The Marvel Universe is a place with a long history and a vast cast of characters. Identity and legacy are two of the underlying themes of its myriad stories, and so, I would like to introduce you to The Game of Pym. It is a solitary game, involves quite a lot of reading (and some writing) and will bring you up to the Marvel Universe in no time. It is also a game you can play quite often, since 1) the outcome is almost certanly subject to change over time, and 2) I am not sure that it ends, ever.
Modern Marvel Universe History started, as you all know, with the debut issue of The Fantastic Four, dated November, 1961. Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch was founding (or maybe even continuing in) the tradition of picking up an old name for a new heroic career. Many others would follow. In fact, this is what The Game of Pym is all about.
Henry ‚Hank‘ Pym is one of the most durable super-heroes of the modern Marvel Universe with a long and varied career that involves no fewer than five identities to his name. And here the fun starts.
A Word table will suffice quite nicely, but you should probably build up an Excel list. Now pull up Henry Pym´s entry in the Marvel database. The character box will show you each of his hero identities with their respective debuts.
Write these Hero/Villain Data (HVD) down as follows:
Real Name/Secret Identity (that would be Henry Pym – five times).
Hero Names (Ant-Man, Giant-Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, Wasp).
Debut issues for the identities (title and number).
Cover Dates (YYYY.MM for sorting reasons; that would be 1962.09 for Ant-Man).
Got that? Good. First round complete.
Now click on Ant-Man in the list of aliases. Scott Lang´s disambiguation page will open up (he was the second Ant-Man). Click his page, see if he had any other identities (he has not), and write down his HVD entry. You may want to draw or sort his entry right below the Ant-Man entry of Henry Pym.
Go back to Scott´s disambiguation page, scroll down and look up „Others“. You will see Hank Pym (we got that one), Cassie Lang, Eric O´Grady, Stinger, Chris McCarthy, and an Eric O´Grady LMD (we will come later to the alternate realities stuff). Click their pages and repeat the process until you have finished with five Ant-Men (Cassie Lang is a dead end/red herring in that regard). The Eric O´Grady LMD will have one more name, Black Ant, but that´s it for Ant-Man.
Already a sense of history is developing. Hehe.
On to Giant-Man and the first distinctions a player should make: As I see it, Bill Foster is the only one of immediate interest in that regard. Second-Story Sammy is a one-time impostor, and the same goes for shapechangers like Skrulls or Poppupians. The bald Giant Men of the Ultimate Universe may be of interest later, but hold off them for a minute, will you? That alternate reality stuff is for the very advanced players ;-). We will slip gradually into it.
Now, Bill Foster has two more identities to his name, Goliath and Black Goliath.
Next, Goliath. In addition to Bill Foster, this one also nets Clint Barton, Erik Josten and Tom Foster (we will skip the biblical Goliath). Tom is also the second Black Goliath. Barton and Josten have several additional identities, as well.
Yellowjacket will rein in Rita DeMara and Criti Noll (another Skrull – take it or leave it). And finally, Wasp will haul in Janet Van Dyne and Carina Walters.
Thus, the legacy of Henry Pym is covered. Sort your data any way you want, but be sure to keep an eye of your incomplete entries.
Round Two is complete. Left dangling for Round Three are Barton, Josten and Van Dyne.
So, basically, the career of a character is being investigated, and we are checking on the bearers of a given codename. Trust me, this will expand. Very much so. Just wait till you stumble over Captain Universe. Mwahahahaaaa.
Oh, about those alternate reality counterparts. Clint Barton is the imminent case in point. He has this Earth-712(Squadron Supreme) counterpart named Wyatt McDonald who went by the names of Hawkeye, Golden Archer, and Black Archer, the first of which were used by Barton himself. This is fairly easy, admittedly.
Later on, you will encounter counterparts of Spider-Man, most of them also named Peter Parker. It´s up to you, but if you include them, be sure to affix the real name with its Earth designation number (Earth-616 not used by default). If I were you I would look for variations in the real names and/or the codenames of the counterparts and ignore the rest. Otherwise, the Captain Britain entry will drive you nuts.
Have fun. Take your time. This is for the long evenings.
And you can start at almost any point. The more mutant-minded among you may even begin the fracas with Wolverine. However, The Game of Logan just does not scan very well ...