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Friday, June 20, 2008

Defenders Dialogue: No-Prize

For many years, Marvel Comics issued the occasional No-Prize to astute readers who explained away continuity errors or other discrepancies. As the name implied, the only prize involved was an acknowledgment on the letters page. But that in itself was an honor.

Consider this letter from Defenders #131, pointing out an error Bobby Drake (Iceman) made in #126, after Valkyrie dismissed Beast as a jester when he jockeyed to lead the team.

Dear Carl:

I predict that you will receive many letters such as mine this month, but mine will be different from the rest. Yes, I, too, spotted Bobby Drake's slip of the tongue in DEFENDERS #126, panel four, page 12, when he said that the Beast was a valued member of The X-Men and The Champions. As every Marvellite knows, the "jester" in question was a valued member of The X-Men and THE AVENGERS!

But I will not ask for a No-Prize. No-Prizes should be awarded for major lapses in continuity, character behavior, etc. Spelling errors or slips of the tongue just do not cut it! Bobby had obviously been thinking of his own qualifications for leadership, or perhaps Warren's. He became angry at Val, and since he had been thinking of The Champions … Got it?

When I win my No-Prize, I want it to be for something I can be proud of.

Jeff A. Plackemeir
Columbia, MO

Here's how editor Carl Potts replied:
As far as we're concerned, Jeff, No-Prizes should be awarded to readers who not only spot a major goof, but provide us with an intelligent explanation of said goof. You did just that so we're sending you a No-Prize whether you want one or not! (Geez, this is the first time we've had to force one of these on somebody!!)

Beast first suggested that the Defenders needed an official leader back in #121, after complaining that the group lacked the organization of the Avengers or X-Men. Valkyrie defended the group's loose structure and countered by saying that she would make a better leader than he would.

Despite Valkyrie's objections, Beast ultimately became leader of the New Defenders. Wealthy Warren Worthington (Angel), meanwhile, financially supported the team, as he had with the Champions.
Defenders. Vol. 1. No. 121. July 1983. "Savior." J. M. DeMatteis (scripter, co-plotter), Don Perlin (penciler, co-plotter), Abel, Mushynsky, Kupperberg (inkers), Shelly Feferman (letterer), Allen Milgrom (editor), Jim Shooter (chief).

3 comments:

Luke said...

I dunno... I still have trouble thinking about Beast being in The Defenders. Even the Avengers I eventually warmed up to, but I tell ya, when I think the Defenders, I think the line-up from "Avengers-Defenders War," mostly. Still, he'd probably make a pretty good leader. Valkyrie would just smack people with the flat of her sword (of course).

Christine said...

I love old letter pages! The dedication of some of these fans to every piece of minutia (thought the above "complaint" is valid), makes me seem so much more normal. As a Daredevil fan, most of the no-prizes I've seen awarded in that book have rarely been for reasons of poor continuity but quite often for Daredevil literally seeing something he shouldn't have, so the problems involved in explaining how the goof could have a logical explanation were often great.

I also love when I see a letter from an old fan praising a villain or storyline that can only be seen as completely goofy in retrospect. I guess that just goes to show that there's something for everyone. :)

Pat said...

At some point (early 1980s) Marvel actually did create a "No Prize" comic book, which collected quite a few of their more memorable goofs (like calling Peter Parker Super-Man" in ASM #11).

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