Once upon a time, Marvel Comics got the comic book rights to, of all things, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Anyone who’s seen that movie knows it’s, well, an odd choice for any sort of adaptation for younger readers, but it still happened. It was also an ongoing series. Where do you take a story like that once you’ve recounted the story from the movie? This wasn’t Star Wars with the promise of ongoing adventures for the characters. Part of the answer for writer/artist Jack Kirby was to create a new character that would cross over to the main Marvel Universe, namely Machine Man.
That was not the only time a licensed character got into the main universe. That also happened with Bug.
Captain America joined the Avengers with issue #4 of that series. He’d been found frozen in ice and quickly joined the team, in part as a replacement for the Hulk who’d quit two issues earlier. Cap recounted how he’d gotten frozen in the first place, when he and his partner and sidekick Bucky had tried to disarm an explosive plane during World War II. Cap was thrown off and frozen in ice. Bucky was thrown off without an arm, and later emerged as the Winter Soldier.
But here’s the thing: that comic never happened. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby just needed a quick explanation of where Cap had been and why Bucky wasn’t around in case anyone actually remembered the two of them. There actually had been plenty of Cap and Bucky adventures between the end of World War II and when Steve Rogers joined the Avengers.
I usually devote a bit of time Tuesday to discuss a superhero who died and usually got better. Then I got a request from Jimmy Impossible. He’s been reading along and writing up stuff for the current Secret Wars and while chatting with fellow Gabbing Geek Ryan, it came out that Ryan had no idea who the Molecule Man was.