Saturday, 4 January 2014

Fifty years ago today - January 1964.

Scottish pop-folk warbler Barbara Dickson once sang, "January, February, don't you come around." But every year for the thirty four years since she first sang those words, those months have indeed ignored her demands and returned.

Foolish months! Do they not know that Barbara Dickson will not be thwarted!

But will our favourite Marvel heroes of fifty years ago find themselves thwarted in their battles against evil?

Or with they instead find themselves rising in triumph, as Barbara's near-namesake Reginald Dixon so often did as he rose from beneath the floor of Blackpool Tower Ballroom each night whilst banging away on his Wurlitzer?

To be honest, I don't know.

Amazing Spider-Man #8, the Living Brain

It's one of my early Spidey faves, as everyone's favourite wall-crawler finds himself up against the Living Brain - and then acts like a complete jerk by wrecking the Human Torch's party.

It's all good fun stuff but I'm not sure how this issue counts as a tribute to teenagers, as every teenager in it behaves like a total idiot from start to finish.

This was the story that first introduced me to the phrase, "Bury the hatchet." As always, I owe my current staggering levels of literacy to comics.
Avengers #3, the Hulk and Sub-Mariner

It has to be the most easily riled partnership in history. Only one issue after he left the Avengers, the Hulk's back - and he's got the Sub-Mariner in tow.
Fantastic Four #22, The Mole Man

Meanwhile, it's a reappearance no one was praying for, as the Mole Man makes one of his bafflingly numerous returns.

Tyrannus! Why was it never Tyrannus the FF came up against? At least he had a bit of class. At least he had Mogol, who could give The Thing a bit of a fight.

Then again, Reginald Dixon, he lived underground, under the Tower Ballroom floorboards. They could have tried fighting Reginald Dixon.
Journey into Mystery #100, Thor v Mr Hyde

Mr Hyde's still up to no good and, for once, Thor's not declaring the battle to be hopeless before it's even begun.
Strange Tales #116, Human Torch and the Thing

Is that the Puppet Master I spy in the background? I hope so. I always had a soft spot for him.
Tales of Suspense #49, Iron Man v the Angel

It's another of my mid-1960s faves, as the Angel turns evil and somehow manages to defeat Iron Man who can also fly, has a zillion and one other powers and is in a suit of armour!

I remember this issue having a great sequence where Steve Ditko gives us a demonstration of how Tony Stark puts that armour on. That may not sound very thrilling but, trust me, at the time I was mightily impressed.
Tales to Astonish #51, Giant-Man v the Human Top

Giant-Man's still having ridiculous amounts of trouble with the Human Top and it's still one of my favourite tales from the era.

A wiser man than me might spot that Giant-Man's repeated and futile struggle to grab hold of the Human Top symbolises Henry Pym's doomed attempts to hold onto his own sanity.
X-Men #3, The Blob

I've never read this one. In fact, I don't think I've ever read any story where the Blob actually features as a villain, and so have no idea how much of a menace he actually is.

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