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My Secret Identity Comic Book Hunt

As a kid who started up his comic book fandom with these 2 issues purchased from a 7-11 spinner rack (both of which featured Nightcrawler of the X-Men), I was always on the lookout for super-hero references on my other great love, TV. So when My Secret Identity starring a young Jerry O'Connell started in 1988 I was flying high (and so was he).

When I mentioned the show in this article a few years back, nobody seemed to remember it, which is a shame. This Canadian production about a young boy named Andrew being zapped by his scientist neighbor's photon ray and gaining super speed, invulnerability and floating powers was pretty great. Though his super powers were impressive, I was actually more envious of Andrew's bedroom.

Just look, it's a comic book fan's dream! Not only did he have posters and cut outs of Spider-Man, Wolverine and The Punisher proudly displayed, Andrew also had dozens of actual Marvel comics mounted to the walls, which we see in the background or montage throughout the pilot episode. I'm going to identify as many of those issues as possible and who knows, maybe you owned a few of these yourself back in the day.

What If...? #15 "What If Nova Had Been Four Other People?"

When Andrew first wakes up to discover his powers and decides to become a super-hero, the issue he grabs off the wall is from one of my favorite series, What If...? which contains alternate reality stories of what could have happened to Marvel characters. 

In this case, issue 15 dealt with other people besides Richard Ryder receiving the cosmic power of Nova. Other candidates included a maniacal criminal who assembles a team of super villains, a widowed woman out for revenge, a homeless man who fights the Skrulls and most interestingly Peter Parker. Pretty cool stories, but a random choice for a kid from 1988.

Marvel Tales #207 Power Man and Spider-Man

This title was actually a reprint series that showcased old stories from a 70's book called Marvel Team-Up that usually had a Spider-Ham back-up story (man, I loved that pig). As you saw above, one of my first comics was Marvel Tales. The original issue being reprinted here was, Marvel Team-Up #75 from 1978, which was actually an early collaboration between John Byrne and Chris Claremont who made The Uncanny X-Men a household name.

Anyway, this story features both Luke Cage aka Power Man and Peter Parker aka Spider-Man finding themselves at a swank 1970s nightclub called Studio 13, which was a stand-in for the infamous New York hot spot Studio 54. Of course they end up switching to their alter egos to take on "The Fire of That Great Burning" and I'm sure ending the night dancing to KC and The Sunshine Band. 

Captain America #287 "Future Shock"

Here we get a flash of the star spangled avenger, Captain America taking on Deathlok. That cover is so dramatic, I love the intensity of the smoke and flames as the blaster fires into the air. Judging from the opening page, it looks like someone was impersonating the gruff cyborg from the future and he was none too happy about it. Next to Cap's cover we can glimpse a familiar set of claws...

Uncanny X-Men #212 "The Last Run"

Wolverine was just on the cusp of becoming the absolute envy of every super-hero in the 90's, eventually leading to major overexposure by the end of the decade (Sorry, NLogan). I mean you can see how rough and tumble this guy is on the cover and taking on his arch-nemesis Sabretooth means this was a fight people were ready for. Plus he's wearing my favorite costume as he flashes that shredded brown and orange.

Man-Thing #1

Next to Logan up above, we catch a glimpse of something boggy and soggy, it's Man-Thing! For those not familiar with this silent, lumbering creature, it was a creepy series where "Whatever knows fear burns at the touch of the Man-Thing!" (feel free to chuckle). 

Technically he debuted a few months before Swamp Thing in 1971, but Swampy always got more respect. This #1 is actually from the second launch of the character in 1979. Unfortunately Marvel also tried out the title Giant Size Man-Thing for a while (cue spit take).

Captain America #284 "Diverging..." 

Although he's Canadian, Andrew apparently has a soft spot for Cap, because here he is again. This time doing his best Batman impression, stalking the night from the ledge of a building. The opening page is full of colorful characters as Nick Fury, Captain America and Nomad visit Dum-Dum Dugan in the hospital. 

Never heard of Nomad? Originally it was a new alter-ego for Steve Rogers, when he became disillusioned by the U.S. government, but eventually the goofy costume was taken up by a guy named Jack Monroe, who had previously acted as the sidekick Bucky to a fill-in Captain America during some missions in the 50's. He even got a 90's makeover into a grim and gritty vigilante at one point.

Daredevil #242 "Caviar Killer"

The headline on the newspaper pretty much gives away the plot here, but apparently it was an accidental killing blown out of proportion by the media and it was up to Daredevil to stop the madness. At this point Daredevil was still riding high off an acclaimed run by Frank Miller whose ideas most of the live action appearances of the character have been based on. 

Just one year after this issue flashed on TV screens in syndication, the first live action Daredevil would make his comically ridiculous debut in The Trial of The Incredible Hulk TV movie, looking nothing like his comic book counterpart. At least the 2003 Ben Affleck movie got the costume design of the character right.

Thor #385: "Be Thou God or Monster"

Pre-Dating their rumble in the first Avengers film, this issue of the God of Thunder's comic book adventures found Thor battling it out with a rampaging Hulk. This issue was special because not only did it feature very early art by future Image Comics co-founder, Erik Larsen, the story was written by Stan Lee, who was not writing comics regularly at the time. Of course you can imagine any kid wanting to pick up this issue with the promise of a classic super-hero rumble.

Thor was in the zeitgeist for some reason in the 80's as he also appeared in an Incredible Hulk TV movie as well as Adventures in Babysitting, portrayed in the latter by a young Vincent D'Onofrio who would go on to play The Kingpin in Netflix's Daredevil series.

Thor #387 "Judgement Day"

"Goldilocks" and his magic hammer are back again, but despite the title Thor is not taking on The Terminator. Instead he's fighting a Celestial on behalf of a random alien race. What makes this comic interesting is that Thor dons a special battle armor that looks pretty terrible, which is saying something when you consider the style of his iconic uniform. 

Fantastic Four #309 "Danger In The Air!"

This was a strange period for the Fantastic Four as you can tell by the characters on the cover. Reed and Sue Richards were out of the adventuring business and replaced by Crystal of The Inhumans and Ms. Marvel. No, not Carol Danvers (who is the star of the upcoming Captain Marvel movie), this was Sharon Ventura, a former stuntwoman and lady wrestler who was dating The Thing because he was a monster and not like other men. In this issue they are fighting a middle eastern villain named Fasaud who was a living electronic image. Ooookaaay.

Doctor Strange #58 "At Loose Ends"

This issue is from 1983, so Andrew must have been digging through back issue bins to add this tale of super sorcery to his collection. Honestly, I never knew anyone who was a Doctor Strange fan growing up, as I'm pretty sure his fan base began and ended in the early 70s with college students doing LSD. This story deals with a vampire private investigator named Hannibal King from the Tomb of Dracula comics, but even so the mystical darkness just doesn't catch my interest. 

Web of Spider-Man #34 "Fourth and Eternity"

Though there are many more comics to cover, I'll close out on this one based on pure wackiness. First of all, Spider-Man is in his black costume, my absolute favorite look and it features Uatu, The Watcher, who is the "host" of the previously mentioned "What If...?" comics. 

This tale finds Spidey playing a pick-up football game against some neighborhood kids...KIDS! Then Uatu making a wager with some alien thieves who stole a weapon from Galactus that if Spider-Man's team wins they have to give it up. Intergalactic stakes being decided by a football game at the park, you gotta love comic books, man.

Well, there are many more comics found in the background, but I think that's good for now. I hope you enjoyed this obsessive look at Andrew's comic book collection from My Secret Identity and that you learned a few things about the Marvel universe along the way. 

If this sparked an interest in the show, you can find it on YouTube. But what got this project going was that  I was recently invited to be a guest on the NerdLunch Podcast where we pitched ideas to reboot old TV shows and what do you think I picked? Yep, My Secret Identity. Click here to listen now.

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jkatz Posted on Oct 31, 2017 at 02:35 AM

Another well-researched article as always, Hoju!
That kid's room is kinda lame when compared to the one Jake Lloyd had in Jingle All The Way, though. I don't care how many comic books you hang on your wall, it's no match for a giant Captain America mural.

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