Dedicated to the definitive superhero non-team.

Friday, September 24, 2021

A Question of Canon

Revisions to the Comics Code in 1971 loosened the restrictions on horror comics, allowing Dracula to star in his own series set in the world of superheroes. How beholden, however, was the Dracula from superhero comic books to the text from Bram Stoker's 1897 novel? Tomb of Dracula #49 (Oct. 1976) broached this subject, as this version of Dracula adamantly distanced himself from the literary depiction a century before.

Dracula: That foolish novel Stoker half-based on my diary? Bah! He turned what I am…the power I possess, into a children's story. A mere fable based half on lies.

This same year, interestingly enough, Marvel Classics Comics #9 (1976) featured an adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. The title character's appearance in the adaptation closely resembled his appearance in Tomb of Dracula and other contemporary comics.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Cat and Mouse

Patsy Walker became Hellcat almost incidentally in Avengers #144 (Feb. 1976), when she found a costume of the heroine formerly known as Cat (now Tigra). The alias Cat, however, did not go to waste.

Just one month later, Master of Kung Fu #38 (March 1976) introduced Shen Kuei, a Chinese martial artist who also answered to the name Cat. In contrast to Hellcat, who did not use a superhero insignia, Shen Kuei had a cat silhouette tattooed on his chest.

A well-matched adversary to Shang-Chi (a.k.a. Master of Kung Fu), Shen Kuei boasted that he began training in the martial arts at age four. Shang-Chi countered how he began training at age three. Under a complicated set of circumstances, Shen Kuei believed that Shang-Chi was sent to kill him. The two men stopped fighting when Shen Keui realized that this was not the case (#39).

Shen Kuei appears prominently on the cover of Master of Kung Fu #39 (April 1976).

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Defenders Dialogue: Built by Yandroth

The letters page in Defenders #8 addressed a discrepancy between dialogue from the non-team's first mission and the panel below from issue #5. Acknowledging the inconsistency, the editorial staff awarded one reader with a sought-after no-prize.

Marvel Madmen,

According to DEFENDERS #5, we should not be here now. Observe. Page 18, panel 1: the Omegatron says "I am the Omegatron, built by Yandroth, scientist supreme, to atomically disintegrate this planet." Notice, he said his creator's name. Check.

In MARVEL FEATURE #1, it was explained that when the Omegatron said his maker's name, the world would explode. He said it and the world is still here.

I claim a no-prize.

Also, leave Valkyrie in the DEFENDERS. She would make a good member. I'm glad the Hulk left. Please, Steve, let's keep it that way.

RFO, KOF, FFF Christopher Coleman
Fitchburg, Mass.

Chris, we tried hard to think of a way out of this one, hoping all the while that what Yandroth meant was that his machine would bring doom when it said his name at the correct time—but a quick check of MARVEL FEATURE #1 shows him mumbling "…once, and only once, it shall speak my name…", so we're caught like rats in a trap. You win true believer; the no-prize is yours, right after Roy gets through beating up Steve with it.

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Weird Wonder Tales

While writing a recent blog post about the comic book series Weird Wonder Tales, I spotted something unexpected on the TV show Fame. The episode Teachers, which originally aired in Fall 1982, included a scene with high-school student Danny Amatullo (Carlo Imperato) intently reading issue #15 (April 1976). We can only wonder how many viewers identified the comic book at the time.

Weird Wonder Tales #15 reprinted science-fiction stories originally presented in Chamber of Darkness #4, Strange Tales #95, and Tales to Astonish #25.

Wednesday, September 8, 2021

A Gift for Galactus

Defenders #2 (Nov. 2021) transported the team from the present-day Eighth Cosmos back in time to the Sixth Cosmos—specifically to the technologically advanced planet of Taa. There, the Silver Surfer encountered the infant Galen, who would grow up to become Galactus. Out of a sense of compassion, the Surfer used the power cosmic to instill in the child an understanding that might help him resist the hunger he would eventually experience as a devourer of worlds.

This image of Galactus comes from The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Squadron Symmetry

At the time of their appearance in Defenders #113, the Squadron Supreme had a dozen active members—each corresponding in varying degrees to a member of the Justice League of America. That being said, not everyone in the Justice League up to that point had a Squadron counterpart—and that's not all bad. Creatively speaking, making the Squadron even larger could have had diminishing returns and shortchanged the team's originality.

For example, a Squadron homage to Elongated Man could have felt reminiscent of Mr. Fantastic (featured in Defenders #105), and a Squadron equivalent to Red Tornado could have overshadowed the Vision (who would play a central role in #123). As for the Phantom Stranger and honorary JLA member Snapper Carr, these characters were too tertiary to warrant counterparts in the already sizable Squadron.

As much as I liked the dynamic that married couple Hawkgirl and Hawkman brought to the Justice League of America, the Squadron sufficed with a singular winged weaponsmith in Cap'n Hawk (a.k.a. Blue Eagle).

As a pleasant surprise, the Squadron Supreme limited series would establish that an extraterrestrial Skrull helped found the team, matching Martian Manhunter's place as a founding member of the JLA. From that point on, however, the order of new recruits to the Squadron did not always follow the same order as the JLA.

Green Arrow (the basis for Golden Archer of the Squadron Supreme) joined in Justice League of America #4, becoming the team's first new recruit. For the Squadron, the first new member was Tom Thumb (a loose approximation of the Atom, who joined in JLA #9).