Or – “Here’s A Real Tough One To Find…”
This summer has been tremendously successful for back issue purchases, and one of our recent hauls at the store (Gatekeeper Hobbies, Huntoon & Gage, Topeka! Ask us about our Evel Knievel #1) included a large collection of promotional and freebie comics, books that are rare even by comic print-run standards. Because of the sheer number of books we’ve picked up, I was ready to toss this book in the 3 For A Dollar bin, but fortunately I consulted my pricing guide first, and was nearly knocked off of my chair. Righting myself before causing a massive comic-slide, I knew without a doubt that the adventures of Big Jim, the leader of the P.A.C.K. (VROOM!) were destined to be enshrined in my collection and that Jim himself was the hero written of in obscure prophecy, the only man fit to complete the mighty Retro Review trinity alongside Skateman and Big Daddy Cool. Your Major Spoilers (retro) review awaits!
Remarkably good art for its ilk.
A fun group of adventurers.
It’s half comic/half toy catalogue.
Now I want a Lazer Vette.
BIG JIM’S P.A.C.K. #1
Artist: John Buscema
Inker: Joe Sinnott
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: N/A (Free w/Big Jim Action Figure)
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $50.00
Previously in Big Jim’s P.A.C.K.: Professional Agents: Crime Killers! Led by the man known only as Big Jim, the P.A.C.K. presages G.I. Joe, M.A.S.K. and the S.P.H.I.N.X. (sphinx) in bringing together a group of talented professionals, each with their own specialty and code-name, to defend the world against the evils that hide in the shadows. As the issue opens, the P.A.C.K. is called to the White House for a briefing, but not before Jim reminisces about their origins…
I really enjoy the economy of storytelling here, moving quickly and explaining each of the P.A.C.K. members’ schtick and powers, while keeping it simple (remember, this promo book came ree with the Big Jim action figure and was aimed at pre-teen children.) The Big Jim box art designs were done by the legendary Jack Kirby, while this issue was drawn by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott, part of Marvel’s legendary 70’s bullpen. With their base membership solidified, Big Jim is ready for his mission, but fate has a surprise in store for the leader of the P.A.C.K. (VROOM!)
Torpedo (known in the toy line by the utterly amazing nom de guerre of “TORPEDO FIST”) completed Jim’s five-man band, and brought the P.A.C.K. to full strength. Arriving at the White House for their briefing, the leader of the P.A.C.K. (VROOM!) is told that certain important buildings around the world have been suddenly collapsing, sinking into the earth without a trace. A government agent (who, in my mind is named Manny Both-Hands) discovered that this was NOT natural seismic activity, nor was it an accident. Each building was intentionally brought down, by a subhuman madman who lives underground. Though he was able to snap a photo of the subterranean malefactor, Manny Both-hands died to bring Jim the information…
Okay, he didn’t DIE, but for the structure of the joke, you… y’know, just… play along? Gahhh! Anyway, Jim recognizes the face of their new enemy, an opponent long though dead, a man named Zorak!
He also plays a mean set of keyboards, to hear Space Ghost tell it. In any case, the P.A.C.K. sets out individually, each heading for one of the key locations identified by the intelligence analysts in Washington. Each P.A.C.K. member sets out in a different disguise (sold separately, natch), each with specialized mission gear…
“Hate to spoiler the fireworks, but I want to park on you!” Eat that one-liner, James Bond! The leader of the P.A.C.K. (No, I’m not tired of this joke yet! VROOM!) is successful, and Whip and Torpedo likewise complete their mission, but it’s the incredible manliness of Doctor Steel that utterly steals the show…
He. Melted. The. Tank. WITH. HIS. HAND! You talk about your Batman, but Doctor Steel 3:16 says he just blew my mind! Warpath’s opponents escape, sadly, and are able to regroup with their boss and tell him that the metaphorical jig is up. The P.A.C.K. likewise pulls together, rendezvousing at the sixth target, the United States capitol! Unfortunately for them, Zorak decides to change up the plan…
Thanks to Jim’s perspicacity, though, Whip and Warpath are on site when the Mole Men attack, and Jim and the rest of the crew get there in mere seconds, thanks to their awesome vehicles (also sold separately.) While his crew takes on Zorak’s army, the leader of the P.A.C.K. (his name’s Jim) takes out the explosive devices.
Though the country is safe for now, Big Jim, Doctor Steel, Torpedo, Warpath and Whip know that the never-ending battle isn’t over, hence the part about it being never-ending, and set off to make certain that they’re ready for Zorak’s latest schemes, and fully stocked with the latest accessories and vehicles from Mattel! This book is really a throwback for me, as just a few years later, we’d get the wonderful experience of Transformers #1, with 37 robots explaining their names, powers and personalities on panel for the whole issue. Still, as a precursor to the likes of Micronauts and G.I. Joe, it’s interesting to see this little-known issue, and artistically, it’s pretty okay. I enjoy the heck out of the art, and the dialogue is an utter hoot throughout the admittedly simplistic story. In short, Big Jim’s P.A.C.K. #1 (technically it doesn’t have a number, but since it’s the first issue, I’m going with that) is blatantly designed to sell toys, but somehow makes the whole exercise fun, and makes me wish I had Big Jim toys when *I* was a kid, earning 3 out of 5 stars overall. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go scour the online auction sites for a Lazer Vette…