Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Five Batshit Things You Never Knew About Marvel Comics


Thought you knew everything there is to know about Marvel comics? Think again, true believer.

Sgt Fury's treacherous French commando

Marvel's wartime adventure comic Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos featured a cast of stereotypical Allied soldiers, from southerner 'Rebel' Ralston to bugle-playing jazzman Gabe Jones, and even a plummy Englishman called Percival 'Pinky' Pinkerton.

Later plans were to include charming Free French commando 'Toutou' Lefevre, but when the editor read the script for the next issue, called 'Something Smells Vichy', in which Toutou was revealed to be a ratfink Nazi collaborator, the character was quietly dropped for fear of upsetting French readers.

Of course, they need not have bothered as no self-respecting French person has ever read a Marvel comic, preferring to read crap about freakishly strong Gauls and Scrooge McFuckingDuck.



The Fantastic Four Christmas album

Many people remember the Spider-Man album Rock Reflections of a Superhero from the 70s, but few know that it was actually Marvel's second foray into the world of music. Back in 1965, as Marvel mania was on the rise, they brought out The Fantastic Four's Christmas Singalong, an album of original festive songs supposedly recorded by the cast of the Worlds Greatest Comic Magazine themselves.

Tracks included the crooning Ever-Loving Blue-Eyed Christmas, the romantic Reed, My Lips and the oddball Mole Man's Holiday. The true identities of the singers and musicians involved remain unknown, though popular belief has it that they were written by a young Neil Diamond, who rather than accepting payment, asked that Marvel use his likeness when they finally unmasked the Green Goblin in Amazing Spider-Man #39.

Ant-Man vs Clammm

Just as many early Fantastic Four issues pitted the fabulous quartet against the sort of giant monsters that were Marvel's standard antagonists prior to the superhero boom, so too did their costumed stablemates face a bizarre gallery of titanic foes, and none came stranger than Clammm the Man-Mollusc who was pitted against the heroic Ant-Man in an early issue of Tales To Astonish.

Hailing from 'Dimension B', the gigantic ambulatory clam was intent on devouring all of Earth's cereal crops, thus clearing the way for his people to 'conquer Earth with our fast-growing space algae!'. Fortunately the quick-witted Ant-Man spotted a pattern in the malevolent mollusc's attacks and defeated him in a bit of trademark trickery. Noticing that Clammm always avoided eating wheat crops, he commanded his loyal ant swarms to 'disguise these wheat fields as corn!' using tiny ant-sized paintbrushes, thus giving the belligerent bivalve a terrible case of acid reflux which literally cooked the gluten-intolerant Clammm from the inside.

Trucks, Robots and coloured lights

Whilst readers may remember the comic versions of popular toys like Micronauts and the Shogun Warriors, they may not be aware that these were far from the only children's games to be given the mighty Marvel treatment. Tonka! featured a gang of orphans who discover a crashed spaceship full of intelligent - and highly durable - trucks who had rebelled against their masters, aliens intent on making Earth part of 'Space Highway 919'.

Then there was Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, in which two mismatched Earthmen find their minds beamed across the galaxy into the bodies of gladiator robots. Streetwise Benjamin Franklin Jones and bookworm Harold van Hague must work together if they are to break free and fight their way home.

A proposed comic based around the game Simon, in which a succession of ordinary people gain different powers according to the sequence of coloured lights they press on the electronic toy, never got further than the planning stage.

The Rampant Hulk

A notorious image of an apparently naked incredible Hulk in the full throes of arousal very nearly made it to the newsstands, when idiosyncratic bullpen finisher Wink 'The Ink' Benderberg, at the time going through an acrimonious divorce, suffered a complete mental breakdown whilst inking an issue of 1970s team book The Defenders.

The original splash page, as drawn by the penciller, was to have shown the Hulk being swarmed by the Nebulon the space guru's Bozo minions, with the accompanying dialogue, 'PUNY CLOWN-FACES! HULK WILL SMASH YOU ALL! AND SPARKLY YELLOW SILVER HAIR MAN TOO!', with the jade giant wearing his trademark torn purple pants. But by the time a wild-eyed Benderberg had finished with it, the trousers had been removed to reveal a fully rampant Hulk batting the oncoming Bozos away with a sweep of his foot-long gamma-engorged manhood.

Fortunately the offending artwork was spotted during printing and every single copy of The Defenders issue was pulped. Benderberg was immediately fired and never worked in comics again, though he can sometimes be glimpsed at comic cons, offering to recreate his infamous 'Erectable Hulk' for $5 a sketch.

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