Greetings from the Odinson,
Like any fiction worth its salt, the Marvel Universe and DC Universe are rich with history and nuance. When there is a running narrative that goes on for the better part of a century, there is bound to be many interweaving plotlines and connecting dots.
It is no secret the Odinson is a colossal fan of the comic book medium, and like other fans, I like to ponder and discuss these wonderful and colorful universes, and contemplate the what ifs. While I am not the biggest fan of retcons that fundamentally change the status quo just for the sake of change, I am a fan of tales like the Winter Soldier that build on what came before and actually add layers to an already established narrative.
Here are a few interesting possible correlations in comics that could expound and give even more layers to established narratives.
3 Possible Connections that Could Change the Way We Look at Comics
Vandal Savage was born billions of years ago at the dawn of mankind and has walked the earth ever since. He is an arch villain through and through and has influenced history in many diabolical ways, like the destruction of Atlantis and the formation of the Illuminati. Along the way he has come into conflict with many different champions at many different points throughout human history, like the World War II era Justice Society, the modern day Flash, and the time-traveling Rip Hunter.
Though his point of origin is shrouded in mystery, Ra’s Al Ghul is reputed to be anywhere from 400 to 700 years old. In that time he has cultivated a death cult, the League of Assassins, and seeks to bring balance to the world through blood and purge. His immortality is a result of bathing in the mystical waters of the infamous Lazarus Pit. His diabolical schemes have also brought him into conflict with different heroes over the centuries including Jonah Hex (in the Batman Animated Series) and, of course, Batman.
Both Vandal Savage and Ra’s Al Ghul are men of great ego and ambition, with centuries of experience and knowledge. They have grand schemes for the world and mankind in general. It would stand to reason that over the long centuries their paths have crossed, perhaps even many times, and they have developed a great rivalry. Marvel once did a fascinating tale – Apocalypse vs. Dracula – pitting their two wicked immortals against each other. DC Comics could do the same with their two most infamous immortals.
Vandal Savage vs. Ra’s Al Ghul could be a Crisis-level event that spans centuries and could involve the entire DCU from Anthro to Jonah Hex, from Sgt. Rock to the Justice League, and from Kamandi to the Legion of Super-Heroes.
It would be epic!
After ingesting a special formula, Robert Reynolds was infused with the power of a million exploding suns. Essentially he is the most powerful hero in the universe. There appears to be nothing he cannot do. However, Reynolds has a fractured psyche and developed a dark personality called the Void which can take control from time to time, endangering the entire world. In order to protect the world, the memory of Reynolds was erased from the Marvel U, including from himself. Upon his return, and all those memories coming back, it was established that the Sentry actually influenced many of the heroes’ lives during the early days of the Marvel Age.
Kenneth Connell was gifted the Star Brand by a mysterious old man. The Star Brand is a mark of power that bestows upon its bearer the power to do anything they think they can do. The emergence of the Brand sparked the White Event which kicked off the New Universe. The New Universe was an alternate reality where people began developing paranormal abilities in a real world setting. Kenneth was insecure, unreliable, and unfaithful, but he had the power of a god, and a good heart. Unfortunately, one mistake led to the Black Event which destroyed the city of Pittsburg and everyone who lived there, and it destroyed Kenneth’s psyche.
What if the power of the Star Brand and the power of the Sentry are connected? What if Robert Reynolds and Kenneth Connell are actually the same person?
This one is a leap, but indulge me for a moment while I explain.
The retcon of the Sentry establishes that the Golden Guardian was a part of the Marvel U since the very beginning. After the Sentry erases his memories and the memories of the Marvel Universe, would it be so farfetched to say that the New Universe, an alternate universe established 20+ years real world time after the launch of the Marvel Age, was in fact a self-imposed exile by the Sentry? 2018’s Sentry series established that he is capable of creating alternate worlds to reside in. It would explain why the denizens of the New Universe suddenly begin to develop super powers upon the arrival of this new power (the Star Brand i.e. the Sentry).
Here’s some other possible connections.
Robert Reynolds is a flawed man with severe split personality disorder. Kenneth Connell’s story establishes that he also is a very flawed man and he, the Old Man, and the Star Child are in fact all the same person stuck in an insane time loop of tragic events. Finally, the New Universe began with the arrival of the Star Brand (i.e. the Sentry), its highs and lows coincide with those of Kenneth Connell’s (i.e. Robert Reynolds’) yo-yo-like sanity, and the New Universe ends by the hand of that power and fractured sanity.
Thus, when the New Universe comes to an end so too does Reynolds’ self-imposed exile, paving the way for his return to the Marvel Universe in 2000’s The Sentry storyline.
Groot’s origins are as varied as the Joker’s. When he very first appeared back in 1960 in the pages of Tales to Astonish #13, Groot was presented as a monster from Planet X sent to enslave our world. These days, he is the backbone and mighty member of the modern day Guardians of the Galaxy.
Yggdrasil is the World Tree, a great colossus whose roots and branches connect all the nine worlds of reality. All the worlds of men, gods, trolls, elves, giants, demons, and the dead are connected by the World Tree.
What if Groot and his race of tree people are actually branches of the World Tree itself?
Now, I’m really going out on a limb with this one, so humor me.
Niohoggr is a dragon that chomps at the roots of Yggdrasil trying to get to the great eagle that resides high in the branches above. The squirrel Ratatoskr runs up and down the trunk of the tree carrying taunts between the two great beasts. It is said that on the day the dragon reaches the eagle existence will come to an end. Luckily, the roots can replenish themselves, keeping the serpent at bay.
What if Groot was actually one of those roots that was broken free during one of the serpent’s ravenous assaults? Broke away and became sentient? There are crazier mythological and sci-fi origins. This would explain why Groot is able to reconstitute himself even after being blown up, smashed to pieces, or burnt. I have had this thought for a long time but what really fueled the flames of it was the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
In mythology, the handle of Mjolnir, Thor’s mighty hammer, is made of wood from the World Tree. In Avengers: Infinity War, when Thor needs a handle for his new hammer Stormbreaker, Groot breaks off a piece of himself to complete the weapon’s forging. This ties the MCU into the original Norse mythology and connects Groot to Yggdrasil.
These are just some fun thoughts that have been swirling around inside the Odinson’s head.
While some retcons, like a Norman Osborn/Gwen Stacy tryst, are baffling, to say the least, others, like Odin’s connection to the Marvel Universe’s totems of power in the Avengers 1,000,000 BC, add nuance and excitement to establish mythos and open the doors to new avenues of adventure.
Perhaps some of the connections above have already been confirmed and the Odinson just hasn’t read that story yet. If so, please point me in the right direction. I have nothing to base any of these theories on other than good old fashion fan speculation.
The fact these tales of men that can leap tall buildings in a single bound, women that can call down the thunder, and teens that can climb on walls can spark the imagination and create conversation is part of the fun.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
NOTE: Be sure to check out my book – The Survivors: A Glen Haven Tale. Available in Paperback, Kindle, and Audiobook.