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Make Mine Marvel 5

By: NLogan

Make Mine Marvel V

By: NLogan

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 1988/1989.

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

The 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.

The 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.

You 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.

Just 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

Marvel, 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...

But 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 comic.

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.

They 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.

Then 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 Marvel's rival and competition DC Comics!

Because 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 them.

I 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.

We 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".

Thinking 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.

NO?!?!!!!! NO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I 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".

We 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 valuable expensive lessons:

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.

A 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!

Unfortunately 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 creepy.

There 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

It 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...

"Welcome. 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.

Wolverine 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.

The 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.

Despite 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 another copy.

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.

In 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 show!

It featured artwork from various X-Men styles with a large Jim Lee Wolverine on the side. 

Stepping 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.

The 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.

It 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

Oddly enough I discovered Marvel Universe trading cards by Impel also in a convenience store before collecting them and searching them out in the comic shops. 

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.

There were Greatest Battles cards featuring classic match ups like the Hulk vs Thing and crossovers like the Fall of the Mutants 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.

There 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.

I 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.
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Hoju Koolander Posted on Apr 04, 2017 at 12:58 AM

So many memories connected to this stuff. I used to see the manuals and game boxes for the Marvel role playing game at the hobby shop where I would purchase my Marvel Universe trading cards. I also had that Wolverine poster and it has defined the character for me all these years. That's what we needed Hugh Jackman to be decked out in, at least for one film.

My friends and I started our own comic book company in 6th grade, hoping to cash in on the 90s comic book boom, with all original characters, sadly our fledgling line never made I past the debut issues (or my friend's bedroom).

Pryde of The X-Men was always a welcome sight coming after other Marvel produced cartoons like RoboCop and Dino-Riders on Sunday mornings. I have a later issue of Marvel Age that promotes a graphic novel they produced using animation stills from that pilot episode, after the series didn't get picked up.

Of course no retro arcade would be complete without a double X-Men cabinet, Colossus was always my guy.

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