Over the weekend, Marvel Comics teased “the future of Marvel Comics” with a silhouetted image of a figure holding up a sword.
That distinct silhouette (while still officially unidentified) points to a specific figure in Marvel lore – Teddy Altman, a.k.a. Hulkling of the Young and New Avengers.
Specifically, that figure looks a lot like Hulking’s semi-armored battle form holding the sword he obtained in 2015’s “All-New, All Different” volume of New Avengers.
And then there’s the kicker – the caption on the teaser, which reads “One will unite them!”
But who are “they?” And what does Hulkling – and his sword – have to do with that? We've got that figured out as well.
Young Avengers: First Class
First, we’ll need a quick history lesson on Hulkling and his place in the Marvel Universe. Teddy Altman was one of the original Young Avengers – a team of teen heroes who took on identities which paid homage to classic Avengers following the team’s disbanding in the wake of “Avengers: Disassembled.”
With shapeshifting powers that gave him super strength and revealed his true green-skinned form, Teddy took on the name Hulkling, with the obvious Avengers connotation. Alongside his boyfriend Billy Kaplan (Asgardian/Wiccan), the pair helped found the team, which lasted long after the return of their adult counterparts.
But as revealed in the course of an early Young Avengers adventure, Billy isn’t just a mutant shapeshifter – he’s something much more. In fact, he’s the son and heir of both the Kree warrior Mar-Vell and the Skrull princess Anelle, who had a secret tryst while Mar-Vell was a Skrull captive.
As a result of his heritage, Teddy is believed by the Skrulls to be destined to unite the various factions of the Skrull empire and defeat the Kree forever – while the Kree see him as the next incarnation of their great warrior.
Though Teddy managed to avoid capture by either the Kree or the Skrulls (thanks in part to a conniving Super Skrull), his involvement with the empires of his star-crossed parents didn’t end there.
Young New Avengers
After joining a new Avengers squad led by former New Mutant Sunspot in 2015, Teddy was drawn back into the ages-old Kree/Skrull War by a group of Kree/Skrull hybrids like himself who believe Teddy will unite the two empires.
The hybrid warriors called themselves the Knights of the Infinite, serving as the guardians of a sword known as ‘Excelsior’ which was once wielded by the ancient Kree/Skrull hybrid known as Dorrek Supreme – and which his descendant, Teddy, is fated to wield as King of Space, uniting the Kree and Skrull as one by his rule. (And yes, Hulkling did draw ‘Excelsior’ from a stone to prove his worth.)
Though Teddy was able to wield Excelsior, defeating a cosmic evil that plagued the Knights of Infnity’s castle, he returned to Earth – vowing to one day return and fulfill his destiny.
King of Space
Most recently, Teddy and Billy have appeared in Marvel’s current Death’s Head limited series, in which the pair have run afoul of the bounty hunting robot after Billy secretly kept another Death’s Head model hidden in their apartment.
You know, Young Avengers stuff.
So far, Excelsior, the Knights of Infinity, and the Kree/Skrull War haven’t appeared into Death’s Head - but if this teaser is showing what it seems to be showing, that limited series could lead to something much bigger.
So if Teddy/Hulking holding aloft the sword Excelsior is in fact the silhouetted figure shown in the teaser, that means that the "them" to be "united" would presumably the Kree and Skrull.
And in Marvel Comics lore, that could be a pretty big deal.
Of course the likelihood is that Teddy, a longtime hero and Avenger, would use the combined might of his new empire for good. But the Kree and Skrull, as much as they've been at each others' throats for generations, have rarely been anything but hostile to Earth, let alone to other galactic civilizations.
Will Hulkling be crowned King of Space - and if so, what will that mean? It could certainly fit the bill of "shaping the future of the Marvel Universe" - or at least the galaxy.