Fredric Wertham Prepares For October

It’s nearly October and what better way to celebrate the start of the holiday season than be sharing a picture of Fredric Wertham, the therapist who argued that horror and suspense-themed comic books were responsible for all the troubles of the world, reading the latest issue of Shock?

Frankenstein’s Monster Meets Spider-Man

Today is Mary Shelley’s birthday.  Here’s her most famous creation, meeting Spider-Man.  It’s one icon meeting another.

Spider-Man and Frankenstein’s Monster were brought together by a villain named Baron Ludwig von Shtupf, a.ka. the Monster Maker.

Baron Ludwig von Shutpf made his first (and, to date, only) appearances in two issues of Marvel Team-Up.  In Marvel Team-Up #36, he kidnapped Spider-Man from New York and Frankenstein’s Monster from the antarctic.  In Marvel Team-Up #37, he summoned Man-Wolf to join them all in his castle.  Baron von Shtupf was the latest in a long line of mad scientists and he had come up with the perfect plan for world domination.  Why not take three great monsters and combine them into one big monster?  It seemed like a good plan but Spider-Man, Man-Wolf, Frankenstein’s Monster, and an Agent of SHIELD named Judith Klemmer stopped him and left him tied up in his study.

The Baron would never appear again in the pages of Marvel Comics, which is amazing when you consider that even a character like the Living Eraser made a handful of appearances over the years before being permanently erased.  Was it because Baron von Shtupf’s name sounded suspiciously like a certain Yiddish vulgarity?  Perhaps.  Not bringing back Baron von Shtupf is a waste of a perfect good character so how about, Disney?  How about a little love for the Monster Maker?  Just imagine what Christoph Waltz could do with the role.

The main reason that I remember Spider-Man meeting the Monster Maker is because, when I was seven years old, I found a copy of Marvel Team-Up #36 at a garage sale and I got excited because The Frankenstein Monster was on the cover. My mom bought it for me. When I got home, I read the comic and I was stunned to discover that it ended with a “to be continued” right after Spider-Man and the Monster discovered the Man-Wolf waiting for them in the Baron’s laboratory. (This was when I was still too young to understand that all comic books ended with a “to be continued” because that was the easiest way to get kids like me to spend my allowance on them.)

I spent years searching for a copy of Marvel Team-Up #37 so I could find out how the story ended. It was not until twelve years later, when I came across it on Ebay, that I was finally able to get a copy of the second part of the Monster Maker saga! For that reason, I have never forgotten Baron von Shtupf and the time that Spider-Man met  Frankenstein’s Monster.  I guess I never will.


Every Generation Gets The Spider-Man That It Deserves

August 1st is Spider-Man Day.  Despite this being the day that observes Spider-Man’s first appearance in the 15th issue of Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy, the trash is still being collected and the mail is still being delivered.  Spider-Man Day is a holiday when no one gets any time off.  I’m sure that the web slinger himself would appreciate the irony.

The appeal of Spider-Man has always been that he’s the hero who never feels that he’s done enough.  He’s also the hero who is almost always unappreciated by the rest of the world.  He’s the hero who often resents having to do his job but who still feels a responsibility to try to make the world a better place.  Spider-Man is the superhero that almost everyone can relate to.

As far as television and movies go, every generation has gotten the Spider-Man that they deserved.

The boomers got Nicholas Hammond’s Spider-Man.  Hammond played Spider-Man for two seasons in the 70s.  He was a little boring but, from what I’ve seen, his show had a reputation for being worse than it was.  Like the best of the boomers, Hammond got the job done.

Generation X got Tobey Maguire, who played Spider-Man in three films that Sam Raimi directed in the aughts.  Like Generation X, Maguire’s Spider-Man was quiet but clever.  Despite his quick wit, he was frequently neurotic and more than a little introverted but he always came through in the end.

Then, Andrew Garfield played the millennial version of Spider-Man.  Angsty and awkward, Garfield’s Spider-Man was aware that society would never fully accept him, both as Peter and as Spider-Man.  At times, it seemed like his every attempt at making things better somehow only made them worse.

And finally, the Zoomers have got Tom Holland’s Spider-Man, an earnest idealist who struggles with the fact that the world is more complicated than it seems.

All of the actors who played Spider-Man have done a good job and they all deserve praise.  My favorite is Tobey Maguire but that’s largely because, having been born in ’82, I’m on the dividing line between Generation X and Millennial and I’ve always leaned more towards the Generation X side of things.  Plus, I can relate to this:

Maguire, Garfield, and Holland all came together to appear in the previous Spider-Man film, which I thought was a nice touch.  I just wish Nicholas Hammond had been invited to join them.

Nicholas Hammond as Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man

Nicholas Hammond, today

Having an older, perhaps retired Spider-Man joining forces with the Maguire, Garfield, and Holland versions of the character would have provided an extra-dimension to the movie, much as used to happen on Doctor Who whenever any of the previous incarnations of the Time Lord would meet the newest version.

Regardless of who plays him or whether he’s Peter Parker or Miles Morales, Spider-Man remains the hero to whom we can all relate.  Spider-Man is all of us.

Happy Spider-Man Day to all!

Spider-Man Meets Frankenstein

Since I shared a cover of Tomb of Dracula yesterday, it only seems appropriate to give Frankenstein’s Monster his due. Here’s the cover for Marvel Team-Up #36, in which Spider-Man and Frankenstein teamed up to battle a one-shot villain called The Monster Maker.

Of course, since this was a Marvel comic, Spider-Man and Frankenstein had to fight each other before they could team up to fight the bad guys.

Only Spider-Man could get away with calling the Monster “Patches.”

In Honor Of October and The Tomb of Dracula

With the first day of October less than a week away, I decided to share my personal favorite cover from The Tomb of Dracula.

The Tomb of Dracula was a comic book that ran for 70 issues, from 1972 to 1979. It was published by Marvel and it’s generally considered to be one of the best of the horror comics. It was also the first comic book to feature the character of Blade, who was later brought to life by Wesley Snipes in one of the first successful films to be based on a Marvel comic.

I’m a Tomb of Dracula fan and a collector. I’ve got nearly every issue of Tomb of Dracula and it’s companion magazine, Dracula Lives. Below, to help set the mood for October, is my favorite cover:

October’s right around the corner!

Remember U.S. Trucker?

Yesterday, I wrote that Nomad was the one Marvel character who was so lame that he would probably never get a movie or a series. However, I forgot about the Marvel character who was even lamer than Nomad, U.S. Trucker.

U.S. Trucker was a super hero. His super power was the he owned a truck. He was created to take advantage of the CB radio craze but, in typical 80s Marvel fashion, his series didn’t actually debut until the craze was over.

U.S. Trucker makes Nomad, who spent his entire series wandering through America with a baby on his back, look cool. And while it seems likely that U.S. Trucker and Nomad will never appear in an MCU film, maybe they should. Maybe they should team up. This might be the bad idea that’s so bad that it actually works. If only Hal Needham were still alive to director Trucker & Nomad.

Remember Nomad?

I was recently having a discussion about whether or not there’s any Marvel characters who will never get their own series and, though I didn’t think of him at the time, I get the feeling that Nomad will probably never star in a Marvel film.

Don’t remember Nomad? He was the vigilante who wandered through America in the 90s, fighting a crime while usually carrying a baby on his back. Nomad never got much respect, though I owned every issue of his short-lived series. Marvel tried to make him a success, of course. He frequently teamed up with Daredevil and the Punisher. But somehow, reader never went crazy for the idea of a bitter vigilante who changed diapers when he wasn’t killing criminals.

We’ll probably never get a Nomad film or series. It might before the best.