Yesterday, CMON’s Marvel United: Multiverse Kickstarter campaign announced a second new expansion box bringing more heroes and villains to the game… and they’re all more mutants! That’s right, CMON has dipped into one of Marvel’s most-popular alternate timelines to announce Marvel United Multiverse Age of Apocalypse box!
There’s no question that Age of Apocalypse is Marvel’s most-popular and well-known excursion into an alternate timeline parallel to 616 other than the expansive Ultimate Universe. Based on that, it’s no surprise to see the box pop up here – especially since it checks off four unique X-characters we were missing.
(See my Guide to Marvel Universe Events – Age of Apocalypse for details on how to read the entire event.)
Am I pleased? Not entirely. I think this box brings both good choices and questionable choices with it.
The good choices are very good choices: we get playable heroes of Nate Grey and Morph, and some seriously scary villains in the form of AOA Apocalypse, Holocaust / Nemesis, and Dark Beast.
That’s five key mutants we were missing from the massive list of possibilities in my prior post on the campaign.
It’s the other pair of choices that I question, plus one conspicuous absence.
As you can see on the cover of the box, this set includes Sabretooth in his familiar AOA costume as well as his sidekick Wild Child. What isn’t obvious from the box art is that the pair of them are a single sculpt with a single set of heroic cards.
This is a bummer, since it means we don’t have a standalone Wild Child sculpt we could homebrew to use with X-Factor and Alpha Flight, nor do we have an independent set of heroic Sabretooth cards (his prior release is a villain, not an anti-hero).
A prior “team-up” pair of Kitty Pryde and Lockheed were sculpted separately from each other, and the War of Kings box has a standalone Lockjaw, so there was precedent for Wild Child to stand on his own as a “pet” on a leash. The odds of getting him as his own solo sculpt seem incredibly low.
Next, there’s the conspicuous absence. This set absolutely should have Sugar Man to complete the original four AOA Refugees who crossed over to 616! Sugar Man is ultra-creepy, his sculpt would look cool, and he’d be much more at-home in the context of this box than as a standalone Stretch Goal. It seems like an odd oversight not to squeeze him in.
Finally, I question the value of an additional Magneto as a hero. He’s in the X-Men core box! I know CMON needed someone major to put in the front of the crowd on the box and I’m happy it’s not another Wolverine, but I’m not sure what AOA Magneto gives us as a distinct character other than the opportunity for CMON to make up a new card mechanic.
Instead of Magneto, CMON could could have picked someone popular who was not in the X-Men core box. Last campaign, people went absolutely wild for Nightcrawler as one of the final stretch goals and AOA Nightcrawler is awesome. AOA Iceman and Sunfire are other terrific choices, since their AOA looks are unique (and in Sunfire’s case, iconic). Heck, AOA even has Kitty using Wolverine’s claws!
There were so many more-interesting multiversal choices that could’ve promoted a previously-seen mutant rather than repeating Magneto, who is still readily available at retail in the core box. To be fair, they did give this version of him a much more interesting card dynamic.
Enough grouching and backseat-board-game-designing. Will I still buy the box? OF COURSE. I’d probably buy it just for Nate Grey and Nemesis / Holocaust. I suspect we’ll see Sugar Man slip in as a stretch goal, and I can always design my own heroic Sabretooth deck.
With this second additional expansion box announced, fans are hotly debating what further boxed expansions are likely to arrive. Based on prior campaigns, it seems likely we could see an additional 3-5 expansion boxes in addition to stretch goals – another 1 before this weekend, 1-2 more next week, and another 1-2 before the campaign ends on February 9th.
Now we have one of Marvel’s most-obvious alternate timelines in a box, and CMON has already tipped that a Spider-Geddon box is headed direct-to-retail later this year. What will those 3-5 other boxes be? Let’s set some odds?
My 10 Most-Likely Marvel United: Multiverse Expansions
Over the past two years, I’ve worked out over 70 homebrew expansions full of characters the original two campaigns missed.
Two of them have already shown up in this campaign almost verbatim from my predictions – “The Coming of Galactus” (yes, I even got the name right) and “War of Kings” (which I predicted as “Inhumans,” missing Gladiator, Lockjaw, and Vulcan).
Somehow I don’t think we’re going to get an entire box of some of my other favorites, like “The Nasty Boys” or “Magneto’s Acolytes,” so let’s look at the Top 10 potential expansion boxes I think could result in our 3-5 additional expansions.
#1. Young Avengers – 99:1 odds (99%)
I’m confident we’ll see this expansion in the campaign.
CMON has already announced Iron Lad, Patriot, and Speed, who are less-permanent members of the team, but the core cast is conspicuously absent.
A box with 5-7 figures would absolutely contain a core of Kate Bishop, Wiccan, and Hulkling. Bishop has screen recognizability from Hawkeye, and Wiccan & Hulkling have a cult following of comic fans.
To them, we could add Stature – Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie, who will be in the new Ant-Man flick. Could we also see Marvel Boy (Noh-Varr), Prodigy, or even Kid Loki from Kieron Gillen’s incarnation? What about an alternate Scarlet Witch, since her original sculpt was a Kickstarter Exclusive? She adds even more MCU synergy and is closely associated with this group.
Some fans are wishing for an Agatha Harkness villain figure, but CMON can only replicate comic characters. Agatha’s comic version isn’t a glamorous suburban housewife villain like her MCU incarnation (or really a villain at all).
Perhaps we could instead get an alternate of Kang, since he was a KS Exclusive. Or, maybe a Kree or Skrull villain, since they’re always hunting Hulkling.
#2. Thunderbolts AKA Dark Avengers – 4:1 odds (80%)
Based on the negative space implied by some other figures in this campaign, I suspect we’ll be seeing the Thunderbolts… unless CMON is banking them for a fourth campaign due to future MCU synergy.
Of the core of Marvel’s Thunderbolts, CMON has only touched Baron Zemo in the first campaign and Songbird and Iron Patriot as stretch goals in this campaign. Even without that trio, they could easily field a team that includes a core of Moonstone, Fixer, and Beetle AKA Mach X, plus Ghost for some MCU synergy.
The beauty is that they can all be Anti-Heroes that can be played either way!
It’s interesting to consider what CMON could add from there. Sentry is the crushingly obvious Anti-Hero with a thrilling mechanic, even though he’s technically from Dark Avengers and not Thunderbolts. Yelena Belova, Red Guardian, or Red Hulk would give it more synergy with the eventual MCU flick. Or, they could dip in the more-obscure side of the comic cast for Blizzard, Atlas, Jolt, or Speed Demon.
Plus, Hawkeye was with the T-Bolts for an extended period. If CMON offered him in his retro purple skirt look I suspect fans would go wild.
#3. Midnight Sons AKA Legion of Monsters – 8:5 odds (60%)
This is another set of characters who feel like a clear win. They have MCU tie-in possibilities and are an obvious gap in the current Marvel United offerings. Plus, they have a popular new video game out right now!
There are so many choices to cram into this set, since Blade is the only character from this loose affiliation we’ve seen before. I think an expansion would unquestionably contain Morbius to anchor it, given his meme-ability after his flop of a film.
From there, things get interesting. Daimon Hellstrom often turns up with these characters. Werewolf by Night and Man-Thing give MCU synergy. Satana could be an Anti-Hero. And, most fans would drool over a classic Blaze or Ketch Ghost Rider, which would feel distinct from the existing Robbie Reyes.
Heck, we could even get an alt of Doctor Strange, who was a KS Exclusive in the first campaign.
The villains? Mephisto feels like a shoe-in, and he’s a strong villain to anchor a box. Lilith could be another. The 90s Ghost Rider comic offers a wealth of visually-interesting bad guys, even if they aren’t all that notable.
#4. Squadron Supreme – 1:1 odds (50%)
This Mark Gruenwald team is eternally obscure in the comics – it feels like no matter how many times they come back, only Hyperion achieves name recognition on his own (and, sometimes, Nighthawk).
Yet, this group feels like a gimme for a Marvel United: Multiverse theme. Not only are they explicitly from outside of 616, but they are Gruenwald’s unsubtle jab at copying the Justice League.
I expect you’d start with Hyperion and Nighthawk as your Superman and Batman. Add Power Princess/Warrior Woman as Wonder Woman. From there, perhaps Doctor Spectrum to round things out, and maybe Thundra from their 2016 comic run to boost the recognizability a bit (since she is a recurring Hulk character).
However, I’m stumped for a villain in this set. I don’t think the Squadron Sinister would be worth using. Attuma briefly fought them in the 2016 run. Do you use Scarlet Centurion as a nod and a wink to the MCU’s focus on Kang in Phase 4?
Even with the villain conundrum, it feels so obvious to deliver this as a set during a Multiverse-focused campaign. Can CMON possibly pass that up?
#5. Eternals – 4:5 odds (44.5%)
Would CMON take a chance on a set of characters who are somewhat indistinct in the comics just because they have MCU on-screen recognition? Or, did they put the kibosh on this potential expansion set when the movie didn’t generate any lasting buzz?
If this set did turn up, I think Ikaris, Sersi, Thena, and Scout are the obvious picks to anchor it. They’re all visually distinct from each other and have enough comics to their name to give them interesting abilities. Makkari was also in the film and has an engaging design, so I’d vote for her next.
From there, it depends on if CMON leans more towards the comics (Gilgamesh) or the movie (Kingo, Phastos, Druig). Plus, Starfox is half-Eternal and has showed up in the MCU! That makes him doubly fair game.
For villains, obviously you pull in a big Deviant monster. Would CMON dare to put in a Celestial as massive as their Galactus sculpt? Or, would they stick closer to the comics and add an alternate sculpt of Thanos into the mix – maybe even an Anti-Hero version?
#6. Runaways – 4:7 odds (36.36%)
In a way, this expansion feels a lot more obvious than the Eternals.
2023 is the 20th anniversary of Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s much-lauded Runaways. They’ve had several popular comic runs since then, plus their own TV show. They still lag behind an official MCU entry like Eternals for wider recognition, but comic fans know who they are.
They also offer a tidy box-set sized core cast: Karolina Dean, Molly Hayes, Nico Minoru, & Chase Stein. Plus, you could optionally include Gert & Old Lace, Victor Mancha, or Katie Power (but more on her later).
They also come with a pair of ready-made villains – Alex Wilder and Xavin!
Honestly, this set feels so darn obvious I’m not sure how CMON can pass it up. My only hesitation is that a cast of post-1999 teen characters won’t resonate with CMON’s typical buyer demographic for hundreds of dollars of plastic compared to a 90s property.
#7. New Warriors – 3:8 odds (27.27%)
The New Warriors have the opposite problem of The Runaways – they haven’t had many notable runs since the 1990s and they aren’t known to modern TV and film audiences. Yet, this is a team with a ton of 90s nostalgia behind them, which we’ve seen drive many of CMON’s other expansion boxes and stretch goal choices.
Also, the team is the perfect size for a box. Firestar already turned up in the X-Men campaign, so the go-to core members would be Justice, Speedball, and Night Thrasher.
To that we could add any of Namorita, Silhouette, Rage… or, if CMON wants to really make fans go wild, the always-popular Richard Rider as Nova!
As with many of these more-obscure team sets, the question becomes if you go with their even-more-obscure villains, or just throw a random Marvel baddie in there for fun. Sphinx has a cool design and the team has an in-universe score to settle with Nitro, but this set could be a great chance to introduce High Evolutionary – which would give it considerably more pull with fans.
#8. Age of Krakoa AKA Dawn of X – 4:13 odds (23.5%)
CMON has been steadily working through many mutants in the stretch goals of this campaign, including Krakoan staples Doug Ramsey and Betsy Braddock. Does that mean there’s no possible X-box left to sell?
I’m not so sure. CMON has hardly touched any post-2000 mutants – just Pixie, Fantomex, and X-23 have been produced across all three campaigns. I think there’s an opportunity for a set of modern favorites from the current run of comics anchored by Quentin Quire and The Stepford Cuckoos (as a multiple-heroes-on-one sculpt), who likely have the most recognizability.
This could also be an opportunity to squeeze in the still-missing trio of New Mutants – Rictor, Karma, and Magma – who have all appeared in the comics since 2019.
Krakoa has also revived (figuratively and literally) some older anti-hero mutants like Greycrow, Destiny, Empath, Nanny & Orphan-Maker, and Gorgon.
That’s enough for a set! But, even if CMON passes up those characters (or has them slated for stretch goals), there are many choices on Krakoa. There are many popular Academy X characters who have continued to recur into the Krakoan Age, including Hellion, Anole, Rockslide, Mercury, Bling!, Loa, Glob, and Gentle.
There’s also characters who first appeared closer to the debut of Krakoa like Trinary, Nature Girl, and Teen Cable. And, Krakoa itself has spawned some new characters, like Cosmar.
Plus… there’s Moira McTaggert. I’ve already worked out some potentially fun card dynamics for her as a hero, but I think we also have to consider her potential as a villain.
For outright villains, this could be the reason Selene still hasn’t popped up. Same for Goblin Queen. Also, CMON could lean into X of Swords – where there are 10 potential villains for the choosing, including an all-new set of Horsemen! And then there’s all of Arakko! Ahhhhh!
And, of course, in a Krakoan set, every villain is really an anti-hero.
(Don’t worry: if none of these characters get made I’ve already homebrewed them all for you.)
#9. Marvel Cosmic AKA Annihilators – 2:9 odds (18.18%)
Who could this follow-up space box contain that the Guardians of the Galaxy box in Wave 1 didn’t already cover?
I think the obvious anchor would be Richard Rider as Nova, plus one or both Quasars and Moondragon. CMON could also throw in resourceful space-girl Cammi. Or, even include a classic space hero in the form of Captain Mar-Vell or Captain Universe.
Plus, though she’s not seriously space-y, we still haven’t seen Monica Rambeau in any of the campaigns and she now comes with an added MCU heft.
Annihilus is an equally-obvious villain, given his role in the Annihilation Saga. The Guardians box was just four heroes and a villain, so that could be enough. Honestly, I think you can go lighter on villains in this set since they would obviously be a prime set of heroes to clash with the villains in the Coming of Galactus box.
Or, would CMON dare to do something as outrageous as Ego The Living Planet?!
#10. Gamma Explosion and/or Incredible Hulks – 3:17 odds (15%)
There are a notable lack of Gamma-powered characters across both of CMON’s Marvel United Kickstarters.
Where’s the green?! This campaign already has Maestro in the core box and Abomination as a Stretch Goal, but there are many more Gamma characters we could play with.
This set could include any number of Gamma heroes and villains. On the hero side, we haven’t seen Red Hulk, Red She-Hulk, A-Bomb, or Doc Samson. Plus, Skaar has popped onto everyone’s radar in 2022.
On the villain said, The Leader would be a welcome addition to Marvel United roster. Also, many folks have demanded Wendigo as an Alpha Flight villain, but he’s also an iconic Hulk foe! Or, go more obscure with Bi-Beast.
CMON could go lighter on the heroes and pack this box with all four of the U-Foes as the villains!
Plus, CMON could always re-issue She-Hulk in a different costume to anchor the box. Heck, they could even anchor it with a version of Immortal Hulk – which would come with the benefit of a pair of obvious villain in Xemnu.
Honorable Mention: Power Pack – 1:99 odds (1%)
Oh, my beloved Power Pack. You’ve managed to earn yourself an unlikely pair of Marvel omnibuses. Now can CMON come through with a boxed set of Alex, Julie, Jack, and Katie?
I truly doubt it. While all of their sculpts would look amazing, only Alex and Julie have had a lasting impact on the Marvel Universe, and they could both exist in other sets – Julie in Runaways or Avengers Academy, and Alex with something related to the F4. As adorable as this box would be, I just don’t think the audience exists.
Other unlikely honorable mentions I considered included Agents of Atlas (Jimmy Woo, Wave, Sword Master, Aero), Avengers Academy (Hazmat and… uh… some others?), Doctor Strange Academy (cute, but they have zero name recognition), and a Superior Foes of Spider-Man (Lizard, Tombstone, Cardiac, etc) – though, I suppose any of those may be more likely than Power Pack!