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 could 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 one.

COVER: Spider-Man, angel and Sauron by Michael Golden. I don’t know if this was my 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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Is there any explanation of why the instalments weren't published?

“Holy cow! I'm going through my boxes of comics getting ready for a small toy show this Sunday, and I actually have a copy of this comic. What a coincidence!”

You don’t have the one with my letter in it? Too bad… that’s sure to be worth a couple of extra bucks. :)

“Is there any explanation of why the instalments weren't published?”

Unfortunately, no. If anyone finds out I would love to know. The villain (see below) originally appeared in Daredevil #92-93. I imagine the reason it was used at this time is that Frank Miller’s then-recent redesign of the Widow’s costume rendered the story soon-to-be obsolete.

ISSUE #13:

FRONT COVER: Snap Dragon by Arthur Adams. This is the first published work by the soon-to-be fan-favorite artist I remember seeing. What makes it memorable is the letter which will appear in a future installment of “Marvel FanFlair.”

BACK COVER: Warriors three by Charles Vess.

FIRST STORY: The conclusion to the Black Widow story. The villain is revealed to be Damon Dran, from the Daredevil/Black Widow days, which gives you an idea of how long this story has been sitting in inventory. This story could conceivably have taken place between #161 and #188 of Frank Miller’s run, but I suspect it was quite a while before that.

MARVEL FANFLAIR: A fan points out that the Widow’s stats in issue #10 say eyes: green; height: 5’ 9” but the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe says eyes: blue and height: 5’ 7” and wants a No-Prize. Another letter-writer says, “Outrageous! $1.50 plus five pages of pin-ups. DISGUSTING!” while a third writes, “MORE PORTFOLIOS! (please?)” I’d like to welcome the guy who complained about the price to 2019.

SECOND STORY: “Tales of Asgard” by Alan Zelenetz and Charles Vess. Bragi, the God of Poetry, has gone missing, and the Warriors Three need to find him before the festival. Marvel has tried to resurrect Lee and Kirby’s old “Tales of Asgard” series from time to time, mostly unsuccessfully. This is one of the few times it works. All of Zelenetz and Vess’s tales have been collected in a “Marvel Premiere Edition” hardcover.

SHOOTER’S PAGE: 11 guys from Marvel went to the Bath Beach Body Building gym in Brooklyn. One of the guys was boxing aficionado Ron Wilson, whose Super Boxers graphic novel (script by John Byrne, inks by Armando Gil) was due to be released soon. Initially, I bought all of Marvel “graphic novel” series. Later, I got rid of all the non-super-hero ones, including Super-Boxers. Later still, I came to regret some of those cullings. When Image Comics started up and folks such as Todd McFarlane and Erik Larson (I forget which one it was) started talking about “holding back,” it put me in mind of Ron Wilson’s Super Boxers. There’s no way Wilson was “holding back” by any stretch of the imagination. It is the best work of his career. Luckily, I was able to pick up a replacement copy for a buck a couple of years ago.

The net tells me the Black Widow serial was intended for Marvel Premiere.(1) From #26, when it became a try-out/spotlight title, Marvel Premiere mostly ran one- or two-issue try-outs and sometimes three-issue ones. After the first couple of try-outs it went bimonthly, so a three-issue try-out was half-a-year, and a four-issue run would've taken eight months. Perhaps - this is just my speculation - they were thinking of taking Marvel Premiere monthly or switching to longer try-outs, and when whichever didn't happen the Black Widow's try-out didn't either.

(1) Wikipedia's Marvel Fanfare page footnotes the information to Back Issue.

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