Dear Marble Gang,
This is another winning issue and the theme of romance and marriage helped kick off some pretty funny gags with some heroes who don't get a lot of attention most of the time such as the "Unhumans" and "Dr. Deranged".
My favorite story of this issue though is a real breakthrough for NBE as no comic book was spoofed but rather we get Marble Comics rendition of a Broadway musical in "Best Side Story". This tale of company-crossed lovers "Dr. Deranged" and "Wotta' Woman" really made for a flavorful romp as the "Marbles" and "Echhs" squared off in a crosstown rumble to end all rumbles. Hopefully we'll see more stories that broaden the range of NBE in future. Gary Friedrich's script over Roy's baseline plot is delightfully and manically rendered by the amazing Tom Sutton. What a find!
My second favorite story was the "The Human Scorch has to Meet the Family" by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and the dominant Tom Sutton in which is long-sought nuptial to "Gristle" that darling of the "Unhumans" ("Blechh Bolt, Medoozy, Kar-Whack, Frighten, and Loosejaw") really takes a nosedive when the in-laws won't get out of the way. It often happens in these clannish families when they are isolated and have to depend on one anther especially. A modern chap like poor old Johnny can only wonder how lucky he was to escape that mess.
And the third story on my list is "With this Ring, I Thee Web!" by Gary Friedrich and Marie Severin about young Peter Pooper's tale of nigh marriage is funny but a wee bit long before the ultimate reveal of his mysterious bride. Poor old "Auntie May" really fouls up the future with her desire to keep a pest-free home.
A nice batch of stories and I see that next time get the "Fantastical Four" and a certain red and blue metropolitan icon dubbed "Stuporman". Can't wait!
Notes and Comments: NBE has been on the stands a half year and already we've seen many a spin on the Marvel heroes and some others besides. With this issue of course we see the beginnings of what Not Brand Echh might become in future issues as we have the nutty characters from Marble participating in parodies of other genres. Tapping West Side Story was a nifty idea, one of course MAD had done before, though they didn't dress their rendition up with bizarro superheroes from the "Big Two" comic book companies. For all the jabber about marriage, at this time in the Marvel Universe only Reed Richards and Susan Storm had gotten married, though the nuptials of Janet Van Dyne and Hank Pym were imminent. It would be more than a few years in 1974 before Crystal actually got married in the pages of the Fab 4 and when she does it's to Quicksilver and not Johnny Storm. Storm would have to wait nearly fifteen years more before he gets hitched to Alicia Masters (a Skrull as we later learn of course). Peter Parker would famously get married in that same year to Mary Jane Watson in a high-profile annual. By this time alas the Wasp's marriage to Hank Pym was on the rocks and even Reed and Sue were having issues. Lord only knows where those relationships are today, certainly not me.