Progressive Bully #4: Marvel Boy Explains It All for You.

§ June 9th, 2022 § Filed under Bully, marvel boy § 4 Comments

High above the mucky-muck, castle made of clouds,
There sits Marvel Boy, sitting oh so proudly
Not much to say when you’re high above the mucky-muck
Yeah, yeah
Marvel Boy, what is the secret of your power?
Marvel Boy, won’t you take me far away from the mucky-muck man?

So sang Tenacious D, sort of, and they oughta know. G’day folks! It’s Bully the Little Stuffed Bull here again, your substitute Mike loaner while the original Mike is in the shop for regular certified maintenance. Tonight, let’s cast our peepers towards a long forgotten hero of the Marvel U. Can you guess what his name is? Oh, wait, it’s right up there in the title of the post. Never mind.

Marvel Boy! One of the early post-WWII superheroes of the proto-Marvel Universe, created by Stan Lee (who?) and Russ Heath, he got his own comic book right out of the door on day one with 1950’s Marvel Boy #1. Note how they promote him as “at last in his own magazine!” He has never appeared anywhere before.

cover of Marvel Boy #1 (December 1950), pencils and inks by Russ Heath

He’s rough! He’s tough! He wears little blue underpants!

from “Marvel Boy and the Lost World” in Marvel Boy #1; pencils and inks by Ruth Heath

Marvel Boy! He’s from Uranus! … okay, okay, I hear y’all laughing back there. Go ahead, chuckle all you want…get it out of your system. I can wait up here all day. … All set? All out of the giggles? Good. Now, as a hero from Uranus OH CUT THAT OUT

Marvel Boy! Poor guy only got one more issue of his self-named comic before they re-titled it to Astonishing with #3 and turned it into an anthology that featured a few Marvel Boy stories but gradually became more of a sci-fi/chiller/monster book. Still, ol’ M.B. hung on for a few issues, and it’s him we’re going to look at with a critical eye and no more mention of the word “Uranus” OH COME ON NOW

Today you might remember Bob Greyson, Marvel Boy, as a character that made his modern-day Marvel appearance in Fantastic Four as “The Crusader,” presumably because even Roy Thomas was embarrassed by the name “Marvel Boy.” He also popped up in a fever dream of the Watcher as a member of the “1950s Avengers” team in What If? Uatu swears, no more toasted green moon cheese before bedtime.

The keen-eyed among you may note, for extra credit or as a treat, that the What If? team eventually became Marvel Universe canon with the creation of Agents of Atlas in 2006. Marvel Boy even got his own miniseries, renamed once again as “The Uranian” DON’T MAKE ME COME BACK THERE 

Marvel Boy! Now that he’s such a huge star in the Marvel Universe, it’s fun to see where he got his start. But none of these johnny-come-lately modern Roy Thomasin’ four-color credos can prepare you for Marvel Boy’s original, most unique and all-encompassing superpower. He’s not just strong, he’s not just fast, he’s not just wearing gauntlets that blast: he is, in the Timely/Atlas Universe, the single best explainer in the history of comics. He’s the expert of exposition, the master of Marvel-‘splainin’ , the sultan of summing it all up in the last panel. In short, Marvel Boy Explains It All for You:

from “Unseen Terror!” in Astonishing #6 (October 1951); pencils, inks, and letters (and script?) by Bill Everett

Say, how did you crack that mystery and defeat the villain, M.B.? Please elucidate your answer in panels of 2,500 words of less.

from “Mister Death!” in Astonishing #3 (April 1951), by Bill Everett

Can you illustrate the conclusion of this story utilizing only then-contemporary rants against communism but also a complete faith in the congressional justice system, Marvel Boy?

from “Time-Bomb Terror!” in Astonishing #3 (April 1951), by Bill Everett

Perhaps you could spare a few words on how you wrapped up the Sinister Case of the Guy Who Stole the Water on you know, that planet? Bonus points for mentioning neither “Dasani” or “Poland Springs.”

from “When a Planet Dies!” in Astonishing #4 (June 1951), by Bill Everett

Surely there must be a simple, abridged solution to the Mystery of the Walking Ghost that doesn’t involve crowding yourself out of the panel by ever-encroaching word balloons, right, Marvel Boy? No? Then please, explicate.

from “Walking Ghost”in Astonishing #4 (June 1951); by Bill Everett

The nice thing about Marvel Boy: he’s patient and thorough enough to lay out the solution to any problem in simple, easy-to-comprehend words that’ll have you nodding your head and murmuring “Ah yes. Why didn’t I see it before?” Everyone benefits from a Marvel Boy explanation!

from “The Runaway Planet” in Astonishing #3 (April 1951), by Bill Everett

He’s a hero to emulate, kids, and while this man of many words will give any letterer carpal tunnel syndrome, he’ll crack the case and also make it easy for the comics reader to grok. Except, of course, for the rare exception of those cases which require punching.

from “The Runaway Planet”

Marvel Boy Explains It All for You! Well, to tell the truth, he really just does it for the chicks.


from “The Deadly Decision!” in Astonishing #5 (August 1951), by Bill Everett

4 Responses to “Progressive Bully #4: Marvel Boy Explains It All for You.”

  • googum says:

    Holy Orzechowski! The letterer should’ve got top billing there!

  • I am taking a cartooning class and we just discussed how word balloons should probably have no more than three sentences. While MB doesn’t technically violate that rule in some of these, he certainly does not adhere to the spirit…

  • Chris Kafka says:

    In the next of Karl Heinrich Ulrich’s booklet, Marvel Boy will explain why Uranian love is not wrong.

  • Allan Hoffman says:

    If you wanted a perfect example of why you ‘show, don’t tell’, here you go.

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