The first round of Marvel NOW! frankly didn't reach very deep into the bench of Marvel characters. Though we have recently seen solo series featuring characters like Legion (<i>X-Men Legacy</i>, pictured) and teams led by characters like Valkyrie (<i>Fearless Defenders</i>), with the upcoming All-New Marvel NOW! initiative giving a fresh round of starts at Marvel Comics, we want to see some little-used characters thrown into the mix. <p>Sure, Blue Marvel is now in <i>Mighty Avengers</i>, and that's a great start. But won't somebody think of Rocket Racer? <p>Well, we will, and we'll get to that <i>other</i> Rocket, in this, our ten obscure Marvel characters we think should be thrust to the forefront of their own comic.
Despite having been hanging around the Marvel Universe for 45 years, Walter Newell has somehow remained a constant background character who guards things or holds down the fort when everyone else runs off to save the world. He's worked with the Defenders, the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, and yet never quite managed to become a fan-favorite. <p>Is it the costume? The codename? His constant need to hang around aquatic locations like Hydrobase? If the success of Aquaman in DC's New 52 shows anything, it's that readers are willing to embrace a hero who's all wet if handled properly, so why not finally give this character the respect and attention he's deserved for so long?
Another Marvel never-was, Torpedo isn't actually any one character, but more a costumed identity that's been passed amongst many in the character's all-too-brief history. <p>The Tornado outfit gives its wearer the ability to fly and increased punching powers (don't ask), and has been passed down from its inventor to a man called Brock Jones, who used it to fight not only crime but the Dire Wraith invasion beside Rom before his death, with the suit being shared afterwards by two friends calling themselves Turbo. <p>The tech is still out there in the Marvel Universe somewhere, and if nothing else, <em>someone</em> needs to resurrect the spectacular helmet Nova's has nothing on that one.
Former member of the Defenders <em>and</em> Wonder Man's misguided Revengers, the wonderfully-named Giffin Gogol offers the kind of quirky hero that Marvel used to throw at readers on a regular basis: A stand-up comedian whose powers were unlocked by hypnotherapy performed by aliens, he's invulnerable unless he's close to a naked flame. <p>While we've seen goofy Marvel characters brought down to grim and gritty Earth lately see Speedball-as-Penance, Rocket Raccoon as a Guardian of The Galaxy, and, well, Ultra becoming one of the Revengers surely there's room for a new Marvel title that doesn't just allow its hero to be silly, but embraces the silliness?
Genuinely obscure, I'm not even sure that the Cherubim have ever actually appeared in a Marvel Comic in the US outside of reprints of the 1980s <em>Captain Britain</em> title. They were "warpies," babies born mutated because of the reality-altering "Jaspers Warp" at the heart of Alan Moore and Alan Davis' <em>Captain Britain</em> run, who teamed up after being abandoned by their parents. <p>Imagine Brian K. Vaughan's <em>Runaways</em>, but two decades earlier and with uglier teenagers, and you've got a good idea of the appeal behind the characters. Bring the characters to America and you have a dual "strangers in a new land" and "mutated children that not even their mothers could love" high concept. Who wouldn't want to read that?
Let's be honest: Nothing says "Marvel NOW!" more than a guy with a rocket-powered skateboard, right? Right? <p>OK, so maybe Robert Farrell has long been considered a joke by most Marvel fans, but considering Marvel's tradition of hard-luck heroes and characters relying on high-tech to build themselves a future, who says that there can't be a great series about a washed-up former superhero who's more of a joke to his peers than anything else trying to start over and rebuild his reputation through smarts and determination? It worked for Grant Morrison's <em>Animal Man</em> back in the day, after all.
Another example of a character that's always the superheroic bridesmaid and never the bride (always the sidekick, never the lead, perhaps?), Nighthawk has long been a mainstay of the Marvel Universe, acting as the backbone of various incarnations of the Defenders and even getting a short-lived mini at the end of the last century. <p>But, <em>Squadron Supreme</em> incarnation aside, he's rarely been treated as much more than a footnote in the Marvel annals despite his long service. These days, he's busy training his own replacement after the events of the <em>Last Defenders</em> mini, which suggests a potentially awesome "what could bring this hero out of retirement" story arc to launch an ongoing series and redefine the character. With Hyperion now on the Avengers, and his connection to the Sons of the Serpent (a recent <i>Daredevil</i> storyline inhabitant), it seems like the time is right to give Nighthawk - <i>any</i> Nighthawk - a fresh start.
Speaking of long-standing supporting characters who have long deserved star-status, it's kind of surprising that no-one has yet taken the chance to try and build a solo series around Cannonball's space-faring, teleporting rockstar girlfriend. After all, she's a <em>space-faring, teleporting rockstar</em>. If that doesn't suggest countless story opportunities, then what does? <p>With All-New Marvel NOW! heralding a new emphasis for the publisher to push female-centric books like <i>Black Widow</i>, the <i>Captain Marvel</i> relaunch, and <i>She-Hulk</i>, perhaps this is time for Marvel to realize what potential they have on their hands with Ms. Cheney, and spin her off into her own series.
Poor Sharon Ventura: Despite her time as a member of the Fantastic Four as the original female Thing (And, unlike <em>FF</em>'s upcoming Miss Thing, she didn't require a special exoskeleton to achieve the look), she seems to be even less than a footnote in the history of the team, and the Marvel Universe in general. <p>Perhaps that's better than the alternative, considering that Sharon went from literal man-hating feminist to insane, deformed monster in her time with Marvel's First Family. Alongside Carol Danvers, it's tempting to call Sharon Marvel's most put-upon female character, but like Carol, she's also one of Marvel's most resilient survivors, and it's that quality that I'd love to see explored: If she could survive both her mind and her body being taken advantage of and transformed without her consent, surely she could take anything and everything else life throws at her in her stride, right?
With Alpha Flight apparently no longer a going concern, judging by Puck's appearance in <em>Uncanny X-Force</em>, perhaps it's time to start looking for other breakout characters from the team. <p>Northstar, of course, has already decamped to the X-Men, but what about the gentle giant who takes the Hulk formula and makes it far less scary... and far more hairy? Dr. Walter Langowski has the gentle demeanor and amazing strength to head into the mainstream as well as the long-standing risk of losing control should he rely on his powers too much. <p>With that kind of ticking time-bomb set-up providing all manner of possibilities for classic Marvel "power/responsibility" riffs and the visuals of a giant monster saving the day as people run in terror, who says this couldn't be the monster book you've been waiting for in Mighty Marvel Manner?
OK, sure: Luke Cage is in no way obscure these days. He's been the leader of his own Avengers team for years, and has been active in both the New Avengers and the Thunderbolts since the end of <em>Siege</em>. He's now operating as the behind-the-scenes leader of the <i>Mighty Avengers</i>, a team he was forced to bring together due to the Avengers absence during <i>Infinity</i>. <p>And yet, he's not carried his own mainstream solo title since the 1990s <em>Cage</em> series (or at all since Brian Azzarello and Richard Corben's <Em>Cage</em> a decade ago). Considering that Cage has been one of true breakout stars of Marvel's line over the last decade, that seems difficult to believe, but with the character apparently leaving the Avengers in Brian Michael Bendis' final issues on the title, it frees up his time to go off and have his own adventures in his own book... Hopefully.