Why Did Marvel’s Thanos and Galactus Fight in an Italian Comic and Who Won?

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In the latest Comic Book Legends Revealed, learn whether Marvel reprinted an Italian comic book starring Silver Surfer, Galactus and Thanos.

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the eight hundred and nineteenth installment where we examine three comic book legends and determine whether they are true or false. As usual, there will be three posts, one for each of the three legends.

NOTE: If my Twitter page hits 5,000 followers, I’ll do a bonus edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed that week. Great deal, right? So go follow my Twitter page, Brian_Cronin!

Marvel reprinted a Silver Surfer story that was produced originally in Italy.

False Enough for a False, as the story is a lot more complicated than that.

In 1995, Marvel Panini launched a new series called Marvel Top, which collected longer works, like reprinted annuals for the first issue (this was 112 pages)…

However, for a series that pretty much ONLY published reprints, the third issue, unusually, released in the fall of 1995, featured a brand-new, Black and White Silver Surfer story by American Marvel writer, Ron Marz, and Italian artist, Claudio Castellini…

Almost a year later, in June 1996, Marvel seemingly reprinted the story in a one-shot, Silver Surfer: Dangerous Artifacts…

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The concept of the series was that a mysterious comet with a super powerful power source was discovered somewhere and Galactus sent Silver Surfer as his proxy to find and acquire that power source…

Thanos, meanwhile, hired a mercenary known as White Raven for the same purpose…

Look at the stunning Castellini double page spread where Surfer discovers where the power source is held…

Of course, as it turns out, the power source was a sort of demon-like being that Surfer couldn’t allow to go free…

In the end, after Surfer risked his life to protect her, the mercenary White Raven surprises everyone involved by sacrificing her ship to take down the demon…

So it was basically a tie between Galactus and Thanos, through their proxies, but the universe won by the entity being prevented from escaping.

Okay, so why did Marvel reprint an Italian Marvel comic like this? The answer, simply put, is that they didn’t…well, not really.

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Ron Marz used to write a column for CBR and he detailed the story in one of his old columns.

He explained, “During my tenure on the monthly title [Silver Surfer], my editor, Craig Anderson, called and asked if I’d be interested in writing a Surfer story for an Italian artist that editor-in-chief Tom DeFalco met while on a trip in Italy. The artist’s name was Claudio Castellini, and Craig told me Claudio worshipped at the shrine of John Buscema, patron saint of Silver Surfer artists. Claudio’s fondest wish was to draw a Surfer story, but Marvel wanted something special, not just another issue of the series.

This was pre-internet. International artists, except for those in the UK, were a relative rarity in the U.S. market. Craig FedExed me a box with copies of Claudio’s European work, including the “Nathan Never” series from Bonelli. The art was stunning; obviously heavily influenced by Buscema’s graceful, fluid lines, but more delicate, more detailed.

Of course I immediately said yes. Any writer with a functioning brain stem would’ve said yes. Editorial didn’t hand down any parameters for the story; the job was simply to write a Silver Surfer tale. So I did my best to make it an artistic playground for Claudio, giving him ample opportunity to draw the tech at which he so excelled, as well usual suspects like the Kree, Skrulls and Galactus. Especially Galactus.”

However, Castellini took so long on the project that by the time he was finished, DeFalco was out at Marvel, and Bob Harras wasn’t as interested in the project and certainly wasn’t willing to give it the super special set-up that DeFalco was planning. Marvel dragged their legs on it for so long that Marvel Panini ended up publishing it first, since Marvel didn’t seem like it was going to do so.

Marz noted that Castellini was so worried about the project’s safety that “When Claudio finally finished the pages, he refused to entrust the originals into FedEx’s care. So he personally flew the pages over to New York from Rome, carrying them with him in a portfolio. The pages were delivered to the Marvel offices by hand. And even then, Claudio didn’t stop fussing over them: adding details here, redrawing something there, endlessly noodling on the pages. The job was only “finished” when editorial literally took the pages from him, locked them in a flat file, and told Claudio, “You have to stop now.””

Awesome.

Like Marz notes in the column, I sure wish that this could be reprinted in an oversize format, or at least as a black and white comic book. He also noted, “If I could send one project from my career back to press, it would be “Dangerous Artifacts,” re-colored from scratch and properly cropped. When the “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” film was impending (I’m on the DVD extras, check it out) I had a discussion with a Marvel editor and suggested a Surfer hardcover containing Stan and Jack’s Surfer original graphic novel, the Stan and Moebius “Parable,” and the Castellini job. Nothing came of it, unfortunately.”

Interesting to note that 1996 also saw Marz and Castellini do DC vs. Marvel together. At least that didn’t fall apart!

Thanks so much to Ron Marz for the fascinating information!

Check out some other entertainment and sports legends from Legends Revealed:

1. Was There an Ending Filmed for Raiders of the Lost Ark That Was Cut From U.S. Prints of the Film?

2. How Did Missing Scrabble Pieces Lead to the Creation of Trivial Pursuit?

3. Was a Scene Removed From the Film “The Program” Because People Were Killed Reenacting It?

4. Was Sondheim’s “Marry Me a Little” First Recorded Only as a Christmas Present?

Check back later for part 2 of this installment’s legends!

Feel free to send suggestions for future comic legends to me at either cronb01@aol.com or brianc@cbr.com

KEEP READING: Did Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons Seriously Do a Fill-in Calvin and Hobbes Strip?

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