Strange Company: The Marvel Mystical Fantasy Draft, Part One [Fantasy Week]
With Marvel's latest movie blockbuster Doctor Strange opening in theaters this coming week, this is the perfect time to explore the weirdness and wonder of the mystical corners of the Marvel Universe. For our latest fantasy draft, our writers must compete to put together the best superhero teams made up entirely of Marvel magical characters.
Each competitor must draft a team of seven Marvel characters with magical or supernatural powers or a preoccupation with the occult. Each team must include at least one practitioner of the mystic arts; one demon, half-demon, or possessed person; one vampire or pseudo-vampire; one undead character, such as a zombie, Frankenstein, mummy, or ghost; and one monstrous were-being or other creature transformed by or born from magic. Each team can also include one reformed villain.
It's the battle of the bands of Cyttorak; the fight to see whose hoary hosts are the hoary-most; the contest to put together the strangest company of them all. This is the Marvel Mystical Fantasy Draft.
Tara Marie: All right, since I'm first I'm going to go ahead and claim my favorite Magical Girl, Sera. Not only is she an awesome magic user, she's a fantastic storyteller (and that's basically magic, right?), trans, and a lesbian, which makes her just everything I love and want to be. So, yes, Sera, my mystic, and my first choice.
Elle: I love that Sera was the first pick in this draft. Such a great recent addition to the Marvel Universe.
Steve: I’m playing as tactically as I can, and to my mind Marvel’s not got that many good vampire people knocking around --- so that’s the category to go for first. With that in mind, I’m keeping it British and picking that first lady of Albion: Spitfire! A wonderful underrated character with a huge amounts of promise, and also a great costume, which, again, Marvel vampires don’t often get.
Andrew: I was hoping no-one else would remember that Spitfire is a vampire. I certainly wasn’t expecting her to be a first round pick! Good choice!
Kieran: I like to use my first pick to choose someone I want to get on my team before anyone else gets the chance, so I’m going big and choosing Vlad Tepes himself, Dracula. I’d like to specify that this is Tomb of Dracula Dracula, and not the weird World of Warcraft-looking fella Marvel has been running with since that X-Men story ten years ago. OG old-school Dracula; you can’t beat it.
Andrew: I feel like there are actually a few good Marvel vampires, so I’m going in a different tactical direction. I’m worried that undead characters are the most limited and competitive category, so I’m going for a (current) ghost who is also a top tier Marvel mystic; Agatha Harkness, the Salem witch who worked as a governess for the Fantastic Four and mentored the Scarlet Witch. That last gig didn’t work out great for Agatha, but being dead hasn’t stopped her from being awesome. She’s a witch ghost!
Elle: For this first round, I have to choose one of my very favorite Marvel characters: Illyana Rasputin, aka Magik. She was born a mutant from Earth, but raised in Limbo by the demons Belasco and S’ym, which has left her more than evil enough to count as my “demonic” pick, especially when she’s in her Darkchylde form. Despite all that, she remains a hero, anchored by her brother Piotr, her BFF Kitty, and the rest of her X-Men teammates. But it would be interesting to see her on a whole team of monsters and magicians.
Steve: She’s not only a hugely powerful magician in her own right, but she has that demonic side as well as the soulsword --- she’s an all-rounder, and a really solid opening choice.
Tara Marie: All right, I’m going with the third character that came to my mind when thinking about this draft. Why not second? Because Elle already took Magik!
So, my second pick of the draft is another awesome mutant, Jubilation Lee, AKA Jubilee. I have loved Jubilee since I first watched the X-Men cartoon; she’s got a killer sense of fashion (shut up, she does) and I always loved what her power looked like. I’m picking her based on the awesome Wolverine and Jubilee comic, by Phil Noto and Kathryn Immonen, where I fell in love with her all over again. For the handful of you who don’t know, that comic deals with the fallout from her becoming a freaking vampire. Yeah! She’s a vampire. How could she get any cooler? That’s why she gets a spot on my team. That, and the fact that I think her and Sera would actually get along great.
Elle: Well now we’ve both taken a pick from each other, because I was definitely thinking of Jubilee for this round.
Steve: Marvel has so many brilliant sorceresses, and clearly everybody is racing to grab the best ones they can --- so my second choice is Nico Minoru. This former Runaway carries an ancient staff that allows her to cast any spell she can imagine, with the catch being that she can’t repeat the same spell twice. That’s the kind of challenge I like seeing writers work around, especially as she appears in more and more stories, and that list of once-used spells grows. If I have a world-ending threat ahead of me, I think Nico’s a secret powerhouse who could really steal the show.
Kieran: I want someone who knows how to fight against magic and mystical threats, but I also want cutting British humor that I can identify with, and a strong desire to remain in the EU, so I’m going to go for Nextwave’s number one monster hunter, Elsa Bloodstone.
Andrew: I’m almost surprised Elsa made it as far as the second round of picks. There’s something very compelling about Elsa Bloodstone.
Elle: Elsa might be the only character who really came out of Nextwave looking good, and she looks very good (and knows it).
Andrew: Having already picked a bona fide witch, I’m going with a fake Wiccan for my next choice; my team’s primary mystic and the future sorcerer supreme, Billy Kaplan. Scarlet Witch’s magic gay son is one of the breakout stars of the Young Avengers, and a character destined for great things in the Marvel Universe, and I’d like to see him lead my team of sorcerers and monsters. The only thing holding him back is that all his code names --- Asgardian, Wiccan, Demiurge --- are pretty embarrassing. Also, his boyfriend Teddy sadly won’t make the team, because he’s not magic.
Elle: My next pick, fulfilling the vampire requirement (if only on a technicality) is Blade. A half-vampire who hunts vampires, he’s also one of the most prominent members of the mystical Marvel community, thanks to a successful film franchise. He’s always a fun character to have on a team, because he’s such a bitter loner. But his vampiric powers (without most of the weaknesses) and decades of combat experience make him a great guy to have on your side.
Tara Marie: While my favorite heroes are the tricksters, I have always held a soft place in my heart for the male characters that are just so over the top masc. For instance, the Hulk, a shirtless rampaging monster, is only slightly less good than Red Hulk, a shirtless rampaging monster with a gun! So the Punisher has always been a favorite of mine. And my favorite version? FrankenCastle. C’mon, just look at him! The man who’s been a walking husk since his family died is now a literal walking husk! While Castle normally doesn’t deal with anything too mystical, his run as an undead monster is all sorts of fantasy/sci-fi. Every team needs a brute, so he’s mine.
Kieran: I really wanted FrankenCastle! It’s such a cool design, and the story was way more compelling than it had any right to be.
Elle: As far as I’m concerned, FrankenCastle is an improvement on the Punisher, and he’s definitely an improvement on the Marvel version of the original Frankenstein Monster.
Steve: Agh nooo, that was my third pick! Very upsetting, mortal enemies forever. But that’s no worry, because I have a backup plan --- and his name is Robbie Reyes, the Ghost Rider. I absolutely love the character, and he fits the “demonic” category by virtue of being possessed by the spirit of Eli Morrow. Robbie is more powerful than I think he even knows, and his heart and determination make him a rock at the center of my team.
Andrew: He’s the best Ghost Rider.
Kieran: My next pick might not initially seem like a choice for a magical mystical team, but I think I’ve got a good one here: Brian Braddock, aka Captain Britain! His powers were gifted to him by Merlin himself, and he represents the collective spirit of the British people. Not only that, but every now and then he’s literally the king of an inter-dimensional Arthurian realm with fairies and whatnot. He’s a scientist and a magic user with a Superman-level power set.
Steve: Kieran’s doing Britain proud, although I’m not sure Dracula and Cap B are going to be the happiest of teammates!
Elle: Teammates who hate each other is what makes a great team! At least that’s my theory, as a lifelong Defenders and X-Men fan.
Andrew: Kieran nabbed Elsa Bloodstone, who was definitely on my wishlist, but there's another Bloodstone kid that I love just as much, and that's Elsa's kid brother Cullen Bloodstone. This member of the Bloodstone clan is not just a super-tough monster hunter; he's also an actual monster, thanks to his ability to transform into an extra-dimensional hell-beast. That makes him my monstrous team member, and my team's second queer teen. I think Billy Kaplan could be the mentor that the wayward Cullen needs.
Elle: For my undead slot, who better than the original Zombie, Simon Garth? A one-shot character from 1953, he rose from his grave again in 1973 to headline his own horror magazine, and has shambled around the Marvel universe ever since. Like most zombies, he’s basically mindless, but he has a spark of heroism within him. He also has an amulet that enables others to control him, so give that amulet to a keen strategist like Blade, and Simon will make a great foot soldier in the battle against evil.
Kieran: It’s interesting that Simon Garth’s role in the Marvel Universe is now played by Jasper Sitwell, the resident zombie on the recent Howling Commandos of SHIELD book.
That wraps up day one of the Marvel Mystical Fantasy Draft. Come back tomorrow for a dead girl, a devil, a diabolical daughter, and at least a couple of very unorthodox doctors.