach that goal, she’ll need to wipe everyone else out of existence. BUM BUM BAAAAAAAH!

I have no idea how this will happen, but I’m sure the whole thing will be explained away by some convenient plot device made up of fancy words that vaguely relate to science. Everyone will nod their heads and pretend that they understand what the writer was trying to get across and the whole thing will be seen as an allegory for conservation of energy. Isn’t that how these things work?

I would’ve gone with the whole “find a perfect mate” scenario, but it seems like that’s the ONLY plotline Kismet has ever been involved with. Every single time she has shown up in the past has been to either land a date or eradicate an entire planet (which I can only assume was her cosmic reaction to PMS).

Now that I think about it, there could be some pretty comical scenes of her sitting in a diner booth waiting for her e-date to show up, and then ditching him when she realizes it’s D-Man. Ah, the trials and tribulations of all-powerful love. I imagine the sex must be out of this world.


One-Shot: Century


I don’t know what’s more impressive: the weird Serpentor-like origin (being the combined hivemind of his alien race’s hundred best peeps), the fact that his weapon not only had a name but also a symbiotic relationship with him, or the fact that he looked like a buff version of the Crypt Keeper. Seriously, I DARE you to find something worthwhile about this Force Works reject…

So, just because you don’t like Secret Wars and I do, I have to find something good to say about this loser? Seriously? This is what we’ve come to? I can spin horribly snarky comments about Secret Wars if you give me someone else to work with. Honestly, I’d rather talk about Serpentor. Hmmm. I wonder if I’d break the blog if I instead spent this time discussing that, while Serpentor was horribly stupid in the TV show, Larry Hama actually made him a neat character in the GI Joe comic. Hama had a deft way of taking some of the stupidest characters created for the GI Joe toyline (Dr. Mindbender anyone?) and making them work. The comic went a little off the rails when it became ninja showcase and everyone had a connection to Snake-Eyes, but overall, it was really rather good. In fact, I….what? Aw, c’mon, do I have to discuss this loser? Ok, fine, but I want a raise.

Ahem. Century. Ah, good old Century. Part of my problem with this uber-loser is that I have read very few comics that feature him. I’ve read a few comics where he appears, but he never does or says much, so I have no connection to him. I may pick on a character like Ka-Zar, but I’ve read tons of his stories and have an opinion on him. Century is a blank slate to me and even after reading his history, he still means nothing to me. There’s no interest on my part, so I’ll be phoning in the rest of this entry (literally, as I’m dictating this to my secretary as I drive off to get my massage). Honestly, feel free to skip this and then come back and read the next entry. Or go back and re-read what we did with the Defenders and Dr. Strange. Good entries, those.

The scary thing about Century is that I found his biography on the Marvel site. Do they plan to reuse this character? That’s a sad state of affairs, if they’re using Century in some upcoming project. Actually, after reading his history (which was so convoluted and dull I fell asleep three times), and all the information they had on him, I still have no idea what he can do, although I know his staff (named Parallax) can transport him through time and place. I think the best use of this character would have been to make his staff actually be Hal Jordan, back from when he was busting up the DC Universe as a cosmic baddie named Parallax. That would have been epic! It’s a perfect fit! This would have been part of Hal Jordan’s master plan. He wanted to sneak onto Force Works, the quintessential 90s super hero team (all ideas, no substance) on the back of the quintessential 90s super hero (Century had an odd appearance, amnesia and vaguely defined powers). Then, when the time was right, he could have destroyed Century and all the other evil characters from that horrible decade, thereby reclaiming the Marvel Universe for the good old American values he loved!

Well, I give up. My suggestion? Century has always been a skrull, which will be revealed in Secret Invasion #6, and he’ll be killed by the Scarlet Witch, who wants him dead before Marvel acts on the fact that he was in love with her and puts them in a relationship. After being married to an android and being involved with a man made of ionic energy, she really wanted to be with Bob the manager of the local Target, a normal, made of non-wrinkly flesh, human being. The end.

*Pfft.* I almost spit Coke Zero (yeah, I’m trying to lose a few pounds) all over my screen when I read that last paragraph. Ahhh…Century. Good times. So what loser are you going to saddle me with?

One-shot: Black Crow


One of the things missing in comics are prominent minority characters. Admittedly, minority heroes are often a hard sell in the marketplace, but they can be very interesting, if done correctly.

They can also be the Black Crow.

He’s been rolling around the Marvel Universe for almost 25 years now, and he’s two (two!) minorities in one….he’s a Native American, and he’s also paralyzed from the waist down (at least, he is in his civilian identity). On the plus side, he wears war paint and a loin cloth, so it’s not at all like he’s a collection of Native American stereotypes. At all.

So, we want our Native American heroes. What can you do with him?

Wait…you want me to do a post-Kate Hudson makeover of Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes? No? That’s too bad, because that would be much easier than trying to make something out of this turd.

I was just reading over his Wikipedia entry and realized that Black Crow has what I like to call Early Superman Syndrome: the ability to spontaneously gain new powers whenever he needs them. He can perform inter-dimensional travel. He can change his shape into forms of water, other people, or animals (Wonder Twin powers activate!). He can communicate telepathically. He can paralyze people through hypnosis. He can summon fog and create illusions in the minds of others. He uses a “freezing mist” to blank minds for a short period of time. He can sense the auras of other Native Americans. He has superhuman strength. He can remove memories from others. He’s an expert combatant. And he wears a loincloth.


Aside from the travesty of the loincloth, he actually looks like a badass and the whole “paralyzed in non-super form” is reminiscent of Captain Marvel, Jr. Also, from what I’ve been able to glean off these internet tubes, it seems like Jesse can’t control when he turns into Black Crow. Maybe I’m wrong on that last count, but I like the angle and I’m going to run with it. And this “Earth Mother” that transforms him into Black Crow does so in order to battle against those who seek to harm the Native American homelands. Seems like the perfect set-up for an environmental warrior, huh?

Forgive me as I dip further into Native American cliché (if that’s even possible with this character), but I’m going to introduce the concept of protesting against the building of a big corporate casino on a traditional burial ground. Why not go there, right? Jesse goes home to visit his family on the reservation and learns about this evil company that wants to exploit the “Cowboys and Indians” theme for a fancy hotel/casino/resort. Unfortunately for them, while their building site is not on the reservation itself, it is on what the tribe considers sacred land. Jesse is up in arms and decides to use some of his superhero networking Rolodex power to raise a protest. What better figurehead for the injustices foisted upon his people than a young Native American man in a wheelchair? Activist by day and warrior by night, Jesse transforms into Black Crow to sabotage the construction site only to learn that his family is involved in a payoff scandal with the mob-funded project. He takes down the entire deal, but his faith in his people is shaken…this leads to the unpredictability in his transformations as his own beliefs clash with those of his ancestors.

Jesse continues to lead the activist life. He takes on other projects that seem to be infringing on his people’s rights…clear-cutting of local forests, military experiments, oil drilling and other political showdowns. One encounter turns particularly bad as Black Crow is held responsible for the accidental killing of a boy who stumbled across one of his battles. During an ensuing press conference, Jesse turns into Black Crow on live television and the jig is up! The heroes come down hard on him and he goes on the lam. He heads out into the wilds of the reservation where he has a Vision Quest with the ghosts of his ancestors and tells them that their methods are wrong, but they disagree.

When the heroes finally track him down, the spirits transform Jesse into Black Crow but his own persona struggles with the spirits to release him. During the battle, Jesse manages to fight off the transformation and turn back into his own crippled self while the spirit of the Black Crow is returned to the land.

I have no idea where that ending was going (hopefully leading to the unfortunate demise of Black Crow), but it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was trying to come up with some way that these transformations could be controlled through saying specific words…like that old Bugs Bunny cartoon where Bugs is singing “Hocus Pocus” and “Abracadabra” and that witch keeps changing back and forth from human to bat. I dunno, but that would be funny in comics!

One-Shot: Slyde


Have fun with this guy. What’s his superpower? He has lubed up clothing. That’s about it.

Seriously, he’s fought Spider-Man on many occasions. He was part of one of the versions of Masters of Evil. And he’s apparently dead (not that that has stopped anyone in comics EVER). In fact, he was killed once before…only to be revealed that it was his step-brother in the costume. Evidently, the costume is more important than any piece of meat shoved inside it. That should help you somewhat…


You know, others may laugh, but I actually think Slyde has potential, and there are a few things that set him apart from other characters. First of all, while his power is somewhat silly, it’s different and relatively helpful. He can move very quickly by sliding along the ground, and he’s very difficult to stop. Can he do any real damage in a fight? Well, not so much. Or, at least, not yet.

Here’s the thing. In his “I’m not a dork in spandex” identity, Slyde is a chemical engineer. He created the costume that gives him his abilities and that suggests that he may be able to create some other gimmicks that can increase his attack power. So there is some potential there. I also find him interesting because he’s 40 years old, which is 256 is super-hero years. Add to this the fact that he’s managed to cheat death twice, and I think we may have a savvier character here than anyone realizes.

Slyde is currently part of the Initiative, and I think that’s perfect. Slyde should be part of a team. He knows his powers will always be somewhat limited, and he also knows that, as a forty year old man, even in great shape, he’s better off surrounding himself with testosterone infused young ‘uns, who can take the blows meant for him and cover his back. So, we have Slyde in an Initiative team, perhaps being presented in Marvel Comics Presents. It doesn’t really matter who else is on the team; we can tell Slyde’s story over the course of a year of stories about this Initiative team, weaving it in and around the stories’ of the other characters.

This Slyde is the original. After his first defeat by Spider-Man, he decided to get someone else to run around in the costume, and roped in his brother-in-law. After his brother-in-law got killed, Slyde realized that no one else would want to take on the Slyde identity unless it was shown that Slyde was a viable concept, so he went out to beat on Spider-Man. With that out of the way, he was able to sucker some other schmoe into the costume again, but this one got killed by Hammerhead. Well, now Slyde realizes he can’t keep relying on others, since they’re morons and don’t understand how best to utilize his abilities. He knows that, to achieve his goal, he’s going to have to do this himself.

Slyde’s main goal is to seize control of the company that fired him, which is what caused him to become Slyde in the first place. To achieve this goal, he’s going to need a lot of money, and it would be nice if the authorities weren’t hunting him. He’s tried to get two other numbskulls to use his suit as villains and steal some money for him, and that road has been a bust. Civil War gives him an idea for a new plan; he figures that working on the side of the authorities makes more sense, since this gives him amnesty and those aforementioned big strong guys to watch his back (and being heroes, they’re more likely to actually do that watching than the villains he’s worked with in the past).

So, while helping out his new team when they need it, Slyde is also figuring out crimes he can commit. He puts his chemical engineering skills to use and actually comes up with something useful; a chermical that dissolves anything inorganic that it touches, something like a super-acid. (We can’t have him dissolving organic things, as it wouldn’t be good if he started putting holes in super-heroes.) Making himself some rudimentary sprayers, he creates a new identity as Acid-Wash (hee-hee, that is such a stupid name; but this is the guy who thought Slyde would take the world by storm…obviously he can’t pick names) and goes out to start committing robberies to get money. He does pretty well with these robberies, partly because he knows where the local super-heroes are going to be and how to avoid them.

So, the reader is seeing this new villain committing crimes, but no one knows who he is. Perhaps he runs into two of his teammates during one crime, and manages to escape, but now his Initiative team has been tasked with hunting down and defeating this new criminal. The reader doesn’t know who Acid-Wash is (Bwah-ha-ha….sorry, I can’t help it, that name is horrible) and the Initiative is getting frustrated, since they never seem to be able to find him when the entire team is assembled. Perhaps Slyde gets someone to act as Acid-Wash, as he did with the Slyde identity, so that the team can fight him once or twice, and perhaps even defeat him. Then, when Acid-Wash is in jail, a few nights later, he’s spotted again. The mystery (for the reader) deepens.

After a few months of this, Slyde has enough money to mount a takeover of his former employers. He uses someone else as a front for the takeover, but once the takeover is complete, he can’t resist coming out and making it known that he now owns the company, and personally firing the ones responsible for his own ouster. However, it’s now known that he was the money behind the deal, and everyone wants to know where this money came from. Whoops. The mystery draws to a close as Slyde’s teammates begin to piece together the truth, and Slyde is forced into final battle with them, using the weapons of Acid-Wash and the costume of Slyde (which should actually make him relatively formidable). Even if he wins, he is now a criminal, but he’s achieved his goal of revenge against his former employer, and may sneak away until something would cause him to again become a costumed villain.

Ooh…I like that. It has a bit of the original Thunderbolts idea in it, but with a twist. However, Acid-Wash has to go! How about Acid Reign?

Yes, the name was horrible, although part of that thinking was that the guy named himself Slyde, so obviously he doesn’t have a lot of talent in the “Name a supercharacter” department. That being said, Acid Reign is a much better name. Maybe he got better after spending time in the initiative around those wonderfully named heroes like Yellowjacket, Justice, and, um, War Machine.

Or, you know, maybe not.

One-shot: The Aquarian


Seriously, I’m not just trying to get you back for the whole Ka-Zar thing. (Ok, just a little.) But seriously, there must be something about the Aquarian. See, one of my least favorite things in superhero comics are when one hundred powered people have the same ability. I know you’re going to have a lot of people with superhuman strength and limited invulnerability, but c’mon, there are a ton of powers that are repeated, and it tends to get a little old. I’m always on the look-out for someone with different powers. Well, different describes the Aquarian in almost every way.

He was first introduced as Wundarr, and encountered Ben Grimm, the Thing (as did so many people, thanks to his team up series Marvel Two-in-One). He went to Project: Pegasus, where, after a close encounter with the Cosmic Cube, he became the Aquarian. He has a null-field around his body, which drains the energy of anything that enters it. He can expand the null-field or contract it. After leaving Project: Pegasus, he has wandered the Marvel Universe, and has apparently started a cult, preaching a doctrine of love and understanding. With that in mind, is there anything that can be done with him? Thoughts?

Wundarr the Aquarian.gif

Oh, now that’s just evil. At least Ka-Zar has appeared in more than six issues over 40 years! Seriously? You want me to revamp an alien cult leader who looks like one of the Bee Gees? Wow…this is too easy.

The funny thing about Wundarr is his origin. Steve Gerber must’ve been having some fun when he created an alien child launched into space by his parents who thought that their world was going to die. The joke was on them when their prediction turned out to be false and they realized they sent their son off on a spaceship for no reason. But the Superman reference wasn’t enough for Mr. Gerber. He also had the boy’s ship pass through cosmic rays, a la the Fantastic Four, and (in addition to the powers John listed above) he was imbued with superior strength and the ability to leap large distances.

The funny thing is, even though Aquarian has battled Thing, Namor, Quasar, Man-Thing and a handful of other heroes, he isn’t a villain…he’s just misunderstood. But hey, why not take advantage of that? He’s already spent some time wandering the planet and trying to “enlighten” the human race. He served as the figurehead for a cult group called the Water Children. So let’s take it one step further.

Aquarian has gained an inordinate amount of knowledge from his brush with the Cosmic Cube. Perhaps he has learned that there are better ways to get his message out. He decides he can use the technology of our planet to reach a broader audience. He realizes the cult thing isn’t seen in a good light, but he knows that people love to watch television. So he becomes…a pitch man for infomercial products!


Imagine a clean-cut Aquarian in a Bill Cosby sweater exhorting the upside of a spray-on product that prevents dents in your car, or a pair of goofy gloves that will prevent electrocution, or a pocket gadget that will turn off all cell phones in the immediate area. The catch is, the products are all junk that only work because of Aquarian’s powers. He becomes a shyster. However, the knowledge he has gained allows him to speak to the audiences in a voice and a style that makes them believe everything he says. He’s smooth, he’s likable and he has an unusual presence.

Of course, eventually he has to get called out on his scams…that’s when he uses his powers to the best effect. He can nullify a bullet being fired at him. He can stop energy blasts. He can stop punches thrown at him. He can seriously come off looking like a victim…all of these powerful heroes trying to beat down this meek-looking man whose only fault was trying to sell some bogus knickknacks to the general public.

Aquarian could build an empire!

Curses! Foiled again! Although it seems we have the makings of a TV show here; I shoot you off into space, and you have to come up with revamps for obscure comics characters with the help of your robot friends!