This feature spotlights moments, exchanges, etc. from older comics that take on a brand new light when read in concert with later comic books. Here is the archive of previous installments.
I’m going a bit out of the norm and instead featuring a particularly amusing (in retrospect) article from a 1993 Marvel Preview magazine discussing Marvel’s 1993 Annuals, which each introduced a brand-new Marvel character. In the article, Squirrel Girl is used as an example of a character who did NOT last….
In 1993, Marvel introduced one new character for each of the following 27 Annuals. The notable aspect was that the regular writers for each of the respective books created the characters introduced in the Annuals (with some exceptions, of course)…
For whatever reason, not many of these characters even lasted beyond their initial appearances in the annuals. A few notable ones stuck around for quite awhile, like the anti-hero X-Cutioner (a disgruntled FBI agent who decided to use weapons from old X-Men villains to become a vigilante) and Legacy, son of Captain Marvel, who is the only one of the characters created here to get his own ongoing title before being killed off seven years ago. Annex was the only other character to get ANY sort of title, as he had a mini-series in 1994. After going about ten years without being used, Annex showed up during Civil War and appeared in Avengers: Initiative on a recurring basis, likely making him the second-most successful character from the 1993 Annuals (if only because he actually had his own series). The half-alien/half-mutant Adam-X, the X-Treme, got a lot of initial attention because his creators, Fabian Nicieza and Tony Daniel, featured him prominently in X-Force during their run on that title, and then Nicieza used him in both X-Men and also his Captain Marvel series (starring fellow 1993 creation, Legacy). In fact, Adam-X is the most recent creation from the Annuals to actually appear in a Marvel comic book, showing up in Uncanny X-Men #542 in 2011 (after Uncanny writer Kieron Gillen had used Adam-X during his SWORD series, which was about aliens on Earth).
However, what makes me laugh in retrospect was the article that Evan Skolnick wrote about the Annuals in a Preview book Marvel did in 1993. Check out the article…
Specifically Gruenwald’s description of how Squirrel Girl is the type of character he does NOT want these 1993 Annual characters to be (which he gets to after first explaining why it was so important to him that the characters be created by regular Marvel writers):
[W]e wanted these characters to be incorporated into the Marvel Universe, and it was felt that, if it were the regular writers with writing assignments doing it, after they finally had a chance to put their pet idea into play, they wouldn’t be able to wait to incorporate it into the regular run of the series – as opposed to someone inventing Squirrel Girl, everyone laughing at it, and never being used again. And don’t quote me on Squirrel Girl, because I love Squirrel Girl, love Squirrel Girl, but it’s the sort of character…well, will it show up in Iron Man? I don’t think so. So while the creation of a Squirrel Girl–excellent character, by the way, excellent–would have satisfied the criteria of being new and premiering in an annual, I don’t know if we’ll ever see Squirrel Girl again. It’s another one of those, “Whoops, it’s accidentally an incidental creation that just makes our list longer and doesn’t really help the Marvel Universe.”
First off, as you can see, Gruenwald is being quite complimentary of Squirrel Girl. And secondly, obviously, at the time, Gruenwald was absolutely correct. No one had any plans to use Squirrel Girl. Here is an old Comic Book Legends Revealed about the creation of Squirrel Girl by Will Murray (with art by Steve Ditko for her first appearance). It was not until Dan Slott had her join the Great Lakes Avengers in 2005 that the character began to snowball in popularity…
Becoming a recurring cast member of Brian Michael Bendis’ New Avengers…
And now so popular that she will be a playable character in the upcoming Marvel Heroes online game…
after being a playable character in Marvel Super Hero Squad: Comic Combat as well as Marvel Super Hero Squad Online….
In any event, the lesson is, I guess, you never know WHO the heck is going to become a fan favorite! Not even someone like Mark Gruenwald who knew more about comics than you and I ever will couldn’t predict it!
If you have a suggestion for some other hilarious in hindsight comic book related item, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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