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Marvels Project, The #6: Review

Apr 2010
Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting

Story Name:

(No title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Marvels Project, The #6 Review by (March 24, 2011)
The scattering of Timely issues mentioned here are difficult to reconcile with each other, never mind with this issues putative date Summer 1941. This is already later than CAC#1 March 41, where CA had already partnered with Bucky, which doesn't happen until next issue. The HT#5b tidal wave was dated Fall 41. (The possible alternative source for SM's actions of SMC#1 was Spring 41.) HT leaving the police in MMC#14 December 40 wouldn't cause a problem. But Invaders and Saga have him finding the Raymonds around the time of the first HT/SM clash in MMC#8-9 June-July 40. (It is also not obvious where to place CA#423 in this scheme.) This issue is a good example of Brubaker's simplifying of Timely history while tying things together. He doesn't just ignore most of the events in Timely comics, he effectively relegates them to non-existence, like the meetings of HT and SM between #3 and now. This is an extreme end of Roy Thomas's flexible attitude I mentioned in #3. It is directly opposed to the inclusive stance taken by Marvel Mystery Handbook and the 2007 OHotMU. One effect this issue is a strangely long gap between SM's defeat by HT in #3 and his return for revenge a year later. But this is also a result of the scheme to link events spread over the 2 year plus period of the whole series. In earlier issues we have seen Ferret and Angel taking many months to investigate cases (which admittedly may just be more realistic than comics usually are).

There is another modern comic that may be relevant, but is difficult to square with this issue. Here Captain America has never met SM (and HT) before. But in CA#423 CA supposedly meets SM for the first time. There SM wants to keep shipping from the waters over Atlantis, but not because of any recent rain of destruction. But CA is already partnered with Bucky, which won't happen until next issue. CA doesn't actually appear in HT#5b. HT and SM often fought alongside or against each other, but CA was much more reclusive, as were most Timely characters. In this issue CA has his round shield and his familiar costume with the cowl tucked into the rest. In Timely issues he switched to this version without comment in CA Comics #2. Modern Marvel has it that he changed before taking on Bucky during the origin story in CAC#1. We say that the round shield is made from Wakandan vibranium, much superior to the initial triangular shield. CA#255 offered the reason for changing cowl design as that the original helmet came off too easily. Of all the cameos here only Angel and Patriot actually appeared in HT#5b, along with the original version of Ka-Zar (because SM's tsunamis were world-wide, and even hit Africa). Roy Thomas suggests in Masterworks that this mix of characters with HT and SM means that the story may originally have been written for MMC, which was home to them all.

Prof Horton's lab is deserted here, and Horton vanished. In the Timely original HT burned down his lab in Marvel Comics #1 and Horton supposedly died, but he will turn up alive in HT#8. Saga of Human Torch told us that HT very soon discovered Horton was alive, and Horton directed him to find the Raymonds. The recent Human Torch 70th Anniversary issue has Horton being HT's mentor. Horton's assistant Fred Raymond is different from his partner James Bradley in #1, though both are inventions of Roy Thomas in Invaders. HT's initial contact with the Raymonds was part of a larger story told in Invaders #22, although this and Saga both place the events much earlier than this. HT remembers him here but Invaders and Saga have Raymond leaving Horton long before Torch was born. Marvels Project doesn't make anything of the fact that Toro's mother is dying. But then Invaders and the Saga had both parents secretly dying, an irrelevance given that they are both later killed in a train crash. Fred was dying from asbestos poisoning and Nora from radiation poisoning, contracted from their individual scientific pursuits. It is never said out loud, but presumably the radiation made Toro a mutant and the asbestos made him fire-resistant. The presence of HT made him burst into flame, but not on this initial meeting where Toro is asleep in Invaders/Saga.

SM is out for revenge for 2 reasons. He is after HT because HT drove him back into the sea in #3. But in Timely comics the parting was more amicable, and SM and HT have worked together several times since. It seems to be a coincidence that SM finds HT just as the tidal wave he sent hits New York. We are on safer ground with SM wanting revenge on the human race because of destruction rained down on Atlantis. This has supposedly happened since his last appearance, and in Timely it occurs at the beginning of HT#5b when a WWII sea battle happens overhead. SM is also unhappy about a recent rebellion in Atlantis. This is not so obviously connected to an external event. There is a rebellion in Marvel Mystery Comics #24, which Marvel Mystery Handbook and the SM bibliography in All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe A-Z Update 2007 say occurs immediately after HT#5b. But it probably makes more sense to swap the 2 around, even without taking Marvels Project into consideration. There is also earlier opposition to Namor that didn't build into rebellion, which Saga of Sub-Mariner #5 added to its retelling of SM's rise to power in Atlantis from Timely's Sub-Mariner Comics #1. The reason I think Brubaker might have this in mind is that this issue of Saga included Meranno, and both versions of the story featured an earlier 'destruction from above', this time a deliberate Nazi attack. I assumed when reading this issue that Meranno told the Germans where to find and kill Atlanteans for experimental purposes in #1. But in #8 it will say that he led the Nazis in the bombing raid that has riled SM this issue. In Invaders#4/Saga#5 he is the one who told the Germans how to find and bomb Atlantis in Saga#5/SMC#1. Roy Thomas included an earlier reference to Meranno in Saga#2, giving the name to an unnamed Atlantean boy in one of Bill Everett's tales of Namor's youth in SMC#39.

The main event that this issue is built around is Sub-Mariner's attack on New York with a tidal wave. But its positioning provides continuity problems. In Timely comics the tidal wave was part of a war Sub-Mariner and many undersea races waged against the whole of the surface world in Human Torch #5b. This war and/or the tidal wave have been shown in Saga of the Human Torch #2, Marvels #1 and 2007's Order #7. The story involved Toro, and was obviously after HT#2 where Torch took the newly-orphaned boy under his wing. But the orphaning and adoption don't happen in Marvels Project until next issue. The issue number 5b arises because there is confusion over the numbering of the early Timely Human Torch issues. The first 4 issues are numbered 2-5 on the internal statement of ownership, because Human Torch continued the numbering from the single-issue Red Raven Comics. But the 5th issue is also labelled 5, and the rest follow from there. HT issues are conventionally referred to as 2,3,4,5a,5b,6.... There is an alternative scheme calling them 1,2,3,4,5,6.... because the 3rd and 5th have 3 and 5 on the cover, while the 1st, 2nd and 4th don't have any cover numbers.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Marvels Project, The #6 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue is dated Summer 1941 and will end with the 1st clash of Timely's big 3, Captain America, Human Torch and Sub-Mariner.

Namor is stalking the streets of New York in disguise, looking for revenge on the Human Torch, and on all surface dwellers. In the months since they fought Atlantis has seen internal rebellion and attack from the surface. SM's spurning of a homeless man on page 1 may be an ironic reference to when the modern Human Torch finds derelict SM in Fantastic Four #3.

Torch has stopped being a policeman since we last saw him in #3, but is accepted as a hero by the public. I can't relate the cameos of 2 Human Torch cases on page 2 to actual Timely stories. It is also difficult to say when HT stopped being a policeman. I think he was last seen in uniform Marvel Mystery Comics #14. But he often worked for the police chief afterwards.

He returns to the remains of Prof Horton's lab to try to trace his 'father' Horton. He finds a picture of Horton with assistant Fred Raymond, and tracks him down in Staten Island instead. Fred's wife Nora is sick, and their son Toro bursts into flame when Torch arrives. Even though the flames don't hurt Toro, Torch leaves.

In Germany John Steele, escapee from Nazi superhuman Project Nietzsche, has tracked Red Skull to another of the Project's labs. Skull sends Hans Bruder's assistant Eric Schmitt to a concentration camp because he is Jewish. Bruder is still trying to perfect Erskine's supersoldier serum from the incomplete formula stolen last issue. Skull brings in a renegade Atlantean Meranno, who he claims led the Germans to find Atlanteans.

Torch returns to New York and Namor attacks him. But Sub-Mariner has also caused a tidal wave to engulf the city. Angel aids the drowning populace, alongside other heroes we've come across in earlier issues (Thin Man, Electro, Hurricane, Fiery Mask and Mr E) and some we haven't (Phantom Reporter and Patriot). Namor defeats Torch, but Captain America arrives and knocks him out with his round shield.

Phantom Reporter was another 1-shot character (Daring Mystery Comics #3), who was resurrected in The Twelve limited series. But he has also been given an origin in Daring Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary.

Patriot on the other hand was one of the longest-running of Timely's heroes, mainly in MMC. He has also been retroactively made 1 of the heroes who replaced CA after his 'death' in 1945, as recently described in detail in the CA: Patriot limited series. Adding the relevant Captain America Comics stories to Patriot's own adventures may make him challenge Angel for the number 4 spot in the Timely pantheon (after CA, HT and SM).

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


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Human Torch
Human Torch

(Jim Hammond)

Red Skull
Red Skull

(Johann Shmidt)

(Thomas Raymond)

Plus: Angel (Tom Halloway), John Steele, Nazis, Patriot (Jeff Mace), Thin Man, U-Man.

> Marvels Project, The: Book info and issue index

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