Monday, August 22, 2011

PULPTACULAR | 10 Marvel Pulps We'd Love to See

As DC's New 52 comes closer to reality, it's got me thinking about what if Marvel did the same thing. Actually, though I wish I'd thought of this myself, it was Comics Should Be Good that came up with the idea of developing your own Marvel 52. That's a project I'm tackling at my personal blog, but as I started in on it, I realized that there are a lot of great, pulp concepts that Marvel's had over the years and I'd love to see more of. Or straight-up superheroes that would work great in a pulp setting: Westerns, jungle adventures, heroic pulp, spies, space opera...

Here are ten pulp titles that I'd love to see Marvel do; not necessarily as part of a company-wide relaunch, but just because they'd be great series. This is just fantasizing about what I'd love to see without considering things like sales or the chances of Alan Moore's ever working for Marvel again. I'd love to hear your Marvel pulp dreams in the comments.

1. Gamora by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Sam Hiti

Gamora's got a lot of history in Marvel's cosmic comics, but the focus on this would be her traveling the universe as an intergalactic bounty hunter. Gamora's extremely hard to kill and has a wicked sense of humor. Kelly Sue DeConnick (OsbornSupergirl) can deliver the goods on funny (and excitement) while Sam Hiti (Tiempos Finales, Death-Day) knows everything about drawing beautiful women and exotic, alien landscapes.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy by Roger Langridge and Shaun Tan

As fun as a Gamora solo-title would be, we also need a book that can capture the rest of Marvel's cosmic characters like Silver Surfer, Thanos, and Rocket Raccoon. Roger Langridge (Thor: The Mighty Avenger, Snarked!) has the imagination to make that incredible, while Shaun Tan (The Arrival, Tales from Outer Suburbia) has the ability to mix the real and the odd in a unique, believable way. He's not known for action sequences, so I'd be interested to see how he tackled that, but I can already imagine his depiction of the arrival of Galactus, and it's mind-blowing.

3. Sabra by Carla Jablonsky and Laurenn McCubbin

Sabra isn't a well-known character, but I've been fascinated by her since I first saw her in The Incredible Hulk #256. Maybe because she took her Israeli heritage so seriously, yet didn't seem to have been created specifically to fill a slot as Israel's Superhero for Contest of Champions or something. She eventually became just another of the many, international mutants running around the X-Men's corner of the Marvel Universe, but I've always thought she was better than that. I'd love to see her in a series that focused on the issues of the Middle East in a thoughtful, objective way. Not that Sabra herself should be objective about them, but that the series could explore the region and its history in a way that educates as well as entertains. Carla Jablonsky's done something similar with WWII Occupied France in her Resistance series, so I picked her to write.  Laurenn McCubbin has a great, realistic style that would complement that kind of story beautifully.

4. Black Widow by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Amanda Conner

This is the second book I'd give Kelly Sue DeConnick. I promise that I haven't purposely matched up women creators with women characters, but it worked out that way in DeConnick's case. I'd love to see her write Black Widow. As for Amanda Conner: I love seeing anything she draws, but one look at her variant cover from Secret Avengers #6 above and you'll get why I want her on a Black Widow comic so badly. This would be straight-up spy stuff; maybe with an occasional guest-appearance by other Marvel characters, but focused on espionage.

5. Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD by James Turner and Luc Jacamon

If you've read James Turner's Rex Libris or Warlord of IO (and you should; they're both great pulp), you know how insanely, awesomely inventive he is. Just the guy to put the "super" back into super spy. And Luc Jacamon (The Killer) knows all about drawing deadly people in diverse settings, both urban and exotic.

6. Mystery Men by Susan Kim and Guy Davis

Let's pretend that David Liss and Patrick Zircher aren't available to continue the excellent series they created at Marvel. If that were the case, I'd give the '30s-set heroic pulp to Susan Kim, who did a great job with her adventurous City of Spies set in a similar time period. I'm also aching to see Guy Davis do some more stuff like he did on Sandman Mystery Theatre, so he has to draw it.

7. Tigra by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, and Kerry Callen

The inspiration for this book is two-fold. First, I wanted a jungle comic and Tigra would work great in that setting. She wouldn't have to stay only in that setting, but it would be a great homebase for her. The second inspiration was this description by Kerry Callen of what he wanted in a Tigra series: "a fun-loving character whose cat-like curiosity gets her into interesting predicaments." Pak and Van Lente would be perfect for that and one look at Callen's blog tells you that he's the only guy for the visual part of the job.

8. The Savage Land by Joshua Fialkov and Jeremy Bastian

It's another jungle comic, but this one's different from Tigra. Her comic would be much more versatile with lots of guest-stars from other Marvel characters. The Savage Land of course would be set exclusively in the prehistoric world beneath Antarctica. At first I thought I'd call it Ka-Zar and Shanna, but then I remembered the temptation writers have to take those two out of the Savage Land and have them interact with the rest of the Marvel Universe. Renaming it The Savage Land (which is a much cooler title anyway) removes that temptation.There's a whole world to explore there and as long as I'm fantasizing about my dream comics (as opposed to worrying about sales), I want to keep these characters out of the rest of the Marvel Universe. I don't care if other Marvel characters stop by for a visit, but I want the setting to stay consistent.

Josh Fialkov (Elk's Run, Tumor) does really well with setting and small casts of characters, so I pick him to write. Jeremy Bastian (Cursed Pirate Girl) draws lavishly and I'd love to see the creatures and landscapes he could fill the Savage Land with.

9. The Rangers by Alan Moore and J Bone

Based on another group of characters I once read about in The Incredible Hulk (#265 this time). The Rangers were a goofy team created by Bill Mantlo, but I liked their modern-Western concept and the sheer zaniness of it would be a great playground for Alan Moore. The team included Firebird (probably the most famous character to come out of the team) as well as modern versions of Red Wolf and the original Ghost Rider (renamed Phantom Rider to avoid confusion) and a couple of very Mantlo characters: Shooting Star (her gun shoots stars!) and Texas Twister (tornado powers). In keeping with making the series fun and versatile, J Bone can draw absolutely anything and make it look wonderful.

10. Gunslingers by John Ostrander and Leonardo Manco

Counterpoint to The Rangers, this would be a real Western set in the late 1800s. Really it's just a continuation of Ostrander and Manco's two mini-series, Blaze of Glory and Apache Skies in which they updated Marvel's classic, Western heroes for modern fans of the genre.

So that's ten Marvel pulps I'd love to see. Tell me yours in the comments! 

This was more or less cross-posted - after considerable editing - from my blog.


  1. As Kid Colt Outlaw was the very first comic book I was ever given (thanks Dad), I'd love to see it come back as a regular series. Written by...well, me of course, and art by Rob Davis. That would be a dream come true for this lifelong comic fan.
    And western pulps are just too few and far in between.

  2. 8. The Savage Land. Ka zar started out in the pulps and it has been interesting to watch Marvel sort of take him back there recently, but it would be a lot more fun to have an on-going series that was rooted in the Savage Land that swapped-out characters based on the stories being told. That would be a lot of fun and open the way for a lot of fresh takes and some intriguing exploration of this place.

    Those Westerns you mentioned at 10. are really good--and I'd love to see Kid Colt, Two Gun Kid, Johnny Ringo, and anyone else they can scare up or rustle out of some two-bit cow-town bar in order to do some more stories.

    One addition I'd make would be to take Doctor Strange back to his roots, and then back a bit farther and really go pulp with the character. Doctor strange should have quite a serious repertoire of abilities from his time in the East, not jsut a few measly spells--think of The Shadow and Green Lama--that could get really intense and intriguing, if handled right.

    I'd also like to see Namor approached from a more pulp-like perspective. He's an adventurer into the surface world from Atlantis, a sort of reverse Allen Quartermain in some respects. You could do some seriously cool pulp adventures with Young Namor, curmudgeonly old Namor, or even the grand-daughter of Namor and it could be cool...with the right writer on-board.

    As an aside, isn't it odd how much stuff didn't make it into the new 52 over at DC?

  3. Blaze of Glory is one of the best comics no one has ever read and any chance to build a new Ostrander/Manco western series would be great.

    I like The Savage Land as a concept (especially connecting the two Ka-Zars together), but I don't know if Fialkov, a writer with darker inclinations, is the right choice for it.

  4. those who know me would call it bias, but I think that few Marvel characters fit the pulp mold more than Moon Knight. His soldier-of-fortune background, his mystical wanderings, his multiple guises, all position him squarely in the pulp genre. It would be quite fantastic, I feel. Of course, i'd feel obliged to write it, but if that weren't allowed, I'd say maybe a Fred van Lente might be interesting. As far as I'm concerned, there is only ONE artists for the job of Moon Knight and that is Tommy Lee Edwards.

    As someone mentioned Namor, I think seeing him as an analogue of Quartermain is genius, and one I've never quite thought of. I've always pictured him more as another pulp hero, a Tarzan like character (in my mind he'd use tactics of those creatures he swam with as well as fashion armour and weapons from them as well) with Attuma a major foil for him a bit like Conan.

  5. Moon Knight, for sure. I'd like to see him in some depression-era globe-trotting adventures, though. Written by (if I'm disqualified) Doug Moench. :-)

    Luke Cage/Power Man might fit quite well in a pulp-type continuity, as well.

    What about Giant Man/Yellowjacket/Henry Pym as a detective, who just happens to be able to shrink or grow when the situation dictates?


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