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'Good thing my helmet has room for my ... horn.'
     Open this comic and you are thrown in to the middle of galactic ACTION!
     Hulk is trying to rip apart a space ship, piloted by the RHINO.  The Rhino seems to have no clue as to what's going on.  He does not!
     Hulk's nemesis, THE LEADER has been paralyzed in a confrontation with the Hulk and has since transferred his mind inside of the Rhino's.
     The Leader reversed the effect and the Rhino "wakes" to find himself in a cockpit, about to get his butt kicked.

     

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Notice how the Counter-Earth text is just like the bottom of Hulk #158?
     As the Hulk and Rhino duke it out, it seems futile.  The ship is damaged and there is no likely way for them to return to Earth.  This is great news for the Leader and General "Thunderbolt" Ross.
     Betty Ross is soon to be married to General Glenn Talbot.  She believes that Banner is either forever gone or dead.  General Ross has fed her lies causing her to give up on her true love allowing her to find happiness and normalcy with a new man.
     Hulk and Rhino continue to brawl.  Most likely they will be lost in space or burn up in the nearby Sun.  Wait!  What's this?!
     Vibrating a "mere micro-second out-of-synch" is another world unknown to us Earthlings.  In very many ways it looks the same as our planet but it's inhabitants are much different.  This parallel world is called "COUNTER-EARTH"!
     The battling brutes go in to it's orbit.  Before crash landing, Hulk tosses the Rhino overboard, leaving them on two different parts of this strangely familiar planet.
     There are many witnesses.  One of them is "Him" aka Adam Warlock.  An editor's note from Roy Thomas tells us to follow Warlock's adventures in his mag as he has no time to deal with the occupants of the falling spacecraft.
     While all this is going on, another fight is about to take place between Man and New-Man.  There are two sects of New-Men about to fight, and a parallel General Ross who wants them both eradicated.  One group of New-Men is led by a malicious snake-person named Kohbra and the other by a nicer, spiky guy named Porcunius.  
     The Hulk falling from the ship slams right in between them both causing the battle to wait for another day.

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     Because everything looks similar, the Hulk thinks he is still on Earth.
     Elsewhere, the HIGH EVOLUTIONARY watches the sons of WUNDAGORE in dismay.  Not only had he hoped his New-Men would never be discovered, it was also his wish that Counter-Earth would not discovered by ... regular Earth.
     On this planet, Bruce Banner has never become the Hulk and he is happily married to Betty.  They even have an annoying kid together.
     Kohbra and his clan have accepted Rhino to their ranks while Hulk is kicking it with Porcunius.  Little do they know, there is a traitor among them named PHROGG.
     The military found the space ship and begins to repair it.  
     Porcunius informs Hulk that he is in fact not on Earth and decides to help Hulk get the ship back.  Kohbra and the Rhino want the ship for their own.  Hulk goes to the military base, smashes a wall and loses it when he sees Banner!
     

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     Before Hulk can smash this version of Banner, a nuisance arrives on the scene.  I guess it's good as no one gets hurt, but whiny 7 yr old Bruce Banner, jr. says, "I won't let you hurt my Daddy!" and begins to punch Hulk in the leg.
     Hulk begins to realize that this is a very different Banner and maybe he shouldn't crush him.  As he ponders this new earth and all it's ... TWHAMM!!!
     It's the Rhino!  He cheap-shotted the Hulk from behind.  Kohbra and his cohorts are with him.  Porcunius assembles his crew and we are treated to a nice splash page.
     Oh snap!  It's about to go down!!!

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     Not as nice, but a splash page none the less, shows Banner and his family hiding, while both sides of the New-Men war against each other.  
     Two hundred million miles away, The Leader uses his technology to watch the battle.  His computer system is called OMNIVAC and it is highly intelligent.
  Trying to keep Hulk from ever using the ship, the Leader uses his mind-force to recall it to Earth.

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     The New-Men continue to fight for their own ideals while Rhino and Hulk trade blows.  However, the Hulk is stronger and angrier.  He uses this fury to turn the tide against his Gray skinned nemesis.
     

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     The next few panels are pretty sweet as Hulk grabs Rhino by his horn and body slams him on the hard floor.  
     The engines whirl as the ship starts to lift off.  Quickly Hulk boards the ship.  In an act of kindness he grabs Rhino and brings him with.  
     Maybe, deep inside Banner influenced this decision or maybe Hulk was compassionate enough to know that to stay on this planet would be torturous.
     Either way, the Leader is not happy when Omnivac informs him that both hero and villain have boarded the ship.

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      Once on the ship, Hulk calms down enough to revert to Banner.
     Meanwhile, a wedding procession takes place.
      The creepiest minister I have ever seen weds Betty and Talbot.
     General Ross is pleased to see his daughter's happiness.  As he enjoys this moment he hopes that Bruce truly is dead as his return will cause many problems for many people.
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     I never realized how much of a staple Counter-Earth, Wundagore and the High Evolutionary were to 1970's Marvel.  Maybe they were not, but I coincidently have recently read a few books with all that stuff in it.  ie, Thor, Tigra, Warlock and this issue of Hulk.


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I now pronounce you maaaan and wiiiiife! Bwa-ha-ha-hee-hee!
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Back cover to HULK #158.
 
 
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     I sure hope I get to meet this guy some day.  His name is Rafael Grampa.  I first took notice to his art when Wizard Magazine did a preview of MESMO DELIVERY.  If I remember correctly AdHouse put out the first edition and Dark Horse put out the second.
     I went to my comic shop and asked them to find the AdHouse version.  I'm pretty sure they thought I gave them wrong information cuz every time I asked them about they said it didn't exist.  But, I saw a picture of it in Wizard!
     About a year later I finally got my hands on the Dark Horse copy.  It's awesome!  And, it came with lots of extra sketches and stuff.  His next project is a six issue series and I already forget what it's called.  I'm pretty sure there's a Japanese influence at I saw swords, and finely tied up hair.
     Anyway, check out some select pieces I found on other peoples sites that are cooler than mine.

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This issue marks the 1st ever appearance of Jack O' Lantern
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     On the surface this comic has so many things going for it.  Created by Jack Kriby. Drawn by Steve Ditko.  The first appearance of a villain.
     I'd stop there if I was you.  This is one of the worst, most boring, artistically lame comics I have ever read.  Surely you would think I am describing a DC comic, but no, this horrid adventure is to be blamed solely on Marvel.
     Most comics I can pick up and burrow through.  This issue took three or four attempts.  Reading it gave me panic attacks and more than once I had to put it down to get some air.
     Thinking about it is causing me to get anxiety now.  I need to take 5 and come back.
  ......................
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         .......
  Sheesh!  This is horrible.  Okay.  Time to power through.


     The comic starts out great!  X-51 and Jack O' Lantern battle on a nice credit splash page.  Who needs 3-D?  I can practically reach out and shake hands with Machine Man!
     I wouldn't turn the page if I were you, as it's all down hill from here.

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     The issue begins with Aaron Stack aka MACHINE MAN aka X-51 very upset.  His face was mangled in the previous issue while fighting Madame Menace and ALPHA FLIGHT.
     Machine Man is exactly that.  He's a machine, with very human emotions and personality.
     He is distraught as his mask was mangled.  Even though it is used to cover his true robot face, he has become attached to it.  In many ways it is how he truly sees himself.  As a man, not a machine.
     While his buddy Gears Garvin repairs it, Dr. Peter Spaulding tries to calm X-51.


      Elsewhere, a group of self proclaimed toughest thugs there are, wait for their boss: JACK O' LANTERN.
     In case his cronies were not aware, Jack does us a favor by speaking of himself aloud.  This allows the reader to gain insight on this maniacal menace.
     He's an "Ex government freak".  A terrorist too terrible for nations to hire him.  With the formalities over, it's time to test his men.  He mashes them up good, but they are still worthy to serve him.
     The next morning, X-51 returns and his face is ready.  Good, cuz it's time to go to work!  Aaron Stack has a job at Delmar Insurance.
     Already it's a soap opera.  Men are jealous of him.  He likes Pam.  Pam doesn't care.  Some other lady likes Aaron but, he has no clue.
     

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     The boss has a special assignment for Machine Man.  There is a new super-embassy where people all around the world plan on attending a Halloween costume party.  
     Aaron Stack is given a tour as any insurance man who showed up at the front door surely would.  The facility has some serious security.  
      As he leaves, Machine Man recognizes someone outside taking pictures.  It's Geoff Peckman, notorious gangster!
     This must be investigated but, it's not something for Aaron Stack.  No, this is a mission for Z2P45-9-X-51.  (That's his full serial number name.)
      Without a place to change clothes, X-51 improvises.  He uses anti-grav, floats into a tree, and changes there.  
     Good a place as any I guess.  But, if he was going for inconspicuous, why float around in broad daylight?  And why that high up in the tree?  The bottom was just as bushy.  Aaaah, who am I to compare wits with a super android mind?  
     Machine Man attaches himself to the gangster's car and is brought to the bad guys hideout.

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     X-51 goes to the roof and spies on the plans being created below.  Uh-Oh ...  Jack O' Lantern and his goons are up to no good.
     Machine Man decides the best thing to do is to call the police and let them handle this.
     Unfortunately, the roof must be made of the same straw the three little pigs used as it is incredibly weak.  
     Machine Man's 850lb body is too much strain and causes the structure to break.  (Okay, I know 850 is a lot for a human to weigh, but certainly a building can support that much.  Hey, maybe not.  Let's chalk it up to poor design.)
     Before he can react, Machine Man is attacked and suffers a decent beat down.  This leads to the most artistically interesting panel in the comic, where he gets "KWAKED".

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        Machine Man gets up to find his attackers long gone.  And worse, his face got messed up again.
     Time is of the essence.  He can't get it fixed as pursuing the bad guys is more important.  He takes to the roof tops as he does not want anyone to see his mangled face mask.
     Gears Garvin and Dr. Spaulding worry about x-51.  
Machine Man feels all alone and reminisces about his creation.  An editor's note shows us that he was created in issue #8 of "2001" A Space Odyssey.

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     Good thing it's Halloween as the first two people x-51 sees are two kids dressed up as Superman and Batman.  
     The trick-or-treaters have poor manners as all DC fans do, and they are disrespectful to their elders.  Suspicious of him, they call Machine Man a creep after he offers them some money.
     Luckily, no other adults were around, because to the kid's defense, it is a weird situation.
     Phew!  Machine man only wnted to buy the Superman mask.
     Inside, Aaron's co-workers ridicule his lame costume.  Pam pulls off his mask and everyone is stunned to see his true robotic face.
     Once again, it's a good thing it's Halloween as they all assume that the metal face is his real costume.

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Crud.  I'm having another panic attack.  Need water.  Be right back.
..............
     Jack O' Lantern begins to instill his plan.  He takes out some guards, and gains access of the control room.  Sealing off every room, he now has hostages.  Too bad X-51 is locked in here as well because he has his own plans.  
     Copying a play from Star Wars' R2D2, Machine Man uses a connector on his finger to hack into the mainframe.
     He overloads the computer but, Jack O' Lantern finds him and they start fighting.  The battle that ensues is okay.  The two trade blows while Jack pogos around the room.
     Machine Man magnetizes Jack O' Lantern causes a concussion bomb to go off rendering ol' pumpkin-head unconscious. 
     Machine Man leaves unthanked by those he saved.  He meets up with Gears Garvin who repairs damaged circuitry.  Machine Man is unsure if he wants to go to work at Delmar again aand the issue ends with him pondering life while staring at the moon.

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     After writing this synopsis, it didn't seem that bad.  Was I just in a foul mood?  Was this issue actually good?  I mean, Steve Ditko drew this!!!!
.......................
     Reading the letters column confirms my anger and ... panic attacks.  (I could not have said it better myself.  Thanks for the affirmation Gary!)
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      I can't help but wonder if this was intended for children.  Many of Marvel's comics were geared towards adults leaving kids out of the mix.
     I discovered this when reading an article about Marvel's Godzilla comic.
     I had a tough time reading the Godzilla comics as well this issue of Machine Man (though not nearly as painful).  
     It was not until I read "BACK ISSUE" magazine that I found out I Godzilla was geared towards a younger audience.

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     Comic mags like Marvel Spotlight, Adventure into Fear, and in this case, Marvel Premiere are some of my favorites of the 1970s.  Characters that could not hold their own series were able to get their own issues in such comics.
     Marvel Premiere #42 features one of the best Marvel heroines.  TIGRA!
     In many ways she is an updated version of the females from the 1950s JUNGLE COMICS.
     Greer Garson got her start in a comic called THE CAT.  That comic didn't do too well and she soon found herself transformed into a sexy cat-babe called Tigra.
     When her friend doesn't show to a meeting, Tigra patrols New Orleans in a skimpy tooth-clad bikini. (Sweet!)
     She's been on edge ever since the body of Dannemiller turned up.  Who's Dannemiller?  I don't know, ... lets keep reading!
     Tigra is now one of the CAT PEOPLE clan.  Her newly rendered feline instincts amp up her female intuition and she finds herself drawn to a street light.
     That's weird.  Nothing's there.
Bwa-bwa-bwhat??!!
     Her friend Dr. Joanne Tumolo appeared out of nowhere.  Tigra's hackles rise! 
     {ha-ckles: (n) - The erectile hairs on the back of an animal.}

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     Realizing that New Orleans is a town of "Jazz and Voodoo" she approaches cautiously.  And, for good reason.
     Something is amiss as Dr. Tumolo gives Greer a strange message.  "TABUR HAS THE RAY!"
     The scene the shifts to part 2 of our tale.  The previous night a car lurks while people party in the street as it is Mardi Gras.
     The driver of the car is that dead guy Tigra was talking about.  But, he's not dead!  ... yet.
     His full name is Dr. Richard Dannemiller.  He is making an important delivery.  Super stressed, thoughts race through his cat mind.  Yes, even though his human guise is permanent, his thoughts reveal that he too is one of the cat people.
     Not only does he reveal that the item he is delivering is super dangerous, but his thoughts also bring us an editor's note.  Woohoo!
     Following the asterisk lets us know that the cat people previously had another dangerous item back in GIANT-SIZE CREATURES #1.
     

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     Dannemiller is almost to the spot where he can deliver the mysterious item to Dr. Tumolo.  (I bet it's THE RAY that she was talking about!  Either that, or some high quality Meow Mix.)
     Carrying a case, which contains ... the item, he is stalked by another cat person wearing a cape and leg warmers.
     The scene that follows is quite horrific. Though this came first it reminds me of a scene from the move GHOSTBUSTERS.
     Remember when Rick Moranis was being chased by Gozer's pet and he was pleading for help outside the restaurant and no one helped him?  It was like that.
     While people are partying, Dr. Dannemiller is clawed at mercilessly by his attacker.  The worst part is he pleads with the caped cat man, reminding him that cat people never ever kill each other.  I guess rules are made to be broken.
     Left to die alone, his package is never delivered.   HARSH!
     The rebel feline takes off with the case.

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Possessed by the demon Vinz Clortho
     "Gozer the Traveler.  He will come in one of the pre-chosen forms.  During the rectification of the Vuldrini, the traveler came as a large and moving Torg!
     Then, during the third reconciliation of the last of the McKetrick supplicants, they chose a new form for him:  that of a giant Slor!
     Many Shuvs and Zuuls knew what it was to be roasted in the depths of the Slor that day, I can tell you!"

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Were fans really clamoring for an 'Action Bombshell'?
     As part three of the tale begins we find ourselves back in the present.  
     Tigra returns to her cat lair and tells the rest of her cat clan about the events that transpired.  
     This reminds me of another movie!  Remember in Peewee's Big Adventure when he told those people in the bar that LARGE MARGE sent him and they all freaked out?  It is a lot like that.
     She tells them that she talked to the ghost of Dr. Tumolo and was told about "THE RAY".
     With jaws to the floor, the cat people are aghast!
     Faelar, a fellow cat person lets Tigra know that it is time she learns all there is to know of the cat people.
     Things get strange as we learn more about Tigra's power set.
     Aside from cat danger-senses, the speed of a cheetah, and being smokin' hot, cat people have one other trick.
     When danger is imminent to the whole group, a cat person can project the image of itself to a loved one.  
     However, there is a catch to this magnificent power.  If you do this, you DIE!
     While Greer Garson takes this information in, we get two more editor's notes from Jim Shooter.
     Tigra has multiple flashbacks of her existence.  First, she remembers how Dr. Tumolo gave her cat powers in The Cat #1.
     Next, we revisit Giant-Size Creatures #1 where a mortally wounded human Greer is transformed into Tigra as it was the only way to save her life.

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     Faelar assumes that it's Tabur who kidnapped Joanne Tumolo.
  ...wait ...  Who's Tabur?  We're about to find out!
     Tabur is a differnet type of cat person.  Besides having "chops" and an orange mustache we learn that he is from WUNDAGORE!
     When a huge war began, the 'fraidy cat ran and hid from all the action.
     THOR helped the HIGH EVOLUTIONARY end the madness started by MAN-BEAST.
     Man-Beast was banished to a parallel planet called COUNTER-EARTH with all of his animal men.
     Then, Wundagore was transported from earth leaving Tabur behind.
    Jim Shooter pipes in once again to let us know that these events transpired in THOR #134-135.
    Tabur freaks out and dedicates his new life to one of destruction, terror and mayhem!
     Faelar continues by telling Tigra that the cat people found him and did their best to take him in as one of their own.  Sadly, it did not work out.
     Faelar's tale is interrupted by a fellow cat man as something very bad is happening.

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     Looking at a video screen they see Mastodons, giant Tarpis, and prehistoric Bears (oh my!) stampeding the streets of New Orleans.
     This ain't no Mardi Gras parade!
     Astonished, Tigra feels this is a good time to learn about the ray.  She is told that not only was it a secret, but it was intended for her.  As a gift, the cat people made it to return Tigra to her human from.
     Though it's purpose is that of "electro-genetic patterning', Tabur has turned it in to one of "Evolutionary Reversal".
     Tigra basically tells Faelar that it was pointless as she has no plans on being human.  Tigra is here to stay, baby!
     As if things could not get worse, Tabur creates more horror.  Wielding the ray, Tabur begins to shoot humans with the beams it emits.
     Apparently it has a reverse switch that will cause things to devolve.  In this case, the humans turn in to Ape-men.
     Witnessing this catastrophe, the entire cat clan spring in to action hoping to save the humans that they have been afraid of for decades.

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      Tigra decides to take on Tabur by herslef.  Leaping towards him, he swiftly boots her to the ground.
     He then shoots a bunch of her cat brethren with the reversed ray turning them into cloak wearing saber tooth tigers.
     Tabur boasts they will tear her apart!
Knowing felines quite well, Tigra pets them.  She was right!  They love it!
     She commands them to attack and the tide of battle begins to quickly turn in her favor.
     With a more even battle she attempts to take on Tabur again.  She leaps atop the mastodon, knocking him off the dino-mammel.


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     Oh no!  Tabur recovers first!  He quickly picks up a car's transmission, ready to crush Tigra with it.
     Realizing how strong he actually is, she decides that she would rather fight a devolved saber tooth tiger version of him.
     She grabs the ray as tabur dropped it when he was toppled from the mastodon.
     Blasting him with it she is pleasantly surprised.  Tabur has been turned in to a tiny kitty.
     With Tabur out of the way, Faelar and his crew subdue and  ...  kill the rest of the beasts.
     With the cat people exposed to humanity, Tigra envisions a world of hope: Humans and cat people living in peace.


     This issue was a blast to read and even more fun to dissect and analyze....


Though Tigra refers to herself as Greer Garson, I can only assume this is an error.  Her name is supposed to be Greer Grant or Greer Grant-Nelson.
     The writers must have drifted off and accidently wrote the name of the famed movie actress instead.

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Back Cover to Marvel Premiere #42. As America lost 'The Baseball Bunch', so too did it lose it's innocence.
 
 
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First ever appearance of Kitty Pryde. Owned by Jonathan Mueller
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Randy Schueller created Black Suit Spidey!
     Copied and pasted here are two incredibly cool letters of Marvel history.
     The one on top is the first ever appearance of KITTY PRYDE.  The letter was sent by John Byrne to Chris Claremont.  
     A guy named Jonathan Mueller, whom I am now extremely jealous of obtained this awesome piece on eBay for $1625.  In my mind, it's worth at least $25,000.
     This letter is also responsible for the revival of the old X-Men uniforms and what came to be known as THE NEW MUTANTS.  
     Read Jonathan's comments on his purchase here. 


     The next letter is one sent by Jim Shooter to Randy Schueller.
     Forever uncredited by Marvel, Randy is responsible for BLACK SUIT SPIDER-MAN which later led to the creation of VENOM!
     Read the full story of Randy's experience here.

A huge "Thanks" to Randy and Jonathan for sharing their letters with the internet.


(It is my understanding that I am in compliance with the Fair Use Doctrine.)