Surprise! I’m back with a second new guide in a row for Patrons of Crushing Krisis, for yet another Asgardian leading lady… although, she started out somewhere very different (both within Marvel continuity and before she arrived at Marvel)…
One thing that DC Comics is very well known for that Marvel Comics is absolutely not known for is incorporating the characters from other publishers into their line.
Even before Crisis on Infinite Earths gave DC the infinite flexibility to subsume entire lines of characters like Wildstorm and Alan Moore’s America’s Best Comics, the DC juggernaut had absorbed entire universes of characters. They incorporated many Charlton Comics characters like Blue Beetle and Captain Atom (who also doubled as inspiration for Watchmen), and before them Fawcett Comics’ Shazam! Not to mention their self-incorporation of the many properties that branched out into the Vertigo line back to DC continuity.
Plus, DC never hesitates to engage in cross-company crossovers, as long as it’s not with Marvel. Even relatively recently we’ve seen Batman cross paths with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Gotham Academy with Lumberjanes!
The only time Marvel really came close to a wholesale import of characters was through their acquisition of Malibu Comics’ Ultraverse, which they hastily shuttered.
We could speculate endlessly about why this is the case. Is it Marvel’s self-reliance that borders on stinginess? The sacrosanct nature of their 616-Universe? That DC’s characters are more iconic and stand up better to other media properties? That Marvel has less adventurous fans?
Regardless of the why, it is a very big deal when any kind of outside character makes their way into Marvel’s Universe. It’s an even bigger deal when that character was created by Neil Gaiman, was one of the original big draws during the launch of Image Comics, and has been involved in a somewhat nasty set of legal battles with her now-no-longer-officially-recognized co-creator Todd McFarlane.
I am, of course, talking about Neil Gaiman’s Angela.
Gaiman was one of the megastar writers who paid early Image a visit to help expand their artist-driven IP, alongside Chris Claremont and Alan Moore. Gaiman scripted Spawn (1992) #9, co-creating Angela, Medieval Spawn, and Cogliostro, as well as a considerable amount of Heavenly story hooks. He’d further expand on Angela in an electric 1994 mini-series with Greg Capullo on art. As he was steering Sandman to a close, Angela was Gaiman’s most direct foray into super-heroism – and she was very compelling.
Angela would only make 23 appearances during the 90s before being shuffled offstage in Spawn (1992) #100. Afterward, Gaiman and McFarlane engaged in an extended feud over McFarlane’s ongoing profits from Gaiman’s co-creations – reaped from both new comics and collected editions. McFarlane claimed they never had a clear contract, and so Gaiman’s co-creation had been work-for-hire. This was a bold and altogether ironic claim given the origins of Image Comics as a haven for artist rights.
After several acrimonious lawsuits, Gaiman gained full custody of the decade-dormant Angela in 2012 and immediately shipped her off to Marvel under the pen of Brian Bendis. At the time, it felt less like a creatively-driven decision and more like a massive middle-finger to the fiercely independent McFarlane.
Angela’s story could have ended there as a petty punctuation mark on a decade of legal battles. However, Jason Aaron and Al Ewing had other plans.
The two writers were the architects of all-things-Asgard back in 2014, and they used Aaron’s Original Sin event to write Angela deeply into the lore of Asgard (as well as into Thor & Loki’s family history).
It was a risky retcon, but it really worked. It’s hard to explain exactly why. Some of it is down to Odin simply being a bastard, so you can believe just about any underhanded scheme would be something he’d engage in. They also had the cover of the explosion of media coverage over Jane Foster’s introduction as Thor. I think another aspect is how the Marvel Cinematic Universe treats Asgardians half as deities and half as snooty aliens, which made the bolt-on of Angela and her backstory an easy match.
Angela reaped the success to the tune of a trio of solo series in 2015 and 2016, plus a team-up with Valkyrie in Asgardians of the Galaxy in 2018, and anchoring Strikeforce in 2019.
While it feels like there is still much more to do with her character, Angela has already blossomed massively compared to her sparse Image material – including being made unequivocally queer in an ongoing relationship with Sera, one of the few visible trans characters in comics in the 2010s.
Current Exclusives for Crushing Cadets ($1/month): 25 Guides!
Marvel Guides (17): Alpha Flight, Angela, Blade, Captain Britain, Dazzler, Domino, Dracula, Elsa Bloodstone, The Eternals, Jane Foster – Thor & Valkyrie, Legion, Marvel Era: Marvel Legacy, Mister Sinister, Sabretooth, Spider-Ham, Valkyrie, Vision, Weapon X, X-Man – Nate Grey
Current Exclusives For Pledgeonauts ($1.99+/month): 52 Guides!
All of the 24 guides above, plus…
DC Guides (15): Animal Man, Aquaman, Books of Magic, Catwoman, Flash, Harley Quinn, Houses & Horrors, Legion of Super-Heroes, Justice League, Lucifer, Mister Miracle, Nightwing, Outsiders, Suicide Squad, Swamp Thing
Indie & Licensed Comics: None right now