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.

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I always like it when you have one of these fights between a hero and villain who aren't normal enemies. That's why I loved "Acts of Vengeance" back in the day. I wish we had more of it that's for certain.

Maybe I could enjoy a Joker story if he went up against the Flash.

I would love that if Flash would put a supersonic fist right through Joker's skull and putting an end to all of his murdering, which no one else can bring themselves to do.

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

Maybe I could enjoy a Joker story if he went up against the Flash.

Jeff of Earth-J said (responding to Rob Staeger):

“I wonder if that was an after-the-fact editorial change to bring an inventory story up to current continuity?”

Given that Marvel Fanfare #22 came out the same month as Iron Man #198, I think it was more likely that they wanted to burn up an inventory story in which Tony Stark wore the red & gold armor. He switched to the original grey armor in #191, and in #200 he would switch to red & silver.

It's my guess you're both right: McKenzie and Steacy had Tony drinking, and the story was run at this point because of the armour. Marvel seems to have been unwilling to let stories be untold stories.

ISSUE #24:

FRONT COVER: Weirdworld by P. Craig Russell

BACK COVER: Binary by Dave Ross

EDITORI-AL: The caricature is gone, but Secret Wars II is a big sales hit. Both of this issue’s stories sat in inventory for a while.

FIRST STORY: Weirdworld by Doug Moench and Mike Ploog. Let me say right off the bat that I do not like the fantasy genre. I’m sure this issue has not been out of the bag in 30 years, but I read it then and I’m re-reading it now. Wendy and Richard Pini’s Elfquest was big at the time, and I let these three issues of Fanfare determine whether I would like it or not (because all fantasy is exactly the same). I like both Doug Meonch and Mike Ploog, but so far the story’s not grabbing me the second time through, either. The character “Mudbutt” is drawn to look like the original concept drawings, not as the character looked in previous appearances (which, of course, made/makes no difference to me).

SECOND STORY: Binary by Chris Claremont and Dave Ross. Luckily, this story is included in Marvel Masterworks Ms. Marvel.

PORTFOLIO: No portfolio this issue per se, but Milgrom did run two unused covers (apparently solicited for this issue) as pin-ups. One is by John Buscema and Rudy Nebres, the other by Pat Broderick and Alan Weiss.
ISSUE #25:

FRONT COVER: Weirdworld by Pat Broderick

BACK COVER: Weirdworld by Pat Broderick

INSIDE BACK COVER: Captain Universe by June Brigman.

EDITORI-AL: Elves or super-heroes? Even Al Milgrom hotes the similarity of Weirdworld and Elfquest.

FIRST STORY: The second part of the Weirdworld story. Pat Broderick has replaced Mike Ploog, but it doesn’t really make any difference. Mud-butt is now drawn as in previously published stories, but it doesn’t really make any difference.

SECOND STORY: Captain Universe by Bill Mantlo and June Brigman. I normally wouldn’t have seen this since it was first published, but it was included in a “Captain Universe” tpb I bought a couple of years ago. A timid kid is granted the Uni-Power to oppose some bullies at school.

PORTFOLIO: Shang-chi, Howard the Duck, Moon Knight, Cyclops and Iron Man by Dave Sim. This is a collection of really distinctive images I had completely forgotten about because I hadn’t taken #25 out of its bag for 35 years.

No letters page, no Shooter’s page.

ISSUE #26:

FRONT COVER: Weirdwolrd by Pat Broderick

INSIDE BACK COVER: Weirdwolrd by Pat Broderick (?)

FIRST STORY: Conclusion of Weirdworld story.

BACK COVER: Captain America by Will Jungkuntz

SECOND STORY: Captain America by Will Jungkuntz

EDITORI-AL: About Will Jungkuntz, a young writer/artist who died at 30.

RESOLUTION: After three issues of Weirdworld, I resolved not to buy every issue of Fanfare, only those I liked. Next week, we’ll begin to see the fruits of that decision.

No portfolio, no letters page, no “Shooter’s Page” this issue.

ISSUE #27:

FRONT COVER: Daredevil by Tony Salmons

BACK COVER: Spider-Man by Marc Hempel

FIRST STORY: Daredevil by Bill Mantlo and Tony Salmons

SECOND STORY: Spider-Man by Marc Hempel

PORTFOLIO: Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Magik and Sunspot by Bob McLeod.

After being subjected to three issues of Weirdworld, #27 is the first issue of Fanfare I did not buy new. Although, years later, I filled most of my Fanfare holes at a quarter sale, #27 is one of two issues I still do not own. All of the information above I culled from the internet.

Salmons's figure work is a little blocky chunky for my tastes, but oh, man, do I like putting Daredevil on a cross made of traffic!

The title of the story is "Cars," but that's all I knbow about it.

Visually, the cover might be a homage to the credits of the old Dick Tracy cartoon.

Mike's Amazing World says the issue came out the same month as the last issue of the Born Again story. Dakota North, drawn by Salmons, was coming out at the time. Perhaps the Marvel Fanfare story got him the job.

"Visually, the cover might be a homage to the credits of the old Dick Tracy cartoon."

The same thought occurred to me.


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