Welcome back to Rotten Ink, a place that we are going to go old school and take a look at a superhero who has the ability of 3-D…yes my friends and readers, we will be taking a look at Marvel Comic’s very own icon of cheesy double vision power, the one and only 3-D Man! I am sure many of you have just said to yourself who is 3-D Man? And I cant blame you for not knowing as he was a Marvel Character who has had very few appearances and started in the showcase style series “Marvel Premiere,” but by the end of this update you will feel as if he might be your favorite superhero of all time…well maybe not your favorite more like you will at least acknowledge that he exists in the world of comics. I can’t believe it’s November already and almost Thanksgiving time. It seems like this year has flown by, and we are creeping up on 2016, a year that looks like it will be great for horror films in theater! But we are not here to talk about horror as we are here to enjoy the cool weather and gear up for turkey and ham and most importantly time with loved ones! So get your 3-D glasses out and come spend a little time with 3-D Man and me here at Rotten Ink’s Pre-Thanksgiving cheesy feast as we take a look at this icon of goofy 70’s comic might.
3-D Man, whose real identity is Chuck Chandler, was created by Roy Thomas and Jim Craig for Marvel Comics in 1977 with his first appearance being in Marvel Premiere issue 35. Chuck becomes 3-D Man after an accident that leaves him dead by all accounts besides when his brother puts on a pair of glasses that brings him back as a red and green superhero who has hyper senses and strengths, and all this was taking place in the 1950’s adding a classic sci-fi and atomic age feel to the character and the real horrors of that time period. Marvel did three issues following 3-D Man in Marvel Premiere and over the years he made few appearances in issues of What If, Incredible Hulk, Avengers and Agents Of Atlas, but never was given his own full series. 3-D Man’s skin color is red and green, and he has goggle like eyes. Many people think that he is wearing a suit when in fact he is not. His arch nemesis are the alien shape shifter race known as The Skrulls as well as any foreign threat to America, but mostly it’s Skrulls who seem to also really have it out for him and the human race. When he was a normal man, Chuck was a football player and also one heck of an airman! Not much more can be shared about 3-D Man besides that fact he is an old school superhero with basic super strength and seems to be forgotten by many modern comic readers.
I am fan of going to the movie theater to watch a film on the big screen and over the years Hollywood has come up with all types of silly gimmicks to draw people in. Who could forget electric shock chairs for The Tingler or barf bags and life insurance policies given out for horror flicks like Mark of the Devil and Tombs of The Blind Dead, not to mention the fact many of these gimmicks were made and thought up by William Castle. But one of these tricks to get people to their local theater that seems to not be going away anytime soon is 3-D, and I for one am ok with that! 3-D is nothing like it is now. Imagine instead of wearing the plastic glasses at an IMAX screening of The Avengers 2 having to wear cheap cardboard glasses with one red and blue lens that made the image on the screen seem as if we were watching them live. Webster’s dictionary defines 3-D as “a three-dimensional form; also: an image or a picture produced in it” for those who were wondering. The gimmick of 3-D was mostly used for horror and sci-fi films with titles like Creature From The Black Lagoon, House of Wax, Friday The 13th Part III, My Bloody Valentine and so many more adding those eye popping thrill moments that allows the viewer feel as if they are apart of the movie. Over the years I have seen my fair share of 3-D films, but one that I would love to have seen was Creature From The Black Lagoon. Could you imagine watching Gillman swimming in eye popping 3-D? Or even Julie Addams in her bathing suit in 3-D? While barf bags and glow in the dark plastic skeletons falling from the theater ceiling might have gone away, it looks like 3-D is here to stay and help add more bang for your box office bucks.
So while I could talk about movie theaters and gimmicks this whole update, I have to get myself back on track and the topic at hand is 3-D Man, a superhero who made his impact in Marvel Premiere. For those of you who don’t know what Marvel Premiere was, I will give you a quick crash course, Marvel started the comic Marvel Premiere in 1972 and was a series that would showcase characters that had no longer their own on-going series and also a way to showcase the new characters who were tested to see if readers would be into a series based on them. Many characters were showcased in this series like Warlock, Man-Wolf, Iron Fist and even rock star Alice Cooper and BBC show Doctor Who got their time to shine. The series ended in 1981 with a total of 61 issues with Star-Lord of Guardians Of The Galaxy being the final character showcased. But if you’re ready we should all put our 3-D glasses on and get ready to travel to the 1950’s and kick some butt with the one and only 3-D Man! I want to remind you that I grade these issues on a star scale of 1 to 4 and am looking for how well the comic stays to the source material, its entertainment value and its art and story. I also want to thank Bell Book and Comic as well as a dealer at Gem City Comic Con for having these issues in stock. So let’s get ready to see this Marvel Comic wonder in action.
Marvel Premiere: The 3-D Man # 35 **1/2
Released in 1977 Cover Price .30 Marvel Comics #35 of 61
It’s the late 1950’s, and 3-D Man arrives at a warehouse filled with Russian spies and starts mopping the floor with them and meets their leader Diabolik who seems to know who he really is and how he became 3-D Man! We flashback and meet Chuck Chandler who is a college football star who turns down to go pro to follow his dream of becoming a pilot. He becomes one of the world’s top flyers, only surpassed by Ben Grimm in his ability. Hal Chandler is Chuck’s younger brother who is left crippled by polio, and is Chuck’s biggest fan as he sits out in a special spot and watches his brother fly fancy new planes. Chuck also has a loyal and loving girlfriend named Peggy who along with Hal goes to watch Chuck fly a very powerful new jet called the XF-13. While flying this jet, he runs into a flying saucer that is being driven by Skrulls who want to wipe Chuck’s mind of and brainwash him into trying to make it so that Earthlings do not try and come to space. Chuck makes a move and escapes, and while doing so he blows up the saucer and is covered in radiation in the process. When he gets back to Earth, he is greeted by his brother Hal and right before the brothers can embrace, an explosion turns Chuck into ash and his image is burned into Hal’s glasses. Everyone thinks Chuck is dead, but when Hal puts his burnt glasses on and goes deep into thought he unleashes Chuck who is now 3-D Man, a red and green skinned super hero with above average abilities! 3-D Man goes after the Russian spies and finds out that they are being lead by a Skrull who informs 3-D Man that he has made an enemy for life with their race and that they will not stop till they defeat the Earth! After the fight, 3-D Man returns to Hal and together the brothers know they must be the saviors of the world.
While this superhero might be very cheesy with some of the lamest dated powers of any hero I have read about this year, I must say that I fully enjoyed this origin issue and for some reason found 3-D Man to be a perfect fit for Marvel in the 70’s. The plot of this issue has hot shot master pilot flying an experimental plane for the government while his crippled brother watches on. When he is kidnapped by The Skrulls, he escapes and by doing so he blows up their ship and is washed with radioactive waves that leave him not human anymore but as a red and green image on his brothers glasses, and when his brother puts the glasses on and thinks really hard he will come back to life as 3-D for three hours and fight off the Skrulls who have placed him on death watch. Chuck Chandler or 3-D Man is a good man who is gifted with being very good at whatever he sets his sights on such as sports and flying. He is a loyal brother, boyfriend and American and will not give information to the Russians and will not allow aliens to try and keep Earth out of space. As 3-D Man, he has three times the speed, strength and athletic ability of any man and uses his power for good of America. Hal Chandler is not as gifted as his brother and has been dealt a bad hand getting polio, but now with his glasses he has the power to free his brother 3-D Man and even shared the adventures once he wakes up from his zombie like state. Not much is given to Peggy yet besides we know that she is Chuck’s new girlfriend and that she loves her boyfriend very much. The Skrulls, those pesky shape shifting aliens, are the bad guys, and they once more are trying to bully Earth to do what they wish us to do. I guess the spies are also the bad guys, but they get beat up pretty fast and are no major threat. The art is classic 70’s Marvel stuff and is done by the talented Jim Craig who also worked on issues of “Master of Kung-Fu” and “What If?” to name a few. The cover is very eye-catching and is perfect for a first appearance issue, and I am sure made comic readers of 77 grab the issue off the newsstand. So let’s see what 3-D Man has up his green and red sleeve in his second comic adventure.
Marvel Premiere: The 3-D Man # 36 **1/2
Released in 1977 Cover Price .30 Marvel Comics #36 of 61
Professor Potter is being mugged by a biker gang who want to take his briefcase of notes, but lucky for him 3-D Man shows up and runs off the thugs but not before the leader of the gang shows himself to be a Skrull and rides off with the notes. The 3-D Man returns to his brother Hal’s glasses, and by a miracle now Hal no longer has a limp and can walk normally and sets up a meeting with Potter and finds out the Professor’s notes were about flying saucers being seen around town. Hal returns home, and it’s clear his father is not over Chuck’s death and even Peggy stops over as they look at her as family. New Rock n Roll star Vince Rivers is in town and selling out due to his hit song “Rocket In My Pocket.” This sets off Hal’s Dad into a hate fueled rant on rock music and gives Hal the idea he should check out this star as he thinks Skrulls might be involved. At the concert that is presented by radio DJ Doc Rock, the teenagers in the crowd go crazy when Vince starts to sing. 3-D Man comes to the rescue and stops Vince and the riot. In the end Vince is arrested, and it’s shown Doc Rock was the Skrull. He outsmarted them all and gets away with causing a riot.
This second issue is filled with more sci-fi superhero action and does a nice touch of adding 1950’s culture into the story from TV shows like Howdy Doodey and Have Gun Will Travel, how the older generation hated the Rock N Roll music movement and even mentions Captain America and Bucky as past heroes as they both are believed to be dead during this time. In fact, the first issue even makes a reference to the old horror host Shock Theatre package of Universal Horror Films! This second issue’s plot is about 3-D Man trying everything in his power to stop the Skrulls who are trying to cause chaos on Earth so that they can come down from space and take us over. 3-D Man is still a very noble and American loving hero, but I will say it was getting really annoying to hear him reference how he has three times the abilities of normal man over and over again. As a reader I found myself saying out loud “For God’s sake I know this already! You have reminded us a dozen times already!” But while annoying, it didn’t make the issue any less fun. Hal Chandler in this second issue has changed a lot and has stopped being a physically challenged fan boy of his older brother. He is now healed up and acts as the investigator for his superhero brother. It is funny that when 3-D Man comes out to fight Hal passes out like a scared fainting goat. It was nice to see Peggy as well and watch her hear 3-D Man’s voice and know that it reminded her of her dead boyfriend. Plus, it was nice to see Chuck & Hal’s parents again. The Skrulls are once more the bad guys, and they are still being a pain in 3-D Man’s butt and using dumb humans as their foot soldiers. Vince Rivers is a gold suit wearing, ego maniac Elvis wannabe who while not the real bad guy still deserved what he got when he would not stop singing after the riot broke out clearly when his voice was the trigger for the event. So far this comic series that I originally I started out thinking they would be cheesy throwaway issues has turned out to be a very entertaining read and the art by Jim Craig is classic Marvel stuff and makes it even more entertaining.
Marvel Premiere: The 3-D Man # 37 **1/2
Released in 1977 Cover Price .30 Marvel Comics #37 of 61
Vince Rivers is taken to jail, and The Skrull who acted as a DJ springs him out with the help of Skrull technology, but his escape is short lived as 3-D man once more comes to the world’s rescue and stops the Rock n Roller from getting freedom. 3-D man also finds the technology of the Skrulls that was used to free Vince and takes it away. The Skrull is furious and follows 3-D Man waiting for the chance to blast him with his ray. As 3-D Man makes his way to the club where his brother Hal is asleep to reemerge with the glasses. The Skrull fires his laser ray just as the two are about to merge and finds that his attempt at murder has done nothing, or so he thinks. Hal returns home with the Skrull technology as The Skrull now turns himself into Vice President Richard Nixon and cons a scientist into doing an experiment on himself that leaves him with the power of freezing and ice and is given the name Cold Warrior as well as a costume. When Hal decides it’s time for 3-D Man to come back out and look for the Skrull, he finds that he now controls the thoughts of 3-D Man and his brother Chuck seems to be M.I.A. causing some concern. Cold Warrior finds 3-D Man, who he thinks is a communist, and they two do battle that leaves 3-D Man the winner and The Skrull even more mad that yet another of his attacks has failed.
So this is the final issue in the Marvel Premiere 3-D Man saga, and while it’s good, I do feel that it seems a little more rushed and has a little less direction than the first two issues did. 3-D Man in this issues starts with the mind of Chuck but by the end has the mind of Hal, and this is a good story element that sadly is not explored much and seems to be just thrown into the storyline to add a little drama. As always, 3-D Man must remind himself as well as the reader that he has three time the abilities of a normal man and with this he always seems to come out ahead of whatever challenge is in his way. Hal is as smart as ever and spends his time also trying to figure out just how the Skrull device he found allowed Vince Rivers to escape. He also kind of shrugs off the fact his mind is now in the body of 3-D Man making you wonder if maybe he now wants the glory of being a hero. Peggy and Hal’s parents seem to take a backseat in this issue as they are only shown during a BBQ in the backyard that gets rained out. Vince Rivers makes a cameo at the start of the issue and breaks out of jail only to be stopped by 3-D Man. It’s a shame the young man’s only crime is being a rock star. The Skrull is one mean spirited manipulator who uses normal everyday men for doing evil things while masking it that they are doing good. Plus I like how The Skrulls are his main bad guys. Cold Warrior is not really a bad guy as he thinks 3-D Man is a Russian spy and thinks by killing him he is doing America good. His powers are like Ice Man, and he almost seems like a villain who would have been in a issue of Amazing Spider-Man in the mid 70’s if he would have gone fully bad. The things that work the most for 3-D Man is the 50’s time period and the well done blending of superhero and sci-fi making the character seem like he could have been seen on a drive-in screen alongside the likes of Radar Men From The Moon. It’s a shame that Marvel didn’t see too much potential with 3-D Man and he was never given a full series of his own. I mean he is no more silly than Human Fly and Machine Man. The downside is that the story just ends and leaves one wondering what is the fate of Chuck’s soul and did 3-D Man ever stop the Skrulls from causing chaos on Earth. None of it answered unless you can track down other issues 3-D Man appeared in. Jim Craig’s artwork is fantastic and is the kind of work I love in these classic 70’s Marvel Comics. Below is some artwork done by Craig and captures the feel of this cheesy character.
So I am sure you are wondering about 3-D Man and his fate. Well, his next appearance came in an issue of Incredible Hulk, and since you all know how much I enjoy The Hulk, we will take a look at that issue as well!
The Incredible Hulk # 251 **1/2
Released in 1980 Cover Price .50 Marvel Comics #251 of 474
Bruce Banner is hiding in a ally when he is discovered by a family, but this isn’t just any family, it’s Hal Chandler, his wife Peggy and their two children Chuck and Hal Jr. They invite him in for dinner and a place to stay for the night. After dinner Hal explains the disappearance of his brother Chuck who his firstborn son is named after, and Bruce tells stories of the town they now live in. Bruce is shown to their guest room, and the family goes to sleep, all but Hal who knows Bruce’s secret of being the Hulk and calls the police and gets out his old glasses to unleash 3-D Man after a 20 year break. Meanwhile in a cabin in the woods some hundreds of miles away, Rick Jones is in the middle of a showdown between the hoofed feet Woodgod and Doc Samson that has creatures of myth coming to the aid of their leader the Woodgod. Rick uses an old CB radio to call for help and to his luck Chuck hears the call! Chuck rushes down to his dad and finds him in the trance and meets his uncle The 3-D Man who has been called on to protect Hal’s family from The Hulk in case the cops jar him into a fighting mood. As the cops show up and join 3-D Man, they prepare to surprise the sleeping Bruce Banner, as young Chuck rushes and warns the sleeping stranger that he has to leave and turn into The Hulk to save Rick Jones but it’s too late Bruce turns into The Hulk and starts to fight with 3-D Man who is over eager to fight the green skin monster! Hulk shows that he is too strong for 3-D Man and with some kind words from young Chuck and Peggy to stop fighting, Hulk rushes to his friends aid. 3-D Man returns to the glasses of Hal who has lots of explaining to do to his family.
Hal Chandler is not as nice of a person as we all thought he was in the Marvel Premiere three issues as in this Hulk comic it is shown that he has kept his brother 3-D Man in limbo for 20 years and has lied to his brother’s girlfriend who is now his wife about her first true love. Hal’s ego comes out and shows that he is jealous of his brother even in death and feels that if people know that he is still alive that Peggy would fall back in love with him and leave Hal in his coma state and they will see Chuck as a hero as he is 3-D Man. With that out of the way, I should point out some of the plot holes that this comic gives us. For one, Hal is back to having a limp, and the second major one is that the last time we saw 3-D Man, he had the mind of Hal and Chuck was missing. In this one for 20 years 3-D Man sat in limbo with the mind of Chuck and no explanation was given on how their minds switched again! 3-D Man is clearly annoyed he’s been in limbo for over 20 years yet seems very eager to fight The Hulk whom he knows nothing about, and he soon learns that his three times the power is no match for The Hulk who is the strongest there is! Peggy, who clearly settled for Hal, seems to be a little shocked when she finds out that her husband has lied to her for many years. The young Chuck is clearly a good kid as he not only warns Bruce Banner of the police but also is trying his best to get him to leave to help Rick Jones. The Hulk is as he always is, a monster who wants to be left alone but superheroes and normal men won’t leave him alone so he does what he does best and that’s smash! The Hulk in the issue is very much provoked into a fight with 3-D Man, as Hulk clearly just wants to be left alone so that he can rescue his friend. This is a good solid classic Hulk issue with art done by Sal Buscema, and next to Herb Trimpe, this is the Hulk art that I grew up on. Over all I really enjoyed this issue and any chance I get to read and talk about The Hulk here on Rotten Ink I will take, so it was very cool that in this issue he took on this update’s topic 3-D Man. So check out some of the artwork below and see the art style of Sal.
3-D Man last was seen in 2008’s “Secret Invasion,” but before that Hal and Chuck no longer were 3-D Man as Chuck was able to become a real person again and they passed the costume and name to Delroy Garrett who is now the official 3-D Man. So as you can see 3-D Man has done it all from fist fighting The Hulk to being a pain in the Skrull empire’s butt, and while he is not well known, he still has made his mark on the Marvel Universe. Our next topic is a hero who is forgotten by many and never made it to the top of anyone’s favorite superhero list and that poor hero is Holo-Man. So make sure to come back and learn about him! Until next time, watch a movie at your favorite theater, read a comic or three and as always have a fun and safe holiday season.