As with other Marvel collections, the hardcover collection of The Ultimates is going to offer some “DVD-style extras”… including this, Stan Lee’s original pitch for Marvel’s first superhero team, before the Fantastic Four. Rejected at the time (for reasons that will be listed in detail in the hardcover, but which essentially come down to Martin Goodman, Marvel-to-be’s publisher at the time, not liking the idea of the main character being a revamp of an old character who’d failed before), but curiously familiar now, may I sneakily present… The Avenging Ultimates.
SYNOPSIS: THE AVENGING ULTIMATES June 1961
STORY #1: “ENTER THE ULTIMATES!”
The story is told in 3 chapters. Chapter one is 2 pages, Chapter 2 is four as is Chapter 3.
There are four main characters, as we’ve discussed:
1) CAPTAIN AMERICA: As we’ve agreed, Jack, this will be the same CA as you and Joe used to work on, but we’ll need to bring him into the present time somehow. I’ve got some ideas that I want you to look at about that.
2) HANK PYM (THE GIANT MAN): A handsome scientific genius whose quest for knowledge knows no bounds. He’s married to the beautiful JANET PYM (THE WASP), his sidekick in crime-fighting.
3) BRUCE BANNER (THE HULK): A weak, sickly scientific genius who can turn superstrong when he gets upset.
4) TONY STARK (THE IRON MAN): Young, handsome, rich, scientific genius – this guy’s got it all! He also owns the biggest arms manufacturer in the country and is doing all he can to keep America safe from the Communist threat.
We open with a full-page shot of all of our heroes ready for action – Let’s get Cap at the front of the page leaping out at the reader, Jack! Everyone should know that this is a NEW kind of comicbook adventure!
Chapter one (NOTE: This should take two pages at most – let’s get to the meat of the story as soon as possible!): Story opens in the middle of WW2. A caption makes it clear that we’re seeing the great Captain America in action, fighting the Nazis somewhere in Germany. Cap should be confident and heroic, kicking the German army all over the place while making jokes, unaware that they have one last trick up their sleeves. Lots of action! Just as Cap makes it to the control room to confront Adolf Hitler himself, Hitler launches a bomb that somehow Cap gets tangled up in, shoots into the sky and disappears. We see Hitler laughing and saying something to the effect of the world having seen the last of America’s Greatest Hero - - little does he know…
Chapter two: Present day New York. We’ll put in a caption to make sure people know it’s 1961. We’ll open with a full page shot of a laboratory, with Bruce Banner, Tony Stark and Hank Pym working away at panels and computers like no-one has ever seen before (Jack, go crazy – these should be amazing machines like no-one can imagine!). Janet Pym, Hank’s gorgeous wife, will be in the background, offering coffee to them all. Stark announces to the group that he’s just heard that a team of investigators from his company has just discovered something that will help the U.S. Super Soldier program get back on track, and Pym replies that his formula for growth will make any of Stark’s discoveries obsolete. By this point, we’ve been wasting to much time talking - - it’s time to show off what our guys can do! Stark puts on his special Iron Man outfit and flies around, fire raybeams out of his special asbestos gloves and whatever else you think will look impressive. Pym grows to his giant size, and tries to catch Stark with his bare hands, while Janet tells the two of them to stop playing around and get back to work like a school teacher. Banner doesn’t join in on this fun - We’ll have some kind of internal thoughts from Banner showing that he thinks that his special Hulk formula is exactly what the army is looking for, but that he doesn’t want anyone else to know about it just yet – Play up the intrigue and show that Banner’s not to be trusted!
Chapter three: We open with Captain America lying in a hospital bed, unconscious, surrounded by Stark, Banner, Pym and Janet. Janet comments on how handsome he is even while asleep, making Pym jealous but he doesn’t say anything (We can have a thought balloon or something showing that he thinks that she shouldn’t say anything like that because she’s married to him). Stark explains in narration while we see the action he describes that Cap was found encased in a block of ice floating in the Atlantic Ocean, thawed out and brought to their army base. As Stark finishes his story, Cap awakens and is shocked to see himself surrounded by three men and a woman who clearly aren’t Nazis. Disorientated, he asks where and when he is, only for Banner to explain: He’s in America, 1963 - - a country facing a threat possibly even more dangerous than Hitler - - the threat of Communism! Stark goes on to explain that the three of them (Janet isn’t part of the main group) are working on a scientific program to create the ultimate soldier with special abilities, just like Cap himself, and asks if Cap is willing to join them and help crush the Red Menace. Of course, Cap says yes - - and the Avenging Ultimates are born!
The story finishes with the unit forming, but we’ve already set up different conflicts within the group – Banner is secretive and doesn’t want to share his research with the others, Pym is jealous of the attention his wife pays Cap, and Cap is a man out of time. There should always be friction in the team, maybe setting one of them up (Banner?) to be the bad guy - - the power could drive him out of control and send him on a rampage through the city. Maybe this kind of tension would be better than the villain of the month style of National’s Justice League of America? If we need other bad guys, we can have invaders from outer space and monsters from prehistoric times, but we should always let our characters be human, and full of faults, because that makes them more interesting to the reader. Let them be unpredictable and that’ll keep people coming back for more!