Friday, 28 February 2014

Fifty years ago today - March 1964.

In a daring development that's sure to rock the internet to its very foundations, Steve Does Comics challenges the authority of the Time Police themselves by posting its quick overview of Marvel's mighty mags from March 1964 a day early.

Can the fabric of the universe survive such insolence?

And what's more, by the time I've finished, will it even want to?

Amazing Spider-Man #10, the Enforcers

The Enforcers make their debut.

I believe this is that rare thing, a Spider-Man cover drawn by Jack Kirby, who some of us felt never quite got to grips with drawing the character.

Avengers #4, Captain America

Captain America returns from his icy tomb, ready to take on all-comers - and owes it all to the block-headed idiocy of the Sub-Mariner.
Fantastic Four #25, Infant Terrible

Forget Galactus. Years before he showed up, the FF find themselves up against a far earlier all-powerful alien.

I've always loved this tale. It has a certain charm.

And pictures of ice cream.
Journey into Mystery #102, Thor and Zarrko

It looks like Zarrko's still causing trouble for our long haired battler.
Strange Tales #118, the Human Torch and the Wizard

The Human Torch's adventures continue to limp along but surely their days are now numbered, as Dr Strange begins to make his presence felt on the cover.

You do fear it can only be a question of time before it's a case of, "By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth - begone!" for the Torch.
Tales of Suspense #51, Iron Man and the Scarecrow

The Scarecrow! A, "Super-villain to make you gasp and wonder!"

To be fair, mostly what you wondered was how come Iron Man was having so much trouble against a foe whose only super-power was having two pet crows.
Tales to Astonish #53, Giant-Man and the Porcupine

Poor old Giant-Man, still lumbered with less than stellar opponents - and still having endless trouble dealing with them. No wonder he eventually went mad.
X-Men #4, Magneto and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants

Magneto's back. And he's got his mates with him.

You do wonder why he allied himself with a witless, spineless sycophant and two people who didn't like doing bad things.

Maybe, like Thanos, he secretly wanted to be stopped.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Worlds Unknown #3 - Farewell to the Master!

Worlds Unknown, Farewell to the Master
Earthlings, I can only ask that you feel a great sense of joy for me. For, only the other night, I had the chance to finally see the Keanu Reeves version of The Day The Earth Stood Still.

The power!

The thrills!

The awe!

None of  those were present as the thing struggled to hold my attention and made me feel like I was watching a sci-fi version of Meet Joe Black with all the interesting bits removed.

This of course was a terrible disappointment to me, as the 1950s version of the movie's one of my favourite sci-fi flicks of all time.

But, of course, none of this matters because we all know there was an even more important adaptation of Farewell to the Master than even those two.

And that was Worlds Unknown's version of the tale, as produced by Roy Thomas, Ross Andru and Wayne Howard. As with Marvel's adaptation of He That Hath Wings, I first encountered it in the pages of Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes comic.

Marvel Comics' World's Unknown #3, Farewell to the Master
 The first thing that strikes me is how much resemblance the first part of it bears to the Dr Who episode Army of Ghosts. In both cases, a mysterious sphere's appeared from nowhere and the authorities have been unable to even put a dent in it. Until, now the fateful moment's arrived, it opens, to reveal the aliens within. Is this similarity coincidence or was Russell T Davies influenced by the earlier tale?

The second thing that strikes me is that Gort isn't called Gort. He's called Gnut. As, "Gnut," looks suspiciously like a near anagram of a very rude word, I must confess I can't help feeling Gort was a better choice of name.

Marvel Comics' World's Unknown #3, Farewell to the MasterThe third thing that strikes me is that, unlike the 1950s movie, it's not the military who're responsible for shooting Klaatu but a lone nutjob up a tree. Indeed, the military in this version seem a model of restraint and professionalism compared to the trigger happy fools of the 1950s movie.

This leads to a very different tale in which Klaatu's buried with honours and a pair of reporters are determined to spend a night in the museum in which Gnut is now housed, to see what he gets up to when there's no one around.

It turns out he uses audio recordings of animals and people in order to temporarily bring them back to life.

All of this culminates in him restoring Klaatu to health before he departs with the words, "It is I who am the master," ringing in the reporters' ears.

It's a much smaller scale tale than the one we're used to from the movie. It's also less dramatic. The action takes place almost exclusively in the museum in the course of one evening, there's little sense of threat and there's no message from Klaatu about mankind mending its violent ways or else.

In this sense, they're very different tales, using the same basic ideas to tell completely different stories. I've never read the Harry Bates original, so can't comment on how true to it this adaptation is but, as it's written by Roy Thomas, I suspect it's probably extremely faithful.

So, which do I prefer? The 1950s movie version or the 1970s comic book one?

I must admit, I do prefer the movie version. I can't help feeling it's far more potent and memorable because of the greater sense of menace engendered by Gort, the race against time, the manhunt for Klaatu and the big final speech. The pacifist message of the movie may be somewhat garbled by its order that peace be maintained by the threat of total annihilation from a police state but it does give the film a sense of drama, urgency and purpose that this version ultimately and deliberately lacks.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Guardians of the Galaxy movie trailer.



These are exciting times for those of us who have the maturity levels of a ten year old.

First we get the senses-shattering Lego Movie and now we get the trailer for the Guardians of the Galaxy. Has any film of the last ten years ever been more eagerly anticipated than this one has?

Marvel Presents #3, the Guardians of the Galaxy
Well, yes. Even as one who liked the 1970s version of the strip and possessed several issues of it, I have to admit it's not necessarily the super-hero movie that's most cried out to be made over the years. But, still, as long as it's Marvel and there's super-heroics, it's going to hold a certain frisson for some of us.

Sadly, of course, it's not the Guardians of my youth. The likes of Vance Astro, Yondu, that wide bloke, that bloke who was made of diamonds, that woman with the flamey hair, and whatever the others were called, are notably absent.

So is Starhawk. But, given how annoying he was, that's probably no bad thing. And it can't be denied that, potentially silly as they are, the current bunch are a more diverse - and threaten to be a more interesting - set of characters for a cinema audience than the originals would have been.

I first encountered the Guardians as a very briefly run strip in Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes comic, in a Gene Colan drawn origin tale that didn't exactly bowl me over; mostly because the villains were called the Badoon and it all ended with a sing-along.

Karen Gillan autograph signing
Karen Gillan not being blue.
Photo by MangakaMaiden
 [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Fortunately, things were looking a lot better when they re-emerged with their own series in the back of Marvel UK's Star Wars comic where they'd had something of a makeover and put the Badoon behind them to have a bunch of unlikely adventures in space that lent them the same sort of appeal as Steve Gerber's other regular strip The Defenders.

The trailer's an odd thing, depicting our heroes as a bunch of losers and misfits - a role I'm not used to seeing the likes of Gamora and Drax being fitted into - and whether it'll turn out to be a fun romp or a film let down by its inability to take its leads seriously, only time will tell.

Will we get to see Warlock?

Will we get to see Thanos?

Only time can tell.

But, of course, for Dr Who fans, the real appeal of the movie is we get to see Karen Gillan painted blue. If you don't want to see a blue-painted Karen Gillan, then, frankly, I fear there may be no hope for you in life.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Lego!


My incredibly watchful eye has noticed that, despite everything that might be expected of such a venture, the Lego Movie's doing very well at the box office and getting rave reviews from all the critics I've heard.

Admittedly, the only critic I have heard on the subject is Mark Kermode, who's traditionally wrong about everything. But, in this case, because it's Lego - and I always wish to think the best of that toy - I shall for once give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he's right when he says it's a triumph of colourful 3D blockiness.

Sheffield, Castle Market
Castle Market. My gateway to Lego.
Photo © Copyright 
David Dixon.
Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
I first discovered the existence of Lego in the very early 1970s, when I encountered a stall in Sheffield's indoor Castle Market, whose central display was a Lego statue of what I assume was Elizabeth the First.

Being impressed by this instantly caused me to get my first ever box of Lego, a humble thing that could be used to create a pre-War style London black cab.

When I discovered you could make other things with it as well as the main featured model - and that you could chew the tyres - it was the beginning of a love affair.

Reader, I chewed many a Lego tyre from that point on.

Over the next few Christmases, I got a Lego train set, a Lego ground control space centre (complete with rocket) and a thing that was composed of buildings and a conveyor belt.

To be honest, I'm not sure what that last model kit was meant to be but it added more bricks to my collection, so that was good enough for me. Sadly, I never got my hands on the kit that enabled you to build an oil tanker, though that too seemed a splendid thing.

My greatest Lego triumph had to have been be a motorised mechanical arm I once created.

Sadly, being made of Lego, it had no strength at all and would fall apart if you actually tried to lift anything with it. It seemed I was not yet ready to recreate the Six Million Dollar Man.

Likewise, one blow from my Action Man and the legs of the Lego robot I once created would drop off, making it a less than capable opponent for him. Fortunately, at some point, my Action Man's left leg also dropped off, which at least made it a fairer fight.

But of course there was more. Thanks to Lego's amazing versatility, I was able to link it to my other great love.

Comics.

I once used it to make a Fantasti-Car.

In fact, I used it to make two. I made the original bathtub Fantasti-Car and then the later one, the one with the pods that came off and became miniature planes in their own right. I then populated them with paper cut-outs I'd made of the Fantastic Four.

Admittedly I only made three members of the FF, as I couldn't be bothered to draw and cut-out Sue Storm. I probably told myself she was absent because she'd been kidnapped, which, given her track record, was a fair enough explanation.

Then again, maybe I just told myself she was invisible at the time.

I also made a Daredevil billy club, using the curved bricks from the rocket in that space set. Sadly, it was as fragile as the arm and the robot had been and thus couldn't be used for any actual super-heroing.

So, there you go. Lego; too weak for heroics. Meccano; too laborious for instant gratification. If only someone had come up with a compromise between them, they would have created the perfect toy and, at last, my Action Man would have had a foe worthy of his mettle.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

The most forgettable comics I have ever owned. Part 11: Stalker #2.

DC Comics, Stalker #2
How well I recall seeing Stalker issue #1 advertised within the pages of various DC mags in the mid-1970s. And, with its Steve Ditko and Wally Wood cover, what a marvellous thing it promised to be.

Sadly, I never got to find out if the mag ever delivered on that promise, as I never got my hands on an issue.

Or so I thought.

But yet again the internet has surprised and bamboozled me - by revealing that I did indeed have an issue of Stalker.

It was issue #2 and, until I blundered across its cover online, I'd totally forgotten I'd ever owned it.

Sadly, I remember nothing of the contents, although the cover tells me there might have been a four armed monster in it. Clearly this is a good thing for the monster in question. For, as we all know, to be four armed is to be forewarned.

The Grand Comics Database tells me this issue too was drawn by Steve Ditko and Wally Wood and so I suspect it all looked rather splendid inside.

Sadly, it seems readers may not have been as taken with the mag as that art team might suggest, as it managed to fold after just four issues.

Yet again the 1970s seem to have decreed that Conan was the only Sword and Sorcery hero who was allowed to prosper in that decade.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Good Lord! Marvel Preview #1/Planet of the Apes #Something-Or-Other.

Marvel Preview #1, Man-Gods From Beyond the Stars, Good Lord
Sunday evenings were a strange experience for me as a child.

On the positive side, it was the time when I got to read that week's issue of Marvel UK's weekly Planet of the Apes comic and eat a packet of Munchies - the only sweet I can think of that's exactly the same now as it was forty years ago, even including the wrapping.

On the downside, I always had to endure missing the first fifteen minutes of each episode of the Planet of the Apes TV show because we were forced to listen to a Radio 2 sitcom called The Family Brandon, starring sometime Radio 2 DJ Tony Brandon who seemed big on pretending to be comedy legend Tony Hancock. This affectation wasn't as bad as the nightmarish Radio 1 DJ Adrian Juste who notoriously used to edit Tony Hancock out of his own radio sketches and then insert himself in his place. An act on a par with drawing over the Mona Lisa with a crayoned sketch of Miley Cyrus.

Well, mere days ago, I made mention of the fact that, among all the one-off tales Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes comic printed, there were two that stuck out for me more than all others. One was He That Hath Wings, the tale of what happens when you're daft enough to chop your wings off in order to enhance your job prospects. Needless to say, I learned a valuable lesson from reading this tale and shall never again chop off any modes of transportation my body may possess, merely for crass profit.

Good Lord, Marvel Preview #1, Dave Cockrum, Neal Adams
The other tale was a thing called Good Lord, a story drawn by Dave Cockrum and inked by Neal Adams and friends.

In it, a bunch of astronauts scour planet after planet, trying to find evidence of the existence of God.

Instead, one by one, they get killed by the various monsters and nasties they encounter on each world.

But then, at last, they find signs of intelligent life, as they stumble across a world with an abandoned city on it.

Good Lord, Marvel Preview #1, hall of gods and prophets
Upon entering it, they find statues of familiar gods and prophets inside but are then attacked by a monster which they're forced to kill.

And then, when yet another monster turns up, one of them shoots it...

...only to discover he's made a bit of a boo-boo and killed God, meaning the universe is now doomed as death oozes and spreads outwards from the deceased deity's wound.

Needless to say, any story that features God being killed is bound to stick in the mind, if only because you wonder how they ever got away with distributing that sort of thing in the more religious parts of the USA. Obviously, in Britain, where people generally kick up much less fuss about religion because we're too busy hitting each other outside nightclubs every weekend, it was never likely to be as controversial. But, all these years later, what do I the reader make of it?

Good Lord, Marvel Preview #1
Well, of course, I love it. Why? Because it looks good. I'm a Dave Cockrum fan and, while not always a Neal Adams fan, I can easily recognise that, from a technical viewpoint, he knows how to do his job. And the two artists' styles mesh well, especially in places where the artwork takes on a noticeably Wally Wood vibe. Credit should also be given to Terry Austin, Pat Broderick, Russ Heath and Josef Rubinstein whose inks are also in there along the way.

Obviously, in terms of logic, there is the question of why God's living on a world full of monsters and can you really kill God with a ray gun? But it's probably best to sweep such obvious concerns under the carpet and just appreciate the sly, dark humour of the resolution.

PS. Thanks to those who expressed concern during this blog's short absence. I can confirm that it was a relatively minor problem and painlessly sorted out with a brief message to Google.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Werewolf by Night comics I have owned.

Has there ever been a worse name for a comic book protagonist than Jack Russell? It's like whoever came up with it was determined to hobble the comic's credibility from the moment you opened it.

But Werewolf by Night is a curious case. As with Superman, my memory has always been of not finding his adventures overly gripping but, as with Superman, that didn't stop me buying his comic whenever I stumbled across it.

So, let's see just what issues I had - and if I can recall anything whatsoever about what happened inside any of them...

Werewolf by Night #13, Taboo

All I remember of the contents of this one is that Jack Russell might have been in a dungeon, in chains and there may have been a man in a fez involved.

Sadly, that man was neither Tommy Cooper nor Matt Smith.

Either way, it doesn't matter. What matters is it had a great cover by the redoubtable Mike Ploog.
Werewolf by Night #15, Dracula
It's the clash we all wanted to see! Dracula vs the Werewolf!

What I know about it is the story concluded in Drac's own mag.

Or did it start in Drac's mag and end in this one? Either way, I had both issues, so it doesn't matter.

My main memory of this is sitting in the raised restaurant of Sheffield's indoor Sheaf Market, reading it while eating a sausage with the plastic knives and forks they used to give you.

Sheaf Market was a magical place. Not only did it have a comic stall, and a raised restaurant from which you could look down at all the shoppers below but it had birds living in the girders that held the ceiling up. Granted, the birds weren't supposed to be there but clearly no one had ever told them that.
Werewolf by Night #20


I have absolutely no recollection at all of what happened inside this comic. But I do know I always loved that Gil Kane and John Romita cover. To be honest, every time I see it, I just want to start tearing iron bars from the wall.

If only I had any iron bars on the wall.
Werewolf by Night #28

Dr Glitternight does sound like the name of a terrible late 1970s pub rock band but who cares? Just dig that cover and marvel at the work Kane had to put into drawing each of those flying beasties.

It's good to see Conan's Cowering Blonde was getting lots of work and found her way onto this cover too.
Werewolf by Night #31

I don't want to give the impression that this post's been a total wash-out but I've no memory of what happens in this one either.

But I think we can conclude from all this that the main appeal of Werewolf by Night for me had more to do with the covers than with the actual contents.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Forty years ago today - February 1974.

Forty years ago this month, the UK election produced a hung parliament, meaning no one was in charge of the country. Oh how we all miss the good old days of being able to hang Parliament.

But were our favourite Marvel heroes of forty years ago being as indecisive as the British public?

Or were they instead too busy hitting their opponents in the Marginals to care?

Only a trip on the Steve Does Comics Swingometer can tell us.

Amazing Spider-Man #129, the Punisher

Everyone's favourite psychotic gunman makes his debut, as the Jackal convinces the Punisher to try and kill everyone's favourite wall-crawler.
Avengers #120, Zodiac

Zodiac are back - and giving the Avengers far more trouble than they really should be.

Is this the one where Zodiac have a gun that kills everyone of a certain star sign? I'd love to know exactly how that gun knows what people's star signs are.
Captain America and the Falcon #170

I had this issue a few years back but never got round to reading it before selling it on.

However, my razor-sharp senses tell me things are looking bad for our hero.
Conan the Barbarian #35, Kara-Shera

Gil Kane? Conan? Sword? Monster? Cowering Blonde? This is like the quintessential Conan cover isn't it?
Fantastic Four #143, Dr Doom

I think I've read this one in the last few years. Doesn't Dr Doom create some sort of super-powerful lackey or something? And doesn't the Silver Surfer turn up?
Incredible Hulk #172, the Juggernaut

The Hulk and the Juggernaut team up to smash up Thunderbolt Ross's beloved Hulkbuster Base.

Needless to say, it's not long before they're then trying to smash each other up.
Iron Man #66, Thor

I've never read this one but I really don't fancy Iron Man's chances.
Thor #220, Avalon

Are we still on that planet with all the giants on it?

I must confess we're on the threshold of a Thor era of which I know little.
X-Men #86, the Blob and the Vanisher

Only eight issues to go now before the New X-Men make their debut.

But who needs that when quality villains like the Blob and the Vanisher are back?

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The Spider-Man 2 Superbowl trailer.


As I roamed the historic pitch of Bramall Lane football ground today, showing the players how to do the Cruyff Turn, people often said to me, "Steve, you're clearly quite the sports maestro. Did you see the Superbowl the other night?"

"What?" I said. "Those little black round things you could get in the 1970s and you'd throw them at the floor and they'd bounce right up and hit the ceiling?"

"Not the superball, you brain-dead dolt!" they cried. "The Superbowl! It's the hip new thing among all the kids - thirteen hours of rugby interrupted by Bruno Mars."

Reader, I must confess, tempting as that sounds, I hadn't seen it. But, thanks to the Bronze Age Babies, I am now aware that, somewhere during it, they showed a trailer for the new Spider-Man 2 movie.

This of course gives me a chance to inspect it with the critical gaze that has oft-times awed the world into slack-jawed wonder.

The first thing I have to say is it's extremely long. I sort of feel like I've now seen the whole film.

The other obvious thing that strikes me is I'm not sure why the Rhino looks like a robot or why they need three villains in one tale. I'm hoping they're pulling a fast one and that the reason it's called Enemies Unite is because it sees Spidey having to team up with the trio of villains to face a bigger threat, which would at least add a surprise twist to the reasons for the movie's seeming overpopulation.

It does look better than a previous trailer I saw which made the film seem like some sort of computer game. This time, there's plenty of the kind of characterisation we all associate with Spidey - and, with its electrification antics, it certainly looks exciting.

But does Electro really get his powers from falling in a vat of eels?

Emma Stone still looks very nice as Gwen Stacy, Andrew Garfield still looks like Andy Murray, and Aunt May looks a lot more sprightly than she really should do. These, to my mind, are good things. Harry Osborn looks a bit weird but I'm hoping that's because he's going through his druggie phase and is meant to look like that.

Emma Stone, 2012 Wondercon
Emma Stone by Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, USA
(Emma StoneUploaded by maybeMaybeMaybe)
 [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Meanwhile, here's a random picture of Emma Stone, posted for no good reason other than that pictures of attractive women seem to lure more people to this blog than do pictures of 1970s comics.

What that fact says about the state of this world, I can only surmise.

She certainly looks very happy in the picture. I can only assume that someone's just started to demonstrate the magic of the superball to her. Look at it, Emma! See how it bounces!

PS. Thanks to Dougie for giving my post about The Horrific World of Monsters a plug on his Materioptikon site.

And here's that very post I once wrote about that very book.

This is my post about the death of Gwen Stacy.

And these are all my posts about Spider-Man.

Here's an eBook I once wrote. It's fab. Both the people who've ever read it have said so.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Fifty years ago today - February 1964.

I can think of nothing at all interesting to say to introduce this post. So, in a rare fit of succinctness, here's my look at what our favourite Marvel heroes were up to in the exact same month the Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

That appearance got almost 73 million viewers - which, by an incredible coincidence, is exactly the same number of people I expect to comment on this post.

Sometimes, the synchronicities of life are just plain spooky.

Amazing Spider-Man #9, Electro

Electro makes his shocking first appearance.
Fantastic Four #23, Dr Doom

Dr Doom is back!

Is this the one with his Doom Ship?

For some reason, when I first read this tale in The Mighty World of Marvel, I misread, "Doom Ship," as, "Doom Shirt." I didn't have a clue what a doom shirt was but I knew I wanted one.
Journey Into Mystery #101, Thor vs Zarrko

Zarrko the tomorrow man makes his debut.

Does this mean he made his first appearance before Kang? In which case, Kang is a Zarrko knock-off rather then the other way round? The things you learn when you trawl the depths of history.

Either way, you can read my review of Thor's next meeting with Zarrko, right here. Warning, it contains dinosaurs!
Strange Tales #117, the Human Torch vs the Eel

The Human Torch finds himself up against the deadly Eel, a foe so useless he couldn't even beat Daredevil when they met.

Worryingly for the Torch, references to Dr Strange are now starting to make the front cover...
Tales of Suspense #50, Iron Man vs the Mandarin

Iron Man finally gets an arch-enemy, as the Mandarin makes his first appearance.

To be honest, Mandy could at least make the effort to stand up to fight his new, sworn foe. With apathy like that, it's no wonder he always used to lose.
Tales to Astonish #52, Giant-Man and the Wasp vs the Black Knight

Giant-Man and the wonderful Wasp find themselves up against the original Black Knight. To be honest, given his track record, I don't fancy Giant-Man's chances.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

He That Hath Wings - Worlds Unknown #1 or Planet of the Apes #Something-Or-Other.

Marvel Comics' Worlds Unknown #1, He That Hath Wings
As we all know, the greatest claim to immortality Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes comic possessed was not that it had stories in it about talking apes. After all, once you've seen one ape talk, you've seen them all talk.

No.

It was the fact that the rest of its pages featured tales of sci-fi, mystery and wonder. How we thrilled to the adventures of Don McGregor's Black Panther, Barry Smith's Ka-Zar and Thomas and Kane's Warlock.

But, beyond even this splendour, the real jewels to be found in the comic were the one-off tales that found their way into the mag's pages.

Of those tales, two have always lodged in my memory more than all others.

And that can only mean one thing.

That it's time to take a look at one of them.

He That Hath Wings, Worlds Unknown #1, Gil Kane art
He That Hath Wings is an adaptation of a 1934 short story by a curiously uncredited Edmond Hamilton. In it, thanks to a freak electrical accident, a boy (David) is born with the ability to fly.

Fearing for the child's welfare in a world that'll pry incessantly into his life, his doctor takes him to an isolated island to raise him in private.

But, when the doctor dies, David sets off to explore the world and, after being accidentally shot by a groundsman, marries the daughter of the groundsman's employer.

Well, that could all have been a lovely happy little ending.

There's only one problem.

His new wife's a complete and total dolt.

He That Hath Wings, Worlds Unknown #1, Gil Kane art
And so, instead of reacting as any sane woman would to being married to a man who can fly, she nags him to have his wings cut off so he can be just like everyone else and get a nine-to-five job.

Now, I don't like to criticise a man's taste in women but could it have been humanly possible for him to have found a more doltish and clod-brained woman if he'd tried?

I mean, what kind of woman wouldn't want a husband who could fly? It's humanity's greatest dream come true. She could have been the envy of all her friends - and cadged lifts off him when she didn't have the bus fare.

Happily, after a while, his wings start to grow back.

Not so happily, so hen-pecked is he that he decides to have them cut off again.

But then, on the way to the surgery, he decides to have one last flight for old times' sake and, ultimately, his new wings exhausted by the flight, he plunges into the sea and to his death.

Is he downhearted about this?

No.

He's happy because it means he's managed to die free, rather than as a prisoner of convention.

He That Hath Wings, Worlds Unknown #1, Gil Kane artI must confess that, as a child, this finale all seemed rather touching and beautiful to me.

But how does the tale strike me upon re-reading it as an adult?

To be honest, it's all quite annoying. His wife really does seem a complete and total dunderhead. I'll say it again. The power of flight. It's humanity's greatest ever dream! What is up with the woman?

And, obviously, some might spot a certain implied misogyny in a tale about a woman who's so narrow-minded and conformist that she literally clips her husband's wings.

Not only that but our hero's ultimate decision to die flying rather than live Earthbound does make him seem like a total wimp. When all's said and done, there's nothing to stop him from insisting on keeping his new wings and doing with his life whatever he wants.

But the great appeal of the tale was always Gil Kane's art and, while the story itself might not hold the appeal for me it once did, his art looks as splendid as ever. I do always feel his stylised technique was best suited to science-fiction and fantasy rather than super-hero work and this is one of the tales that proves it.

Of course, as a child, it was a strange feeling reading it, as it was impossible not to see parallels with the X-Men's Warren Worthington and it's tempting to see this as an Alternate Universe exploration of how Worthington's life would have been had he been totally devoid of a backbone.

But what oh what could be that other memorable tale I referred to earlier in the post?

Call me psychic but I have a sneaky feeling we might be finding out in a day or two's time.

But, Reader, can YOU guess which tale it might be?
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