Monday, January 27, 2014

Make Mein Marvel Monday

Keeping the theme of continuing posts I couldn´t finish going, here are some things that I couldn´t include in my last post about DIE SPINNE.

As for the title of Todays post, that´s something you kids might not know. Back in the days when I was in my formative comic reading years that was something we used to say - or readers included in the letters to Marvel.

" Make Mine Marvel " - or " Mach Mir Mein Marvel " like we used to say in Germany - was always included at the end of the letters that were sent to the offices of Marvel. It was always the follow up to some really ridiculous notion about things that would never happen in the Marvel Universe. Ah yes, the good times when Marvel had letter pages. Oh, wait, what is that you say ? They still have those ? Oh yes, that´s right. They brought back the letters pages. But I don´t think the whole " Make Mine Marvel " thing still works. Because back in the day they really did. They Made Mine Marvel. As well as everybody else´s. Now I don´t know what the hell they´re doing. And how would you end those letters NOW anyway ?

Until Doctor Octopus takes over Spider - Man´s body and tries to make out with Mary Jane, Make Mine Marvel. No, because they did that.

Until Wolverine loses his healing factor and starts killing people with knives and guns, Make Mine Marvel. Again, they went ahead and did that.

Until Nova becomes a third grader, Make Mine Marvel. Not this one either.

Until Ghost Rider starts driving a car, Make Mine Marvel. No cigar, bub.

We used to make up this stupid ideas but now Marvel is really printing them. And when I say printing them I mean making them into actual comic books. It´s like they collected every idiotic idea and now they are going through their entire catalogue of bat - s - word crazy stuff.

But back to DIE SPINNE : when we last left our hero, Spider - Man was still published by Williams Verlag, but all good things have to end some day.

So in May 1979 the last german issue of Spider - Man was published, issue 137 which contained issue 136 of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN ( and if you want to know why they had a different numbering you have to check out my last post about DIE SPINNE ) by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru, THE GREEN GOBLIN LIVES AGAIN ! ( DER GRÜNE KOBOLD LEBT WIEDER ! ) Like DIE FANTASTISCHEN VIER the series ended in the middle of a story, a two parter that was finished for american readers in issue 137, THE GREEN GOBLIN STRIKES ! But for german readers the wait was a bit longer.


In 1980, Condor Verlag began publishing Marvel Comics in Germany and I was tickled pink to read the adventures of my favorite wallcrawler again.

What I didn´t know was that Condor didn´t continue the series with issue 137. Also not with issue 138, nor 139 or 140. No, the first issue they published was issue 150, the first issue AFTER the whole Clone Saga.

The FIRST Clone Saga. Again, this is something younger readers may not know : before the whole train wreck that is known Today as the Clone Saga ever happened there was a first storyline with a clone of Peter Parker / Spider - Man that ran from issue 139 from issue 149. In issue 150 Peter dumps what readers believed to be a clone of himself at that time in a factory chimney and we now know that if he had burned that body he would have saved us all a lot of grief. For german readers the whole scene made no sense when it appeared in the opening pages of DIE SPINNE 1 from Condor because the entire " classic " clone saga that came before it was missing. So the collective german readership was left scratching their heads, trying to figure this thing out. I remember that when I read this I was completely puzzled that there were suddenly two Peter Parkers around and one of them was disposed like so much garbage.

And speaking about garbage, one of the issues that the german readers fortunately missed was number 139 introducing The Grizzly ! WTF ?

Yes, not everything that was published back then was gold. Does anybody remember The Gibbon or The Kangaroo ? At least The Gibbon looked like a real ape. The Kangaroo was just some He - Man with taped hands who could jump really good. Let´s hope he never makes it to the big screen.

Now some of you may be asking when issue 137 of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN was finally published in Germany - if it was published at all. You see, some of the biggest stories of the Marvel Universe are still not available in a german translation like the X - MEN´s INFERNO saga that tied up loose story ends of 5 or 10 years of  x - continuity. Which wasn´t the case with this storyline of Spider - Man but it didn´t happen until 1999 when PANINI was publishing Spider - Man after Condor folded in 1996.

Under the title of DIE SPINNE - DAS FEHLENDE JAHR ( SPIDER - MAN - THE MISSING YEAR ) Panini Germany released a slipcase containing issues 137 to 150 in single issue format with the original covers and an additional Thor story by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Vince Coletta which is simply awe inspiring : 3 masters at the top of the game. They included the previously released issue 150 because it´s the epilogue of the whole story arc and without it it wouldn´t be complete. An indispensable collection for any german Spider - Man fan with an amazing cover by Gabriele Dell´ Otto.

So it only took 20 years until issue 137 was finally published in Germany, as issue 138 of DIE SPINNE which continued the numbering from Williams.

But that wasn´t what I really wanted to talk about in this post. Like I said, when Condor started publishing the german version of Spider - Man I really didn´t think about the last issue of Williams DIE SPINNE. I was just happy that the series finally continued in the german translation.


One of the reasons why I probably never checked which had been my last DIE SPINNE issue from Williams was that I had most of my Williams Marvel comics in the form of MARVEL SUPERBAND SUPERHELDEN which I should probably explain to my non german audience. This comic collection was four issues just glued together from any of the many series, Marvel and otherwise, Williams was publishing or  - if you were extremely lucky - from one particular series. Some of them were in chronological order but mostly not so much and very often there were issues missing inbetween.

The issues that were put into this series were either issues that the newsstands couldn´t sell or overprinted issues. Ah, the golden days of comics when issues were overprinted and put into cheaply collections. Because they put these two kinds of overstock into it you would often have the case of old issues and issues that hadn´t gotten to your local comic newsstand or outlet from the same series in one collection. For the german comic readers this was a really cheap way to get comics not only because back issues were not always easy to find but also because these collections cost less than four single issues. Another reason was that you could find some rare issues in here and since they were glued together with cheap glue you could detach single issues and put in your collection.

Which is one of the reason why some of the SUPERBAND are still very sought after. They were published between April 1975 and February 1979 and a lot of them were shipped of to the germans favorite vacation spots like Italy or Spain up to the mid 80s. If you want to read more in detail about the subject, issue 7 of the german publication DAS SAGTE NUFF covers the whole minutea detail. Sorry, it´s only available in german.

But coming back to issue 137 of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN and the reasons why I didn´t think about it when DIE SPINNE started again. It also may have been because my mother had thrown away all my comic books around the time Condor began publishing Marvel in Germany again.

I know that it sounds like a cliche but it has happened to most comic fans of my generation. And while I´m not exactly certain at which point in my comic collecting career this was I know that when I restarted my comic collection to become bigger and better than my old one it was with some issues from Condor because there were no Williams issues left.

Now besides Spider - Man Condor also published the Fantastic Four, the Avengers and the Hulk, in their own comic books, albums and ( the much maligned ) pocketbooks. They also had other series for all those comics that didn´t have their own book ( yet ) like MARVEL COMIC STARS, a magazine sized publication where they just dumped all kind of stuff

or MARVEL COMIC SONDERHEFT, a regular sized comic book where Condor put oversized issues and specials like the - at that time - still unpublished finale to the Dark Phoenix Saga by Chris Claremont and John Byrne.

Williams had put only the issues of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN into their DIE SPINNE series. But when Condor restarted it Spider - Man also appeared in the pages of THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER - MAN and MARVEL TEAM UP.

One of the big problems of publishing american comics in Germany has always been that if they put just one issue in a monthly book they ran the risk of never catching up to the current issues. And if they put two issues into a monthly book they had to beware not to run out of material. Well, with three series to choose from that problem was eliminated and now their remaining big question was which material to put into the albums,

which material to put into the pocket books

and so on. Material from all three series ended up in DIE SPINNE.

My favorite issues by far were the ones from Chris Claremont and John Byrne´s MARVEL TEAM UP run that featured new characters like Woodgod and I fondly remember the one that introduced me to Captain Britain.

Another highlight of the series for me was when John Romita Jr began his stint on the old webslingers book ( I´m not sure which one ). Back then his art looked a lot more like his father´s than Today - which may or may not have been what Marvel expected from him when he started - but I was a really big fan of John Romita Senior so that didn´t really bother me.

It´s been a long time since I have held the issues of DIE SPINNE in my hands but I´m sure I got all the issues from number 1 to number 21. After that I´m not sure. I guess I was a bit slacking and bought the occasional John Byrne issue like the one with Captain Britain or the MARVEL TEAM UP story with Iron First, Luke Cage, Misty Knight and Coleen Wing. Which is two pages shorter in the german version although I didn´t find that out until many years later when I found some copies of the original MARVEL TEAM UP issues. Unlike british comic companies where they sometimes begin with the story right on the cover to get all  pages into the book

german comic companies are very strict. Which means that they have to have all the indicia on the front inside cover, or there must be an editorial or an introduction written by someone and they only have 44 pages for the story in an 48 page comic and if one of the stories is longer than 22 pages they would rather cut any pages from the comic than anything else.

Anyway, back to DIE SPINNE, I was not buying the series on a regular basis anymore but I got all the issues with John Romita Jr on art. I remember there was a story with Spider - Man and Namor going up against the evil Wizard and another incarnation of his Frightful Five ( or was it Four ? ) I really enjoyed reading. I don´t remember exactly who the figure in shadow is but I think it was a women brought in to handle Namor.

And once again that´s all we have time for Today as I´m already one hour into overtime and counting. Nevertheless I couldn´t finish this post without posting this weird looking cover of DIE SPINNE number 12.

The reason for that is that the original cover of issue 38 of MARVEL TEAM UP has been completely redrawn for german readers. Strange, isn´t it ?

And that´s really the end - at least for now. There are still a few things to add about Die Spinne, about Spider - Man, about Condor or about those french issues of Marvel comics but that´s the topic for another post.

Todays video at the end of the post is one I wanted to post for quite some time. Around the time when Condor published Die Spinne I saw my first episodes of the original TWILIGHT ZONE series. I had seen the 1983 movie by John Landis before so I was anxious to see some episodes from the original series although in my case it was on the catalan network where it was called LA DIMENSIO DESCONEGUDA. Man, those catalan networks had all the good stuff like this, Dragon Ball and El Ataque dels Tomaquets Assasins. Anyway, the video is a classic among classics TIME ENOUGH AT LAST about Henry Bemis, a bank teller who just wants to have some peace and time to read - a sentiment we all can agree with.

The main lead is played by Burgess Meredith - better known as the trainer from the ROCKY movies Mickey - and not by William Shatner like some people believe. Shatner is in two episodes like in NIGHTMARE AT 20.000 FEET which was redone for the movie with John Lithgow but not in this.

I couldn´t find the catalan version but I have included the spanish video of the episode. You can find a lot of those - as well as the english ones - on YouTube if you don´t mind the black and white. You know, I know someone who doesn´t watch anything in black and white but if I was the owner of a television company I would do one channel with only black and white movies. There are so many fantastic ones of them out there.

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I don´t have a drinking problem, I have a stopping problem. I´m drinking just fine.

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