...and the Avengers appeared on Late Night with David Letterman in 1984...
...but the man who did it first, the hero who burst onto a 1977 network TV show before any of these super-heroes, was, of course, ever-lovin' blue-eyed Mister Benjamin J. Grimm: The Thing, fighting a giant robot duplicate of himself (running amok on the set of a Fantastic Four movie), a Friday Night Fight that busts right onto TV's hottest game show of the late 1970s. No, not Match Game '77 or Let's Make a Deal...but Chuck Barris's cult classic The Gong Show!
All panels are from Fantastic Four Annual #12 (1977), script by Marv Wolfman, penciled by Bob Hall (except for faces of Gong Show celebrities which are penciled by Marie Severin), inked by Bob Wiacek, colored by Glynis Wein, lettered by John Costanza
It's pretty fair game to poke fun at Marvel for jumping on board pop culture bandwagons long after their ships have sailed (to mix a metaphor), but give the House of Ideas some credit in their timely TV team-ups: this FF annual came out in the summer of 1977, only one year into the four year run of the popular Gong Show. 1981's Avengers #239 appeared in 1984, just when the popular Late Night with David Letterman was in year 2 of its 11 year run on NBC, and MTU #74 captured the fervor for Saturday Night Live in its fourth year on the air. The show's still running but I'm not 'lowed to stay up that late and watch itdon't weep for me, Bully-fans, I'm in love with Miss Tina Fey on 30 Rock and I can watch that all I want. So, for every Dazzler that premieres after disco is dead and buried or U.S. 1 that debuts long after the "Convoy" 45s have been tossed in the 49¢ bin, at least Marvel had its finger on the pulse of what the nation was watching in those colorful pre-cable days. Either that or Stan had cut a contract with GE: all three of the shows featured in these comics ran on NBC. I wonder how many free light bulbs they got in the Bullpen for that deal?
Today, of course, I'd like to see Marvel do the same. Why not Daredevil on Law & Order: Criminal Intent? Watch the sexy fun as Tony Stark moves onto Wisteria Lane and seduces all the Desperate Housewives! Doctor Don Blake guest-stars and is quickly nicknamed "McGoldilocks" on a steamy Grey's Anatomy! Nick Fury pops up from hiding to show Jack Bauer how it's done on 24! And of course, The Hulk on America's Next Top Model.
Gosh. I really wanna run Marvel Comics now. Sigh.
Unknown to most, Bahlactus is the true face of the Unknown Comic.