Marvel: 9 Bizarre Spin-Offs That No One Expected | CBR – CBR – Comic Book Resources

Whether it be because the concept itself was bizarre or the timing of the whole thing was strange, Marvel has tried some out-of-left-field spin-offs.
Marvel has been telling superhero stories for decades and they’ve gotten pretty good at it. Their stories have been enthralling fans for ages, creating memorable heroes and villains that have moved beyond the comic page. Marvel has been the comic sales leader on and off since the Silver Age, so they’ve often used this clout and recognition to create memorable spin-off stories. Sometimes these Marvel spin-offs make sense and other times, they’re just plain bizarre.
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Whether it be because the concept itself was bizarre or the timing of the whole thing was strange, Marvel has tried some out-of-left-field spin-offs with varying levels of success.
Spider-Man has some infamous stories and until One More Day took the crown, the most infamous Spider-Man story was The Clone Saga. While the premise was good, the fact that the books sold well spurred Marvel to stretch the whole thing out without a plan. This spelled disaster for the story as fans got tired of the aimlessness of it all.
In the 2010s, Marvel tried to bring back the Scarlet Spider twice in his own book. The first was in 2012 and instead of starring Ben Reilly, it starred Kaine (one of the many Peter Parker clones introduced in the original story) which in and of itself was strange. The next attempt was in 2017, with a book actually starring Ben Reilly. The fact that Marvel tried resurrecting a concept from a time a lot of Spider-Man fans want to forget is bizarre as is their recent return of Ben Reilly to the mantle of Spider-Man.
Grant Morrison introduced a lot of great ideas during their New X-Men run and one of those was Mutant Town, a mutant neighborhood in New York City. Marvel decided to run with this idea and put out District X, which starred the X-Man Bishop and his human partner Ismael Ortega. They investigated crimes and eventually the comic focused on Ortega slowly coming unhinged.
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The whole thing was just kind of strange in general. Bishop as a cop became the way the character was looked at for a few years after this story and the focus on Ortega’s personal issues seemed a weird direction to go in a book that was ostensibly about mutants.
Since House Of X/Powers Of X, Marvel has been putting out all kinds of X-Men books. Some of them make sense but one of them didn’t and that was X-Corp. Following the exploits of the mutant corporation set up to do business with the outside world, it starred characters like Archangel, M, Multiple Man, and Mastermind in a rudderless story that saw a corporate rival try to literally take over their headquarters.
The book tried to do corporate espionage and intrigue and combine it with superhero action but it didn’t work at all. The characterization was off, the conflict made no sense, and nothing about the book was exciting. Except for one back-up story that detailed how Multiple Man was able to steal corporate secrets from another company.
The first Fallen Angels is one of the most bizarre X-Men books ever. It starred members of the New Mutants and various mutants who weren’t doing anything else in a sci-fi caper involving aliens trying to experiment on humans and mutants. It was an interesting story but it was also completely unexpected by any fans.
The book used inciting events from New Mutants as its origin and then went completely off the rails, focusing on a non-team of mutants as they tried to figure out who their new friend Ariel was and how she fits into everything. It’s gone down in history as one of the X-Men’s strangest moments.
Marvel 2099 was an ambitious line that began in 1992, when Marvel was at the height of its ’90s success. It was initially four books- Spider-Man 2099, X-Men 2099, Doom 2099, and Ravage 2099– and took place in the titular year, starring new heroes appearing to fight in a cyberpunk world controlled by evil corporations.
Most of the books were actually pretty successful (all except the Stan Lee written Ravage 2099) with fans especially fond of Spider-Man 2099. Several more books would join the line, like 2099 Unlimited, Fantastic Four 2099, Ghost Rider 2099, and Hulk 2099. Marvel doing cyberpunk was unexpected but it worked better than most would have figured.
The Avengers always had dealings with AI of all kinds so in a way 2013’s Avengers A.I. wasn’t that bizarre. Starring Hank Pym and the Vision, with a team consisting of a Doombot, Victor Mancha, and a new character named Alexis the Protector, the story spun out of Age Of Ultron, not exactly the most auspicious beginning. The team’s job was to hunt down AI and see if they liked humanity.
That’s pretty much the entire premise. It doesn’t even really feel like it needed a series of its own. Hank Pym isn’t exactly a popular character and besides Vision and Mancha, the other characters weren’t all that interesting either. The book only lasted about a year as it just didn’t work for fans.
Variant covers have long been a part of the comic industry but Gwenpool was the first time a character that was created for a variant cover got famous. After the success of Spider-Gwen, Marvel did a series of variant covers and Gwenpool appeared on Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #2. Fans loved the look of the character and started cosplaying as her.
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Marvel took notice and gave her a book. She took on the fourth wall breaking abilities of Deadpool and was from the actual real world, coming to the comic world to become something special. The whole thing was bizarre and fans loved it for a time, with her book being a minor hit for years.
Gwen Stacy is a major part of the Spider-Man mythos and she’s one of the few Marvel characters that actually stayed dead, barring a few clones here or there. During the Spider-Verse storyline, a new version of the character was introduced, in a universe where she gained spider powers instead of Peter. She’d become Ghost Spider but Marvel just called her Spider-Gwen.
Spider-Gwen became a hit with fans and was brought back in her own comic after Spider-Verse ended. She’s co-starred in Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse since and was the inspiration behind the Gwen Stacy variant covers that birthed Gwenpool. Not too shabby for a minor character from a Spider-Man crossover.
The Age Of Apocalypse is one of the X-Men’s most iconic storylines and Marvel has tried to go back to the well numerous times, by trying out unsuccessful Age Of (blank) stories that played off it. None of them ever worked but a return to the titular universe in Uncanny X-Force’s “The Dark Angel Saga” was a welcome part of that story and spurred Marvel to try a spin-off at the source with 2012’s Age Of Apocalypse.
It gets bizarre in the premise, as the X-Men return to their universe from the 616 only to be hit by the wave caused by Scarlet Witch’s “No More Mutants” utterance and lose their powers. Suddenly, there are no mutants in the Age Of Apocalypse and no Apocalypse either, replaced by that universe’s Wolverine. It was also almost twenty years after the original story, long after it was at the height of its popularity. Every decision behind the short-lived book was bizarre.
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David Harth has been reading comics for close to 30 years. He writes for several websites, makes killer pizza, goes to Disney World more than his budget allows, and has the cutest daughter in the world. He can prove it. Follow him on Twitter- https://www.twitter.com/harth_david.

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