Saturday, February 28, 2015

Marvel Migration - Part 1

Marvel is supposed to be set in our world. While the events of DC Comics occur in fictional locales like Metropolis or Gotham, Marvel stories primarily take place in New York City. Because the Marvel offices were located in New York, Stan Lee decided it would be convenient to have all of his heroes live in the city he knows best. Consequently, fifty years later, 95% of superheroes, supervillains, and superhuman events are concentrated in New York City. For those of us in the rest of the world, this can seem a little unfair. If this continues, Marvel will have to schedule an event to explain why New York City is a magnet for supernatural events.

Marvel has announced that, following the upcoming Secret Wars event, the old Marvel universe will be gone and replaced with something new. At this time, its unclear what that means and the comic community is just hoping its planned better than the New 52. However, my hope is that they make an attempt to diversify their lineup by expanding into new areas of the country and the world at large. Personally, I've never been to New York City, but I'm already sick of it from comics and television. I'd love to read more stories that take place in diverse environments.

So I propose a Marvel Migration, a publishing initiative designed to connect with a wider world by moving their star characters outward. Imagine how much Chicago or Seattle or Las Vegas would appreciate their own local heroes. You could create direct marketing campaigns in each region, but the challenge is choosing the right hero for the right town.

NOTE: I left out some popular heroes for good reason Spider-Man and Daredevil are perfectly suited to New York City, Hulk and Namor are perpetual wanderers, and Avengers can gather anywhere they want. 

The Solo Heroes

Captain America - Washington, DC

This one is pretty obvious. Although Cap is from New York, he represents America and he should operate from our nation's capital. This would surround him by politics and the intelligence community. Whether its Steve, Sam, Bucky, or any combination of the three, it'd make us all feel safer knowing that Captain America is protecting our nation's capital. 

Iron Man - Detroit, MI

Why would America's richest man go to its poorest major city? To buy it.

Imagine if Tony Stark bought every piece of land he possibly could in Detroit and vowed to transform our nation's poorest city into the world's leader of industry. Now, can he do it?

With the help of Pepper Potts, James Rhodes, Bambi Arbogast, and all of his best and brightest, Tony micromanages his new city with the goal of creating a lasting utopia and an example to the world. As if that weren't difficult enough, his greatest enemies are determined to do everything possible to see that he fails.

Strangely, Wolverine is on a lot of Bulls merchandise.

Wolverine - Chicago, IL

While Logan fits in well both in New York and San Francisco, I think it would be fun to see him with his own city to protect, and I can think of no place better than Chicago. Its associations with organized crime, proximity with Canada, and population of angry hairy men make it the perfect fit.

Joined by his best sidekick and Chicago native, Kitty Pryde, Logan discovers evidence that the Weapon Plus program has reopened in the windy city and is selling "custom-made" superhumans for unique clientele through the black market. While Logan and Kitty can hurt their operation badly, the situation is rapidly spiraling out of control toward superhuman gang war.

Doctor Strange - Boston, MA

Doctor Strange is the perfect image of the mid-Atlantic New England sophisticate and there is no major city that fits that image better than historic Boston. The old world architecture lends an air of mystery and the rich (often violent) history of the town could serve as the basis for ghosts, witches, and demonic rituals.

I'd love to see a series where Doctor Strange really lives up to his names, so I'd create a story about a curse that affects the citizens in unique and unusual ways. Doctor Strange arrives to quarantine the area, treat the victims, and eliminate the disease. However, he soon realizes that there is a method to this madness and he needs to figure out what malevolent force is behind this before he loses the battle.

Thor - Seattle, WA

When it came to Thor, I immediately thought of the rainy city. Its like a halfway point between viking fishing villages and the splendorous spires of Asgard.

I imagine yet another reintroduction of Don Blake. Much like Watson in the BBC's Sherlock, Don Blake would be a military doctor who has returned from the Middle East with PTSD. He's opening up a new practice, but he's haunted by images of war, particularly the near death experience that injured his leg and requires him to walk with a cane. As his delusions become more realistic, he sees images of Loki and dreams that he is Thor, god of thunder. The memories of his battles on Earth and his battles on Asgard become inseparable. Eventually, he finds Mjolnir, disguised as a humble stick, and transforms into Thor, but he cannot return to Asgard and has no memory of its fate.

Dazzler - Las Vegas, NV

The mutant Dazzler is a successful pop singer and mutant who transforms sound into light. She practically is Las Vegas.

If Celine Deon can have her own stadium built in Vegas, Dazzler could easily become the regular act at a 5-star casino. Since she's a known superhero, its great publicity for the casino in two ways. Of course, once one casino gets a superhero, then the other casinos will want one. Soon, Daimon Hellstrom is performing stage magic down the block, a new Mr. Fixit is playing across town, and more are sure to follow. Pretty soon the town is overloaded with two bit heroes and villains, all of whom are trying to make a quick buck in the glamorous world of Sin City.

Nova - Miami, FL

For America's biggest party town, we need a young and energetic hero. When you include the amusement parks of Orlando, the space program at Cape Canaveral, and just the general inbred weirdness of the rest of the alligator-infested state of Florida, it is a perfect location for an off-beat hero like Nova.

Since Marvel's always looking to diversify racially, the largely Cuban population of Miami would create an interesting environment for the half-Mexican, Sam Alexander, the current Nova. This might just be the perfect place for him to go to college.

Ghost Rider - Phoenix, AZ

Like Hulk before him, Marvel's demonic biker belongs in the deserts of the American southwest. The imagery of biker culture is closely tied to the region, so it would strengthen the imagery (as demonstrated in the best moment from this awful film).

Arizona is also the site of a lot of discriminatory legislation and hostility regarding the Mexican immigrant population. This could be the basis for great storytelling with a message. Not to mention that the long highways of the national border are great for showing chases featuring illegal immigrants, border patrol, minutemen, and drug smugglers.

The Teams

X-Men - San Francisco, CA

Following the Decimation event when the population of mutants was temporarily reduced, the X-Men briefly relocated to San Francisco. And I loved it.

While the X-Men were constantly discriminated against in New York, San Francisco has a history of embracing diversity with open arms. This changed the dynamic of the X-Men drastically. Suddenly, they were working with their community against threats from the outside. They could still face broad discrimination outside of the city, but inside San Francisco, they were home.

Unfortunately, this lasted only about a year, but I'd love to see them return. The last time the X-Men were in town, San Francisco faced riots, military law, and invasion by Sentinels, so they might be a bit more hesitant about having them back. Then again, there are probably a lot of people in San Francisco who appreciate that kind of chaos. This is a home for those who are feared and different, and the X-Men have always seemed most at home when they are there.

I'm sorry, but when I searched "Fantastic Four"
and "Texas," this is the best that I got.

Fantastic Four - Austin, TX

When it came to the Fantastic Four, there were a lot of choices. Little known fact, the team first debuted in the fictional city of Central City, which was mapped at Stockton, CA. I thought their celebrity might be ideal in Los Angeles, then the space program in Houston came to mind. Whenever I think of Texas, I think of the strange liberal bastion of Austin, known for being the antithesis of the largely conservative state. What better place for a post-nuclear family?

Reed Richards purchases a closed NASA facility just outside the city borders and starts retrofitting it as the new headquarters for Fantastic Four Inc., an exploratory and development company. Sue manages the book, Ben is in charge of security, and Johnny lives rent free, as always. Of course, their insatiable curiosity and colorful past has a way of bringing the adventures to them, even though they spend most of their time exploring the universe, as always.

New Warriors - San Diego, CA

As for Marvel's classic junior superhero team, San Diego is a great city for exploring adolescence, and as the home of Comic Con International, it just makes sense to stake a claim to it.

With youth teams, the first thing you have to ask is "Do they have a mentor?" An adult-sanctioned team like the original X-Men or New Mutants has a bit more legitimacy, but lacks the autonomy of an independent group. Since Runaways and Young Avengers have the independent youth team covered, I'd recommend the more traditional route.

I could see orphan and perennial sidekick Rick Jones volunteering to mentor a group of teenage superhumans with ambitions of being a hero. Jones might even choose San Diego because of the relatively low incidents of superhuman crime, but little does he know that a low-level crime boss had the same idea.

Next in Part 2!

We continue with teams, both national and international. No "Avengers West Coast." These are distinct teams with their own brands (even if I borrowed the name from some defunct titles).

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