Nearly two years ago today, Marvel Comics announced its initiative to be more progressive in its comic book lineup. Surprisingly they have stuck with said initiative and it has paid off for them immensely in sales, mainstream interest and general good press. Many of the editorial decisions The House of Ideas have made are commendable.
From introducing Miles Morales, a female Thor, the new Ms. Marvel, to the all female X-Men team, Mighty Avengers, to Storm finally getting her long overdue ongoing solo series, Marvel is renewing its commitment to meet the diverse demographic of its readers. It was this type of initiative that translated into Marvel’s success in the past.
With that being said Marvel has often committed the Cardinal Sin of either shelving or misusing some excellent characters who would definitely result in profitable returns. This might be shocking news for some at Marvel but they do have characters other than Wolverine. Characters, who if given the right opportunity have crossover and mainstream appeal that would result in elevating Marvel’s success to the next level.
The following are five excellent examples of said characters.
Monica Rambeau. Monica, Captain Marvel, Photon, Pulsar, Spectrum — a phenomenal heroine by any other name. In terms of new characters to add to Marvel’s Cinematic Avengers roster, Rambeau should definitely be on the shortlist for serious consideration.
Her abilities to manipulate light would be a welcome addition and would certainly compliment the existing power-sets. More than that, as a woman of color, she would definitely be a godsend for the roster’s demographics. Given her legacy in comics, it’s only fitting.
Rambeau is the first African-American heroine to join the Avengers, and she eventually replaced Wasp as leader of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. She’s currently co-leader of Mighty Avengers. She also played central roles in NEXTWAVE and even the Sex and The City spoof, Marvel Divas. This is definitely a player who is more than ready for the big leagues and the big screen.
Misty Knight & Colleen Wing. These two should’ve received a major push ages ago, especially with the momentum brought by the Samurai Bullets miniseries. Hopefully with fellow Hero For Hire Luke Cage (FINALLY) getting his own series on Netflix, this could lead to a Daughters of the Dragon spinoff. But why wait for a spinoff? Samurai Bullets is a well layered tongue-in-cheek action comedy that would certainly translate as a self-contained animated feature film adaptation.
Freedom Ring. This fledgling hero first appeared in Robert Kirkman’s (yes, as in The Walking Dead creator) Master of the Ring five-part story arc in Marvel Team Up back in 2006. Freedom Ring’s alter ego was Curtis Doyle, a mild mannered and well adjusted college student who gained a bit of the cosmic cube in the form of a ring.
If ever there was a hero who could carry his own series, it was Doyle. He was a fresh character whose leading star qualities shined. More than that, he was essentially positioned to be Marvel’s answer to the Green Lantern. His connection to the Cosmic Cube could easily lead to him appearing in an Avengers and/or Guardians of the Galaxy sequel. At the time of his debut, he was being advertised by Marvel as a new progressive kind of hero.
Unfortunately, in the ultimate bait and switch, Freedom Ring was not only killed off in the miniseries but he was the victim of one of the most infamous fridgings in comic book history.
Rebooting Freedom Ring would do three things:
1.) It would allow Marvel to capitalize on the Green Lantern market which DC has frequently dropped the ball (two animated flops and the live action Ryan Reynolds fiasco). Marvel out DC-ing DC would be the ultimate win for too many reasons to list.
2.) Marketed and produced properly, Freedom Ring could translate into sales, interest, and positive press as it did for Kevin Keller and Batwoman. A black Captain America, a female Thor, this would simply be a continuation of Marvel’s current direction.
3.) Marvel would be righting a most egregious wrong. That alone would earn Marvel excellent press from a PR standpoint and righting wrongs is what heroes do.
Storm. During the ’80s and ’90s, the X-Men experienced unprecedented popularity and success that’s still surreal to recall. If the comic had an “X” attached to the title, it was probably going to be a hit by affiliation. However, shortly after the turn of the century, said popularity and success began to wane; hackneyed storylines, sidelining of vital characters like Storm, the overuse of Wolverine. In fact, the concept of Wolverine and the X-Men is one of the root problems with the comic and the films. The X-Men’s roster has always been comprised of far more complex and interesting characters than Weapon X himself, yet he’s the one with two dozen comic book series. When executed properly, Wolverine is an excellent character but too often he’s pushed as a Mary Sue.
To Marvel’s credit, they seem to be recognizing their epic fails by featuring Storm in the X-Men storylines and finally giving her an ongoing solo series. It’s an excellent start in the right direction. But by no means is this enough. The truth is that Storm should have long been given the comic series and the spinoff films that Wolverine received. After all, they are both flagship icons of the House of Ideas.
It should be noted that Storm is one of the few (possibly the only) heroes to serve on the X-Men, the Avengers, and the Fantastic Four. She defeated Wonder Woman in the DC/Marvel crossover and in one alternate reality she was Wonder Woman. With X-Men being an allegory to the Civil Rights movement, Storm, a woman of color, embodies the spirit of X-Men much in the way Wonder Woman has come to personify feminism or the Oracle has become a champion for people with disabilities. It’s that same spirit which made X-Men a bestseller to begin with.
As someone else stated, Storm was designated that codename because that’s exactly how she took the world.