Issue(s): Thor #332, Thor #333
Of course, nothing like that happened. Donald Blake does (sort of) know what happened to Jane, but he can't explain it without revealing his secret identity (or possibly even after...). Keith Kincaid, the doctor that Odin sent Jane to when she failed to become an immortal, and a Don Blake lookalike, is an interested party here and he's present at the interrogation.
The police don't actually have anything on Blake, so they let him go. Blake immediately turns into Thor and flies (all the way from Chicago to New York) back to the hospital where the Runestaff of Kamo Tharnn was left after it was used to merge Sif with Jane, but the superintendent there tells Thor that it just disappeared one day. Thor then head to Avengers Mansion where he dumps the legwork of locating the staff on the two newbies, Starfox and Captain Marvel.
Meanwhile, back in Chicago... Dracula.
Sif (in another costume variant) figures this whole mess with Jane Foster just means that Thor will have to quit turning into Donald Blake.
While Thor and Sif are discussing it, Dracula flies by and takes note of Sif. But he's currently on the hunt for food, and he swings by the local college, where the kids are making so many references to 1980s pop culture that you'd almost think the story was written decades later and the writer was peppering the dialogue so that we'd remember when it was supposed to be taking place.
The kids get caught by Dracula and turned.
Thor later works with the police lieutenant that is investigating Donald Blake to stop the vampires.
Cameo (and final appearance) by Polowski, the Crusader's former squire, who has returned to his job as a gravedigger.
A scene implies that Thor is not able to swing his hammer to attack while he's using it for flight... i think?
While Thor is off fighting minions, though, Sif is bitten by Dracula, and goes under his control.
Futhermore, Sif's immortal blood has enhanced Dracula's perceptions and powers.
Since the Avengers aren't having any luck finding the Runestaff of Kamo Tharnn (which, as Thor says, should be expected since it's a mystical thing), Thor goes to Dr. Strange for help...
...and Strange starts by scanning Sif's mind. He determines the location of the staff, but more importantly, discovers that Sif is under Dracula's control.
Thor hunts down Dracula and beats the holy hell out of the normally overconfident vampire.
I especially liked the scene where Dracula tried to summon up a storm to pummel Thor. That works out about as well as you'd expect.
Dracula's cultists teleport him away at the last minute, but Dr. Strange tells Thor that he'll take it from here.
The writing is actually not too bad. Alan Zelenetz seems to have been brought in as a quick replacement for Doug Moench, but i actually enjoy his writing better than Moench's. And of course i like this semi-crossover with Dracula appearing here and then in Doctor Strange and Avengers. Don Perlin's art in #332 is stiff, but Bright's is a little better. Both are a bit of a disappointment after the Bill Sienkiewicz covers (here and here).
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: As Michael notes in the comments, the scene of Dracula talking to his followers is repeated in Doctor Strange #59, so these overlap, with Dr. Strange's appearance here taking place after DRSTR #59. Thanks to Starfox's appearance here and the Vision being active in Defenders #123-124 (which take place after DRSTR #59), this story takes place during Avengers #232, before the beginning of the Negative Zone barrier scene at the end of that issue.
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
Inbound References (1): show
Captain Marvel (Monica Rambeau), Dr. Strange, Dracula, Keith Kincaid, Polowski, Sif, Starfox, Thor
The title refers to the Meat Loaf album "Bat Out of Hell".
The reason that Alan Zelenetz shows up on this and other previous Doug Moench books is that the fractious working relationship between Doug and Jim Shooter came to a head in late 1982 over Master of Kung Fu. Shooter instructed Doug to kill Fu Manchu for good(by showing the blood), and retitle the book Master of Ninja. Doug refused, citing that Ninja was a Japanese martial art, not Chinese; and that killing Fu Manchu would thoroughly tick off Sax Rohmer's estate (Doug claims that Shooter didn't know Fu Manchu was licensed). Doug then made some inquiries at DC, who offered him the Batman titles. Doug then loudly quit at the Marvel offices the next day, and told the fan press at the time of Shooter's plan to create the "Shooter Marvel Universe", where every 1960s Marvel hero would be killed and replaced by a new person in the same costume, much like Jim Rhodes replacing Tony Stark. Shooter abruptly denied this when questioned, and Doug claims that Shooter dumped this plan because it was exposed prematurely...or was it? A few years later, most Marvel heroes changed their looks for quite a while, if not their identities: the Hulk went gray and nasty, Spider-Man had the black costume, Captain America became "the Captain" and wore a black & red & white outfit, Thor grew a beard and got armor, Wolverine had already gotten the brown & tan costume, Storm went punk, Colossus got the all-red outfit, Black Widow cut her hair and got a gray outfit, Iron Man went white & red, the Thing went Spiky, etc....maybe Shooter just modified his "Shooter Marvel Universe" plan a bit? Anyway, that's how Zelenetz got his books...
But those changes occured at different times, many were temporary and some of them- Steve's "Captain" costume, the Thing's spikes- occurred after Shooter had left. And the creative teams have described various reasons for those changes that don't involve Shooter.
Steve Rogers wore the Captain costume starting in either 1985 or 1986, and the Thing went all spiky while Steve Englehart was writing FF in either 1987 or early 1988. Shooter was fired from the EIC position in mid-1988. Doug Moench quit Marvel and told the fan media about the "Shooter Marvel Universe" in either very late 1982 or very early 1983, and I believe Kurt Busiek had no editorial status then--he was just writing Power Man & Iron Fist and maybe 1 or 2 other things. It's possible Shooter never mentioned it to him. On the other hand, Moench had been writing for Marvel for nearly 10 years at that point(and could conceivably have been the most veteran remaining scripter there at that point), so he most likely would have had more opportunities to hear things that Shooter preferred to keep secret. I'm not sure if Roger Stern was still editing in late 1982/early 1983--if he was only writing at that point, Shooter may not have mentioned it to him either.
I think I chooose to believe that Moench was just bitter and spouting lies to hurt someone he thought had hurt him, rather than believe in some ridiculous conspiracy theory involving a Shooter "coup" of the Marvel Universe. Books changing and progressing while still maintaining what made the characters so special is one of the great things about Shooter's tenure he never gets enough respect for. One of many things, quite frankly.
And, point of fact, this conspiracy theory is not only insulting to Shooter, which I know is a fashionable thing to do amongst a certain section of comic fandom, but it's also character assassination against every author who penned those stories, NONE of whom ever said or even hinted at editorial forcing those decisions on them. To accept the coup theory, you have to short shrift Michelinie, Layton, Gruenwald, Stern, Byrne, Claremont, Englehart and anybody else who wrote the stories you mentioned as being "evidence" of Shooter's devious plan. I'm sorry but the whole episode speaks more to the poor character of Mr. Moench than it does about Mr. Shooter.
I had never heard the Moench thing about the plan for a "Shooter Marvel Universe," but of course he (Shooter) was the motivating force behind the "New Universe" line near the end of his tenure, and wrote STAR BRAND himself. Good thing that was never intended as a replacement of the existing universe. Byrne, of all people, took over SB once Shooter was gone, and guided it to a proper burial.
(Prior to that, in an issue of DC's LEGENDS, Byrne had drawn a super-villain who looked like Shooter, wore a costume like Star Brand's, and was an egomaniacal ranting loon who boasted of having "the power to create a NEW UNIVERSE!" He was defeated by one of the Green Lanterns within a page or so, and was so incompetent in wielding his power that he inadvertently lopped off his own hand. Len Wein was the writer of record, but...)
Re: Shooter. I had a very negative opinion of him at the time, much of that based on things that came out of his own mouth, and I was glad when he was no longer there. In hindsight, I concede that during his tenure, the company's ship tightened in some good ways as compared to its state in the 1970s.
I won't dignify the silly conspiracy theory any further and I don't think New Universe is indicative of anything other than Shooter trying to broaden the Marvel brand, which was part of what made him such an effective EIC: thinking outside the box. Opinionated people are always going to make enemies but they are also always going to be some of the best people to "get things done" in a business or creative sense. Byrne certainly should know this better than anybody since his own reputation is almost as maligned as Mr. Shooter's. At any rate I'll just end with saying that whatever other things people can say about Jim Shooter, he presided over the second most creative peroid for Marvel Comics (behind the 1960s, of course) and deserves recognition and respect for this, in my opinion.
Flooding the market with a slew of substandard books, the whole line your brainchild, some specific titles showcasing your own crude writing, and making grandiose claims about how revolutionary it all is because we will see "real bathrooms," isn't thinking outside the box. In that same period, CONCRETE was thinking outside the box. LOVE AND ROCKETS was thinking outside the box. WATCHMEN was thinking outside the box. The New Universe was tree abuse with a side-order of hubris.
And that was his downfall, really. The hubris, the arrogance, the poisoned atmosphere this created. If one or two significant creative artists had had well-publicized conflicts with him, I'd chalk it up to personality clashes, two sides to every story, etc. Here, there was too conspicuous an exodus over a period of years for me just to write it off. When you actually make statements on the record like "The author of that series [X-MEN] is Marvel Comics. Mr. Claremont is a writer-for-hire," you've earned your reputation.
Sean Howe expands on this Shooter legend in Marvel Comics:The Untold Story (an incredibly depressing read, by the way). The Shooter master plan to replace Marvel's heroes was referred to as the "Big Bang," and one of the later issues of Secret Wars bears that title as a nod to the controversy. The controversy was to have been parodied in the book that years later became Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe,which originally was to have been Jim Shooter Destroys the Marvel Universe.
Howe doesn't reveal how much truth there might have been to the rumor, but consider: between '83 and the end of Shooter's tenure, most of Marvel's major characters have changed costume, or the costume has changed characters. Not just one or two characters, but Cap, Iron Man, Spidey, the FF, the Hulk, and arguably Thor. As I mentioned in another comment, it also looks to me as if Shooter was systematically purging the MU of genre fantasy elements: no more vampires, no more Savage Land, no more shape-changing Skrulls, no more Morlocks. Even apart from that, the MU by '85 felt a lot more real-world grounded, or at least like it was trying to be. Fewer cosmic cubes and mustache-twirling villains.
Of course, what was the New Universe? It started with a Big Bang and ushered in an otherwise ordinary world populated with new heroes, and, notably, no aliens or supernatural elements. (At least, that was the plan, violated from the start though it was.)
Soi believe it: Shooter may not have carried it through in the radical terms Moench described, but it seems as if the EIC had a clear vision for the line: freshen up the heroes and make them more realistic.
The well-known policy at the time of disposing of disposable characters also fits the pattern: drawing a line under Marvel's past continuity, lightening up the MU's observable backstory for a more streamlined and realistic '80s Marvel. All of which went out the window with Shooter: DeFalco brought the '70s back with a vengeance within two years: Thanos, Nova, Ghost Rider, vampires, shape-shifting Skrulls, Savage Land restored, X-Men reverted to Byrne-era status quo, Hulk goes back to green, Fantastic Four reset to the classic configuration, and of course the very heavy retro feel of DeFalco/Frenz's Thor.
Costume changes aren't the same as "killing the characters and replacing them with new ones using the same costumes and names". In fact, "keeping the same character and changing costumes" seems opposite of "killing the characters and changing costumes."
Since no one - to my knowledge - has ever substantiated Moench's rumors, I dismiss them. Although clearly there was some kind of major creative dispute. I could believe a situation where Shooter was talking hypothetically, and Monech choose to believe he was serious because he had already decided to dislike Shooter by that point.
Now, the claim that Shooter asked Moench to replace master of "kung fu" with "ninja" or similar is something I can believe. Chinese martial arts was a seventies fad, and by the eighties, Japanese culture had become stylish. Shooter obviously wanted to capitalize on that, but Moench correctly pointed out that China was not Japan.
I do agree with Walter that some kind of house cleaning was being done. Shooter was making the Marvel Universe organized and coherent. The Handbooks was one aspect of this, as well as utilizing continuity cops like Gruenwald. Redundacies were eliminated and elements which didn't make sense were explained away.
However, I don't think all the stories Walter mentioned are part of that. While some things seem to be editorially driven (like eliminating Dracula from Marvel Universe) others seem to be from the author (like the Savage Land or Skrulls losing their shapechanging powers). I have never heard Roger Stern saying those were mandated by the EiC. I think Stern was just writing stories he thought would be good.
The scene where Dracula tells his followers that soon all humanity will bow down before him is repeated in Doctor Strange 59, so the first few pages of this story take place concurrently with Doctor Strange 59.
Thanks, Michael. That alarmed me at first thanks to Starfox's appearance here and the Vision being functional in Defenders #123-124, which take place after Doctor Strange #59, but it just reinforces the fact that there's a gap in Avengers #232.
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