Novel Ideas: 1978 Marvel Novel Series from Pocket Books
Saturday, November 8, 2008
During 1978/79, Marvel Comics weren't just ruling the spinner-racks, but they were doing fairly well on television, as well. The Incredible Hulk starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno was doing well, and they were trying hard to spin the really bad Spider-Man series (starring Nicholas Hammond) into a hit. There were numerous TV specials featuring Marvel characters, as well (for more info on Marvel's TV success, check out the most excellent Comics In Crisis blog--and tell 'em Ol' Groove sent ya!). With things going so well, and Marvel's having become a household name thanks to the TV shows, the powers-that-were at Marvel decided to branch out into the prose novel market. They struck a deal with Simon & Schuster, who'd already been publishing Stan Lee's Origins books (more on those next month), to publish brand new prose novels starring various Marvel super-heroes. In 1977, Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books imprint had started reprinting classic Marvel comics like the Fantastic Four, Spidey, etc., and they were proving to be successful, so things just seemed to fall into place for the novels series quite easily. 'Twas meant to be!
The first one, starring Spidey, was pretty cool. Written by Wein and Wolfman (both of whom had recently written/edited Amazing Spider-Man), the story involved Spidey having to solve mysterious crimes that eventually led to Doctor Octopus being the villainous mastermind. Can't tell you much about Stalker from the Stars. I never did get to finish reading it! I was reading it (during a break) in my Honors English class and the teacher asked if she could see it. I thought it was cool, she wanted to read it maybe. I never saw that book again! What a bummer, huh? My faves were (naturally) #10 starring the Avengers (by then-current writer David Micheline) featuring Eskimos and Kang the Conqueror, and #9 with its mix of superhero short stories featuring the Avengers (by Jim Shooter), Daredevil (by Kyle Christopher), the X-Men (by Jo Duffy), and the Hulk (by Len Wein). Cool trivia: the Avengers story, "This Evil Undying" was adapted into comicbook form and appeared in Avengers #201 (adapted by Michelinie--complete with George Perez art!) re-titled, "The Evil Reborn", while the Hulk story was an adaptation of an earlier Wein story from the Incredible Hulk #s 197-198. Oh, both the comics and the short story guest-starred the Man-Thing, though Manny didn't get any love on the cover of the paperback. Trippy, ain't it?
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