L: Mystic v.3 #41 (November 1955), art by unknown
R: Chamber of Chills #25 (March 1974), reprinting "The Test!" from Mystic #41, art by Ron Wilson and Mike Esposito
(Click picture to B. F. Skinnersize)
X-Men '95 (October 1995), script by J.M. DeMatteis and Ralph Macchio, pencils by Terry Dodson and John Paul Leon, inks by Jon Holdredge and Shawn Martinbrough, colors by Mike Thomas, letters by Richard Starkings
Mistakes? I've made a few. (But then again, too few to mention.) The Marvel Bullpen gang cannot say the samethey've made mistakes, errors, foul-ups, bloopers, and blunders a-plenty since the dawning of the Marvel Age right straight through the Heroic Age. Otherwise, how would we all have gotten no-prizes?!? So, let's take a look at not only some classic screw-ups from Mighty Marvel, but also some newer errors so grievous you can hardly believe your little button eyes!:
No, no, no, no. (No.) That's not what I mean by Marvel's mistakes. (And don't you be showing me a Spider-Clone cover next!) No, I'm talkin' 'bout classic boo-boos like getting the civilian name of your flagship character wrong:
Well, at least they got his superhero name right, right?
Well, anything's likely to happen to poor trouble magnet Peter Palmer Parker, right? A more heroic, a more mighty hero isn't going to have that problem...nobody at Marvel is going to get a Norse god's name wrong!
Aw, man, that's embarrassing. That would make Thor's civilian identity, Dr. Don Blake, flat out green with envy at the careful treatment Marvel's other powerhouses get.
And no list of Marvel's Greatest Mess-Ups is complete without these consecutive panels...I dunno about you, but if this moment isn't in next summer's Captain America movie, I'm askin' for my money back!
Here's a fairly minor but obvious error from the 1968 Captain America prose novel The Great Gold Steal. Sure, this is nitpicking...but if you know anything about Marvel history at all, you've memorized the number of the ish Cap reappeared in...and it ain't #3!
Here's a more recent example. Tony Stark's not only got himself some dandy new armor, but a shiny new girlfriend to go with it. She's a maniac, and she's dancing like she never danced before!
Did you spot the lack of communication between the writer and the colorist? Sure you did! Either that, or maybe Tony Stark has built-in infrared heat vision. Perhaps that why he didn't appreciate this movie.
Let's leave behind Tony Stark's propensity for staring at beautiful curvy women until they heat up and burst into flames, and let's travel to the House of M universe...Earth-58163, for those of you firing up your dimension-hoppers...and check in on everybody's favorite suburban couple, Scott and Emma Summers! So, what's wrong here? (And I'm not counting the Sentinel peeking in the window, or the fact that Emma's dressing gown seems to have carelessly come open. An Emma Frost who displays her body in wanton and explicit manners? Not in my column, bub!)
Give up? Aw, c'mon. Surely you noticed that Emma Frost appears to not know what a Pop-Tart is. (And that, given their sheer deliciousness and countless yummy flavors, is absolutely impossible in any universe.)
Here's one of my favorite Marvel bloopers of all time: the hero-vs.-hero competition known to us as Contest of Champions!
Here's the set-up: the cosmic Yahtzee champion, The Grandmaster, challenges a mysterious robed entity calling itself "The Unknown" to a grand galactic game: in each of four rounds, twelve heroes, six to a team, will battle to gain possession of a section of a Terry's Chocolate Orange. Since the entire first issue consists of setting up the plot and the heroes all introducing themselves by speaking their names aloud in casual conversation, ish #2 starts out with the first of the four battles. Daredevil, the Man without Sight Fear, wins the match, capturing the globe's quarter for the Grandmaster's team:
Round two: the Arabian "No, I wasn't created only and specifically for this miniseries; I have a vast and full backstory, why?" Knight grabs the quarter for the Unknown. Tie score! And the halftime band takes the field!
Issue #3: The Thing wins round 3. Well, of course. Grandmaster 2, Unknown, 1. But don't tear up your betting slips yet!
And as the Contest of Chumps comes to a close, Shamrock, the only superhero who comes with sweet marshmallow surprises, grabs the gold for a decisive win for the Grandmaster! Hooray! Hooray!
THE YANKEES WIN THE PENNANT! THE YANKEES WIN THE PENNANT! Or, as the Unknown says (showing that even hooded, faceless, embodiments of cosmic forces can be good losers at galactic games of Parcheesi):
Now just w-w-w-wait a minute there, Mister (in my George Bailey voice). Let's do a recount. The first three fights, OK, those were counted right. Then Shamrock won the final piece for her team, the Grandmaster.
Shamrock was playing for the Unknown's team.
Yes, Contest of Champions...the historical first Marvel miniseries where the whole plot was entirely flummoxed by an editorial error.
A few years later, The Unknown...oh, what the heck, it was Death...what? I'm not giving you a spoiler warning for a nearly-thirty-year-old comic book! Death reveals that heshe Death lost on purpose. Now that's some retcon, Marvel! Why didn't you retcon the fact that none of the Marvel heroes, including four or five of the smartest people in the world, can't count to four?!?
So, in conclusion: mistakes were made. Isn't that right, Ben Grimm?
Welcome to the Fantastic Four's storage closet! Right next to the Negative Zone portal entrance, down the hall from Johnny's video game room, just across from The Museum of Doom Artifacts (open Monday-Friday, 10-6; please do not bring any metal into the Museum). It's here where the FF keep their large collection of DVDs (including all those copies of Fantastic Four (1994) that Corman unloaded on Reed), Sue's wedding china (she doesn't dare bring it out when Johnny and Ben are at dinner), stuff for the garage sale (the skis that Ben only used once, Johnny's asbestos sweaters, Norrin Radd's extra surfboard), and hey, what's this?
Huh. Wonder what that is? Well, it says DO NOT OPEN so in the absence of it being locked in a room with Johnny Storm and telling him it's full of Maxim magazines, the world will never know.
Apropos of absolutely nothing at all, I'm betting one of those DVDs is Raiders of the Lost Ark. After all, we do know that Ben Grimm absolutely loves that film!
You remember Raiders, doncha? The movie that ended with the Ark of the Covenant, holy relic of the ancient world-slash-Nazi face-melter, is discovered by the hero played by Harrison Ford? (No, no, not Rick Deckard or Preisdent James Marshall.)
...which gets put in a box and sealed up snugger than Ben Grimm in a SmartCar...
...locked up with a bolt that would keep even the Hulk out (admittedly, he always has trouble remembering combinations)...
And then, it gets labelled with spray paint, just like they always did in those days prior to the Brother P-Touch Labeller (or even one of those label makers where you spin the wheel and push the button and the tape comes out and it never looks as good as it does in the commercial and you can't get the back off and then it gets sticky and gets all over your fur...look, it's just difficult with hooves, that's all!
And then, it's loaded up onto a cart and pushed into a storage facility...what do you think, is this guy going "wheeeeeee" all the way down the aisle? I bet he is.
...and it disappears into a vast warehouse where, using principles Edgar Allan Poe used to keep his letters safe from the prying eyes of Mrs. Poe...
...ever, ever again.
Now wait one cotton-pickin' minute! How the Sam Scratch did Reed get his rubbery little paws on it after that???
For the answer to that, we must flash forward from 1936 to 1957, where hooligans in their hot rods disturb ant hills, refrigerators are built atomic-tough to survive the nuclear holocaust, and Doctor Henry Jones and his Russian pals arrive at Area 51, a rent-a-storage garage outside Roswell, New Mexico, where the government keeps its stuff. You have to remember to pay the bill on that every month or they sell your stuff off at auction, y'know! I've lost more action figure collections that way.
Remember this when you put your stuff into storage: always label the boxes. It's helpful to remember which box belongs in the living room and which one is for the kitchen. They'll never find that can opener in this place!
Say, some of those boxes look kinda familiar, don't they?
Yep, somewhere in there has got to be that crate they packed up two decades ago and left to be lost forever, but what are the chances anybody's gonna find it? It's buried deep inside the warehouse, and no simple chance exploration is going to reveal it. That's just beyond the realms of probability! And pretty unlikely, too.
So, there you go. Reed Richards probably picked up the Ark of the Covenant on one of his exploratory missions to Area 51, or possibly got give it by Nick Fury so he could test its mystic and other-worldly possibilities. Or maybe Ben accidentally bought it on eBay. All we need to do is prove conclusively that Reed Richards met Indiana Jones at one point, right?
There ya go! Easy peasy; Q.E.D.
Speaking of God-given mystical objects...
...you know which one I mean...the collector's cup where you pay for the drink but you get to keep the glass? Yeah, this thing:
Now, seeing as that archeological tomb-raider tumbler wound up in the hands of Doctor Jones, wouldn't it make sense that eventually Doctor Richards might get his hands on it?