Dear Stan and the Gang,
Brand Echh #2 was even better than the first excellent issue. Seeing the "Marble" heroes matching jibes and wits with heroes from across the broad expanse of the comic book spinner racks was outstanding. DC, Gold Key and even Tower Comics come in for some nifty joshing as the laugh meter ticks over aplenty.
My favorite story this issue was "Peter Pooper vs. Gnatman and Rotten" by Stan and Marie. Mirthful Marie is proving to be a mainstay of his MAD-like project and given her EC roots an appropriate choice. She does a rockem' sockem' job of capturing the essentials of the popular TV show that exploded into the consciousness a few years back and the blend with Spidey's world was seamless. Little nasty Rotten in particular was always a crack up.
Marie was also the artist on my second favorite yarn co-starring "Knock Furious" of SHEESH and "Dynashmoe" from BLUNDER. The THUNDER Agents from Tower Comics by Wally Wood, Gil Kane, and so many other greats haven't gotten the attention they deserve and it's nice to see the lads at Marble are up to the task. "Nobody's" constant body-shifting was a hoot. The lighting gags in particular got a chuckle from me -- Woody would be proud.
Don Heck was not far behind in Roy's story putting together two metal giants in "The Unrinseable Ironed Man Meets Magnut, Robot Biter". God Key tapped the great Russ Manning to give us a really different kind of superhero in Magnus and the send up here is ideal. No one at Marvel or "Marble" draws more exotic and compelling robots than Dashing Don and it shows up well in this time-traveling nonsensical yarn.
All in all a first-rate second issue and a good sign that the Marble heroes and zeroes are here to stay a while. Looking forward to seeing some interesting spins on some classic origin yarns in the next issue.
Notes and Comments: In Alter Ego #95 Roy Thomas reveals that he got last dibs when it came to the three stories and felt somewhat stuck with Magnus, Robot Fighter a comic he clearly seems to regard as lesser because of its quarterly status at the time. Stan got the plum Batman TV show spoof along with headliner Spider-Man and got rising star Marie Severin for the art. Roy suggests, and I agree that as good as Don Heck's art is for the story he does like John Severin's in the first issue it doesn't hew broadly enough into parody, something Heck had shown he could do in the past. Gary Friedrich's spoof of the THUNDER Agents matching wits with SHIELD I suspect has been the surprise hit of the book, though I think it wanders a bit in its focus despite some outstanding visual gags by Marie. Thomas indicates that Stan Lee rewrote some of Friedrich's gags in this story and that might account for the mild confusion I sense in the story as it...ahem...blunders along.
Here are some covers from the "Distinguished Competition" featuring the heroes lampooned this time out.
The next time Marvel tears into its own when they take on three of their most famous origin tales.