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#DateWelcome to WUBI # 91:Choose Your View:Attached to Forum:Back/ Next
091-U.S. 1(Blog) (Forum)U.S. 1(Back) (Next)

We all have trade paperback (TPB) collections we'd like to see. Here's one of mine:

Proposed Title:U.S. 1..
Alternate Titles:1) The Adventures of Ulysses Archer; 2) ...Ulysses Solomon Archer.
TPB Cover:U.S. 1 #1
Collecting 12 Issues:U.S. 1 #1-12.
Covers (click to enlarge):

In May, 1983, U.S. 1 was just hitting the highway, even as Team America was pulling in from its last ride (see WUBI #70). I've never quite understood why Marvel felt the need to do this series, but I finally picked up four of the issues from the dollar bin, just yesterday. On what would later be the letters page, the first issue offered clues, seen in this excerpt from writer Al Milgrom:

It started back in June of 1982. Jim Shooter called me into his office, he said he had a project he wanted to discuss...

Jim explained that the people at TYCO had seen some of Marvel's work, the comics we produced, the characters we designed. They liked what they saw. They wanted Marvel to do a treatment of their U.S. 1 electric trucking set. "Trucks?" I said, rather incredulously. "Trucks!" replied Jim emphatically. Jim asked if I felt we could do anything with trucks. Frankly, I wasn't sure. Nobody had ever done anything with trucks in comics before. ...I voiced this concern to Jim... "Exactly!" he exploded. "Nobody has done it before! Maybe nobody thinks it can be done! There may even be a lot of resistance to the idea. But we can do it, and do it well!"

Aha! It was a licensing deal- all about the money! Now it was all clear, and it's not something Marvel was a stranger to, by any means. They had been licensing Star Wars since 1977, and Micronauts since 1979. Both would outlive U.S. 1 into mid-1986, although Micronauts ended the same time U.S. 1 #11 was coming out, and restarted as Micronauts: The New Voyages, the same time U.S. 1 #12 was released (something called The Transformers started the month between those two issues). Also, the eleven issue series The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior started the same month U.S. 1 did, and Starriors started the month after the trucking title finished. And lest we forget, they had been handling G.I. Joe since June of 1982- the same month Jim Shooter started talking to Al Milgrom about developing U.S. 1 for comics. So yeah, Marvel knew how to jump on a licensing deal.

U.S. 1 is kind of unique from the rest of those titles though. They were all action figure lines, some of them stemming from movies or cartoons, so the comic characters were readily recognizable to readers. This was the U.S. 1 trucking set though (it's 8:44 long, but go ahead and watch. This was what we did before home video games)...

...Funny thing is: when I started writing this blog, I didn't actually realize that this was the set they were talking about. I had one of these as a kid! I had the dump truck, the crane pipe loader, the pipe drop off, the gravel truck, the gravel loader, and the gravel pit. Hm...makes me wonder what happened to it- think I gave it to my brother. Anyway...

How the heck do you write comics from that?! Ahh, that's the cool part- all Marvel had to do was use the name "U.S. 1" and make it about trucks, and the rest was up to them. Tabula rosa is a beautiful thing- in the days before widespread creator ownership, a blank slate is the thing a creator wanted most. It's the same reason fan-fic writers like to write the underused characters- the less history there is for a character, the more you can do with them. A blank slate though? You could let your imagination go wild, and Al Milgrom and Herb Trimpe did just that. So enter Ulysses Solomon Archer and his rig, the U.S. 1. Any good hero needs an arch nemesis, and U.S. Archer had The Highwayman. There was also a Catwoman-esque villainess named Midnight, and a great supporting cast in Poppa Wheelie, Wide Load Annie, Taryn O'Connell, and Retread (whom you would notice is gay, if you were paying attention). I've read the four issues I have- a third of the title- and I have to say: I think Marvel did a fantastic job.

Why give it a trade paperback though? Keeping in mind that Marvel owns the characters (not TYCO- they just licensed the name "U.S. 1" to Marvel, to garner name recognition through the comic title) I think Ulysses Archer is begging for a comeback, and there seems to be more than one creator that would like to give it to him. Archer has appeared in issues of Sensational She-Hulk, New Avengers, and even Deadpool Team-Up. Some of those appearances lean towards a comedic bent, but if the right teams says, "I can make this work," Marvel may contract this trucker for another haul. I think it would be good to have his driving record accessible if that were to happen. I suggested the alternate titles though, because Marvel may not have the right to use the U.S. 1 title anymore.

For the cover, I'd go with the first issue. It's everything a good cover should be. It shows the hero, a hint at his origin, what makes him special, and his nemesis. Perfect for the TPB cover. And though I don't often think of the back cover, I have thoughts on this one. I think the #7 cover of Midnight on U.S. 1's bumper is beautiful, and it never hurts to have a good lookin' babe on the cover. Truthfully though, the last issue's cover is the perfect parting shot, and would be great for the back of the book.

Would you buy it? Let me know in the comments, and thanks for reading.

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