Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Good Lord! Marvel Preview #1/Planet of the Apes #Something-Or-Other.

Marvel Preview #1, Man-Gods From Beyond the Stars, Good Lord
Sunday evenings were a strange experience for me as a child.

On the positive side, it was the time when I got to read that week's issue of Marvel UK's weekly Planet of the Apes comic and eat a packet of Munchies - the only sweet I can think of that's exactly the same now as it was forty years ago, even including the wrapping.

On the downside, I always had to endure missing the first fifteen minutes of each episode of the Planet of the Apes TV show because we were forced to listen to a Radio 2 sitcom called The Family Brandon, starring sometime Radio 2 DJ Tony Brandon who seemed big on pretending to be comedy legend Tony Hancock. This affectation wasn't as bad as the nightmarish Radio 1 DJ Adrian Juste who notoriously used to edit Tony Hancock out of his own radio sketches and then insert himself in his place. An act on a par with drawing over the Mona Lisa with a crayoned sketch of Miley Cyrus.

Well, mere days ago, I made mention of the fact that, among all the one-off tales Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes comic printed, there were two that stuck out for me more than all others. One was He That Hath Wings, the tale of what happens when you're daft enough to chop your wings off in order to enhance your job prospects. Needless to say, I learned a valuable lesson from reading this tale and shall never again chop off any modes of transportation my body may possess, merely for crass profit.

Good Lord, Marvel Preview #1, Dave Cockrum, Neal Adams
The other tale was a thing called Good Lord, a story drawn by Dave Cockrum and inked by Neal Adams and friends.

In it, a bunch of astronauts scour planet after planet, trying to find evidence of the existence of God.

Instead, one by one, they get killed by the various monsters and nasties they encounter on each world.

But then, at last, they find signs of intelligent life, as they stumble across a world with an abandoned city on it.

Good Lord, Marvel Preview #1, hall of gods and prophets
Upon entering it, they find statues of familiar gods and prophets inside but are then attacked by a monster which they're forced to kill.

And then, when yet another monster turns up, one of them shoots it...

...only to discover he's made a bit of a boo-boo and killed God, meaning the universe is now doomed as death oozes and spreads outwards from the deceased deity's wound.

Needless to say, any story that features God being killed is bound to stick in the mind, if only because you wonder how they ever got away with distributing that sort of thing in the more religious parts of the USA. Obviously, in Britain, where people generally kick up much less fuss about religion because we're too busy hitting each other outside nightclubs every weekend, it was never likely to be as controversial. But, all these years later, what do I the reader make of it?

Good Lord, Marvel Preview #1
Well, of course, I love it. Why? Because it looks good. I'm a Dave Cockrum fan and, while not always a Neal Adams fan, I can easily recognise that, from a technical viewpoint, he knows how to do his job. And the two artists' styles mesh well, especially in places where the artwork takes on a noticeably Wally Wood vibe. Credit should also be given to Terry Austin, Pat Broderick, Russ Heath and Josef Rubinstein whose inks are also in there along the way.

Obviously, in terms of logic, there is the question of why God's living on a world full of monsters and can you really kill God with a ray gun? But it's probably best to sweep such obvious concerns under the carpet and just appreciate the sly, dark humour of the resolution.

PS. Thanks to those who expressed concern during this blog's short absence. I can confirm that it was a relatively minor problem and painlessly sorted out with a brief message to Google.

6 comments:

Colin Jones said...

I didn't remember the wings story and I don't remember this one either but I must have read both of them. I can think of two reasons why this wouldn't be controversial in the Bible belt: 1) They couldn't possibly conceive of a God who wasn't an old man with a white beard and 2) they probably didn't read such sinful things as Marvel comics anyway! Steve, if you missed the first 15 minutes of the POTA TV show then you obviously missed the terrific opening titles - I loved the show but these days I think those opening titles were the best bit. I've looked at them on YouTube but unfortunately the last third or so is missing, at least it was on the clip I saw.

Billy Hogan said...

I remember buying this b/w comic book from the magazine rack of my local grocery store. I'd love to find another copy of it.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I don't recall that story either but I do have the "Marvel Premier - Man Gods" issue (no 1) I assume that's where this story first appeared? if so I will look it out an have a read - it sounds good. Sadly I didn't read POTA regularly and seem to have missed out on some great stories - I also only bought "Marvel Premier" issue 1 B&w mag about 5 years ago mostly for my Neal Adams collection(how can you not love Neal Adams Steve lol) and must only have skim read it mostly for the Alex Nino drawn main story. I don't think the Planet of the Apes TV series was aired in Scotland until long after the popularity of the film /comic and actually have only glimpsed the show since then a couple of times

Steve W. said...

Yep, I'm pretty sure it's in Marvel Preview #1. If it's not, I can only blame The Grand Comics Database for lying to me.

You're right about Alex Nino's art on the Man-Gods strip. It was a wonderful thing.

Dougie said...

POTA never aired on S T V. I remember the Wings story but had forgotten Good Lord .My memories are of Triffids and War Toy.

Colin Jones said...
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