ULTIMATE ECLIPSE...What if Marvel really cared about their Black Superheroes?
All fanboys at some point or another have restless, wet dreams about writing or drawing their favorite comic book character and returning that particular character to glory. I am no different. For years I have told anyone who would listen...how I would revamp Blade, rejuvenate The Falcon, resuscitate Luke Cage, or revitalize Black Panther. Within these four characters are major franchises but Marvel has failed to act on their potential in any serious way. Yeah, Luke Cage is the leader of the New Avengers and everybody says this is a wildly popular choice made by Brian Michael Bendis...but it aint that popular or Luke would have his own book. The following writing samples are from a more simpler and naive time in my life (two years ago...lol) when I thought Marvel Comics might actually pull me in off the streets and give them a hand revamping some of their black superheroes.
The premise behind Ultimate Eclipse is pretty straightforward…revamp all of Marvel’s African American characters in the so-called “Ultimized” style and let them run free in tales that will further flesh out their own individual character backgrounds and establish not only their relationships with one another but everyone else in the Marvel Universe.
If we look at Marvel’s limited pantheon of Black Superheroes we see that there are three of them that stand out in every fanboy’s mind: Black Panther, The Falcon and Luke Cage. This trio would be my center piece for the entire series because with all three personalities we can cover different sections and mentalities of the Marvel Universe in a realistic fashion that would remain consistent with the storytelling in most of the Ultimate books. For example, the gritty, underworld dealing, gun toting hero for hire that Luke Cage is would have very little reason to interact with characters like Captain America or Black Panther for that matter because they are total opposite ends of the spectrum. But because of his friendship with Sam Wilson aka Falcon we will see Luke get involved in some higher profile situations, and his involvement combined with his unique street smart perspective will be something that Marvel writers have only hinted at before.
In the Ultimate Eclipse storyline my update of Luke Cage will have the 70’s blaxploitation character coming across as John Shaft slash Superman. Luke Cage is an indestructible, scrappy, street hustling playa from the Himalayas…he’s not some jive talking moron with a yellow pterodactyl wing party shirt and spandex blue jeans…he’s a no-nonsense, guns blazing, braid having mother fucker with super powers with a huge chip on his shoulder. He’s the pre-dominantly white establishment’s worst nightmare because he is a non-compliant Negro, incorrigible, unpredictable, cunning and violent. His knowledge and love of the streets give him a sort of an urban, gritty/Tarrantino feel. His association with Iron Fist and the Sisters of the Dragon also gives me some room to pay homage to classic martial arts movies and KILL BILL volumes 1 and 2. He’s very intelligent and smooth…the slang he uses is a mélange of hip hop terminology and broken hood dialect but the brother is nickel slick and on top of game.
Sam “Snap” Wilson is the all-American brother. He’s a card carrying Shield Agent, he’s also a sporadic member of the Avengers. In addition, he’s also Captain America’s…sidekick. Sam is also divorced…the father of two…still in love with his ex-wife, a social climber who revels in hanging with the other super-wives but can’t stomach Sam’s wishy-washy career. Captain America is pressuring Sam to become a full-time Shield agent and travel the world fighting crime under Nick Fury. Meanwhile, back in Harlem…city officials, friends, and passerby on the streets wonder when one of the black superheroes will stand up for the communities that spawned them and give back. This thought weighs heavily on his mind as he decides to step up to the plate. Sam is an intelligent, athletic over-achiever who wants to use his power to help the world but he also wants to lead a normal life…his many different goals confuse him and leave him vulnerable to public criticism. What we witness in Sam is the comeuppance of a Superhero. The Falcon.
T’challa is the King of a technologically advanced kingdom in the heart of Africa. He is wealthy; he is a swashbuckling diplomat who ponders foreign policy while pouncing through the jungle in a skin-tight Panther costume. He is the ultimate adventurer, a man confident in the achievements of his nation and the tradition of his kingdom. He’s a African version of Indiana Jones/James Bond and Batman…he is the man who can have lunch with Reed Richards and kick it about mining for natural resources in the Negative Zone and then flip the script and bust some gangsta head in the backstreets of Brooklyn with his long time friend…Sam Wilson. As a vigilante, Black Panther faces a tremendous legal and political risk every time he engages in combat or undertakes a dangerous mission…but his duty is to go out and serve his kingdom. His world is the globe, and with an aggressive plan to promote peace while putting the smackdown on evil…Black Panther is the man who can make it happen. Panther approaches Falcon about joining forces under the name…Eclipse. A call to arms of paranormals of color. It sounds kind of far fetched until Falcon, Panther and Luke Cage find themselves battling side by side against a Hydra Sleeper Cell that was just activated in Brooklyn!!!
First of all, this needs to be said first before anything…Blade has the enormous potential to be a top tier Marvel Comics character. He’s a brilliant anti-hero, cut from the same cloth as a Wolverine or Punisher, and in this day and age of Reality/Grim and Gritty/Reboot Continuity Blade appeals directly to what today’s readers are looking for.
My idea for Blade is to reboot the character using existing backstory from both movies and comics. I believe you must include Rachel Van Helsing, Taj and Quincy Harker…these key characters keep Blade connected to Marvel’s Epic Horror Saga, Tomb of Dracula and the original source material, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is important to keep Dracula at the center of the action…even if he is not actually in the present storyline. Why? Because this gives Blade his impetus, his driving character motivation…the death of Dracula becomes his quest and in this he becomes a greater hero due to the magnitude of this undertaking.
My idea is to take Blade back to his childhood. He leaves London after losing his mother to a mass suicide involving a cult she was mysteriously tied into. He moves to the states (Louisiana in particular) to live with his Aunt and Uncle and their children. This sounds very tame and maybe uninteresting initially but here we set the foundation for a balls out horror actioner that will rival the best of Hellboy. We need to make Blade an actual living breathing person…revisiting his childhood and his coming to terms with his supernatural heredity. Like the boy in the Sixth Sense, I imagine there was a time when Eric Brooks Aka Blade discovered his otherworldly nature…how did this happen, what were his sensations? Did anyone around him notice his differences and how did this affect the relationships he formed early in life? I created a sister for Blade’s mother named Grace who was more than willing to take Blade in after his mother’s death and an Uncle named Elijah who is a fire and brimstone preacher tuned into anything that smacks of evil. The most compelling question I can ask of myself as a writer is, “Who was the first vampire that Blade killed?”. My answer to that question is a missing High School girl named Dominique.
This first story will establish Blade as a 10 year old who grows up in a religious/ disciplinarian household, down south on the outskirts of New Orleans. Blade is a good kid with abnormal instincts and quirks. He seems to often have no appetite and can go without sleep for unusually long stretches of time. His sensory palette seems to be heightened in the fact that he can tell what his Aunt is cooking while being two miles away from the house; he hears conversations that people are having in other rooms behind closed doors; he seems to be physically stronger than his older cousin who is a high school football star. Mainly, these quirks just irritate his cousins, but his witch-hunting Uncle has a hunch that Blade is hellspawn because of his mother’s dealings and it has become his singular job to expose the evil that exists in his nephew. Years go by and Blade begins to explore his powers. When a local girl he knows from high school goes missing…Blade joins a search for her in the swamps with the police, students from the high school, and other people from the surrounding community. During the search, Blade can hear or senses the female named Dominique. But he then realizes she is buried under the swamp in a coffin of her own design…she is undead. He returns to the swamp later that night with a bag full of teakwood stakes, a driving hammer, holy water and garlic. Dominique has chosen to make her home in an abandoned fallout shelter. After a spectacularly violent clash with the female vampire…Blade kills her and returns home…feeling oddly satiated and complete for the first time in his life. He returns home only to find his Uncle and his Aunt waiting for him. This is the beginning of the end for their relationship.
End of Pitch
Of course these were written out of sheer love for my favorite characters. Others may read these pitches and say, "Man, dude is smoking crack...that's not how they should write Luke Cage or Blade...here's how they should do it..." But I bet you my bottom dollar that if Marvel grabbed their cojones and gave me top notch artists...I could produce a monthly title that would be a top seller. One that possibly, now and again, might outsell even the most popular of titles. Why? Because these characters have swag!!! You just gotta pull in the right dudes and give them the latitude to experiment, revolt, tear down and deviate from the norm. But that's why I decided to write this blog entry right after the last one. Marvel and DC are not concerned about the African American Heroes...they would never accept these pitches from me because it makes to much sense. They would rather let an idiot like Marc Guggenheim (t.v writer)and Howard "Hack" Chaykin (used to love this guy but his art took a huge steaming dump on Blade)desecrate Blade in his last monthly incarnation. They would rather turn Black Panther into a female (hahaha, who was the friggin genius that suggested this one? They should be fired because I know the book is not selling behind that dumbass storyline!)It's more than obvious that even in the world of fucking fictional creations...the "man" is trying to keep us down. WTF?!!!