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CSBG Archive

I Love Ya But You’re Strange – Aunt May…Herald of Galactus?!

Every week, I will spotlight strange but ultimately endearing comic stories (basically, we’re talking lots and lots of Silver Age comic books). Here is the archive of all the installments of this feature. Feel free to e-mail me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com if you have a suggestion for a future installment!

With Aunt May being announced for the new Spider-Man film, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at the time that Aunt May became the Herald of Galactus. Not a Hoax! Not a What If…?! Not an Imaginary Story!

The story appeared in Marvel Team-Up #137 and was written by Mike Carlin and drawn by Greg LaRocque and Mike Esposito. It starred Aunt May teaming up with Franklin Richards to stop Galactus. It was part of Marvel’s “Assistant Editor’s Month” (where all their books were put out under the premise that the Assistant Editors were in charge that month, so each book tried to do something a bit different that month – some went for outright wackiness while others just tried to do slightly different types of stories), had a cover which noted that this team-up was “Not a Hoax! Not a What If! Not an Imaginary Story!”

It opened with Nova, Galactus’ then herald, dying after a planet decided to destroy itself rather than give itself over to Galactus for him to feed on them (with the theory being that their sacrifice might serve to kill Galactus through starvation). Nova is killed in the explosion.

Meanwhile, Peter Parker is at the circus with Aunt May and the Fantastic Four are all there with Franklin Richards. Reed discovers a situation in San Diego, so the FF has to leave. Peter figures that he should help out, as well, and while they’re all gone, he figures that Aunt May can watch Franklin (who naturally doesn’t want to leave the circus).

A weakened Galactus searches out a new herald and figures Franklin would do well, since he already has so much power in his little body, but Aunt May takes her protector duties seriously…

Franklin has a brainstorm as to what could help Galactus find nourishment…

Then the comic becomes basically an extended riff on the idea of the famous superhero Hostess ads, as Golden Oldie discovers a peculiar planet…

I’ll let you seek out this issue (it shouldn’t be too expensive to find) to see how they resolve everything (while keeping true to their promise on the cover)!!

Thanks to Lee S. for the suggestion!

(Note: This article first appeared as part of the Fools of April feature – BC)


Oh, Assistant Editor’s Month.

Thinking about it, MJ knowing about Peter being Spidey all along makes a lot more sense than her actually buying Peter’s lame excuses.

I have this boxed up somewhere. It was hilarious then and is still hilarious now. The comic brilliantly parodied a half-dozen contemporary comics — Frankie Raye becoming Nova, the recent FF comic in which Galactus destroyed the Skrull homeworld, ,and many others — but younger readers probably won’t get the big joke that lies at the heart of the parody. At the time, Marvel had a longstanding advertising agreement with Hostess, the maker of Twinkies, Ding Dongs and other similar mass-produced pastries. Every Marvel comic would have an ad that was basically a nine-panel comic in which some Marvel hero was losing a fight to some Marvel villain but eventually won the day by throwing a Twinkie or a Fruit Pie at the villain, who would be so overcome with desire for the “irresistible” Hostess product that he would surrender. An entire comic in which Aunt May “defeats” Galactus with Twinkies is merely the ultimate expression of that odd marketing campaign.

I kind of like that MJ doesn’t pay enough attention to hear Franklin’s name, nor to know the name of the child of arguably the most famous couple in New York.

I love this story.

More hilarity:

– The FF are willing to leave their super-powered, potentially godlike 5-year old with a complete stranger. For all they know, May butchers children into pies.

– When Spidey shows up to vouch for Franklin, May is a complete jackass to him. I don’t know when May definitively switched from “bitter old hag” to “Mother Theresa,” but there’s a definite shift in May’s personality since the Lee/Ditko days. Maybe this could be a future “Abandoned & Foresaken”?

– You left out (realizing you have space limitations!) the panel where Reed discovers the trouble in San Diego–he stretches his neck halfway across the circus to read some guy’s newspaper. It must have been a pretty boring circus just to look over somebody’s shoulder.

– The “Creator” is an obvious riff on the Pillsbury Dough-Boy. Gotta give him credit for not only making a cream-filled planet, but also putting it in a giant plastic wrapper.

Bleah–I meant to say “When Spidey shows up to vouch for MAY.”

I love this story, too. As far as I’m concerned, this story is canon, it did happen, and Galactus once was sated on Twinkles he was able to revive Nova.

If Marvel really loved us, they’d publish a collection of the various Assistant Editor Month comics. They were both insane and awesome. Who can forget that issue of the Avengers where Wonder Man and a bunch of 2nd-rate Avengers appear on David Letterman’s show?

The Fred Hembeck Spectacular Spider-Man was awesome too. Also, I know I could just google this but I’ll ask here anyway: wasn’t The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man a product of this month as well? If not, what was in Amazing Spider-Man that month?

wasn’t The Kid Who Collected Spider-Man a product of this month as well?


The Crazed Spruce

November 9, 2012 at 11:08 am

As I recall, this was actually one of the first comic books I bought with my own money as a kid, rather than just reading my older brother’s. (Hell, it may have even been the first one.) It was hilarious then, and it’s awesome now. :)

I wish DK or some such publisher could get the rights and reprint all of the Hostess/super-hero strips in a coffee table book. The Marvels and the DCs. Am I weird that I would buy that?

Jukka Laine of Finland

November 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm

Yes, the story is canon. In the end it was revealed it was a dream, so the dream in the story is canon.

I would pay for a Marvel/DC compilation of all the Hostess stuff..

Assistant Editor’s Month was pure entertainment and one of the reasons why Marvel couldn’t be beat in the early 80’s. Truly awesome comics from their greatest era ever.

Okay, let’s make a list of all the Assistant Editor’s Month titles, surely there’s a column there? I bought ALMOST all of them, but as they were really of varying quality I didn’t keep them all in my collection.

Iron Man: “Our Gang” kids dressed up as superheroes. Might have been the inspiration for Claremont’s awful later stories featuring a gang of kids he was informally calling “brat pack” (“colloquial referent”, according to some idiotic robot’s comment).

Alpha Flight: the All White issue, Snowbird fights a white monster in a snowstorm (I think this gag was done as a 1-panel gag in the What If humor issue)

Avengers: on Letterman

Dazzler: the Ralph Macchio issue!

Amazing Spider-Man: Kid Who Collects

MTU: the above Galactus bit

And I know there were a few more but they don’t pop to mind. Oh yeah, I think ROM had a short strip of Rom having a domestic life with Starshine, and toast pops out of Rom’s head.

Also worthy of a profile on this site would be, from the same era, “The Fantastic Four Roast”, “Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men”, The all-humor issue of “What If?”, “The Marvel No-Prize Book”, and “The Marvel Fumetti Book”. All very funny books, the type of which Marvel is completely incapable of creating today.

Recent attempts at Marvel humor strips (lil’ Red and Blue Hulk, etc.) were far below pathetic.

Man, if they did do a book of all those Hostess ads, maybe it’d get Hostess out of bankruptcy!

This is a great issue. I got my copy for…50 cents? A quarter? in the last year or so. Cool stuff that I’d heard about for years.

Well as far as the list goes…Thor didn’t do anything except on the letter page. Neither did the Hulk. Doctor Strange was bi-monthly so was skipped.

FF-during the trial of Reed, John Byrne is called to testify.

Crystar-the castles of the warring factions are accidently teleported next to each other. I was pretty funny.

Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider-Man-Fred Hemrick drew the issue. Well most of it.

So much to love in these panels: the constant mentions of Aunt May being old, the lion tamer (?) and the clown stopping to gawk at Spider-man, “GOLDEN OLDIE!”, how easily Galactus is convinced to humor Franklin and try a Twinkle, how May retains her bun in her cosmic form, plus the delightful items noted above, and more.

And I love that even though Aunt May vows to protect Franklin, 2 pages later she in deep space looking for a meal for Galactus. Franklin has been, presumably, adopted by the circus folk and is already in another town shoveling elephant dung.

From a time standpoint, I think it’s interesting how young Franklin is, and how close he still is to that age, but how much the FF and Spider-man’s relationship has deepened since then. Here, Spider-man and the FF have helped each other out on “several” occasions, and now, of course, they are Future Foundationing around. Little things like seeing how eager Johnny is to hang with Spider-man, made me think of Johnny and Peter’s relationship now. I haven’t gone back and read many issues from this era recently (as in, since this era), so seeing this budding bromance has added to my appreciation of Hickman’s run.

Thanks for sharing! Great column!

I’m sure I bought Obnoxio the Clown vs, The X-Men off the spinner rack at 7-11, but I’ll be darned if I can remember a thing about it. Off to Google…

Ahhh the good ol’ days, when Galactus actually inspired some small bit of respect, and Franklin wasn’t a totally overpowered God. The story was pretty funny, too!

I always wondered why Aunt May can’t die. I’m sure this is the reason. IT’s also the reason the book can’t go anywhere or continue, they refuse to let it die and let Peter/Ben Reilly be a man. That’s right, I mentioned Ben Reilly.He was a great single Spider-man. When he told jokes, it was appropriate to the situation, not just some random joke out the blue like some child. Aunt May must be destroyed or the world will end, that’s my theory. :)

cool i actuly remember how like the other hottess adds marvel did in their books this thing was hilerious not only the take on the Pillsberry dough boy being some cosmic baker who made the giant twinkie for galactus but also aunt may as a herald. some one at marvel back then had a crazy sense of humor to make this story not to mention may being able to scold Galactus for frighting franklin without him vaporizing her.

This is my second favourite Hostess Twinkies riff, after the bit that Dan Slott and Ty Templeton did in Spider-Man/Human Torch (which takes the lead only because it could plausibly be in continuity.)

Some of the gags in the First series of E-Man were pretty good, too, especially the Nexus one.

Anonymous: The Iron Man issue also had a great back-up where a detective (if memory serves) challenges Tony Stark, at the time an alcoholic street person to go a day without drinking. I think it was that story that started Tony slowly back on the road to becoming Iron Man again, after a stint as Rhodey’s assistant.

I *think* that was also the month that Bruce’s childhood was looked at in the pages of Incredible Hulk. I know around the same time General Ross considered suicide. Was that in the same issue?

This is freakin’ hilarious! I have got to track down this issue.

As an aside, G.I. Joe #19 was part of Assistant Editor’s Month. Curiously enough, it was the darkest issue up to that point, and featured the deaths of three major characters.

I swear this has been posted before, complete with the same “go read the rest of it yourself” cutoff point. In fact, here it is:


Now that I’ve exposed your copout, Brian, I want you to cover this story for me… an Elongated Man storyline from Detective Comics #456-#457 where Ralph’s powers run out at the worst possible time, and Sue had to convince the villains that his source of powers was some rubber tree bark, complete with her posing as the Elongated Woman.

“SILENCE, AGED ONE!” Heh heh!!

Anonymous: The Iron Man issue also had a great back-up where a detective (if memory serves) challenges Tony Stark, at the time an alcoholic street person to go a day without drinking. I think it was that story that started Tony slowly back on the road to becoming Iron Man again, after a stint as Rhodey’s assistant.

Yes, that was a very good story. Written by Denny O’Neil and drawn by Luke McDonnell.

I *think* that was also the month that Bruce’s childhood was looked at in the pages of Incredible Hulk. I know around the same time General Ross considered suicide. Was that in the same issue?

You’re mixing two issues together. The Assistant Editor’s Month issue was basically Thunderbolt Ross’ life story, told in flashback as he contemplated suicide. The flashbacks to Bruce Banner’s abused childhood were sometime after the Hulk was consigned to limbo (I THINK around #312, but I’d have to double check).

Thx. I knew it was the Banner origin or the Ross story or both a la the Iron man issue. Not surprised it was one of the full-lenghers because thats a lot of material..

Assistant editor’s month: The single worst month of the decade to begin collecting comics. I actually started reading some comics a month or two later, but it was my first issue of the Hulk and a few others (Thor, maybe) and I was so baffled or otherwise turned off that I didn’t pick them up again for years. On the other hand, it created this image of Marvel as a fun-loving, wacky place that I believed for years.

The O’Neil/McDonnell run on Iron Man is long overdue as a collected edition. It’s what got me hooked on the book: Tony losing everything after going back to the bottle and Rhodey taking over for him as Iron Man.

Some other additions to Assistant Editor’s Month included the issue of Spectacular Spider-Man where Al Milgrom loses the book to Fred Hembeck. That one was wild. Also, the reprint series Marvel Tales included altered panels from the Lee/Ditko era with new dialogue and changes such as a guy sporting a mohawk in the 60’s. And Aunt May cooks up some wheat cakes for Petey, then something really nutty is said. Funny stuff all around.

EXTRA! I just Googled up this blog which covers every book from that classic month. Awesome!


Galactus should have used that “Twinkie defense” when he was on trial. It worked for that guy who killed Harvey milk and George Moscone.

I love that Aunt May scolds Galactus like he’s a five-year-old.

I hate to admit it out loud but… Aunt May is hot !!!
And shiny too ;)

That’s hilarious, and I have a sudden craving for Twinkies.

So Reed and Sue take their son out for a nice evening after he was tortured by a bug monster from another universe then proceed to pawn him off on a little old he doesn’t know?

Parents of the year.

I remember most of Assistant Editor month as everyone trying way too hard to be wacky. But this book is … well, different.
I believe the Hostess ads are now canon, albeit not on 616.

Throat Wobbler Mangrove

November 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm

With Hostess going bust in the past few days, this issue becomes all the more special.

When I was looking through the back issue bins in the late 90s, just seeing “Assistant Editor’s Month” on the cover was enough for me to snaffle the book up. They were all less than a dollar at the time, so you could not go wrong! This was one of the best, but they were all interesting.

They did this many more times over the years, as I recall. I can guarantee that they did it at least once more, in the early ’90s, because one of my favorite comics when I was a kid was an issue of “Daredevil” from that later Assistant Editor’s Month. It wasn’t super, over-the-top wacky, just a story where a bunch of the lesser DD villains (off the top of my head, I remember Stiltman, Tatterdemalion, and Taskmaster, though Taskmaster is still to this day one of my favorite characters) go looking for a valuable (?) cache of leftover kitchen grease collected by a small-time mobster before he died.

I really need to find that issue.

Huh. According to the blog that Clutch linked to above, they only did it once. Maybe that “Daredevil” I loved so much was just a single-issue tribute to the classic AEM. To Google…

Okay. Here we go. http://themattmurdockchronicles.blogspot.com/2012/04/daredevil-318.html

Apparently, Daredevil #318 was an homage to the film “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”. They did it as kind of a jokey issue because they were about to roll out another “Let’s fuck up everything in Matt Murdock’s life” storyline. I guess I was confused because this issue had an AEM-style warning on the cover in the form of an “EDITORIAL DISCLAIMER”.

Well, I stand corrected. Either way, it’s a fun issue and I recommend it if you find it in a quarter-bin, if only for the panel where a kid walks by playing with his Venom action figure, with a word balloon coming from it saying “I’m gonna eat your brain!” I think 12-year-old me laughed for about five minutes at that one.

Seconding the enthusiasm for 318–it’s a wonderfully ridiculous and entertaining issue (that would fit well with this column, Brian, hint hint).

I am delighted to note that the Marvel Database wiki solemnly lists “Golden Oldie” under “aliases” for Aunt May.

“…the legend that is DUM DUM DUM, Spider-On the Witch Boy!” Okay, Peter did it first, but it’s still goofy. Not as goofy as Mary Jane’s blobulant face, though. On the third page she seems to be morphing into Daria. Shall we chalk that up to Assistant Inkers Week?

Actually, the real stunner in this issue is that Reed wastes unstable molecules to create ugly green shirts.

Why not do a special column dedicated to Marvel’s Assistant Editor’s Month?

Well I Seem To Also Remember “DAZZLER” Being An Herald As Well Back In The Day In “WHAT IF” ((:

@ Clutch:

The first half of the “Rhodey takes over’ storyline was recently released in trade paperback form as a Marvel Epic Collection called “The Enemy Within.”

Ah, I love this. This was the first comic I bought when I walked into my first comic shop – it was in the quarter bin (1986-87), and I just HAD to have it.

@Callie Ray:

You’re in luck! He has done exactly that.

Oh, this is back. Awesome.

One oddity–Reed discovered the trouble in San Diego by looking at a newspaper over someone’s shoulder. A *newspaper.* Meaning, whatever the trouble was, it happened *yesterday.* Good going, Reed.

I got a chuckle when Galactus, who is older than the existing universe, calls Aunt May “ancient one”.

I’m fairly certain (sorry if this was mentioned already) that there was a 1-2 page back-up in What If…? Volume II where Uncle Ben becomes a herald/silver surfer.
He feels fantastic, and says something like ‘I feel like I ate a whole stack of wheatcakes!’ — Galactus might even save Ben moments after he’s shot by the infamous burglar…

When I first heard about this, it slightly ruined Nova for me.

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