CCI: The 'Return' of "The Blue Marvel"

Breathing new life into an iconic character like Spider-Man or the Incredible Hulk is a considered a dream assignment by most working in the comic industry.

But for triple-threat Kevin Grevioux and fan favorite artist Mat Broome, the opportunity to develop a brand new hero for the Marvel Universe was the opportunity of a lifetime.

Marvel Comics announced at Comic-Con that the two would team on "Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel," a six-issue miniseries starting in November based on an original concept by Grevioux, who also writes "New Warriors" for the publisher. The Chicago, Illinois native also wrote the original "Underworld" movie and has acted in dozens of films himself including the "Underworld" trilogy as the lycan, Raze.

While there is a hero named Blue Marvel in packed away in the vaults of the House of Ideas, this new character is completely unrelated.

Grevioux told CBR News, "The Blue Marvel is not the return of Marvel Boy or Crusader as he was last called, I think. This Blue Marvel is a completely different character, aspects of which have been in my head since I was a kid."

"It's the story of Marvel's first black superhero. He was the most powerful and the most popular superhero around for a period of three or four years back in the late 1950s early 1960s. Think of how pre-'Civil War' Captain America was lauded in the Marvel Universe or how Superman is hailed in Metropolis or throughout the DC Universe and that was the popular status that the Blue Marvel enjoyed during this time period.

"However, he wore a costume that completely covered his entire body so no one knew what he looked like underneath. But when it was discovered that he was actually a black man, he was asked to cease operating as a hero and retire by President John F. Kennedy. The reason being, that at the time, Kennedy and his brother Bobby were desperately trying to push forth Civil Rights and they knew that if the world found out that the Blue Marvel, a being of incalculable power, was actually a Negro, that would set their Civil Rights plan back. Maybe even kill it all together. And they knew that if America was to move forward and evolve socially, that could not happen.

"Not wanting to upset the apple cart, and realizing how important this was, the Blue Marvel complied with the President's executive order and stands down."

But Grevioux added when evil rears it ugly head, it's time for Blue Marvel to get back in the game.

"When a mysterious super-powerful villain comes back from the Blue Marvel's past, one not even the Avengers can stop, there is a quest to find the Blue Marvel as he is the only one who has ever defeated him," explained Grevioux, who admitted it's a thrill seeing a character he envisioned as a child appearing on the printed page.

"I've had Blue Marvel in my head since I was a kid. And what kid fanboy doesn't dream of creating a major hero for his favorite comic book company," said Grevioux. "But it's the backstory that I've created for the character that makes him really interesting. He's a man caught between two worlds. On one hand he's a superhero who fights evil and injustice in all its myriad forms, but on the other hand, he's a black man who has to be careful about how he fights the injustice done to his own people."

"He's not a hero for blacks, but a hero for everyone. That presents a particular burden for him because he sees no end to the oppression of his people in sight and something needs to be done. But if he does it, as a black man, he immediately becomes an object of fear. And to have people afraid of him, just because he is a hero of color, thinking he's going to violently fight against the white establishment, is a horrific thought for him. That kind of internal struggle is great fun to write."

Grevioux teased there would be plenty of popular Marvel characters featured in the series, placing Blue Marvel squarely in the universe he occupies.

"You'll see the Avengers, Iron Man, Reed Richards, Hank Pym and even Namor, with whom the Blue Marvel has a unique relationship," said the writer.

Mat Broome, who was working on "End League" with Rick Remender for Dark Horse Comics when Grevioux pitched him the research and outline for "Blue Marvel" loves the concept.

"I was pretty excited to work on Marvel characters that were brand new, but rooted in the Golden Age. That's the best of both worlds, anytime you get a chance to work on classic Marvel characters and the Avengers in the same title," Broome told CBR News.

"And the design of the characters is inspired by the 1950s and 1960s, so there is a good amount of Golden Age history to work into the art, as well."

Broome was one of the top artists in the industry in the 1990s, illustrating books like "WildC.A.T.s" and "X-Factor," but he left to work in video games, ultimately becoming Art Director for Sony Online Entertainment where he played an integral role in the launch of PS3.

"I think the biggest draw for me to 'Blue Marvel' was the backdrop," offered Broome, who is also working on DC Comics Online with Jim Lee, which is debuting a playable demo at Comic-Con. "It's a perk that this story is centered around Marvel's first black superhero, and I love the idea that he's got a history with the Avengers that goes back so far in history. And I just loved the story. There is always something exciting and easy to relate to when a hero has hardships that everyone can relate to."

Broome compares Blue Marvel to an X-Men or Avengers 'type' of character.

"He's a really good balance of both worlds,' said Broome. "There are times I'm illustrating him and I feel like he could go with or without the cape and be just as cool to draw."

Grevioux said he and Broome plan to work together for a long time and they're setting their sights on something else Marvel related after they're done with "Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel."

"Right now, we're trying to figure out what exactly that's going to be, and if Marvel OKs it, of course (we'll do it)."

And he wouldn't close the door on more Blue Marvel, perhaps as an ongoing title.

"Well, one step at a time. We haven't really discussed the Blue Marvel beyond this miniseries. But I am hopeful that I'll get at least a second miniseries if the first one goes well."

Grevioux also penned "ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction," just released from Red 5 Comics and confirmed it's in the final stages of being optioned for a film.

"We already have a big director attached," said Grevioux.

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