Saturday, September 03, 2011

Same Story, Different Cover: Everybody's gone surfin', so publish a reprint

L: Silver Surfer #2 (October 1968), cover art by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott
R: Marvel Presents #8 (December 1976), reprinting about half of Silver Surfer #2, cover art by Al Milgrom and Joe Sinnott

(Click picture to Badoon-size)

Now, here's an odd one: same story, different cover, on a very unusual pair of books. Marvel Presents was not a reprint title (issues #1-2 featured Ulysses Bloodstone, issues #3-12 the Guardians of the Galaxy), nor was it even a team-up title: the galaxy being guarded by, Guardians is in the 31st Century; the Surfer's tale takes place in the contemporary times of other Marvel books being published in late '68. Later on we'd find out that the Guardians even exist in a different reality: Earth-691 rather than our familiar 616.

Marvel Presents #8 reprints, within 17 story pages, less than half of the 40-page story "When Lands the Saucer!" from Silver Surfer #2, surrounding it with a couple pages' framing sequence of the Guardians of the Galaxy watching the same story on "Badoon Mento-Corder" (the Betamax of the Milky Way Galaxy). Here's two comparison pages to show you the segue. Note that Surfer is up to story page 12 and Marvel Presents at story page 2...they've already edited out the first 11 pages of the Surfer comic!

L: Page 12 of Silver Surfer #2, script by Stan Lee, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Joe Sinnott, letters by Sam Rosen
R: Page 2 of Marvel Presents #8. Bottom half reprinted from Surfer #2; top half script by Roger Stern, pencils by Al Milgrom, inks by Bob Wiacek, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Jim Novak

(Click picture to Mento-Corder-size)

And here's how it wraps up: Surfer #2 story page 38 of 40 is mostly reprinted on story page 16 of 17 of Marvel Presents:

Not only a reprint, but there's been a lot cut out of this version. I won't bore you with comparing the two page by page, but I dunno: if I'da spent 30¢ of the allowance money in 1976 (that amounts to approximately $650 in today's currency) and all I got was three new pages of Guardians of the Galaxy and half a reprint of an eight-year old comic book, classic though it may be, I woulda been a little miffed, Bicentennial cheer or no!

And yet, here's Steve Gerber's note on the letters page of Marvel Presents #10 that they got "not one negative letter" on the reprint.

"Not one negative letter." Hmmm, is that the same Marvel office that in '84 received overwhelmingly positive letters on Secret Wars, according to Jim Shooter in Marvel Age #20?

Yeah, I'm gonna cut that off right there before it gets too sappy.

Gerber doesn't give us a specific reason Marvel Presents reprinted Silver Surfer, but I'm guessing it was the usual culprit of those times: The Dreaded Deadline Doom. Right up until the 1980s, Marvel would deal with a behind-schedule monthly or bimonthly comic issue by slating in a fill-in ish or a reprint. At least there was usually, as here, an apology or explanation to the fans about the fill-in or reprint, and then back to business as usual in the next issue, we promise you, True Believer! Well, at least you felt that Marvel was levellin' with ya right there with a mea culpa and an blushing apology. It made you feel like one of the Bullpen itself: not perfect, but trying your best. So, in those days, maybe the occasional reprint wasn't such a horrible thing after all.

Of course, Marvel later solved the dilemma of the Dreaded Deadline Doom with an entirely different solution:

L: Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #2, cover-dated April 2006
R: Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk #3, cover-dated May 2009


L: Daredevil: Father #1, cover-dated June 2004
M:Daredevil: Father #2, cover-dated October 2005
R:Daredevil: Father #5, cover-dated January 2007


L: The Twelve #8 of a 12-issue limited series, cover-dated December 2008
R: Issue #9 has not been yet published as of September 2011.

Hmmmmmm. Reprints, anyone?

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