When Marvel released Crazy #1 back in October I didn’t know what to think. I had never heard of Obnoxio the Clown, who apparently first appeared in the Crazy magazine in 1980. Crazy clearly took inspiration from Mad Magazine, but utilized all of the Marvel heroes to make jokes and comment on superheroes in general. It’s a clever idea that Marvel brought back for their 80th anniversary in 2019. Today, Marvel has released a trade paperback that houses the new issue from last year as well as material from a variety of issues ranging from issue #9 all the way up to #94. It’s a clever way to add some context and historical weight to the trade release of the silliest series Marvel Comics has ever produced.
The 2019 Crazy issue is without a doubt a grab bag of weirdness, silly ideas, and some laugh out loud moments. It opens with the original Crazy mascot getting kicked in the crotch by Obnoxio which sets in motion a story that more or less pokes fun at Marvel Comics. There are a lot of highlights in this extra-sized issue, like Bill Morrison’s “Rejected Marvel Comic Books” with cover art and solicitation/summary for reach. “What Now?” was one of my favorites which is a play on the What If? series as well as The Astonishing Ant-May. Jon Adams and Chris O’Halloran (with letters by Joe Sabino) tell a few one-page Man-Thing stories that are perfect in their ability to capture the sorrow of the character but also the intense weirdness too. There are conventional one or two-page comic stories, fake ads, a board game and a reoccurring comic via pictures of Ralph Macchio too. The latter comic didn’t really do it for me, but I appreciate the mixed-media concept. Zach Thompson and Lonnie Nadler wrap up the book with Brian Level and Jordan Boyd with a great two-page story about what it’s like to be a regular person in the Marvel universe. Spoiler: it sucks.
Following the reprinting of the 2019 comic is a chunk of the book (95 pages) featuring a reoccurring comic that ran in the comic known as Teen Hulk. I didn’t find it all that funny, but it certainly is fun to see what folks were joking about in the ’70s. The remaining 107 pages feature all sorts of Marvel superhero humor, jokes, and creative fake advertising. Obnoxio gets an origin story and pops up a few times including in some rather startling mini-games where he teaches us how to “clean out the insides of a rat” to make a rattle, make a bridge (and jump off it), and other tomfoolery. It’s fascinating to see these jokes and know it would never fly today, but Onboxio is a jerk. Drawn largely by John Lakey and Alan Kupperberg, the character is basically as filthy as you can get without being sexual or using swears.
Big highlights for longtime Marvel Comics readers like me are the 1983 Obnoxio the Clown #1 issue where the clown shows up to the Xavier mansion for Kitty Pryde’s birthday, 15 superhero songs written by Aron Mayer and Eden Norah, “Fitting Ends for Superheroes” which is hilarious when you consider “The End” is a new one-shot series this month and a great “how to make a comic” story that wraps up the book. The X-Men crossover story is very good with a classic look at the team you shouldn’t miss. Written and drawn by Alan Kupperberg, the melodrama of the X-Men is on full display as they fight the new villain Eye-Scream. It’s also kind of hilarious Kitty would be into such a weird and gross character as Obnoxio.
Anyone know @Marvel produced a magazine called Crazy which also featured a full #XMen story?! Featuring the whole gang where Xavier asked Obnoxio the Clown to appear for Kitty Pyde’s birthday party? Good stuff! pic.twitter.com/XqoDve3WhZ
— David Brooke (@Nosocialize) January 15, 2020
Believe me when I say I was unsure and expecting something boring or unworthy of my time. Soon I discovered something truly amazing thanks to the great work by so many of today’s best creators in the 2019 issue and a solid 100+ pages of republished work from the past. I was familiar with Not Brand Echh and always found it funny in a dad-joke kind of way. Somehow I never knew about Crazy and the much more teen-adult brand nature of its humor. If you’re a longtime Marvel Comics reader you need to read this. The reprinting of old comics is well worth reading thanks to its edgy and funny takes on superheroes.
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