Wednesday, April 3, 2019

These Boots Were Made For Clodhopperin'

Four years ago, the PPC dared to tell you that we'd wrapped up our look at Assistant Editors' Month--that under-the-radar event where Marvel's staff of editors, who had flown en masse to attend the 1984 San Diego Comic Con, ceded responsibility for January's issues and stories to their subordinates in the editorial ranks of the company. That month, many of Marvel's covers carried an imposing stamp which warned that we might see a few of those editors peeking out from behind the curtain and playing a little mischief with our reading experience while the cat was away:

But some of these stories still turn up on our radar from time to time, and, like Marvel's dreaded inventory shelf, no story goes to waste here.* Though from his expression, the Thing might wish otherwise!

*Well, some do; that is, there are some stories which even the PPC is hesitant to touch with a ten-foot pole.

As with a few other stories which carried the AEM stamp, this one by John Byrne and Ron Wilson begins rather normally, as we find Ben Grimm visiting his girlfriend, sculptress Alicia Masters, in the hospital where she recovers from sustaining injuries at the hands of Annihilus. What isn't normal behavior for Ben is that he has begun thinking about his own mortality--and that, given his choice of vocation, the odds are in favor of meeting his death in some battle before he's ready to choose to retire and start a new life with Alicia. It's a strange perspective for Byrne to have him dwell on, particularly in light of the fact that Ben only has to look to his partner and best friend, Reed Richards, to see that his current occupation and his wish to be with Alicia need not be mutually exclusive.

Regardless, his thoughts on the matter are heavy on his mind once he leaves and, shortly afterward, decides to intervene in a bank holdup--where he finds a foe unlike any other he's dealt with, and more of a threat than he bargained for.

The style of fighting of this "Goody Two-Shoes" is of course similar to the Inhuman, Gorgon, whose power lies in his thundering "feet"--but the comparison abruptly stops there, considering that Goody is more of a Swedish, sadistic take on the "Big Boy" restaurant franchise mascot.

Since the police could have likely dealt with Goody using small-arms fire or even simple tear gas, Byrne was two steps ahead of that assumption and arranged for the Thing to be on the scene before the police even knew who or what they were dealing with; ergo, Ben takes it from here, and the police are conveniently out of the picture for the duration of this battle. And what a fight it's shaping up to be, given that Goody is turning out to be a bruiser who likes (a) money and (b) using those boots of his to cause brutal injury to others.

With his talk of "taking over the town," Goody is apparently looking to make a name for himself in the big city--and with his escape, he heads for the city's second-highest and arguably most famous landmark in order to proclaim his arrival. Scaling the Empire State Building to its pinnacle, he'll have his work cut out for him in that regard; at street level, he'll seem like a dot to anyone happening to glance in that direction, nor will his words be audible. On the other hand, bringing down the Thing from such a height is bound to generate word of mouth, especially if his battered foe dies in the process.

Then again, considering that all of this is taking place during Assistant Editors' Month, perhaps we're taking this fight way too seriously. Though try telling the Thing that.

Crawling out of yet another pit his foe had buried him in, the Thing staggers forward to renew this battle, though visibly unsteady on his feet. Despite losing the initiative, it's a vulnerability that Goody is ready to take advantage of--but in so doing, his "atomic boots" connect one time too many, and the Thing takes... no, yanks the gloves off.

But in bellowing his victory lap, we witness a side to Ben Grimm that we don't normally see--and we're not the only ones!

Ben's flight takes him to 387 Park Avenue South, where certain personnel at Marvel Comics have no clue that a disgruntled licensor is about to take issue with them on the delicate subject of defamation--to say nothing of accuracy.

Fortunately for Mr. Byrne, Assistant Editor Ann Nocenti and Mr. Wilson are present to run interference for him and explain the situation to Ben in regard to the realities of comic book publishing. And Ben might well have let it go at that--were it not for a slip of the tongue that would have been better kept to oneself.

Best to continue on, Mr. Stern.  Nothing you'd want to see here.

The Marvel offices while at 387 Park Avenue South.
(circa Sept. 1982 - Aug. 2001)

1 comment:

Tiboldt said...

Dang, I got all excited for a moment there. From the footwear-related powers I thought, "is this the return of Thunderboot and the Triumvirate of Terror."