Monday, October 21, 2013

Weird Wonder Tales #22 (May 1977)

I already owned a couple of issues of Weird Wonder Tales, but #22 was a bit of an eye-opener. For one thing, it is from much later than most of my Marvel monster reprint titles - 1977, to be exact. For another, it's the final issue, and brings to a close a very intriguing period for Weird Wonder Tales.

In WWT #19, a mostly forgotten, pre-Fantastic Four character named "Doctor Droom" was given a makeover and a new name and ushered into the Marvel Universe proper as Dr. Druid. Now, Dr. Druid isn't exactly one of the more popular superheroes ever, so it's sort of interesting to see him promoted as the star of a comic book. Granted, his series is just altered reprints, but he's not someone you would pick out in retrospect as having breakout potential.

The revelation comes in the letter column(!) of the issue, which has no letters, but rather an explanation that the book is cancelled and the reasons why Dr. Druid came into existence. More than just a hero, he was envisioned as a host character, giving continuity to tales never intended to be connected. It's rather ingenious, and a good attempt at suckering in hardcore superhero fans who might normally take no interest in older anthology stories.

The stories themselves are nothing outstanding, but they are enjoyable. The Dr. Druid story and the story he "hosts" are Lee/Kirby/Ayers collaborations, and while not to the level they would reach in short order, they are still very good. The third is a rare Joe Kubert art job for Marvel, complete with a "shocking" twist ending (and dumb authority figures).

It's no surprise Marvel chose to make Weird Wonder Tales #22 the last issue to free up room on the schedule for more promising books, but it's not a bad way to spend 30¢ at all. I even like the knowing blurb added to the Dave Cockrum/Ernie Chan cover. "Dr. Druid falls victim to the most fearful fate of all!", and you might ask, "Well, what was it?"

Why, having his book cancelled, of course.

No comments: