Hank McCoy (Before the Fur)

There's one problem about the extent to which we’re continually refining our visions of the comic book characters we knew and loved as kids. It sorts of seems to me that launching anything new and different in the Marvel or DC universe is a difficult proposition! I mean, really, when was the last time one of these two broke out a new superhero/heroine that stuck around, sold comic books and that you felt like was going to embed itself into the hearts and minds of the public?

See, I feel like this is getting harder and harder to do for some reason. Maybe it’s because we’ve gotten so good at telling our favorite characters' stories. They’re all getting Hollywood movies, revised origins, etc. But I just can’t think of the last time a brand new, from scratch character got built from the ground up and seemed significant. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this rule. I mean Guardians of the Galaxy certainly seemed to break the mold. They’d always been around in Marvel in one way or another, but in this somewhat obscure way. Now, thanks to some really excellent marketing and a kick-ass feature film, they seem like they’re a bit at the forefront of the Marvel U.

A few others seemed to have moved up in the ranks from bit characters to very important: Luke Cage, Spider-woman and Iron Fist all come to mind.
By the very nature of the fact that X-Men is about diversity, there has always been room to introduce new characters and mutants. If you ask me, X-Men has kind of reached critical mass of crowdedness in this regard and it seems like this veritable renaissance of new mutant characters has actually left some of my old favorites lost and forgotten. So I’m practically having the opposite experience here lately.

Of course, I have to give credit where credit’s due. Image and Dark Horse have always been willing to take risks and get behind something new and different. And they’ve proven that you can launch an independent character and that it can be just as popular as anything the big two put out there. Hellboy, the Maxx, Powers, Invincible, etc. The Marvel/Disney business strategy is pretty blockbuster, I have to say. Of course the term Phase 3 begs the question as to whether there will be a Phase 4? I mean, that’s like five years away, but just what would that look like, do you think? Where is there to go from here?

I don’t actually fret that Marvel is going to run out of ideas or films. I suspect at this point I’ll be old and grey and they’ll still be making Marvel movies. And why not? They’ve been making James Bond movies for longer than I’ve been alive). But it’d be nice to maybe get some fresh blood in here once in a while. Of course you never know when you’re going to wake up and someone somewhere cranks out the next big comic book hit. I guess the thing I’m asking is: can you do that anymore, though? Can you add a new hero, give them their own book and have it succeed? It sort of seems like the closest you get to this these days is remaking and re-launching a character that’s been mostly forgotten about.

But maybe I’m wrong and not seeing examples that are out there. Anyone have any thoughts?