What The–?! #5

61orysblvtl._sx326_bo1204203200_There was a time in the early 1990s when I read Mad and Cracked like crazy every summer. That’s a really specific time to read those two magazines, but those were my version of Rob Kelly’s “Mountain Comics” because I’d only ever buy them while on vacation in New Hampshire. The silly humor appealed to me at the time, and while I didn’t completely understand all of the satire at the time, I’d like to think that those magazines definitely had an influence on my sense of humor (what little of it remains in our current hellscape).

So back when it was published in July 1989, this issue of What The–?!, “The Marvel Mag of Mirth and Mayhem!”, would have been right up my alley. I’m not sure why it never crossed my path, even during the days when I was getting pretty heavy into collecting; the only excuse I can possibly give is that it was a Marvel book and I was way more into what DC was doing.

Anyway, I fished this out of a quarter bin a number of years ago and threw it in the back of a longbox along with a more recent comic called Wha-Huh? and the Obnoxio the Clown comic I trashed a while back. This is going to fare much better than the latter.

This is an extra-sized special that features parody versions of The Punisher and Wolverine called “The Pulverizer and Wuvoream” on its cover and touts its “collectability”, already digging into the burgeoning speculation market. And it is, to be honest, Marvel’s attempt at self-parody via its own version of Mad.

The Pulverizer/Wulvoream story is written by Hilary Barta and Doug Rice with art by Barta and is an extended Tom and Jerry bit where the two are basically trying to destroy one another with bigger and bigger weapons. We later get a “Bulk” story by Peter B. Gillis and Erik Larsen whose title is a play on the classic FF story “This Man, This Monster” and which features every conceivable version of the Hulk. There’s a fake game show bit with The Watcher as Groucho Marks written by Terry Austin and pencilled by Jim Lee, an Alien Legion parody by Chuck Dixon and Larry Stroman, a Simonson Thor parody by Peter Gillis and Whilce Portacio … and even more.

The humor is solid, even if I’m not exactly the biggest Marvel zombie out there, and I was surprised that so many big names of the time contributed art (and changed their style to echo the book’s style). My favorite part, however, were the fake ads throughout, especially the Russ Heath-drawn “153 Piece Street Gang Set for Only $8.99” double-page toy ad that gives you everything you’d want if someone had merchandised The Warriors or Death Wish. It’s a truly irreverent piece in a book whose humor is more silly and sometimes juvenile.

I certainly don’t think this is worth paying a premium for on the back issue market, but it’s worth a quarter or two if you see it in a very cheap bin, especially because it’s rereadable. There’s so much in every single story/sketch that I wound up rereading a few of them. That definitely makes it worth your money.

Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?


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