THE AVENGERS #239 (1984) — As all comic geeks know, The Avengers are Marvel Comics’ version of the Justice League of America — in other words, a team of superheroes fighting crime together, rather than individually. In #239, the likes of Hawkeye, Black Widow, the Beast and Black Panther comprise the lineup, joining forces to … appear on LATE NIGHT WITH DAVID LETTERMAN? Yep, the whole issue is about them guesting on Dave’s show, and the only thing more cringe-worthy than seeing Paul Shaffer in a Captain America shirt is seeing Dave foiling the bad guy by knocking him over the head with a giant door knob and exclaiming, “I guess that’ll teach you not to mess with David Letterman!” Too bad Jay Leno wasn’t on TV then — this crap is right up his alley.
CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW! #1 (1982) — Cute animals as superheroes. The Plastic Man-esuqe Rubberduck. The Wonder Woman-like Yankee Poodle. The unending puns like President Mallard Fillmore. Geez, the shit I would buy when I was 11.
THE MARVEL FUMETTI BOOK #1 (1984) — “Fumetti” is Italian for “shit.” Or, more specifically, “photo-funnies.” This one-shot comic stars Stan Lee and the bearded, bespectacled nerds who comprised the Marvel staff at the time. Imagine if your high school chess club just went crazy with a couple rolls of B&W film and you’ve got the idea. The center spread with Lee lounging on a couch in a full Hulk outfit will turn you off centerfolds — and maybe even photography — for the rest of your life.
OBNOXIO THE CLOWN VS. THE X-MEN #1 (1983) — The abrasive, miserable, cigar-smoking Obnoxio was the mascot of Marvel’s CRAZY magazine, a short-lived MAD rip-off. I’m not sure why they wanted to team him up with their critically acclaimed band of mutant heroes, but they did, and here he helps Wolverine, Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler and the gang fight a villain known as Eye-Scream, so named because he can turn into, well, ice cream. Obnoxio celebrates their victory over the ne’er-do-well by putting a giant cherry on the guy’s head. Hee-larious, no? Here’s hoping the X-MEN film franchise doesn’t get so far that this is considered as a potential storyline.
POWER PACK #1 (1984) — By conversing with some sort of talking space horse, four kids become superheroes. They call themselves Gee, Lightspeed, The Energizer and Mass-Master (which sounds pornographic). Those names suck because kid superheroes suck. On the plus side, there’s an ad letting me know that my favorite Atari hits are now playable on my Texas Instruments computer.
SPIDER-MAN: CHRISTMAS IN DALLAS (1983) — When I was 12 years old, I went with my parents to Dallas for some reason. This comic book was in that Sunday’s DALLAS TIMES HERALD. In it, Spidey fights Kingpin! At Christmastime! In, uh, Dallas! And also makes a kid’s day by giving him a box of Crunch ‘n Munch. The last page says the next issue would have Spider-Man, Firestar and Ice Man at the Dallas Ballet’s production of THE NUTCRACKER. I’m sure that would’ve made this list, too.
SPIDER-MAN AND THE INCREDIBLE HULK: CHAOS IN KANSAS CITY (1982) — This is just like the Dallas thing, but was in THE KANSAS CITY STAR. Spidey and Hulk fight Kraven the Hunter in the Jones department store, which explains all the crudely drawn ads with kids in Britania jeans and Izod shirts.
SUPER-HEROES BATTLE SUPER-GORILLAS #16 (1975) — What’s sadder: That I forked over a quarter to read four stories about Superman, Batman, The Flash and Wonder Woman each fighting powerful apes, or that DC Comics had a quartet of stories laying around about Superman, Batman, The Flash and Wonder Woman each fighting apes?
SUPER-STAR HOLIDAY SPECIAL #1 (1980) — What were your Christmas traditions? Sipping egg nog by the fire? Making popcorn balls for the tree? Reading Batman in “Wanted: Santa Claus – Dead or Alive”? Yeah, mine, too (if you answered “yes” to that last one). This compilation of holiday-themed stories features Jonah Hex, Superboy, Sgt. Rock and the House of Mystery hosts learning the true spirit of the season through such plot devices as raccoons and candle-wielding nuns. Today, I’m more intrigued by Hawkman saving the life of a falling skydiver, who commemorates his close call by enjoying the “chocolaty cake, fudgy icing” of Hostess Cup Cakes. —Rod Lott
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