“If you say that someone has been shaken but not stirred by an experience, you mean that they have been slightly disturbed or emotionally affected by it, but not deeply enough to change their behaviour or way of thinking.”
Shaken, Not Stirred…
Greetings from the desert fellow CBSI members. Summer is winding down for many of us, and the thoughts turn towards Fall. You may have done a double take of that picture above and said wait, what in the hell is that?!
Well that’s some of our childhood heroes mashed up. What you don’t like Aqua Surfer? These came from the comic series DC/Marvel All Access. It was a mini in the mid nineties that saw the big two collide, in some cases literally.
The series made you think a bit. What if there was a sorcerer that could mash our warriors together and use them as pawns? A massive amalgamation of sorts in a sandbox for all to witness. Alright so what’s the point?
Ah, well as first spoken about by our outstanding Flipside crew on their last podcast, this week is the one year anniversary of Totally Awesome Hulk # 22. In other terms, the 1st appearance of Weapon H, a Hulk/Wolverine peanut butter and jelly experiment.
In this piece we are going to revisit that issue. In addition look at mashups as a whole within comics. Finally, what does the future hold with these? Do we need more or less?
Alright, so that dude making Bats and Flash human glow sticks in the above panel is Axel Asher who becomes The Access (1st app DC/Marvel All Access #1) during the DC vs. Marvel storyline. His responsibility is to prevent the two universes from becoming one.
Axel first became aware of his extraordinary powers when the two cosmic entities called “The Brothers”, who represent the DC Universe and Marvel Universe, became aware of each other (as a result of the previous “crossover” events) and hurled their respective heroes into conflict with each other's.
At the height of the Brothers' battle, the universes were combined into a single Amalgam Universe by The Spectre and the Living Tribunal to delay their fight.
The Access used pieces of each universe hidden inside Batman and Captain America to separate and restore both universes. In addition, this helped stop the fight between The Brothers, saving the two universes from destruction.
Access has the “ability to create and use interdimensional gateways between the DC and Marvel universes to teleport himself as well as summon others to him. He can merge two people he touches if one is from each universe, creating an “amalgamation” of the characters.
The gateways also permit travel in time when crossing universes. He can feel the presence of anything from one universe which is present in the other Finally, and an interesting trivia question – yes he is owned by both properties DC & Marvel.
Let’s see him and a few familiar faces in action…
Supes vs Venom? Now that’s got some potential! So why the history lesson? Well a few things, first The Access would be a great individual to regulate all the mashups that continue to pour out – Juggerduck anyone?
He could simply send them back with an emphatic NO! Can someone please put this hero in charge with the help of us fans? Second, the guys a cool character that has not been used much. There is a lot of possibilities if the red tape and finances could be worked out.
Finally, the thought processes of crossovers and mashups is an intriguing one. It’s safe to say for the most part fans like the ideas. Good God, there is Archie vs Predator that gets made and bought. The realization is that many characters interacting with others in some capacity from different entities always will garner attention.
Here’s a great analogy. The Alien lore has been has been extremely popular within pop culture. Two forces – one of human and the other of bug like features battling across a myriad of movies, books, and comics.
However thankfully never truly cross pollinating. Yet what happened when we physically mixed humans vs Xenomorphs? Ah we got this abomination and or Pumpkinhead rip off. I am still trying to remove this image from Alien: Resurrection from my memory bank. I bet you are too…
I guess it’s safe to say we like our food on the same plate just not touching or mixed huh? The psychology of that is fascinating when it involves comics. Cosmic Ghost Rider, Spider-Gwen, and Batman Who Laughs all are mashups of some sort, yet are hugely successful.
Others fall into the abyss never to be heard from again. Funny how that works, we are all guilty of bashing mashups, yet many of us profit off of some of them and or enjoy their respective stories.
So let’s take a look at what really seemed to kick this merging of characters into excessiveness last year. In mid August of 2017 Weapon H was brought to life within Totally Awesome Hulk # 22.
The “Weapons of Mutant Destruction” storyline was one of the bigger moments for Marvel in recent years. It was, arguably, their biggest Hulk story in several years and they needed a big writer to helm the project.
One of the people heavily involved in the project was the brain behind the beloved “Planet Hulk” comic: Greg Pak. Within the story, Dr. Alba created H with the idea of making him more than just a brainless weapon, so that he would have more autonomy than Wolverine once did.
The thinking behind this is that Weapon H would feel that his decisions to kill people were entirely his own, therefore he would think he had freedom the entire time.
The ex military operative known as Clayton whom was the successful test subject has some control over his transformation into Weapon H. This means that he can switch back between human and monster forms essentially whenever he feels like it.
This gives him an added advantage, as he can continuously make his own decisions and plan strategically when he finds himself on the wrong side of a battle. Seeing that’s more than capable as both a human and a monster, it makes him a more effective weapon.
Here’s the 1st look at Mr. H in all his gray glory…
Ok, for the spec side of this, let’s look at the numbers. Totally Awesome Hulk # 22 has a print run of 25K. It’s not the easiest book to gain an NM+ from due to the coloring, and Marvel’s oh so wonderful paper. Sales on eBay of CGC 9.8s have been capturing roughly $135.
Current auctions that are not BIN definitely have interest as there are multiple bids for days left. On the other hand, raw copies are selling in the the $42ish range. With Weapon H getting his own series and now is going to be joining Caps team, this book is a long term hold:
In closing, just a couple of things to ponder. It goes without little debate that Hulk 181 is the pinnacle of greatness in terms of spec. Yes, there are other books that have more value, but for 95% of the normal comic buying population will never have a chance to own one of those other books.
The ironic part looking back on this post TAH # 22 is that Hulk 181 has both mean green and Wolverine on the cover, also being Wolvies1st app as far as the “market” states. These are two of the most iconic characters within the MU.
Frankly, I am surprised it took 43 years for a mashup to happen. We live in a world of excess don’t we? If something works we get umpteen knockoffs of the original. Case and point – What do GoBots, Robo Force, Convertors, Zybots, Starriors, Road Bots, Robo Tron, Mysterians, and Rock Lords all have in common? Overkill of Transformers rip offs!
This is what I will leave you with… What do you deem as a “valid” mashup? Is it the coolness of characters? The believability two entities could exist as one and have both strong qualities?
So many of these heroes and villains now are a type of Frankenstein creation and we flock towards them. Yet, many of today’s random fruit salad properties we run from, but damn sure will flip them if possible right?
A billion dollar product like Mr. Potato Head even promotes “equality” between our superheroes as shown above.
As these continuous science experiments are revealed within our comics, mashups seem as if there is no end in sight. What sells, or is talked about promotes more of the same just with a different form of the widget.
CGR and Cates are popular. Why, because Thanos # 13 1:25 made us good money? Or is it because those two are okay to melt together due to they pass the cool factor? Make no mistake, there’s a Strawberry Shortcake / Trilogy of Terror doll wrapped in one body on its way very soon.
As a matter of fact, there may be a Groupon right now for the all red box model if you are interested.
There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions, just food for thought and conversation. There has been a lot of pessimism recently towards the over abundance of wrong doings in comics.
Let’s not forget though, the market is as healthy right now as we’ve seen in a long time. That’s good for our hobby. None of us know the sustainability, but right now the light is shining bright.
On the other side, If we want this to stop, then we must stop. These books don’t sell themselves within a LCS or secondary market. If these areas truly need to disappear, then restraint and a strong business acumen must be shown.
We all like something different from time to time. However too much of anything is not good for anyone. Please let the eclectic creativity be an exception, not the rule with new characters. As my opening quote reads – Be emotionally affected by it, but not change the behavior. Shaken, not stirred!
We preach, but do we practice what we preach?
Your thoughts are much appreciated!