Comic Book Men, S02A – The Comic Book Issues: Episode Two

I demand a rematch! The argument that Zapcic made was that he was as competent making bids as Walt. The result was that he was put on a team with Ming, who is eager to prove his ability, while Walt was paired with Bryan, who could care less about the whole thing but would have to work pretty hard at it.

Notice, the three items featured not as a joke (sorry Flea Circus) were all either purchased or bid on by Mike. In fact, it looks like he bought the item with the best come up – meaning the thing that’s the most profitable for the shop. I bet that if it was just Mike and Walt doing the bidding, the results would have been different. Not as funny, though. The single best thing about the episode, which was good all around, was Mike flipping out on his soon-to-be wife.

fantastic_four_annual_3_225pxFantastic Four Annual #3
Sue and Richard get married. Integral piece of canon, but probably a pretty dull issue where they spend too much time talking about love and stuff, and not enough time punching bad guys in the face, right?

Wrong. This issue has plenty of fighting. This was written in the 60s, when comic book stories were just beginning to develop the morality play and the hero’s journey, but were really more focused on the ridiculous idea of the month and the epic fight that ensued. There was absolutely no reason on Earth the wedding of the decade would go off without at least Dr. Doom making an appearance.

What made this issue so epic is what the confrontation with Doom brought with it. Doom called a dogpile of villains to crash the wedding with him, including Puppet Master, Red Ghost, Super Apes, Mole Man, Subterraneans, Mandarin, Black Knight, Kang, Awesome Android, Grey Gargoyle, Super Skrull, HYDRA, Cobra, Executioner, Enchantress, Mr. Hyde, Electro, Loki, Beetle, Melter, Unicorn, The Eel, and Mad Thinker. They fought the wedding guests (and friends of the wedding guests): Tony Stark/Iron Man, Patsy Walker, Hedy Wolfe, Nick Fury, X-Men: Professor X, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman, Beast, Angel; Alicia Masters, Dr. Strange, Thor, Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, Matt Murdock/Daredevil, Avengers: Captain America, Quicksilver, Hawkeye; Spider-Man, The Watcher, Gabe Jones, Dum Dum Dugan.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby also make an appearance in the book when they try to go to the wedding, but they were turned away by security.

So, yeah, this book was much more than just a touching wedding.

amazing_spider-man_129_225pxAmazing Spider-Man #129
This book is famous for being the first appearance of the Punisher, a murderous vigilante that was part of the second wave of characters Marvel introduced in the 70s – characters that were “grittier” and “darker” and all that stuff. Although Punisher was a “hero,” he was introduced as an opponent for an established character so Marvel could see how well he would go over with readers. Obviously, he was a hit and in the 80s and early 90s, Marvel releasing a Punisher book was just them printing money.

Interestingly, this book is more important to the story of Spider-Man not for the fact that Punisher is in it, but for the reason why he is in it. The story marks the first appearance of Jackal, the villain Miles Warren turned into. Miles Warren was a professor that fell in love with Gwen Stacy. After her death, he went insane and tried to kill Spider-Man. His first attempt involved hiring a hitman. That hitman was Frank Castle, who was actually pretty bad at his job considering Spider-Man had been running around for years and Castle didn’t know much about him. Good killer; piss-poor investigator.

Miles Warren would also research cloning to the point that the entire Spider-Man universe could very well be a clone at this moment and nobody would ever know. More recently, he tried to turn everyone in New York into giant spider monsters.

uncanny_x-men_94_225pxUncanny X-Men #94
The X-Men title was given a facelift with X-Men #94, the first new story the title had seen in years. It was a huge event, and by the end of it all of the original members had left except for Cyclops. Sunfire, the Japanese mutant that appeared in Giant-Size X-Men #1, also left. Banshee almost left, because he thought he was too old, but he decided to stick around in the end.

Most of the book is made up of character interaction, with writer Chris Claremont devoting a lot of time exploring the group dynamics from inside rather than outside. The would become a trademark of the mutant titles for decades and would drastically alter the way team books were written throughout the entire medium.

The second half of the book is the baddies, meaning Count Nefaria and the Ani-Men. The Ani-Men (Ape-Man, Bird-Man, Cat-Man, Dragonfly and Frog-Man) are exactly what you would expect from their names – a group of half-man/half-beast bad guys. They’re fairly cookie cutter as villains go, but they were tough enough that the encounter would be spread out over two issues, ultimately resulting in the death of Thunderbird, the team’s first casualty.

giant_size_x-men_1_225pxGiant-Size X-Men #1
This is the second book to see a second spotlight during the second season. Is that interesting in and of itself? You be the judge. Another point to be made, both books involved Wolverine as a main character. That might be interesting, too.

This is also the first appearance of Storm, Nightcrawler and Colossus, who would become nearly as synonymous with the team as the founding five, Thunderbird, who I’ve already mentioned tragically left just two issues later, and Colossus’ little sister, who would go on to join the New Mutants just a couple of years before I started collecting comics, which is more important to me than it is to you.

The main story is fairly well-known, and the only really germane point is that all the new peeps get recruited. One fun but rarely mentioned point is the three small stories after the main narrative. They each involve one of the founding members (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman) showing off their powers and what they can do with them. Although they’re just fun little time wasters, they’re a sign of the comic book community’s importance to the comic book community. Now, the comic company will give their characters charts on powers and abilities and all kinds of things that can be measured and quantified, but back in the day it was all guesswork. Skits like this were a way for the writers to frame those same things for the reader back in the day before the role-playing character sheet was the norm.

This show really likes X-Men books. There were other books in the pile that could have been featured instead. I’m not a producer, however, so my opinion isn’t important.

The first appearance of Thanos they mentioned was in Invincible Iron Man #55. Maybe they’ll feature it or issue check it another time and I’ll write something about it. Maybe not. Zapcic wrote about it on his blog if you’re interested. If they do call it out at a later date, they can add Superman #75, which is what that black bag with the big read “S” contained.

The third episode is right around the corner, but if you want to listen to something to pass the time, there’s always Live Secret Stash, that podcast thing the Stash Boys do. Also, there’s a blog all about the experience of getting married dressed as Reed Richards.

Season Two – Part One
Episode One | Episode Two | Episode Three | Episode Four | Episode Five | Episode Six | Episode Seven | Episode Eight

Other Seasons:
Comic Book Men – The Comic Book Issues: Season One
Comic Book Men – The Comic Book Issues: Season Two Bee (Coming Soon)

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