Monday, June 26, 2017

RETRO REVIEW: The Defenders #35 (1976)

THE DEFENDERS #35, May 1976, cover
by Gil Kane and Mike Esposito. ©Marvel
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover date: May 1976
On-sale: February 17, 1976
Cover price: 25¢ ($1.10 in 2017 dollars)
Pages: 36 (including cover)
Content: Editorial-55.6%, Advertising-44.4% (12.5% house)
Format: Standard, saddle-stiched, newsprint
Variants: Limited distribution 30¢ price tester

“Bring Back My Body to Me, to Me . . . ” (17 pages)
Writer: Steve Gerber
Penciller: Sal Buscema
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Petra Goldberg
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Marv Wolfman
Cover: Gil Kane (p) and Mike Esposito (i)

ISSUE SCORE: 71.50 (out of 100)

THE BOTTOM LINE (UP TOP): A densely-packed issue with characters coming, going, and jostling all about, although Chondu's new body is a little ridiculous, the brain surgery thing a little melodramatic, and the narration a lot breathless. Plus, there's the whole "Bambi" thing. But the issue also had the debut of the female Red Guardian (known these days as Starlight), so that makes it worth having.


The story opens somewhere in the U.S.S.R., presumably Moscow, but maybe not, where, we are told, crime is fairly rare. Steve Gerber's prose is a bit on the breathless side, but he assures us the law and order is strictly enforced in Mother Russia. Still, communism hasn't to each quite according to their need and Poor Pyotr of the Proletariat decides he's going to take it upon himself to so a little redistributing of the wealth. But just as he leaps to any alleyway attack of some rich Soviet lady (how to you say "Martha" is Russian?) down from the rooftops swings a red clad crime-buster!

This female hero puts the smack-down on Pyotr, then runs off as the police arrive (wearing German SS uniforms??), announcing herself to be The Red Guardian. Meanwhile, Comrade Cop No. 1 tells the almost-mugging victim that, for teaching out and spoiling his shot, she's as likely as not bound for a Siberian gulag. After all, vigilantism is a serous offense in Mother Russia. "She had no authorization," says Mr. Tool of the Party Authorities.

No one mentions that this Red Guardian, apart from filling out the suit a lot better, is dressed exactly like a former Soviet hero who went by the same name. Odds are, given that the male Red Guardian had debuted and died in two issues of The Avengers (#43-44) almost a decade earlier, Gerber and Wolfman weren't expecting many then-modern readers to know there has ever been a previous Red Guardian. In point of fact, Gerber had a penchant during his his Defenders run for reviving old-and-forgotten characters. It's arguable that the Guardians of the Galaxy owe their recent movie success to Gerber reviving the original team — first in Marvel Two-In-One #4-5 (5 1/2 years after their lone previous appearance, then for a five issue arc in The Defenders, in Giant-Size #5, and regular issues #26-29. In this issue, not only does Red Guardian get a makeover, but three of the four Headmen are characters Gerber rebooted from pre-Marvel era Atlas Comics. Gorilla-Man first appeared in Mystery Tales #21 (on-sale May 19, 1954), Shrunken Bones debuted in World of Fantasy #11 (Dec. 20, 1957), and Chondu the Mystic first got magical in Tales of Suspense #9 (Dec. 28, 1959). Interestingly, Gerber seems to have chosen these three largely based on all three original stories having been reprinted in Weird Wonder Tales #7 (Sept. 3, 1974), which is probably where he first encountered them.

Anyway, while Martha is being red the riot act, Red Guardian appears to fly into her apartment window — this being the Soviet Union, after all, no one can afford a security camera, so she's not too worried about compromising her secret identity. Also, she only appears to be flying. Having as-of-yet displayed no super powers of any kind, she more likely left feet first from a nearby, slightly taller building. Inside, she monologues about loving dear ol' Mama Russia, but she just can't sit by and let wrongdoing go unchallenged. She then gets a call from America and, answering the phone, reveals herself to be Dr. Tania Gerber-Don't-Get-Russian-Naming-Conventions.

On the other end of the phone is Dr. Strange, who says he's been working all night through the state department to place the call. He needs Dr. Tania, he says, to come to American and perform a brain transplant!

Now, at Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, it appears that the Defenders are just kind of hanging out. But they're actually recovering from a recent intense battle with the Headmen. Now, Gerber gets us there eventually, and from what I'm able to piece together, it all went down like this in Issues #31-34. For some reason not explained here, Gorilla-Man and Shrunken Bones removed Nighthawk's brain (which Strange now keeps in a bowl of water like a friggin' goldfish) and replaced it with the gray matter belonging to Chondu. Then (again, somehow) the consciousness of Jack Norriss — the man married to the body now possessed by Valkyrie's Asgardian spirit, Bdruunhilde — got transferred into Nighthawk, which blocked Chodu's final jump and sent his brain into the body of a dear, which Hulk named Bambi and treats like its ALL the rabbits in Of Mice and Men. Also, something, something, Celestial Man.

So, Strange runs Nighthawk's temples, transferring Norriss' mind back into his own body, and poof, that problem is fixed. But then Hulk decided he wants George to tell him about the Bambi's and storms off. Valkyrie and Norriss decide to chase after big green, while Strange broods thoughtfully.

Meanwhile, back at an nondescript and non-location-specific evil lair (replacing the one destroyed in an earlier issue, because it always pays to have a spare evil lair, the Headmen are also brooding — only they brood menacingly, not thoughtfully. See, that's the difference between good guys and bad guys. It's all in the style of brooding. Joining them is an original Gerber creation Ruby Thursday.

The character is probably named in homage of the 1966 Rolling Stones song. Of course, the Ruby Tuesday restaurant chain was founded in Illinois in 1972, and Gerber is from Missouri, and my Greater New England mad geography skillz tell me those two states are somewhere in the general vicinity of each other, so it's possible Gerber got a really good burger this one time and named his villainess after that. Her head is one of those giant lawn ornament gazing balls, however, so maybe it was a bad burger.

Anyway, Nebulon the Celestial Man and Bambi/Chundo appearate in, with Nebulon not really sure what's happening, but surmising its Bambi making with the Bamf. Sal Buscema then gives us a shot of Bambi scowling that is the single most menacing woodland creature ever seen in comics this side of Jaxxon the the giant Star Wars space rabbit.

With the normally non-plussed Gorlla-Man mystified by the presence of a deer in his lab, Bambi then blasts the message "I am Chondu!" into the wall, using some kind of laser vision, causing Gorilla-Man to emit a stereotypical even scientist, "Wha-a-at?!" He then grabs Bambi about the neck and performs an operation to move Chondu's mind into a new, better body.

This presumably kills Bambi, who I don't believe ever appeared again. And that's kind of too bad. I mean, of modern comics fans are crazy for a Squirrel Girl, surely they'd go nuts for a teleporting deer with laser vision! Heck, that kind of thing would have gone over big in the 1970s, too! Marvel and DC really missed the boat by not publishing a Rudolph vs. Mambi/Chondo Chirstmas tabloid special, I'd say.

While all this is happening, Strange meets Dr. Red Guardian at JFK airport, where she's arrived with a couple of KGB/Politburo goons in tow. The meeting is arranged by Taylor Charles, a State Department flunkie who owed Strange a favor. Charles would appear again in the following issue, then fade into comic book limbo. Or maybe he was killed? I don't know. I don't have #36.

I also don't know who the creeper stalker at the airport seen spying on Strange is supposed to be. No online listing for this issue I can find anywhere online even mentions this character. My guess is he was a set-up for a future plotline that never evolved. Or, he could be the civilian identity of one of the villains who show up in the next issue. Still, he refers specifically to the State Department when he thinks, in response to overhearing Strange say it did not fuss over bringing Tania to the U.S. because medicine is not their specialty, "True, true. They have . . . other worries." So, it seems to me that maybe Gerber had plans for Charles that never developed.

Well, after this interlude, we join the Hulk in the Central Park Zoo, where he is checking out a captive deer (they have deer at the Central Park Zoo?) wondering it it's Bambi. The cops show up and, being cops, Russian or otherwise, shoot first. Valkyrie, flying overhead, responds to the commotion to subdue Hulk and talk the cops down off the cliff, whereupon Hulk decides she cares more about them than him, so he leaps right off the page and into Omega the Unknown #2, which, good planning on Marvel's part, went on sale the same day as The Defenders #35.

Back at Headmen Evil Lair No. 2, the Chondu brain transplant is complete. However, instead of moving Chundo's mind into a human body, his three Headmen henchmen have turned him into a kind of anthropomorphic Frankenstein's monster. He had a human head and body, but fangs for teeth and a serpent tongue, giant crimson bat wings, eagle talons for feet, a twisted unicorn horn, and "clusters of lampreys have replaced his arms." It's all pretty gruesome and Chondu, as we might expect, is none too impressed. Oddly, the heads of all the lampreys have been chopped off (you think all eight arms would he dead then) leaving Nouveau Chondu with no hands! And given that his bat wings also lack little bat hands at the end (which they'd have if they truly were bat wings) Chondu has to resort to using his talons to pick up or attack anything, or else try to headbutt it with his horn — which he actually tries on Valkyrie later on.

So, Condu goes a little berserk, as we might well expect. However, Ruby, who is able to shoot giant octopus tentacles out of her head — Gerber, or Buscema, or maybe both, were on a serious acid trid when they created this scene, I think — and subdues Chondu long enough to explain that his new body and brain are artificial, rendering him effectively immortal and able to steal a more preferable body any time he likes.

Brief interlude — At the hospital, Strange and Tania prep for surgery, whereupon she lets slip that while she'd never defect, shy might like to extend her stay in the states — end interlude.

Chondu, having left the other villains in search of a body, snatches a steeljockey construction worker off a half-finished high-rise, but then makes the mistake of flying right by Valkyrie. Having grown tired of looking for Hulk, she and Norriss have landed on a rooftop to rest. The resulting scene comes off a little creepy if you don't know Norriss used to married to the body that was possessed by Valkyrie's Asgardian spirit. So, he's probably just trying to comfort her when doing the yawn-n-stretch arm-around thing. But coupled with his Disco Stu dialog at the start of the issue, it appears he's trying to put the mack-daddy moves on a woman too worn out from a series of recent battles to resist. Or maybe his is being mack daddy. After all, Barbara Norriss has been Valkyrie for a long time at this point. Since Issue #4, in fact. And I'm sure ol' Jack ain't been gettin' any. For what it's worth, as a kid, I started reading The Defenders somewhere in the middle of the Scorpio Saga (#46-50), by which time Jack had more or less departed the scene in Gerber's wake. So, when I was young, I had no idea Valkyrie had a husband! Or that he body was not her own, for that matter.

The Jack/Val cuddle doesn't last long though, as battle ensures. Chondu has the battle he wants, but elects to tear into Valkyrie just because she's there. They fight and crash into a rooftop restaurant that from its name — Top of the Sevens — I'm guess is somewhere on 77th Street. It just so happens that you can just about throw a rock and hit 77th Street from the Central Park Zoo, so Jack and Valkyrie couldn't have searched very hard or very far before giving up. Also, the villains secret lair must've been somwhere nearby, too.

After crashing into the restaurant, Chondu tosses a pot of coffee at Valkyrie, causing her skin to blister from the hot liquid (not as invulnerable here as in some later incarnations). She then wins the day by grabbing Chondu's horn as he tries to gore her, and giving him a swift knee to the face.

It appears she intends to kill him, but she decides "I suppose there is no need" and remands him to a couple of cops who have showed up. The issue then ends with Valkyrie starting to leave, only to be told she's under arrest!

COVER (7.25/10):
It's a bit of a fake out cover, as none of the other Defenders are present inside for Valkyrie's battle with Chondu, nor does he fight her for the return of his normal body, attacking instead simply out of spite because she's an associate of Dr. Strange. Also, Hulk looks like he's about 40-feet tall for some reason, while Strange and Nighthawk also look like pasted-in clip art. Still, the cover does it's job in communicating that Valkyrie battle's this weird creature along, and you can't help but want to pick up the book to see how that fight goes down, even if Giant Hulk is the most menacing thing on in this scene. 

It is worth noting that this issue's mostly white cover has not aged well. In most copies I've seen, and in photos of others found online, the white is generally faded to a tannish color. And the "Still only 25¢" won't last much longer. The book will go to 30¢ with #39, on sale in June, 1976.

PLOT (7/10):
There's no doubt the plot is well-packed. Maybe a little too much. This issue is from an era where, even in the midst of a continuing story, creators felt compelled to give a complete adventure under the confines of the cover in the reader's hands. And that's what Valkyrie's battle with Chondu accomplishes. It's a bit that is introduced, explored, and resolved in this single issue. But amidst that, Gerber is wrapping up previous stories (the Headmen and Bambi), continuing others (Nebulon and Nightwing's brain), introducing new characters and storylines (Red Guardian and her wish to stay in America), teasing others (stalker guy at the airport) and setting up entirely different series (Hulk's fight with Omega).

With all that going on, some logic suffers. It's not clear at all why Chondu is given such a monstrous hodge-podge body. If they can create an artificial mind, and artificial body parts, why not give Chondu arms and legs that are at least human? Why give him bat wings at all? Were these animal hybrid parts the only pieces they had laying round the lab to work with? Or were they just punking him? Did Chondu get p*wned by his own team? I mean, I get this is comics, and sometimes we do things just because they'll make a 12-year old boy go, "Cool!" And, "Gross!" Which, of course, means, "Super COOL!" And in 1976 12-year old boys still read comic books. So credit for playing to the crowd. But still.

SCRIPT (6.5/10):
The script is a little less forgivable, I'm afraid. And I do hesitate to criticize the narration. After all, my personal feeling is that we need more of that in comics. Writers and editors today act as if they're crafting movie scripts. They act as if there should be no words (absolutely none!) which would not be spoke aloud if the story was acted out. That, to my mind, shortchanges what comics are, and what they can and should be. As Art Spieglemen famously said when claiming he makes comix, not comics — comics are a co-mixture of words and pictures. That means they should use the and blend the best elements of both storytelling forms, and comics lose something when they just go and throw every possible prose trick available to them right out of their collective tool kits. 
That said, and as noted above, Gerber's prose does get more than a little purple in some places. Editor Marv Wolfman might've done well to grab him by the horn. 

Beyond that, there are one or two places where the script doesn't make any sense. Right after telling us how little crime there is in the Soviet Union, Gerber has Tania tell us she all about how much she feels compelled to fight wrongdoing. If there's so little street crime, what then prompted her to become a costumed vigilante? Maybe a better opening scene would have been her wandering around Moscow looking for crime, finding none, and then stopping at a cafe for a bit of syrniki with a varenye topping. She says she cannot say, "as the Americans do," my country right or wrong. So, did she become Red Guardian to fight government corruption? It's not really clear. There's mixed metaphors, but Tania seems to have mixed motivations. 

Also, as intimated above, I don't love Norriss' dialogue, in part because the effort to sound '70s hip makes him come off as a creep later in the book to anybody who doesn't already know his backstory. And, while Gerber does a good job of having a complete story in this issue while deftly moving players on and off the board (even if I do think he's go too many pieces going) he could have done a better job bringing new readers up to speed. We're not really given an clear indication why the Headmen wanted Nighthawk's brain in particular, for instance. There are just good guys and bad guys 'cause some guys are good and some are bad.

Red Guardian, still sans super-powers at this point in her
career, takes down her first bad guy, on Page 2 of THE
DEFENDERS #35, as drawn by Sal Buscema and Klaus
Janson. ©Marvel Comics
LAYOUT (9.25/10):
Well, zero problem here, as one might expect from a pro like Sal Buscema, no less a draftsman than his big brother John, IMHO. There's no showboating here, no attempt to call attention to the artist. It's just solid storytelling. There eye never wonders where to go next, there's never any question what's going on, or where we are. What more can you ask for?

ARTWORK (7.50/10):
Buscema had been on this issue since the first issue, but for a fill-in at #30, and would stay through the end of Gerber's tenure at #41. During that time he had a bevy of inkers, including Frank Giacola, John Verpoorten, Jim Mooney, Frank McLaughlin, Frank Bolle, Jack Abel, Dan Green, Mike Esposito, Vince Colletta, Sal Trapani, Bob McLeod, and Klaus Janson, who covered Buscema on Issues #13, 15, and 19, before returning here. Just 24 at this point and in the industry for a little more than two years, this issue would begin a run that would make his career. Janson would ink the first big run on the series, with Issues #35-47.

This first issue starts strong, but then seems to get a bit weaker toward the end, almost as if Wolfman was screaming over Janson's shoulder about the deadline and threatening to ship him over to some garbage title no one cared about, like Daredevil. Janson had already done Daredevil at this point, having started with Issue #125-132 of that title before moving over to The Defenders. But DD really was the dog of the Marvel Universe at the time and it was this title that really boosted his profile, making him the perfect guy to have on board with Frank Miller took over Daredevil and rocked everybody's world. But that fan-favorite work was due in no small part to Klaus Janson, and, indirectly, to Janson's apprenticeship of sorts working over Buscema's solid layouts.

So, while there are some weak spots here and there, the Jack & Val water tower scene, for instance, it's clear to see that people were reading this title for a reason, and not just because it featured The Hulk.

EDITING (5.5/10):
As usual, most of the critiques I would lay at the feet of the editor have been mentioned elsewhere. I think Wolfman should have worked with Gerber to dial back the narration just a bit, come up with a better reason for Chondu to be remade as he was, and may clarify Red Guardian's raison d'etra — although the latter could've been fixed by not trying to sell us quite so hard, or at least not on the reason given, for why the U.S.S.R. is so different from the U.S.A.
There also should have been some effort to redesign Chondu. Overall he's cool enough, and a primary cover draw from wanting to see what's inside, but the headless lamprey arms are just to ridiculous to deal with for more than a few panels at a time.

PRODUCTION (6.50/10)
Not much to say here, but as I always do say, coloring, lettering, printing, packaging and design are the invisible arts of comic book production. If nothing stands out to me to comment on, that generally means the craftsmen responsible for these aspects of the book did their job perfectly.

DOLLAR VALUE (8.75/10):
This was a good deal when it came out, as 25¢ in 1976 equates to about $1.10 in 2017 dollars, or almost 1/4 the price of a modern Marvel comic. Even at just 17 story pages, that works out to just 6.4 cents per page. Compare that to the 19¢ per page you'll shell out for The Defenders #1 that came out this month. 

Comics of this era, of which The Defenders #35 is typical, also were a better entertainment value. Consider, this issue took me 18:32 to read, at four fewer pages then the June 2017 The Defenders #1, which occupied a mere 11:42 of my time. So, an entertainment value of 5.9¢ per minute vs. 34.2¢. Add in all the supplementary material and the aspect becomes 4.1¢ per minute vs. 18.8¢. And in that regard, the more recent Defenders issue is an anomaly, as most modern Marvels don't have near the added editorial material it did, if any at all.

But even on the back issue market, this book is a better dollar value than new comics. I scored my copy (in Very Fine condition) off ebay for $1.49. With its share of the postage for all the books I bought from that particular seller, the damage came to $2.13. So, make it 12.5¢ per story page (vs. 19¢) and an story entertainment value of 11.5¢ (vs. 34.2¢). But what if you bought a Near Mint copy from your local comics shop at full retail? Well, lists this issue as going for $6 in NM. That drops it behind the story value of the modern comic, at 35.3¢ per page, but it still outshines as an entertainment value, at 32.4¢ per minute.  

Of course, you've got to knock of some dollar value points just for the quality of the story, as well as the fact that you kind of need to buy issues before and after this to get a full picture of the ongoing plotline. But even so, $6 a pop is not an unreasonable price for a NM copy of a 41 year old comic book.

Steve Gerber's run on The Defenders (Giant-Size #3 and Issues #20-29, 31-41) was listed by as one of the "Top 10 1970s Marvels." So, that certainly speaks to the desirability of the run, and to this particular issue in it, I think. To my knowledge, this run has only ever been reprinted once, in Essential Defenders Vol. 2 (2006) and Vol. 3 (2007), both of which are, I am fairly certain, now out of print. Volume 3, which Issue #35 appears in, is listed on Amazon starting at $14.72 new, and going up to $24.31, but all nine listings on the day I posted this review were from various sellers, not Amazon itself. Still, it's readily available and cheap enough, so you can read the stories without having to track down all of the original issues, if that's not your thing.

Issue #35 is not significantly better than anything else in the Gerber run to make it worth special effort to find on its own merit. However, it does have the first appearance of the female Red Guardian, Dr. Tania Belinsky — now styled as Dr. Tania Belinskaya and going by the codename Starlight, while looking much different to boot. She's a D-List character, to be sure, but if she should show up on future seasons of Marvel's The Defenders on Netflix, all bets are off. And that's not as fat-fetched as it might seem. Hellcat featured in the Jessica Jones series, in her civilain guise as Patsy Walker, and then there's Night Nurse, of all characters, who's appeared across the various Marvel Netflix shows. So, if a future plotline puts the Defenders in conflict with almost anything Russian (mobsters, government agents, hackers) and/or if any member of the team should get injured bad enough to require the services of one of the world's best neurosurgeons (I'm sort of surprised Belinskaya didn't cameo on the Dr. Strange movie, come to think of it) then this issue will skyrocket in value overnight. 

So, best to grab a copy or two now while it's cheap, and sit on 'em to see what happens. 

Oh, and this issue also has a limited edition 30¢ price variant, put out to test the waters for a price increase. Time was, that kind of thing would have been more readily available in the region(s) where it was originally released, and virtually impossible to find elsewhere. However, the internet is a great leveling agent. You'll have to shell out $50 or better, though.  

And here we get a rare negative burn on the gosh-wowness. Chondu looked pretty cool on the cover, but the more I saw of him inside, the sillier he seemed, especially when assured via the narration that his tentacled arms were actually lampreys. And again, with their heads chopped off? Really?!? How are they not lifeless stumps? So, while a successful comic book wants to make me inner 12 year old wake up and take notice, it definitely does not want to send that 12 year old into a debilitating fit of the giggles — not when he's laughing at you. Also, Gorilla-Man and Ruby have dialogue that's just a little too evil mad scientist, even for actual evil mad scientists.

So, while I usually start at a 5 for this category and add points for awesomeness, this time around I did a double-think on my number and decided it needed to come back down a point, just for having aspects that seem a little too much like what people mean when they use "comic book" as a pejorative.

Story Pages: 17
Editorial Pages (inc. cover): 20
Story Value (Adjusted Price/Pages): 6.4¢ per page
Content Value (Adjusted Price/Pages): 5.5¢ per page
Panels: 94 — 5.5 per page
Words: 2,433 — 143.1 per page
Read Time (Story): 18:32
Read Time (All Content): 26:49
Story Entertainment Value (Adjusted Price/Time): 5.9¢ per minute
Total Entertainment Value (Adjusted Price/Time): 4.1¢ per minute
Estimated Circulation: n/a

• Red Guardian (Dr. Tania Belinsky) [1st appearance] — 20 panels/283 words
• unnnamed rich Russian woman — 6/28
• Pyotr, a Russian thief — 8/38
• 2 unnamed Russian police officers — 3/44
• VALKYRIE — 36/140
• Jack Norriss — 13/139
• THE HULK — 10/100
• Gorilla-Man — 13/146
• Ruby Thursday — 11/139
• Shrunken Bones — 5/28
• Nebulon, the Celestial Man — 5/55
• Chondu the Mystic — 35/109
• Aragorn (Valkyrie's winged horse) — 8/1
• Mr. Kasalov, a Kremlin bureaucrat — 5/15
• unnamed KGB guard — 5/0
• Taylor Charles, a state department official — 5/75
• 4 unnamed NYC police officers — 6/43
• unnamed construction worker 5/1
• unnamed Top of the Sevens diners — 2/3

(Notes: There also is an unknown character (2/6) who spies on Dr. Strange at JFK airport. Of Chondu's numbers above 9/23 are as "Bambi" a deer, which gets on panel on its own, presumable having been killed. Ruby Thursday is only referred to as Ruby. Gorilla-Man and Shrunken Bones are only referred to by their real names, Dr. Arthur Nagan and Dr. Jerry Morgan. Ruby, Nagan, and Morgan are known collectively as The Headmen. Hulk's story continues in Omega the Unknown #2.)

• U.S.S.R. (presumably Moscow) — 16
• New York City —57 panels
     • Greenwich Village
          • Dr. Stranges' Sanctum Sanctorum — 11
     • JFK International Airport — 6
     • Central Park Zoo — 9
     • unnamed hospital — 3
     • unnamed construction site — 3
     • Top of the Sevens restaurant — 12
• unnamed Headmen HQ — 21

• Defenders Dialog [letters column] — 1pg
     • letters from Kevin Urenda of Albuquerque, NM; Chuck Ulrich of Palo Alto, CA.
     • incudes Marvel Value Stamp #82 (The Incredible Hilk)
• Marvel Bullpen Bulletins — 1 pg
     • Recounts Stan Lee's trip to the San Diego ComicCon, plus several promo bits.

Outside back cover — American Seed Co. sales
Inside front cover — Monogram "Fearsome Foursome" model car kits
Inside back cover —Olympic Sales Club
• Slim Jim smoked beef snacks — 0.5pg
• Customizing Center vehicle decals — 0.5pg
• Lasalle Extension University correspondence courses — 1pg
• classified ads — 3pgs
• Demaru Inc. Kung-Fu and Karate lessons on record/booklet — 1pg
• GRIT magazine sales — 1pg
• Motor Books Inc. repair manuals — 1pg
• North American School of Drafting drafting kit offer — 0.5pg
• Steve's South Bay Sporting Goods skateboards — 0.5pg
• Hostess Twinkies (Spider-Man and The Twinkie Takers) — 1pg

House ads
• Marvel Treasury Editions back issue sales — 1pg
• Mighty Marvel Checklist — 0.5pg
• Marvel-Con '76 tickets (April 23-25 at Hotel Commodore, NYC) — 0.5pg

So, I mentioned under the editing section some of the things Wolfman ought to have corrected, but here's one more. Despite reading comics for 45+ years, I had never heard of Gorilla-Man until reading this issue for the first time today. Hey, he's not that major a character — wasn't even important enough to kill off in any of the Secret Civil War events. But I only knew Dr. Arthur Nagan is Gorilla-Man by looking up the civilian i.d. before writing this review. Apart from the fact the Gorilla-Man name was not used in this issue, I also could not tell he had a gorilla body. To me, he just looked like a hunchback in a lab coat with weird blue gloves.

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