captain mar vell

Starlin / Gruenwald feud

It’s almost a well known fact that nobody knows about… in the 90s when Jim Starlin returned to Marvel to write Cosmic sagas, he and Mark Gruenwald did not agree on much.

Before I start, I want to point out Jim Starlin seems to have “issues” with “his” characters being used by other writers (”his” characters also include characters he didn’t even create such as Adam Warlock, Mar-Vell and Moondragon). Some good examples of this are in Infinity Abyss #3 when he retcons almost every Thanos appearance not written by him as being defective clones and then in his more recent work when he continues to dismiss the events of Annihilation.

When it comes to Gruenwald and Starlin, there were basically two major factors at play:

Firstly, Jim Starlin felt that Quasar wasn’t a worthy successor to “his” character Mar-Vell. I don’t quite understand it, Quasar was more than worthy and I see it more as a man a bit hurt that he wasn’t asked to revive/create an heir to Mar-Vell than subjectively looking at someone else’s idea. I think this is better highlighted by when his long-time friend and co-writer Ron Marz eventually creates an heir to Mar-Vell in Genis-Vell (and dedicates his creation to Starlin), Starlin subsequently treats this new character with a LOT of respect. Starlin suddenly had a lot of patience for this new successor, to the point of including him heavily and favourably in Infinity Abyss, The End and even doing 3 issues of Genis-Vell’s solo series with Peter David.

But the thing that was really at play was Starlin was dissatisfied with a lot of what had been done with the Cosmic line in his time away. He felt they were his characters, like a lot of writers do, and didn’t like other people handling or developing them without him. When he was away, writers like Roger Stern, John Byrne and Steve Englehart heavily fleshed out, structured and co-ordinated exactly HOW the Marvel Universe and it’s Great Powers operate. Then we had Gruenwald who contributed to this, both as a writer and an editor, and he as much as assumed responsibility for this co-ordination in his writing for the Marvel Handbooks.

Among things Starlin disliked were Starfox joining the Avengers, Thanos having progeny in the shape of Nebula and Death being developed to the point of a true conceptual embodiment who could no longer be justified in aimlessly following Thanos around. Almost all these involved Gruenwald at some level, and at the core, Gruenwald and Starlin just had completely different takes on Marvel Cosmic.

At the time, Gruenwald was writing Quasar, a Cosmic title, which as mentioned was the spiritual and thematic successor to Captain Marvel - a book Starlin’s contributions to were crucial. There wasn’t anything in Quasar at this point that was counter to Starlin, beyond him not liking the character. Starlin was writing Silver Surfer (and in his first few issues dismissed the idea of Starfox as an Avenger, Nebula as Thanos’ granddaughter and had Death hang around Thanos some more). It wasn’t until the actual Infinity Gauntlet crossover that the two started properly locking horns.

Mark Gruenwald was writing “Cosmos in Collision”, largely agreed to be his best Quasar storyline, which saw a power-mad Maelstrom try to destroy the Universe. There was a sequence where Maelstrom confronted various Cosmic characters, including Thanos and Mephisto just before the events of Infinity Gauntlet #1, which Starlin took issue with.

This is where a huge contrasting opinion surfaced… Gruenwald absolutely hated Galactus and co. being dragged out to be defeated by another character to solidify their greater power or threat. That’s why when Gruenwald wrote Maelstrom confronting those like Galactus and Thanos, they didn’t actually fight. They exchanged words or Maelstrom mused on their place in the Universe. In the case of Thanos, who at that point was in posession of the Infinity Gauntlet, Maelstrom shows up and debates with Thanos about his delusions of Godliness and how they are worthless in the face of atheism. Maelstrom wins the “non-fight” with logic, not power, and leaves. Starlin was completely not on board with his pet character “losing” a fight, especially at his (then) most powerful.

And upon the conclusion of Cosmos in Collision, we go straight into Infinity Gauntlet. Straight off the bat, the story had Thanos humble just about every character in the Marvel Universe in some of the most ridiculous extremes ever but Starlin also used the story to voice some of his frustrations on his loss of control over characters and his opinions on the “new Captain Marvel”. Firstly, we had Quasar whose role was minimal except for one scene where he is quickly humiliated and defeated by Thanos. While this happened with all the characters, Quasar gets a slightly extended spotlight for Starlin to point out how he is not good enough as “Captain Marvel’s replacement”. We also had another issue, Eon - a character created by Jim Starlin - had been killed off and superseded by Epoch - a character created by Mark Gruenwald. In Infinity Gauntlet, George Perez draws Jim Starlin’s Eon with only the last minute alteration to the script to read “Epoch” even attempting to square this. Starlin will subsequently ignore Epoch in favour of Eon in The End and Infinity Entity.

But when Infinity Gauntlet was over, Starlin got his own ongoing series in the shape of Infinity Watch and for the cast he took back “his” character Moondragon - who had been appearing heavily in Gruenwald’s Quasar at the time. Gruenwald had to quickly write Moondragon out of the book, despite setting the character’s storyline up for over a year and instead drafted in Kismet to replace Moondragon. Ironically, Starlin thought the Warlock-derived Kismet was also an unworthy successor to “his” character Warlock (and that’s why you’ve never seen an actual Starlin story acknowledging this rather notable part of Warlock history). For what it’s worth, Gruenwald actually does the necessary legwork in having the two finally meet in Quasar #26-27 (and Warlock coldly rejecting her, which may be commentary too?).

It was all really just a few disagreements and conflicting ideas up to then though. They were both writing Cosmic books and the big profile Starlin was allotted what he wanted and Gruenwald’s Cosmic building was largely being undone, ignored or subverted by Starlin.

It was Infinity War when it got particularly sour.

Gruenwald asked Starlin if he could include Quasar in a more substantial role. He felt the character’s minor role in Infinity Gauntlet didn’t make much sense with his role as Protector of the Universe. Starlin responded pithily by giving Quasar another minor role which had Thanos manipulate him into killing himself. Again, you can see some commentary shining through with Thanos consistently voicing Quasar’s worthlessness and Thanos wanting to get him out of the way due to some vague enmity (technically, I’m guessing their fight in Quasar #26?, but it’s clear the enmity is “his writer/editor wanting me to use him”).

Gruenwald spun a few stories out of Quasar’s death and then when he brought the character back to life, he realized he was spitting in the wind in his attempts to integrate with Starlin’s Cosmic and severed ties from the Cosmic side. He started bringing in new elements and characters that he could have better control over. The Star Brand, Squadron Supreme, the New Universe, Ereshkigal, the Starblasters. He was trying to build his own corner of the MU. But it didn’t really work. It was too tangential.

When Infinity Crusade came around, Starlin’s 3rd and final crossover, Gruenwald no longer bothered trying to integrate his book with Starlin’s and as such Quasar does not appear in Infinity Crusade at all (which is nonsensical) and Quasar does not tie-in to Infinity Crusade either (which makes it even more nonsensical). Interestingly, Starlin actually adopts the Gruenwald-created Infinity in this crossover. It’s pretty much the only reason that Infinity has a profile and keeps showing up as part of Marvel’s Cosmic canon, otherwise she’d be just as much as a footnote as Oblivion.

Ultimately, the lack of acknowledgement is incredibly frustrating to us but it was clearly for the best.

But things weren’t over yet, Quasar embarked on his own “Starblast” crossover which was, well, a spectacular failure. I’m not going to make excuses for it’s failings but there were a lot of contributing factors. I still think the true crippling factor is the absolutely abysmal art (Starlin gets masters like George Perez and Ron Lim, Mark Gruenwald gets bad 90s Herb Trimpe and Tom Grindberg).

Gruenwald clearly wanted to use Starblast as a means to reconcile with Starlin to some degree and, as it was a Cosmic story, wanted Warlock and the Infinity Watch to be involved (if only this generosity/interest ran both ways, eh?). Starlin didn’t want involved. So awkwardly the first few issues of Starblast write Adam Warlock and Moondragon in and out of the story (Warlock is even on the cover to the first issue!). 

Meanwhile, over in Starlin’s Infinity Watch and Warlock Chronicles (which instead opt to take part in a crossover with Thor and Silver Surfer), Starlin offers the final commentary on his opinions on Gruenwald/Quasar in that Warlock, who at that point is looking for powerful and useful beings to owe him favours, just isn’t interested in having Quasar in his debt and thinks he is a waste of time. He elects to go and crossover with Thor who he deems as more worthwhile (also Thor and Silver Surfer were being written by his friend Ron Marz).

Quasar was cancelled not soon after and nearly at the same time as Starlin left Marvel. There of course was Gruenwald’s aborted Starmasters book (delayed for 2 years and then cancelled after 3 issues) but obviously nothing came of that. Gruenwald died shortly after that.

Jim Starlin eventually returned to Marvel in the 00s. Quasar’s profile was greatly diminished and waning without Gruenwald (although he had momentary blips) and as a result Quasar’s role of Protector of the Universe was redundant and virtually forgotten about as a consideration. As said, Starlin took a shine to Genis-Vell, the new successor to Captain Marvel and utilized him in his stories with far more care than he ever gave Quasar. Quasar doesn’t warrant any acknowledgement in most his projects, even rarely making it into recreations of scenes from Infinity Gauntlet and Infinity War in Starlin’s work. Quasar appears in The End, briefly, during a crowd shot of Avengers and then again during another large shot of heroes fighting Thanos. He also appears in one of the more modern ones where the Annihilators show up to be made short work of by Thanos. This one is particularly petty, actually - Quasar doesn’t get to fight Thanos, instead being knocked out by Warlock and Thanos makes several comments about how he hates Quasar and thinks he’s shit and all that stuff. Then Quasar appears in the background at the bar in the Hulk vs. Thanos one and apparently hooks up with Heater Delight.

It’s not particularly interesting beyond Starlin being quite unsubtle in his disinterest/dislike and how Gruenwald kept having to adapt or avoid things.

Carol and Kamala: Blackjack!
Jess: Team Mizzcap for the win again— as the crowd goes wild!
Natasha: Wait. Wait, I got it. Hashtag Women of Mar-Vell.
Thor: Mizzcap? Arent they supposed to hate each other?
Natasha: Keep up, Thor. I’m wearing a tutu. This is a dream.

From The Mighty Captain Marvel #0 by Margaret Stohl and Emilio Laiso / Ramon Rosanas.

Generations will debut in July 2017 and is structured as a series of ten one-shot issues, each focusing on a different pair of characters. The full lineup will include:

Captain America (Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson) – written by Nick Spencer
Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell and Carol Danvers) – written by Margaret Stohl
Hawkeye (Clint Barton and Kate Bishop) – written by Kelly Thompson
Hulk (Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho) – written by Greg Pak
Iron Man (Tony Stark and Riri Williams) – written by Brian Michael Bendis
Jean Grey (young and old) – written by Dennis Hopeless
Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan) – written by G. Willow Wilson
Spider-Man (Peter Parker and Miles Morales) – written by Brian Michael Bendis
Thor (Odinson and Jane Foster) – written by Jason Aaron
Wolverine (Logan and X-23) – written by Tom Taylor

Marvel’s ‘Generations’: Original Wolverine, Hulk, Iron Man and more to return

  -Iron Man (Tony Stark and Riri Williams) – written by Brian Michael Bendis
-Spider-Man (Peter Parker and Miles Morales) – Brian Michael Bendis
-Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan) – G. Willow Wilson
-Thor (Odinson and Jane Foster) – Jason Aaron
-Hawkeye (Clint Barton and Kate Bishop) – Kelly Thompson
-Hulk (Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho) – Greg Pak
-Jean Grey (young and older) – Dennis Hopeless
-Wolverine (Logan and X23) – Tom Taylor
-Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell and Carol Danvers) – Margie Stohl
-Captain America (Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson) – Nick Spencer
Exclusive: Original Wolverine, Hulk and more to return in Marvel's 'Generations'
Does this really mean the return of Logan, Bruce Banner and more?! Yes, yes it does.
By ABC News

Thanks to @keeper-of-the-lore for the link.

So, Generations seems to be a new event, but it’s unclear to me if it’s going to be across the characters respective series or a bunch of one-shots. But we’re getting Generations in the following pairings:

-Iron Man (Tony Stark and Riri Williams) – written by Brian Michael Bendis

-Spider-Man (Peter Parker and Miles Morales) – Brian Michael Bendis

-Ms. Marvel (Carol Danvers and Kamala Khan) – G. Willow Wilson

-Thor (Odinson and Jane Foster) – Jason Aaron

-Hawkeye (Clint Barton and Kate Bishop) – Kelly Thompson

-Hulk (Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho) – Greg Pak

-Jean Grey (young and older) – Dennis Hopeless

-Wolverine (Logan and X23) – Tom Taylor

-Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell and Carol Danvers) – Margie Stohl

-Captain America (Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson) – Nick Spencer

 Whenever we’re getting actual returns of those characters for one story (so time-travel) or for longer, this has some potential.

Surprisingly, no Nova – why?