In a world where critically acclaimed, adventurous books, like Demon Knights, Journey into Mystery, and Dial H are canceled on a seemingly daily basis to make way for new Batman, Green Lantern, or Avengers books, a lot of characters get left out. These characters could transcend the boundaries of the DC and Marvel universes and allow for different types of stories to be told with these corporate properties. They could also give their respective companies a chance to tell stories from female or minority perspectives. Here are five characters from Marvel that deserve their own solo book. It will be followed by an article about five DC characters who deserve their own series.
Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) is one of the most prominent and well-recognized characters at Marvel. She figured prominently in 2012’s Avengers film and held her own with the other male characters in the film. Black Widow also appears currently appears in the main Avengers and Secret Avengers series and will appear in the Captain America: Winter Soldier film. Her solo book would work as a fun, ass-kicking espionage book in the vein of Ed Brubaker’s Winter Soldier series. Every story arc would be like a James Bond film with gadgets, action scenes, men to seduce, and dastardly villains. The book could also explore her relationships with various characters in the Marvel Universe, like Bucky Barnes, Clint Barton, Matt Murdock, and her “replacement” Yelena Belova. The mix of action, intrigue, and character relationship would make great read. Kelly Sue DeConnick, who is currently writing the excellent Captain Marvel series, should write the book. She writes witty dialogue, fast moving plots, and has experience writing Black Widow in Avengers Assemble and a Heroic Age one-shot. For art, I would get Butch Guice, who drew Black Widow in an arc of Winter Soldier and has experience doing spy stories in Captain America and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The story of a crime lord’s rise to power and reign has been integral part of film and television from classics, like The Godfather and Goodfellas to more recent TV shows like Breaking Bad and Boardwalk Empire. However, these stories are few and far between in comics with the exception of miniseries like Luthor and Penguin: Pain and Prejudice. And unlike some of these villains, Wilson Fisk is just a straight up crime lord with no superpowers. It would be interesting to see the birth of his criminal empire and run-ins with different superheroes, like Spider-Man, Daredevil, and The Punisher from his perspective. The Kingpin is a complete villain, but can be a little sympathetic through his love for his wife Vanessa, who recently died. This will prevent him from changing from a villain to anti-hero, like Deadpool or Deathstroke. To avoid being involved in crossovers and free from most editorial control, Kingpin should be a part of Marvel’s MAX line. The dream writer for this book would be Vince Gilligan, the show runner of Breaking Bad, who showed a chemistry teacher become a crime lord. In this series, he could show a crime lord at his peak while exploring his origins and motivations. Marvel has a history of getting writers from TV and film (Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, J. Michael Straczynski), and Gilligan is free after Breaking Bad ends in a few months. For art, I would get Sean Phillips who is one of the best currents comics artists and has experience doing crime comics, like Criminal and Fatale.
The all-female X-Men book by Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel was the top-selling comic last month, but none of its stars have solo books. Even though X-Men solo books rarely sell consistently (with the exception of Wolverine), now is the time to experiment. Rogue’s solo book could focus on the contrast between blessing and curse of her powers as well the dilemmas of being both an X-Man and Avenger, and Storm’s book could deal with the fallout of her marriage with Black Panther and teaching at the Jean Grey School. But I think that a Kitty Pryde solo book could be the most compelling. Kitty is the current headmistress of the Jean Grey School and deals with running the school while Wolverine is off with the Avengers, X-Force, or solo jaunts. There are tons of X-Books on the market, but it would be nice to see a series that deals with actually training the next generation of mutants as well as the 1960s X-Men. The series could also explore Kitty’s Jewish heritage and frayed relationship with Colossus. She could even take a trip home to Deerfield, Illinois and take her students on a “field trip” to Great Britain and team up with her old Excalibur team. The two best Kitty Pryde writers at Marvel (Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Wood) are busy, but if Ultimate Comics X-Men gets cancelled, Brian Wood could switch over to the Kitty Pryde series and bring the same spark to an older Kitty as he did to the young Kitty in that book. I would also give Ultimate Comics X-Men artists Paco Medina and Mahmud Asrar a chance to draw the older Kitty and alternate arcs. There would also be a five page backup dealing with Kitty’s childhood before her mutant powers were activated written by her creator and father of the X-Men Chris Claremont (if he is willing).
Doctor Strange is probably the most obvious choice on this list. He is more than likely going to have his own film in 2016. He recently made a guest appearance in Uncanny X-Men and is a member of the Illuminati in New Avengers. Unlike DC, which has used books like Justice League Dark, to explore the magical side of their universe, the current concept of magic seems underdeveloped in the Marvel universe. Strange could take the reader on a tour of the magic and supernatural side of the Marvel universe. He could face vampires, demons,eldritch horrors, and maybe even Angela. Having an apprentice, like Magik from Uncanny X-Men or a completely new character, could give the reader a character to identify with in the weird and wacky world of magic. I would get Mike Carey to be the writer. He has experience dealing with magic and the supernatural in the Lucifer and Hellblazer books for Vertigo and has also explored the Marvel universe in a lengthy run on X-Men Legacy as well as various one-shots and miniseries. The artist would be Frazer Irving who has just completed a Limbo arc in Uncanny X-Men that received almost universal acclaim for its art and also drew a one shot called The Mystic Hands of Doctor Strange with Kieron Gillen.
Blade was the first Marvel character to have a decent film, but he hasn’t had a solo series since 2007 and last regularly appeared in a comic in the Captain Britain and MI:13 comic, which ended in 2009. He has associations with SHIELD and the X-Men and has a power set that could make for beautifully drawn fight scenes. Blade’s solo book needs to be full of action and violence as well as dealing with his struggles with vampirism and being genuinely horrifying. The premise of the series could be that Blade is a black ops agent for SHIELD who has a license to kill and mainly deals with monsters and supernatural threats as well as general supervillains. This could make for a good introductory story arc, but eventually Blade needs to feed on a human and become a fugitive while suffering a lot of remorse. He could take shelter with Cyclops’ fugitive X-Men or even his old friends in MI-13. My choice for writer would be Paul Cornell, who wrote Blade in Captain Britain and MI: 13 and has shown the ability to do unique takes on solo characters, like Wolverine and Black Widow. He has also handled the supernatural and anti-heroes in books like Demon Knights, Dark X-Men, and his run on Action Comics. As artist, I would choose Andrea Sorrentino, the current penciler on Green Arrow. He is one of the most unique artists working in mainstream comics and draws visceral action scenes. He can also draw a mean vampire as exhibited by his work on DC’s I, Vampire.