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Comic book fans are used to truly obscure characters making unexpected comebacks; the idea of reviving a character that no one had thought twice about goes back to the earliest days of the Silver Age, when Julie Schwartz thought that maybe this “Flash” guy could work out second time around. But today’s Uncanny X-Men #11 features a break from the norm: the surprise revival of a character who had previously only ever appeared, unnamed, on the cover of the comic book from nine years ago.
Fittingly, the character doesn’t get a name this time around either,
although he does get some narration captions that suggest that he’s going to turn out to be a big deal in future issues. “You think you know me?” he monologues. “You think you know what I’m capable of? That is everyone’s mistake.” (Update: No, he doesn’t; those captions belong to the series’ lead character, Cyclops. Chalk that misunderstanding up to poor reading comprehension.)
Of course, we don’t really know him — if it is a him, of course. The character is wearing armor that hides their identity, just as they had done during their sole previous appearance on a variant cover for 2004’s New Avengers #1. Writer Brian Michael Bendis, who wrote both that issue of New Avengers and the current Uncanny X-Men run, has been teasing this reveal for some time, posting “Whatever happened to this guy? on his Tumblr a year ago, and following that with another post yesterday teasing “the return of … nuff said!!”
It’s possible that this is more than simply re-purposing a design for a character that ended up not making it into the finished series (New Avengers featured a masked character called Ronin who is absent from that David Finch image, suggesting that perhaps the outfit was a discarded Ronin design), given the Bendis connection between the two series. Even if it’s simply picking up and playing with a piece of random, little-remembered ephemera, however, this is a really nice little moment.
Perhaps surprisingly, this isn’t the strangest comic book character revival in the medium’s history; in 1992’s Doom Patrol #51, writer Grant Morrison and artist Richard Case brought back Yankee Doodle Dandy, a DC spy character from the 1960s who had never appeared before due to the passing of the editor responsible for commissioning the character’s creation. Bringing back this new Marvel villain might be impressive, but it’s nothing compared with resurrecting a character who had never been seen before.
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