Great Moments In Comic Book History #20: Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window

“The world outside your window!”

That’s how the Marvel described it’s new line of comic books, New Universe, is 1986.  The brainchild of Jim Shooter, New Universe was launched to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Marvel.  Consisting of 8 titles that were specifically advertised as not being a part of the regular Marvel universe, New Universe was advertised as featuring heroes who existed in the real world and who dealt with real world issues.  The plots would be realistic.  There would be no aliens or superhuman technology.  The superheroes would have powers but they would react to them in the same way that normal people would.  The stories would play out in real time, with a month passing from issue to issue.  It was the world outside your window!  According to Marvel: The Untold Story by Sean Howe, no one other than Jim Shooter thought New Universe was a good idea and, as Shooter became more and more obsessed with the New Universe, artists like John Byrne grew to resent Shooter’s focus on it.

Among the New Universe titles released in 1986, there was Kickers, Inc.  According to Kickers, Inc., the world outside your window featured a football team called The New York Smashers whose top players, after retiring from football, became a crime-fighting group called Kickers, Inc.  They were led by Mr. Magnificent, who had super strength as the result of super technology (and who, therefore, featured two things that Jim Shooter said would not be present in the New Universe titles) and who became a hero after his brother was killed by gangsters who were tying to pressure Magnificent into throwing the Super Bowl.  That may not sound much like the world outside your window but, of course, Kickers, Inc. was not originally created with New Universe in mind.  Kickers, Inc. was originally envisioned as being a regular Marvel series but when Shooter learned about it, he insisted that it be modified into a New Universe title.  Creator Tom DeFalco wasn’t interested in doing a realistic comic book series about superpowered football players and he left the book after only a 3 issues.

Like almost all of the New Universe titles, Kickers, Inc. was canceled after just 12 issues.  It turned out that comic book readers, many of whom used comics to take a break from the real world, didn’t have much interest in super heroes existing in the world outside their window.  Strangely, the promise that new popular Marvel characters would appear in the New Universe books didn’t bring readers over.  (Again according to Sean Howe’s book, John Byrne and several other artists celebrated the death of the New Universe by gathering in Byrne’s backyard and setting a pile of New Universe books on fire.)  The New Universe debacle led to Jim Shooter leaving Marvel but, despite it all, the New Universe and its characters have occasionally been revived over the years and the idea of exploring how the real world would react to the presence of super heroes is one that has run through not the MCU but instead the Snyderverse.

Kickers, Inc. may not have been a success but at least it gives us some idea of what may lay in store for whichever team loses the Super Bowl this year.  The losing players may not leave with a super bowl championship but they may gain an entirely new career opportunity.

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York
  19. NFL SuperPro is Here!

3 responses to “Great Moments In Comic Book History #20: Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window

  1. Pingback: Lisa Marie’s Week In Review: 2/7/22 — 2/13/22 | Through the Shattered Lens

  2. Pingback: Great Moments In Comic Book History #21: Captain America For President | Through the Shattered Lens

  3. Pingback: Great Moments In Comic Book History #22: Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man | Through the Shattered Lens

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