After Marvel announced the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, its comics division kicked into high gear to revive that comic series and stir up other stars to join in this constellation. Marvel’s cosmic titles, once as cold and vacant as space itself, are now back and busier than ever with seven ongoing seriesand three more announced – overtaking Marvel’s Spidey titles in terms of depth and even vying for the multi-title extravaganza that is the X-Men titles. But could it get bigger? Sure it could.
With that in mind, here’s six top prospects that Marvel might be considering to be its next cosmic title. If you think some are inconceivable, ask yourself this: five years ago did you think Guardians of the Galaxy would be what it is today?
The Sh’iar Imperial Guard
Their name might need some work for a series title, but the Shi’ar Empire’s Imperial Guard are like an exotic Legion of Super-Heroes with a sometimes despotic twist. Lead off by the Mohawk-wearing, warrior-turned-Emperor Gladiator, this classic Chris Claremont/ Dave Cockrum creation is chock full of potential and seemingly waiting only for the right writer and the right window of opportunity. During Infinity, Jonathan Hickman expressed interest in doing a spin-off series for these elite Shi’ar commandos and he’s already done much with the inclusion of Smasher in the Avengers to add nuance to guard’s recruitment.
In the past 18 months, Marvel has done much to expand on the framework of its cosmic landscape with the Infinity and Brian Michael Bendis’ writing of the Galactic Council in Guardians of the Galaxy, so it’s easy to see how those could all work as stepping stones to lead to an Imperial Guard series. Even if they have to bring in a more familiar character ala Iron Man in the first Guardians of the Galaxy arc to act as a gateway character for the series, it could work; imagine a Last Starfighter-esque recruitment for a young teenager from Earth (now that Earthers are allowed thanks to recent Avengers stories), factoring into an intergalactic story and perhaps even some over-arching empire building ala Hickman’s earlier Image work.
Marvel has already spun off two of the Guardians of the Galaxy into solo books (Rocket and Star-Lord), so why not a third? Gamora has many facets that could be explored and exploited for a convincing solo serial, taking cues from her comics past as well as the movie’s interesting relationship with Nebula. But the core of it could be the modern effects of being raised as a daughter/assassin by Thanos. While Black Widow has that enticing idea of trying to make up for all the “red” on her ledger, Gamora’s ledger would arguably be black with all the deeds associated with her time with Thanos and trying to make up for her stolen childhood.
Adam Warlock has been conspicuously absent in this recent rise of cosmic books, as if Marvel’s clearing the table for a second helping of the man once known as Him. He’s shown up briefly in Jim Starlin’s recent Infinity sequels and has been teased in Marvel movies, but now seems the right time for a creative team to take the interesting history of Warlock and present it in a new and evocative way.
From his origins of being an genetically engineered “perfect human” to his tenures in space and his dark side of Magus, Adam Warlock has a history that’s practically over-filled with material for a new series. A new series shouldn’t dwell on the old, but create new stories that can take advantage of the past to create a new future.
Think about this – a man created to be perfect trying to fight his fate as becoming a dark tyrant. Sounds like promise, huh?
Abigail Brand, Agent of S.W.O.R.D.
With Nick Fury’s dark deeds as the “Man on the Wall” being revealed in Original Sin, we can’t be the only ones to ask what Abigail Brand and S.W.O.R.D. would think about this. Created by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday in Astonishing X-Men back in 2004, Brand’s job is much the same as the “Man on the Wall” – except without the cold-hearted maliciousness Fury has shown. In 2009 Marvel launched a short-lived S.W.O.R.D. series with Brand, but it was ill-timed and cut short due to low sales. Now, with the cosmic corner of the Marvel U in full bloom and Whedon riding high with the Avengers movie franchise, just imagine the possibilities of a Brand/S.W.O.R.D. series in 2014.
It’s nigh-inconceivable that Whedon would return to write Brand, but Marvel is fortunate to have a bumper crop of talented writers in their company and available elsewhere to loop in to spearhead this sort of title. Imagine Brand’s story looping into the aftermath of Original Sin, and trying to mop up the damage Fury made and try to rehabilitate the image of Earth to the universe at large.
And oh yeah. Aliens.
Laugh all you want, but beneath the cheesy veneer of a patriotic space trucker there’s the unrealized potential of, well, a patriotic space trucker.
Created back in 1983 as a tie-in to a short-lived toy line, Ulysses Stone Archer – U.S. Archer for short – is owned by Marvel outright but has in many ways been seen as nothing more than a joke. But this cosmic convoyman has some unseen positives, and could show a working man’s view of Marvel’s cosmic frontier. He already knows Rocket Raccoon.
If you’re still not convinced, maybe this’ll help; Jason Aaron has talked on several occasions about his fascinations with the character, so imagine the Alabama-born writer bringing some of his Southern Bastards magic into the cosmic side of things at Marvel as a man, a rocket-powered 18 wheeler, and a cybernetic brain.
They were seemingly killed off in the onset of Infinity, but they’ve come back from worse. Cyborg warriors from another world created to save their race from a bloodthirsty offshoot race from the Skrulls known as the Dire Wraiths – what’s not to like? Sure you may need to put a face to these metal-skinned soldiers, but it could take advantage of the cult popularity of the first Spaceknight, Rom, and jump into something new.
Originally created in the story Bill Mantlo developed in the licensed series Rom: Spaceknight, the Spaceknights were original and therefore remained property by Marvel despite Rom itself being pulled back by the toy company. Marvel have danced around the issue of Rom on several occasions, featuring him in all but his name, and perhaps a well-rounded writer could take advantage of that as part of a larger mystery of the series.
And who knows, perhaps Marvel could buy Rom outright? It’s not like they haven’t bought characters before, such as Neil Gaiman's Angela. And look how she’s doing.