Published by Marvel Comics in 1975 Man-Gods from Beyond the Stars was a one-off special published to cash-in on the popularity of the theories championed by Erich Von Däniken.
In 1968 Swiss hotelier Von Däniken’s book Chariot of The Gods? popularised the theory that aliens had visited Earth sometime in the distant past and their appearance — misinterpreted as the visitations of Gods by early Man — had a profound impact on early human development. The Egyptian pyramids, the giant stone heads of Easter Island as well as examples of primitive art — even passages from the Bible — were all posited as proof by Von Däniken that aliens has visited Earth thousands of years ago.
Chariot of The Gods?, became a controversial bestseller even though Däniken’s research was quickly dismissed as shoddy and rushed by contemporary academics, and today his theories are largely ignored. Still, in the early Seventies his work was popular enough for Marvel to cash-in on the debate with Man-Gods from Beyond the Stars.
Published in July 1975 under Marvel’s Curtis Magazines imprint Man-Gods from Beyond the Stars ran to 84 black and white pages and was priced at $1. The issue sported a full-colour cover by fan-favourite Neal Adams (although it’s not one of his best it has to be said) and was edited by Roy Thomas, Marv Wolfman and Len Wein. The magazine featured two comic book stories: Man-God from Beyond the Stars written by Doug Moench with art by Alex Nino, and Good Lord! by Marv Wolfman and Dave Cockrum. The magazine was padded out with text essays on Von Däniken, a bibliography of other books in the same field as well as a whole host of adverts for various horror film products and promos for other Marvel/Curtis titles.
Although the art for both comic stories were of a high quality they both suffered badly from overwriting and dense captioning. I’m a great fan of Nino’s work and Man-God from Beyond the Stars is a great example of his wonderfully fluid, yet detailed artwork. I’m also a huge fan of Cockrum’s and Good Lord! is a great showcase for his talents. Oddly enough Good Lord! wasn’t listed on the contents page so I can only assume the story was a late addition to the magazine. This assumption is given added weight by the large number of inkers who worked on the story; credited as ‘The Crusty Bunkers’ they included Adams, Terry Austin, Pat Broderick, Russ Heath, and Joe Rubenstein.
Man-God from Beyond the Stars was actually the first issue of Marvel Preview, a try-out title for new fantasy and science-fiction stories. During it’s 24-issue run Marvel Preview featured the introduction of Marvel mainstays Starlord and Blade, as well as b-listers Satana and Dominic Fortune. Another man-god yarn appeared in issue #9 of the title, although this time it wasn’t an alien-visitation story but an adaption of Philip Wylie’s Gladiator novel instead.
Man-God from Beyond the Stars is an interesting read, even today. Von Däniken was one of those controversial figures whose books seemed to attract a great deal of attention in the 1970’s, much like Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln’s The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail. And the artwork for both comic book stories are top-notch. Saying that though, if I’m being honest I actually derive more enjoyment from reading the old adverts as from the magazine itself.