As I mentioned earlier–it’s 1966, okay? We’re less than five years into the Marvel Saga here, and already we’ve got Count Nefaria crooning “yesteryears”? (and what’s he doing on this cover anyway–auditioning for the role of “monocled carnival barker” in a Fellini film?) This may seem demented, but it’s actually par for the course in American pop culture during the period in question (I’m thinking of stuff like The Bagdads’ “Bring Back Those Doo-Wops” or The Penguins’ “Memories of El Monte”–both of which pine for the glory days of 1958, in the early sixties!) Comics editors, in the fifties, expected 100% turnovers in their readerships every 5 years, and Hollywood studios like Warner Bros. made a habit of remaking movies like Tiger Shark and The Strawberry Blonde at about the same clip–the assumption being that people would welcome these narratives like old friends. That’s just how this stuff works–Marvel was no more dependent upon popular nostalgia than their contemporaries (across the various media) were.
However, Marveldom had begun to distinguish itself by the meticulousness of its
accounting for the interest generated by its collective memory banks. And, again, this was Roy Thomas’ doing, more than anyone’s… Now, I’m aware that my investment in “dynamic stasis” makes me love the weirdness of Marvel’s “sliding time line” in a way that most of you can’t possibly condone–so I won’t ask you to join me in cheering Roy on as he crams FIVE lame-assed villains into six pages of Central Park, singing songs of themselves, to the tune of scholarly footnotes–but, come on! this pretty cool!
(Actually, for some reason, the Porcupine DIDN’T get a footnote, but he did get an appreciative welcome from Hank McCoy:
My point, with the whole dynamic stasis thing, is that what appears, on the face of it, to be a forgetting machine is actually a memory machine deluxe. Yes, it may seem like madness for a text to ask us to believe that all of the times that the FF have faced Doc Doom, or the Thing has been cured of his affliction, or Professor X has stood up and sat back down again can/must fit on a five-year chart–but the upshot of this practice is that it takes the emphasis OFF of the characters (and the canons of “realistic psychological development”) and places it squarely upon the readers, who are then given carte blanche to ponder the events of the current issue in juxtaposition with EVERYTHING that has ever happened in the unclassifiable Marvel past, rather than being forced to accept the current author’s diachronic power play–it’s historiography without history! It’s wonderful! (this, by the way, is why I HATE reboots, which are nothing but diachronic power plays–Marvel was a lot better off under the old dispensation…)
Okay–I think that’s all I have to say about these issues–although people who actually read them will note that Roy again makes much of the fact that these X-Men are completely anonymous, as far as the public is concerned, and are therefore particularly vulnerable to identity theft, supervillain style. But check back here soon, ’cause the next issue (which contains Roy’s first wonderful addition to the Marvel roster) was one of my favourites, back in the day, and I don’t expect that’ll change this time around!
Good night friends!