Wednesday, 22 July 2015

The New Universe

It began at 04:22 US Eastern Standard Time on July 22nd 1986.

(That's 09:22 GMT or 10:22 British Summer Time.)

In 1986 Marvel boldly announced its newest line of titles. They would take place in a continuity of their own, entitled the "New Universe". It would be a very different world from the regular Marvel universe. It would be a world full of ordinary people who reacted in ordinary ways - "the world outside your window" - with a single injection of powers known as the "White Event". It would be a universe designed from the start with clear direction. It was hyped as the next big thing in comics. For readers in 1986 it would be as amazing as the arrival of the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, the Amazing Spider-Man, the Mighty Thor, the Invincible Iron Man, Dr Strange, the X-Men and Daredevil but this time it was all coming at once. Jim Shooter was proudly at the helm, driving the creation as though he was the Stan Lee of the age.

There was no end of hype. One of the best examples comes from a British reprint, as detailed by Stuart over at the Solar Pool:
If Target: 2006 is the best remembered of all the British [Transformers] stories, then Part 8 is by far and away the best remembered instalment.
...
As you'd expect with such a big important well remembered issue there could be nothing else for the Transformation [intro page] to talk about but... Marvel's New Universe. Yes, there's clearly been some arm twisting on behalf of Marvel US in order for their Big New Idea of 1986 to get a lot of attention.
It seemed set to be the biggest thing in comics in many readers' lifetimes. It was the chance to be there at the start and follow the amazement from the very first issues.

Only things didn't quite work out that way. The New Universe didn't catch fire and instead stumbled through a few years before being quietly abandoned. In subsequent years there's been the occasional revisit to one aspect or another but nothing ever as prominent as the original.

Three of the series - Star Brand, D.P.7 and Psi-Force - have each had their earliest issues collected in a single Classic tradepaperback. Today I'll be reviewing all three in one batch to see how the designed universe held up before a final post speculating as to where the line went wrong.

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