Some great stories never have a chance to be told. While the writers and artists who work every week get the chance to show readers many amazing adventures and different worlds, not every idea makes it to print.
Even modern masters like Alan Moore or Grant Morrison have pitched some epics that, sadly, went unpublished or were rejected. Although that may be the case, some of these lost stories are still occasionally discussed, which is usually enough to prompt the imaginations of fans to run wild.
10 Grant Morrison’s Avengers 2099
Outside of his run on The New X-Men, Grant Morrison has only worked on a few Marvel projects during the span of his career. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t had any other ideas for the Marvel Universe and its heroes. Working with Mark Millar, Morrison pitched a revamp of Marvel’s 2099 series that would have seen a wild re-imagining of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in the future.
In their idea, Atlantis rose to the surface, beginning a third World War between countries trying to claim the lost continent as their own. A PTSD stricken veteran of the conflict finds Captain America’s shield in the ruins of Avengers Mansion and becomes the new Cap. The original Giant-Man towers over the Hudson River, decades earlier having grown so large he is now comatose. They, along with new versions of Iron Man and Thor, would have come together to battle Galactus and the Martians from the Marvel’s Killraven series.
9 Alan Moore’s Bizarro
Readers saw a little of what Alan Moore can do with Bizarro, with his haunting appearance in the classic “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” story, but at one point Moore actually came up with a series revolving the failed Superman double. Even better? It would have been illustrated by his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen collaborator Kevin O’Neill.
Their series would have seen Bizzaro versions of the Phantom Zone (Here called the Solid-Zone) and the city of Kandor (measuring six times larger than Bizarro-World.) Unfortunately, plans were scrapped when John Byrne rebooted Superman in 1986.
8 Rick Remender’s Hearts of Darkness
Rick Remender recently shared a rejected pitch he had for Marvel titled “Hearts of Darkness,” and it sounds like it could have been something really special. His concept would have shown readers an alternate Marvel Universe where supernatural forces run wild. Doctor Strange and Clea rule this alternate world, along with their advisor Brother Voodoo.
One of the central characters in the series would have been Frankencastle, the undead version of Frank Castle seen during one of the coolest arcs of Remender’s Punisher run. He would have come into contact with monstrous versions of Wolverine and Captain America, along with an Avengers comprised of characters from the Legion of Monsters.
7 Darwyn Cooke’s JLA: Bay of Pigs
While the genius writer and artist Darwyn Cooke passed away in 2016, his work DC: New Frontier remains a modern classic. Though that story ends on a truly wonderful note, Cooke had pondered a follow-up titled JLA: Bay of Pigs.
Set in the late ’60s and early ’70s, the work would have examined the cultural changes in the United States during this period in a similar way that its predecessor had. As New Frontier reflected the optimism (along with the social issues) of the late 50’s Space-Age, Bay of Pigs would have looked at the disillusionment that came in the following decade.
Cooke doubted he would ever get around to writing the project, at least in the immediate future, but it could have been a spectacular sequel.
6 Frank Miller’s Doctor Strange
This project, a collaboration between Roger Stern and Frank Miller, got far enough along that it was even promoted in various Marvel comics in 1981. While Miller’s artwork in the promotion is very cool, it seems to be all that exists of the advertised series.
Apparently, at the time, Miller was also pursuing art duties on a potential James Bond series at Marvel. Between that and his writing and artist commitments to Daredevil and the graphic novel Ronin, by the time he was available the series was already going with a different artist.
5 Patton Oswalt’s J
Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt has made no secret of his adoration of comic books. What is less known is that he has written and pitched several stories for DC over the years. One of them, titled simply J, sounds like it could have been an excellent change of pace.
Its premise was that after the Joker once again breaks out of Arkham Asylum, Batman and the Justice League tear through Gotham trying to find him, wreaking havoc on the city’s low-level super-criminals. A group of these villains, including the Cluemaster, Calendar Man, and Copperhead, join together to take down the Joker before they themselves are caught.
Oswalt described it as a tribute to low-stakes noir films of the early ’70s, and we can certainly imagine this kind of story having some Charley Varrick or Friends of Eddie Coyle vibes. J wasn’t the only cool Batman idea Oswalt had…
4 Patton Oswalt’s Arkham Arsenal
Why does Patton Oswalt get to have two entries on this list? When you hear the plot of Arkham’s Arsenal, you’ll understand. It’s a Dirty Dozen inspired tale of a group of U.S. army prisoners known only as “Arkham’s Arsenal,” tasked with carrying out a top-secret mission before D-Day.
Led by Col. Bruce Wayne, the unit includes the disfigured Sgt. Dent, disgraced cryptologist Pvt. Nigma, Cpl. “Deadshot” Lawton, and Pvt. Zsasz, among others. The most dangerous may be Pvt. “John Doe,” a former special forces commando who went insane after his unit was killed in an experimental gas attack that left him with bleach white skin and a permanent rictus. DC, please make this happen.
3 Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan II
While the original Old Man Logan has continued in several miniseries and with the title character’s adventures in the main 616 continuity, the direct sequel that Mark Millar teased following the release of the first series never quite came to fruition.
Not much is known about what the sequel would have been about, but Millar stated that it began with an “insane Spidey flashback which pretty much sets the tone” for the work. While we’ve been given a good idea of what Wolverine got up to after the events of the original, it would have been incredible to see what Millar had in store.
2 Waid, Morrison, Millar, & Peyer’s Superman 2000
In 1998, the combined might of comic writers Mark Waid, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Tom Peyer provided DC with a pitch called Superman 2000. The intent was to recreate Superman for the new century, without rebooting the character. It would have followed him from his early days in Smallville, all the way to his time as the fully-formed Man of Steel. An interesting component would have been showing readers Superman’s “lost years,” a previously unseen period where he would have been trained by the Justice Society.
It’s a truly wonderful pitch, widely available online, that any fan of the character should check out. While Superman 2000 was never published, aspects of the story would be reused by its authors over the years.
1 Alan Moore’s Twilight of the Superheroes
Of course, Alan Moore’s Twilight of the Superheroes is on this list! It’s practically the Holy Grail of unpublished comic books. It takes place in the not-too-distant future where Superheroes grudgingly assumed stewardship of the world after the breakdown of society.
The United States is broken down into different houses controlled by superheroes. The most powerful are the House of Steel, presided over by the now-married Superman and Wonder Woman, and the House of Thunder which is run by Captain Marvel (or Shazam) and Mary Marvel.
The story revolves around an older John Constantine, who finds himself pulled into a conspiracy to take down the Superhero led monarchy. To say more would be to spoil an excellent story, so please check it out!
Even the biggest names in the comic industry have faced rejection. Here are 10 unpublished comics that could have been all-time classics.