Welcome to Marvel Saga, a new monthly podcast from the creative minds behind Comic Reflections and the Worst. Comic. Podcast. EVER!
Comic Reflections, hosted by Nicholas Prom, looks at comics from the Silver and Bronze Ages. The Worst. Comic. Podcast. EVER!, co-hosted by Jerry McMullen, is a weekly show looking at comics, movies, and TV shows with reviews, previews, and interviews.
In this issue, we explore the origins of the Fantastic Four; the start of Department H in Canada; and the tiny origins of a giant man.
Categories: Jerry, Podcast Episodes
1) When Rolled Spine started The Marvel Super Heroes Podcast, my intention was to run through at least the major Timely Golden Age characters in chronological order, mixed in with coverage of characters from other eras. That lasted for all of two installments, because the only episode I ever tried to go solo involved Ka-Zar the Great, which became synonymous for any other instance of things going terribly wrong on the show. I read so many Human Torch and Angel stories for nothing, but it was ultimately for the best.
2) I don’t think I’ve ever read Marvel Saga #1, and I never bought an issue. I bought The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, and my brother bought Saga, starting with #2, and I read his. I enjoyed Marvel Saga quite a bit and it was at least as informative as OHOTMU, but even when I moved to a different state, I could never get past it being my brother’s book to buy. I probably read less that half a dozen issues as a result, and am lesser for it. I don’t remember the Essential Marvel Saga being solicited, and I can offer no excuse for skipping both volumes. I need to remedy that so I can read along with the show!
3) It sounds like at least the opening pages of #1 had commonality with History of the DC Universe, but a lot less commitment to the full breadth of Marvel history. That said, the stated purpose was to cover the Marvel Age, which was still generally recognized as beginning with Fantastic Four #1, not Marvel (Mystery) Comics back then. An aside, I considered calling our podcast Marvel Age, and still kind of regret not doing so.
4) Ron Wilson’s cover did not blow me away, but I liked the more Byrne (and Layton) influenced figures like Wolverine and Guardian. I would have been fine with it then, but today it irks me to have “Mac” Hudson treated as a contemporary of Tony Stark with a more advanced armor (though it doesn’t feel so advanced after it killed Guardian.)
5) I flipped through Marvel Saga #1 in the two month gap in between listens/replies, and it’s much less text heavy than I remembered. Sequences are taken whole from the original comics with minimal contextual text, and I wonder how much of a production hell this must have been in-house to pull off monthly. It’s also painful after all those Kirby/Lee stories and Fantastic Four related retcons to remotely accept James MacDonald Hudson as the second hero of the modern Marvel Age. Asking way too much… offensively much!
6) In defense of John Byrne’s Guardian costume, it was created three-quarters of the way through a four year gap in the publication schedule of Captain Canuck, who remains a fairly obscure character with a rather small collection of stories across his forty years of history. Guardian’s design is clearly superior, and most heroes who use the Canadian flag as a basis for their costume look fairly similar. It’s two colors and a maple leaf, so there’s a lot less room for variation than the U.S.’s comparatively busy stars and bars. I suspect Captain Canuck’s current publishers are aware of this, which is why they gave the character a spiffy update that compares more favorably to Guardian while also pinching his technologically advanced body armor (and they bought another similar character, Northguard.)
7) Alpha Flight is The Defenders of mutant super teams, but somehow even more low key and oddball. I give the Irredeemable Shag a lot of shade for liking the team so much, but that’s mostly due to my blanket anti-mutant sentiment and their being an easy target.
8) My perception of the Fantastic Four was largely defined by their Power Record, since I didn’t see their cartoon much. It was a solid audio production, but I don’t think leaning so heavily into Mole Man and synopsizing the original story ultimately endeared me much to the team. For instance, Johnny losing a stick fight to a half-blind overweight little person was not the finest first impression.
9) Conan, Howard the Duck and to a much lesser degree Dracula were pushed so hard in the Bronze Age comics of my youth that I’m sure their presence in my esteem is disproportionate to their broader cultural impact. Then again, Conan has held up pretty well when compared to, say, Zorro, Tarzan, Doc Savage, Flash Gordon, Dick Tracy, The Shadow and the Lone Ranger, who were all getting a big push back then as well.
When I was writing the comments back in January, I forgot to finish the point of the first article, which was that I’m glad you guys are pulling off the show I tried and failed to with The Marvel Super Heroes podcast. I love the idea of starting at a specific period in comic book history and moving forward in a comprehensive fashion as you folks are doing so well with Marvel Saga.