Actually, I was quite impressed with the posters who chimed in with responses. Out of all ten questions, only one wasn’t correctly answered. At least, not with the absolutely, positively proper answer. However, even that one was kinda sorta gotten right. I’ll speak more on that anon.
First off, kudos to Philip Portelli. He provided the highest number of correct responses, and he nailed some of the toughest ones on the quiz. Jeff of Earth-J also submitted the right answer to one of the tougher posers. One particular question I loaded with a couple of traps, and Prince Hal was the only one to evade them and provide the correct info.
I rather enjoyed Figserello’s advice to the unwary, by pointing out a couple of questions in which the answers seemed too obvious. And he was right on both counts! I don’t have a problem with this kind of kibitzing, by the way. It helps get everyone more involved with finding the solutions.
And now, all of you can unbate your breath because here come the answers!
ANSWERS TO THE SILVER-AGE CHALLENGE---MARVEL COMICS EDITION
1. Which two super-heroes attended Metro College at the same time, though they never met on campus?
The answer is . . . Johnny (the Human Torch) Storm and Jean (Marvel Girl) Grey! Johnny enrolled at Metro College in Fantastic Four # 33 (Feb., 1965). While he hung around the campus long enough to make friends with football star Wyatt Wingfoot, his classroom attendance was rather spotty. He was still a student there, at least officially, when Jean Grey arrived at Metro in The X-Men # 24 (Sep., 1966), as the dialogue from her first day makes clear. The two youthful super-heroes never bumped into each other in the student union, though.
2. Not counting Captain “Happy Sam” Sawyer (or, for the nitpicky, his temporary relief, Captain Flint, either), which regular member of the Howling Commandos was actually a commissioned officer during World War II?
Philip nailed this one right off. The answer is . . . Eric Koënig! Koënig was a junior officer and a pilot in the German Luftwaffe when he first appeared in Sgt. Fury # 27 (Feb., 1966). After getting a good look at the seamy underbelly of the Nazi regime, Koënig defected to England, where he turned in his swastika. Eric officially joined the Howling Commandos in Sgt. Fury # 35 (Oct., 1966).
Anytime you see a military-oriented question from me, you can bet it’s going to be tricky, like this one was. But it wasn’t as sneaky as my other question in this quiz about the Marvel military.
3. On her twenty-third birthday, Janet (the Wasp) van Dyne received her complete inheritance. How much money did her father leave her?
The answer is . . . three million dollars! In The Avengers # 43 (Aug., 1967), Jan’s lawyer, Ebenezer Wallaby, gave her the good news that she no longer had to squeak by on a “paltry” $25,000 a year ($162,000 in 2011 dollars). Upon turning twenty-three, Jan inherited the full sum of her father’s inheritance.
4. What Fantastic Four supporting character was based on the star of a syndicated comic strip?
The answer is . . . Willie Lumpkin! Postman Willie Lumpkin, whose route included the Baxter Building and the offices of the Fantastic Four, first appeared in Fantastic Four # 11 (Feb., 1963). He became a popular background character, showing up sporadically over the course of the series.
In a sense, though, Willie predated the F.F. In 1960, Marvel editor Stan Lee and artist Dan DeCarlo created the syndicated comic strip “Willie Lumpkin”, the eponymous star being a letter carrier for the U.S. Post Office. If you were around then, you still might have missed it, if you blinked a couple of times, because the strip lasted only about a year.
As related by Stan Lee in an interview with Roy Thomas, when he needed a mailman to set the scene for “A Visit with the Fantastic Four”, from FF # 11, he named the character “Willie Lumpkin”, as an in-joke nod to the old strip.
(Many thanks to Brian Cronin’s always-excellent “Comic Book Legends Revealed”, the place where I discovered this fun bit of trivia.)
5. Speaking of the Fantastic Four, in what branch of the military did Ben (the Thing) Grimm serve during the war?
Yeah, I got sneaky with this one, on a couple of levels.
The natural answer, as Figserello pointed out, would be the United States Air Force. That’s what Marvel’s biography of Ben Grimm has insisted for the past couple of decades. But this was a Silver-Age quiz, remember? And in the Silver Age, Grimm was a veteran of World War II, which ended in 1945. And the U.S. Air Force did not exist as a service until 1948.
Philip Portelli was canny enough to remember this. Which is why he replied the Army Air Corps. Which was also wrong---for two reasons.
The first reason is a technicality. It doesn’t matter how the song goes. It doesn’t matter what Grandpa said. The fact is, by the time the United States entered World War II, in December, 1941, there was no Army Air Corps. The U.S. Army Air Corps was disestablished on 20 June 1941 and replaced by the U.S. Army Air Forces.
Even so, I wouldn’t have dunned Philip on that kind of technicality. Philip got that one wrong because Ben Grimm wasn’t an Army pilot. The answer is . . . he was an aviator in the United States Marine Corps. This was established in Fantastic Four # 11 and strongly iterated in the tale “Objective: Ben Grimm”, from Captain Savage and His Leatherneck Raiders # 7 (Oct., 1968).
I didn’t fool Prince Hal, though.
6. During his ten-century space flight to Alpha Centauri, Major Vance Astro survived by spending the entire time in suspended animation. When he arrived on the closest planet, he discovered that Earthmen had beaten him there because, two hundred years after he left Earth, man had learnt how to go faster than light. Who was the physicist who perfected faster-than-light travel and rendered Major Astro’s flight pointless?
The answer is . . . Harkov! When Major Astro landed on a planet in the Alpha Centauri solar system and emerged from his spaceship, in Marvel Super-Heroes # 18 (Jan., 1968), he learnt from the welcoming committee of Earth descendants that his thousand-year trip had been for nothing, thanks to faster-than-light travel made possible by Harkovian physics. Aw, man . . . .
7. The original line-up of Avengers lasted for only the first two issues of The Avengers. In only one story outside of its own title was this group of five depicted (not counting flashbacks). What tale was that?
The answer is . . . “(The New Iron Man) Meets the Angel”, from Tales of Suspense # 49 (Jan., 1964). As Philip pointed out, the appearance of the Avengers in this story is symbolic, except that it does show the whereabouts of the Hulk, Thor, Giant-Man, and the Wasp. And, of course, Iron Man stars in the tale.
I really wanted to use this as a question, because “Meets the Angel” marks the only time when the original Avengers is then-contemporaneously depicted in any title other than The Avengers. Even so, there’s a rub. By the time of “Meets the Angel”, Iron Man had discarded his clunky, all-gold armour for the streamlined red-and-gold outfit. Yet, as seen in The Avengers # 2 (Nov., 1963), the Hulk had quit the group before Iron Man’s upgrade.
It’s a wrinkle difficult to . . . ahem . . . iron out, since the story clearly treats the Emerald Behemoth as still being a member of the group. This discrepancy, like so many others, can probably be attributed to the fact that, at the time, Stan Lee was writing virtually every story that appeared in a Marvel comic and no doubt, details got kind of fuzzy.
8. The international terrorist organisation Hydra named its various departments after animals. What was the animal name by which its supply division was known?
The answer is . . . a camel, as Jeff of Earth-J correctly pointed out. The whole menagerie was shown in Strange Tales # 138 (Nov., 1965).
9. Speaking of suspended animation, when Merlin the Magician awoke after a centuries-long slumber, he decided to offer his services to the President of the United States, as he had to King Arthur. However, after entering the White House and seeing the Chief Executive, Merlin did not believe the man was the President. Why?
The answer is . . . because Merlin thought that John F. Kennedy was too young to be the ruler of a nation! (So did some of the people who hadn’t voted for him.) You can see for yourself in “Defying the Magic of Mad Merlin”, from Journey Into Mystery # 96 (Sep., 1963).
10. Of what material was Henry Pym’s blue-and-gold Goliath costume made?
The answer is . . . morphon! This was not-so-obviously shown in The Avengers # 48 (Feb., 1967).
Upon careful consideration, I realise that, in the question, I should have asked for the name of the material. Because I failed to be that specific, I have to make some allowance for descriptive answers. On the basis of that, I’m awarding Philip Portelli half-credit for his response of a “special stretch fabric”, since morphon itself is described as “capable of almost infinite stretching.”
On the other hand, I cannot give credit for the answer of “unstable molecules”, since that description was never applied to Hank Pym’s costumes in the Silver Age.
Looking at the final tallies, no-one who posted answers came up whiffing it completely. Prince Hal scored with the devious Ben Grimm question. Jeff of Earth-J was correct in the two---# 3 and # 8---that he answered. And even Figserello, who chose to respond in a humourous vein, got the Willie Lumpkin poser.
But top score goes to Philip, who correctly answered # 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, and 9. Along with his half-credit for # 10, that gives him a score of 65%. Bravo zulu, Philip! That qualifies you as an F.F.F. in my book.*
* Fearless Front-Facer---for you Marvel fans with really good memories.