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  1. #1

    Default Research For The Called (Utah Initiative) Fan Webcomic

    Hi all! This is my first post. I've been searching the internet for a forum or community that would fit what I was looking for, and it looks like CBR just might be the place for me!

    Any way, the reason for this post is because ever since I read the words, "Those Mormon heroes in Utah," in Civil War #6 my mind has raced with possibilities. As both an avid comic reader and a member of the LDS faith, this seemed like a fruitful intersection of concepts and I looked forward to seeing what more we might see of them. I'm sure it was just a throwaway line from the point of view of the writer but it sparked my imagination.

    That was, what, six years ago? To my knowledge we have only seen a brief mention since then, and the Marvel timeline has long since moved on from the PR train wreck that was the 50-State Initiative, but still my heart wants to see The Called realized and explored to some degree. In such cases, and when time permits, my response is typically that when nobody will make it for you, just go ahead and make it yourself.

    So that's my plan, to put together a webcomic centering around the Utah team and that particular timeframe of Marvel history. It's my hope that this thread can serve as a place where I can bounce ideas off of the community and get constructive feedback on the directions I'd like to take the story. I'm hoping to get a dialogue going from which thematic directions and story ideas can come, as well as (if anyone is interested) some collaboration on the project.

    With that, there are a few points I'd like to open for discussion:

    1. Mormon + Superheroes = ??? It's something that I've never really been able to put my finger on: why is it that the idea of superheroes of the LDS faith is so strange? I should point out that I'm not looking for glib or snarky responses but some insight into why this comes across as such an oxymoron. What is it about the culture that helps/hinders the superhero genre? More importantly, how can those conflicts and challenges be used within a story to create tension and drama? Why did Hank Pym et al. decide to go with a group of Mormon superheroes (of which there really aren't many) when others could have done the trick? Where did they find these heroes, or did they have to make them? I have my own thoughts about these ideas, but I want to hear your thoughts as well. What are topics so blindingly obvious to be treated in the story that they haven't already occurred to me yet?

    2. The Canon. Due to my creative background, with projects of this nature I tend to adhere to official publications pretty strictly. In other words, if it happened in the comic books, and it has any bearing on a particular plot point or setting I'm exploring, then I want to recognize it. Whether that means folding the characters and their actions into previously established events or determining that their paths logically don't cross at a given point, I like to give some attention to that. So what major/minor events should I make sure not to forget as I begin this project?

    3. What do you want to see? As I said, much of the impulse for this project comes from my own desires to see a fleshed out treatment of this largely ignored superhero team, but I also want to make it appealing for others to read as well. If I create stories that fall flat and aren't really worth reading (like so much fanfic out there) then why am I even bothering? It's an ambitious project, and I want to make sure that the images in my head are worth the time and effort it takes to translate onto paper. So what are tropes that you're dying to see, and would fit well in an Initiative team story? Or what's out there that you're sick of seeing over and over again, and would immediately turn you away from this webcomic? Let me know what ideas you have that would work great in this setting, and let's see if we can get this project off the ground!

    Again, I want to stress that this isn't intended to start heated discussions about religion, politics, or anything else. The primary purpose here is to develop ideas for the webcomic, and if you're dying to talk about things that would distract from that, then there are other places to do it.

    I hope I haven't scared anyone off with my enthusiasm, and I look forward to see who comes forward with some ideas and insights!

    Edit: I forgot to mention to moderators that if this thread has a place it would better belong, feel free to move it.
    Last edited by Dawncaller; 12-10-2012 at 09:24 PM.

  2. #2

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    No bites? Well, let me run this idea by you and see if it can get some feedback...

    My original idea involves some subplots involving an old team (much like the Minutemen from Watchmen), where two members fall in love and have children before the husband ends up saying, "A God am I," and being tossed into space. Fast forward ~20 years, and Evil Daddy comes home looking to stir up trouble and bequeath his yet-to-be-realized evil dynasty to his children, who are really heroes at heart but may struggle with that family tie when it comes to defeating the villain.

    I tossed this idea at my wife (who is a good sounding board for these kinds of things) and she said it was too dark/angsty, and would prefer to see the concept of family explored in a more cohesive Super Family Team, a la The Incredibles. I could still use the generational themes from the original idea by having it be an "evil uncle" or something similar that has returned to cause trouble, but going with this idea would call for a complete redesign of characters, group dynamics, etc.

    So what do you think? Is my original idea too melodramatic or overdone, and I should go with my wife's idea, which has its own potential for good stories; or should I stick with my original plan because it provides more inherent drama and potential for character development?

  3. #3

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    I should also add a picture I did. It's of the previous generation of superheroes, the "Original" Called, and I did it in kind of a Jack Kirby style.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Old Called Small.jpg  

  4. #4

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    I love the idea, but I am also afraid of what could turn out. Marvel has not been very fair with faith based characters. I also love how they take the worst representations of a culture for a character--Razorback anyone ? (dont be mad Arkansas, he is actually the Mad Thinkers brother.) I can just imagine explorer lad, john Smith Girl and sober monster on an in itiative team. I like the idea of someone invested in the faith creating the team. Good luck.

  5. #5

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    Hey, thanks for the feedback and encouragement. I appreciate it! Were the "explorer lad, john Smith Girl and sober monster" character ideas? If so, what do you imagine them being like? More than anything else at this point, I'm looking to see what people think of when they think of viable "Mormon superheroes."

    With my own approach to the concept I don't want to focus on just the negative or the positive, but provide a view that features superheroes that belong to the Mormon culture. I'm not interested in preaching or debunking, just exploring the dynamic between the cultures.

  6. #6

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    No, those were jokes. I believe that I should have written investigator-not explorer. I just do not want poorly conceived characters based on stereotypes. I love Alpha Flight because Byrne was from Canada and loved the characters. There was no Beaver Boy or Maple leaf Monster. I would not want an embarassing stereotype of a team that traveled by bicycle or each character had multiple wives. The church accepts all sorts. My friend Doug was a lineman for the BYU football team. He went on to be a chef at the Playboy Mansion and has a picture of Himself and Waylon Jenningsds in a drinking contest. He was a very complicated guy, just like all characters should be. I would hate to see any religion depicted as a generi, cookie cutter institution.

  7. #7

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    Ah, I see. No, I don't want to play off stereotypes, at least not in that way. Like I said, I'm more interested in exploring what it would be like to be a superhero living in the "Mormon Belt," as it's occasionally referred to, and all that's involved with that. Satirical commentaries are a dime a dozen, and it's typically what I've come across while researching this project, so humorous juxtapositions of superhero cliches and Mormon culture aren't my focus.

    Although, one of the characters (the one in the red in the picture above) is called Stripling, in reference to a band of young warriors mentioned in the Book of Mormon that, while all were wounded, never lost a man. Healing factor, anyone? ;)

  8. #8
    Member sportsguy831's Avatar
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    I did love the Initiative and would love to see it expanded, even just as a fan-made made webcomic. However there are some problems with an all Mormon team. First of all Marvel and comics in general are a Liberal medium. The Mormon religion opposes many things that Marvel stands for such as Gay equality. I support it completely also and Mormonism being outdated is a great target for cheap laughs. Maybe have them realize that their beliefs are outdated for a changing world and have them come to terms with their religion while also realizing that some it is outdated.
    Pull List: Action Comics, Batman, Chew, Hawkeye, Iron Man, Saga, Stormwatch, Wonder Woman

  9. #9

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    Thanks for your insights, sportsguy. This is indeed a good example of the kind of approach I wish to avoid as I do this project. It's easy to target something for cheap laughs, especially if they don't seem to agree with current ideologies, but that's not what I want to do. I'm not out to tell the Mormon church it should change any of its doctrines or practices, nor am I interested in making this yet another platform for political movements. I'm just not interested in being that didactic. Instead, I want to tell a story inside the world and culture as it is, including things that may deal with political, philosophical and theological issues, and let readers come to their own conclusions on the matter.

    That's one of the things I've liked about what I've seen in Marvel, especially with the Civil War. There were heroes (and even villains) on both sides of the issues at hand, each with his or her own reasons for supporting or opposing them; it made the story and the characters more real to me. Marvel didn't come out and tell readers which side to choose, nor should they. They merely posed the question, "Whose side are you on?" I've known people who have responded, "Isn't it obvious?" implying either extremely liberal or conservative stances, but the thing I enjoy about the story itself is that, no matter what political inclinations the creative team or the company they worked for had, they recognized that this is a world where people can disagree, even on big issues.

  10. #10
    Veteran Member Hypestyle's Avatar
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    interesting concept-- good luck working your way into Marvel with pitching this-- unfortunately Marvel seems to have limited its heroics (again) to NYC and outer space.. oh well...

  11. #11

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    I am afraid that if Marvel was forced to do a southern team, it would consist of Razorback, the inbreed, Daisy Dukes, KKK Man and Buck Wild, not the mercenary Man. There just wouldn't be the time or attention paid. I like that you respect the culture and want it fairly represented. Will all of the characters be mormon ? I wonder how someone would adjust to the Mormon Belt. Avoiding alcohol, pre-marital sex and other sacrifices would have to be made to keep their place on the team. This would be a great character arc. It's not easy to be a real member of any church--this is a great opportunity to show the rewards.

  12. #12
    Were You There? Michael P's Avatar
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    Why not do your own comic about a team of Mormon superheroes? Why tie it to Marvel?
    "If you can't say anything good about someone, sit right here by me." - Alice Roosevelt Longworth, on manners

    "It's not whether you win or lose, it's whether I win or lose." - Peter David, on life

  13. #13
    Senior Member 1derer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dawncaller View Post
    I should also add a picture I did. It's of the previous generation of superheroes, the "Original" Called, and I did it in kind of a Jack Kirby style.
    Well... This art is fantastic. You do great pop-art. Looking forward to seeing more of your work on this.
    Primary pulls: X-Factor, Hawkeye, Young Avengers, Avengers Arena, X-Men: Legacy, Uncanny X-Force, FF, Archer and Armstrong

  14. #14
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    I'm LDS too, and have wondered the same thing. Although I am a DC guy with a sprinkling of Moon Knight (a religion based character), a book about Mormon's won't sell too well. Mike Allred is LDS as far as I know and is from St. George. He would be the best guy to write/draw that comic. Even if it were a limited series, I would snap that up in a second and I pretty much LOATHE most of Marvel. I actually emailed them and DC about this very thing but neither of them have replied. I figured we have an LDS man as the Senate Majority leader in Harry Reid, LDS candidate for President of the USA in Mitt Romney and another that was ousted in the Republican primaries in John Hunstman, an LDS kid who came in 2nd in the Heisman voting, an LDS Rookie of the Year in the MLB (Harper from Washington), and several prominent LDS men and women in all sorts of political offices, businesses, etc around the globe. Are there any LDS characters in either of the 2 companies? I agree with one of the previous posters that Marvel would probably make the character some stereotyped fool and make light of our beliefs. It seems most characters from the big 2 are all Catholics having a crisis of faith or are lapsed Catholics or are part of some ancient pagan religion like Thor and Moon Knight.

  15. #15
    The Holy Diver Thorngren's Avatar
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    Although I am not a believer in any religion, I like this idea quite a bit. It's always nice when you find characters with whom you relate to and I can't think of a single mormon comic hero off the top of my head. I also gotta say I love your artwork. I do think you'd be better off making it its own thing and not related to marvel, so as you could make it your own. Maybe making it family based, or at least have part of the team being related or a family (like a mom, dad and their two sons) along with a few non-family members in the team. You could infuse all the positivity you get from your faith with the hight action of comics and personal stories that make the characters feel 'real'. Like I said, I'm not a mormon, but I think this is a great idea that could really find an audience. Comics have christian, jewish and catholic characters to appeal to fans of those faiths and have even started bringing gay characters to the forefront, yet I can't think of a single mormon or islamic faith based character.

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