For many years, the X-Men had the backstory that the original team, minus Beast as he was with the Avengers at the time, went on a mission to the mysterious island of Krakoa and disappeared. Cyclops escaped and he and Professor Xavier put together a new team of mutants who went back to Krakoa and rescued the captured X-Men, making a new team that would go on to become Marvel’s biggest book.
More recently, a retcon came in. There had been for years talk of a third Summers brother after Cyclops and Havoc, and finally, that story was coming out. The third went by the codename of Vulcan, and he was part of a brief X-team that attempted a rescue of the original X-Men from Krakoa. That team appeared to die, and the distraught Cyclops was so upset that Professor X wiped his memory of this second X-Men team before sending out the familiar team that included Colossus, Wolverine, Storm, and Nightcrawler. Vulcan had managed to survive and came back much later very powerful and evil, but how?
This column has always been there for lesser known, forgotten, or frequently recharacterized superheroes from various ages. Today, though, I’ll be discussing Amadeus Cho, former Mastermind Excello and future Hulk.
Thing is, he’s not really misplaced, but he’s also probably something of a mystery to a lot of potential readers. As such, here goes…
It’s hard to make a corporately-owned superhero intellectual property something distinct. The temptation is to generally keep the character in the form fans recognize him or her in the most and try to give him or her some exciting adventures to please the fans. In fact, the more high profile the character, the less editorial is going to allow a certain level of meddling. Second and third stringers can be used for that sort of thing.
That’s sort of what makes the Hulk a unique character. Though often depicted as just a big, stupid brute who doesn’t understand how to use personal pronouns, the Hulk has often been used as a more experimental character, someone whose intelligence and setting can fluctuate depending on the story’s needs. The Hulk is high profile enough for Marvel to always have a Hulk book of some kind in publication, but not enough for them to really care as much about what he’s doing as they are, say, Spider-Man. That’s led to some interesting Hulk runs and experiments in the character. Writer Peter David played with the idea Bruce Banner had Multiple Personality Disorder and had different Hulks appearing at different times until Doc Samson figured out how to merge them into a composite being that was always the Hulk. Paul Jenkins developed this concept further, and had a run complicated by Bruce contracting Lou Gehrig’s disease and needing to find some sort of cure before he had to become the Hulk permanently. Even Bruce Jones, a writer whose comics I don’t much care for, initially had an interesting run where Banner was on the run from some conspiracy that seemed supervast and complex until Jones wrapped the whole thing up in two issues by saying it was just the Leader the whole time, which ended something cool in a lame manner.
And then there’s the Planet Hulk storyline, which may have been one of the most ambitious Hulk storylines ever done.
Want to cause a dispute among comics fans? Ask them about big blockbuster crossovers. Most fans claim to hate the dang things, and yet they still shell out good money to read them. Many come out like clockwork, and storylines inbetween seem to be more the calm between storms. Publishers promise big changes. “Nothing will be the same!” they say. Rarely is this ever the case, and many changes are so minor the fans barely notice. Even if resurrection were not a distinct possibility in any case that doesn’t involve removing a tragic backstory, most fans know better than to assume many characters will actually stay dead. Usually its more like, “This character will remain dead until we figure out how to bring them back in at least a somewhat plausible manner.”
In the end, most crossovers don’t do much. DC has Convergence coming this summer, just in time for the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths, probably the only crossover to actually make massive changes that really stuck for the longest time. Marvel is doing a new Secret Wars that is doing…something. Neither publisher is saying anything, and that just stokes the Jimmy Impossibles of the world to a frenzy until someone is left cleaning up an awful mess of drool and disappointment.