Friday, August 12, 2005

MARVEL PREMIERE featuring 3-D MAN #36 Marvel Comics, 1977



At what point in time, ever, has 3-D Man been cool? Has there ever been an appearance of the character in print that just made people say, "Damn -- 3-D Man! I get it now!" Has there ever been a definitive 3-D Man appearance? A 3-D Man: Year One?

If there is a definitive appearance, a high-water mark for 3-D Man, perhaps it is Marvel Premiere #36, by Roy Thomas, penciller Jim craig, and inker Dave Hunt. This issue is the second of a three-part series introducing 3-D Man, a retro character that fought crime and aliens in the Fabulous Fifties. He seems like on of those corny old superheroes that were created in the 1950s, but in reality he's one of those corny old superheroes that were created in the 1970s. Roy Thomas always had an urge to inflict his pulp nostalgia on the youth of America, and 3-D Man is a classic example. I'm not sure if the youth of America in the summer of '77 were really yearning for an old-fashioned (aka ridiculous) hero who fights crime in an era before they were born. I know I wasn't.

What were 3-D Man's powers? Did he have the uncanny ability to appear three-dimensional??? Wait - never mind, everyone has that power. Actually 3-D Man was three times as strong and fast as a top athlete, allowing him to perform incredible feats, like shooting a stream of urine fifty meters. Well, they never actually show him pissing fifty meters, but I'll bet he could.

3-D Man also had a snappy red and green "3-D" outfit that was sort of a color version of Frank Gorshin's outfit in the classic Star Trek episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield." He also wears 3-D glasses, appropriately. Due to his strange dimensional powers or a printing error, the color yellow often crept into 3-D Man's red and green outfit, as seen in this panel below:



"Come on Scrapper! Take him from behind!"

"That's my specialty, boss-man!"

In this issue we get a recap of 3-D Man's literally unbelievable origin. Test pilot Chuck Chandler gets kidnapped by the shapeshifting alien Skrull while flying an experimental rocket. He escapes, but gets hit with strange radiation and crashes the rocket in the Mojave Desert, conveniently close to his nerdy brother Hal Chandler. Most radiation gives you terrible sickness, but this particular type of radiation traps Chuck in Hal's glasses. In times of great need, Hal can summon forth his brother 3-D Man - from his glasses.

Okay, that is just fucking stupid.

In addition to the fascinating origin story, this issue's plot focuses on 50's rock star Vince Rivers, who is actually a shapeshifting Skrull alien who plans on using his music to make people riot and tear shit up, sort of like Limp Bizkit at Woodstock II.

Here's a panel that introduces readers to Vince Rivers and Hal Chandler's reactionary father, who apparently has a poor grasp of metaphor:



Hal thinks there's something awry with Vince Rivers, and it's not the "rocket in his pocket," so he decides to check out the show. Here's a backstage exchange loaded with vernacular dialogue between Vince Rivers and his promoter, the disc jockey Doc Rock. A cop interjects, asking Vince to "hold down the swivel hips."



Vince rocks the house and swivels his hips and the kids go WILD! They start rioting and trashing the place and using coarse language. 3-D Man intervenes, smashing Vince's alien amplifier, the source of his riot-inducing powers, and saving the day. He will then go on to become a comic legend universally beloved by fans.



There you have it. 3-D Man. If it had actually been created in 1958, it would get a pass from me and I'd find the character charming and quaint. But since he actually was created in 1977, he's just stupid. I know, my bias is not really logical or fair, but I am Dave, I embrace the contradictions within me.

What can I say? I'm an ass.

31 comments:

Winterteeth said...

I can summon my second cousin from a magical humidor in times of crisis. He wears a brown suit he got from Sears last August and calls himself "The Tobacconeer." He has never, to this date, actually been of help to me in a time of crisis. So, Hal Chandler, I feel your pain.

Anonymous said...

Kurt Busiek loved 3-D Man so much, he turned him black, called him Triathalon, and put him in the Avengers! Now THAT'S genius!

running42k said...

Was 3-D Man's sidekick 2-D boy?

Johnny B said...

God, what an awful three-issue series this was. Thomas kept hitting us over the head with 50's pop culture references in the text, so no one would notice that the artist couldn't draw anything, let alone 50s fashion, for shit. It was like reading Stephen King on amphetimines.

I suppose the 3-D Man's finest hour was his appearance in that colossal endurance test Avengers Forever- at least he got to be drawn by Carlos Pacheco...

David Campbell said...

And didn't Frank Quitely do the cover for the 3-D Man issue of Avengers Forever? That might be the character's high point right there.

Glen Davis said...

3D Man was Thomas' "homage" to the Simon and Kirby character Captain 3D. Bill Black, the owner of AC comics has at least two clones of this same character.

Vince Rivers wasn't a Skrull it was his manager. Richard Nixon, now he was a Skrull.

Garrie Burr said...

There were also bits of Wonder Man (the Danny Kaye movie) and Captain Triumph there.

Me, I loved the hokey mess -- most likely because of the Skrulls. And then wasn't there a sequel to the series in the What If? issue with Thomas' 50s Avengers?

Jim Craig the artist was a mystery -- he evidently had some supporters at Marvel, but whatever they saw in him never seemed to come across in the work.

David Campbell said...

"Vince Rivers wasn't a Skrull it was his manager."

Ouch, Glen is right! You'd think I'd actually read the comics that I mock, but no. Thanks Glen!

Konstantinos Stamoulis said...

And didn't Frank Quitely do the cover for the 3-D Man issue of Avengers Forever?

Can you be more specific as to to the issue's title and number?

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SW said...

"The Tobacconeer"

winterteeth, that was freakin' hysterical. Props to you!

I have a soft spot for a lot of these types of characters. Sure, they're crappy third-stringers. Sure, they've got crappy powers. Sure, the character was only created because somebody probably lost a bet and got stuck writing the "1st Senses-Shattering issue".

But without a crappy third-stringer like Animal Man, would anyone have cared about Grant Morrison? And maybe Roy didn't have the goods to bring 3-D Man home, but in the hands of a capable writer, who knows what adventures could be had in the third dimension...?

Sorry. I tried to type that with a straight face. Really I did.

Mama always said "one man's crappy creation is some British writer's ground-breaking revamp"

Kevin Church said...

3-D Man also had a snappy red and green "3-D" outfit that was sort of a color version of Frank Gorshin's outfit in the classic Star Trek episode "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield."

This right here is why I love you so very fucking much, Campbell.

However, let's go over your Woodstock History:

In addition to the fascinating origin story, this issue's plot focuses on 50's rock star Vince Rivers, who is actually a shapeshifting Skrull alien who plans on using his music to make people riot and tear shit up, sort of like Limp Bizkit at Woodstock II.

The loudest act at Woodstock' 94 (aka Part Deux) was most likely Nine Inch Nails, who had all the goth kids' knickers in a twist*. Limp Bizkit played the even-more-inferior Woodstock 2000: OH MY GOD MY FUCKING EARS WHEN ARE THEY GOING TO SHUT THE FUCK UP ALREADY.

And the spammers that have shown up in Blogger comments can eat a sack of fetid Skrull Fecal Materials any day now.

*Disclaimer: I really quite like the first two NIN records still.

Jay Nickola said...

Just had this brilliant idea: 3D Man meets . . . BICLOPS! Sixteen pages of thrilling eyeglasses-based superhero action!

Winterteeth said...

Does anyone remember those 3-D G.I. Joe comics from the 90s? Man, those were pretty damn fun...

Marvel should have made these comics 3-D, just to make the gimmick more fun. You can actually see the suck coming at you! At least one sense will be shattered!*

*Probably smell.

Scipio said...

Forget the 3D Man!

Now I'm itching to read the Midadventures of Scrapper!

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Mark Hale said...

Looks like 3-D Man is trying to show us the rocket in his pocket in that last image.

Dan Coyle said...

You know, I used to think this was some sort of satire on Thomas' part, but no, I think he meant us to take it seriously.

Bill Mantlo did an issue of Incredible Hulk during his run where Hal admitted to his wife that yes, Chuck's been in his glasses for thirty years and she says, "Oh Hal-- I loved you both and now I have you both! The best of both possible worlds!"

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Kevin Church said...

Bill Mantlo did an issue of Incredible Hulk during his run where Hal admitted to his wife that yes, Chuck's been in his glasses for thirty years and she says, "Oh Hal-- I loved you both and now I have you both! The best of both possible worlds!"

Hey, I have a great COCKPUNCHING DAN COYLE FOR MAKING ME IMAGINE A THREEWAY WITH THE 3D MAN, HIS BROTHER, AND HIS SISTER-IN-LAW BLOG! Come check it out!

Cove West said...

Okay, I have to read a Tobacconeer comic RIGHT NOW!! That's the coolest funny shit I've seen in weeks, winterteeth.

3-D Man is totally a DC character. He'd fit right in with the Rainbow Raiders and Crazy Quilts. He could be a guest-star in PLASTIC MAN. Roy Thomas just put him in the wrong universe.

Konstantinos Stamoulis said...

And didn't Frank Quitely do the cover for the 3-D Man issue of Avengers Forever?

Can you be more specific as to to the issue's title and number?




Now... it wasn't Avengers Forever # 4 (of 12), was it ?


Thanks, guys

Mark Hale said...

I'd swear on a stack of Marvel Two-In-One that Pacheco drew all the covers to Avengers Forever.

David Campbell said...

I shall post the cover of Avengers Forever #4 for all to see - it's about as cool as 3-D Man ever got...

kelvingreen said...

No, there were numerous altenrate covers for Avengers Forever, aprticularly at the beginning.

The 3-D Man's plot got wrapped up in Busiek's Avengers. It turned out that the creepy Triune Understanding put 3-D Man inside Triathlon or something, which gave him his powers. Eventually Triathlon and the 3-D Man sort of shared a body and took over an evil space pyramid left over from an Uncanny X-Men Ditko memorial story in order to fight Kang. Or something.

My favourite 3-D Man moment is in Avengers Forever when he says something like "Unlike a popular hero of comics and TV, I get my powers by putting my glasses ON!" That's fried comics gold, right there.

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