Christmas Comics Cavalcade – Marvel Two-in-One #8 (Marvel Comics)

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Today we’re looking at Marvel Two-in-One #8, published in 1974 by Marvel Comics. Cover price is 25 cents.

I’LL HAVE YOU KNOW this book is the only Christmas comic in my decimated collection that I paid a premium price for! I think I paid $7 for this book and one look at the cover will tell ya why.

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Absolutely insane.

So a couple of things about this comic appeal to me outside of the normal Christmas milieu.

First of all, I’m a huge fan of the weird time in the 1970’s when the Comics Code Authority loosened its harsh restrictions on the occult in comics. There were some harsh rules put in place during the 1950’s about what types of supernatural things could be included in a comic book… and things like witches, vampires, and the Devil were verboten under those guidelines. When the CCA chilled out a bit, there seemed to be a run on how strange you could get with some of those conventions… and we started to get weird stuff like Ghost Rider, a Evel Knievel-like stunt motorcyclist whose superhero origin is that he sells his soul to Satan.

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Perfect start to a Christmas comic!

Now the second reason I wanted to look at this book is that it’s written by Steve Gerber. Gerber was a member of first generation of comic book writers who was highly influenced by the 1960’s boom times for Marvel Comics. His skewed point of view gave readers of the 1970’s quite a lot of wonderful weirdness… head of the pack being Gerber’s creation of Howard the Duck. 

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One you know Gerber was the creative behind this tale, the splash panel of Ghost Rider almost running over the Three Wise Men makes a little more sense.

Marvel Two-in-One was a team-up book that featured The Thing getting into adventures with other members of the Marvel Universe. It’s weird to think about in 2019 but for a lot time ol’ Ben Grimm was the defacto mascot for Marvel Comics… and for good reason! There really hadn’t been a character like The Thing before in comics, his uniquely brusque personality and lovable grumpiness made him a natural to play off other superhero characters… but a huge flaw of the Two-in-One playbook is that every issue had to lay a LOT of groundwork explaining how and why The Thing and Random Superhero X were running around together.

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The catalyst for the story is a new star appearing in the sky. While Ghost Rider is already coincidentally on the scene, Mr. Fantastic has observed the anomaly and is ready to investigate… until The Thing steps in.

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In fact of the matter, there is not only a new star in the sky, there’s an entire Middle Eastern city appearing underneath that star in the middle of Arizona!

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So the Thing and Ghost Rider meet… and then, in an absolutely amazing amount of Marvel Comics goofiness, they infiltrate this town dressed as Wise Men.

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In the end, the machinations are due to The Miracle Man, a minor FF villain who has a pretty convoluted plan that I don’t really grasp and I’m a college graduate.

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I will say that the generation of writers that Gerber belonged to, the generation that were fans first… they LOVED to go back into old continuity and reintroduce minor characters and plot points and blow them up. This story is certainly in that tradition.

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All ends well in one of the weirdest Christmas comics ever published. The art’s nothing to write home about (Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito are… ok, I guess) but the story is worth the price of admission

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and will have you wondering if you drove through a patch of “loco weed” yourself.

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