Sunday, 18 May 2014

Worthless Comics: Modred The Mystic

Got to thinking about when we used to swap comics. There were a bunch of us comic nuts in Haverhill in the '70s, and we regularly used to go round each others houses to swap comics. And the value system that we all used, when you start to think about it, was a bit odd.
Because, there were some comics that were patently special, and which you would only swap for something equally amazing. For instance if you had this:

Or this:

Well these were special issues even then, iconic storylines, and you wouldn't swap them for just anything ( or at all! )
But there were also less legendary ones, that were valuable simply because they were great.

Doesn't matter if you like Nick Fury or not, It's Chaykin AND Starlin. Not swapping that for anything.
Or how about this:

It's John Byrne at the height of his Bronze Age fame. Good look getting Dean Willetts to give you that for anything less than your entire collection.
But to your parents or a non fan, a comic is a comic is a comic. As a physical object they're all the same size and shape and they all kind of look the same. Which is why it stung your heart when your Mum treated them as anything less than the gold-plated treasures they were.
But equally there were comics that everyone agreed were completely worthless. So much so that you were actually offended by them, you kept them always at the bottom of the pile, and groaned when they reared their ugly heads.

On swapping afternoons, these were comics that people would ' do you a favour and take off your hands ' only if you added something good alongside them. Although more often than not, everyone else had been lumbered with that particular issue as well, so you had to keep offering more & more to get a sniff of the ones you really wanted from their collection.

As for a instance, The Invaders. As much as I like that series now, this was a completely worthless comic to us because it was Frank Robbins, so if you wanted something good you had to offer at least two Invaders AND something of comparable value to get it. And we all knew what the values were, they were written in stone. The Human Fly is another example. Everyone was, as one, of the opinion that this series was worth nothing to anyone.
Equally any series that you liked that suddenly got a fill-in artist for an issue, an artist that you hated, automatically became a real tug-of-war, as you didn't wanna have a run with gaps in it, but you also didn't want it contaminating the rest of your collection with it's stinkiness.
Carmine Infantino's '70's work at Marvel is a discussion for another time, but it's fair to say that when he took over Nova or Star Wars, well, then those books went to the back of the wardrobe as well.

There were, as I say, some comics that were universally agreed on as being so bad,  they were actually offensive and you didn't even want to look at them. And yet we all ended up with a copy of it.
Here's one: Marvel Chillers #1 featuring Modred The Mystic.

Behind a classic bait-and-switch Gil Kane cover, there's one dull, dull comic. I apologize profusely to all concerned, but as a kid I and all my friends hated this comic, and when I re-bought it as an adult, time had not softened the blow.
There's more portentous dialogue than even Roy Thomas would use, and the art, though competent, completely fails to inspire. And what's with that chain mail legging and loafers combo for a costume?
I don't have to pick it up by the corner for fear of catching it's badness or anything, but it is the definition of the kind of comic we all found totally worthless as kids. Give you The Brute #3 for it?


  1. I had a copy of Spidey #121, did I swap it to you in a moment of weakness? I bought it on holiday in Blackpool from an indoor market in 1979. They had loads of great comics but I only had 50p so could only buy one. Back then of course, it was difficult to get any of the decent Marvel comics, anything that was appearing in Marvel UK reprints wasn't distributed in the UK.
    I seem to remember even the crappiest comic was worth more to us if it had a cents rather than pence price tag in that corner box.

  2. Of course you explained our comics collecting perfectly here...

  3. I think Dave got that Spidey, Sean.
    And at some point I'll put that Kids strip up here too!

  4. I'm totally with you on Robbins and Infantino at Marvel - even though I was a diehard Star Wars fan back then, I generally avoided the comic for quite some time because of Infantino's art. Meanwhile, I really liked the stories in the Invaders, but suffered through Robbins' art. Human Fly I just avoided altogether.

    I'll take your word on Mordred. Never had that back then, but I now have those Mordred stories in one of my Essential Marvel Horror books. So I'll get around to reading them some day...

  5. Only if you're having trouble sleeping, Edo...

  6. my admiration for Frank Robbins is fairly well documented, so I won't go there.

    but! I'm guessing I'm a few years older than you, pete. when me & my mates were swap comics, it was almost always DC comics. you couldn't get American Marvel comics for dear life, but DC comics were everywhere. a 100-pager would set you back three normal comics, or ONE REALLY GOOD comic ( in the case of my mate, Shaun, he'd part with almost anything for a Sgt Rock - me, it was either Secret Origins or Plop! ).

  7. Joe,
    Mine and Pete's mate David managed to get 50 DC Comics for one issue of Marvel Team-Up someone needed to complete the set. And it wasn't even one of the good ones. #48 IIRC.

  8. That's not true is it, Sean? That's just an urban legend Dave tells! Was it Dean or Andrew Holder?
    Joe, no one's older than me!

  9. It is true, I was there!
    Can't remember who it was, although I think it was someone up the Clements...

  10. I've just looked up MTU #48 on the GCDB, and yeah, it WAS one of the less than classic ones. And I bet you & me managed to get all those DC's off him anyway....

  11. And let me just clarify, Joe, I now LOVE Frank Robbins and Sgt. Rock.
    ( Gonna post some Johnny Hazard up here at some point )
    And always loved secret Origins & Plop..

  12. Hi Guys! I just stumbled on your conversation:) It's true Pete,I did get 50 DC for that one issue,but it was off Stuart McFarlane who quite rightly Sean lived on the Clements.I did indeed get Spidey #121 from you Sean as a swap for some now forgotten comic(s). Thanks for this article Pete,it brought back some great memories:) And for the record I'm older than all of you!!! probably:)