Wednesday, September 1, 2010

MC2: The End...For Now! Part 3

On Monday I briefly listed the MC2 titles which supplemented Spider-Girl; here are some additional details.

Joining Spider-Girl at launch was J2 by Tom DeFalco & Ron Lim; it ran 12 issues. J2 was the son of the Juggernaut, a long-time super villain who had reformed but mysteriously disappeared. When Juggernaut's half-Asian teenage son Zane Yama discovers he's inherited his father's power he decides to become a super hero, but is frequently mistaken for a villain because of his father's lingering reputation. J2 was primarily played for laughs, such as in the issue where Howard the Duck teaches J2 the martial arts. It also featured the debut of Wild Thing, of whom more will be said below.

The third launch title was A-Next, the next generation of the Avengers! Written for all 12 issues by DeFalco and drawn by Ron Frenz, it featured J2, Stinger (Ant-Man's daughter), Thunderstrike (son of the original Thunderstrike) and Mainframe (with a secret connection to Iron Man) reviving the Avengers name years after the original team disbanded. They're hampered somewhat by the fact that the traditional headquarters Avengers Mansion has become a tour-guided museum! By issue #4, four new members joined, reflecting the "Cap's Kooky Quartet" era of the original team: American Dream (inspired by Captain America), Freebooter (inspired by Hawkeye), Crimson Curse (somehow connected to Scarlet Witch) and Bluestreak (same powers as Quicksilver). A-Next was one of the highlights of MC2 (more about that on Friday).

For the 2nd year's launch titles, J2 was replaced by Wild Thing, written by Larry Hama and drawn by Ron Lim; J2 made appearances in back-up stories written by DeFalco, much as Wild Thing had a few back-up tales in J2. Wild Thing's high concept was that she was the daughter of Wolverine and Elektra, possessing psychic claws which manifested in the shape of sais. Although Larry Hama is best known for creating GI Joe: A Real American Hero, he was also the writer of Wolverine for most of the 1990s. It's actually a little strange that Wild Thing didn't catch on, considering that the high-concept "Wolverine with breasts" character X-23 has done well, but for whatever reason, Wild Thing did not catch on as either a series or as a star in the MC2 line; when a surrogate Wolverine was selected for the Avengers Next mini-series later on, her ex-con brother Sabreclaw was used instead of her.

The other 2nd year title was Fantastic Five by DeFalco and Paul Ryan, who together had been the Fantastic Four creative team for much of the 1990s. The Fantastic Five are: the Thing (who now has a bionic arm), the Human Torch (now the team leader), Big Brain (Mr. Fantastic's brain in a HERBIE robot...or so it seems), Psi-Lord (grown-up Franklin Richards) and Ms. Fantastic (the Torch's Skrull wife Lyja from the DeFalco-Ryan years). Like any good Fantastic Four series it emphasized family, even though it wasn't quite the same family as before. By the end of the series, the true fates of the Invisible Woman and Mr. Fantastic were revealed.

The first of the two Spider-Girl Presents three issue mini-series starred the Buzz who was something of an original character, unlike the other MC2 heroes, who were reimagined versions of classic Marvel heroes. Jack Jameson, grandson of J. Jonah Jameson, winds up with access to a powerful battlesuit and is compelled to use it to fight crime, only to find his own grandfather convinced he's a criminal. As done by DeFalco and Frenz, the Buzz was very much in the Spider-Man mold.

DeFalco and Frenz also collaborated on the second and final Presents mini-series, Darkdevil. Darkdevil had been a recurring character since the earliest issues of Spider-Girl, a mysterious vigilante patterned after Daredevil with seeming supernatural powers. Fan interest ran wild when hints dropped in the series made it seem as though he could be Ben Reilly, the infamous Spider-Man clone, brought back to life. By the time Darkdevil origin was completed in this mini-series...well...we all quietly wished we hadn't asked for his origin. They can't all be winners.

Some time later, Last Hero Standing was a five issue mini-event by DeFalco and Pat Olliffe which shipped weekly and brought together all the heroes of MC2 for a good ol' fashioned brawl. Loki places some of Earth's heroes under his control, pitting them against each other. In order to end the violence, one hero must make the ultimate sacrifice - the titular Last Hero Standing.

The follow-up mini-series Last Planet Standing again reunited DeFalco & Olliffe, this time featuring Galactus preparing to feast on the Earth, forcing the planet's heroes and villains to put aside their differences for mutual defense.

This led to Avengers Next by DeFalco & Lim, where the Avengers cope with the fallout from the event, then wind up facing Loki's daughter. It brought in several new heroes, notably Thor's daughter Thena, and added Spider-Girl and Sabreclaw to the team's ranks, evidently in imitation of Brian Michael Bendis' New Avengers from the regular Marvel Universe, where Spider-Man and Wolverine were key players.

This in turn led to Fantastic Five by DeFalco & Lim, although as you can see, the team was something more than five people by now, with the original four joined by Lyja making five "grown-ups," and Franklin (Reed & Sue's son), Torus (Johnny & Lyja's son), Alyce & Jake (Ben's kids) and Kristoff Vernard (Dr. Doom's ward) making five "junior" heroes. And it does take all ten of them, since Dr. Doom himself is the villain in these five issues.

The last of the MC2 mini-series was American Dream, which ran 5 issues by DeFalco and Todd Nauck. This series finally spells out the entirety of American Dream's origin and sees her trying to put together a normal life, something her predecessor also grappled with.

Tomorrow: the themes of MC2's first year.

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