{SPOILER SPACE)

So, what did  folks think of this?

By me, it was a game of two  halves, the halves being:

  1. Pages paying tribute to various Marvel characters, situations or concepts over the years.
  2. A sort of "secret history" setting up  a new character with ties to Marvel's history, the Masked Raider, to be unveiled next year.

What did I think of these two halves?

Well, let's get the bad part out of the way, first:  I found the Masked Raider story-line extremely uninteresting. I don't care who the Masked Raider really is, and his design is uninspiring visually, as well. Now, perhaps I'm wrong, and the Masked Raider will be the next Wolverine, but right now, I'm predicting "'Event' character that will be forgotten in five years".  Maybe there could have been a story that tied the entire history  of the Marvel Universe together that worked, but this wasn't it.

Now, for the not-so-bad part: The tribute pages.  I liked a lot of these. In particular:

  1. The Miss America page
  2. The Patsy Walker page
  3. The Tessie the Typist page
  4. The Alex Ross Hulk page
  5. The Ben Grimm explains himself page
  6. The Peter calls  Otto page
  7. The Black Bolt as Little Nemo page
  8. The Farmer Galactus page
  9. The King Conan page
  10. The MJ and Gwen Stacy page
  11. The Frank Castle explains himself page
  12. The Darth Vader page
  13. The She-Hulk page
  14. The Baby Ben page
  15. The  Thor Page
  16. The Howard the Duck/Fruit Pies page
  17. The Daredevil page
  18. The Asamiya X-Men page
  19. The X-23 page
  20. The Young Avengers page
  21. The Everything-Is-About-Doctor-Doom-Owing-You-Money page
  22. The Hulk Family page
  23. The MJ Through The Years page

The other "tribute" pages were  OK, I guess.  I did feel as though some character/concepts were over-represented (Two pages about how Doctor Doom is really powerful but has no friends?) and others were under-represented (No mention of the Defenders at all?).

What  I would have done:  Eliminate the "story-line", and use those pages to pay tribute to a wider-range of characters and concepts'

Overall:  An interesting concept,  mostly badly-executed.

Score:  Four out of ten

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Masked Raider is from early issues of Marvel Comics/Marvel Mystery Comics.

The first version of the Black Rider was a Western hero of the late 40s/50s who was a copy, judging by appearances, of the movie hero the Durango Kid, played by Charles Starrett. He wore a black costume with a mask over his lower face and a cape. He appeared in more than one Marvel title, including Black Rider. The first issue, #8, has a photographic cover. My recollection is Stan Lee was the guy in the Black Rider costume.

A revamped version, with a domino mask and more ordinary (but still black) clothing, debuted in an issue with the cover title Black Rider Rides Again! in 1957. Mike's Amazing World lists it as Black Rider #1. Kirby drew the issue's Black Rider stories. It appeared just as Marvel's output crashed due to Goodman's distribution disaster. My recollection is some further stories appeared in the back pages of other titles which were presumably intended for #2.

This wikia tells me "The 3X's" appeared once (retcons aside), in Mystic Comics #1. The concept - three heroes with specialities - reminds me of "The Triple Terror" from Tip Top Comics, which started later the same year. Perhaps the two features were modelled after a pulp or radio series.

The first version of this post displaced New Title Alerts from the homepage.

The Thunderer changed his name and look to the Black Avenger in All Winners Comics #6, the last of his three Golden Age appearances.

He was one of those short-lived Timely characters that I heard about but never seen as he was never revived in The Invaders.

He was, however, featured in a six-part episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series along with Captain America, the Whizzer, Miss America, the Mighty Destroyer and the Black Marvel.

The Three Xs made only one Golden Age appearance and they had an entry in the Golden Age issue of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe which I can't find now. But they could easily be adapted to become the future Enclave members without ruining anyone's childhood!

Luke Blanchard said:

Early on there were a fair number of very short-lived Marvel heroes. The Thunderer is one of those. He appeared in Daring Mystery Comics #7-#8 and was centrally featured on the covers of both issues. I think he's the guy you remember.

Thanks, Philip. 

That wikia says Marvel Comics #1000 also identifies the Three Xs with some scientists who appear in the Human Torch's debut tale.

Looking at my 1990 hardcover reprint of Marvel Comics #1, the Scientist Guild did indeed appear in the first Human Torch story but they were portrayed as older men. Artistic license, I suppose.

And the Masked Raider was your standard "Lone Ranger" copy though his full-head mask was rather unique!

Luke Blanchard said:

Thanks, Philip. 

That wikia says Marvel Comics #1000 also identifies the Three Xs with some scientists who appear in the Human Torch's debut tale.

Great information, folks! It sparked my memory, so I've gone ahead and pulled out the MMWs to verify what was pre-existing and what is new. This is it how it seems to me. Corrections welcome!

The wizards who created the Eternity Mask are new, as far as I can tell. They draw from Eternity itself to create the Mask, to make the peasants as good as the knights. (Why not make them better, I wonder? What a stupid power!) They fight Sir Percy of Scandia -- the Black Knight -- who does pre-exist.

I'm fuzzy on how the mask makes its way to the Old West, but it does, to be worn by the Masked Raider. As everyone has noted, he pre-exists, and did wear an all-black mask that covered his whole face from his first story in Marvel Comics #1.

As far as I can tell, there is no connection between the Masked Raider and the Black Rider in the texts prior to this story. But when the Black Rider comes along in the late '40s, this story says he's wearing the same mask, that he took from a dying Masked Raider (and probably accidentally killed him by doing so).

Black Rider lives into the 1930s, where he gives the mask to Dennis Piper, who is "The Operative." AFAIK, this character was created for the 2011 Mystery Men miniseries, which retconned five noir heroes, including The Operative, into the '30s. But The Operative does sound like a genuine '30s name, doesn't it?

And AFAIK, Piper had no relationships with The Ferret, a genuine Golden Age character, until this book, which establishes for the first time that they are the same guy. The Ferret sees no magic in the mask, and when the Three Xs come to get it, he gives it to them.

Oh, yeah, the Three Xs! They appeared once and only once in Mystic Comics #1, where their names were never given. One is a detective, one is a scientist and one is the muscle. I have no problem with this simply being the way they were portrayed in that one story, and they were really the same guys who -- it is established here -- become The Enclave (also "The Beehive" per FF #66). It is also established here that they were the three scientists who Horton demonstrated his Human Torch for, creating their lifelong interest in artificial life. (Which is a long interest, as this book establishes that they have found a way to extend their own lives.)

This book also says that one of the three created Adam II (or convinced Horton to do so), which was the creature that killed the second Captain America (William Naslund). It's been a long time since I read What If? #4, so I don't know how well that lines up. But so far they've done a good job of not violating any pre-existing facts.

Which brings us to the three men in a room with a nearly naked guy and a floating mask that a pre-Captain America Steve Rogers sees when he's heading for his rendezvous with destiny. The three guys are, once again, the Three Xs/The Enclave. The nearly naked guy, we come to learn, is Jerry Carstairs, another pre-existing character. He was the FCC guy who became The Thunderer for two adventures in Daring Mystery Comics #7-8, and then changed his name (with no in-story reason given) to Black Avenger for his last appearance, in All-Winners Comics #6.

Now comes the one real error I have found. The current wearer of the mask -- whose name we don't yet know -- is shown taking the mask from the corpse of Jerry Carstairs, who is somehow still communicating (ew). But just before Jonathan Hickman blew up the Marvel Universe, one "Last Days" book or other showed us a retirement home in Florida that was almost entirely populated by old superheroes from the 1940s ... one of whom was Jerry Carstairs.

Well, maybe it was some other mystery man who just got confused. Anyway, that's what my research suggests. Again, corrections welcome.

One more thing about the Ferret was that he was killed off in The Marvels Project though he did appear in another story which I hope to get to soon. 

(Foreshadowing!)

Holy cow, I completely forgot about The Marvels Project!

So help me here, folks, for the sake of my book and knowing what happened to various Golden Age heroes after their original stories were long ended. I would need to read:

Marvels (Need to re-read)

Marvels: Eye of the Camera (Need to re-read)

Ant-Man: Last Day, Astonishing Ant-Man #1 ((Featuring Valhalla Villas, the superhero retirement home. Residents include Miss Patriot, Golden Girl, Human Top, Sun Girl, Doctor Fear, Thunderer, Leopard Girl, American Ace, Flash Foster and Wax Master.)

The Twelve #1-12 (Blue Blade, Black Widow, Captain Wonder, Dynamic Man, Electro, Fiery Mask, Laughing Mask, Master Mind Excello, Mister E, Phantom Reporter, Rockman, The Witness)

The Marvels Project #1-18

Marvel Comics #1000

Mystery Men #1-12

We're getting some contradictory info but some things I'm noting:

The Twelve (I think) made mention of the Phantom Bullet being killed in the '40s after his one appearance.

I think some other characters get killed in The Twelve in the present, but it's been a while since I read it. There are also some one-shots that follow The Twelve, but I don't know how many. The Spearhead and 70th Anniversary Daring Mystic, I think, but I don't remember what's in them.

John Steele was killed off in Secret Avengers.

Philip says The Ferret dies in The Marvels Project, presumably after his meeting with the Three Xs.

The Thunderer is killed in Marvel Comics #1000, but also appears as an old man in Ant-Man: Last Days.

I have a vague memory of an old Destroyer getting killed, maybe in Invaders

Blazing Skull was revived in Invaders, as was Thin Man, but I don't know what happened to them.

Marvel Boy, Gorilla-Man, X-9, Jimmy Woo are all alive in Agents of Atlas books, as far as I know. Anyone know the final dispositions, if any, of Namora and Namorita? What about Venus and her imposter in Agents of Atlas?

There are plenty of others I don't know about, like Blue Diamond and those other characters from Marvel Two-In-One. So I'd be grateful for any help! Should we start a new thread with "Where Are They Now"?

Captain Comics said:

I'm fuzzy on how the mask makes its way to the Old West, but it does, to be worn by the Masked Raider. As everyone has noted, he pre-exists, and did wear an all-black mask that covered his whole face from his first story in Marvel Comics #1.

I was just looking at some covers, and it turns out for a period - Black Rider #20-#24 - Black Rider version 1 wore a full-face mask too. This cover image is from Marvel Database:

The Phantom Bullet was actually killed in The Marvels Project #2 while the Ferret was dispatched in #4 which was set in 1940. A year earlier, in the 70th Anniversary Marvel Mystery Comics one-shot, the Ferret was involved in an adventure that took place in 1941. Oops.

As for the heroes of the Liberty Legion, their fates from their Bronze Age appearances were:

  • the Red Raven blew both the Bird-People and himself up in Sub-Mariner #26 (Ju'70)
  • Miss America's death during childbirth was revealed in Giant-Size Avengers #1 (Au'74)
  • The Whizzer was killed by his old foe, Isbisa in Vision & Scarlet Witch #2 (D'82)
  • The Patriot aka Captain America III succumbed to cancer in Captain America #285 (S'83)
  • Jack Frost was swallowed whole by a giant Iceworm in Captain America #384 (Ap'91)
  • The Thin Man was driven half-mad by the slaughter of his adopted hidden city and wife. Not sure on his status.
  • The Blue Diamond, well, that's a tale! He retired and became a bitter old man despite still having his powers. Incredibly he teamed with the Thing in Marvel Two-In-One #79 (S'81) against the alien Stardancer. He suffered a heart attack but was transformed into a being of living diamond and left to dance among the stars with Stardancer! 

As for the Destroyer (or the Mighty Destroyer), in the Golden Age, he was American journalist Keen Marlowe but when he was revived in The Invaders, Marlowe was just a fiction and the Destroyer was first Brian Falsworth who became Union Jack II then his best friend/lover Roger Aubrey, formerly Dyna-Mite.

Falsworth died in a car crash in 1954.

But later, the Keen Marlowe version returned so who was the original Destroyer?

I actually took out and reread The Marvels Project in August but my health issues prevented me from posting about it. I also just found the 70th Anniversary Timely Comics one-shots from 2009 and hope to post about them soon!

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