Mutator, as realised by Russell Mark Olson in 2018 on the basis of the story outline by Paul Neary and Tom de Falco

Lost Marvel UK Projects: Mutator, created by Paul Neary and Tom DeFalco

Mutator, as realised by Russell Mark Olson in 2018 on the basis of the story outline by Paul Neary and Tom de Falco
Mutator, as realised by Russell Mark Olson in 2018 on the basis of the story outline by Paul Neary and Tom de Falco

During the tail end of the busy period in the 1990s when Marvel UK was developing numerous projects for the US Direct Sales market, one of the last unpublished proposed series was Mutator, which we’ve brought to a little bit of life on downthetubes thanks to Gateway City artist Russell Mark Olson.

Mutator was developed by Paul Neary and Tom DeFalco, but author Rob Kirby, who has just provided a wealth of additional information for our MUK “Genesis ’92” page, looking back and What Might Have Been for the company, notes that had the series gone ahead it would have been written by Dan Abnett, with art by Pino Rinaldi.

After the failure to get a four-book relaunch of the Marvel UK range off the ground in 1994, from which only Nocturne was eventually published as a regular Marvel US comic, Marvel US brought the Marvel UK imprint to an end, at least as a branding for further US series. (The various UK comics and magazines continued as before). Neary then planned a series of titles to be issued instead by Marvel US, with the UK offices acting purely as a production studio once more.

Artists such as Joe Fronteriz, Pino Rinaldi and Salvador Larroca were all mentioned by Neary as potential artists for several other undisclosed projects, while three others were developed a little further. Nothing would come from any of these pitches, either.

Mutator was described by Neary as a “reinvent of Plastic Man”, a new hero could not only make himself wafer thin, but turn into gas or liquid form, albeit with potentially dangerous consequences. No definitive title for the series was ever settled on, with the project adopting ‘Mutator’ during the autumn of 1994, which was then one of ten potential names on the list.

Although a brief outline that includes a done-in-one complete story, offering initial ideas of the series exists, rescued by Marvel UK Tim Quinn, crediting Paul Neary and Tom DeFalco as creators, Tom told me last year that he doesn’t remember anything about this project.

“Part of it reads like something I would have written. Part of it sounds more like Paul. I wish I had something for you to add. I don’t.

“I do remember that I often tossed ideas Paul’s way, he adds from the United States, “as well as to my editors on this side of the pond.

“The done-in-one complete story without a cliffhanger is something that I believed in then and still do. You need a clear and clean origin story so that you have the ability to reprint it in the future or take to pitch meetings.”

British Publishers | Marvel UK | “Genesis ’92”: Looking Back and What Might Have Been

Thanks to Tim Quinn for finding the outline; Tom DeFalco for his comments; and Russell Mark Olson for bring “Mutator” to life in 2019

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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