Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - April 1978.

Just two nights ago, I took a look at what Marvel's big hitters were up to in the books that had an April 1978 cover date. But, as we all know, Marvel didn't get to be the behemoths that they are by only publishing popular comics. They also brought out more low-profile, less-celebrated or just plain quirkier fare. And, as I do every month, it's time for me to look at a small selection of that other output.

Devil Dinosaur #1

A hero like no other hits the Marvel universe, as Devil Dinosaur and his own personal Rick Jones, Moon-Boy, begin their rampage around prehistory, in a tale that any paleontologist would, no doubt, be horrified by.

It's a strange thing. I've never read a single issue of Devil Dinosaur and yet I am oddly aware of him and his origin.

Doctor Strange #28,the In-Betweener

Up until now, I was unaware that the In-Betweener had ever appeared outside of stories that featured Adam Warlock. Knowing what little I do of him, I do find it hard to believe Dr Strange could take him on in a fight.

Kull the Destroyer #26

Seeing the blurb on the cover has just made me realise that, at this time, the Marvel universe possessed at least four different versions of Atlantis; the one in The Sub-Mariner, the one in Kull, the one in The Eternals and the one in The Man From Atlantis. What kind of water-logged madness was this?

Machine Man #1

Jack Kirby had clearly gone into creative overdrive. Not only do we get the launch of Devil Dinosaur this month, we also get the unveiling of a brand new comic for Machine Man.

Marvel Premiere #41, Seeker 3000

I think I can remember this being reprinted in the pages of Marvel UK's Star Wars Weekly, although, beyond Tom Sutton drawing it, I recall nothing at all of the strip itself. I am assuming it held strong hints of the works of Gene Roddenberry but I could be totally wrong in that suspicion.

Marvel Preview #14, Star-Lord

Star-Lord was another space-roaming strip that found its way into the pages of Star Wars Weekly.

I recall slightly more of it than I do of Seeker 3000 but, in truth, not a lot more. I remember John Byrne drawing it and I remember Carmine Infantino drawing it. I remember our hero having a living spaceship.

Anyway, it's a Jim Starlin cover, so that seems like a good enough reason to feature it.

Power Man (and Iron Fist) #50

It's issue #50 of Power Man and he celebrates the milestone by losing full control of his own comic and having to share it, from now on, with Iron Fist.

On the positive side for him, I am led to believe that, in this tale, he's finally been exonerated of the alleged crimes that forced him to cunningly disguise his true identity by changing his name from Lucas to Luke. It's no wonder the law-enforcement agencies had struggled to see though a brilliant ruse like that one.

Rampaging Hulk #8

I do believe that, in this issue, the Hulk finds himself up against a Krylorian who, for some reason, has disguised himself as Iron Man. This accidentally leads to the involvement of the real Iron Man, Thor, the Wasp and Ant-Man, giving us a meeting of the original Avengers before they officially met in Avengers #1.

Spider-Woman #1

Not content with giving us brand new mags for Machine Man and Devil Dinosaur, Marvel also gives us the adventures of Spider-Woman.

I remember her stories being reprinted in one of Marvel UK's mags but, other than a scene in which she was crying at a graveside, I recall nothing at all of her activities. Was she literally supposed to be a spider who'd been turned into a woman, or is my imagination just running away with me?


TC said...

Spider-Woman was Jessica Drew, whose father, a scientist, was involved in experiments with the High Evolutionary in Transia. When Jessica was seriously ill, her father injected her with radioactive spider's blood and she grew up with spider powers. So she was human, but the High Evolutionary's "Island of Dr. Moreau"-type experiments had produced the New Men, animals that evolved into humanoids. I *think* a Hydra villain implanted false memories in her brain of having evolved from a spider or something.

Also, there was a later reboot or retcon that changed the origin, saying that her mother was exposed to radiation while pregnant. The TV cartoon series may have had yet another version, where she got powers after an accident in her father's laboratory.

The character was created to secure copyright and trademark, and was intended as a one-shot in Marvel Spotlight or Marvel Premiere, but proved popular enough to have her own self-titled comic that ran for fifty issues. She died in #50, in the early 1980s, but later recovered. Never did really make the A-list, though.

IIUC, Devil Dinosaur was Marvel's answer to Kamandi, which had been DC's answer to Planet of the Apes.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Luke should have just stayed a Hero for Hire. I really, really dug his comic when it first came out and tried mightily to get every issue for the first 15 or so. Then he became Power Man. Bah!

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the Spider-Woman origin info, TC. She was clearly a very confused woman.

Charlie, I'm afraid I lost touch with Luke's adventures after his first few stories. Marvel UK reprinted them in The Mighty World of Marvel but I think he got dropped to make way for either Captain Marvel or The Howling Commandos.

Timothy Field said...

Devil Dinosaur and Machine Man got reprinted by Marvel UK in the very early 80s, oddly about the same time Seeker 3000 got a second reprinting in the pages of Future Tense. Now I think about it, Kull may have been appearing in the pages of Valour around then too.

Anonymous said...

I've read all of Robert E. Howard's Conan and Solomon Kane stories but none of his Kull stories (only three were published in REH's lifetime but more posthumously).

Steve W. said...

Timothy, sadly, apart from the monthly mags, I'd given up on Marvel UK by the early 1980s and, so, completely missed out on the delights of Devil Dinosaur and Machine Man.

Colin, I haven't read any of Howard's Kull tales either, unless you count that one he rewrote as a Conan Tale. I think it was The Phoenix on the Sword.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - Check out the comic book shops. They were selling Devil Dinosaur #1 for $1 in honor of Kirby's 100th. 20 (?) or so $1 books that were key from Marvel and DC (?) that Kirby was part of.

Well, I can't say Devil Dinosaur is a key book. But, it was a $1 and I am glad it was only $1 cause I can't say I was groovin to it like, say, Kamandi.

I just wish they had the Dingbats for $1. Now that was some key Kirby stuff!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

These $1 reprints of Kirby classics are referred to as "True Believers." For 1 buck it ain't bad. The list is below.

True Believers: Kirby 100th – Black Panther #1; Reprinting Black Panther (1977) #1 and the Captain America story from Tales of Suspense (1959) #98
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Avengers: Captain America Lives Again! #1; Reprinting Avengers (1963) #4
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Groot #1; Reprinting the Groot story from Tales to Astonish (1959) #13 and the Xemnu story from Journey Into Mystery (1952) #62
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Thor Vs. Hulk #1; Reprinting Journey Into Mystery (1952) #112
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Introducing…The Mighty Thor! #1; Reprinting the Thor story from Journey Into Mystery (1952) #83 and the Loki story from Journey Into Mystery (1952) #85
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Captain America #1; Reprinting Captain America Comics (1941) #1 and the Captain America story from Tales of Suspense (1959) #63
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Eternals #1; Reprinting Eternals (1976) #1
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Avengers: Devil Dinosaur #1; Reprinting Devil Dinosaur (1978) #1
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Nick Fury #1; Reprinting material from Strange Tales #135 and #141
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Inhumans #1; Reprinting material from Amazing Adventures (1970) #1-2
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Iron Man #1; Reprinting the Iron Man stories from Tales of Suspense (1959) #40-41
True Believers: Kirby 100th – Ant-Man and The Wasp #1; Reprinting the Ant-Man story from Tales to Astonish (1959) #44

Marvel is releasing six Spider-Man True Believer titles this summer as well (see “Spider-Man Shares His Best Stories for $1”).

pete doree said...

Yes, Charlie! Hero For Hire is a so much cooler title than Power Man!
And Devil Dinosaur was great! No, it's not the FF or the Fourth World, in fact it was an idea Kirby had for a Saturday morning cartoon that never got picked up, but Jack gave it his all, like he always did. It's just a great fun read.

B Smith said...

Thankfully Seeker 3000 had no traces of Gene Roddenberry, otherwise the story would have involved the crew meeting God, who at some point would say "Captain, can't you forget that I'm God, and remember that I'm also...a woman?"