Thursday, June 4, 2015

Guest Post - Inaugural Post: If I Had a Buck...

Doug: Boy, does Martinex1 have a cool topic for you today, kids! About two weeks ago a few emails landed in the BAB inbox with the title "The $1 Challenge". Unfortunately, I was too busy initially to give them a once-over. But when the time presented itself, I was asking "What the heck was I waiting for??" I hope today's going to be a fun conversation -- and we have a few more of these in the queue for our later amusement. Here we go.

Mike S.:One of my favorite topics on the BAB site is the “This Cover Made Me Buy This Book” feature. It never ceases to surprise me how much good conversation and memories can be generated from a single cover.  I have a slight variation on that approach, with a little game I call, “If I Had A Buck…” Back when I was a kid, I would scrimp and save, do extra chores for allowances, and work at my paper route just to have a little extra change (used mostly to buy comics, Slurpees, and candy). There were so many instances when I went to the local drug store that I said to myself, “If only I had a dollar; if I had a buck I would buy FILL IN THE BLANK”. A nickel was often the difference in being able to buy two, three, or four comics.  Should I get the Annual, or two of the “Still Only 25 Cent” issues? How do I mix or match to get the most out of my money? I would have loved to buy everything on the rack, but that was impossible.  

So this game that I propose is a mixture of history, cover art, an alternate world, and a little money. Let’s start with some history…

Carol Danvers has been a part of Marvel’s cast of characters for nearly fifty years, making her 1968 debut in Marvel Super Heroes #13 as an Air Force officer in charge of security and a foil to the original Captain Marvel.  Her persona has evolved much over the years, from a magazine editor to an Avenger, from Ms. Marvel to Binary to Warbird to Captain Marvel, from a legacy type character to a heroine currently more popular than her namesake.

In 1977, she first headlined her own title, Ms. Marvel, in a mostly forgettable and relatively short lived run. The series attempted to add a feminist character to the Marvel ranks. The modern approach may have been initially short circuited by clichés and a peekaboo costume. Following Gerry Conway’s intro, Chris Claremont took over writing duties with the third issue and shepherded the series through its finale.  Along the way Carol evolved into a true headliner with a lot of nuance, a compelling voice, and layered tales that set a foundation for the character’s decades of action.
But it is the art of this series that intrigues me. For so few issues (23 in all), the title seemed to tap into every available talent. The interiors were penciled by John Buscema in the first issues, Jim Mooney in the most issues, and intermittently by Keith Pollard, Sal Buscema, Carmine Infantino, Dave Cockrum, and Mike Vosburg. I am sure that inconsistency may have played into Ms. Marvel’s lack of longevity, but at least it was top notch along the way.

The cover art for the series was phenomenal and had an even broader list of creators  I counted nine different cover artists for the book (in alphabetical order): John Buscema, Sal Buscema, Dave Cockrum, Ed Hannigan, Al Milgrom,  John Romita,  John Romita Jr., Jim Starlin, and Ron Wilson. In my opinion this book had some of the best action covers of that era. The design benefitted from the flaming logo, the action oriented corner box, costume designs, colors, and of course that headliner talent.

So here is the question I have for all of you: If you had a dollar (and only one dollar) and walked into my alternate world corner store where the spinner rack had only nine issues of Ms. Marvel (the nine issues listed below), which would you purchase and why? And please note that some comics have 30 cent price points while others are at 35 cents; you can buy three but possibly not all three of your favorites.

So one hero, one title, nine covers, nine creators, and one dollar…

Ms. Marvel #1  John Romita cover
Ms. Marvel #3  Al Milgrom cover
Ms. Marvel #5 Ed Hannigan cover
Ms. Marvel #8 Ron Wilson cover
Ms. Marvel #10 Sal Buscema cover
Ms. Marvel #12 Jim Starlin cover
Ms. Marvel #13 John Romita Jr. cover
Ms. Marvel #15 John Buscema cover
Ms. Marvel #16  Dave Cockrum cover

I selected covers not only that matched the varied talent, but that I thought had a luring appeal. I would love to read your thoughts on Ms. Marvel, the series, the art, the stories, her history, character changes, and the covers.  Open the floodgates. Maybe next time I will make the game more challenging with more titles, artists, and price breaks. I will jump in later and share the issues I bought and my reasoning. Cheers all!


Anonymous said...

Mike, great topic. I'll start by answering the question:

#s 1, 5 and 15 for me. I think the deciding factor for me are the guest stars - Spiderman's supporting cast, the Vision, Namorita. That leaves me a nickel for...uh...5 pieces of gum. Unless there's tax. Is there tax?

I can soooo relate to this concept. Scrimping for money to buy comics. And as I got more and more into comics, things like candy and slurpees became more and more expendable.

Thanks for the memories.


Humanbelly said...

Let's see, #1, 5, and 8 for me-- all for different reasons.
#1- nice-looking Premiere cover, and like the guest stars.
#5- love the Vision, yep, just like Tom.
#8- just a particularly great, eye-catching cover.

Hmm-- didja notice that in this batch alone there are THREE that are aquatic-themed?

Yeesh, and boy was it good to see that exposed tummy panel get covered over by around issue #10. A theoretically-feminist, empowered-woman character is going to blatantly outfit herself like a stripper. . . why, exactly?? For SOOO MUCH of comics history (esp. in the late Silver and Bronze ages and somewhat beyond), when former fans were becoming the creators themselves, you sometimes had to wonder if any of them had ever even met or worked with a regular, ol' woman, y'know? Although I hadn't followed her title, I do seem to recall some intensely cringe-worthy moments of Carol being written in an "assertive" sexually-aggressive manner. Sort of like what a rather clueless guy might imagine a woman would be if she were. . . sexually forward or pre-occupied?. . . in the same way that some guys tend to be. All it did is make her- and by reflection, the writer- come off as unattractively coarse.

Boy, she's sort of another Hank Pym, isn't she, with a huge myriad of super-identities under her. . . uh, sash.

Hey, with the limited-spending angle? You know what was MURDER? Annuals, and the couple of years of Giant-Size quarterlies!!! Really, REALLY hard choices had to be made right there in the grocery store or drug store! The Celestial Madonna arc just about did me in, no lie. Summer annuals were a smart marketing move, sure, 'cause kids did tend to have extra lawn-mowing money and such filling their pockets-- but geeze, we just had to spend it right back to keep up with the comic offerings. Sort of like a comics industry version of the camp store in Grapes of Wrath. . .


Anonymous said...

Do you still have a dollar bill ? In Britain the one-pound note was abolished in 1983 and replaced with a £1 coin - and since 1998 there has been a £2 coin also.

Garett said...

Fun idea Mike S.! I've only read a few Ms. Marvels, so I'm going by cover alone. #15 has to be in there--well drawn cover, and I look forward to the showdown with Tiger Shark. I feel like I should get #16 to see the rest of the story, but the cover with this squid looks dull. So I'll go with #12-- this evil group looks intriguing.

30 cents left. It's a tossup between #5- Vision is good, but the Doom Wagon sounds dumb- and #10, where a fight with Modok and the others sounds good. I'll go with #10, 12 and 15. The villains in 3, 8, and 13 sound quite generic, and I've read #1.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmm.... back in 77 the imported 30 cent comics were 12p, and maybe 50p would be a useful stand in for the dollar (although I think the dollar was a bit more than that; dunno, the exchange rate was pretty variable back in the second half of the 70s).

At this point I was more interested in US titles like Conan or Howard the Duck; for superheroes, I'd be more likely to get one of the Marvel reprint weeklies which were 10p. Not just because they were cheaper, but the slightly older stories seemed a bit better (they were reprinting Steranko's SHIELD for instance).

Maybe I'm not entering into the proper spirit of this feature, but to be honest those covers all seem like fairly standard Marvel with not much to distinguish between them. The only one I could see grabbing me would be (predictably) the first; US Marvel first issues were a rare sight round these parts back then.


Humanbelly said...

We do Colin, we do-- honestly, though, I myself use single dollar bills quite a lot, and MUCH prefer carrying them easily in my wallet or pocket than heavy coins.

What's inexplicable is that we still pennies-- which cost vastly more to mint than they each cost. Same with nickels, in fact. But I see pennies somewhere on the ground as litter just about every day. (Mind you, I'm still skinflint enough to pick them all up. . . )


Humanbelly said...

Correction above: "Than they each are WORTH"--sorry!


Anonymous said...

Yeah, HB, the whole pound coin thing is really irritating - stick with the dollar bills.
Lots of talk about the decline of the US these days, but you'll know the games finally up when the dollar coin appears.


Anonymous said...

HB, back in the day, pennies were good for taking care of SALES TAX - almost 9% here in Louisiana.

I was also going to comment on the bare belly but you seemed to, uh, "cover" that subject very well.

And when it came to penny pinching, Giant Sizes, Annuals...and don't forget (gasp!) - TREASURY EDITIONS!!!


Humanbelly said...

Man, the Treasury Editions were ALWAYS out of my financial reach. It was always a choice between that or my week-to-week on-going purchases, and the fact that the Treasuries were a) so expensive (at that time) and b) largely reprint material, kept me from ever purchasing one directly from the rack until the 2001:Space Odyssey edition. The irony there is that I ALREADY HAD BOUGHT the comics that it reprinted! I think I was just itching to finally spend some of my pocket-burning loot on one, and that may have been all that was available.

To be fair, that story translates very, very well to the larger format.


Martinex1 said...

Hi all. Thanks for commenting.

Colin, as HB stated, the US has "experimented" with dollar coins for a long time. They have had various facings, from Eisenhower in the 70s to Susan B. Anthony to Sacagawea more recently. The dollar coin has existed in various forms for centuries, but in recent decades there has been a hope that it would replace or at least eat into the use of the paper bill. But I guess we are a stubborn lot because it has not gained much traction. Like HB, I prefer the light weight of the paper bill. I also pick up pennies; I guess that comes from my comic collecting scrounging. As HB said, we should probably eliminate the nickel and penny; they make no sense (cents).

As I was creating this post, I chose issues 5, 10, and 15. Issue 5 featured one of my favorite Avengers, the Vision, in an all too rare guest appearance. Yes, he was in Team Up but he rarely earned an appearance outside the team book. And I really like Ed Hannigan's layout with the Viz coming through the truck. This was the only issue of Ms Marvel that I actually bought off the rack. As Garett stated the Doom Wagon is definitely D List material, but i couldn't resist. Issue 10 has Sal Buscema art and MM slugging Modok. Modok is so creepy that every time I see him I am intrigued. I hope to see his oversized noggin at the cineplex someday. And Issue 15 with Big John art is my favorite of the bunch. His Tiger Shark is awesome. And again I have to give praise to the logo design; I like the flaming letters on this title and I think the color scheme looks best on 15.

I didn't choose the first issue for two reasons. I was actually turned off by what I felt was pandering to the Spidey crowd. In the series, Carol Danvers is set up as a magazine editor under J Jonah Jameson's tutelage. I would have preferred her to have her own set of supporting characters. And secondly, I remember this book on the stands and I looked at it week after week and considered it, but passed it by time and time again. It wasn't a problem with Ms Marvel herself as I liked her design and her character over the years. Not sure exactly why, but I will bow to my 10 year old sensibilities. But I have to say Romita was fantastic.

When I selected the choices for the post, it was very subjective but I liked them all for one reason or another. I suppose some of the other Cockrum covers are better, but I couldn't resist any hero fighting a giant octopus. I also avoided her new costume because I wanted to compare the art with like characters.

I am surprised the Ms. Marvel title didn't do better. I thought the covers alone were above par for a series at the time.

I hope my future offerings interest you as I like comparing and contrasting.

Anonymous said...

Happy Corpus Christi holiday everyone! Wait, that's only in T & T,oh, nevermind ... :)

Hmm lessee now, I'd buy that first ish, then the one with the Vision as guest star, then lastly the one with Tiger Shark 'cause you gotta love sharks, for a grand total of 95 cents. If only modern comics were those prices!

I think that original midriff exposing costume was the handiwork of John Romita. If I'm not mistaken, another of his creations, Satana also had an exposed belly baring costume. Both creations of the John Romita school of Superhero Design!

- Mike 'you really don't want to see my exposed midriff' from Trinidad & Tobago.

Dr. Oyola said...

I love the cover for #8. I'd definitely get that one.

Humanbelly said...

Sheesh Mike-- my midrift in that little opening would be an appalling sight. Somewhere in the realm of a sideways, protruding muffin-top, I think. . .

(I mean, the name IS Humanbelly-!)


Anonymous said...

Btw HB, the 2001 treasury was, as they used to say, "all new", so hang on to those super rare originals:)
I got it and thought it money well spent. But the reprint treasuries always seemed good value to me too - classic Thor and Red Nails were well worth it.


Humanbelly said...

Oho, am I remembering that backwards then, sean? Treasury first. . . and then the first four issues of the series was the reprint? (Geeze, hard to believe I was that much of a zuvembie, that I'd buy the reprints just for the sake of. . . buying them. Come to think of it, I also tended to buy the Hulk reprints in Marvel Superheroes pretty often, even though I had those original issues as well. . . good grief!)


Edo Bosnar said...

Happy Corpus Christi right back atcha, Mike (I think we've established before that it's also a holiday in Croatia - not that I savored it: it was yard-work aaaaaallll afternoon, until damn near sunset, on an otherwise beautiful day).

Martinex/Mike S(tarchild) (go check out the comments in the Avengers: Age of Ultron post if you're puzzling over that reference), love this idea! And I like the inaugural subject. I find all of these covers really attractive, but I have to say that if I were faced with this challenge back in the day, when this series was still coming out, at about the age of 9 or 10, I simply would have went with #s 1, 3 and 5, because even then I was a bit of a completist, and made every attempt to read everything in order/from the beginning if possible.
Perhaps if I were a little older, i.e., an early teen, I probably would have seriously considered #15, for what I think are obvious reasons...

Anonymous said...

HB, The 2001 series was a follow on from the treasury... maybe you're recalling something else? Entirely possible, as Kirby did tend to explore similar themes in his 70s Marvels. Some might even say he repeated himself a bit (imagine that!). I thought for ages I'd read some of the Bicentennial Battles treasury in his Cap run.

Mind you, I was a bit clueless on dollar coins, so what do I know...?


Anonymous said...

Agreed on #15 as a teen, Edo. I mean, there's midriff and then there's super-heroines in bikinis that... in the world does that thing stay on?


Anonymous said...

I'd go for #10 (because of MODOK), 15, and 16 (because of Tiger Shark and Namorita). I've actually read all the Ms. Marvels at one time, but I don't remember them too well. I'd like to check out the later Ms. Marvel series by Brian's supposed to be pretty good.

To contribute to the money conversation, we have $1 and $2 coins in Canada, and we recently got rid of our pennies (though the tills haven't caught up yet); in Australia they got rid of the one cent and five cent coins a while back, and I asked an Australian guy how he felt about it...he said it was way better. I don't miss the penny, that's for sure!

Mike Wilson

Karen said...

First, I want to thank Mike for coming up with a great new topic and a great inaugural post! Now, to my picks, I'm going with #s 3, 5, and 15. #3 because I like the rocket and crazy robot, #5 because it's got the Vision guest-starring, and #15 not for the reasons you guys all proclaimed but because it's got Tiger Shark, who I always thought looked cool, AND it's drawn by John Buscema! To be honest, I think I DID buy these issues back in the day! I was not a consistent Ms. Marvel reader but I picked up issues when I liked the cover so it's not surprising that I went with these. I am not sure if I had number 3 but I know I had 5 and 15.

I love hearing everyone talk about having to scrape up extra funds. I still recall early Saturday morning bottle runs, riding my bike and scrounging up glass bottles from all sorts of strange places, balancing a bag full in one arm or maybe wearing an old boy scout backpack of my brother's (this was before everyone had backpacks, and they had absolutely no padding or rigidity, just basically bags with little straps)stuffed full of bottles. I saw some strange things, sometimes. Once someone who was hiding inside a refrigerator box jumped out of a doorway in a back alley and started yelling "I want it so bad!" and was jumping up and down, wearing the box. Honestly, I am not making this up -who could make that up? I just pedaled away as fast as I could! Another time I was with a friend collecting bottles and a guy waved to us from the balcony of his apartment and said something -when we looked up, he flashed us. Yeah, we earned the money we got to buy our comics!

Edo Bosnar said...

Karen, yep, I did the bottle and can collecting thing to get extra funds. The good thing about Oregon was that the return deposit for glass bottles was 10 cents, and 5 cents for aluminum cans and plastic bottles, so on a good day you could get some serious cash (for comics and such at least). Also, my parents let me keep the money from any bottle/cans from our household. Never had any scary, surreal and/or potentially emotionally damaging episodes like yours on my collecting rounds: we didn't live in town, and so I just picked stuff up from roadside ditches - yes, even with the relatively generous return deposit, litterbugs still threw containers (usually for beer) out their car windows

Martinex1 said...

Ha ha Edo. Starchild is much more ambitious a moniker compared to my rather pedestrian name. But I appreciate the sentiment. If only my parents were so adventurous.

Karen, those stories are downright creepy. Refrigerator box man seems like something out of some crazy fever dream horror movie. I think my Schwinn Sttingray tires would have been smoking getting out of there! Oh the risks comic lovers will go through for that extra dime.

As I was researching this topic, I was honestly surprised how on model all of the artists stayed at the time. I could pick out the styling a of John Buscema and the wider face of a Cockrum character, but even those nuances were slight. A lot of folks seem to like the Vision cover. I wonder if Vision could have succeeded with his own title.

J.A. Morris said...

I'd pick #10. Because MODOK is an A-lister, and a lot of the other covers feature Ms. Marvel being victimized in some way. On #10, she's decking MODOK.

pfgavigan said...


For me, Ms Marvel was sort of a filler title, if nothing else that I regularly bought was available I'd take a look at it.

What I think would have been more interesting would have been the meetings at the Marvel editorial offices leading up to her titles' launch. The next bit will make sense if you imagine Roy Thomas being played by Jack Webb and Harry Morgan as Gerry Conway.

"Hey, Gerry!"

As for my purchases. Issue 5, Issue 16, and two candy bars.


"Yeah, Roy!?!"

"Wanna write the first issue of the Ms. Marvel !?!"

"Only if I can make her as derivative of a character as I can! Base everything that I can on that Kree version that we keep bringing back and cancelling and give the character no real reason to exist !"

"Done, but you're going to have to write two issues of uninspired dialogue and weak motivation before we foist this dog off onto that Claremont guy ! "

"Done ! Hey, Roy !?!"

"Yes, Gerry !?!"

"Why do our sentences keep ending in exclamation points !?!"

"It's a comic book thing !"

As for my purchases, issue 5, issue 16 and two candy bars.


pfgavigan said...


sorry about previous post,

something screwed it up.

gerry conway has a long reach


david_b said...

I soooo need to buy up these old issues.., but a funny memory I have was sitting with a buddy of mine back around 1974. We both got a quarter to spend, he spent it on a bag of Fritos.., I spent it on FF 150. I vividly remember him looking at me cross-eyed for wasting my money on a comic.

'Hey, I'd have dinner later that night..' And I still have that beloved issue, and memory.

Too funny.

Martinex1 said...

That's great pfgavigan. It's even better thinking Roy is asking for the candy bars. J Jonah Jameson style. A Zagnut and a Marathon Bar stat! Now back to business!

I agree that her character was derivative and most of the early conflicts were second rate or against borrowed villains like the Scorpion. But in Claremont's later efforts and adversaries like Deathbird and the introduction of Mystique, and guests like Vance Astro, and a new costume,the series began to have a style of its own...and then it ended.

Regarding the cutout midriff, I think Dave Cockrum updated it mid series to cover her up and then updated the costume again to the navy with the lightning bolt and sash

Redartz said...

Great fun topic, Mike/Martinex1! Loads of terrific stories ( fun stories, and horror- wow, Karen, you had an interesting neighborhood!). Like many of you, I was out scrounging for comic coin; picking up pennies, scouring the alleys for bottles, even finding forgotten funds in the change dispenser of the drug store pop machines ( amazing how many people , even then, would abandon their spare nickels and dimes). My allowance was a start, but didn't go near far enough. Not with so much Bronze age goodness available (and the thirst of a youth for sugar and caffeine).

My choices, here, would be issue 1 : Romita cover; and the cast- eternal arachnophile I am, how could I resist?
Issue 12- fine Starlin cover. Nuff said.
Issue 15- Tiger Shark and Namorita ( hey, I was a teenage boy too...).

Incidentally, Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel is quite the property these days. Anyone read the current run of stories; I haven't but they sound pretty good. And she looks great in MarVell's old union suit.

Doug said...

Wasn't this a great topic?? And we have another couple coming your way in the next few weeks.

I'm buying #s 1, 5, and 15 -- all of which I had back in the day, by the way. That JB Tiger Shark cover is incredible, and I'll side with the Vision on #5 as a fave. Of course, back then it was #1s like this, Peter Parker, the Champions, the Invaders, etc. that made every visit to the spinner rack a potential surprise.

Thanks, Mike!


Anonymous said...

1,5, & 15, for reasons others have listed.

I'm glad Carol Danvers has become a major character in recent years. I think she never took off because she lacked distinction. She struck me as a bland super heroine, kind of like Wonder Woman, with Marvel problems. She wasn't bad but she wasn't as cool as Black Widow or the various X-Women.

I read vol. 1 of the Kelly Due DeConnick era and liked it. Focusing on her Air Force history and love of flying was a good choice. I find Monica Rambeau more interesting, though, and would have loved to see Marvel give her a push.

- Mike Loughlin

Karen said...

Redartz, thankfully that wasn't my neighborhood! I used to roam far and wide collecting bottles.

I never cared much for Ms. Marvel's red and blue outfit, especially that scarf! It just screamed, "Here, go ahead and strangle me! I've made it easy for you!"

There's been a lot of talk about who will play Carol in the Marvel films. I just hope they get a good actress, someone who can convincingly play such a complicated character.

Humanbelly said...

Karen, I almost jumped in w/ a comment on your last statement, BUT wouldn't it be a solid discussion-worthy post all it's own? Do you think there's room to shoe-horn it in sometime soon?

"Who would you like to see cast as Carol Danvers. . . and why?"


BK said...

#1, #10, and #15 would do me fine. I actually had 1 and 10 as a kid (and still do), acquired through a trade I suspect because the other boys on my block didn't want a girl comic. Classic Bronze Age title and #10, with Carol bashing MODOK by Sal Buscema, is an all-time, top-20 Marvel Bronze Age cover for me, at least in the nostalgia category! Sal is THE Bronze Age artist in my book and MODOK is so awesome, this is quite the perfect storm. Some good action inside, too, if I remember correctly.

The first issue does a good job of setting things up but it's not surprising no one bought what Stan and the Gang were selling. Not that anything was selling back then. But a feminist-themed character based on a marginally popular male hero was not designed to excite young boys. My ownership of these books gave me a fondness for the character, and I was later very excited to meet her again, with a new costume, in the Avengers. Both costumes I think may have excited a pre-pubescent me as well, with strange new feelings. (I would have picked up the Tiger Shark cover because my brother collected Submariner and I knew the character.)

A fascinating hero history up to today.

Karen said...

HB -look for some Carol Danvers movie talk tomorrow (plus a little something extra).

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