Friday, February 25, 2011

FOOM Fridays: FOOM #8

FOOM #8 (December 1974)

Karen: This issue of FOOM marks yet another change in the editor title, as Tony Isabella gives way to Scott Edelman. I know, I had the same question: Scott Edelman? With contributing editors Jim Salicrup and Duffy Vohland, apparently all active in comics fandom but not really names in the industry, it seemed like FOOM was being run more as a fanzine than a professional mag. There a numerous typos, and the layout and reviews in this issue were a real step down from previous ones, in my opinion.

The subject for this particular issue is the star-spangled Avenger, Captain America. Cap and Bucky are featured on the cover in an illustration by John Romita Sr. and Mike Esposito. I know some might choose Kirby as their Cap artist, or even Sal Buscema, and they're both great picks. But Romita was drawing the book when I was first reading it, and I've always thought he did a great job on Cap.

Roger Stern contributes an article on Cap that reads as if Cap were a real person, discussing his background and history as if it were common knowledge. He manages to discuss not only Steve Rogers' days prior to becoming a Super Soldier, but retells his origin, manages to get in some references to the 50s Cap that had recently appeared in Captain America, Cap's revival by the Avengers, his time as Nomad, and his return to the red, white, and blue uniform. It's nicely done.

There are one page articles on both Bucky and the Falcon, neither of which includes the author's name. Neither article really has much to say, although the Falcon one suggests that the hero needed to get away from Cap to establish himself.

Another article looks at the 1944 Captain America serial. It's rather enlightening to read about all the changes that wer
e made to Cap in light of the new movie coming out this year. This version featured a Cap without a Bucky, a change in secret identity to district attorney Grant Gardner, and to top it off, this sentinel of liberty does not have a shield! What the heck? I've complained about the uniform in the new film, and what I perceive as a desire to avoid mentioning Nazis, but at least they still have the shield! Some day I would like to see this serial though; I've seen a few clips but that's all. There are some decent photos included with the article.

The fin
al Cap feature is an essay by Jack Kirby, although it is stated that it is from his autobiography, "first printed eight years ago, never printed again or seen by any but a select few." Anyone have any idea what this is in reference to? In any case, Kirby recounts his early comics work, including Captain America, and the fact that he was drafted into the army after Pearl Harbor. The whole thing definitely feels like it was lifted from somewhere else, with no real beginning and no end. Somewhat informative but it reads oddly.

Also in this issue are some cover reproductions showing how covers were altered to different purposes. The cover of Iron Man #45, for instance, was redrawn with the IM figure replaced by Spider-Man for an issue of the Spidey British comic. We're also shown how the original cover to Giant-Size Avengers #2 featured not only Kang and Rama Tut, but Dr. Doom as well!

A photo shows a bunch of comics fans with Roy Thomas at a comic convention. These were "The Marvel 100 Club" members -fans who had collected all 100 Marvel Value Stamps! It doesn't say what they received -if anything -for their efforts, other than mangled comics!

The Department of Infoomation fea
tures eeny weeny little blue text that is incredibly difficult to read. At least it is for me now, in my middle years. While the previous issue featured the previews arranged alphabetically, this one meanders all over the place and tries far too hard to be funny. There are baby pictures of the bullpen all over the place. I'm sure the bullpen found this amusing, but it just feels self-indulgent.

Don McGregor discusses Killraven, primarily the fact that the book has been cut from 18 to 15 pages, and how that has affected his ability to tell stories. You can really tell how peeved he was. Marv Wolfman discusses how he is slowly building up the sub-plots in Tomb of Dracula to a big event around issue 32. It's fascinating hearing how much thought W
olfman was putting into the title, but it shows.

Steve Gerber shows how he earned his oddball reputation as he discusses the audience for Son of Satan: "That book seems to appeal to the lunatic fringe. Both fringes. Both ends
of the cloth. And both clothes. We get lots of letters from religious people who really like it. Now by religious people I don't mean to say clergymen, but people who are strict religionists. There are religious people who really can't stand it. I've been called a tool of the devil, lately. I just want to confirm all those suspicions. I am a tool of the devil. I'm a screwdriver."

George Perez and Dave Kraft describe how they are trying to differentiate Man-Wolf from Werewolf by Night. Perez talks about how he gave Man-Wolf more of a full wolf's head,
and Kraft discusses the effort to make John Jameson less one-dimensional.

There's a tiny paragraph with Len Wein talking about the new X-men. He mentions that Cyclops is the only returning X-Men. Th
e rest will be Colossus from Russia, Nightcrawler from Germany, Storm from Africa, The Wolverine from Canada, and Thunderbird from Arizona. No mention of Banshee oddly enough. He says the first giant-size issue will be by himself and Dave Cockrum, and the second one will bring back the Sentinels.

A lot of the previews are just too dumb to even comment on. Obviously the bullpen was having fun, but at the expense of the FOOM readers, who were not getting a whole heck of a lot of information.

The back cover features a John Byrne-D
uffy Vohland Cap illustration, but it's not particularly memorable.


david_b said...

These issues came after my subscription was up; apparently I didn't miss much..

I applaud FOOM as being a wonderful initiative from Marvel to facilitate the Merry Bullpen from the MMMS days, despite the wish that this was all done on higher quality paper.

Obviously with the economy and rising costs back then, it was still a nifty investment.

I never saw these alternate covers (Doom on GS Avengers #2..?). Very interesting.

Fred W. Hill said...

I wonder how Dr. Doom was supposed to have originally fit into the story in GS-Avengers #2 and why it wound up being changed. Or was it just a misunderstanding that Doom would be in the story at all?
That Cap pose on the cover reminds me of Frank Robbins depictions of the Star-Spangled Avenger/Invader. Or some very early Jack Kirby. Maybe that was the inspiration for both Robbins & Romita in this instance. Didn't quite look like Romita's typical Silver/Bronze age depictions of Cap, although perhaps he drew him that way during his tenure on Cap's brief return very late in the Golden Age. Probably the failure of Marvel's Golden Age superstars to find a new audience in 1954 was a good thing, as otherwise Stan might not have felt so compelled to try something radically different when he tried superheros again.
BTW, I thought Perez did a pretty good job on Man-Wolf; certainly Jolly Jameson's moon-crossed son's canine half didn't look anything like Jack Russell's.

Dougie said...

I don't have the issue to hand but isn't there a comment by Gerber on how he tried to differentiate Lilith from Satana?
That Wein blurb on the New X-Men thrilled me as a kid (almost as much as the Byne illo of Nomad - he looked far more superheroic than Cap!). I thought that Nightcrawler would be the same character who had previously appeared in a Trimpe Hulk issue.
My main impression of Marvel from this issue was that I was reading references to fairly risqué "adult" materials: the Devil, crucifixions and blood-drinking!

cjr67 said...

With respect to to Giant-Size Avengers #2, they should have also replaced Captain America with Thor in the final art, as he was actually a member of the team at this time and appeared in the issue, unlike Cap.

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