Wednesday, August 24, 2005
1963 BOOK ONE: MYSTERY INCORPORATED Image Comics, 1993
1963 was a fabulous retro-comic mini-series that aped the style and hype of Marvel Comics’ halcyon days. Each issue of 1963 was a different comic that recreates the experience of reading a new Silver Age Marvel comic. The 1963 books were not parodies of titles like Fantastic Four and Strange Tales, they were loving satires of those books, delivered with just the tiniest smirk. They were completely “in character” books, full of phony ads and letter columns and gratuitous alliterations.
This first issue of 1963 is Mystery, Incorporated – The World’s Most Exciting Comic Book! Written by Alan Moore and illustrated with charmingly dated art by Rick Veitch and Dave Gibbons, Mystery, Incorporated works both as a clever riff on the early Fantastic Four comics and as a solid comic book on its own. I would have loved this book as a kid; it’s no more goofy than the FF, and it’s got this Planet guy who just rules.
Mystery, Inc are Crystal Man, a shapeshifting crystalline genius; Neon Queen, who can transform into fluorescent gas; Kid Dynamo, an electrical Human Torch; and Planet, a super-strong brawler with a green planet for a head. That’s right – dude’s got a planet face! They operate out of Mystery Mile, a mile-long underground fortress packed with strange science and weird inventions. It’s neat.
The 1963 series also included faux-retro “titles” such as The Fury, Tales of The Uncanny, The Retro Syndicate, Tales from The Beyond, and my favorite – Horus, Lord of Light. They were all brilliant, and sort of tied together.
My favorite part of this comic is the great full-page “Shamed By You English?” ad on the back cover. This is a brilliant take on an old ad that ran in Marvel comics back in the day that offered a correspondence course for people who were, well, shamed by their English.
Here’s the real ad and the 1963 fake ad. Click on the image to make it bigger.
I don’t know if that’s legible or not, but the contemporary “ad” has text that is all spelled correctly, but grammatically mangled beyond repair. It’s like reading something Yoda wrote:
“Gain you to speak the ability and write college like a graduate in your own home, right each day for 15 minutes only.”
“I can you too help, give will you 15 day minutes, to the Linguage Institute Method. To my answers the questions following explain why need you a good English command and easily how you can something do about ahead getting.”
That shit cracks me up EVERY TIME.