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THE UNTOLD STORY

Go ahead, ask a question.   Images are an online-only supplement to the book MARVEL COMICS: THE UNTOLD STORY (plus occasional unrelated arcana )
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"A WILD-RIDE ACCOUNT" —The Hollywood Reporter
"EPIC" —The New York Times
"INDISPENSABLE" —Los Angeles Times
"DEFINITIVE" —The Wall Street Journal
"SCINTILLATING" —Publishers Weekly
"AUTHORITATIVE" —Kirkus Reviews
"GRIPPING" —Rolling Stone
"PRICELESS" —Booklist
"ESSENTIAL" —The Daily Beast
"REVELATORY" —The Miami Herald
"AS FULL OF COLORFUL CHARACTERS, TRAGIC REVERSALS AND UNLIKELY PLOT TWISTS AS ANY BOOK IN THE MARVEL CANON" —Newsday

twitter.com/seanhowe:

    Namor fights the Klan in Sub-Mariner Comics #17 (Fall 1945). Art by Allen Simon.

    Namor fights the Klan in Sub-Mariner Comics #17 (Fall 1945). Art by Allen Simon.

    — 4 months ago with 104 notes
    #namor  #sub-mariner  #timely  #allen simon  #race relations 
    Alien musicians from the planets of Blue Grass and Hip-Hop face off in Marvel’s Marty Stuart: Marty Party in Space, 1995. Art by Pat Boyette. Plot by Marty Stuart. Words by Paul S. Newman.Hmm.

    Alien musicians from the planets of Blue Grass and Hip-Hop face off in Marvel’s Marty Stuart: Marty Party in Space, 1995. Art by Pat Boyette. Plot by Marty Stuart. Words by Paul S. Newman.

    Hmm.

    — 4 months ago with 16 notes
    #marty stuart  #pat boyette  #paul s. newman  #race relations 
    Marvel Two-in-One #3 (May 1974). Art by Sal Buscema. Words by Steve Gerber.The riskiest page in Marvel history?

    Marvel Two-in-One #3 (May 1974). Art by Sal Buscema. Words by Steve Gerber.

    The riskiest page in Marvel history?

    (Source: seanhowe)

    — 4 months ago with 74 notes
    #captain america  #steve gerber  #sal buscema  #race relations 
    Eldridge Cleaver as Captain America in The Yipster Times, 1976.

    Eldridge Cleaver as Captain America in The Yipster Times, 1976.

    (Source: seanhowe)

    — 4 months ago with 147 notes
    #captain america  #eldridge cleaver  #yippies  #race relations 
    Captain America sweats, clutches pillow while dreaming about the Falcon and Black Power rallies. There’s a lot to process here. From CAPTAIN AMERICA #144, December 1971. Art by Gray Morrow and John Romita; Script by Gary Friedrich.

    Captain America sweats, clutches pillow while dreaming about the Falcon and Black Power rallies. There’s a lot to process here. From CAPTAIN AMERICA #144, December 1971. Art by Gray Morrow and John Romita; Script by Gary Friedrich.

    (Source: seanhowe)

    — 4 months ago with 164 notes
    #captain america  #falcon  #black power  #gray morrow  #john romita  #gary friedrich  #race relations 
    Cover to Daring Mystery Comics #6. Cover by Jack Kirby.

    Cover to Daring Mystery Comics #6. Cover by Jack Kirby.


    — 5 months ago with 38 notes
    #daring mystery  #jack kirby  #race relations  #marvel boy 
    Eldridge Cleaver as Captain America in The Yipster Times, 1976.

    Eldridge Cleaver as Captain America in The Yipster Times, 1976.

    — 5 months ago with 147 notes
    #eldridge cleaver  #black panthers  #captain america  #yippies  #race relations  #black panther 
    "What if Black Lightning Was White?" by Fred Hembeck. From The Comic Reader #186, December 1980.

    "What if Black Lightning Was White?" by Fred Hembeck. From The Comic Reader #186, December 1980.

    — 7 months ago with 73 notes
    #comic reader  #fred hembeck  #luke cage  #power man  #iron fist  #black lightning  #race relations 
    bygoneamericana:

Four young evacuees from Sacramento, California read comic books at the newsstand in the Tule Lake Relocation Center. Newell, California, 1942. 

The “evacuees” are Japanese Americans, forced into an internment camp. The one on the left is reading MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #34, which contains the stories “Exposed! The Jap Invaders” and “Dr. Watson Makes Monkeys Out of the Japs.”

    bygoneamericana:

    Four young evacuees from Sacramento, California read comic books at the newsstand in the Tule Lake Relocation Center. Newell, California, 1942. 

    The “evacuees” are Japanese Americans, forced into an internment camp. The one on the left is reading MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #34, which contains the stories “Exposed! The Jap Invaders” and “Dr. Watson Makes Monkeys Out of the Japs.”

    (Source: wodumedia.com, via themarvelageofcomics)

    — 1 year ago with 458 notes
    #race relations 
    California, 1942: Japanese-American Mamoru “Morrie” Kuramoto is discharged from the Army, and, according to the later recollections of his daughter, “given the choice of being interned or going to the East coast.” He heads for New York, joins the Art Students League, and eventually begins work at Timely Comics. He continues with Timely until 1957, and then returns in the late 1960s, by which time it’s called Marvel Comics. He remains there until his death in 1985.

Also in California, 1942: These Japanese-American boys are photographed reading comic books in the Tule Lake Relocation Center. The one on the left is reading MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #34, which contains the stories “Exposed! The Jap Invaders” and “Dr. Watson Makes Monkeys Out of the Japs.”

    California, 1942: Japanese-American Mamoru “Morrie” Kuramoto is discharged from the Army, and, according to the later recollections of his daughter, “given the choice of being interned or going to the East coast.” He heads for New York, joins the Art Students League, and eventually begins work at Timely Comics. He continues with Timely until 1957, and then returns in the late 1960s, by which time it’s called Marvel Comics. He remains there until his death in 1985.

    Also in California, 1942: These Japanese-American boys are photographed reading comic books in the Tule Lake Relocation Center. The one on the left is reading MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #34, which contains the stories “Exposed! The Jap Invaders” and “Dr. Watson Makes Monkeys Out of the Japs.”
    — 1 year ago with 124 notes
    #Morrie Kuramoto  #Timely  #Marvel Mystery Comics  #race relations 

    What do Archie Bunker and H.P. Lovecraft have in common?

    They’re both covered in this memo from Roy Thomas to Stan Lee, from 1972. There’s a note in Stan Lee’s writing: “I’ll ask M.G.”—since Stan Lee replaced Martin Goodman as publisher by May, this must have been written only weeks before Goodman’s departure.

    — 1 year ago with 89 notes
    #Archie Bunker  #Spoof  #All in the Family  #race relations  #Martin Goodman  #Roy Thomas  #Stan Lee  #h.p. lovecraft  #timely  #All-Winners  #Letters 

    HOW AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER CHANGED MARVEL COMICS (part 4 of 4—click here for part 1, here for part 2, and here for part 3.)

    In early 1969, after noticing D.A. Latimer’s East Village Other essay about the representation of black characters in comics, Stan Lee asked Marvel assistant editor Alan Hewetson to write a letter of response. Hewetson argued that it was a slow process, but that Marvel had already rolled out a number of black characters, including T’Challa (once known as the Black Panther, but lately just referred to as “the Panther” for fear of evoking too militant a vibe), Man-Ape (an African bad guy), Willie Lincoln (a blind veteran), and the Falcon.

    The interesting thing about the Falcon—who would soon be Marvel’s very first African-American superhero—was that he’d never actually appeared in a Marvel Comic. In fact, the Falcon’s debut in Captain America #117 hit stands in June, which means that the issue was very likely produced immediately after Latimer’s essay was published.

    The following year, Stan Lee appeared in Jet magazine to show off the “Jim Brown-looking hero” in Marvel’s “Black comic strip.” Soon, a teenager named Jim Wilson started popping up in the pages of The Incredible Hulk, and melanin began seeping into the supporting casts of Black Widow and Inhumans adventures. After Lee succeeded Martin Goodman as publisher in 1972: Marvel finally began introducing black characters at a faster rate: the vampire slayer Blade, western gunfighter Reno Jones, and Brother Voodoo among them. And the monthly exploits of T’Challa appeared in Don McGregor’s Jungle Action. This time, he went by his full, proud name: the Black Panther.

    — 1 year ago with 56 notes
    #HOW AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER CHANGED MARVEL COMICS  #race relations  #Falcon  #Black Panther 

    HOW AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER CHANGED MARVEL COMICS (part 3 of 4—click here for part 1 and here for part 2.)

    In the 2004 book The Complete Illustrated History of the Skywald Horror-Mood, former Marvel editorial assistant Alan Hewetson recalled the impact of D.A. Latimer’s essay in the East Village Other about representation of black characters in comics. “They’d published a nice story about Stan and Marvel and had mentioned in the article something to the effect that Marvel had no black characters or comic books. (Actually I think we might have had one, plus a couple of very minor characters.) DC had none. So Stan read this and asked me to write back to thank the writer and so forth, and I did, and anticipating that the newspaper would print my letter (which they did), I added something to the effect that ‘once we became aware of the absence of black characters in our comics we immediately corrected this social oversight…’”

    Here’s the letter Hewetson wrote in 1969:

    "Dear EVO,

    Neal Christensen, one of our readers, was kind enough to forward to editor Stan Lee a feature from EVO by D.A. Latimer, of March 19 this year.

    We were particularly interested with your feature on Marvel and its dealings with the color situation; Mr. Latimer’s approach, however, is such that we are concerned with the one-sided opinion your readers might have appreciated.

    We would remind them that comic books are unrealistic by nature, and we would not presume to have our readers believe otherwise. The HULK is certainly not your average everyday factory worker, neither could Peter be considered a typical college student. Why then would you think T’CHALLA representative of a Harlem superhero? Certainly the man is educated—many African kings, princes and leaders are Oxford taught—why should “this gentleman in any way resemble Bobby Seale”?

    Furthermore, you implied that THE PANTHER was a token Negro. When we became aware of the lack of Negroes in our magazines, and decided to introduce them into our stories, don’t you think it would have looked rather foolish to suddenly have fifteen colored personalities appear and barnstorm through the books? As it is, we have T’CHALLA (THE PANTHER), Joe Robertson and his son, Willie Lincoln, Sam Wilson (THE FALCON), Gabe Jones, Dr. Noah Black (CENTURIUS) and even a super villain—THE MAN-APE. In short, we think that we have approached a decent start with these characters.

    In any case, sir, our primary reason in writing was to request a few copies of the issue in which this article appeared, for our files.

    Thank You.
    Cordially, Alan Hewetson
    Editorial Assistant.”

    "And I showed this to Stan," Hewetson recalled in 2004, "and shortly thereafter we began introducing black characters and entire black comic character books." This included the Falcon, who despite Hewetson’s mention in his letter, had never appeared in a Marvel Comic. It would take six months to get him into the pages of Captain America…

    Next: The introduction of the Falcon

    — 1 year ago with 67 notes
    #HOW AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER CHANGED MARVEL COMICS  #race relations 
    HOW AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER CHANGED MARVEL COMICS (part 2 of 4—click here for part 1)
The following essay, by D.A. Latimer, appeared in the East Village Other in March, 1969.
But that’s T’Challa in the Avengers, and the only comic Marvel runs that’s worse that the Avengers is Kid Colt. The best Marvel comic is the Amazing Spider-Man, and lately this item has gotten into some really flagrant pro-Afro-Americanism, as comics go. As we all know, Spider-Man’s civilian alter ego is Peter Parker, CCNY student and photographer for the Daily Bugle. His nemesis is of course J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of the Bugle, a dirty old fart of Hearstian bombast who hates Spider-Man’s guts—but who employs as city editor, a spade called Joe Robertson! Holy Mundolo, Batman! And not only is Robertson black, but he actually has real human conflicts, as Marvel comics go. Like, Joe’s kid Randy goes to the same college as Peter Parker, and was some time ago instrumental in organizing a radical student demonstration there. It seems the school wanted to turn an old museum into an alumni banquet hall or some such frippery, and a coalition of what looked like New Leftists and Third World Students wanted it renovated as a low-cost dormitory for impoverished students. So they sat in—oh, there was rightness in their cause—and in the confusion a valuable stone tablet inscribed with curious cuneiforms was pilfered from one of the display cases by a super-baddie who took advantage of the sit-in as a cover-up for his eviltry. But that’s the plot, and we’re concerned with the sub-plot.
Cut to the police station, where the militants have been taken, under suspicion of complicity with this theft. Robertson is agonized by the position Randy puts him in. “A protest is one thing,” he moans, “but the damage you caused! But don’t worry, your mother and I will stand behind you! I just have to figure out…How to break it to her!” For this he gets called an Uncle Tom by his kid, and he is being extravagantly middle-class…but Tomism? Ooo, that cuts. Because beneath that mild-mannered exterior, Robertson is really damned militant—for Marvel comics. What he is, see, is understanding: a few nights later, he tells his wife, of Randy—“He’s troubled…Rebellious…full of the angry impatience of youth! He wants to take it into his hands…and shape it into something better! That’s what’s important, Martha! That’s what really counts!” And who could gainsay him? Applause, Marvel, if not a standing ovation.
Joe just gets more radical as time goes on, too. In the current issue…The inker fucked up this issue and made the Robertsons look grey; usually Marvel gets a much better tone of brown—but you can’t complain, at least they got swell Afro haircuts this time…In the current issue, we see Robertson standing up to Jameson in front of his kid, laying his job on the line by insisting on printing good things about Spider-Man; and in an argument with his kid, he actually goes on record as saying this: “You wanna be a militant…Fine! Maybe we need more of that stripe!” Standing ovation this time, Marvel, but no jumping up and down yet.
There have been other Negroes in Marvel comics, they range in significance from an occasional cop or doctor to the character who saved the Silver Surfer from an untimely death a few months ago. There have been no colored super-baddies, though, because…After all…But then, there was this matter of the High Evolutionary in ‘67—but that might have been just a poor print job—he was sort of mauve… But what Marvel needs now is somebody who can write spade dialogue. Everybody in Marvel sounds either like a refugee from a Shakespeare stock company or a Bronx bricklayer—Marvel can’t even get “sock it to me” to read right.
Next: Marvel’s response.

    HOW AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER CHANGED MARVEL COMICS (part 2 of 4—click here for part 1)

    The following essay, by D.A. Latimer, appeared in the East Village Other in March, 1969.

    But that’s T’Challa in the Avengers, and the only comic Marvel runs that’s worse that the Avengers is Kid Colt. The best Marvel comic is the Amazing Spider-Man, and lately this item has gotten into some really flagrant pro-Afro-Americanism, as comics go. As we all know, Spider-Man’s civilian alter ego is Peter Parker, CCNY student and photographer for the Daily Bugle. His nemesis is of course J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of the Bugle, a dirty old fart of Hearstian bombast who hates Spider-Man’s guts—but who employs as city editor, a spade called Joe Robertson! Holy Mundolo, Batman! And not only is Robertson black, but he actually has real human conflicts, as Marvel comics go. Like, Joe’s kid Randy goes to the same college as Peter Parker, and was some time ago instrumental in organizing a radical student demonstration there. It seems the school wanted to turn an old museum into an alumni banquet hall or some such frippery, and a coalition of what looked like New Leftists and Third World Students wanted it renovated as a low-cost dormitory for impoverished students. So they sat in—oh, there was rightness in their cause—and in the confusion a valuable stone tablet inscribed with curious cuneiforms was pilfered from one of the display cases by a super-baddie who took advantage of the sit-in as a cover-up for his eviltry. But that’s the plot, and we’re concerned with the sub-plot.

    Cut to the police station, where the militants have been taken, under suspicion of complicity with this theft. Robertson is agonized by the position Randy puts him in. “A protest is one thing,” he moans, “but the damage you caused! But don’t worry, your mother and I will stand behind you! I just have to figure out…How to break it to her!” For this he gets called an Uncle Tom by his kid, and he is being extravagantly middle-class…but Tomism? Ooo, that cuts. Because beneath that mild-mannered exterior, Robertson is really damned militant—for Marvel comics. What he is, see, is understanding: a few nights later, he tells his wife, of Randy—“He’s troubled…Rebellious…full of the angry impatience of youth! He wants to take it into his hands…and shape it into something better! That’s what’s important, Martha! That’s what really counts!” And who could gainsay him? Applause, Marvel, if not a standing ovation.

    Joe just gets more radical as time goes on, too. In the current issue…The inker fucked up this issue and made the Robertsons look grey; usually Marvel gets a much better tone of brown—but you can’t complain, at least they got swell Afro haircuts this time…In the current issue, we see Robertson standing up to Jameson in front of his kid, laying his job on the line by insisting on printing good things about Spider-Man; and in an argument with his kid, he actually goes on record as saying this: “You wanna be a militantFine! Maybe we need more of that stripe!” Standing ovation this time, Marvel, but no jumping up and down yet.

    There have been other Negroes in Marvel comics, they range in significance from an occasional cop or doctor to the character who saved the Silver Surfer from an untimely death a few months ago. There have been no colored super-baddies, though, because…After all…But then, there was this matter of the High Evolutionary in ‘67—but that might have been just a poor print job—he was sort of mauve… But what Marvel needs now is somebody who can write spade dialogue. Everybody in Marvel sounds either like a refugee from a Shakespeare stock company or a Bronx bricklayer—Marvel can’t even get “sock it to me” to read right.

    Next: Marvel’s response.

    — 1 year ago with 46 notes
    #HOW AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER CHANGED MARVEL COMICS  #race relations 
    HOW AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER CHANGED MARVEL COMICS (part 1 of 4)
The following essay, by D.A. Latimer, appeared in the East Village Other in March, 1969.
Comics make a lot of money, they sell better than the Reader’s Digest, the Daily News, and Fiery Crashes Monthly put together. They have to make this kind of money, or else it wouldn’t be worthwhile publishing them at all—from the publisher’s standpoint, anyway. The trouble is, for the last fifteen years or so, they just haven’t been worth publishing from the reader’s standpoint. You see, back in the mid-fifties sometime, this very perverted cat named Dr. Frederic Wertham published one of the all-time great works of erotic fiction, under the guise of critical comment of comic books: he called it—now sit tight, fellow pedophiles—Seduction of the Innocent, larded it with carefully cropped, blown up, and retouched cartoon panels, and accompanied these with vast slobbering reams of pseudo-psychosexual case histories about sadists, arsonists, and father-rapers who had got that way from reading Little Lulu and Millie the Model. Wertham was a pornographer of the old school: he sold his thing to all these people who wouldn’t dream of jerking off like common perverts, and they became so inflamed with a sensation that they could only cool off by tromping on the comic book industry. And the industry became so uptight at the prospect of losing money that it commenced printing tripe—but tripe—and has done nothing of any account for the last decade and a half.
Lately, though, it appears that the permissiveness fostered by eight years of Democratic government has infiltrated even unto such as Stan Lee and Carmine Infantino, moguls of Marvel and DC Comics respectively. Comics over the last few years have been mincing apprehensively back into contact with the world, which is a most encouraging development for what McLuhan appropriately terms the coolest of all possible mediums. They need encouragement. And just to warn the Werthams of the world that social relevance does not necessarily entail depictions of graphic sexual activity, this week I’d like to sketch out a short history of The Token Negro In American Comic Books. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll consider only DC and Marvel adventures comics. Archie Comics some while back dabbled uncomfortably with a brawny young hunk of black-haired beefcake called Angelo Angelino—he was Mr. Lodge’s groundskeeper for an issue or two—but they seem to have discontinued this disturbing element (which is pretty much alright, since it turns out, after their debut on television, that the Lodge family has a crackerish southern accent). And to go into an investigation, at this late date, of why the world of Mickey Mouse was kept carefully segregated from the world of Donald Duck, well, that would be disrespectful to the shade of Disney. So we’re hung with Marvel and DC, and we’ll dig Marvel first.
The only black character with anything like top billing in the Marvel lexicon is a cat named T’Challa, one fo the Avengers. On a kind of sabbatical from the chieftainship of an African tribe called the Wakanda, T’Challa works with the Avengers in the guise of—now dig this—the Black Panther. No, no—while the Panthers have been around longer thant T’Challa, the gentleman in no respect resembles Bobby Seale. He doesn’t even come off like Moms Mabely for Blackness, and he sure got nothing even in common with Jomo Kenyatta. You ever once hear a spade talk like this, outside of Othello: “If words were actions, rash one, I should long since have perished in my native Africa.” PVUNK! Another super-baddie bites the dust. Wakanda (not the river in Kesey’s Oregon, fool) is a super-city located in an artificial under the African veldt, and the Wakanda tribesmen are super-spades who run around in loincloths, toting stun-guns. Like I say, it’s encouraging to see comics coming back in touch with the world.
(Continued here.)

    HOW AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER CHANGED MARVEL COMICS (part 1 of 4)

    The following essay, by D.A. Latimer, appeared in the East Village Other in March, 1969.

    Comics make a lot of money, they sell better than the Reader’s Digest, the Daily News, and Fiery Crashes Monthly put together. They have to make this kind of money, or else it wouldn’t be worthwhile publishing them at all—from the publisher’s standpoint, anyway. The trouble is, for the last fifteen years or so, they just haven’t been worth publishing from the reader’s standpoint. You see, back in the mid-fifties sometime, this very perverted cat named Dr. Frederic Wertham published one of the all-time great works of erotic fiction, under the guise of critical comment of comic books: he called it—now sit tight, fellow pedophiles—Seduction of the Innocent, larded it with carefully cropped, blown up, and retouched cartoon panels, and accompanied these with vast slobbering reams of pseudo-psychosexual case histories about sadists, arsonists, and father-rapers who had got that way from reading Little Lulu and Millie the Model. Wertham was a pornographer of the old school: he sold his thing to all these people who wouldn’t dream of jerking off like common perverts, and they became so inflamed with a sensation that they could only cool off by tromping on the comic book industry. And the industry became so uptight at the prospect of losing money that it commenced printing tripe—but tripe—and has done nothing of any account for the last decade and a half.

    Lately, though, it appears that the permissiveness fostered by eight years of Democratic government has infiltrated even unto such as Stan Lee and Carmine Infantino, moguls of Marvel and DC Comics respectively. Comics over the last few years have been mincing apprehensively back into contact with the world, which is a most encouraging development for what McLuhan appropriately terms the coolest of all possible mediums. They need encouragement. And just to warn the Werthams of the world that social relevance does not necessarily entail depictions of graphic sexual activity, this week I’d like to sketch out a short history of The Token Negro In American Comic Books. For the purposes of this discussion, we’ll consider only DC and Marvel adventures comics. Archie Comics some while back dabbled uncomfortably with a brawny young hunk of black-haired beefcake called Angelo Angelino—he was Mr. Lodge’s groundskeeper for an issue or two—but they seem to have discontinued this disturbing element (which is pretty much alright, since it turns out, after their debut on television, that the Lodge family has a crackerish southern accent). And to go into an investigation, at this late date, of why the world of Mickey Mouse was kept carefully segregated from the world of Donald Duck, well, that would be disrespectful to the shade of Disney. So we’re hung with Marvel and DC, and we’ll dig Marvel first.

    The only black character with anything like top billing in the Marvel lexicon is a cat named T’Challa, one fo the Avengers. On a kind of sabbatical from the chieftainship of an African tribe called the Wakanda, T’Challa works with the Avengers in the guise of—now dig this—the Black Panther. No, no—while the Panthers have been around longer thant T’Challa, the gentleman in no respect resembles Bobby Seale. He doesn’t even come off like Moms Mabely for Blackness, and he sure got nothing even in common with Jomo Kenyatta. You ever once hear a spade talk like this, outside of Othello: “If words were actions, rash one, I should long since have perished in my native Africa.” PVUNK! Another super-baddie bites the dust. Wakanda (not the river in Kesey’s Oregon, fool) is a super-city located in an artificial under the African veldt, and the Wakanda tribesmen are super-spades who run around in loincloths, toting stun-guns. Like I say, it’s encouraging to see comics coming back in touch with the world.

    (Continued here.)

    — 1 year ago with 149 notes
    #comics  #east village other  #marvel  #race relations  #HOW AN UNDERGROUND NEWSPAPER CHANGED MARVEL COMICS