Sunday, 23 February 2014

Marvel Alterniverses (Part Two)

And now for another Marvel alterni-verse series pitch.

My wife is a big fan of Kitty Pryde, the X-Men's air-walking phantom / teen prodigy. So of course I gave some thought to the idea of what kinds of game I could run that would include her favourite mutant, despite an urge to stay away from the core X-Men team (who I like, but feel are a little overdone these days notwithstanding the excellent FIRST CLASS movie). 

I collected X-Men comics for a long time, until Chris Claremont clearly burned out under the pressure of manufactured "events" like the Mutant Massacre and Inferno. After the former event, Claremont wrote Kitty and Nightcrawler into the leads of a British-based spin-off book called EXCALIBUR. Although I didn't care for it back in the day, because it felt a little slight compared to the core book's dramatic weight, I thought a revamped Excalibur game might work. But how to make it new and fresh?

I'm a big Anglophile generally, and my mind drifted to the revamped Doctor Who franchise and its spin-offs. What would EXCALIBUR look like, I wondered, if I re-imagined it as a British SF "TV show" in the Russell Davies / Steven Moffatt mold? 

I started to picture it, the pilot episode starting with a very young American student -- Kitty -- at an English university, arriving at the office of genetics expert Professor Moira MacTaggert. She needs help, but not with her school work. She is scared, because her mutant power has started to manifest herself. She doesn't know where to turn, and in this retelling of the story Kitty never had Charles Xavier as a tutor or a stint with the X-Men. (MacTaggert makes a natural Xavier proxy, though, and a perfect "mentor" character for the series's young heroes.)

MacTaggert takes Kitty under her wing, introducing her to something else she desperately needs -- friends. Thus Kitty is introduced to young telepath Betsy Braddock (aka Psylocke) and her handsome, atheletic brother Brian. Betsy and Brian are the orphaned children of a once-prosperous English family that now only has its titles and its land. Betsy has been helping Moira as a test subject.

Brian was an Olympic pentathelete during the London summer games, dubbed "Captain Britain" by the media for his amazing physical prowess and good looks. Brian isn't a mutant, like his sister, but he has his own secret -- a magic amulet that makes him incredibly strong, tough, and fast. 

As the series begins, the three friends investigate reports of mutant activity (and general weirdness) in the UK for Moira, very much in the TORCHWOOD or FRINGE mode, occasionally visiting her secret labs on Muir Island. Among the strange characters they encounter, early on, is a shapeshifter named Meggan with eyes for Brian. 

Eventually, they uncover an outcast society of mutants living beneath the streets of London -- they call themselves The Morlocks. This is where they make the acquaintance of a German mutant with blue skin and a tail who happens to be able to teleport. His name is Kurt Wagner, but the circus he escaped from called him Nightcrawler

The Morlocks are being threatened by the Russian mafiya, who plan to use their powers as muscle. They've already got a powerhouse working for them as a strongman, a handsome young farmhand named Piyotr who will do whatever he can to protect his sister Illyana. And since he can change his body to nigh-indestructible organic steel, the mafiya has many uses for him...

As you can see, it's not hard to spin stories out of the new framework and imagine them in a contemporary UK. This is one I'd still like to give a spin at some point.


  1. As someone who was a serious Excalibur fan, I love the hell out of this idea.