Next in Relocating the Marvel Universe, we drop in on the sandy state of Arizona. With this series, we give Arizona superheroes since they shouldn’t all be stuck in New York City!
STATEWIDE/NATIONWIDE/WORLDWIDE (The Hulk)
The Hulk is most at home in the deserts of Arizona, though the behemoth’s wanderings take him global. Still, he seems to return to the area where he was first glimpsed.
Notes: The Hulk has gone through more transformations than most superheroes. He’s been a rampaging monster, a Vegas mobster, a super-strong scientist, a slick super-agent and a vicious badass. Just about every one of them has kept him separated from society since for the most part, he’s shunned by it. That’s why basing him in the deserts of Arizona makes sense. Sure, the Hulk is a wanderer, but the desert is his default backdrop. Giving him an actual attachment to that area helps secure that nature.
PHOENIX (Rick Jones, Gamma Base, Hulkbusters, American Eagle)
Since the Hulk frequently appears in Arizona, the monster-battling squad known as the Hulkbusters make the Phoenix area their headquarters. While named the Hulkbusters, the group is charged with battling any creatures of mass destruction. A paramilitary force by nature, they rely almost exclusively on high-technology rather than super-powered individuals (who are well known for their destructive abilities). The Hulkbusters’ base is officially called Gamma Base, and it contains holding units designed to restrain creatures of considerable size and Hulk-level strength. Unfortunately, the base isn’t escape-proof, and a good portion of their activities are enhancing security and recapturing their monstrous escapees. The Hulkbusters activities in the Phoenix area has largely limited the activity of superhuman beings in the area.
Notes: Throughout this project, I’ve been re-assigning holding areas for super-individuals. The Gamma Base serves as the “pen” for creatures with intense super-strength. It’s also for creatures of abnormal size. This group can be assembled from popular supporting characters, paramilitary soldiers, ex-SHIELD agents and even a civilized alien or two. While I don’t think this sort of team could support its own comic series, it could be part of any story where heroes take down a tough guy or the group could be guest stars of a regular series as they hunt down their latest quarry.
Rick Jones, a long time compatriot of the Hulk’s and other heroes, makes his permanent home in Phoenix. He is a frequent talk show guest on superhuman topics.
Notes: Rick Jones is one of those pivotal characters in the Marvel Universe. Sure, he doesn’t have powers — or at least powers that manifest themselves very often, but he’s often the guy behind the hero. Mostly associated with the Hulk, he really grew to have a personality under the guidance of Peter David. This idea would push him into the “friend of celebrities” role. He’s a hanger on, but he’s a hanger on with some substance. As such, he’s the one that Larry King turns to when he wants to talk about the latest Avengers screw up. Rick is the guy you see on all those VH1 shows where they joke about the celebrities. In the MU, Rick Jones represents the reader in the know, and he helps us understand how regular joes react to a world filled with thunder gods and mutants. Placing him in Phoenix keeps him close to the Hulk.
Up to this point, the Hulkbusters have supported the operations of American Eagle, a superhuman with augmented strength and invulnerability, who is known to be a fair and passionate man. He patrols the city to rout out street-level crime. In particular, he works to aide the city’s poor and underprivileged.
Notes: American Eagle just got a new look in the pages of Thunderbolts, and it’s about time. Up until then, he wore a feathered headdress. His new look also gave him a new attitude to match. Though he’s got a flashy name, he’s not one to attract attention to himself, and as such his operations in Phoenix draw little attention from the media.
TUSCON (Century and Joystick)
The being known as Century has worked for years in the Tuscon area. There, he serves as the city’s guardian and often advises local leaders on moral issues — whether they like it or not. In fact, he’s notoriously pushy about social and environmental issues, earning the respect and ire of many. Still, no one can complain about his dedication to the area. In private, Century talks about his spiritual connection with the deserts of the American Southwest and the Native American population, despite the fact that he’s from an alternate dimension. His spiritual nature has endeared him to many Native Americans.
Notes: Though not explicitly a Native American hero, Century certainly looks the part. He’s actually an alien, but his spiritual nature lets him adopt Earthly ways quite easily. Originally a member of Force Works and the West Coast Avengers, Century has long dropped off the radar of today’s writers. He’s not a spectacular character or anything, but unique enough to still deserve a place in the Marvel Universe. Setting him up yet another “protector of the natives” seems appropriate, though for such a small minority, American Indians have an impressive showing among the superhuman community.
Joystick is a one-time youthful superhuman criminal who has (kinda) reformed and is currently attending school at the University of Arizona. Now operating as a hero, she’s frequently sighted in the greater Tuscon area as she fights street-level crime and the occasional supervillain, though just as often she’s out for a day of fun with them. It’s a curious relationship she has with villains, more like two friends in an argument rather than bitter enemies. To her, being a superhero is like playing a game. At this stage of the game, she’s a good guy. Maybe next time she’ll change sides again. Yes, her morals are that slippery.
Notes: Once a Spider-Man enemy, Joystick proved popular enough to graduate into a hero, although a dubious one at best. I was surprised to see she was brought into the Thunderbolts. Still, if her morals straighten out, she’s pretty cool visually, and she could be a decent B-level hero with some work and a few exciting stories.
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