Beyond the numerous success stories in the Marvel Universe exists those characters born from good intentions and high expectations, but never fully fulfilled their potential.
These Could Have Beens—many of whom headlined their own ambitious series and spotlights—represent the spirit of adventure and experimentation that’s defined Marvel for 75, and to them we dedicate this loving tribute; may they one day realize the hopes and dreams of their creators.
Once called the Scarecrow, this silent sentinel barely made the pages of a Marvel comic due to the cancellation of each title he’d been scheduled for. He finally launched in 1975’s DEAD OF NIGHT #11, but his story meandered through both MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #26 and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #18. He fluttered into Dr. Strange’s world in 1991 and made a brief appearance in the more-recent Fear Itself storyline, still seeking a cornfield to set down roots.
MODRED THE MYSTIC
This medieval magician debuted in the short-lived MARVEL CHILLERS in 1975, but continued his weird ways in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE and the first SPIDER-WOMAN series. Failing to conjure up Dr. Strange-level popularity, Modred contented himself with sporadic appearances into the new millennium, searching for pages from the terrifying Darkhold book.
A macho monster hunter probably sounded like a good idea to kick off MARVEL PRESENTS in 1975, but Bloodstone’s story stalled until ending up as a back-up feature two years later in RAMPAGING HULK #1. The poor guy eventually got himself killed in his pursuit of craziness, but perhaps it’s some solace knowing both his daughter Elsa and son Cullen carry on his legacy of hunting monsters.
SKULL THE SLAYER
Anybody remember this muscle-bound mountain of man and his strength-granting magic belt? Well, that story began in 1975’s SKULL THE SLAYER #1 and continued with the Thing’s rescuing of Skull from an alternate world in MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE #35-36. Skull disappeared for a while, surfacing again in X-MEN in 2011, but he somehow managed to get himself stuck all over again in that other universe.
Woodgod’s pedigree as a genetically-altered satyr should have made him stand out from the crowd of Marvel’s 1970’s debuts, but after a single-issue launch in MARVEL PREMIERE #31 in 1976, the hairy hero found only slight closure in MARVEL TEAM-UP #53-55. He stuck his head up now and then after that, and actually went toe-to-toe with his old buddy the Hulk in 2011’s HULK #30, though little good it ultimately did his street cred.
OMEGA THE UNKOWN
Here’s another hope-to-headline character that debuted in his own title, but never truly made enough waves to float by. The 10-issue OMEGA THE UNKNOWN led to a few guest-spots in HOWARD THE DUCK and DEFENDERS, but this more-than-strange crusader didn’t gain his own book again until 2007.
The few readers who witnessed this science fiction character’s first bow in 1976’s MARVEL PREMIERE #32 might’ve wondered about his place in the greater Marvel Universe, but his attack upon the Nova Corps in NOVA #30 in 2009 proved that Monark existed alongside the rest of Marvel’s luminaries.
Even dinosaurs can fall on their faces, as the little red carnosaur illustrated in 1978’s DEVIL DINOSAUR. Sure, Devil and his Moon-Boy showed up in several of the strangest places after that, including FALLEN ANGELS in 1987, and special one-shots in 1997 and 2005, but it seems like the big guy’s ultimately doomed to extinction despite a heavy cult following.
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