Part of it is, no doubt, because I didn’t get into Marvel until late in the game, around 1965 or so. I picked up all of those niggling bits of DC trivia pretty much by osmosis, because I was there from the beginning. But with Marvel, I had to dredge up what I missed and plug it in. There was a lot of stuff that caught me off guard, like the fact that Tony Stark’s girl friday, Pepper Potts, wasn’t always the corporate world’s answer to Ann-Margret. And since I was collecting this info piece-meal, it took me even longer to discover that Stan Lee provided an in-story explanation for her transformation. (I had assumed it was just that artist Don Heck decided it was more fun drawing a glamorous babe than a mousey office worker.)
Another problem is that Silver-Age Marvel didn't have as many sub-strata to explore as DC did. With its wealth of characters, DC had a virtual cottage industry of sub-themes running through most of its Silver-Age series. You couldn’t open up one of its magazines without bumping into one of them. The Jordan brothers, the Time-Pool stories, Zatanna’s search for her father, the tales of the Second Batman and Robin Team, the annual JLA/JSA team-ups, the Canine Space Patrol Agents (I didn’t say they were all good sub-themes), and many more.
Back then, Marvel just didn’t lend itself to that kind of depth. Probably because, instead of DC’s separate editorial fiefdoms, Marvel’s Stan Lee was running the whole shebang by himself and it was all he could do to keep the main elements straight. And fewer details mean less trivia.
On those first two points, the mileage of you Marvel mavens out there may vary. But there’s no getting around the last obstacle---the search engine. It’s difficult to come up with a question that can’t be answered in a minute or two by running it through Google. Not and make it an interesting question. Sure, I could ask something like “What was Unus holding in his right hand on the splash page of X-Men # 20?”, but what’s the fun in that? A good trivia quiz should not only challenge the reader’s intellect, the answers should intrigue his interest. The best reaction is when he thinks, “Wow, that’s neat! I didn’t know that!”
Most of that sort of neat-to-know information is going to be found somewhere on the Internet, probably on some die-hard fan’s website, and that means a good search engine will cough it up. I had to toss out a lot of otherwise ideal questions because, when I tested them, all it took was a quick run through Google to find the answer on line.
That’s why there are only seven questions on this quiz. There’s only so much time in life. And it occurred to me that, if I ever want to do a Silver-Age Marvel Challenge III, I don’t want to burn all the eligible material, now. I won’t claim that these posers are impregnable to a search engine, but you’ll have to be a bit adept in your thinking to find the answers on line.
For those of you who missed the last few go-arounds, the rules are simple but important. All of the questions refer to the Marvel universe presented during the Silver Age---which I demark as 1956 through 1968. The correct answers also come from within that time frame. Revisions which were made after 1968 don’t count. This occasionally trips up some participants. If I ask “Who trained Hawkeye in the art of archery?”, the correct response would be “the Swordsman”---as shown in The Avengers # 19 (Aug., 1965). The answer “Trick Shot” would be incorrect because the revision which established that did not occur until 1987, long past the Silver Age.
This sort of thing will be a factor in at least one of the questions on this quiz, so be wary.
1. What was the name of the small village in which Pietro and Wanda---Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch---lived as children and called home?
2. Sgt. Fury King-Size Special # 3 told us what the surviving members of World War II’s Howling Commandos were doing in 1967. What position was held by former Howler Robert “Rebel” Ralston at that time?
3. Long before using his super-powers as a force for good, which Marvel hero fought in the Korean War as an ordinary U.S. Army soldier?
4. Sam, Slim, and their blonde associate were the gatekeepers and first line of defence for what important facility?
5. Shortly after Captain America’s revival in 1964, Tony Stark outfitted the Star-Spangled Avenger’s shield with a number of magnetic gimmicks. In Tales of Suspense # 62 (Feb., 1965), Cap disclosed that he got rid of the gadgets because they disrupted the shield’s delicate balance. Obviously, not everybody got the word because sometime after that issue, a villain attempted to steal Cap’s shield to obtain the magnetic devices he believed it contained. Who was this misinformed villain?
6. Doctor Strange had Wong, but who was the Ancient One’s faithful man-servant?
I can hear those brain cells percolating already. Good luck, all!