Comics : Not Brand Echh #5

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This story is part of a Lookback Series: From The Beginning

This review was first published on: Mar 2015.

Background...

Yes, I know. Only five issues in and Not Brand Echh is wearing out its welcome. But at least the indicia finally lists the comic as “Not Brand Echh” instead of “Brand Echh.” And this time we have Stan and Jack together again and they’re telling the origin of a character previously only seen on the cover of Not Brand Echh #1, August 1967: Forbush-Man! Plus Spidey makes a few tiny appearances.

In Detail...

"The Origin of Forbush-Man the Way-Out Wonder"
Not Brand Echh #5 (Story 1)
Dec 1967 : SM Parody
Summary: Spider-Man Parody (Spidey-Man) Cameo
Editor:  Stan Lee
Writer:  Stan Lee
Pencils:  Jack Kirby
Inker:  Tom Sutton
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 Reprinted In: Not Brand Echh #10

One of those appearances is on the cover. In the background, Forbush-Man (now with a hyphen in his name which was lacking on the NBE #1 cover) is standing beneath his brand-new 3D-ish logo and blocking the view of a huge full moon. “Nothing ever happens around here,” he says as he shields his eyes (peeping out of the pan he wears in place of a mask) with one hand while he holds up his long underwear with the other hand. (Note that it is a pan that Forbush-Man now wears when it was just a silver headpiece on the cover of NBE #1.) In the foreground, the Bulk battles the Thung while the Revengers smash out of a building pursuing Charlie America. (A caption next to all this mayhem reads, “Big Peace and Quiet Issue!”) Forbush-Man notices none of this. It’s a cute gag but doesn’t have the deranged power of a cover like Marie Severin’s Not Brand Echh #4. Interestingly, in Alter Ego #95, July 2010, Roy Thomas conjectures that this cover is also the work of Marie Severin (along with Tom Sutton) but, somehow, it just seems to be a little too conventional in spite of the maniacal grin on Giant-Sam’s face or the upside-down spinach can on top of Bulk’s head. Roy also points out that this is the first issue “to have no precise theme” in spite of the “Big Peace and Quiet Issue!” blurb, which is clearly a gag for the moment. But what about Spidey? Well, there’s a clothesline just below Forbush-Man and three Marble t-shirts are hanging on it. The illustrations on the shirts are exactly the same as the actual Marvel t-shirts but the characters have their Brand Echh names. Scaredevil’s t-shirt is hanging on the left. And The Mighty Sore is on the right. And The Amazing Spidey-Man is in the middle.

The contents page is defiant and forceful. At the top is a caption box that says, “Issue #5 (Didn’t think we’d make it this far, huh? Nyahh!)” The “This is a Contents Page” has lost its question mark, making it a statement of fact. And “Not Brand Echh” has gained an exclamation point after it. The page is designed as a gumball machine. The price of a gumball is 12 cents, the same as the comic. Five giant gumballs dominate the machine. One has the credits, one has the exclamation pointed “Not Brand Echh!” mentioned above, and three have the contents of the issue. “The Revengers vs. Charlie America” gumball reproduces page 4 panel 1 of that story. “The Thung vs. the Bulk” illustration is from page 4 panel 5 of that tale. But “The Origin of Forbush-Man” artwork doesn’t seem to be from the story at all, though it resembles page 5 panel 5. Other gumballs in the machine are an eightball, a fishbowl, a ball and chain, a bowling ball, and a bomb with a lit fuse.

The Origin of…Forbush-Man, the Way-Out Wonder! is not the Galactus Saga or the Thor-High Evolutionary Epic but it is a story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. It begins with a splash page showing Forbush-Man pushing a trash bin with a robot sitting in it. Seven characters lean into the frame and comment on his appearance. One of these characters is Spidey, the first of only two appearances in this story. From top to bottom on the left, Daredevil (holding his head in despair) says, “He’s absurd!” Spidey (with a spider dangling on a web hanging off his nose) says, “He’s insane!” Hulk says, “He’s Forbush-Man!” On the right, from top to bottom, the Thing says, “Let’s clobber the bum!” Thor says, “For he doth muscle in…” Captain America (with band-aids on his face and mask) says, “…on our territory!” Down in the corner, Aunt May says, “I think he’s adorable!”

We begin with Forbush-Man departing three scenes after defeating three villains: the Blechh Knight, Mr. Hide ‘n Seek, and the Krafty Kobra. (The cops on the scene of the Hide ‘n Seek defeat are named Damon and Pythias, the faithful friends of Greek legend. Why? I don’t know.) The cop in the Kobra scene yells out “Saints alive! Tis true! Ajax cleans whiter than white!” He is responding to the fact that Forbush-Man has completely covered the Kobra in starch but is referencing Ajax detergent, which was called “the White Tornado” and “Stronger Than Dirt” in its commercials. The Kobra has a “Help stamp out Mongooses!” around his neck, referring to the cobra’s deadliest enemy.)

So, “who is the mysterious way-out wonder?” Stan asks. “No! No! No! He is not any of the people you might logically suspect,” Stan adds and the panel shows us Twiggy, Charlie Brown, Santa Claus, President Lyndon Johnson, Woody Allen, Dr. Doom, and Robert F. Kennedy. Instead he is Forbush-Man! And Stan and Jack take us back in time to a “hidden room in the world-famous Marble Bullpen.” Also hidden is Forbush-Man’s face throughout the story, always covered by something in the manner of the Upwind Johnson character in the “Smilin’ Melvin” story from Mad #7, October-November 1953, a riff off of Downwind Jaxon from the “The Adventures Smilin’ Jack” comic strip (October 1, 1933 – April 1, 1973) whose features were also not shown…but let’s not stray too far away from our story. In this panel, Irving Forbush slaves away at his desk, with the desk lamp covering his head.

Irving, Stan explains, “does all the jobs at Mighty Marble that no one else has time to do.” When he’s told that Iron Man needs some spare parts, he takes a hammer to an alarm clock (the flying parts cover his head). Asked for new sound effects, he blows a New Year’s Eve horn and has a robot arm hit him over the head with Thor’s hammer. This all obscures his head.

Off work for the day, Irving pursues his hobby…autographs! He tries to get Scorchy (the Human Torch), Try-Tin (Triton), A. Tuna (Attuma) and Slicksilver (Quicksilver) to sign and they all blow him off. (Scorchy’s flame, a fish spitting at Irv, Attuma striking him with his trident, and papers blown in the air by Slicksilver’s speed all hide Irving’s head.) Discouraged, Irving trudges home, oblivious to Nick Fury offering him a cigar (the smoke hides Irving’s head) and the Yellow Claw giving Fury a haircut…two good autograph possibilities. As Irving walks away, a storm cloud hovers only above him (a la Joe Btfsplk in the “”Lil Abner” comic strip. (August 13, 1934 – November 13, 1977). It, of course, hides his head.

At home, Irving slaves away at the chores while his Auntie Mayhem eats bon-bons and reads a “Super-Millie” comic book (a riff on Marvel’s Millie the Model). She is dressed like Mammy Yokum from the Lil Abner strip (two Abner references in two consecutive panels!) including a corncob pipe. Her face looks like a mash-up of Aunt May and Mammy. On the wall of the home is a framed picture of Adolph Hitler with “Unk” written on the frame. Irving’s thought balloons cover his head as his Aunt rails at him for being a “bum” and a “lowlife” (which is the way most super-heroes in the old Mad parodies are treated). Irving tells his Auntie that he can’t get a raise “till they start paying me a salary” which Mayhem thinks is a poor excuse. “If you’d get your mind off those furshlugginer [a Mad word from those same parodies] superheroes, maybe you’d amount to something like your Uncle Benny. He’s only had his job for six months and already the Warden made him a trustee.” As Irving washes the dishes, covering his face with a plate, he tells his Auntie, “No matter how I scrub, I can’t get a white tornado,” which we already explained somewhere up above. “I’ll bet a superhero could do these dishes with…,” Irving begins but Mayhem has gotten sick of hearing about superheroes. She dumps a pot full of yellowish goop on his head. As Irving sits on the floor with the pot on his head, it comes to him. “This pot! It’s just what I’ve been looking for! It’s a perfect fit! And it’s so stylish with the narrow brim!” Behind him, an upside-down Spidey peeks in the window. This is his other appearance in this issue.

“And now, believer, prepare thyself!” says Stan, mocking his own hyperbole, “The true wonderment is about to begin.” At his secret lab - - Stark Industries (Forbush Annex) - - Irving cuts eyeholes into the pot. (He’s got a Stark secret lab? I thought he worked at Marble.) He grabs a pair of long johns off a clothesline (“With a nice woolen outfit like this, I’ll have nothing to fear, except moths!”) He grabs some galoshes and makes a cape from a potato sack. (The galoshes panel has a stack of comic books. One is an Iron Man tale, entitled, “The Origin of Rust-Man” with Iron Man looking terrified. Another, barely legible, reads, “Millie Faces Sgt. Fury!”) His origin is announced in big bold letters and a fanfare coming from a gramophone listened to by the RCA dog, Nipper. Venturing out in public, Forbush-Man searches for a villain to fight. He asks a man wearing Mole Man glasses if he’s seen any good villains. “How’d you like a fat lip, wise guy?” says the man. Forbush-Man goes to a newsstand and picks up a copy of the “Daily Blah” in his villain search. The headline reads, “Spidey-Man Leads Protest March Against D.D.T.!” (A Spidey reference!) He walks straight into a stampede of people fleeing the Juggernut. The crowd includes Green Arrow and what looks to be the Fawcett Captain Marvel, though it may be a mis-colored Superman. “Hmm, this is interesting,” says Forbush-Man, still reading the paper, “There’s been a rise in parking meter violations!”

Still oblivious, Forbush-Man heads right for the Juggernut who is demolishing a building. Irving’s newspaper now has the headline, “First Landing on Moon. It is Made of Green Cheese!” In the building’s rubble is a small Batman inside a bird cage marked “Bat Cage.” Off to the side, a grown-up Little Orphan Annie looks on. She looks more like the character from “Little Orphan Melvin” in Mad #9, March 1954 than like the character from the “Little Orphan Annie” comic strip (August 5, 1924 – June 13, 2010). Juggernut spots Forbush-Man and decides to sneak up on him. Forbush-Man bends down to adjust his galoshes just as Juggernut attacks and Juggernut wipes out a lamppost instead. Then Irving decides to “jump over this gooey cement to make sure…[his galoshes are] on tight enough!” (The cement is in a bin marked, “Quick Drying Cement (Not to be taken internally).”) Juggernut lunges at him and gets caught in the cement.

With Juggernut defeated, people come out of the woodwork to laud Forbush-Man. (And they seem to know his name.) The Watcher (wearing a collar and tie under his toga) is there. So are, Giant-Man, Dr. Strange, Mr. Fantastic, and the Puppet Master in the form of a giant puppet. A mob forms of people who want autographs or “a piece of his costume” or his “whole costume!” The Invisible Girl wants a kiss. A kid (looking like one of those Wally Wood kids from Mad) hangs onto his ankle. Forbush-Man runs away and hides in a garbage can (its lid is Captain America’s shield). “No one must ever know who Forbush-Man is,” he thinks, “If they find me, they’re sure to mob me and a little fella could get hurt that way!”

The Juggernut is carted away, encased in cement, vowing to never tackle Forbush-Man again. Soon after, “the bad guys are surrenderin’ in droves! None of ‘em wanna face the power of Forbush-Man, him who defeated Juggernut so easy!” The Chief of Police can’t handle it. “But our jail is packed! There’s no more room!” he yells as he stretches out on the floor and pounds his fists while crying. “Lock the door! Turn off the lights! Don’t let anyone else in!” But still they come. The Mandarin, Eel, Red Skull, Batroc, the Melter and others. Dr. Doom says, “They’ve gotta let me in! I know my rights!”

Back at Auntie Mayhem’s place, it looks like Irving has gone to sleep early. (“To think a schlemiel like that is my own nephew! Yechh!” she says.) But it is a “specially-prepared dummy in Irving’s bed, because Forbush-Man is out on patrol. He poses on a rooftop while Dr. Strange shakes a fist at him from the window below. “Git offa my roof, ya bum!” he yells. “More when we get around to it,” Stan tells us, “If you can take it, we can!” (That “more” will be in Not Brand Echh #8, June 1968, where Irv takes over the whole issue.)

In his article in Alter Ego #95, Roy Thomas points out that this story is, “For perhaps the first time…not a parody of either a specific Marvel episode or even series, but is a full-blown origin saga.” That’s just fine with me. Stan understands this kind of story better than the other writers (at least until we get to the third story). He knows that cheap gags are often good gags, the more appearances by superheroes and celebrities the better, and making fun of your own tendencies endears you to the reader. Jack knows this too. So, we have Stan mimicking his high-flown writing style on page 4 panel 6 (“And now, Believer, prepare thyself!”) and we have Jack giving us panels full of characters that are crowded but still easy to read. My favorite example of the self-mocking is page 5 panel 3. I don’t know how much of this is Stan and how much is Jack but the panel shows a close-up of Forbush-Man’s galoshes as he chooses them. But there are also a couple of comics in the panel. One is “The Origin of Rust-Man,” which mocks the title of this very story (it even has a hyphen in the origin character’s name) even as it mocks Iron Man. The other, tiny, barely noticeable comic title is “Millie Faces Sgt. Fury” which, along with the “Super-Millie” that Auntie Mayhem is reading put Millie the Model on the same footing as Marvel’s super characters. “If Millie seems silly,” these gags seem to say, “she’s really no sillier than the superheroes themselves.”

The thing that really makes this story click, though, is what we might as well call the “Mad Method.” Both Stan and Jack are well aware of it and they don’t shy away. They jump in with both feet. From Auntie Mayhem’s disdain for her nephew to the wonderful ways that Jack hides Irving’s face to the Wally Wood kids to “furshlugginer,” Mad is imitated and revered. By the time the story is over, it feels like something that could have been in those old Mad comics. Is it the funniest story in the world? No, but it is charming and entertaining and it just feels right. (Though, what is the deal with the Hitler portrait on the wall on page 4 panel 3?) Five webs.

The Revengers vs. Charlie America! We go from the “full-blown origin saga” back to “a parody of…a specific Marvel episode.” A blurb on the splash page says, “Another backward step in Mighty Marble’s march to mediocrity” and it sure feels like a backward step after the first story. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a lot going for it, though. It does. This one is written by Roy Thomas with art by Gene Colan.

The “specific Marvel episode” in question is Avengers #4, March 1964 in which the Sub-Mariner throws what he believes to be a frozen idol into the sea. The Avengers rescue the man inside the ice only to discover he is Captain America. In this version, the Revengers fish as they sit on their sub-marine, the U.S.S. Nauseous. In a special note, Roy reminds us that the Revengers previously rescued Charlie America in a previous issue (Not Brand Echh #3, October 1967; The Honest-To-Irving, True-Blue, Top-Secret Original Origin of Charlie America) “and he turned out to be Bunky in disguise…Well, that’s not how it really happened, at all!!” (You’ve got to love that about Echh. Continuity? What continuity?) There is a bottle floating near the sub with a message in it that reads, “Help! I’m being held prisoner by Marble Comics! - - Jack Kirby” which is truer than I think Roy imagined at the time. As Giant-Sam tugs on his fishing line, the Wisp says, “Galloping Grasshoppers, Sly-Pockets! You’ve got a bite!” and Giant-Sam replies, “Yeah, I know! Blasted mosquitoes!” (A cheap joke but I love it.)

Giant-Sam reels in his catch, which is (at panel right) Charlie America encased in ice. The Mighty Sore says, “Look yonder! What be that?” and Ironed Man replies, “It’s Coney Island, you dope!” “No, no, not that far yonder!” says Sore, “I mean that yonder over there at panel right.” (Another cheap bit that I like.) Giant-Sam complains that the others are not helping him. “Just ‘cause I’m not as popular as you two is no reason why I gotta do all the work around here!” he says.

Giant-Sam reels in his catch and Sore realizes “Tis that halcyon hero of yore (and even mine) Charlie America!!” Giant-Sam starts shoving the big ice cube into the sub, sending ice chips flying. (Written on his pants, with his three names all crossed out is, “Property of Ant-Sam, Giant-Sam, Golightly, aw forget it!”) Sore uses his “Guru Hammer” to smash the ice and Charlie America lands inside the sub, still alive. “Tis time that we two did meet!” says Sore to Charlie, who is nursing a big bump on his head, “I am Mighty Sore!” “You and me both, lady!” says Charlie. Sore takes offense at being mistaken for a woman. “Thou has direly insulted the lordly son of Shmodin!” he says. “Sorry, kid,” says Charlie, “the fright wig fooled me! You make the Beatles look like a bunch’a baldies!” (I need hardly point out that if Charlie was in ice for 20 years, he would never have heard of the Beatles, which is what I love about the line.) “Watch thy tongue!” says Sore and Charlie replies, “I can’t. It’s in my mouth.” This starts the fight but it really escalates when Charlie pulls out a pair of scissors from somewhere and snips a wing off of Sore’s helmet. “Y’know, I’m beginnin’ to get the idea you guys are hostile towards me,” says Charlie, “And I know why! It’s all cause you can’t figure out how I got myself trapped in that ice for twenty years! But, like I said, I can explain about all that.” Giant-Sam (who now has a sign on his back that says, “Take a giant to lunch this week! Signed, Giant Sam”) doesn’t give Charlie the chance. But Charlie grabs Sam’s suspenders, then clobbers him with his shield. (Up in the righthand corner of the panel, a spider has spun a web and put up a sign that says, “Flies Wanted! Apply within!” That’s the closest thing to a Spidey appearance we get in this story.)

The fight knocks a hole in the side of the sub (now labeled, “The Good Ship Lollipoop”). The Sunk-Mariner is outside, riding a fish and eating a can of Chicken of the Sea. “Last ish it was Floyd Britches and now this!” he says. The sub floods but the Revengers are “only a few feet from Sore, shore…er, shore, Sore” so Giant-Sam picks it up and walks it in. The panel is in silhouette. “Boy, these silhouettes sure save a mess of drawin’!” he says. Once on land, Charlie America decides to light out. “After twenty years out of circulation, I figure it’s about time I did me a little livin’,” he says. Autograph hounds pursue. (“Look, it’s a famous person!” “How can you tell?” “He’s drawn in the middle of the panel!”) They mob him. “For just three Charlie Americas, you can get an Englebert Humperdink!” says one autograph seeker. Charlie sneaks away but runs into a raucous group clashing cymbals and playing tubas. They are protesting, trying to “abolish noise in the city.” Charlie then encounters air pollution and Manhattan traffic. He picks up a newspaper. It has a big headline reading, “War!” with sub-heads underneath…”Crime! Poverty! Disease! Infection!” And below, “Note: The bad news starts on page 73!”

Charlie has had enough. He walks into a freezer and is soon again on the ocean encased in a block of ice. “I wonder why they thought I was trapped in that block of ice?” he wonders, “Heck, it took me months to be able to rig it up properly! Who wants to join the rat race when he can have a set-up like this?” In the final caption, Roy adds a “P.S.: You’re not outta the woods yet, Tiger! One of these days we’ll come up with a third version of C.A.’s return that’ll be the livin’ end!” This never happened, at least not in Echh. And to add insult to injury the story that is reprinted in Not Brand Echh #10, October 1968 is the one from Echh #3, not this story.

No, it doesn’t come close to the inspired craziness of the first story but it’s not bad. It has some low-rent gags that make me laugh, some nice comic book self-awareness (“there at panel right,” “he’s drawn in the middle of the panel,” “these silhouettes sure save a mess of drawin’,” etc.) and the perfect ending. I dare you to come up with a better one. Gene Colan has submerged his style so far into silliness that it is barely recognizable. Still, he can’t disguise the power of his fight scenes, even in a silly fight like this. The frantic action is one of the real strengths of this story. And I want to credit Al Kurzrok for his frenetic sound effects lettering (“Hit!” “Flipp!” “Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepp!”), none of which I bothered to mention in my overview.

What can I say? This story cracks me up. Four webs.

Stan did it just right in the first story but he’s off his game in the third one, entitled, The Ever-Lovin’ Thung vs The Inedible Bulk!

The Thung and Bulk are both going to visit Anemia, converging on her front door from both ways. When the Thung reaches out to ring Anemia’s doorbell, he punches Bulk in the face instead. “Wotta crazy bell!” he says, “It feels like a hunk of mushy skin!” The Bulk hits Thung so hard, he goes right through the Earth and emerges in China. Anxious to get quickly back, he uproots a tree and uses it as a pole to vault up to an airplane. (Ka-Zar is in the tree and declares, “That does it! I’m gonna give up bein’ Ka-Zar and become a C.P.A.”) Thung hangs onto the airplane wing, flying “the friendly skies of United.” Snoopy, as the WWI flying ace, is in the plane and he spots the Thung outside. A stewardess calls out to him, “You’ll have to come in, Sir, or you’ll miss the movie!” The Thung smashes his head through a window to see the movie (Alfred E. Newman is in one of the seats but facing away from the movie) but when he sees that the movie stars the Bulk, he bails out, minutes away from Anemia’s apartment. Arriving back there, he peeks through a window and sees the Bulk posing for Anemia as she sculpts him. “The Bulk’s tryin’ to beat my time with Anemia!” he declares and rips up the entire side of the building. But then he hears Anemia tell the Bulk, “It’s the Thung. He’s insanely jealous! He doesn’t realize I’m merely sculpting a statue of you to make money for my dowry.” Ashamed, the Thung drops the building (on his “pinky toe”). But the enraged Bulk smashes out and stomps Thung into the ground where Mole Man and Tyrannus see him. “Beat it, bum!” says Mole Man, “This is a private club!” Fed up, Anemia leaves, telling them she is “gonna visit Shrew Storm.”

Returning to the surface, the Thung sees the Bulk board a bus, where he begins reading “Understanding Media.” The Thung rips the bus in two and shakes the Bulk out (his book is now “Peter Wabbit”). The Thung expects the Bulk to beg for mercy but Bulk is still reading his book. “Wouldja mind makin’ less noise?” says Bulk, “You think it’s easy readin’ a book when ya can’t read?” This makes Thung mad. “At least ya coulda been readin’ the Fantastic Four!” he says. (With Stan still on the “Millie” kick, the Bulk’s book is now “Mollie the Middle.”) “Their stories are too far-fetched,” says Bulk. The Thung grabs Bulk and throws him high into the air. “This’ll teach ya ta hang around wit’ my gal!” he says. “But I already learned,” replies Bulk. (Heh.) The Bulk lands on the top of an apartment building. “Sounds like the Forbushes are quarreling again!” says someone in the building, putting us right back where we started in the first story. It’s a cross-over!

When the Bulk doesn’t emerge, Thung shakes the building. In Alter Ego, Roy Thomas says, “The visual highlight of the tale is page 5, on which the Bulk is knocked through the side of a building – and past a Dagwood Bumstead lookalike taking a bath – to plummet down through four floors of the structure, in a scene viewed in a “cutaway” panel. By coincidence, a year later, John Buscema, would pencil a very similar schematic in a free-for-all between Namor and The Thing in Sub-Mariner #8, December 1968.” That cutaway is page 5 panel 4 and it shows four floors of the building as the Bulk falls through. On the top floor, a man is tied up while a burglar goes through his dresser, Whistler’s Mother is watching TV in the floor below, a kid’s birthday party is taking place below her, and two hippies are playing music on the bottom floor. “Man, that cat’s really flyin’!” says one. “And dig the crazy green sun-tan!’ says the other.

Exiting the building, the Bulk shoves Thung down a manhole. “I finally realize he ain’t interested in us havin’ a meaningful relationship!” says the Thung. He finds a mass of electrical wires and tricks the Bulk into grabbing them. (“Bulk not afraid,” Bulk says, “Bulk already read end of story!”) The Bulk gets a shock that turns him back into Brucie Banter. Brucie tries to tell the Thung that he is the Bulk but Thung doesn’t believe him. Brucie tries to fight Thung who easily holds him off but then the whole thing is interrupted by “the one man who can defeat us all! The keeper of the Comics Code!” The Comics Code Keeper reads a list of damages from the fight, “One passenger bus torn in half!! One apartment building, shaken all out of shape!! Underground electrical wires totally damaged!!” “A short time later,” the Thung is busy repairing all the damage. Brucie Banter is stretched out on a stack of cinder blocks drinking spinach juice. “When are ya gonna change back to the Bulk, so’s ya can help me with all this??” the Thung asks. “Patience, Thung, patience,” says Brucie, “Some things can’t be rushed!” “Stay with it, men!” says the Code Keeper, “The world must see that crime does not pay!” He walks away arm-in-arm with Anemia. “I’ll see to it that you don’t get lonely,” he tells her. “I never did like boys who play rough!” says Anemia. “Let’s face it,” says Stan, “We had to end this somewhere! ‘Nuff littered!”

Here’s what I like about this story. Marie Severin’s artwork, which looks so much like her Incredible Hulk artwork that sometimes it feels like reading an actual Hulk comic…except it doesn’t. The line about the doorbell feeling like a “hunk of mushy skin.” The cheap gag about “teach[ing] ya ta hang around wit’ my gal!” The cutaway panel that Roy touts. That’s about it, though it is fun to see what may be the first Marvel story to deal with the consequences of super-hero property damage, a concept that eventually becomes Damage Control. The set-up is essentially cribbed from Fantastic Four #55, October 1966 but with the Bulk standing in for the Silver Surfer and it’s just an excuse for the fight anyway, which isn’t funny enough or interesting enough to hold it all up. Stan is too good a writer not to tie things together, though, so he does gives Anemia the last word when she talks about not liking boys who play rough and the introduction of the Comics Code Keeper is sly commentary. This one could have been much worse. Call it two webs.

In General...

Let’s do our math. Five plus four plus two divided by three.

Overall Rating...

I’m calling it three and a half webs.

Footnote...

At last, we’ve come to the end of 1967. Well, except for five items dated only with the year that I just can’t ignore and didn’t know where else to put. I promise to make these as painless as possible and then we’ll move on to ASM #56. The first of the five, for no particular reason, will be America’s Best TV Comics #1.