Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Weird Wonder Tales #5 (August 1974)

For reasons unclear, this entry on Weird Wonder Tales #22 has been the least popular thing I've posted in the last 2 months. Bad timing? People just really hate Dr. Druid? Whatever the reason, I am hoping to garner a little more love for that entry by...talking about another issue of Weird Wonder Tales. Perhaps not my best ever plan.

Weird Wonder Tales #5 (August 1974) leads off with a cover that SORT OF relates to an interior story. I qualify this because it takes it much further over the top, as these 1970s reprint books were wont to do. It is for the first story, and it's a minor little morality tale that is kinda clever. The biggest plus is the always welcome art by Steve Ditko.

Next story has very attractive art by a fellow named Pete Tumlinson, who was previously unknown to me. I like the twist involved, but it doesn't bear even a little bit of scrutiny. In fact, it doesn't make much sense at all! Oh well, logic wasn't always at a premium in 1950s monster books.

Oh, now we come to a bit of slightly important pre-Marvel Marvel Universe stuff. "I, The Robot" introduced the character who would be christened the Human Robot a few years later in the pages of What If?, and ultimately be a part of the Agents of Atlas team. The art is by a very well-known name in the annals of Marvel history: John Romita. It's an intriguing glimpse into his style prior to the familiar and legendary run on Spider-Man.

Speaking of Spidey, his co-creator Steve Ditko turns up again on the art for the last story. This is one of those tales with aliens planning to invade our world, only to be thwarted by some unforeseen circumstance. Ditko seemed to draw any number of variations on this theme, and while his work is solid, the premise for this one was a bit weak for me.

I'm not going to cover the ads this time, though they could fill an entire blog post on their own. I do, however, want to point out something odd I noticed in the "Bullpen Bulletins" page. Reference is made there to Marvel launching three new titles referred to quite modestly as SUPER-GIANTS. They would be devoted to Spider-Man, the Avengers, and Conan, and it was promised they would be 100 pages for 60¢ on a quarterly schedule. These "Super-Giants" were promoted as containing new, "novel-length" stories, special features, and "Marvel classics" (i.e., reprints).

I have never heard of these "Super-Giants" before! They are an obvious response to DC's 100 Page Super Spectaculars. Equally obvious is that they never happened in this format. What's most striking about this fact is that Super-Giant Spider-Man #1 is listed in the column as spotlighting "the story you virtually dared us to print - as Spidey encounters the one and only COUNT DRACULA!" Eight pages later in the selfsame issue of Weird Wonder Tales is an ad for Giant-Size Spider-Man #1 - with Spider-Man and Dracula. And now the book is 68 pages for 50¢!

Even more curious is the Bullpen Bulletins makes reference to the "Giant-Size" books, too, but lists them as being 35¢. A quick look at the GCD reveals that there are a couple at that price, and they are only 52 pages. I guess the decision was made fairly quickly to split the difference and go with just ONE oversized format rather than two. Probably a wise decision in the long run, but now my imagination runs wild with 100 Page Marvel books like those much-cherished DC Super Spectaculars.

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