KC Column: Happy Anniversary! Happy Anniversary! Happy Anniversary! Ha-aaaaaaaaaapy Anniversary!

KC Carlson

KC Carlson


by KC Carlson

Comic book anniversary issues risk being deadly dull. Either they’re full of corporate handwaving or “hey, ain’t we great?!” or a sadly generic reminder of how much time has passed since the last boring anniversary.

Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration

Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration


That’s why I’m very pleased to report that the recent Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration is none of those things. If you didn’t already pick it up, you’ve missed one of the best single issue comics of the year. It’s not too late to find it, though, because it’s only been out a few weeks. And if you don’t see it on the shelves — ask for it!

The first story up in the issue is “Anniversary” by James Robinson and Chris Samnee, which takes an evocative single-panel peek around the Marvel Universe at the exact moment that Reed Richards and his three friends blast off into space and inadvertently encounter a new destiny. It’s a great kick-off story to get us into an anniversary mood, although I must point out that some hardcore Marvel continuity folks might blow a gasket about relative eras and ages of some of the folks we look in on. I’m weighing in on the side of how important it is to include a few of the more recent (and very popular) characters. They also serve to remind us that modern comic book storytelling is not just a point on a (time-)line but an ever-expanding arc.

Captain America by Stan Lee & Bruce Timm

Captain America by Stan Lee & Bruce Timm


A few of us elderly folks remember “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” as the Stan Lee-written text pages from 1941’s Captain America Comics #2 that turned out to be Stan’s first published work. Well, the amazing producer/animator/artist Bruce Timm has taken those two pages of text and finally (only 73 years later) illustrated them as a full-blown eight-page story. Plus, Stan has returned to aid in the process of turning a prose piece into a modern illustrated masterpiece! (As Stan would probably put it.) In truth, not much extra work was needed, but it’s always a treat to see “lost stories” reborn anew!

Next up is something new celebrating the past. Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos resurrect their popular Alias series and Jessica Jones character when an elderly woman asks Jessica for help in locating a very old friend — a fireman who saved her life 75 years ago during an early appearance of the original Human Torch. With the assistance of S.H.I.E.L.D. honcho Maria Hill, Jessica creates a happy ending, and — even better — realizes it’s time to get back to work. So, this is not just an anniversary tale, but (hopefully) a springboard to new Alias adventures! Well done, sirs!

Spider-Man by Tom DeFalco & Stan Goldberg

Spider-Man by Tom DeFalco & Stan Goldberg


“–That Parker Boy!”, at first glance, appears to be a slight Spider-Man anniversary story by Tom DeFalco and Stan Goldberg, but there’s more going on behind the credits. Goldberg is better known as a popular artist for both Archie Comics and Marvel’s teen books (Millie the Model, Patsy Walker, Kathy the Teenage Tornado). He was associated with Marvel since the Golden Age as both artist and colorist. His “secret” claim to fame is that he’s the guy who designed the color schemes for many of the classic Silver Age Marvel heroes, including the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and the Hulk. More poignantly, this also may have been one of his last comic book stories, as Goldberg passed away in August at the age of 82. What an amazing career and legacy!

My one nit-pick about this issue is that Goldberg’s name was not bold-faced along with Marvel’s other major talents in the closing “In Memorium” page. I’m not exactly sure what the criteria was for that distinction, but it sure seems like, if nothing else, his amazing productivity and long-time loyalty should have been more of a deciding factor.

The final story of the issue reunites Wolverine with one of his co-creators, as writer Len Wein with artist Paul Gulacy presents a story of Wolverine literally taking a ”Walkabout” through his own past during a visit to the Dreamtime. It also serves as a recap/epitaph to the recently deceased (or is he?) character.

The rest of the book contains a few text pieces (on forgotten Golden Age characters, the lineage of Marvel’s Black Super Heroes, and how Marvel reflects the Real World) as well as what turns out to be the most outrageous and fall-down funny material in the book. “Marvel Comics We Never Made” was brainstormed by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by such luminaries as Bill Sienkiewicz, Kevin Maguire, Mike Deodato, Alan Davis & Mark Farmer, Francesco Francavilla, Sara Pichelli, Maris Wicks, Joe Quinones, and more. The pages feature (and let’s see if I can do this without ruining the jokes) a crossover of Marvel’s licensed characters, kid heroes all-grown-up, a new city-specific Avengers team, a romance comic parody featuring mostly non-human characters, an X-Men cover designed by overly-fanatic X-Men fans, another spot-on romance parody featuring characters already mentioned, and, of course, Groot — with a new occupation and featuring one of the worst puns in modern comics.

I haven’t had as much fun reading a comic book in a long time. You really should check out the Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration while you still can.

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KC CARLSON SEZ: The title of this column is sung to the tune of a classic Flintstones moment.

Not sure what Marvel’s anniversary has to do with the Flinstones, but I like the jingle, and Marvel was one of the many comic book publishers who published Flintstones comics over the years — and one of the best runs, as well!

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