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Marvels Project, The #3: Review

Dec 2009
Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting

Story Name:

(No title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Marvels Project, The #3 Review by (March 17, 2011)
There is a long history of debate as to what Timely stuff should be considered 'real' in modern Marvel. Roy Thomas's initial stance in Invaders #32 was that only things that are mentioned in modern Marvel comics are guaranteed to have happened. Also that Timely comics were actually comics in the Marvel universe, and what appeared in them was heavily embellished. In Invaders #36 he stuck by the 2nd statement, but modified the 1st one to say that the underlying core of most Timely comics might be true, except where it conflicted with modern Marvel. Over the years many of the Timely heroes have been brought into modern continuity. It has been said that the only Timely character completely banned was the old version of Ka-Zar. But even he has now had an entry in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, and the Marvel Mystery Handbook of early Timely characters. Also the bibliographies of SM and Captain America in the 2007 Updates of OHotMU list all their 1940's appearances as real, and SM's entry in MMH mentions most of them. However some modern Marvel comics have actively denied the existence of many of the adventures in Timely comics. The current series seems schizophrenic in this regard. While resurrecting yet more obscure Timely heroes, it claims that the SM stories before his fight with HT didn't happen. We will see later that this approach gets even more extreme. **** The only actual Timely issue that features here is MMC#8 whose June 1940 cover date fits with this issue's Summer 1940. Similarly Ferret's appearance could be within his run MMC#4-9 Feb-Jul40. The only clash is that Electro's first appearance was in MMC#4 Feb40. This is made even more awkward if we use OHotMU's 3-months-earlier dating scheme that I mentioned in last issue's comments.

In this issue Torch and Namor meet the first time Sub-Mariner ventures ashore. But in Timely's Marvel Mystery Comics (and in Marvel's Saga of the Sub-Mariner limited series) Subby had been to New York earlier. In Marvel Comics #1 and MMC#2-3 he had gone on a rampage until policewoman Betty Dean persuaded him to stop. He was back in MMC#5-6 and was put on trial for his previous invasion. MMC#7-10 then involved a second rampage, because we tried to execute him, which included the Torch/Namor battle described here. There are significant differences in the accounts. In the Timely version HT is told by the police to tackle SM. His defeat of SM is only the first round (not on Coney Island). SM comes back and eventually imprisons HT in a glass tube. The fight only ends when Betty Dean persuades them to stop, and SM returns to Atlantis. SM's reason for attacking New York in the original version was just retaliation for the unwitting destruction of the Atlantean's original Antarctic city. But this happened when Namor was born. Marvels Project #1 invented the Nazi harvesting of Atlantean bodies as a reason why SM should take action *now*. This issue also gives the impression that the destruction of Atlantis has only just happened, off-panel between issues #1 and #3.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Marvels Project, The #3 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The first 2 issues were built around the Human Torch in late 1939 and early 1940. Now it's Summer 1940, and this issue brings Namor the Sub-Mariner fully into the picture. But as usual it packs more stuff around him.

In New York Miss Portnoy contacts P.I. the Ferret (Leslie Lenrow) and his pet ferret Nosie (spelt Nosey in the original), who appeared in Marvel Mystery Comics #4-9. He has since cropped up in the MMC 70th Anniversary issue. Miss Portnoy has a complaint about her missing mother who cleaned apartments. She was murdered last issue by one of her employers Prof Hamilton, secretly Nazi spy Major Kerfoot. Hamilton is now recruited by the US army to work on the super-soldier project.

In England Lt Sawyer taps Nick Fury (and Red Hargrove off-panel) for another mission with the Sky Devils. After they extracted the defecting Abraham Erskine last issue, the Germans moved Project Nietzsche, the Nazi superhuman initiative, from Frankfurt to other sites. Sawyer, who is working for the top levels of the US government, wants Fury, Hargrove and the Sky Devils to go after these laboratories.

Back in New York Angel is scouring the docks seeking Phantom Bullet's killer. The docks where Allan Lewis worked and died last issue as hero and reporter. At Josie's Bar he learns that Bullet was investigating the smuggling in of guns and people. This bar could be the one that featured regularly in Daredevil. But they are obviously run by different Josies.

Torch is now living as policeman Jim Hammond. His police badge number 616 may be a nod to Earth-616, the main Marvel-Earth among a sea of alternates. (Presumably it's not a reference to the real Number of the Beast.) In Timely comics the Hammond alias was adopted in MMC#4 when Dr Manyac's Green Flame gang were making people suspicious of flaming beings like the Torch. This was at the suggestion of his undercover cop pal Johnson, who also helped him join the police in MMC#7 and last issue. Torch's police captain learned who his new rookie was in the same issue of MMC, but here Torch's identity is still secret.

Torch's Sgt complains that he's too hard-working, and tells him to take a day off. So he heads for Coney Island where he runs into Sub-Mariner. Namor is angry about the Nazis killing Atlanteans in #1, as test subjects for Project Nietzsche, and about the destruction rained down on his city. He has come to New York for revenge on surface dwellers. He and the Torch clash amidst the funfair rides, until Torch drives him back into the sea.

The US government can't figure out who Sub-Mariner is working for. Meanwhile they are funding Prof Zogolowski's (originally called Prof Philo Zog) plans for a remote-controlled robot named Electro. This is part of the overall plan that saw them supporting Prof Horton's android (Human Torch) in #1, and bringing Prof Erskine to work on the super-soldier project that will result in Captain America. In MMC#4-19 Zog employed a cadre of agents to sniff out trouble, and then sent Electro to sort things out. Both have since cropped up in the MMC 70th Anniversary issue. Electro was brought into the present in the Twelve limited series.

Planes presumably piloted by the Sky Devils bomb Project Nietzsche's original Frankfurt lab. Hans Bruder is forced to flee leaving his work behind. The bombing shatters a containment tube releasing object of Bruder's work, John Steele the super-strong WWI GI he was examining in stasis last issue. Despite what this issue says about Project Nietzsche being scattered, Steele and Bruder obviously weren't moved, because they are still in Frankfurt. This issue says Erskine has helped locate the sites Project Nietzsche will have been moved to, but we only see the original Frankfurt lab being bombed by the Sky Devils. Despite Sawyer's orders this issue, I don't see any involvement by Fury and Hargrove in this. And when they invade France alongside the Sky Devils in the next 2 issues, they don't seem to be looking for Project Nietzsche.

Steve Epting
Steve Epting
Dave Stewart
Steve McNiven (Cover Penciler)
Steve McNiven (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Matt Murdock)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)

Plus: Angel (Tom Halloway), Atlanteans, John Steele, Nazis.

> Marvels Project, The: Book info and issue index

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