Thursday, May 27, 2010

Magneto and Titanium Man

I first learned of the Paul McCartney and Wings song "Magneto and Titanium Man" from, perhaps appropriately, an installment of the "Bullpen Bulletins" page in Marvel comics of the 1970s. Was it Smilin' Stan Lee himself who clued me in via his "Soapbox" column? Probably. That was the sort of thing usually reserved for "The Man" in his personal platform.

I didn't actually HEAR the song until the 1990s, when I caught it on a request show one afternoon. Believe me, I was as surprised as you are now. That motivated me to eventually pick up the Venus and Mars album to get my own copy. That meant that I had a chance to evaluate the tune based on its merits, rather than faded hype and a novelty radio spin.

And the verdict? Much as I hate to say it, there's nothing special about the song. It's slight and pleasant, but other than namedropping the titular duo (and the Crimson Dynamo), it doesn't really stand out compared to Wings tracks like "Jet" or "Band on the Run". It doesn't even have anything to do with the characters. I know the band performed the song alongside pictures of them on tour, but I genuinely get the idea that nobody in Wings knew a thing about them.

Anyhoo, I was chatting with my pal (and Xenorama major domo) David one night, and he revealed to me that he had never heard the song. This sent me on a quest to find a Youtube video for it. I did more than just succeed. I found the video linked below.

This fan video, by user "peachmon", is truly one of the best homemade music videos I have ever seen. It takes two less than perfect elements (mediocre Marvel cartoons and an average McCartney song) and blends them together into something that is greater than the sum of its parts. Truly, this is the way the song should be experienced.

(Magneto was mad! Titanium too!)


Travis said...

I first heard about "Magneto and Titanium Man" when I was in high school; being a proper dork, I'd spend a lot of my time during periods when I didn't have class in the school library. My high school's library was actually fairly cool; they had a pretty neat selection of books on weird topics (cryptozoology, ESP, etc.) - and all this in a Catholic school! - as well as several books on the more arcane aspects of pop culture. Two of these were Jeff Rovin's "The Encyclopedia of Supervillains" and "The Encyclopedia of Superheroes." I spent probably more time than I really should have reading these (along with the same author's "Encyclopedia of Monsters"), and of course, the Supervillain version had entries on Magneto and the Titanium Man. In the notes section for both, Rovin brings up the song; my curiosity peaked, I Googled the lyrics when I got home that night, and had much the same reaction as you: "Wait, that's it? The song doesn't even really have anything to do with the two characters." I got the same impression you did, that no one involved actually knew anything about the characters, and immediately lost all interest in the song.

I want to say that I did hear it once - also as a random thing on an afternoon DJ request show, actually - but even after watching the video, I can't remember for sure.

The video was pretty neat, though.

C. Elam said...

School libraries are a good gateway drug to the fantastic, in my opinion. That was what fueled my interest in classical mythology, first piqued by WONDER WOMAN and THOR.

Man, you know, I have copies of Rovin's Supervillains and Monsters books in a footlocker somewhere. One local library here has a copy of his "Adventure Heroes" encyclopedia, too. I don't think he gets nearly enough credit. He even wrote the first truly expansive overview of science-fiction movies I ever owned.

My suspicion is that song is a byproduct of the period when Marvel was in talks with McCartney for the "rock 'n' roll" comic book that ended up starring KISS. On one of the old American Top 40 shows currently running in syndication, Casey Kasem discussed the KISS book and mentioned that Marvel had previously discussed such a project with David Bowie, Alice Cooper...and Paul McCartney.

(Of course, there was the single Alice Cooper comic later in the 1970s, but that's another story entirely!)

Travis said...

I actually have that Alice Cooper comic! Wasn't it written by Roger Stern, of all people? (Admittedly, that's not as strange as Neil Gaiman writing "The Last Temptation of Alice," but still...).

And yeah, Jeff Rovin is pretty cool. I kind of wish I could get my hands on those encyclopedias again, if only for nostalgia's sake. And I didn't even know about the "Adventure Heroes" one.