§ April 11th, 2005 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on

Alas, Thought Balloons and Eat More People have come to an end…both were informative and fun weblogs, and it’s sad to see them go. However, Kevin and Rick are now collaborating on Dark But Shining, more general purpose horror/sci-fi/fantasy weblog. Go check it out!

Marvel Team-Up #44 (April 1976)

I was planning on doing a full take-down of sorts on this particular issue of Marvel Team-Up…I was just preparing a bunch of ’70s Marvels for our eBay auctions (have I mentioned our eBay auctions?), and for some reason, this particular comic stood out. However, as I’m looking at it…well, maybe I’ll just point out a couple things about this comic rather than do a full synopsis.

First, take a look at the cover. (You can find a better scan of a cover here, since I’m trying to save bandwidth here with my crappy little image.) Yes, I know it’s Gil Kane and Dan Adkins, so it can’t be that bad. But, if you look at the image…well, the perspective just seems a bit off to me, even taking into consideration that the villain (“The Dark Rider”) is a giant. I suppose it’s technically correct, but the way everything is colored and arranged, it looks like Moondragon and the Scarlet Witch have suddenly shrunk down to doll-size. Second, aside from the artwork, this is one cluttered cover, even by ’70s Marvel Team-Up standards. In addition to the primary cover image, you have:

  • the Marvel Team-Up logo
  • the logos for Spider-Man and Moondragon
  • the “Marvel Comics Group” banner across the top of the cover
  • the little bubbles with pics of Spidey and, er, Moonie (no, not that Moonie)
  • the “PLUS: GUEST STARS GALORE!” banner
  • multiple word balloons

I realize this is indicative of this kind of comic, but still…it’s so darn busy!

The story itself (which is by Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema, and Mike Esposito, since I haven’t mentioned it yet) is, at first glance, about as cluttered as the cover. Check out that “exposition, ahoy” panel…it not only covers what happened in the previous issue, but what had just happened only a page or two before. However, when you get right down to it, the story is basically “big bad guy stealing energy from protagonists to take over the universe,” or something like that.

But, man, that’s some panel. Hey, Spidey, who’re you talkin’ to, exactly?

The story ends on a surprisingly downbeat note as, after the battle is completed, Spidey rushes off to save some falsely-accused people from being executed for witchcraft…only to find that he’s too late. More guilt is piled upon Mr. Parker…unless Dr. Strange can call up their ghosts to forgive Spidey as well. (Gee, why would Spider-Man need guilt? It’s not like it’s the primary motivator of the character or anything.)

A question that came up at the shop as pal Dorian and I were discussing that comic…was there a sudden rash of Moondragon appearances after the first Star Trek movie?

Since Marvel never met a fad it didn’t like (well, to be fair, neither has DC), it seems like we would have seen a lot more Moondragon appearances to hopefully confuse casual comic fans into thinking that…I don’t know, that Lieutenant Ilya had joined the Defenders, or something. However, a brief look at this chronological list of Moondragon appearances (complete up until a couple years ago) doesn’t seem to show any more appearances after ST:TMP than before. Yeah, I know, the things we think about.

One reason I didn’t really feel like making (much) fun of this book is that the writer of the book, Bill Mantlo, suffered a serious accident several years ago and remains, at least last I heard, in incapacitated condition. I wasn’t a fan of all his work, but I enjoyed his Incredible Hulk run (a nice tribute to Mantlo’s Hulk work can be found right here), and, as I noted before, his early Alpha Flight work (with Mike Mignola) was a guilty pleasure. It was downright creepy and unlike other superhero books of the time.

At the very least, you should read that Hulk essay and see how much of the Hulk’s direction in recent years has its roots in Mantlo’s work on the title.

Commenter Jim notes that it appears that our store’s Sin City sales haven’t seem to have dropped off completely, like most comics do when their movie adaptations are released. Well, that’s true, sort of…the weekend after the movie was sort of the last peak in Sin City graphic novel interest, and it’s been downhill ever since. We still have some slight interest from a handful of customers, but nothing like how it was before the movie came out (and especially nothing like how it was during that several month window that none of the books were in print). Especially frustrating is that the demand that is there is for the books that the movie is based on and are currently unavailable from Diamond.

I don’t want this to be another Hellboy, where I couldn’t get the books while the movie was driving interest…and now I can get all the books I want, but nobody cares anymore. However, it looks like Sin City will be following the same pattern.

Speaking of the Sin City, the Radiotiki internet radio show has a glowing review and some discussion of the film…go to this show log and click on “Part 5” for the stream. The review starts about six minutes in. (Note for those of you folks at work…review contains adult language, by which I don’t mean words like “escrow” and “retirement plan.”)

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