During the 1970’s Steve Englehart began a time-travel story in which Dr. Strange meets a variety of historical figures including Sir Francis Bacon, whom he revealed not only as having been assigned to choose the Englishmen who colonised the “New World,” but as a telepath and the leader of a secret society of English and European elites, the later leader of whom would become Benjamin Franklin.
“The Occult History of America”, as the story was titled, was written by Englehart for two issues before his deteriorating relationship with Marvel forced him off the book and Marv Wolfman was brought in to finish the storyline in a way that didn’t use Steve’s ideas.
So what were Englehart’s intended ideas for remainder of “the secret occult history of America” storyline?
I’m not sure, but it is interesting that in real life, Benjamin Franklin was infamously associated with the Irish Hellfire Club. So why not in the Marvel Universe proper?!
I would reveal that the initial colony that Francis Bacon was said, in Englehart’s two issues, to have handpicked candidates for, were mutants shipped out of Britain to secretly avoid persecution, since the “secret society” that was the Hellfire Club realised the existence of such beings becoming public knowledge would result in another break-out of witch-hunts, what with their opponent King James acceding the throne.
With all this talk of “secret societies” I would further reveal those Bacon handpicked to settle the “New World” as the Roanoke Colony and that the colony of New Salem are not the “witches” they proclaim to be, but rather the remainder of the Roanoke “mutant” colony. Their reason for not admitting to being mutants is a result of their having experienced the dark times for mutantkind, and fear of again being persecuted.
I would suggest this is why the Scarlet Witch approached Agatha Harkness for tutelage in the use of magical energy, despite the fact that her ability to channel it existed as a result of her mutant powers. How else would Agatha know how to train someone in the use of their powers if its basis was due to their mutation? I would reveal that Agatha Harkness was able to assist Wanda due to herself also being a mutant… as are the colony of New Salemites.
Their being mutants would better explain why all of the town’s inhabitants have powers, and would better explain why Reed and Susan chose Ms. Harkness as Franklin’s governess. That is, it made no sense why they would choose someone who was a practitioner in black magic, when the origin of Franklin’s ability was due to his being a mutant.
However, with Reed and Sue’s knowledge of the emerging prejudice towards mutants at the time, they would have been reluctant to enrol their son in Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters.
But if Agatha was secretly a mutant, she would seem a sound choice, since not only would she have the required skills to train a being of Franklin’s potential, but she would realise the importance of keeping his mutant nature a secret, after having first-hand knowledge of humanity’s prejudicial nature towards mutants.
This could provide a more conclusive explanation for what Agatha was doing mixing it up with the ancestors of the Hellfire Club in that mini from a few years ago. That… and I would love to perhaps make Agatha analogous to the missing Virginia Dare. Now, why on Earth a writer of Neil Gaiman’s calibre never took this approach when he wrote his “1602” series, I’ll never understand, since Agatha would have fitted his “no character created after 1969 will appear in 1602” rule, perfectly.