Issue(s): Marvel Boy #1, Astonishing #5 Cover Date: Dec 50, Apr 51 Title: "Marvel Boy and the Lost World" / "The runaway planet" Credits:
Stan Lee / Bill Everett - Writer
Russ Heath / Bill Everett - Penciler
Russ Heath / Bill Everett - Inker
Hmmm. Marvel Boy, "Earth-born citizen of Uranus", wearing a costume that will eventually be worn by the modern Marvel Boy/Quasar, is weaker than the average Earthling due to differences in the planets' environments...
...but he is armed with a really nice flashlight and an even nicer pair of legs.
His father fled the Earth with his son after his wife and daughter were killed by Nazis (who apparently very politely apologized for it).
He was aiming for the moon but was brought to Uranus instead, where there existed an advanced humanoid civilization.
Due to all the troubles back on Earth (although nothing specific)...
...he sends his son home, to face problems of both a political and criminal nature.
His first mission is already waiting for him on Earth. A new continent has risen from the ocean...
...and it's claimed by the pirate Count Varron.
However, Marvel Boy discovers that the continent already has occupants: a semi-aquatic species that evolved to live underwater after first breathing through a giant funnel.
Varron tries to exterminate the aquatics so that he can claim the continent for himself...
...but Marvel Boy stops them with his flashlight.
However, the incident causes the aquatic people to mistrust all surface people...
...and so the continent sinks back into the ground.
There's very little connecting the origin part of the story with the lost continent part; other than signaling that Marvel Boy will be in the strange science genre, it's not a great beginning for the series. Seeing Marvel Boy arrive on Earth and reacting to its culture, and having Earth react to him, might have been more interesting.
Anyway, there was one more issue of the series Marvel Boy before its name was changed to Astonishing (full title on the covers was "Astonishing Tales of Science Fiction"), although it still mainly featured Marvel Boy at first. The reprint from the back of Marvel Boy: The Uranian #1 skips Marvel Boy #2 but gives us a story from Astonishing #3. I also have another story from Astonishing #3 from Marvel Tales #14. It's like a jigsaw puzzle, people.
The first Astonishing story has Marvel Boy called back to Uranus to deal with a problem from another planet populated by "Satanians". Marvel Boy rallies his Youth Patrol to look into the matter.
Marvel Boy heads to Satania and meets their king. He then remembers that the Satanians are worried that their planet is going to be pulled into the sun, and so they want to transfer their population to Uranus. Marvel Boy responds by kidnapping Princess Satana...
...and bringing her back to Uranus so that she can be properly educated.
And happily it turns out that planet Satania is not going to crash into the sun at all, so Marvel Boy takes Satana back to her father along with that information, ending the threat. As Marvel Boy's father points out, this story is interesting in that the plot is mostly solved with logic and science as opposed to typical super-hero brawn, although Marvel Boy winkingly notes that having some muscle behind you doesn't hurt.
Of course, if Planet Satania actually was spinning out of its orbit into the sun, things might not have been resolved so peacefully. Unless... you never do hear about Planet Satania again, do you? Perhaps the Uranians lied to the Satanians...
My second story from Astonishing #3 has Marvel Boy back on Earth and apparently working as a newspaper reporter. He arrives just as his interview subject has a strange accident.
The accident gives Professor Vance x-ray vision. With his newfound abilities, he becomes a stage magician called the Great Video but also robs his wealthier audience members backstage. So Marvel Boy has to step in.
Anticipating what i thought was just going to merit a snarky comment from me, Video's x-rays can actually make someone sick with prolonged exposure.
Marvel Boy is able to remove Video's powers with his flashlight (and a punch thrown in for good measure).
It's interesting to have a character with a name as generic-seeming as Video. I almost wondered if the word Video predated the technological meaning; maybe it was a Roman philosopher or something. But that's not the case as far as i can tell.
This is actually the third Marvel Boy, of about six to use the name. The first two each had one appearance (Daring Mystery Comics #6 and USA Comics #7) and were originally meant to be the same person (Martin Burns) but his origin was explained differently in each story (although both were based on Hercules), so the 2004 Golden Age Marvel Handbook resolves that by making them different people.
This Marvel Boy will eventually go on to join the Agents of Atlas. A lot of the stuff in these original stories is revised at that point, including the nature of the Uranians and even Marvel Boy's power set; it'll turn out that the headband that Grayson is wearing is actually inhibiting his mental powers.
Quality Rating: D
Historical Significance Rating: 4 - first Marvel Boy
Chronological Placement Considerations: This might not even be strictly in continuity, but it apparently takes place after WWII in the early days of atomic research.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Boy: The Uranian #1 / Marvel Tales #14
I think the idea is supposed to be that the Nazis shot down his family's plane, mistaking it for a bomber, like the Soviets did with KAL 007. It would make sense for them to apologize for it if whatever country owned the aircraft wasn't at war with them at the time.
November 4, 2012 2:18 PM
Should we assume the green semi-aquatic species is the Lemurian branch of homo mermanus?
November 6, 2012 10:06 PM
Probably, but i like the idea of an isolated pocket civilization breathing out of a funnel for 700 years.
November 7, 2012 5:38 PM
"Video" in its present meaning probably wouldn't have been in common parlance yet, so the villain's moniker might have seemed less generic. There's apparently a gizmo of some sort called a "magneto," but it's not so well known as to make Magneto seem like he's named after a Bunsen burner or graduated cylinder or something.
Walter Lawson |
November 8, 2012 6:29 PM
I had to look up what a dynamo was at one point, too. Turns out crimson ones are pretty rare.
November 8, 2012 7:53 PM
The Great Video was probably named after Captain Video. No, not the old VHS rental chain...
Mark Drummond |
November 10, 2012 11:08 PM
Video's name makes perfect sense if you know the origin of the word in Latin. It's literal definition is "to see" (much like the original Latin meaning of audio is basically "to hear").
July 15, 2014 3:58 PM
Actually "video" and "audio" literally mean "I see" and "I hear". Which actually adds to the relevance of this villain's name.