Friday, December 16, 2016
Laugh Kree Or Die - Marble's Space-Worn Superhero!
One of the most endearing things about Marvel in its up and coming heyday was the way the company as a whole was able to make fun of itself and its product. Stan's best feature in his rambling self-congratulatory epistles to the budding Marvelites was his occasional self-deprecating humor. That tendency adds to the ability of the reader to identify and it was no small part of Marvel's overall charm. That tendency came to full fruition with Not Brand Echh a comic in the vibrant MAD-style chicken-fat approach which poked fun at Marvel itself and the competition. Getting the harpoon was the new high-profile series Captain Marvel.
In the ninth issue of NBE we get the tale of "Captain Marvin" of the space-spanning "Kreeps" who has come to Earth for a mixed up mission of some sort. As the original stories were still tumbling off the presses this parody by the same creative team of Roy Thomas, Gene Colan and Frank Giacoia winged its way to fans under a lush and evocative Marie Severin cover. I you would like to read the whole lovely spoof then check out this groovy link. My focus is one particular gag that Roy "The Boy" and Gene "The Dean" keep resorting to throughout the story titled "When Stomps The Scent-Ry!". That gag concerns the name "Captain Marvel" and how it once belonged to a Golden Age great who would later travel under the banner of "Shazam".
On the splash page itself we see the first reference to the stories of the "Big Red Cheese" as the infamous intelligent worm Mr.Mind, an alien himself seems befuddled as h is perches atop Captain Marvin's "Special Secret Cylinder".
A few pages later Captain Marvin races to a phone booth (a Superman reference I guess) which seems to sit atop a mountain not unlike the Rock of Eternity. Inside that peak are the "The Seven Deadly Enemies of Man" though this assembly seems more of a shout out to the celluloid sendings of Disney than anything else.
When Captain Marvin emerges from the phone booth he is flanked by a confused looking Big Red Cheese himself as the original Captain Marvel actually makes a one-panel cameo -- the only "Captain Marvel" in this particular story as it turns out.
A few pages later two scientists tumble and amble across the prone form of the enormous Scent-Ry and one seems to be Lex Luthor (Lothario here) and the other is Dr. Sivanna (they barely change it with an additional "n") longtime foe of Fawcett's Captain Marvel.
And finally as the yarn enters its climatic phase Captain Marvin races into the phone booth (it occurs to me that the Superman references are pretty heavy too) as Billy Batson has taken Captain Marvel's place on the mountain.
Personally I never got to read this delightful spoof until many years after its first appearance as I missed out on that particular issue of Not Brand Echh. The ad for it was a tasty morsel of anticipation nonetheless.
I did catch the tenth issue which had the good Captain on the over-the-top crowded cover by "Mirthful" Marie. Ludicrous and utterly fantastic! And the fact the parody came out as the fourth issue of the classic run of "Marvel's Space-Born Super-Hero" was just hitting the stands is astounding.
More Captain Marvel to come this weekend, kicking off an extravaganza of Kree-ativity here at the Dojo.