Saturday, August 2, 2008

Comics You Might Never See, Number 1

I've been trying to come up with interesting topics that I could pull out from time to time. Researching my collection, cruising message boards, surfing the web, and just generally wracking my brain led me to a topic I think would be cool: Comics You Might Never See.

"Now, Groove," you ask, "Whuzzat all about?" Well, Grasshopper, you live in a day and age when almost every comic ever published is in print as a trade paperback (or very expensive hardback) collection of some kind or another. You don't have to spend all your time haunting dusty back-issue bins, battling mildew at yard sales, or even bidding on eBay (but that's really fun!). Nope, you just hop down to the local bookstore and pull out the latest collection of your favorite new or classic comic. If it's not in stock, they'll order it for you, no probs. But (there's always a big ol' "but"), you're sitting in the recliner, Mountain Dew in hand, checking out the table of contents of your latest Marve Essential or DC Showcase (or whatever) acquisition and you notice, HORROR OF HORRORS! There's an issue missing! How can that be?

You've just entered..."The Licensing Zone," my friend. Yes, licensing has been the yin/yang of comics for many a decade. They're great whilst your favorite publisher is paying out the moolah to keep Doc Savage, the Shadow, the Micronauts, Godzilla, ad infinitum under their banner, but what happens when ties are severed and the license reverts to the owner, or (gasp!) goes to another publisher?

You get a big, gaping hole in your favorite reprint collection, that's what. But the Groovy Agent is here for the rescue! F'rinstance, if you collect Marvel's Essential Spider-Man tpbs (and you should!), you noticed that Volume 6 reprints issues 1 and 2 of Giant-Size Spider-Man and Volume 7 reprints issues 4 and 5. So wha hoppen to GSSM #3? That's right! It's lost in...the Licensing Zone!

(By the way, GSSM was part of Marvel's attempt to compete with DC's 100 page comics. The Giant-Size comics were 68 pages and a dime cheaper than DC's offerings, but with more original material and fewer reprints. There. Don't never say I ain't learnin' ya nothin'!)

Okay, so here's what you're missing: GSSM was really a double-size version of Marvel Team-Up, with Spidey pairing up with another Marvel character, and for this ish the lucky hero was Doc Savage. At this time (October, 1974), Marvel had the rights to Doc Savage, but no Doc Savage comic. The original series had been cancelled months earlier, and there were plans in the making for a Doc magazine-sized comic, so this story was pretty much concocted to keep the license alive. But how does Spidey of the 1970s meet up with Doc of the 1930s? He doesn't! Got all that? Okey doke, then let's get on with the story.

Gerry Conway's story, "The Yesterday Connection", begins as Spidey, whilst swinging around looking for trouble, comes into contact with a very foxy extra-dimensional blue-skinned lady dressed like a cross between a barbarian queen and a leather fetishist (nicely drawn by Ross Andru). She fears that an awful being from her dimension is about to be freed to wreak havoc on the Big Apple. She explains (through flashbacks, AHA!) how Doc Savage and his crew helped her capture and imprison the "awful being" in the cornerstone of a particular building back in the 1930s. While listening to her story, Spidey realizes the lady is lying about the "terrible creature" and is really evil, herself. How Spidey figures this out, I'm still not sure. I know he's not smarter than Doc Savage (who is?). Maybe it was his spider-sense, or perhaps he's just more cynical than Doc, but he's right! The blue lady actually tricked Doc into imprisoning the wrong alien into that cornerstone, so Spidey grabs a jackhammer and lets the poor guy out. Some cosmic special effects and the male alien dishes out justice to the female alien. Spidey's not sure what just happens and isn't sure he wants to know. Doc, back in the 30s, gets the feeling that something wrong has somehow been set right.

And there ya have it. A team-up where the heroes never meet. A NON-TEAM-UP! It could only happen in...the Licensing Zone!


  1. Excellent and interesting post, Groove! I really like your writing style and choice of topics.

    The licensing problem is a huge one particularly for publishers like Dell and Gold Key who published little else, but also for Marvel & DC with some of their characters overlapping into the murky waters. Does DC still retain the rights to the Shadow? Because Batman crossed paths with him at least once (as a young Bruce Wayne).

    I wonder if issues like this one will go up in value more since they can't be republished and completists will go nuts without it.

  2. Got here through a link at Silver Age. They actually did make an Essential for Godzilla, and he's mentioned in a couple profiles in the recent "All-New Iron Manual", a Handbook-style mag they recently released.

    Also, I know it's outside your year target, but the Transformers #3 has a Spidey guest spot, and although IDW has been reprinting the old Marvel series, they won't be doing #3 for a different (and obvious) licensing problem. I remember an issue of DC's run of the Phantom (based on the comic strip) where they said they wouldn't have the Ghost Who Walks team-up with any DC hero because they might have to ignore the story should they lose the rights. (Although this didn't stop Superman from teaming with Masters of the Universe in the DC Presents comic.)

    There's also the cross-company crossovers. I wonder who gets the rights to those? Recently Top Cow's version Battle of the Planets teamed-up with Wildstorm's version of Thundercats. I wonder what happens to those stories?

  3. Wow, this deserves to be a semi-regular feature! Or at least, make a post which links to issues like this in blog. I mean, off the top of my head, I can think of the Marvel Two-in-One issue where Thing meets Doc Savage (which I see conveniently linked below), the issue of SHAZAM! where Captain Marvel meets His sometimes TV co-star Isis, the issues of What If...? which featured Conan (didn't one of them have a guest appearance by Captain America?), the Batman stories which feature The Shadow, and the story where Spider-Man meets Red Sonja. There are probably others, but those are the ones which spring to mind.

  4. Both this story ( )and the Thing/Doc Savage MTIO has been posted here ( ), as has the Spidey/Red Sonja one ( ). Shazam/Isis, Batman/Shadow, and What If...Conan (and MOKF for that matter) are great ideas!



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As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!