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Starbrand was good, if uneven (IMHO). I really liked the character of Ken O'Connell -- he was a flawed dude and a lousy hero at times. But Shooter seemed to break his own "world outside your window" with the Old Man/Alien connection (same goes for the "other dimension" in Justice, which was ret-conned, too). When Byrne took over, he seemed to have free rein to cut loose, and it ended up a bit of a continuity mess. DP7 is still my favorite comic of all time (hence my name on this board)That sounds a little more realistic.I recall Shooter wanting to continue with a big project to celebrate the 25th anniversary, though, so I think that the New Universe was what they went with instead; but I don't think it was a direct metamorphising or that he'd ever wanted to replace the original Marvel U.
Regardless, I'm happy to see the resurgence of some form of New Universe characters. Starbrand was always my favourite of the batch. Interested to see where Hickman goes with this.