I was struck with the idea of what the Marvel Universe might have looked like had it only ever have existed in pulp detective, crime and thriller novels - it started with an idea for an ongoing series of The Black Widow adventures, borrowing the cover layout from Mike Shayne detective novels.
I assigned each character to a dream team pulp writer whom I thought matched the essence of the character. Donald Hamilton was best-known for his Matt Helm series of spy novels, which I thought made him an appealing choice for the Natasha Romanova “series”. Leslie Charteris was, of course, creator of the suave and witty Saint series of novels, so I gave him rein over the socialite adventurer Janet van Dyne and her scientist husband (Also, I thought Dashiell Hammett would have been a little on-the-nose), and Hoke Moseley creator Charles Willeford is assigned to craft the seedy, unsentimental world of Luke Cage, Hero for Hire.
None of these writers were particularly known for science fiction, which I thought made it more interesting to imagine them writing characters who - if not traditional sci-fi character - at least often set foot in impossible realms. You would have to imagine they’d be stripped down to characters devoid of super-powers and ladled with intrigue.
Death to The Black Widow: A Natasha Romanova Thriller employs the title from Amazing Adventures #3, originally written by Roy Thomas. I do not have a source for the cover image. It borrows the cover design from the Mike Shayne series of detective novels. Spot illustration by Daniel Acuña.
The Sting of the Widow: A Natasha Romanova Thriller employs the title from Amazing Adventures #7, written by Roy Thomas. The illustration is by Jack Faragasso, and originally appeared on the cover of “Bait” by George Cassidy and “Cravings” by Jack Woodford. It borrows the cover design from the Mike Shayne series of detective novels. Spot illustration by Daniel Acuña.
No Place To Hide employs the title from Tales to Astonish #54, written by Stan Lee. The illustration is by Robert McGinnis and originally appeared on the cover of “The Wind-Up Doll” by Carter Brown.
Hero for Hire employs the title of the comic Luke Cage Hero for Hire, written by Archie Goodwin. The illustration is by Stanley Borack and originally appeared on the cover of “Hellbottom” by Eric Corder.
And lastly - big ups to Franklin Gothic, the trashy paperback’s go-to typeface CAN I GET A WHAT WHAAT!