FIRST LOOK: Neil Gaiman's avenging Angela will make Marvel history

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“I can’t think of anything in our history and we’ve talked a lot about it,” Quesada said. “It’s something that our competitor [DC Comics] has done in the past but not really anything that we’ve done in the past. So it is really interesting in that sense. And of course it poses us with challenges but I think we really can put something together that is really going to excite Marvel fans in a great way.”

As Quesada mentioned, DC Comics has a long tradition of conspicuous expansion through heroic acquisition. The publisher of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman was there to pick up the pieces when competitors Fawcett (Captain Marvel, Black Adam, Spy Smasher), Quality (Plastic Man, Kid Eternity, Uncle Sam) and Charlton (Blue Beetle, The Question, Captain Atom) gave up the corporate ghost.

“This is reminiscent of that but Angela is a much more modern character, of course,” Quesada said, “and we’ve worked out a great game plan for her and Neil Gaiman was very, very helpful as was Brian Bendis and our entire editorial crew.”

Angela won’t be the first naturalized citizen of the mainstream Marvel universe, however.

There’s a long tradition of importing mythology (Thor, Hercules, Dracula, etc.) as well as contemporary properties from other media. In 1977, for instance, Marvel launched the series Godzilla, King of the Monsters and for two years the cinema’s most famous kaiju stomped through the center of the Marvel universe, much to the chagrin of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents assigned to turn him away from American shorelines. In the same decade, Marvel also found title characters on the toy shelf (Mego’s Micronauts and Mattel’s Shogun Warriors) and the music charts (KISS and Alice Cooper were each plugged into Marvel’s pop-culture amps).

More interesting than Angela’s arrival, perhaps, is the slow-simmer Marvel interaction with Gaiman, whose era-defining Sandman saga for DC Comics sits on the top shelf of the medium’s most acclaimed works. In the 1990s, Gaiman drifted away from comics by the allure of novels (his first, Good Omens in 1990, would head a list that includes American Gods, Stardust and The Graveyard Book), novellas (Coraline), television scripts (Neverwhere and Babylon 5) and film work (he co-wrote the screenplay for the Robert Zemekis-directed Beowulf).

NEXT: Gaiman’s Marvel adventure

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