Sunday 14 April 2024

The Marvel Lucky Bag - April 1984.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon

The past is once more beckoning us to join it.

And who are we to spurn a good beckoning?

Alien Legion #1

A brand new comic arrives in our lives and I could impress you by telling you exactly what happens in it.

But that would be far too easy.

Or it would be if I had the slightest idea what happens in it.

However, from the title, I'm going to assume it's like some sort of mashup of Star Trek and The Legion of Super-Heroes.

Whatever it is, it's brought to us by the team of Alan Zelenetz and Frank Cirocco and it's a whopping 38 pages long with an additional seven pages devoted to character studies of our newborn cast.

What If? #44, Captain America

What question is the Watcher demanding answers to, this month?

It seems he's demanding to know what would have happened had our favourite patriot not been revived until the 1980s.

It would seem that, among other problems he'd face, he'd be confronted with the nightmare that the 1950s Cap would have been revived before him.

And my instincts tell me that can only cause chaos and conflict.

Generic Comic Book #1

I genuinely can't even guess what this comic is about.

However, I do know it's written by Steve Skeates and this fact is making me suspect it may be of a humorous bent.

Phoenix #1

It would seem we're getting a reprint of the events of the Dark Phoenix Saga but with the original planned ending - and info from the creators as to why it wasn't used.

Marvel Fumetti Book #1

I'm sensing the presence of yet another humour comic.

And I think it might involve the fun-packed setting of the Marvel bullpen under the reign of jovial Jim Shooter.

I can shed little light upon the merits of the tales but there are a lot of them.

For instance, we get stories with titles like Spidey's Edi-Tour, Breakfast in the Bullpen!, Who's the Boss?, The Wet T-Shirt Contest, The Fastest Writer in the World, The Spider-Man Plot Session, Secrets Behind the Comics III and myriad other yarns and features to amuse and bemuse us.

Power Man and Iron Fist #104

Things aren't looking good for our heroes, if we can trust a cover I initially thought reminiscent of the one from Defenders #53 but which, upon closer scrutiny, turns out to bear little resemblance to it.

And it's another story I don't know much about - but I do know it's called The Armageddon Game and features a villain called Doombringer.

I least, I assume he's a villain. It'd be a bit strange for a hero to be called Doombringer.


Anonymous said...

I’ve never seen any of these covers until now. I feel less FOMO’d thanks to you Steve! Thanks! Big Joe

Anonymous said...

Steve, I’m far too lazy to Google it, but I want to say the Alien Legion were a group of interstellar mercenaries (like a sci-fi spin on the real-world Foreign Legion). I had that first issue, remember thinking it was a slick package, super-competently made but it just didn’t grab me for some reason. IIRC, the leader of the team was half man / half worm — series creator Carl Potts had previously designed a similar character for Byron Preiss’ WEIRD HEROES series. Or maybe it was a portfolio piece of Potts’ that Preiss saw and was inspired by and turned into a character for his anthology? Something like that.


Anonymous said...

I like Billy the Sink’s What If cover of a thawed out Cap.


Matthew McKinnon said...

Never seen any of those before.

Also in the 'too lazy to Google' club - so what was the original ending or whatever of the Phoenix Saga?

I like the BS Captain America cover a lot. I have a couple of issues of Alien Lego because Mike McMahon did the art [I think] but I can't remember anything about them.

Anonymous said...

Another ‘Thumbs Up’ for Sienkiewicz’ thawed-out Cap-sicle cover. I think I may have bought that issue just for the cover, detached it and thrown away the insides.

Matthew, basically Jean didn’t die at the end. I think they somehow cut the Phoenix persona out of her, like a very hand-wavey psychic lobotomy, leaving her alive but powerless and almost docile. I think Shooter made the right call, by not letting her dodge the consequences of killing billions of sentient beings, and the revised ending was also much more dynamic and emotional than the dramatically limp original.


McSCOTTY said...

Matthew, I don't think McMahon drew any issues of the regular Alien Legion comic but he did draw a spin off limited series "Alien Legion Grimrod" which was pretty nice .

Anonymous said...

This is even duller than the Marvel A-list forty years ago, Steve. The comics I mean, not your post - you can only feature what they put out, right?

I read Alien Legion #1 at the time. As b.t. says, it was basically the foreign legion in spaaaace..., and seemed like the kind of third rate 'future war' series you'd get in 2000AD - like the VCs or something - only even more boring because it appeared in full length installments rather than five or six page episodes.
So I guess getting Mike McMahon to draw a spin-off made a kind of sense (not that it was any more interesting).

A curious series for an imprint like Epic to publish, given that it was put together by editorial wonk Carl Potts and farmed out as work for hire. I guess like other publishers they were feeling their way round the new direct market, trying to find out what worked...

So what do we think of the Epic líne? I tried most of the comics, but don't recall really enjoying a title til a bit later, when they published Starstruck and Groo - although I was already familiar with both before they came out from Epic - and then Elektra: Assassin (a pre-existing Marvel character).
Although of course the imprint eventually justified its existence by reprinting Akira, and loads of Moebius' work, and even putting out a genuine original creator-owned project that finally lived up to the hype, the awesome Stray Toasters.

Gotta say though that as much as I admire the Sink, that What If? cover is not doing it for me. At all.


Anonymous said...

At the time, I was convinced Marvel came up with the 'original' ending to the Dark Phoenix storyline - with Jean Grey surviving - just to sell everyone the same comic all over again, only with a different last page.

Tbh I still find it hard to believe that was genuinely how they planned for the story to end.


Anonymous said...

*Btw, above, when I mentioned trying most of the Epic line above, I meant around this time. Even I'm not dumb enough to have considered reading those Shadowline comics, most of the Clive Barker stuff, or pretty much anything later on (unless it was by Ted McKeever).


Anonymous said...

Other Epic Comics series? I re-read some of Mills and O’Neill’s MARSHALL LAW series a few years ago and thought it held up pretty well. I thought Englehart’s COYOTE was kinda/sorta okay at first, but petered out pretty quick. Starlin’s DREADSTAR did nothing for me. I know I bought Claremont and Bolton’s BLACK DRAGON series, and I guess I probably read it but man, I don’t remember a single thing about it now.


McSCOTTY said...

The Epic line was a bit of an Marvel ego trip to try to make comics "mature" instead they were for the most part sub par basic Marvel fare. The best Epic titles for me were as noted by Sean like Black Dragon, Marshall Law but the very best of there titles was Sergio Aragones' Groo, which says it all really.

Steve W. said...

Bt and Sean, thanks for the Alien Legion info. I'm not sure I'd want to read a series in which the main hero is half-man, half-worm.

Anonymous said...

Here’s the skinny on Carl Potts’ half man/half worm concept (I just got back from a Google rabbit hole):

In the intro to WEIRD HEROES #6, Byron Preiss recounts a visit to the Continuity Associates offices, where he happened to spot an illustration by Potts (inked by Terry Austin) of a character he describes as ‘half man / half serpent’ (a bit less off-putting than ‘half man /half worm’, I guess ). Preiss became fascinated by the drawing, and decided the character was an alien detective, named him ‘Shinbet’ and assigned Ron Goulart to write a story around him, which he published in WEIRD HEROES 6, along with the original Potts/Austin illo.

He also had Stephen Hickman paint a portrait of the character for the book’s cover. I have to say that it’s probably the most effective cover of the entire series, just in terms of communicating its core concept : heroes really don’t get much weirder than THAT.

IIRC, the man/serpent in THE ALIEN LEGION wasn’t actually the lead character, even though he was the commanding officer of the unit, but I could be wrong about that. I notice he’s represented as a silouhette and half-hidden in the background on the cover of the first issue — I guess someone at Marvel may have had reservations about the character’s appeal as well…?



Anonymous said...

One last comment about the whole Man/ Worm/ Serpent thing : checking out the cover gallery at the GCD, it looks like the Man-Serpent guy is pretty prominently featured on the other ALIEN LEGION covers, so I really have no idea if he was the main character or not, whether he was the ‘Captain Kirk’ of the series or its ‘Professor X’ or what — and I’m not gonna dig any deeper into it, I don’t really care that much, I’m moving on, I’m DONE!



Anonymous said...

I gotta tell you guys, thanks to mentions here on SDC, I have looked up and started reading Vampire Tales on View Comics (or, whatever the heck it's called) and it's pretty cool.
Pretty good funky 70's Marvel horror. I've just started on it.
Why am I only finding out about this now? Why was M.P. not earlier sent an engraved message carried by a horse-mounted herald informing me of the existence of this magazine?
Somebody dropped the ball.


Anonymous said...

Steve, when you mentioned that you’d thought the POWER MAN AND IRON FIST cover was reminiscent of the one on DEFENDERS 53, I knew exactly which one you meant, without even looking it up on the GCD — the one with The Red Guardian in the center, with double raised fists, against a yellow-and-red explosion. The general composition, the pose of the character in the center and the color scheme of the PM/IF cover triggered the memory; you were right the first time, the two covers ARE kinda similar.

So then I did check out the Defenders cover at the GCD to confirm, and it turns out I’d misremembered some of the details : I knew it was a Dave Cockrum cover but thought for sure it was inked by Terry Austin (it was actually inked by Bob Wiacek) — I thought the Red Guardian figure was bigger and the other Defenders were BEHIND her — and strangely, I couldn’t remember WHICH other Defenders were on the cover, couldn’t visualize them in my mind’s eye, at all.

But I did correctly remember that Mike Golden had drawn a few of the interior pages. I think it might have been his Marvel debut — I remember thinking at the time that his style looked very unique and was oddly appealing.


Matthew McKinnon said...

I always tend to think Epic was a patchy imprint - especially the ongoing series, which always looked pretty mediocre.

But the limited series they did had a fairly high strike rate: Elektra, Stray Toasters, Metropol, Plastic Forks, Marshall Law, The Last American...

And didn’t they have the license for those fairly deluxe Hellraiser anthology comics? They were fun.