The League of Marvels
Volume 02: Rise
of the Skull
A Custom Action Figure Project
By Bruce Ross and Joshua Izzo
Following the stellar debut in the spring of the 2006 with
the 1890’s-inspired Marvel Comics re-imagining, Hasbro
and Toy Biz have decided to continue the line this fall with
an all-new offering of classic heroes and villains.
Series two of The League of Marvels, dubbed “The Rise
of the Skull” picks up where series one left off in terms
of character selection and storyline. Each toy will again
come packaged with a comic book that helps tell the League of
Joshua Izzo and Bruce Ross, the architects behind this endeavor
were pleased by the response from the collector community for
their first wave of creations and were more than happy to return
to the 1890’s and put their stamp on some more of the
iconic characters in the Marvel universe.
This second wave of figures will include Ghan-Lo, The Red
Skull, Iron Man, The Black Widow and Dr. Henry Pym; The Ant-Man. Each
of these 6” action figures will be highly articulated,
and as stated above, will include and all-new League of Marvels
in-pack comic book.
The Black Widow —
Custom by Joshua Izzo
Natalia Alianovna Romanova is a woman like none other. She
has gone by many aliases in her time serving under Nicholas
Fury in his covert operations. Some knew her as Mata Hari,
the most nefarious, deadly and beautiful spy ever, but others
know her as The Black Widow.
As Fury collected his menagerie of heroes in the United States,
his undercover agents were busily working in various capacities
in the government agencies and personal retinues of Prussia’s
leading citizens in the glorious capital city of Brandenburg. The
Black Widow, a mistress of disguise unmatched in the modern
age was posing as a courtier to the then leader of Prussia,
With her unmatched access to government documents, internal
memorandums, loose-tongued soldiers and archives, the Black
Widow had been able to report back to Nicholas Fury for many
months about the increasing power being gained by a general
in the Prussian Army – a monstrous hate monger that went
by the nickname of The Red Skull.
He was named as such due to his penchant for wearing a full-face
mask at all times in the visage of a grisly skull bathed in
blood. The Black Widow had learned, just like Iago, this
evil mastermind had been slowly polluting Wilhelm II’s
mind with notions of warfare and conquest.
With the might of all of Prussia’s military under his
thumb, and unmatched access to the coffers of Prussia at his
disposal, The Red Skull was found to be working with a gruesome
naturalist called Arnim Zola. With time running out, The
Black Widow sent word to her commander Nicholas Fury in the
United States to begin his operations.
Steeled by the knowledge that reinforcements are on the way.
The Black Widow and her compatriot Ghan-Lo begin to prepare
for the war that is about to break out across Brandenburg.
Iron Man —
Custom by Bruce Ross
Thought lost to the seductive hold of opium and alcohol, millionaire
industrialist Anthony Stark was thought to be finished in the
world of nineteenth century commerce.
Nicholas Fury thought otherwise. Fury was determined to enlist Stark’s
vast resources in his fight against the growing tide of Zola’s army of
death, and would stop at nothing to ensure his participation.
Searching the globe, Stark was found by Fury’s agents in the Far East
and brought to London by steamship. During the long voyage, Stark endured
a horrific period of withdrawal from the opiates that had sustained his disease-ravaged
body and kept away the pain and creeping hand of death. Those that cared
for Stark included some of the United States’ finest physicians, who used
a series of tonics and revolutionary treatments to restore the handsome captain
of industry to his former glory. While not cured, Stark was enabled once
Faced with the possible horrors about to be unleashed, Stark dedicated both
himself and his vast storehouse of weapons and incredible steam-powered war
machinery to Fury’s cause. The crowning achievement of Stark’s
creations was the Suit…a massive, mechanically controlled exoskeleton
that housed a human soldier. While only a single prototype in existence,
Stark volunteered to be the man to operate this monstrous panoply in Fury’s
offensive. Fury accepted these terms, but expressed concerns for Stark’s
unstable condition. Thus Stark, in concert with a staff of doctors and
scientists, altered the inner workings of the suit to infuse the inner workings
of the suit with various medicines, temperature controls, and ideal conditions
to maintain his health. In many respects, Stark’s greatest chance
for health and survival lay behind the controls of his ultimate instrument of
Thusly, The League of Marvels was armed with the best military technology in
the world, and one of the fiercest warriors of the Victorian Age.
Custom by Joshua Izzo
The man known as Ghan-Lo is as mysterious as his origins. He
was found left for dead in a small province outside of Osaka
prefecture in 1875 by one of Nicholas Fury’s covert agents
returning from a tour of mainland Japan, China and Mongolia. Upon
his receipt of the communiqué from his agent, Fury and
a handful of agents made all haste to Japan and soon found himself
face to face with a mysterious stranger who has stymied and
perplexed Fury to this day.
Ghan-Lo, as the native Japanese farmers had named him, was
a white man of indeterminate origin. He was swarthy and
dark which could mean he could be of Mediterranean or Arabic
origin, he could speak Japanese, English, Arabic and Russian
fluently, was hungrier than a platoon of Fury’s most able-bodied
soldiers, but could remember nothing of his birth, his life
before the moment he awoke in the rural Osaka farmhouse, his
real name nor how he came to be in Japan at all.
He was a calm man and spoke politely and tersely, when he
spoke at all. He was reticent to look others in the eye
and kept himself to himself. On many occasions, he expressed
to Fury his thanks for coming to his aid. He was just
as confused about his origins as they were, and he appreciated
their charity and attention.
Within days of his arrival and first interview with the strange
man, Ghan-Lo began to exhibit some tendencies that led Fury
to believe he was dealing with someone special.
With a body that looked carved from wrought iron and fists
that were hardened and powerful, Fury determined that Ghan-Lo
had been some sort of fighter in his previous life. He
decided to take it upon himself to find out some clues to this
enigmatic characters life.
Thus did Ghan-Lo’s inadvertent training begin. Fury
began with simple exercises and combat testing, and every opponent
that was thrown at Ghan-Lo, returned to the barracks battered,
bruised and broken. Fury was astounded and, frankly, excited
at the raw potential of this man. Ghan-Lo was able to
wield any number of feudal Samurai weaponry that was put into
his hand as if he had been born to use them. He had a
penchant for a bear-claw style of bladed weapon known as a Torashuko — and
Fury noted that Ghan-Lo was able to wield these claws as if
he had been born with them. He could track and hunt as
if her were part wolf and he had a propensity for surviving
the most abrasive and cruel punishment.
With all of this in mind, Fury and his retinue packed their
gear and took Ghan-Lo back o the United States. There,
Ghan-Lo became one of Fury’s top agents and was indispensable
in Fury’s covert war on evil in the world.
Our tale opens with Ghan-Lo posing as a bodyguard in the court
of Wilhelm II, working in tandem with Fury’s other star
agent The Black Widow. With the other League of Marvels
making their way across the seas to Prussia, Ghan-Lo and the
Black Widow prepare for the ensuing war.
The Red Skull —
Custom by Bruce Ross
Johann Schmidt was a man filled with hate. Born into
poverty in Prussia, he was orphaned as a young boy, and ran
away from his home, eventually ending up in eastern France. Often
running from the authorities, Schmidt was a thief and a liar,
and had developed a deep-seeded hatred for the French, and many
other nationalities and groups throughout Europe. He spent
much of his time in the province of Alsace, and during his teens
was imprisoned for petty crimes. Many of those living
in Alsace spoke German, and Schmidt developed a sense of nationalistic
desire to see his linguistic kin ruled by a German king…a
proper aristocracy based upon wisdom and conquest, as opposed
to the weak republics of the French government.
After many years, Schmidt returned to Prussia. He desired to find others
who dreamt of a unified German-speaking state, and was fortuitous enough to
have a brush with power. Working as a servant for the military’s
upper echelons, Schmidt had a chance meeting with Helmut Von Moltker and Otto
Von Bismarck. They were impressed with Schmidt’s exceptional demeanor,
strong will, and nationalist pride. Shortly thereafter, France declared
war on Prussia and the allied German states, and Schmidt anxiously volunteered
Showing his prowess on the battlefield and in the planning stages of battles,
Schmidt rose through the ranks and became an unofficial right hand man to the
Kaiser. In battle, he took to wearing a death mask bathed in blood red
paint, which garnered him the nickname “Red Skull”. It became
an enduring symbol, and Schmidt took to wearing the strange disguise at all
times. Following the war, Germany became a far more unified national entity,
and Schmidt’s nebulous but influential role assured that he would have
the ear of the German Kaiser…a position that he would use to unfurl a
plot to plunge the world into full-scale war.
For nearly two decades, Schmidt took careful and discreet steps to plan his
conquest for world domination. Secretly using the resources of the German
government, Schmidt amassed weaponry, invested in new technology, and took steps
to supply an army. The only problem was the manpower of an army itself…a
problem that was soon solved by the desperate scientist and madman Arnim Zola. In
Zola, Schmidt saw the mind and means to produce a loyal and dispensable army
that would do his bidding…the ultimate means by which to realize his
mad dream of a world in his grasp.
Dr. Henry Pym: The Ant-Man —
Custom by Joshua Izzo
As Fury traveled the globe searching out marvelous characters
to aid him in his ongoing struggle against tyranny, he was also
cultivating some home-gown ‘marvels’ in the United
States to aid him in his fight against the ever-growing threat
of Arnim Zola, The Red Skull and the barbaric warmongers in
A Harvard graduate with a degree in biology and entomology,
Dr. Henry Pym is Nicholas Fury’s chief science officer
and one of his most trusted confidants. Whereas characters
such as Peter Parker, Anthony Stark and Natalia Alianovna Romanova
have been recruited from various corners of the globe, Henry
Pym has been with Fury since his graduation from college.
Once recruited, Fury granted Pym all the monetary and scientific
resources available at the time to the promising scientist. Pym
ensconced himself in the basement of Fury’s Washington
DC headquarters and began working immediately on new ways of
dealing with threats against the country.
Among some of his more note-worthy inventions were the steam
and lightning powered flight pack that Fury wears into combat,
blueprints for an amazing aero plane device that was later stolen
by a lab assistant named Orville Wright and using his intimate
knowledge of the insect world a multi-armed, hydraulic battle
carapace that can hold the weight of a grown man and can traverse
almost any surface.
As Pym was about to make a breakthrough into the very workings
of the molecules of humankind, he was called forth to aid Fury
in his battle against the rising Axis in Prussia. Pym,
a man of science not of combat was at first reticent to join
the fray, but once he donned his mechanical insect carapace
he began to feel more comfortable.
On the journey across the Atlantic, he had some time to discuss
science, industry and politics with Anthony Stark and young
Peter Parker. It was one day on the ship as he was shepherding
a small colony of ants into a beaker that Ghan-Lo, the surly,
history-less man called him the “Ant Man” after
his love of the insect world, and the appearance his carapace
gave to his form.
Without shame, Dr. Pym took to the name instantly, and began
asking his comrades to call him the Ant-Man. Dr. Pym, the
Ant-Man walked to the edge of the ship and stood on the deck
of Fury’s ocean liner. Looking out into the distance
at the looming storm. he readied himself for the next exciting
chapter of his life.