Thursday, December 15, 2016

Papergreat is now part of canon in the Marvel Comics universe (sort of)

Back in the halcyon days of 1989, Marvel Comics launched a new superhero team dubbed The Great Lakes Avengers. They were essentially the comic relief of the Avengers pantheon, a bumbling squad featuring the likes of Big Bertha, Flatman, Doorman and Mr. Immortal. In a sporadic series of appearances over the past quarter-century, they have squabbled with other superheroes, changed their team name regularly, played some poker, cycled through a number of new members — the most famous being Squirrel Girl — and botched many jobs that Captain America probably could have handled during his lunch break, while holding a bologna sandwich in one hand.1

Basically, they stunk at the whole superhero gig. (Which was kind of the point.)

They were shelved and mostly forgotten within the long shadow cast by more successful Marvel film, TV and comic properties.

Earlier this year, though, Marvel launched a new comic-book series for The Great Lakes Avengers, with Zac Gorman (writer), Will Robson (artist) and Tamra Bonvillain (colorist) serving as the dandy creative team for the reboot.

Four of the team's founding members are back, with the tagline: "They used to be Avengers. They weren't very good at it and a bunch of them died. But maybe the world is finally ready for ... The Great Lakes Avengers."

At the end of the joke- and action-packed first issue, there was a note to readers calling for new recruits, possibly because this is a superhero team with an unusually high mortality rate.2 It states:
"The Great Lakes Avengers will take anybody -- ANYBODY!!! Do you have an intimate understanding of the physics of Jenga? Can you shove more marshmallows in your face than anyone else? Do you always manage to go to the bathroom right after the toilet paper roll has been refilled? Send letters detailing cool stuff you can do ... and you might just become an honorary member of the Great Lakes Avengers! (They're super desperate!!!)"
As someone who can relate with "super desperate," I figured this might just be the big break that the Papergreat Ephemera Empire was looking for. What if Papergreat was more than just a blog title or a questionable philosophy toward brittle paper products? What if Papergreat was a person? What if Papergreat was a superhero?!?!

So I wrote to the modern-day Marvel Bullpen.

And ... Yahtzee!

In the recently published issue #2 of The Great Lakes Avengers, my submission made it onto the letters page:
After reading your first issue, I believe that the skill set of my alter ego, Baron Von Papergreat, could benefit the Great Lakes Avengers. He is, to my knowledge, the only ephemera-centric super hero.

Papergreat's powers include the ability to decipher any handwriting, no matter how loopy or chicken-scratchy, on old postcards; the ability to find clues, currency and gum wrappers tucked away inside old books; and the ability to save worthless piles of old papers from certain destruction and hoard them for future evaluation.

I believe this kind of paper-focused perspective could help an Avengers-level group. Or, if you prefer, he's also willing to just answer the phone, sort the mail and do light dusting.
So, for the record, I just got the words Papergreat, ephemera and chicken-scratchy published in a real live Marvel comic book.

Better yet, this was "GLA hiring director" Zac Gorman's response:
Dear Baron Von Papergreat,
You had me hooked with your powers but you reeled me in with "light dusting." You're hired!
You're hired! This, my friends, is called canon.

It exists in print. It can't be taken back. The door is now officially ajar, ever so slightly, for Baron Von Papergreat to be a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe. It is theoretically possible that he could go on thrilling adventures with Flatman and Big Bertha, sit behind a desk and accept a collect call from Tony Stark, go on a dimension-hopping date with Patsy Walker, or be squished by MODOK within the single panel of his sorry existence in the Marvel universe. All things are possible!

He's canon, baby!4

(Sort of.)

I figure two things need to happen next. First, we need a proposed character sketch for Baron Von Papergreat. I would like to find a Real Artist™ to handle this, because I wouldn't want him to look like Mr. Bird, minus the beak.

Second, Baron Von Papergreat needs a fleshed-out history and origin story. So I should probably get to work on that, as it would clearly represent a wise use of my limited free time. But it will be worth it when he has his own spin-off comic book, Pop! figure and Netflix series, battling Bi-Beast and White Rabbit.5

Canon, baby!

Related posts:
1970s summer comics nostalgia with Thing and Vision

1. I have no idea if Captain America likes bologna. And, if he does, whether he's a mayonnaise guy or a mustard guy.
2. Except for Mr. Immortal. He can't die. Duh.
3. Go ahead, call me a middle-aged nerd. You know you want to.
4. Other Great Lakes Avengers recruits mentioned in the letters section of issue #2 include Awesome Shucks Man and Cheesemonger.
5. Lorina Dodson, to her friends.

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