‘Mystery Men,’ the Marvel Mini So Mysterious That You Almost Missed It [Preview]
On sale this week is the first issue of a curious new Marvel Comics miniseries that’s so elusive and mysterious that it very nearly escaped our notice. Appropriately, it’s called Mystery Men, and it reveals the heretofore unknown history of the Marvel Universe as it was in the 1930s. Written by David Liss, the Edgar Allan Poe Award-winning author of A Conspiracy of Paper, and illustrated beautifully by Patrick Zircher (Cable & Deadpool, Terror, Inc.), Mystery Men offers Marvel readers something they’re not used to seeing with a stylishly period, authentically noir pulp fiction story that also plugs into the Marvel Universe’s superhero mythology.
To learn some clues as to the mystery of Mystery Men, ComicsAlliance spoke with series editor Bill Rosemann and previewed seven pages from the project.
Set even before the events of The Marvels Project and The Twelve, Mystery Men’s ambition is to fill a genre hole in the publisher’s line by creating a legitimate pulp fiction adventure with its roots in the classic styles. But unlike those series, which featured the oldest and in some cases obscurest characters in the Marvel library, Mystery Men introduces brand new characters to the House of Ideas, heroes designed specifically for the pre-war setting and noir sensibility: The Aviatrix, The Operative, Achilles, The Revenant and The Surgeon.
Naturally, plot specifics will remain shrouded in secrecy until Mystery Men #1 drops this Wednesday, but promotional materials suggest a murder and sinister conspiracy will compel the heroes to join forces to protect America from a terrible threat. Along the way, the (new) old heroes will no doubt encounter people, places or things that Marvel fans will recognize from the grander Marvel Universe tapestry.
ComicsAlliance reached out to Mystery Men editor for more information about this fairly unusual Marvel project, and his remarks are as follows:
The Secret Origin of Mystery Men: About two or three years ago, during one of Marvel’s infamous editorial retreats, we discussed what sort of genres, characters and books we weren’t currently publishing. As a longtime fan of pulp and noir, I started imagining what sort of spin the House of Ideas would have put on characters from the ’30s. But to make this truly special-to make this count-to give back to the ‘toy box’ that we often take so much from, we had to set this fedora-deep in established Marvel U continuity.
After bouncing the idea off my sensei Tom Brevoort, I called up award-winning historical fiction novelist David Liss, who I had recently invited to join Marvel to write a Phantom Reporter one-shot (which was part of our Timely salute). After tons of brainstorming, we then reached out to the awesome Patrick Zircher, who blew us completely away with his character designs. The Mystery Men lived!
Now readers are invited to explore the mean streets of 1930s Manhattan to meet the first generation of urban costumed vigilantes! David and Patrick have hidden Marvel U Easter Eggs throughout the story, but they’ve also crafted a completely new-reader-friendly story that welcomes all those who just dig pulp, noir and super heroes.
This one has it all: A twisted murder mystery, beautiful architecture & clothes & cars, tough guys & daring dames & femme fatales, trail blazing costumed hi-jinks, a chilling conspiracy, some of the best writing & art this (or any year), a real impact on continuity…and zeppelins!
If you’re as intrigued as we are (or just a sucker for period style and noir storytelling, like we are) and eager to support Marvel’s effort to expand its stylistic wings, you can pick up Mystery Men #1 this week in finer comics stores or purchase it online from Things From Another World.