We at Animation Fascination are all very excited about Walt Disney Animation Studios’ upcoming film Big Hero 6. With the film being based on an obscure Marvel Comics series of the same name, our head writer Stanford Clark has been on the hunt for the past few weeks to get his hands on all of the issues of ‘Big Hero 6′ and has written up an analysis of the comics.
All images © Marvel
The comics of Big Hero 6 are limited in number but definitely large in terms of character and story-telling potential. Touted as “Japan’s top heroes,” the Big Hero 6 team serves as national security agents under the direction of Japan’s emperor and as defenders of the Land of the Rising Sun. In the comics, the team is based in Tokyo, Japan.
While there are only six members at any given time (hence the name), a total of eight characters have been on the team at one point or another:
- Hiro Takachiho – a 13-year-old boy genius and leader of the team.
- Baymax – Hiro’s bodyguard robot and confidante who has the ability to transform into either a giant green lizard or a mecha-robot (depending on the issue).
- Honey Lemon – the “sexy troublemaker” with a “power purse” which allows her access to pretty much any weapon or item of her choosing.
- Go Go Tomago – an ex-con with a voice activated power suit that allows her to move like a rocket and “hit like a battering ram.”
- Wasabi No-Ginger – a sushi chef who wears a samurai-meets-Hawaiian shirt ensemble and who has the ability to formulate and project pulses of Qi energy.
- Fred/Fredzilla – a seemingly regular dude who also has the ability to become a Godzilla-esque towering creature.
- Sunfire – “Japan’s greatest superhero” and a mutant who has some powerful abilities to generate and use heat and fire (his first Marvel Comics appearance was in a 1970 issue of X-Men).
- Silver Samurai – a fellow mutant along with Sunfire and a powerful ronin who appears in multiple Marvel story lines (he made his Marvel debut in a 1974 issue of Daredevil).
There are only nine issues total of Marvel Comics featuring these characters: two mini-series (one three-issue mini-series from 1998 and one five-issue mini-series from 2008-2009) along with one cross-over issue (also from 1998). While the lineup of the “6” changes a bit in the comics, Hiro is always the leader and brainiac of the bunch. Baymax, Honey Lemon, and Go Go Tomago have also been in every issue. Sunfire and Silver Samurai were swapped out with Wasabi No-Ginger and Fred in the 2008-2009 mini-series.
FIRST APPEARANCE: SUNFIRE & BIG HERO SIX (1998)
The team made their debut in September 1998 as part of a three-issue mini-series called Sunfire & Big Hero 6. Japanese superhero Sunfire was an original member of the “6” along with Silver Samurai, Hiro, Baymax, Honey Lemon, and Go Go Tomago. The mini-series was created by Scott Lobdell, Gus Vazquez, and Bud Larosa. It tells the story of how the team helps Sunfire battle his out-of-control powers and how they ultimately come together to defeat the evil apparition villain Everwraith.
CROSS-OVER ISSUE: ALPHA FLIGHT (1998)
In December 1998, the original Big Hero 6 lineup (the one with Sunfire and Silver Samurai) joined forces with another state-run super hero team, Alpha Flight, “Canada’s premiere super-human strike force,” in an issue of Marvel Comics’ Alpha Flight (Vol. 2, No. 17). While Sunfire is in Ontario, Canada getting himself worked on at Department H, a large and lethal monster named X the Unknowable wreaks havoc on Tokyo. The members of Alpha Flight work together with Big Hero 6 take the beast down. The issue was created by Steve Seagle and Duncan Rouleau.
A REVISED LINEUP: BIG HERO 6 (2008-2009)
This five-issue mini-series (which is available for purchase as an online digital comic under the name Big Hero 6 #1: Brave New Heroes) ran from November 2008 to March 2009. The series changes the lineup of the “6” by introducing two new characters: Wasabi No-Ginger and Fred/Fredzilla. They join Hiro, Baymax, Honey Lemon, and Go Go Tomago in an undercover adventure which takes them to New York City. The team is tasked to protect Japanese scientist Dr. Iosasma, his daughter, and a “priceless artifact.” Also introduced this series is a female character named Furi Wamu, who is the operational head of the exotic assets division of Japan’s homeland security department (and who, as we find out, is also the creator of the Big Hero 6 team; plus, she sports a gnarly eye patch not unlike Marvel’s Nick Fury character).
Created by Chris Claremont, David Nakayama, Terry Pallot, and Emily Warren, this five-issue mini-series is really cool. The edgy, avant-garde covers of the series were championed by Marvel’s chief creative office Joe Quesada. The additions of Wasabi No-Ginger and Fred to the mix also add to the team’s chemistry, conflict, and abilities. With great art and a classic, Marvel-esque storyline, the 2008-2009 Big Hero 6 series is my favorite of the team’s comic book appearances.
WHAT’S DISNEY GOING TO DO?
Right now, it’s anybody’s guess as to what Disney is doing with these characters. Marc Vibbert, Tom Fonss, and I recently recorded episode 66 of the Animation Fascination Podcast where we discussed the latest information on what we know about the film, so make sure to check it out.
Some things that we do know include:
- Hiro’s last name in the film has been changed from “Takachiho” to “Hamada.”
- The “emotional core” of the story is that Hiro’s big brother dies and he creates his robot Baymax to help him deal with his grief.
- The “6” characters in the Disney Big Hero 6 team will be Hiro, Baymax, Honey Lemon, Go Go Tomago, Wasabi No-Ginger, and Fred. Silhouettes of the characters were on display at the Walt Disney Feature Animation booth at the 2013 D23 Expo.
- If I’m not mistaken, the movie version of Fred will have him be just a comic book geek who is into cosplay (please forgive me if I’m wrong).
- The story will take place in a fictional city called “San Fransokyo,” a mashup of Tokyo and San Francisco.
- The obscure nature of the comics gives Disney more room to make storyline changes, additions, etc. (Other than the “6,” I don’t expect any other characters from the comics to make the film; but I could be wrong on that one, too.)
- While Marvel executives have been involved in story meetings, etc., the movie is being made exclusively at Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Based on reading the Big Hero 6 comics, the series has tremendous potential as a fun and unique motion picture, particularly an animated one. We can’t wait to see what Disney does with these interesting characters in this incredibly cool setting. We wish directors Don Hall and Chris Williams, producer Ron Conli, and the entire team at Walt Disney Animation Studios the best of luck as they are all currently hard at work on the production of this film.
Stay tuned to Animation Fascination for the latest in Big Hero 6 news and information. And mark your calendars—Big Hero 6 comes to U.S. theaters in 3D on November 7, 2014.