Which superhero is the most powerful? This is a common topic often debated among superhero fans for which I've heard several answers: Superman, Hulk, Silver Surfer, etc. I've even witnessed someone try to make a case for Ambush Bug (incidentally, he failed).
But what would happen if you combined the powers of two powerful heroes into one being? For example, what if you handed Superman Green Lantern's ring? Or granted the power cosmic to Thor? This fall, writer Jay Faerber will be exploring this question as Captain Universe makes a return to the Marvel Universe.
For those unfamiliar with the character, there is a reason for that-- the identity of this hero has changed throughout Marvel's history. Faerber explains, "Captain Universe is just the name and costume given to whoever receives the powers that are granted by the Uni-Power in times of crisis (this includes superhuman strength, flight, energy blasts, a weird hypnotic-vision-- basically, the deluxe package). As for what the Uni-Power is, well, that's something we'll be exploring in this story, so it wouldn't be fair for me to just lay it all out for you here and now. It does possess some sort of intelligence and maybe even a personality. But is it alive? Was it ever? Where did it come from? All these questions will be posed and answered."
As for where these questions will be answered, it appears Marvel has a long-range plan for bringing this character back into the spotlight. First, a two-part Captain Universe backup story will take place in "Amazing Fantasy" #13-14, then comes five Captain Universe one-shots in November, which leads directly into a Captain Universe miniseries this winter. Faerber is writing all of these books and told CBR News how he got involved with this ambitious project.
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"This was something the Mark Paniccia (my editor) already had in place when he approached me about writing it. I'd been in touch with Mark off and on since he was at TokyoPop, so when he dropped me a line asking if I had any interest in Captain Universe, I was thrilled to finally get the chance to work with him on something. It was an odd coincidence that I'd pitched a Captain Universe project to Marvel a few years back. That pitch bears very little resemblance to this project, however. This is something far bigger in scope than I'd ever conceived on my own. Mark had a clear vision of how Captain Universe could be updated within the context of the current Marvel Universe, and I'm just glad I was able to help flesh it out."
As for how the Captain Universe story progresses in each of the upcoming arcs, Faerber explained, "Basically, 'Amazing Fantasy' #13-14 features two backup stories that re-introduce Captain Universe and establish that something's not right. There's a problem that the Uni-Power (the cosmic thingamabob that dispenses the Captain Universe powers) has, and by the end of #14's backup story, it's gone off in search of help from some of Marvel's other superhero characters.
"This leads us to the one-shots (shipping in November), which happen in the following order: Hulk, Daredevil, X-23, Invisible Woman, and Silver Surfer. Each one-shot is pretty much self-contained, in that there's a threat or a problem which is resolved by the end of the issue, but each issue also has a thread that leads into the next one-shot. Obviously, we'd hope that people read the whole thing, but if you just want to read a cool Hulk story, you can just pick up that first one-shot and not really need anything else."
Regarding the decision as to which heroes would get to experience the Uni-Power, Faerber said, "When I was brought onboard the project, editor Mark Paniccia had already figured out which characters would get the Captain Universe powers. Initially, my role wasn't going to be as large. I was going to write the two 'Amazing Fantasy' back-ups, one or two of the one-shots, and the miniseries. But as time went on, and people's schedules mutated, I kept getting asked to write another one-shot, until I was doing all of them. It makes sense, actually, since Mark and I had talked at length about how the one-shots should fit together, and what beats needed to be hammered out in each one. Having me write the whole thing was just easier to coordinate."
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Writing a character with near limitless powers, such as Captain Universe, can be a challenge. So what is the solution to this dilemma? How about "breaking" said powers? Faerber agreed, "Yeah, the Uni-Power is going through a rough period. The powers are acting sort of erratic-- and that's just one of the symptoms. That problem is what drives the whole story."
Captain Universe is definitely a character who belongs with Marvel's heavy hitters. Therefore, it makes sense that a storyline which affects him (or her) could have potential repercussions in the larger Marvel Universe. When asked about this, Faerber said, "The status quo of the Marvel Universe is changed by the end of the mini-series, yes. But I can't say how it's changed. And we do learn the origin of Captain Universe and the Uni-Power, but I can't say where or when or how or why. You gotta read the books!"
While Captain Universe will be occupying Faerber's time for the foreseeable future, he also has his creator-owned series, "Noble Causes," which keeps him busy. Following a Kennedy-like clan of superheroes, this monthly Image book has lots of interesting developments coming up, according to the writer. "'Noble Causes' #13 will be out in September, and it's the start of a new story arc. A bunch of new characters are introduced (a family of super-villains, who share a long history with the Nobles), and a lot of subplots are set in motion. Each issue features twenty-eight pages of story. I'm basically reinventing the book-- playing with the pacing and the format of each issue. The issues will be more self-contained, focusing on one or two characters at a time, while a larger arc plays out in the background. This will be a noticeable shift from previous issues, where I basically checked in on every subplot in every issue. Changing things up keeps it interesting for me, and, I hope, for the readers.
"Our latest TPB, volume #4, just came out as well. It's our best-looking TPB yet, and is a great place to start. It collects issues #1-6 of the current series, and features art by Fran Bueno, colors by Ron Riley, and previously unseen costume sketches and production art."
In addition to all this, Faerber told CBR News, "I've got at least one more small project at Marvel that I'm working on after Captain Universe wraps up, as well as a creator-owned graphic novel that's been written for awhile, but is in the process of being drawn. And that's all I've got time for!"
With all these projects on his plate, it sounds as though Faerber might benefit from a dose of Uni-Power as well.