No Family Unity in Marvel


   We are once again seeing big changes and shake-ups in the DC and Marvel Universes.  DC is presenting us with its 52 title reboot, and Marvel has a series of major events such as Fear Itself and Schism.  We also saw a recent discussion on a new character with the Super-Soldier Serum.  These events and discussions made me wonder why the DC Universe has so successfully introduced Families for its major heroes, and Marvel has not. 
 
Lets take a quick look at the DC Families: Superman (Superboy, Supergirl, Steel, Eradicator, Superwoman & Power Girl), Batman (Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Batwoman, Spoiler, Azrael, Huntress & the Birds of Prey), Wonder Woman (Troia, Wonder Girl, Artemis & Fury), Aquaman (Tempest, Aqualad, Aquagirl, Dolphin & Mera), Green Lantern (Alan, Hal, Guy, John, Kyle, Kilowog & Jade), Flash (Jay, Barry & Wally, Kid Flash, Impulse, Jesse Quick & Max Mercury), Green Arrow (Arsenal/Red Arrow, Speedy, Conner, & Arrowette).  These heroic family members are in most cases as central to the book as the primary hero, and seem to always turn up again even if it takes decades.  Arrowette is a legacy hero, not just a new character.  This is a trend that affects almost every major hero in the DC Universe.  Booster Gold & Goldstar. Hawkman & Hawkgirl. Firestorm & Firehawk.  Captain Marvel & CM3 & Mary Marvel.  Martian Manhunter & Miss Martian. 
 
Yet despite having the characters....the Marvel Universe has never embraced this theme.  Every major hero in Marvel has a set of related minor heroes.  We have seen brief unions formed by these characters.  But Marvel has never seemed to make them central to the mythos as DC has done.  If we look at the major heroes of Marvel, most of them have established connections with minor heroes, but they don't develop these relationships.  Consider: 
 
Spider-Man: Scarlet Spider, Steel Spider, Black Cat, Prowler, Rocket Racer, Cloak & Dagger 
Captain America: Bucky, Nomad, Falcon, USAgent, Battlestar, Free Spirit & Jack Flag 
Iron Man: War Machine & Rescue
Thor: Beta Ray Bill, Thunderstrike, Thor Girl, the Warriors Three & Sif 
Hulk: She-Hulk, Doc Samson, Skaar, Red She-Hulk & Red Hulk 
 
We have seen a lot of expansion and interactions by the Hulk Family in the last few years.  But this is the exception rather than the rule.  If the Marvel Universe trend continues we can expect the Hulks to go their separate ways.  In fact, the Hulk Family is a very new push by Marvel.  She-Hulk was established firmly as part of the high profile hero scene with the Avengers and Fantastic Four rather than with her cousin.  Jen's involvement with the Hulk's is a new phenomenon.  The majority of the Hulk Family were created for the push.  We don't know what the future will hold. 
 
Spider-Man has really avoided connections to any network of heroes until joining the Avengers full-time.  Captain America has fought crime with his allies for long stretches before but really hasn't developed the sense of family.  We expect that any Batman title will guest-star Robin or Nightwing often.  Does anyone really expect to see Falcon or Nomad in Cap's title?  It is a nice guest star when it happens, but it isn't really a major push. 
 
We also don't tend to see the Family Books.  DC has Gotham Knights, Batman & Robin and the Green Lantern Corps.  But Marvel has really avoided titles that feature heroic families.  I tend to see this as a missed opportunity.  But for some reason Marvel has yet to make this a marketable prospect. 
6 Comments