I’ve been thinking of starting this discussion for a long time. It used to be, when I couldn’t decide what to read, I’d pull out a copy of Marvel Fanfare at random and read whatever I picked. But long gone are the days when I couldn't decide what to read because I couldn’t think of anything. These days my indecision is more likely to be cause by having too much I’m in the mood to read. Or, other times, I’m in the midst of some ridiculously long “project” (such as “the first 200 issues of Daredevil” or whatever) and am simply in the mood for something different. In either case, I’ll get this discussion going and it will be here when I need it.
I bought the first issue of Marvel Fanfare the day it shipped, and I was quite enthusiastic about it for a while. It soon became apparent that the title was being used as more of a clearing house for inventory material than it was for work newly commissioned specifically for Fanfare. After three consecutive issues featuring “Weirdworld” I had had enough and dropped the title with #26, although I would still buy an issue from time to time. Years later, I bought up most of the rest of the series at a quarter sale. I filled in some holes after that, and currently have every issue except two.
COVER: Spider-Man, Angel and a pterodactyl (or is it a pteranodon?) by Michael Golden. I don’t know if this was my first Michael Golden or not, but it was certainly the issue that put him on my radar.
BACK COVER: Daredevil by Frank Miller
INSIDE WRAP-AROUND: Spider-Man and the Silver Surfer by John Byrne. This poster originally appeared, in black & white, as part of the John Byrne portfolio. It was intended to be a centerfold, but the last-minute expansion of the first issue from 32 to 36 pages forced it to be run inside the front and back cover with the comic in between.
FIRST STORY: Tanya Anderson seeks Warren Worthington’s help to seek her fiancé, Karl Lykos, in the Savage Land. Lykos is a mutant “energy vampire” who the X-Men had pursued to the brink of the Savage Land in #60-61 of their own title. He presumably died there, but Tanya recently spotted him in a photo-spread in National Geographic. J. Jonah Jameson gets wind of the expedition and decides to send Peter Parker by virtue of his having been there before (Spider-Man #103-104). A few days later, they are on their way. Angel thinks about the last time he was there (X-Men #63-64).
After an eventful landing, Peter Parket, Warren Worthington and Tanya Anderson make their way to Garokk’s domed city (X-Men #113-116). They are attacked by Zaladane’s followers, Angel is attacked by Vertigo, and Peter Parker pushes Tanya off a cliff to the relative safety of the river below, then switches to Spider-Man. He, too, is ambushed by Vertigo and also attacked by Gaza and Barbarus. Meanwhile, Tanya is threatened by a tyrannosaurus rex.
Spider-Man awakens, strapped to a tble next to Angel, in Magneto’s citadel and is greeted by Brain Child, who introduces Amphibious and the other of Magneto’s “neo-mutants” (they are not referred to as “mutates” even once). Magneto’s machine has now been modified to devolve as well as evolve, and Brain Child sets about using it on Spider-Man and Angel.
EDITORI-AL: Marvel Fanfare was the brainchild of editor Al Milgrom, who uses a nine-panel grid comic to introduce each issue in lieu of a traditional editorial.
NOTEABLE IN-HOUSE ADVERTISEMENT: Moon Knight, Micronauts and Ka-zar the Savage have been converted to “direct sales only” titles. Ka-Zar was the only one I had heard of, and I wasn’t particularly interested in any of them at the time. It would be a few months yet before I tried them.
SECOND STORY: Daredevil by Roger McKenzie and Paul Smith (his first published work) in a story about a street-corner Santa who was mugged and lost faith in humanity.
SHOOTER’S PAGE: Not yet officially called ”Shooter’s Page,”Marvel Fanfare #1 featured “An Open Letter to Stan Lee” written by Jim Shooter, four years into his reign as Marvel’s editor-in-chief. The cynic in me says he wrote it to blow his own horn while simultaneuously plugging Marvel’s new graphic novel line, Epic imprint and Marvel Fanfare.
Readers of this thread (seven or eight of you based on the daily number of views) may recall that I read every issue off this series new through #26, at which point I bought only select issues. (See initial post.) Some years later I was able to fill in the gaps at a quarter sale, but was still missing two issues. One of those missing issues was revealed when I posted about #27, but I've kept you on the edge of your seats regarding the other issue I missed. (I'm sure the suspense has been killing you.) Today it can be revealed: the other issue I missed was [drum roll, please], the final issue of the series...
Again, as with #27, I have been able to glean some details about it online.
FRONT COVER: Black Panther by Dennis Cowan and Walt Simonson
BACK COVER: Daredevil by Paul Smith
FIRST STORY: Black Panther by Walt Simonson (script and inks) and Dennis Cowan.
SECOND STORY: Rogue by Ann Nocenti and Dave Ross
THIRD STORY: Daredevil by Paul Smith (pencils, script and inks)
PIN-UP: Punisher by Ken Steacy
I will likely never acquire Marvel Fanfare #60 due to the extreme popularity of the Black Panther movie. I check all of the area comics shops for #27 and #60 three years ago when I started this discussion and couldn't find it. One thing I will say about Dennis Cowan, I wasn't particularly impressed with his work when I first saw it. Then he illustrated part of the Badger Goes Berserk limited series for First in which of Norbert Sykes' seven personalities was drawn by a different artist.
But it was necessarily his art on that series that made an impression on me per se. A few years later I had a roommate who was a dealer, and he happened to have an interior full-page panel of Cowan's original art. Seeing his raw art like that for the first time is what really impressed me and I have been a fan of his ever since. To this day I regret not making an offer on that page.
Classic X-Men was a series which reprinted the "All-New, All-Different" era supplemented with new art and new interstitial back-up stories. The back-up stories stopped with #44, a Rogue story, but the continuation of that story, intended for #45, had already been completed. It is that story which eventually saw print, nearly two years later, in Marvel Fanfare #60. It was preprinted again in 2017's X-Men Classic Omnibus, which is where I read it. the story deals with Rogue's teenage angst over the isolation her newfound powers have forced upon her, as well as her relationship with Mystigue, who alternately treats Rogue as a daughter and as a mutant soldier in her private war.
And that's it! After three years (including a lengthy gap between #27 and #28), I've finally managed to finish this discussion.