Thursday, 3 June 2010

Marvel Premiere #31. Woodgod. Playing the not-so-giddy goat.

Marvel Premiere #31, WoodgodGenetic hybrids. Who doesn't want one? I've always wanted to create a being that's half killing-machine and half sofa, so I'd have a creature that could destroy all my enemies but would give me somewhere comfy to unwind when I saw all the dead bodies. In Marvel Premiere #31, two scientists, called the Paces, create a being who's half-man half-goat.

This is a mistake - and not only because such a creature would lack comfyness when sat on. It seems that, as well as making hybrids, the Paces are also creating huge big vats of nerve gas for the government.

As you can imagine, this combination of gas, genetic mutation and a bunch of drunk locals who show up at the house, looking to destroy, "the monster," proves an unhappy one and, within minutes, the whole town's dead, killed by the escaping gas. It's a terrible warning and the reason I never keep nerve gas in the home.

In the summer of 1976, I was actually quite fixated by this story. Looking back on it now, I'm not totally sure why. I suspect it was the combination of neuro-toxins and pretension that did it. Although it blares out at me now like an air-raid siren, the tale's total lack of logic never struck me, as a kid. Why did the Paces decide to create a human/goat hybrid? Do people working on deadly nerve gas for the government really do it in huge glass vats in their house?

Marvel Premiere #31, Woodgod
Regardless, damage done, some more government types turn up and try to kill Woodgod, get nowhere with that plan and, at the end of it all, Woodgod, wanders off into the distance, accompanied by the words, "The End?"

I'm not too sure what Marvel's plan was with Woodgod, whether it was meant as a one-off tale or if there were hopes to turn it into a series.

If the latter, given the protagonist's lack of a motivational force, it's hard to see what could've been done with it other than turn it into a kind of clone of the Hulk, with Woodgod roaming from town to town, wondering why no one wanted to be his friend, as some official agency tried to kill/capture him. I get the feeling that, if it'd continued, it would've been a classier version of all those titles Atlas Comics churned out during their brief existence, in which case it's probably best such a series never saw light of day.

Marvel Premiere #31, Woodgod, end
Thought of as a one-off story, it works much better. Although nicely drawn by Keith Giffen, its main flaw is writer Bill Mantlo's insistence on going on and on about "Scream" everywhere. It seems like every page has to have at least one reference to the concept.

It's hard to know exactly what he was getting at, as Scream, whatever it might be, seems to be something he's ascribing to the whole of existence, and it really doesn't add anything to the tale. Take this particular piece of pretension away from it and the outing's a mildly diverting Outer Limits kind of thing, without the twist ending.

But, whither Woodgod? According to Wikipedia, he went on, via guest slots in other people's comics, to create his own community of genetically-engineered beings who seem to be like the Inhumans, although, never having read the comics in which this happened, I could be wrong. So, he started off as a cross between man and goat and ended up as a cross between Black Bolt and The High Evolutionary. It seems some people just can't make up their minds as to what they're supposed to be.


nyrdyv said...

I must agree, the whole concept seems a little too satirical.


Steven G. Willis

Steve said...

...and designed to spread panic.

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