Thanks to editor Stan Lee, Marvel Comics has been prone to hyperbole, and has many times promised to show us the weirdest, the wildest, the most off-the-beaten path comic heroes of all time…

Back in 1977, though, they really did.  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of The Human Fly #1 awaits!

THE HUMAN FLY #1

Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: Lee Elias
Inker: Lee Elias
Colorist: Marie Severin
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Archie Goodwin
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: 30 Cents/35 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $8.00/$40.00

Previously in The Human Fly: “The 1970s were an era of many pop-culture diversions, most of which ended up in Marvel Comics to one degree or another.  Blaxploitation films birthed Luke Cage, kung-fu movies gave us Master Of Kung-Fu, Iron Fist and more, disco music gave us Dazzler.  And as for Evel Knievel, Joie Chitwood and the various daredevil stunt kings, well…  They gave us THE HUMAN FLY!  Inspired by Evel and his ilk, a young entrepreneur named Rick Rojatt created his own distinctive costume and mask to perform his stunts in, making him a short-lived but legitimate sensation.  Thus, this first issue extravaganza, with its breathless exhortation that The Human Fly is awesome sauce “BECAUSE HE’S REAL!”

The wonderful thing about this introduction, other than the practiced economy with which Bill Mantlo introduces our hero, his supporting cast and the cynical Lois Lane reporter who wants to reveal his secret, is that this stunt actually did happen.

Sort of…

That, Faithful Spoilerites is the real Human Fly (for some values of real, anyways) during his real-life exeuction of the wing-walking stunt that is the impetus for part of this issue.  It should be noted that the real stunt was a meticulously planned logistical nightmare that put Rojatt in the hospital for several weeks to recover, while comic Fly has to improvise his save to stop a hijacking…

This issue’s art is handled by Lee Elias, a veteran penciller (he worked on original Jay Garrick stories back in the Golden Age at DC Comics, as well as a long and noteworthy run on Harvey Comics ‘Black Cat’, a comic which I’ll eventually get around to reviewing here in our Retro Review corner.  Regardless of bonna-fiddies, though, Elias puts drama in every panel, whether it’s the Human Fly struggling to complete his stunt and save the plane load of reporters or the flashback that reveals how ace pilot Blaze Kendall made her way onto the Fly’s support squad…

Blaze pulls off an incredibly, life-saving emergency landing, leaving her laid up in the hospital, where she was visited by The Human Fly, who tells her that, despite her injuries, she still has something important to contribute on his team.  Likewise, engineer Ted Locke, struggling to hold the Fly’s rig steady so he can reach the hijacked plane, flashes back to his own story…

I love the round-bordered flashbacks in these pages, another example of Elias’ expertise with a pencil after decades in the business, but Mantlo is no slouch either.  The Human Fly visits Ted as well, showing him the scars from his own terrible accident (an accident that the real-life Rojatt claims he lived through as well, and that in fact took the lives of his wife and daughter, though accurate information about the mysterious daredevil are sparse at best), telling Locke that he still has something to give with his brains and his chutzpah.  It’s clear that he chose his team well, as they successfully put The Human Fly on the hull of the hijacked airliner…

With his steel implants keeping him upright, the Fly moves inexorably across the skin of the plane, while the Spider prepares to make his move within…

Oh, I might have forgotten to mention that the press corps assembled to cover The Human Fly’s stunt includes one Peter Parker, late of Forest Hills, Queens, who has a contractual obligation to welcome new heroes into the Marvel Universe to give them a little bit of what wrestling fans call ‘The Rub.”  Also: The Mercenary, with his ridiculous skull & crossbones crash helmet is a perfect example of the dishwater-dull Marvel Team-Up villains that never show up again after they are shut down by the heroes.  Still, he’s enough of a threat to blow a hole in the hull, causing The Fly to fall off the plane!

Flashback time for our hero!  Injured in the accident we mentioned a bit ago (though with no mention of the lost family, thankfully), The Man Who Would Be Human And/Or Fly refused to let his injuries stop him.  Instead, he forced himself to recover, to regain his range of motion, his ability to walk, and even a level of agility that would have to be described as superhuman…

As he recovered, though, The Human Fly realized that he was among the lucky ones, and vowed to use his own recovery to inspire those who lived with disabilities or injuries.  (The real-life Fly reputedly performed for audiences of kids dealing with injuries or impairments across the country, once again blending fact and fiction.)

Climbing back up the wing, The Human Fly makes his way to the hatchway, busting in and crackin’ skulls in the might Marvel manner…

His assault on the bad guys gives Pete the opening he needs to mask-up, team-up and give his stamp of approval to the new kid on the block, even letting The Human Fly engage The Mercenary directly, what with his being the name on the cover.  Though neither hero can fly, they even engage the villain in air combat…

But Spidey has been doing this since he was 15 years old, we recall, which allows him to save the Fly’s life after the new hero saved his bacon, and both heroes make their way to the ground, where the unconscious (and honestly, after crashing into the Earth from that height, very dead) Mercenary awaits.  Spidey cuts out to deal with secret identity issues, leaving The Human Fly to greet his fans and detractors…

As these kind of fad-driven, easily disposable comics go, it’s pretty okay, thanks mostly to Mantlo and Elias putting together an airtight script and pencils.  The Human Fly #1 is a fascinating look at a long-gone era and it’s peccadilloes, one that bleeds pure Jimmy-Carter-era goofiness while insisting on being likeable and making a quiet statement about those who are differently-abled, earning 3 out of 5 starsoverall.  For all the snark and cynicism you could throw at this book and Rojatt’s real-life antics, I can’t get too made about a book that gives us a diverse, well-rounded cast of characters with detailed back stories and inspirational messages, the kind of thing that Bill Mantlo excels at portraying…

Thanks to editor Stan Lee, Marvel Comics has been prone to hyperbole, and has many times promised to show us the weirdest, the wildest, the most off-the-beaten path comic heroes of all time... Back in 1977, though, they really did.  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of The Human Fly #1 awaits! THE HUMAN FLY #1 Writer: Bill Mantlo Penciler: Lee Elias Inker: Lee Elias Colorist: Marie Severin Letterer: Joe Rosen Editor: Archie Goodwin Publisher: Marvel Comics Cover Price: 30 Cents/35 Cents Current Near-Mint Pricing: $8.00/$40.00 Previously in The Human Fly: "The 1970s were an era of many pop-culture diversions, most…
Solid in story and art, with some really weird bits of lore around the edges. Get the 35 cent cover, if ya can...

THE HUMAN FLY #1

Writing
Art
Coloring

Solid in story and art, with some really weird bits of lore around the edges. Get the 35 cent cover, if ya can...

User Rating: Be the first one !

At Major Spoilers, we strive to create original content that you find interesting and entertaining. If you would like to support our efforts, please become a patron today.

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

Major Spoilers Question of the Day: Unusual Wizards Edition

Next post

Secret Warriors #7 Review

No Comment

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section