One of the things I really loved about OHMU was their Book of Weapons (detailed here) and their Books of the Dead and Inactive.
The wraparound John Byrne cover (above) shows the feature characters floating in eerie stasis. My scanner isn’t big enough to scan both the front and back cover and I’m too lazy to paste the two images together, so you just get the front cover. Sue me. Note that the dead characters have their arms crossed in repose and the inactive characters have their arms at their sides. I believe if you placed all the Dead and Inactive covers together it formed a mural of the characters floating in front of a big skull. Spooky!
I’m not entirely sure what the Marvel definition of “inactive” is. Could a really, really lazy superhero be included here? Or heroes on vacation? The Marvel definition of “dead” seems equally vague, since many of the characters in this issue have escaped from Death’s loose grip since this was initially published.
Just off the top of my head, the characters featured in this issue who were dead in 1984 but came back at some point include Baron Strucker, Baron Zemo, Bucky, Count Nefaria, The Destroyer, Dracula*, Drax, Gamora, Green Goblin 2.0, and maybe Lilith. I’m not complaining, I just think it’s funny.
I wonder from a practical standpoint how the impermanence of death would affect Marvel characters, spiritually and psychologically. I mean, after a while wouldn’t somebody like Hawkeye become so jaded by the death thing that self-preservation, restraint, and a belief in the afterlife would just get tossed out the window? Marvel death, where is thy sting?
The Marvel editors and writers are like capricious Greek gods, plotting the downfall or ascension of the mortals as the whim seizes them. I’d like to read a meta-marvel story where Reed Richards invents a device that peels back the invisible Fourth Wall to reveal an Olympus of fickle Editor Gods.** Characters like Speedball and Darkhawk would join editor cults in an effort to curry favor with the gods and avoid banishment to limbo. Oh, how those minor characters must have trembled when their champion, the Great God Gruenwald passed away and their fates were left to a new generation of Mad Titans like Bendis. I mean “Mad Titans” in a good way, of course.
But enough of that. Doesn’t Banshee look like actor William H Macy on the cover? Check it out:
Nothing personal, but I’m glad to see The Jackal is dead. The real question is how he survived to plague Spider-Man for more than one issue. I mean, he’s an old guy in a costume. That’s it. At least The Vulture is an old guy who can fly, but The Jackal can’t even do that. OHMU doesn’t mention it, but I’m pretty sure he had poison claws. That’s it.
Plus, look at him. Pretty damn goofy:
Man, I loves me the Google image search. You find the weirdest shit. I was looking for a decent picture of an evil Mogwai from the movie Gremlins when stumbled upon these ads, which are inexplicably hilarious to me. Look at the cute little guy:
I submit to you, fair reader, that a British literacy gremlin would make for a more formidable opponent than The Jackal.
Speaking of animal motif characters, check out Man-Wolf. He’s listed as “inactive,” which is a pity, because look at that fly outfit! He looks fabulous. Disco isn’t dead as long as Man-Wolf lives in our hearts.
According to his entry in OHMU, Man-Wolf “possessed superhuman strength, speed, agility, and stamina,” apparently so he could dance the night away. Not a true werewolf, “Man-Wolf was not subject to conventional limitations of lycanthropy, such as a weakness for silver,” but he had a true weakness for roller boogie and shiny disco balls. Heads up Marvel! I want to read a Dazzler/Man-Wolf mini-series, and I want to read it now!
And holy crap, is Man-Wolf wearing leg warmers? That just makes him even cooler. You go, girl!
*To be fair, OHMU lists Dracula, who is undead, as "destroyed," which seems accurate.
** Grant Morrison beat me to the punch when he had Animal Man meet his writer (Grant) in that one excellent issue.