Don't get me wrong, traditionally I am a defender of The Defenders. I just can't get behind this particular issue. In the early 80s, it seemed as though every Marvel writer (in this case J.M. DeMatteis) felt the need to write a 'stop and smell the roses' issue once a year. When these work, they can be quite touching. When they don't, they leave the reader with a saccharin aftertaste that can last for days. In this story, each and everyone of the Defenders feels the need to find their purpose in the world after the battle in the 100th issue. They all make their way out into the world with Doctor Strange and Clea awkwardly performing a tribal dance in Africa and the Devil Slayer criticizing the personal hygiene of a burnt out hippie. In the end, they all hang out on Doctor Strange's stoop feeling rejuvenated. It is all done in a very ham-fisted way. DeMatteis would cover similar ground in a much more elegant way in Marvel Team-Up #119. Avoid.
I love 80 Page Giants. You love 80 Page Giants. I think it's safe to say that we all love 80 Page Giants. They are all great, but can be quite pricey these days. A while back, I was able to get my hands on a copy of this issue for a few bucks and am very pleased with my investment. Silver Age Lois Lane stories are amongst the kookiest you can find and this volume provides a wonderful sampling of all the series had to offer. Highlights include her becoming a witch (not really), losing her mind (not really) and dying in an explosion only to haunt Superman as a spectral spirit (not really). You get the point. The real jaw dropper in here is not featured on the cover. Lois is hit with a growth ray which causes her to plump up quite remarkably. She gains so much weight that she must buy clothes at the 'Fat Girl's Shoppe'. I kid you not. Of course, she's not at all worried about her health, just about what Superman will think of her. As an aside, I really miss the old days of stories based on concealing secret identities. Sure, they may seem a bit silly by today's standards but it was always a fun plot device. This one is a blast all around, and you should definitely add it to your collection.
For me, some of the most fascinating house ads are for projects that never came to fruition. I am a big fan of the two Treasury sized Oz books, as Baum's work is perfectly suited to an over sized Four Color treatment. As I understand, Marvel was under the false impression that Ozma was in the public domain and have Roy Thomas and Alfredo Alcala work on the adaptation. The whole thing was scrapped when it was revealed that there was indeed a rightsholder. I a
m not sure if the pages were all completed and, if so, where they are now. I'm certain Thomas would have covered this at some point in the pages of Alter Ego.
I am a big fan of purple suits on Gil Kane characters and I guess that it only makes sense that those are packed in purple luggage. This is a pretty typical, crazy cover to DC's flagship science fiction anthology series with a train racing away from Earth. I wonder just how many DC covers from the 50s featured the Earth? This is a wonderfully designed cover with a terrific sense of perspective using the train cars. I love how Kane does French cuffs on the conductor. This may not be an iconic Kane cover, but it has all of the elements that made his covers so compelling.
Sometimes a little research can go a long way. Had I looked into this one more carefully, I would have bought it years ago. For some reason, I had always assumed this was an adaptation of the Christopher Lambert starring movie (or even worse, the Miles O'Keeffe starring one!). I was wrong, so very wrong. This fine magazine contains a wonderful adaptation of the first half of the initial ERB book. Like any sane person, I'm a big Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle team, but had no idea that they had worked on this. As far as adaptations go, it is quite faithful and Spiegle excels at mutinous seamen and angry apes. I have the magazine edition, but it was also published as a two-part standard sized micro series. Does anyone know the story behind this book? Was it an aborted start to the start of something larger? I have a feeling that's there is more to the story.