New Universe - Publication History - Problems


The New Universe was heavily marketed, but faced substantial problems. Jim Shooter had planned to recruit top creators, but this became unfeasible when Marvel's corporate owners unexpectedly reduced his available budget. As a result, many of the pitches were handled by others and certain books lacked focus as creative teams were swapped. Shooter was also involved with complex politics at Marvel Comics (which eventually led to him resigning his position), and thus could not give the line as much attention as he would have liked. After the first year, four of the titles, Kickers, Inc., Merc, Nightmask and Spitfire, were cancelled.

In an effort to save the line, then Editor-In-Chief Tom DeFalco and Editor Howard Mackie ended up removing some of the more fantastic elements from it and in a few cases doing radical revamps - John Byrne was enlisted to write and do breakdowns on Star Brand, altering the title so that it focused less on Ken Connell and more on the power of the Star Brand itself. This began initially with the idea of having Ken Connell go public with his identity as Star Brand. Similarly, the premise of Justice was revealed to be a hallucination which had been artificially induced in the title's protagonist by another Paranormal. From this point on, Justice becomes judge, jury, and executioner of Paranormals who abuse their powers.

The writers also allowed for major catastrophic events which could not have occurred in the Marvel Universe. One of the founding ideas of the New Universe was that the existence of paranormals would have real and lasting consequences, but so far these had been few and on the personal level. This changed in an issue of Star Brand when Ken Connell decided that he was tired of the power which he wielded. Having learned that it was theoretically possible to transfer the Star Brand into an object, Connell flew above his home town of Pittsburgh Pennsylvania and tried to transfer the brand into a barbell. Unfortunately, this effort resulted in a tremendous release of energy which scooped out a massive crater, obliterating the city of Pittsburgh. The destruction of Pittsburgh, which became known as the Black Event was detailed in the one shot The Pitt, named after the nickname for the huge crater which existed where Pittsburgh had once been. This event marked a turn into a generally grimmer tone for the line, with a more militarized international political scene, and some themes of post-apocalyptic fiction being explored. The increasingly unstable political scene would have effects such as the forcible military recruitment of paranormals as portrayed in The Draft (one-shot) and a war with South Africa which was detailed in The War (four-issue limited series).

Despite all of this, sales were poor and the imprint was abruptly discontinued in late 1989 after a total of 174 comics had been published.

Read more about this topic:  New Universe, Publication History

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