If you haven’t read Kiel’s post from yesterday about Force Works and its prescience in terms of comic book trends, I urge you to do so now, as it’s a brilliant piece.
For my part, I figured I’d pitch in by helping flesh out the world Kiel outlined a bit and shed some light on who comprised and what became of Force Works’ semi-sprawling cast. I’m not talking about the core former West Coast Avengers guys like Scarlet Witch, USAgent and Spider-Woman, who most people know their states and whereabouts (batshit in Eastern Europe, new warden of the Raft in Thunderbolts and new Madame Web in the Spider-Verse respectively), or Iron Man, who is in limbo or something, but rather the fairly ambitious and oft-impressive original creations that Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning brought to the table over their 22 issues.
Because seriously, guys? As my good close personal friend TJ loves to say all the time, sometimes Force Works!
Kiel more or less covered Century yesterday and I think he’s got more to say about him yet, but I just wanted to note that every time I ask Dan and/or Andy about why he hasn’t shown up in one of their various cosmic epics, they always look at each other with little grins and give me some joke answer. I totally suspect those boys have at least one big Century story up their British sleeves…
Seriously, of the numerous alien races who populate comics, most seem pretty tame, but a few are genuinely creepy, most notably the Brood for me, but also these fuckers. Their deal was that they didn’t just conquer, but would basically descend upon planets that had already been weakened by some sort of previous threat like a swarm of locusts, set up a beachhead, and then just start consuming everything and everybody in sight until they completely hollowed the place out; they were the universe’s ultimate omnivores (besides Galactus, I guess). The grosser thing was that the alien-looking bodies we saw were actually just shells for hives of little insectoid creatures, as Spider-Woman discovered much to her horror. Lotta credit to MIA artist Tom Tenney for making these guys so icky. To the best of my knowledge, their two-issue stint in Force Works was the only time we’ve ever seen them, which seems something of a waste.
Another neat DnA idea aided by a terrific Tenney design, Ember was the tribal champion of the Dudak, an oppressed class of people in The Scarlet Witch’s native Slorenia. Interesting twist was that there was really no one Ember, as any Dudak who touched the mystic talisman that empowered the creature became him/her/it. Outside of Force Works, Ember fought War Machine once and then got chumped out by Ultron during the “Ultron Unlimited” story in Avengers by Kurt Busiek and George Perez (I always thought it was kind of cool that Busiek took the time acknowledge a Force Works creation myself).
The slightly less interesting but still visually stunning yin to Ember’s yang, Black Brigade was just your run-of-the-mill Russian cyborg who the Slorenian government hired to keep the Dudak people down. His coolest aspect was probably all the little mini-robots he had hovering around him that did his bidding (and gave him the “Brigade” part of his name). Like Ember, he showed up in War Machine and then bought it during “Ultron Unlimited.”
I didn’t actually read the issues where Dreamguard debuted, but from what I remember from solicits and interviews, he was basically an aborigine super hero who jumped into peoples’ consciousnesses via the Australian outback (maybe). He has not shown up again, but he makes frequent appearances in various incarnations of the Marvel Handbook, so clearly he’s got a fan or two.
Another Slorenian heavy, this time with mystic powers. He made less of an impact than Ember or Black Brigade and didn’t earn any appearances outside of Force Works, though he did get a solo fight against Spider-Woman (who, believe it or not, won a letters column poll as the most popular member of the team towards the end of the Avengers West Coast run).
The Force Works tech support guy who was in love with Spider-Woman but always kinda came off as a weirdo stalker to me; after Force Works, he was never seen again.
The poor PR rep for Force Works who got killed off by crazy Tony Stark during The Crossing because she figured out what he was up to. It’s kind of sad that likely more people remember Iron Man killed Luna’s nanny during that storyline than this lady. I initially suspected she was a spy or something, but if that was in the cards, DnA never got to it.
The mystery man who showed up during the early part of The Crossing as a founding member of the team and boyfriend of Spider-Woman as far as all the other characters knew, save for Spi’s daughter Rachel, who suspected something was up with him. He turned out to actually be Libra, founding Zodiac member and father of Mantis, who had altered time in order to thwart his daughter and Kang’s schemes. A few years later, Libra showed up again in Avengers Forever and flatly denied ever having been Moonraker (and made fun of the name); as that series later revealed The Crossing as being a big Immortus scheme with tons of Space Phantoms as doppelgangers of various characters, I’d suspect one of those was Moonraker.
Suzi Endo showed up early on in Force Works during the “Hands of the Mandarin” crossover, appearing just as a scientist specializing in cybernetics at Stark Industries who got injured during an attack by the Mandarin’s Avatars and was later taken in by Iron Man as she recovered. During The Crossing, an alternate reality version of Suzi with super-powered armor named Cybermancer replaced her and worked with evil Iron Man. In the final issue of Force Works, Suzi escaped and defeated her alternate self, destroying the armor in the process. Years later, Cybermancer returned during Civil War, having created her own armor. Since then, she has helped War Machine during and after Secret Invasion plus joined the Iowa Initiative team, making Suzi Endo of all characters the sleeper breakout star of Force Works!