By Jim Beard
The halcyon year of 1939 brought with it the legendary MARVEL COMICS #1, which quickly underwent a name change to MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS with its second issue and went on to an incredible 10-year run. Marvel celebrates those incredible days of yore this May 20 with the MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL.
Longtime writer Tom DeFalco describes the all-new story that headlines the SPECIAL, one that brings together a select pairing of some of Marvel's most fascinating do-gooders:
"Thanks to his friendship with policewoman Betty Dean, the Sub-Mariner learns that the Nazis have kidnapped a famous scientist and are attempting to develop a new super weapon. The investigation takes a wicked turn when his old enemy—the Human Torch— is also abducted."
MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS holds a noteworthy honor in Marvel history as the series that first allowed two of the company's characters to meet in the same story, namely the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch. Its only fitting that DeFalco, once both a writer and an editor for the classic MARVEL TEAM-UP, would pen a brand-new adventure shared between the two set during those worn-torn years.
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"MARVEL MYSTERY introduced some pretty major characters to the comic book industry and a lot of minor ones as well," notes the writer. "I did my best to recreate the feel of an old issue and celebrate the diversity of its some of its earliest features. I also tried to structure the story like an actual issue of MARVEL MYSTERY, giving each hero a starring chapter."
Both Namor and the Torch debuted in 1939's MARVEL COMICS #1, as well as the two-fisted crimefighter known as the Angel. The war-era, flightless Angel also appears in DeFalco's new story in the SPECIAL, aiding and abetting his compatriots in stopping the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.
If a teaming of three such stalwart heroes doesn't please Marvel aficionados, the MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL offers up yet another mystery man to join in the fun: the Ferret. Never heard of him? DeFalco hopes to correct that little problem.
"I first discovered the Ferret while paging through my copies of MARVEL MASTERWORKS: GOLDEN AGE MARVEL COMICS #1 and #2," he explains. "The Ferret appeared in a regular feature in the first eight issues of MARVEL MYSTERY. He was a famous mystery author and also a private detective who starred in his own series of stories. Writers just can't help but be fascinated by heroes who are also writers."
A titanic team-up also exists on the opposite side of the one-shot's pages, in the form of DeFalco and artist Chris Burnham. Burnham impressed the writer by bringing "some great
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artwork to the table" to illustrate the all-new tale.
"He really captured the flavor of some of those old characters and I loved working with him," says DeFalco.
The MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL features a fully-painted cover by fan-favorite Paolo Rivera, who emulates the work of legendary comic artist Alex Schomburg with his fiery portrait of the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch.
Join in the Golden Age intrigue with MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL, on sale May 20. And check out the series' original Golden Age run on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited!
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