Marvel Super Heroes #1
Issue(s): Marvel Super Heroes #1 (Moon Knight, Hercules, Hellcat, Brother Voodoo, Speedball, & Black Panther stories)
Mark Gruenwald - Editor
In theory, these books offer something that i think is really valuable. For twice the price of a regular comic, you get 70 pages and a focus on a variety of characters, often those that don't have their own books. In practice, however, what we get are a lot of insubstantial nonsense stories. This parallels my opening comments on Marvel Comics Presents, and for what's its worth, it seems like some of the stories published in this series are overflow from that one (or at least stories that were created knowing that they would wind up in one place or the other). In some cases, like the publishing of the unfinished issues of Chris Claremont's Ms. Marvel, this series will have some value, at least from an archeological perspective. In most cases, like every single story in this issue, it's just a bunch of random clutter.
The first story, by Robert M. Ingersoll (a pseudonym? No, but see Luis' comment.) and Michael Gustovich, has Moon Knight visiting Gena Landers, who has moved on from her greasy spoon diner in New York to co-managing a fancy restaurant in Houston with her brother.
Moon Knight fights a lame villain called The Raptor, whose main power seems to be having access to an endless supply of adamantium...
...and then Gena assures him that he's doing good work despite the fact that his supporting cast has mostly left him. It's acknowledged that Marlene is actually back with him at this point.
As noted in the link provided by Luis, Bob Ingersoll wrote a column in the Comics Buyer's Guide about the depiction and accuracy of legal matters in comic books. Someone writes into the lettercol for this series (yes, it had one, sporadically) to say that Ingersol probably wrote this story just to see the phrase "pretrail dilatory tactics" printed in a comic for the first and last time.
Next is a Hercules story where he's invited to a Renaissance Festival...
...where they accidentally release Cerebus from a magical arrow that he had been imprisoned in.
Cerebus is looking much more human and much less Jack Kirby than in his prior appearances.
Despite having made a vow to give up the bow and arrow after the death of his wife, Deianeira (spelled Deinaneira once), Hercules uses the magic arrow to recapture Cerebus.
Next is the story of Hellcat fighting a demon.
The human host of the demon eventually kills herself.
Next up is a Brother Voodoo story. It's noteworthy for a couple of reasons. First of all, it's drawn by Fred Hembeck, but you wouldn't know it.
And no, that's not a giant Brother Voodoo pushing a boat. His image there is just symbolic.
The second noteworthy, and very damaging, thing is that Brother Voodoo has used his powers to make his girlfriend, a miscolored Loralee Tate, love him.
Holy mind rape!
This story also says that Brother Voodoo's manservant Bambu died from a disease that has been ravaging "the immune systems" of the people of Haiti. So did he die from AIDS before or after he was killed by Marie Laveau? Or does Brother Voodoo just name all his menservants Bambu?
Mind rape and AIDS. I just don't know why Brother Voodoo never caught on.
Meanwhile, Speedball has been working out.
The credits say that Steve Ditko only penciled this, but i suspect he also plotted it like all the other short Speedball stories that he was responsible for.
This story introduces a girl named Patty, an aspiring reporter at Robbie's high school. Robbie is smitten with her.
Patty accidentally films the school janitor...
...and he turns out to be a criminal, so he goes after Patty. As Speedball (or rather, the Masked Marvel), Robbie rescues her.
But then he runs into the classic "girl likes my secret identity, but not me" problem.
The final story i'm covering in this entry has the Black Panther dealing with a citizen revolt. The mountain tribes in Wakanda are still worshiping the White Gorilla God instead of the Panther God, and they're upset about a change in trade policy regarding vibranium.
Black Panther fights the guy behind the protests.
Quality Rating: D+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Whenever possible i try to keep stories in books like these together, even if it's not the best possible placement. In this case it seems like a few of the stories (Moon Knight & Hellcat) have been scripted to fit them into current continuity for the characters. For the others, the stories are more generic but they can fit circa publication date. The one story in this issue that can't be placed at publication date is the Magik story, so that is in a separate entry.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAl Laguardia, Black Panther, Brother Voodoo, Cerberus (Greek myth), David Bealer, Don Phipps, Frenchie, Gena Landers, Hellcat, Hercules, Loralee Tate, Moon Knight, Patty O'Donnels, Speedball, Taku, Teri Cooper
Mubaru's armor looks like a fetish version of the loader from Aliens.
Posted by: Mortificator | July 28, 2015 3:09 PM
What's with the bug-eyes in the "Speedball" story? They all seem like they're angry or startled.
Posted by: clyde | July 28, 2015 3:09 PM
So, what is the deal with that muscular Speedball? Is he just some kind of stand-in for Patty to film?
Posted by: TCP | July 28, 2015 3:11 PM
I guess maybe it's an idealized version of Speedball, in Patty's mind. It doesn't actually figure into the story. But Chris Ivy's inks do seem to make Speedball look more muscular than other Ditko Speedball stories, even beyond that image. Maybe he's incidentally responsible for accentuating the bug eyes, too.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 28, 2015 3:21 PM
Fred Hembeck can draw a regular comic book story? I thought he just worked in his well known cartoony style. Who knew?? (And of course he works on a Brother Voodoo story!)
Posted by: Bill | July 28, 2015 4:01 PM
Our blogosphere's very own Richard Bensam of Estoreal wrote the Black Panther story here!
Posted by: Nathan Adler | July 28, 2015 4:47 PM
Like solo avengers, this format should be great, but in the end, not so much.
The Moon Knight story has silly adamantium love and loads of references to some Houston mall, which must be the writers favourite place. i always find it a bit annoying when writers add "local colour"which is just them spouting off about a place they know.
Ach, its sad to see Ditko at this stage.
Is that supposed to be Loralee tate, Brother voodoo's old girlfriend? She's gone white.
I always wanted to see the Black Panther fighting anti-monarchy protesters. that would be fun.
Posted by: kveto | July 28, 2015 4:56 PM
Venom: Dark Origin, would have a similar racial blunder in which a character from Eddie's past is incorrectly shown to be black. The trade paperback would change her back to white.
Despite, or maybe because, of the moral implications it gives to the character, the Brother Voodoo story is at least something different. I wouldn't be surprised if it came up in Uncanny Avengers, seeing how all the team members seem to have their romantic affiliations mentioned at some point or another... Assuming he even stays on the team long enough that is.
Posted by: Max_Spider | July 28, 2015 7:10 PM
According to dcindexes, this issue came out two weeks before Bambu's death scene in Doctor Strange 17. It makes you wonder what was going on with Bambu- did Scott Lobdell and Roy Thomas really decide to kill him off at the same time?
Posted by: Michael | July 28, 2015 7:50 PM
The author of the first history is probably this guy, who happens to be a relative of Robert M. Ingersoll (I asked him once).
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 28, 2015 8:01 PM
I was not at all surprised to find out that the Brother Voodoo story was written by Scott Lobdell.
"Marvel Fanfare will be canceled in 1991. But its main reason for existing doesn't really go away. We thought Marvel Fanfare existed to provide high quality stories on high quality paper, but it quickly became apparent that its real purpose was to dump inventory stories."
I thought that was the purpose of the annuals. Or Marvel Comics Presents. Or Avengers Spotlight. Or the 2,000 one-shots that everyone seemed to get around this time. Or...
Not only will Wolverine become ridiculously overdone at this time, but every aspect of him as well. So expect Adamantium to become the world's most exploited metallic property during the 90's.
Finally does anyone think Mubaru look like Marvel's answer to Tyroc?
Posted by: Jon Dubya | July 28, 2015 9:00 PM
Thanks for the info on Ingersoll, Luis. @Nathan, now i have to be careful what i say!
Posted by: fnord12 | July 28, 2015 9:12 PM
Yes, that IS indeed supposed to be Loralee Tate (who should probably be tagged as a character appearing), who is miscoloured as white here. Perhaps it is some bizarre side-effect of the magic used on her...
And as if Brother Voodoo raping Loralee isn't bad enough--its even creepier than you realize. Jericho makes Loralee love him by possessing her...with the spirit of his brother! So, he is raping Loralee while sort-of having incestual relations with his brother at the same time.
Posted by: Dermie | July 28, 2015 10:26 PM
Added Loralee Tate. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 29, 2015 7:11 AM
LOL I'd love to read some of the letters in Marvel Fanfare when the fans figured out the title was an inventory dump. I'm surprised Marvel would have published those.
Posted by: mikrolik | July 29, 2015 11:53 AM
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