In the previous incarnation of his column, back when I used to churn out three or four of these opinion pieces for the letters pages of the books I edited, I did a column on "Marvel Mysteries", those Big Questions about the Marvel Universe, its denzins, and its history which invited reader speculation for many years before some wiseguy writer decided to lay the mystery to rest. I mentioned some of the great early Marvel mysteries, such as the relationship between Doctor Doom and Rama-Tut, Don Blake's existence prior to finding the hammer of Thor, the origin of the enmity between the Kree and Skrull races, and the secret composition of Captain America's shield. Noting that all of these mysteries which cropped up in early 60's Marvels have been answered, I asked if there are any big Marvel mysteries which today's readers are panting to find out about. Thanks to a handful of loyal correspondents, I can now answer that question.
I hereby persent to you, courtesy of the sources attributed below, the Outstanding Marvel Mysteries circa 1989, the 28th year of the modern Marvel Universe. In no particular order...
1. Who killed the Scourge of the Underworld?
2. Who are the Celestials and why do they pass judgment on inhabited planets?
3. How did the abstract cosmic beings (Eternity, Death, Chaos, Order, etc.) come into being?
4. Why didn't the irradiated spider that bit Peter Parker die from radiation long before it had a chance to bite him?
5. Why was Captain America put into suspended animation by the Arctic waters instead of freezing to death?
6. Why is humanoid life so common in the universe and most other known dimensions?
7. Where do alternate realities come from? Why does time travel create them?
8. Who are Wolverine's parents and how did he become psychotic?
9. Who did the Council of Kangs come into being?
10. Where did the Phoenix Entity come from?
11. What is Mystique's connection to Nightcrawler?
12. How is it possible for four people to be bombarded with cosmic rays and all four of them receive superhuman powers?
13. How do demons come into being?
14. Why does Galactus have so much difficulty finding life-sustaining planets to consume when we have seen that there are so many planets in the Marvel Universe that have life on them?
15. Why was the Living Pharaoh's power linked to Havok's?
16. What caused a nebula to become the sentient being known as Cloud?
17. If the alien Plodex (Marinna's race) are such efficient conquerors, why do they not have more control over the universe?
18. What is Northstar's secret past? Rogue's?
19. What is Wild Child's connection to Wolverine's? How about Sabretooth's?
20. Who created the Ultimate Nullifier?
21. What really happens when you travel backwards, forwards or sideways in time? (We've been given conflicting accounts.)
22. Why is the Earth (and New York City) the focus of so many cosmic events?
23. How does a Cosmic Cube alter reality to grant wishes?
24. How many Elders of the Universe are there in all? Who are the other ones?
25. Where did Vibranium originate?
26. What is the origin of Doctor Strange's cloak of levitation and Amulet of Agamotto?
27. If Adamantium was first publickly revealed to exist in AVENGERS #66, how was Wolverine given Adamantium bones and claws before that?
28. Who are the three "time keepers" spawned at the end of time who imparted their wisdom upon Immortus in THOR #282?
29. What caused the time warp in the Bermuda Triangle (as seen in the SKULL THE SLAYER series)?
30. Why is the 12th Century Avalon (shown in AVENGERS #225) apparently not the same place as the Avalon of the Celtic Gods (shown in recent THORs)? Is it truly where the spirit of King Arthur now exists?
31. What is the origin of the six soul gems?
32. Why did such an intelligent man as Reed Richards develop a spaceship which had inadequate cosmic ray shielding?
33. What is the origin of the enmity between Mystique and Carol Dangers (now Binary)?
34. How did Thor and his Asgardian compatriots come to speak Elizabethan English rather than some Scandanavian tongue?
--Ivan Marshall Briggs
35. If Nebula is the granddaughter of Thanos, is her mother or is her father Thanos' offspring?
36. When was the Maria Stark Foundation that funds the Avengers set up and how does it work?
37. What makes Earth so special? Why do no other worlds in the Marvel Universe seem to have mutants, gods, sorcerers, superhumans, etc., all together at once like Earth does?
38. What is Galactus' "great destiny", that is, how will he "return to the universe far more than he has taken from it"? In his function as intermediary between Death and Eternity, Galactus has mostly caused death. Will he someday be an even greater bringer of life?
39. Who was and whatever happened to Dragonfly from X-MEN #104?
40. Who or what were the Trikon from the Inhumans series in AMAZING ADVENTURES #9? How did it tie into the Kree-Skrull War?
Had enough? Why, there's so much plot material in these Top 40 questions that you can just bet that all of Marvel's most conscientious writers have torn this page out of this mag and tacked it above their typewriter or word processor!
Excised from the list above were all "Where are they now?" questions that have already been answered somewhere although the letter writer was not aware of it, and trivial questions from disjointed or abruptly-ended storylines (yes, there have been some in the past 28 years). It should be noted, as Allyn Polk pointed out, that great stories (if not great mysteries) can come out of annoying trivial questions. I'd also like to thank Victor Martinez, Doug Clark, Edwin Hastings, Keith Walter, Daniel Carter, Tilman Stieve, and Jay Gardner, who submitted some of the same questions as on the above list.
As the 40 questions above indicate, there is a lot of mystery in the ol' Marvel Universe, and I for one, can't wait to see some of these mysteries unraveled.
--Mark Gruenwald, writing his 100th Mark's Remarks column