Sure, some of our childhood favorites have fallen into obscurity over the years, but some licenses have been reborn, bigger – and better – than ever. Let’s take a look at who’s on top of the Property Ladder.
He’s been a villain. He’s been a hero. He’s even been Captain America. But for most of his career, U.S. Agent has been a joke. A victim of the muscle crazed, violent, “gritty” 90s comic era. After a surprisingly decent origin – in which all-American boy John Walker is given super powers and recruited to be the new Captain America, only to see it all fall apart after he fails to stop a terrorist group from murdering his parents – the Agent’s career began to nosedive.
He spent the 90s playing Thunderstrike to Captain America’s Thor, and stumbled through the early 2000s. Writers weren’t sure what to do with him. He was given a glorified Highway Patrol uniform and sent to hunt aliens. He got a shield with wings on it. He got a different shield that looked like a star. He joined Omega Flight. It was all pretty terrible.
Walker’s climb back up the ladder started a few years back in the pages of Dan Slott’s Mighty Avengers. Surrounded by c-list Avengers characters, the Agent returned to his roots. But it wouldn’t be until Jeff Parker, who had already brought the 50s Avengers back from obscurity as the Agents of Atlas, pitted the Mighty Avengers against Norman Osborn’s Thunderbolts during the Siege crossover that Walker’s rise would truly begin. Because that’s when he got half his body sliced off.
When Marvel re-launched Thunderbolts following Siege, Luke Cage took command of the team, selecting members from the prisoner population of the Raft. Overseeing said prisoner population? Warden John Walker, wheelchair bound and missing his left arm and left leg. After a few decades of aimless wandering, Walker had finally found his perfect place in the Marvel Universe.
By far the greatest moment of this new direction came during the recent crossover with Avengers Academy. With the members of the academy stopping by the Raft for a “scared straight” type lesson, the heroes in training took the opportunity to seek vengeance on one of the prisoners – Norman Osborn, the man who had ruined their lives. Their plan brought down the Raft’s security systems, freeing the prisoners held within. Alone in the dark and trapped in his wheelchair, Warden Walker found a handful of convicts looking to escape. What followed was…amazing. I’ll let the image below speak for itself.
With John Walker, Jeff Parker has taken an underused character with two decades of history and placed him in the perfect role. Becoming Warden of the Raft fits in incredibly well with Walker’s past characterization, and taking his arm and leg provides a fantastic starting point for further character development. Well played, Mr. Parker. Well played.