Relocating the Marvel Universe — Part 18 — Michigan

Michigan rolls up next as we continue the tour of Marvel’s America in my revised distribution of the universe’s heroes.


DETROIT (Iron Man, War Machine, Demolition Man, Madrox)

As an official employee of Stark Industries, the man inside the Iron Man armor is often seen around the U.S. at various facilities, including its Long Island and San Diego plants, but Detroit is his official home base. By locating in Detroit, the munitions and technology company has the best access of American production facilities first trained in the automotive industries. With that base, Stark has grown into a financial powerhouse, with subsidiaries in a number of additional industries, and Iron Man keeps a watch on it all. Since the “Stark industrial complex” is so vital to U.S. security, Detroit has often been subject to international terrorism by superhuman individuals, including the Mandarin, Crimson Dynamo, Titanium Man, the Ghost and the Unicorn. Likewise, Tony Stark, the head of Stark Industries, is one of the world’s richest men, and he himself is sometimes the target of criminal activities.
Notes: Iron Man in Detroit? Yep, sticking him in the Motor City works wonders. It gives “middle America” a solid hero alongside Chicago’s protector (coming in a future entry). It also really helps further push the big hitters of Marvel away from the coasts. For a while, by the way, “Iron Man” was set in the West Coast, a theme revisited in the recent movie.

As Stark Industries grew, the company activated a second super-powered agent — War Machine, who is a near exact duplicate of Iron Man, except that his primary duties are to protect Stark Enterprises property in Detroit, and the city itself. Though sometimes called out to other facilities, War Machine mostly keeps his activities confined to Michigan.
Notes: Always in the shadow of Iron Man? If you think that, you’ve been reading the wrong books. I always enjoyed War Machine’s solo efforts. What I always loved is that Jim Rhodes never took any crap from Tony Stark. More importantly, he always seemed to fight a little bit harder than Tony Stark.  Having him hold down Detroit while Iron Man is off globe-trotting works just great with me. Maybe that would truly regulate him to “supporting character” status, but at least Iron Man would know someone would have his back.

Operating to monitor street-level crime in Detroit is Demolition Man. As a Michigan native, he’s proud and eager to be there for anyone in need, and as a result of his friendly and outgoing nature, he’s proved to be quite popular in the state, particularly among blue collar workers.
Notes: A lot of people — and I mean A LOT — dump on poor D-Man. He truly is a victim of a copy-cat costume in that he pretty much rips off Wolverine’s look. But looking beyond that, he’s a cool guy. All he really needs is some new colors to make him seem different than old Wolvie. Gee, I wonder … have those two ever met?

Though he sometimes works with the superteam known as X-Factor, the mutant called Madrox operates a detective agency based out of Detroit. But hardly one to stay at home, he’s been seen all around the country — sometimes in two places at once. Still, his unique abilities have helped him set up a number of satellite offices in other big cities in the region, including Chicago, Columbus, Indianapolis, Milawaukee, Louisville and Pittsburgh. Just as often, he’s seen in Roanoke, where X-Factor is based. Since setting up operations in Detroit, he has become fast friends with Demolition Man.
Notes: Madrox has grown to be a fan favorite thanks to writer Peter David, who’s really explored what its like to be in more than one place at a time. His duplication power gives him the perfect ability to monitor all his franchises with little difficulty.

LANSING/GRAND RAPIDS (Thunderstrike, Sangre)

Another hero popular with the blue-collar crowd is Thunderstrike. Thanks to being “just like Thor, minus the Shakespeare,” he became instantly accepted when he first appeared in Lansing-Grand Rapids area. There, he served as the regions’s protector for a few years before disappearing. Since that time, Thor will drop in on the area whenever he’s needed, even though he’s officially based in Chicago.
Notes: Though Thunderstrike has been gone for a few years now, he still has a strong fan base, who see him as a “redneck rebel.” In this sense, it’s not uncommon to spot bumper stickers, t-shirts and baseball caps that sport his logo. When the “Thunderstrike” comic was still being published, I can’t recall a single issue I ever purchased. Still, I got a NASCAR/biker vibe from the book. Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s what I saw when I looked at it.
A gun-toting vigilante who first opposed Thunderstrike, Sangre now works quietly to keep the streets of Lansing free from petty criminals and low-level supervillains. Though little more than a “guy” with good aim, Sangre is still appreciated by the local authorities. Officially, he’s a wanted criminal. Unofficially, the police look the other way.
Notes: I spotted Sangre after reading up on Thunderstrike. I see him as nothing more than a simple vigilante in the non-superhero sense. He’s just a guy with a mission and a weapon to carry it out. Would I ever expect to see a Sangre book? No way. He’s just someone who can ocassionally lend a hand.

Sault Ste. Marie (Centennial)

Nestled next to the Canadian border, the one-time Chicago cop known as Centennial resides peacefully in Sault Ste. Marie. A true powerhouse with Superman-like abilities, Centennial worked briefly with Alpha Flight, but being 96 years old, he isn’t actively looking for action. Still, whenever there’s trouble in his neck of the woods — whether in the city or across the border, he will take action. Just don’t expect him to miss ‘Wheel of Fortune.’
Notes: He’s got super strength, flight powers and he can blast people with eye beams. Yep, he’s just like Superman — except he’s a crotchety old black guy. I like it! This guy’s got some potential. Marvel should use him more!


What’s “Relocating the Marvel Universe,” anyway? Well, check out the series hub, which includes a complete list of states, here.


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