What I thought of Marvel Two-in-One #3

1970’s Marvel comics are a source of joy and derision. Sometimes both. One of those titles I’ve grown fonder of over the years is Marvel Two In One, one of those titles Marvel, and DC, published where a ‘big name character’ (Spider-Man, Batman, Superman) would team up with another hero in normally, a one-off adventure. Marvel Two In One featured the Fantastic Four’s Thing, a bit of an oddity as although the Fantastic Four sold well in the early 70’s, the idea of sticking The Thing as the ongoing character in a team-up book today seems daft.

These titles also allowed new writers to play around; in this case Steve Gerber was allowed to play with Marvel’s characters and in this issue he throws in Mr. Fantastic as well as Daredevil and the Black Widow.

These comics tended to follow a certain formula. Something would happen to bring our heroes together, they’d argue/fight and then team up to fight the main villain and the story would be wrapped up in 20-24 pages. In this case Daredevil wants his billy club back.

At this point Marvel was building its universe up to the point where any comic would reference any number of other Marvel titles.

This however is a Steve Gerber comic. This means after the soap opera superheroics we get a large chunk of political content which looks amazing even today.

Then it gets insane when Adolf Hitler pops up and he’s hip to the 70’s.

At this point The Thing and Daredevil have a sort-of-fight for the sake of a fight.

After some banter, The Thing and Daredevil team up, fight the bad guys and end up saving the Black Widow who is being controlled by the aforementioned bad guys.

There’s no end here, just a promise of continuing the plot in that month’s issue of Daredevil which seems a cheat but remember these comics were cheap. Kids had a load of disposable income and could buy all the titles they could which is at least what I used to do.

Marvel Two In One is a relic of a bygone age of fun, disposable comics, albeit one with some frankly bizarre political commentary from a writer who at this point was finding his voice as well as his feet in an industry where comics were disposable. Some good, solid Sal Buscema art makes the issue a joy of nostalgia though nothing here is overwhelmingly outstanding, just solid superhero comics that’s fun which is all that matters here.

 

My top 20 Comic Book films-16-The Avengers

I did my top 20 horror and SF films last year, and found doing the lists to be more fun than expected, so in a massive bit of logic here’s my top 20 films adapted or inspired from comics. I need to point out I mean comics, not ‘superhero comics’ which is a lazy, and incorrect way to describe a wonderfully varied medium and it’d also cut out some bloody good films!

Previously, in this list at #20, X Men19The Crow18Heavy Metal and 17, Spider Man.

At 16, it’s the film version of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s The Avengers, or Avengers Assemble as it’s known here in the UK in order so people don’t confuse it with Steed and Mrs Peel….

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The Avengers is Marvel’s big finish for their Phase One series of films that started four years earlier with Iron Man, and after a series of films of varying quality ended up in this big, ridiculous mess of a film that’s utterly and totally nonsense but ends up being huge fun even if the plot is dreadful and at times the entire thing nearly falls apart.

What holds it together is the ensemble cast headed up by Robert Downey Jr, Samuel L Jackson, and a fantastic turn by Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk.  Of course the rest of the cast do their jobs well, especially Chris Evans as Captain America (who really could be a pointless character if played for laughs) and Tom Hiddleston as the panto dame which is what the cinematic Loki has become very, very quickly.

Forget about the patchy opening. The long, dreary section in the middle made up of people talking that annoyingly too aware Joss Whedon tends to do far too much for my liking, but Whedon is clever in that he realises the entire idea is pantomime, and anyhow, all people have paid for is a MASSIVE FIGHT SCENE, which is ultimately what Act Three is. One. Giant. Fight. Scene.

If I was 12 or 13, The Avengers would be the best film I’d ever seen in my life. It’s a big porridge of superhero action, with a few good performances thrown in and it’s fun. However looking at some of the deleted scenes it seems it could have been ‘darker’ (which in superhero comics terms means ‘adult’ but it isn’t)  but instead Whedon keeps the tone right and ignoring the rubbish pacing, the paper thin characters, the truly rubbish baddies you have a pretty good superhero film, though because it’s part of Marvel’s ongoing cinematic universe, it also feels like another stepping block to the next film. That’s a weakness of many of the Marvel films, but taking all this aside The Avengers is fun. It’s not art. It’s not the best film ever made. It’s not even the best Marvel based film made. It is however a good waste of time.

It also has Scarlett Johansson’s arse. I’ll be returning to that later on in this series.

Next time, it gets dangerous and sexy….