Welcome back to another exciting edition of Make Mine Marvel!
As children my twin brother and I and a close friend throughout the
latter half of elementary school (who lived directly above us in our
apartments) fantasized about being superheroes. We ran across lawns and
fields pretending to be the Incredible Hulk (my brother), the Amazing
Spider-Man (our friend), and Wolverine (me). We scaled fences at ball
diamonds and tennis courts pretending to be in the danger room or in the
clutches of some super villain. We forded a creek near our house and
trespassed on the golf course at night battling imaginary bad guys,
robots, and aliens. We played in park pavilions and on playgrounds
defeating evil wherever we found it. When we got home we would read more
comic books, look at our new acquisitions, and maybe trade a few. Then
we would play with our Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars action figures.
We watched cartoons together and played the Advanced Dungeons and
Dragons role playing game with our friend's older brother who was in
high school at the time. He acted as our dungeon master, when he could
be persuaded to do so, when we were in the 5th and 6th grade in
So it was a natural transition when we discovered
that in 1984, a few years earlier, Marvel had joined up with TSR (the
makers of Dungeons and Dragons) to produce a Superhero themed role
playing game. We snatched up the second edition and any of the adventure
modules we could find in clearance bins.Marvel Super Heroes Role Playing Game 1984
set included a map of New York City showing bases for different teams.
There were fold up figures made of paper featuring the heroes and
villains. There were also metallic figures but I never got any.
Judges Screen (the Judge was the Dungeon Master).
The set included a battle book of rules and a campaign module.
Advanced Set is the one I had. It also had fold up paper figures, a New
York City map, A Player's Book, a Judge's Book, and Character Cards
that had statistics and powers for each hero on the back.
There were blank cards with different body styles if you wanted to create your own heroes.
could create your own campaign, called adventures in this RPG, or you
could purchase ones that had additional maps and characters along with
the story and settings. There were also various books to explain the
different rule sets for classes of characters like mutants, etc.
like Dungeons and Dragons the majority of the time was spent setting
up, playing with the character figures, reading the manuals, and
creating your character. Very little time was spent by me and my twin
brother actually playing the game.
The Official Marvel Comics Try-Out Book 1983
who was always looking for the next up and coming talent, had a contest
where the prize was a job at Marvel making comic books! They produced a
giant sized Try-Out book - 17 inches tall by 11 inches wide - on very
heavy paper stock, the same that their actual artists used.
The book started out like a regular comic book...
as you followed along with the story each element was sequentially
removed and you were required to fill them in as your try-out to see if
you had what it takes to make superheroes come to life in the pages of a
First they removed the coloring. Following the instructions page were several more pages of story for you to color in. I filled mine in with Dr. Ph. Martin's Vegetable Ink Dyes.
Then they removed the inks. Again after instructions several more pages of artwork to ink and color in. You had to be ever so careful not to spill the India Ink and ruin the whole page.
followed by removing the lettering of the dialogues of the characters
so you could practice that too. They provided the script and you filled
in the word balloons for each character.
they took away the script and left you with a plot synopsis and you had
to create the dialogue. Finally they removed the drawings and you had
to pencil in the rest of the story. Thousands tried out and submitted
entries. I got mine in 1988 well after the contest was over and even
after the winners had been announced in a Bullpen Bulletin straight from
the editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. I don't remember if it came from a
comic book store or a yard sale but it had sat unused for five years
gathering dust before I tried my hand at comic book making.
I later saw the results in my issue of Power Pack19. Some of the
winners went on to work in the comic industry (one becoming a penciler
for the Amazing Spider-Man in the 1990s), one even became an inker for
rival and competition DC Comics!
of the try-out book we started making our own comic books with
Wolverine and Hulk teaming up or fighting each other. Usually out of
xerox paper, or printer paper with the strips with holes torn off the
sides and all of our drawings stapled together. We always made a cover
with a little Marvel box and price with the featured character in it
just like the real deal. I wish I had kept
remember laying on my stomach on the living room floor coloring and
drawing in my Official Marvel Try-Out book. At the time we were
listening to a cassette tape of UB40's Red Red Wine from 1983 on a tape
player as a speaker.
regularly made fun of my mom for her music choices. She played her
records all the time on the record player, so we constantly had
background tracks to our childhood. My mom heard what we were listening
to and came in laughing at us.
One of her favorites was Neil
Diamond. We, as a result, regularly made fun of Mr. Diamond and his
gravelly voice. We often imitated him as only an 11 year old can. She
teased us as we drew Spider-Man fighting various villains saying, "I thought you didn't like Neil Diamond."
We looked at her like she was crazy and informed her of her erroneous
thinking. This was pseudo reggae and was in fact the popular band UB40.
She laughed harder and bet us that it was, "a Neil Diamond song"
she had blown a fuse upstairs or something because she had purchased
said cassette and the case was lying right there on the floor in plain
sight, we demanded to know the terms. Mom of course bet for what all
moms really want, a clean house and bargained in with various chores to
be done. She left our prize selection to us. With us in the middle of
drawing comic books and looking at more comic books for inspiration, it
wasn't even a conscious decision before we blurted out our terms in bulk
quantities of comic books.
We knew we may have been a little
overboard but our offer was out there. Obviously she was a few bricks
shy of a load and not playing with a full deck. Thinking she had gone
cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs and was completely crackers we surmised it just
might work. To our surprise she accepted our outrageous terms and my
brother and I grinned evil little grins thinking we had won a comic
lottery at the expense of our dear mother's sanity, but clearly she
couldn't have been in her right mind to bet against such a sure thing.
She calmly proceeded to the record player and played Mr. Neil Diamond's original version of Red Red Wine from 1967.
cannot begin to describe the chagrined look on our faces as we were
thunderstruck with this lightning bolt from the blue. It was like a
punch to the face or a drop kick to the gut. I had never had such a
shock to my senses. What is this madness? I began to question the world
as I knew it. We were outraged. We were humiliated. We were defeated. We
felt betrayed. We had been had. The shock of Milli Vanilli lip syncing
in later years was nothing compared to this. We tried immediately to
save face explaining but, but... we were not in fact listening to Neil
Diamond but UB40 even if we didn't know it was his song. She rejoindered
with the original terms and wording of the deal that it was a "Neil Diamond song"
were beaten. We couldn't argue; it was in fact a Neil Diamond song.
Curse him to the pits. She laughed even harder as she borrowed our
drawing material to draft a chore chart for each of us. UB40 lost its
charm right then and there. I later found out that they ripped off Elvis
Presley as well with their version of Can't Help Falling in Love. That
day I learned some
A. What a cover song was
B. Never bet unless you are 100 percent sure
C. If you think you are 100 percent sure you are probably 100 percent wrong and ...
D. Gloating mothers are the worst thing on the planet in the moment. I was such a sore loser.
few months later she made up for her Machiavellian scheming by making
us Marvel Superhero cakes (chocolate of course) and actually getting
several of the comics we had wanted (perhaps not in the delirious
quantities, but never-the-less the correct titles) for our birthday. It doesn't take a
genius to figure out which superhero would make each twin the happiest
and mom came through with her limited art skills in flying color for us.
Now if you came in my room in the late '80s you would know
instantly what my interests were by the posters on my wall. Among the
various bikini-clad supermodel posters, snarling tiger posters that I
won at a fair, and WWII fighter planes, was of course my favorite Marvel
Superhero. I had two posters actually. This one with Wolverine tearing
though with his claws by Dave Cockrum.
My favorite one was this
one by Arthur Adams, that is still up on my wall in my little geek zone
hideaway/library/man-cave to this day. That is right ladies and gents.
It may have spent many a year rolled up in a tube but it is now out in
all its glory, as long as I keep it in my "nerd room"
where the guests can't see it. My wife is da besssst!
the posters as well as all the cool toys and other stuff I had amassed
in my pre-teenage years drew unwelcome attention. In 1989 my mom had
briefly remarried and it turned out to be the complete disaster we knew
it would be. Our attitude about it certainly didn't help the situation.
For a few months while our separate and disparate families lived
together my brother and I had to deal with step-siblings... dun, dun,
dun, dummmm aaaaaaaaughhhhhh! I remember waking up and seeing my step
sister (who had a crush on us) in my room staring at me and my brother
as we slept. It was like an episode of the Twilight Zone or something. I
expected her to turn us into pod people or sprout multiple limbs or an
extra eye. Who knows how long she watched us sleep. She didn't even say
anything before I shooed her out of the room which made it even more
were also two little monster step brothers who would come in and break
our toys, and the most unforgivable of all, tear up a few of our comic
books. This means war people! After placing said monsters in the garbage
dumpster and then closing the lid we sought out a way to protect our
interests. We locked our door regularly but the terrible trio would
regularly open it with a hanger stuck inside the hole on the doorknob.
We came up with some circular metal slugs found at a local construction
site while skateboarding. I think they were popped out of electrical
boxes for wires and conduits for connections to go into the boxes. They
were roughly the size of a quarter. We popped the faces off of our door
knobs and placed the slugs inside preventing the old hanger pop the lock
open door knob method. Success! We were pest free for a few minutes to
read a comic book in peace. In fact it worked so well we just left it
locked and started going out and in the second story window to the roof,
running across, and dropping down a nearby balcony. The whole marriage
lasted only a few months and we were soon rid forever of the
step-siblings, however some good did come of it - we got my little
brother out of it who was born the next year.
Pryde of the X-Men 1989 cartoon
was during that year prior to my little brother that we watched a new
pilot cartoon of the Uncanny X-men featured on the Marvel Universe
Action Hour. Pryde of the X-Men about Kitty Pryde's introduction and
induction to the team. It featured an awesome line up of X-Men
characters: Storm, Dazzler, Cyclops, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Wolverine, Magneto, and
Professor X with of course the new recruit Kitty Pryde.
My brother and I placed an order for the VHS tape of it and we watched it repeatedly. I could hear the theme song in my sleep!
No place to hide... no place to run
The Mutant Age... has now begun!
X-Men, X-Men faces the day
X-Men, X-Men coming your way!
Magneto's hoards are on their way to pillage, burn and plunder.
But there's one team that will not yield, the team that strikes like thunder!
X-Men, X-Men faces the day
X-Men, X-Men coming your way!
It was followed by Stan the Man Lee narrating for the merry band of mutants...
This is Stan Lee of Marvel Comics warning you to look around you. Your
classmates, your friends. You never know which one of them may be a
mutant, a person born with strange and wondrous powers. Now some
mutants, like the X-Men, use their special gifts for good. But there are
the terrorist mutants who plan to destroy the human race."
They were pitted against Magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants: the Blob, Toad, Pyro, the White Queen, and Juggernaut.
once again was depicted with an Australian accent much like his
previous television appearance in Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.
Much to my disappointment.
Worse, he is depicted as shallow and kind of a bully, not wanting Kitty to join the X-Men because she is just a kid.
story does not follow the introduction of Kitty Pryde and to the X-Men
and their subsequent fight with the Hellfire Club, nor does it show
Lockheed the dragon's discovery on the Brood world, named by Kitty in
her storytelling after the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird jet that the X-Men
used as shown in the Marvel comic books. Instead Lockheed is an abused
pet of Magneto on Asteroid M and follows Kitty home.
Wolverine throws out several growls and "dingoes"
in his Australian accent.
this it was one of my favorite cartoons of all time. I was devastated
when the VHS copy finally arrived only to be destroyed (by pulling out
the tape) by my one year old brother in 1990. Don't worry though I got
There was even a preview of the show in an issue of Marvel Age.
Notice Wolverine's height for the show bible is listed as 5 1/2 which is one inch taller than his first appearance full appearance height in Incredible Hulk 181 as 5 foot 5 inches and at odds with his retconned height of 5'3" that is his official Marvel height.
1992, a few years later, I was much surprised to find an X-Men Arcade
Game by Konami in a corner of a Circle K convenience store based on the
It featured artwork from various X-Men styles with a large Jim Lee Wolverine on the side.
in for a closer look, it had two screens side by side to show all of
the side scrolling action. You could be any of the team as shown in the
cartoon, Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler, Storm, or the Dazzler. Plus six of you and your buddies could play at once.
bad guys were also nearly the same as the show; Magneto, Blob, the
White Queen, Pyro, and the Juggernaut, with additions like the Wendigo,
the Sentinels, some crocodilian-like lizard men in a jungle scene
reminiscent of the Savage Land. Mud monsters, giant robotic hornets, the
Master Mold Sentinel, Mystique, and some Egyptian God statues rounded
out the villians.
was basically a button masher with very little skill involved to make
various fighting moves or use your special move which granted odd powers
to several characters, like Wolverine's sonic slash or Colossus' ball
of static energy. I can't tell you how many quarters I plugged into that
thing to finally reach the main boss Magneto (after having beaten
Mystique disguised as Magneto, and every boss of every other level again
in a row beforehand).Marvel Universe Trading cards 1990
enough I discovered Marvel Universe trading cards by Impel also in a
convenience store before collecting them and searching them out in the
The set included
162 cards that had our favorite Marvel Super Heroes (some of the most
popular have more than one), Villains, and even Rookies of the year like
baseball cards. The new incarnation of the Ghostrider was a rookie that
year. The back of each card had facts and powers about each character.There were also
Team cards showcasing the Uncanny X-Men, the Avengers, the Fantastic
Four, Excaliber, the New Mutants, Alpha Flight, Etc. that listed members, facts,
and showed their home base on the back.
were Greatest Battles cards featuring
classic match ups like the Hulk vs Thing and crossovers like the Fall of
from the comics. There were Hologram cards and comedy cards called
Spider-Man presents, where he would interview heroes or villains and
they would crack jokes.
were Most Valuable Comics cards that showed the cover of the comic on
the front and the publication date with story synopsis on the back with
the current market value in 1991. I chuckled as I saw them having
several of the Bronze Age ones in my collection at the time.
still have nearly all of the cards. The cards were also included in the
Toy Biz line of Marvel Superhero action figures but with blue backs in
1991. Well maybe they were just in the Uncanny X-Men figures. Toy Biz
had several different lines in stores during the '90s, like the
Fantastic Four, X-Force, Iron Man, Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man, so
it is easy to get confused. I will let some of you '90s generation kids
cover that as this article is already stretching like Mr. Fantastic.
Make Mine Marvel Forever
'Nuff said, true believers.