We’ve got Mysterio, the Green Goblin, and the parents of Peter Parker waiting in the wings. But don’t worry. This won’t take long.
Having an all-reprint issue only ten issues in, as only your second King-Size issue, does not seem like a good sign but here’s what Roy Thomas says about it in Alter Ego #95, July 2010: “This was the only reprint issue of NBE…probably scheduled to help us catch our breath, and probably by special request of our deadline-beset manager, Sol Brodsky. I knew I couldn’t go on writing the majority of the mag…nor did I want to…nor would Stan have wanted me to take up that great a percentage of my time doing so. As for Gary, he was nearing the end of his staff gig at Marvel (though his name was still on the inside-front-cover contents page, which was rendered in black-on-white, as a blackboard). And Stan had The Silver Surfer and other things on his mind. The reprint ish probably didn’t help the mag’s sales momentum: in its first year, NBE had come out eight times, then gone to monthly – and now there’d be four months between new stories. Not good. Only Marie’s multi-hero cover was new on what was heralded as ‘The Worst of Not Brand Echh.’ There wasn’t even a letters page!”
As Roy notes, the cover was the only thing in this issue that was new. An AE #95 caption says “The rest of the issue may be all-reprint…but Marie shoehorned enough gags into this one drawing to give a fan his money’s worth!” No kidding! The logo (“The Worst of Brand Echh”) takes up half the page. Right beneath it so that they are smack-dab in the center are Spidey-Man and the Bulk. Spidey has his arm around Bulk while Bulk has his hand in Spidey’s face. Spidey’s other hand is up next to the “Echh” in the logo. If you read the whole logo, your eyes then go to that hand which leads you down to Spidey, who really is the most prominent character. But there’s plenty more, along with all those Marie Severin “shoehorned gags.” Let’s start in the upper left corner with the “Marvel Comics Group” box and work our way down. That box has a hat rack with Spidey’s mask, Thor’s helmet, and Cap’s cowl hanging on it. Forbush-Man is also there, hung up by his cape.
The logo obscures a bunch of Marie’s characters but you can see the Scorpion (or maybe it’s a Hydra guy), Mr. Fantastic (stretching in from behind the box), the Watcher (wearing glasses), Loki, Goliath, the Red Skull (his head cracking like an egg), Gorgon, and Galactus. The unobscured part features the Lizard (smiling, right under Spidey’s arm), Doc Ock, Aunt May (looking very unhappy), Thor (his helmet flying away since the wings are actually a chicken while he’s being punched in the face by Namor), Namor (with Daredevil sticking a finger in his eye), Daredevil, Cyclops, Sgt. Fury and Nick Fury, the Human Torch (breathing smoke in Black Bolt’s face), Black Bolt (with a hot dog stuck on his mask prongs), the Silver Surfer (wearing a bathing cap), the Green Goblin (clutching onto Dr. Doom’s shoulder), Dr. Doom, Captain America (posing with a big smile, his hand in front of the Thing’s face), the Thing (crushing Iron Man’s helmet), Iron Man (Tony Stark peeking out from the body of the armor since the Thing is crushing his helmet), Dr. Strange (looking down into the armor at Tony), Hawkeye, the Vulture (with a tooth missing), Medusa (with her hair up in curlers) and Captain Marvel (his helmet being peeled open with a key like a sardine can). There are others I can’t see clearly or don’t recognize. A little help here, people!
Roy mentions the “inside-front-cover contents page, which was rendered in black-on-white, as a blackboard.” The images from the stories are all rendered like chalk drawings. Clockwise from below the credits, we have “The Fantastical Four in the Silver Burper” with artwork from page 6 panel 1 of the story, “The Original Origin of Charlie America” from page 4 panel 1, “The Echhs-Men…If Magneat-o Should Clobber Us” from page 3 panel 2, “The Origin of Forbush-Man” from page 2 panel 5, “SHEESH vs. the Blunder Agents” from page 2 panel 4, “The Origin of Sore, Son of Shmodin!” from page 5 panel 3, and “Peter Pooper vs. Gnatman and Rotten” from page 6 panel 6.
Since the page is a school chalkboard, it has graffiti apparently written by rebellious students. “Stan Lee is a fink,” “Jack Kirby is left-handed,” and “2 plus 2 equals 3.” Roy points out that Gary Friedrich “was nearing the end of his staff gig at Marvel” but is still in the credits. Perhaps this is why he is listed as “Pay him no heed!” in a rhyme that calls Stan “Most Likely to Succeed,” Sol Brodsky “A Demon For Speed,” Roy “Danger – Do Not Feed,” and John Verpoorten “The World’s Largest Weed.”
As for the stories themselves, well, we’ve reviewed them all before. The Silver Burper! is from Not Brand Echh #1 (Story 1). I said, “let’s face it, it’s kooky and different and is so very aware of the absurdities of the ‘World’s Greatest Comic Magazine’ that I give it three webs.”
Peter Pooper vs. Gnatman and Rotten is from Not Brand Echh #2 (Story 1). I said, “So, is it funny? Well…kind of. Marie has inserted a ton of sight gags, many of them amusing. Stan has some nice gags going. But it’s all pretty mild stuff. Cute, but nothing special” and I gave it two webs.
The Honest-To-Irving, True-Blue, Top-Secret Original Origin of Charlie America is from Not Brand Echh #3 (Story 3). I gave this one three webs, saying “The jokes try too hard, as often happens with these Echh stories but Charlie’s cowardice is amusing.”
The Knock Furious, Agent of S.H.E.E.S.H. Takes On…The BLUNDER Agents! review is included with the one for Not Brand Echh #2 (Story 1). I gave it one web, saying “Even accepting it’s a parody, it meanders aimlessly and is thin as the paper it’s printed on” and “finally, the story commits the cardinal sin of a bad parody; it’s not funny.” Do you think, when they called it “The Worst of Brand Echh,” they really meant the worst of Brand Echh?
If Magneat-O Should Clobber Us, included in the Not Brand Echh #4 (Story 1) review, is another appropriate inclusion for a “Worst of…” issue. I said, “Too much talk, too many explanations for a seven page comic story. It makes you want to say, ‘Roy, please shut up’,” and I gave it one web.
The Origin of Sore, Son of Shmodin! from Not Brand Echh #3 (Story 1), earned this comment: “Are these stories funny to kids? Were they funny to kids? I was ten years old when this issue came out. Did I find it funny? We bought every issue of Not Brand Echh back then but that doesn’t mean anything. We bought every issue of every Marvel we could find. We even bought Groovy! So, I don’t remember if I found them funny as a kid but I do know I don’t find them very funny now.” I gave it two webs.
Finally, The Origin of…Forbush-Man the Way-Out Wonder comes from Not Brand Echh #5 (Story 1) and is the best story in this issue. I said, “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.” I gave it five webs. (By the way, the caption reading “More…when we get around to it!” in the final panel of the original has been changed to “All New Nuttiness Again Next Ish!” Well, I should hope so.)
It averages out to about two and a half webs. I’m adding two webs for the great Marie Severin cover but I’m subtracting three webs for putting out a giant-size all-reprint issue only ten issues into the series.
I mean, seriously, any Echh fan probably had all of these stories already. No matter what the reason for the reprints, it is a major disappointment.
One and a half webs.
That wasn’t so bad. And now we can get back to Core-Title Spidey. Amazing Spider-Man #66 is next.