How Firebreather Was Almost a Young Avenger, Of Sorts

In Nothing Was Delivered, we look at announced comic book projects that never came about. We'll try to find out WHY they didn't come out. I'm sure you all know tons of examples of comic book projects like these, so feel free to write me at brianc@cbr.com to tell me some for future columns.

Today, we look at a pitch that Phil Hester had in for Young Avengers that went in a very different direction.

As you likely know, in 2005, Marvel debuted a new series called Young Avengers by Allan Heinberg and Jimmy Cheung, starring a team of teen superheroes that were different versions of classic Avengers (Patriot like Captain America, Iron Lad like Iron Man, Hulkling like, you know, etc.)...

Amusingly enough, the great Phil Hester had actually pitched Marvel on a very similar book with artist Andy Kuhn back in the late 1990s!

Hester explained it all to Travis Ellisor at Bleeding Cool a few years back:

We’ll have to go back to ’98 or so. At the time Marvel was actively trying to develop new talent on fresh takes of existing characters in what was to become a new Epic line. I think the whole thing went belly up before anything could come of it, but it inspired Andy and I to pitch a book called The Crew, which was basically Young Avengers before Young Avengers. It featured young versions of Captain America, Scarlet Witch, The Thing, Wolverine and She-Hulk breaking away from the AIM labs that created them. They eventually fell under the mentorship of Hawkeye and became junior Avengers. Chris Claremont, who was in a creative decision-making role at Marvel at the time, really dug it and asked us to add what turned out to be a great element, which was young villains for the heroes to fight. So, we cooked up a young Dr. Doom clone called Mars, and a son of Fin Fang Foom called Foom.

For one reason or another, the whole thing stalled and Mr. Claremont left his position, but Andy and I couldn’t give up on the idea. We really loved the idea of a teenaged Ben Grimm trying to fit in at a high school with his rocky orange skin as much as we loved the conceit of an ersatz Godzilla having a human son he wanted to rule his domain someday. We mashed those two concepts together, along with a healthy dose of old school Peter Parker, into Firebreather. Luckily, around 2003, Image was starting up a shared super hero universe and we took Firebreather there. The rest is history. I hear one of the other super hero books launched was called Invincible or something.

I should make it crystal clear that I don’t think Marvel cribbed their eventual Young Avengers book from our pitch in any way. Ideas rise and fall in the roiling foam of comics like that.

The Fin Fang Foom son ended up becoming Hester and Kuhn's creator-owned character, Firebreather...

Doubly humorous is the fact that Hester then had Firebreather join a superhero group for Image in 2005 made up of other teen superheroes!

Funny stuff.

Firebreather was eventually made into an animated TV movie in 2010!

If anyone has a suggestion for another interesting comic book series that never got published, let me know at brianc@cbr.com!

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