Remember back in the good old days when comic books were fun to read? Before the never-ending cascade of deaths that are meaningless and temporary, multiple characters with the same name and pretty much the same abilities, and incessant earthshattering mega-events that bring together entire universes of superheroes just so we can see how much they hate each other?
For several years before the debut of the contemporary Marvel Universe, the House of Ideas published a lot of westerns, romance comics, teen humor, war titles – and some major tonnage of monster comics. I was probably in their prime target audience at the time, having just turned 11 when Fantastic Four #1 came out. That’s the first Fantastic Four #1. But for me, there was only one problem.
I never bought those monster titles. They just didn’t appeal to me. They looked kinda dumb.
Then Fantastic Four #1 came out, followed by Fantastic Four #2 and then the creation of the Marvel Universe as we know it today… more-or-less. And then Marvel decided to jump on the oversized annuals bandwagon, a cart already crowded by DC, Archie, Harvey and Dennis The Menace. They released their first two in the summer of 1962 – Millie The Model and Strange Tales. I was so surprised I immediately bought the latter and actually considered buying the former.
I bought it at Chicago’s Washington Avenue subway kiosk as I was about to climb down the stairs to go home. Yes, my mother let me go downtown alone: it was 1962 and we were a lot less paranoid back then. Anyway, I started with page one and got through all 76 pages before I hit Albany Park. And I had a blast.
Since then, Marvel has incorporated some of these monsters into their continuity, most famously Fin Fang Foom (my favorite, whether he’s wearing pants or not) and Groot. Editor/head writer Stan Lee later recycled some of the names for use as heroes and villains: The Hulk, Thorr, Magneto, Elektro, The Thing, Cyclops. Perhaps the spelling of the monster Thorr explains why the superhero Thor’s name was misspelled on the last panel of his debut story.
The Creature from Krogarr (the orange guy on the left) was recycled in a brief monster team-up in The Incredible Hulk. I guess he might have received greater exposure, had his name not been almost exactly the same as the mammoth supermarket chain.
So Marvel is doing a big ol’ event in January called Monsters Unleashed, recycling another Marvel name. As Captain Renault said with great insincerity, “I’m shocked.” But leading their effort is an oversized omnibus called “Monsters Vol. 1: The Marvel Monsterbus by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Jack Kirby.” It reprints Groot, Fin Fang Foom, Thorr the Unbelievable, the alien Hulk, the eight-foot-tall Magneto, and others. 872 pages in total. I don’t think I could carry that on the “L”, let alone finish it. The Marvel Monsterbus retails for a hundred bucks, or roughly the cost of a variant cover.
But I do not believe Krogarr is in the Monsterbus. At least, not volume one.
And I’ll bet volume two has a whole lotta Steve Ditko.
Blame my friend Hurricane Heeran for this one. I do.
He wanted me to write about the legal aspects of Models, Inc. # 2. I told him that I hadn’t read the comic, as the series didn’t sound the least bit interesting to me. Here’s how Marvel Comics described Models, Inc. “Fashion Week is always a hectic time for models, and this year is no exception. Between escaped wolves, robbery attempts, and overly friendly police officers, Mary Jane Watson, Patsy Walker, Jill Jerold, Chili Storm, and Millicent (Millie the Model) Collins are testing the limits of their endurance. But when a brilliant young set designer [Todd Speers] is found murdered with three bullet holes in his back, and Millie proves to be the prime suspect, the models are forced to play detective in order to save one of their own.” Here’s how I described it: “It doesn’t sound the least bit interesting to me.”
But Hurricane was persistent and had a little spare cash to blow. So he blew that cash by buying a copy of Models, Inc. # 2 and sending it to me, so that I could write a column about it. Which puts that whole “my friend” thing into serious question.
The problems Hurricane had with the comic that he wanted me to explore started after Millie the Model made bail. As she was leaving jail, Captain North Norrell, the investigating officer in the Todd Speers murder case asks Millie to stick around, while he talks to the press. She and her lawyer agree.
Is there anything wrong with this? Of course.
Oh, it’s not wrong from a legal standpoint. But no lawyer worth his salt, or even his caraway, would permit his client to participate in such a staged police force publicity stunt just in case the police wanted to do something like, oh I don’t know, accuse his client of committing another murder while on camera. Lawyers tend to care a way lot when bad things like this happen. Especially when they’re bad things the lawyers could have prevented but didn’t.
Did I happen to mention that Captain Norrell uses this staged publicity stunt to accuse Millie of murdering philanthropist Devin Perlman while on camera? Did I really have to?
Actually, there are problems with what Captain Norrell did from a legal standpoint. The only connection between the two murders is that the same gun was used. The gun was Perlman’s, which was taken during a robbery of his home in which he was killed. It was then used to kill Speers and was – in classic Perry Mason cliché – found in Millie’s hand while she was standing over Speers’ body.
Other than the fact that the same gun was used in both crimes, there was no connection between the murders of Perlman and Speers. So by publicly accusing Millie of Perlman’s murder and connecting it up to Speer’s murder, Captain Norrell has significantly hurt the state’s chances of getting a fair and impartial jury to try Millie. Prosecutors don’t like grandstanding policemen, who go public and jeopardize their cases. Especially prosecutors in fiction stories. Prosecutors in fiction stories are always running for governor so want to do the “going public” themselves.
Prosecutors also don’t like it when police captains take the main suspect aside for a private conversation and ask a defendant who already has hired an attorney – “lawyered up” as NYPD Blue used to call it – to confess so things will go easier on them but do so without the defendant’s lawyer being present. See, if the defendant does happen to confess, the whole confession might be thrown out of court, because the police captain spoke to the “lawyered up” defendant without the attorney being present; a strict no-no. Annoying how those pesky little constitutional rights keep getting in the way of shoddy police work, isn’t it?
Do I have to mention that Norrell took Millie aside without her lawyer to try to get her to confess, too?
Hurricane was also bothered by the fact that Captain Norrell was able to acquire a search warrant to search the townhouse of well-known multi-millionaire Kyle Richmond, because Millie was staying there. I don’t have a problem with that, per se. Cops can, and do, routinely obtain search warrants for the places where murder suspects were staying to look for evidence.
I do have a problem with Captain Norrell’s publicly admitting that the search was basically a “fishing expedition” to see what evidence they might find, “because that’s a good way to catch fish.” Judges issue search warrants when the police can convince them that they have probable cause to believe that evidence of the crime will be found in the place they want to search. They don’t like to issue search warrants when all the cops can do is say, we want to poke around in a fishing expedition and see what we might turn up because that’s a good way to catch fish.
Search warrants issued for those reasons have been known to be held invalid. Even by the Rehnquist Court.
And judges especially don’t like to issue search warrants when all the cops can do is say, we want to poke around in a fishing expedition and see what we might turn up and the search is for the town house of a prominent multi-millionaire, who could help finance the campaign of the person who’s running against said judge come re-election time.
Now my personal favorite scene in the book was when Johnny (The Human Torch) Storm and two of Millie’s model friends break into Todd Speers’ apartment and search it for evidence. The apartment is a sealed crime scene and they steal evidence that they found hidden in the apartment, so what they’re doing is all sorts of illegal in all sorts of ways. Before they committed this highly illegal act, Johnny Storm and the two models told Millie they were going to do it, but also told Millie she couldn’t come along, because, “if she was found here breaking into the sealed apartment of the man she’s accused of murdering, it would look… bad.”
Riiiiight, cause it looks soooo much better when her friends do it for her.
Well, that’s all I’ve got to say about Models, Inc. # 2 except this: I have to issue a
because I’m about to reveal how Models, Inc. # 2 ends.
With the words “…To be continued!”
Hey, this was the second issue of a four-issue mini-series, how else was it going to end?
Author’s Note: This is another column I wrote for Comics Buyers’ Guide which was never published before the publication ceased operations.