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Avengers of the 1950: What-If Marvel Animates this Story from 1978?

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   Back in the late 70’s I picked this incredible story up in a bulk buy deal. It was my very first “What-If” comic, and it blew my mind. The concept of a story set in a version of the Marvel universe that never existed was incredible to me. I think it is prime fodder for using as a basis for one of their animated episodes of the same name on Disney+.

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   General audiences have no idea who these characters were, but neither did many of the wide-eyed readers back in 1978. As an avid reader of comics from as far back as I can remember, these characters created a need to learn more about comic history prior to the Silver Age.

Roll-Call

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   Agent James “Jimmy” Woo, of the F.B.I. In recent decades Agent Woo has been a S.H.I.E.L.D. and as an Agent of A.T.L.A.S. It’s a nod to Marvel’s days as Atlas Comics, their second incarnation after Timely.

   The Agents of Atlas is a fictional superhero team appearing in  the pages of Marvel Comics in 2006.

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   3-D Man was an odd inclusion into this tale as he was created by Roy Thomas in Marvel Premiere #35 (April 1977). While not from the era of Atlas, he provides some good character support in this tale. This version of 3-D Man is a composite of two brothers, Charles & Hal Chandler.

   The Chandler brothers received their superhuman abilities through exposure to an unknown radiation in the explosion of a Skrull starship. Hal Chandler could, by concentrating on the image of his brother Chuck imprinted on his glasses, summon a super-powered version of his brother: 3-D Man. Chuck had a telepathic link with Hal, who would lose consciousness and become comatose when the 3-D Man is active. The 3-D Man’s consciousness is apparently a synthesis of Chuck and Hal’s minds, with Chuck’s usually dominant. 3-D Man, in turn, could only remain in a three-dimensional reality for three hours at a time before Hal would wake up, causing 3-D Man to subsequently disappear and return to his two-dimensional existence. The 3-D Man wore a specially designed NASA flight suit (circa late 1950s), altered in appearance and bonded to his skin.

   As 3-D Man, Chuck Chandler possessed approximately three times the physical capabilities of an extremely physically fit but otherwise normal human male. As his name suggests, 3-D Man is three times as strong, fast, and durable as military pilot Chuck Chandler. The sensory acuity of each of his five senses is three times more powerful than the maximum capabilities of a normal human being.

   In addition, 3-D Man had the limited quasi-telepathic ability to perceive the distinctive aura of the Skrull race, even when a Skrull has assumed another form.

   Chuck was an expert pilot and a talented football player. Hal is an experienced scientific researcher. Hal is astigmatic, and requires special glasses. A poliomyelitis victim as a child, he now requires crutches to walk. ~ Wikipedia

post_What-If-009-05Marvel Boy

   During his career, Marvel Boy utilized two different pairs of wristbands. Both manipulated gravity and light; the second pair was stronger than the first. He wore polarized contact lenses which protected him when he manipulated light, creating blinding bursts to incapacitate his opponents. By manipulating gravity, he was able to fly. The bands provided these abilities by absorbing and transforming solar radiation. Through them, Marvel Boy gained superhuman strength, stamina, and durability. He also used a rocket ship designed by his father, Horace Grayson, based on designs by Uranian technicians.

   The Uranians gave Marvel Boy a headband which became his primary weapon. This headband consists of highly sophisticated technologies that not only allow him to control his spaceship remotely, but also affords him a high degree of telepathic ability. He can read minds, project highly convincing images and commands into the brains of others, and can scan the physiological state of those around him.

   Marvel Boy’s body has been altered to share, on some level, a Uranian physiology. The full extent of this remains unrevealed, although it is known that he must breathe an atmosphere akin to the planet Uranus’ and that, in order to eat, he must distend his esophagus. These are not characteristics of an actual Uranian Eternal and were not seen before the Agents of Atlas series.

   Grayson is an accomplished athlete and completed advanced studies of science and technology at the Uranian Academy, giving him knowledge well beyond what has been discovered on Earth. He is also an expert pilot of air and spacecraft. ~ Wikipedia

 

post_What-If-009-08   Namora is a character that originated in the Golden Age  era of Timely Comics. Technically not a part of this team, she eventually joins the modern incarnation as an Agent of Atlas.

   Namora possesses superhuman strength and can fly. She is nearly invulnerable as bullets and other missiles cannot penetrate her extremely tough skin. She can swim at superhuman speeds, breathe underwater, and is immune to the cold and pressures of the depths. She can also see better underwater than a normal human. Namora must periodically immerse herself in water to retain her powers and her health. ~ Wikipedia

 

M11 the Human Robot and Venus

   Marvel Comics’ M11 killer robot originally appeared in a typical 1954 short comic book horror story. However, it improbably resurfaced (literally) in an intriguing 1978 story and went on to become a team member in Agents of Atlas by 2006. 

    It’s a deliberate archetype of a 1950s science-fiction movie humanoid robot, used as a weapon. But he may be more than he seems…

   This profile uses the tweaked version of the characters’ history, as feature in Agents of Atlas. ~ WriteUps.org

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   Venus is a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe, originally based on the goddess Venus (Aphrodite) from Greek and Roman mythology; however, it is later revealed that she is a Siren and not the true goddess. The Marvel version of the character first appeared in Venus #1 (Aug. 1948). ~ Wikipedia

post_What-If-009-07Gorilla-Man

   Kenneth Hale was a happy-go-lucky soldier of fortune. He was always risking his life for thrills, but he was actually afraid of dying. He heard of a local tribal legend from Africa that stated “If you kill the magical Gorilla-Man, you become immortal.” He traveled to Africa to find the Gorilla-Man. Hale abandoned his goal at the last minute, but his encounter with the Gorilla-Man forced him to shoot. Hale then became immortal, but at the cost of becoming a Gorilla-Man himself. After operating his own team for a while, Hale retired, residing in a large treehouse near the Congo. ~ Wikipedia

post_What If 009-08   She chose not to be a part of the team, but I would be remiss if I hadn’t addressed her history, Jann of the Jungle.

   Jann of the Jungle is Jane Hastings, a circus trapeze artist and animal trainer. When she comes to the jungle as a stunt double for the female star of an adventure movie, the natives on the set acclaim her as “Jann”. Many years ago, a white woman was the friend and protector of the Africans but she met a white man who was a lion hunter and left with him. This was Hastings’ grandmother. Feeling at home in the verdure, Hastings stays on as the new Jann of the Jungle. Pat Mahoney from the film crew stays as well. ~ Wikipedia

 

Thus we have the “Original” Avengers!

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   What happens after this group assembles? That’s up to you to find out. I would hate to spoil a fun read.

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