Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Fifty years ago today - November 1965.

In November 1965, large chunks of North America found themselves without electricity in a notorious blackout that launched a thousand and one conspiracy theories.

I could claim that I know this because I'm a dedicated follower of 20th Century history.

But, of course, I only know it because I read about it in a Nick Fury story.

And that can only mean one thing.

It's time to look at what Nick and his merry Marvel mates were up to in the month when that dread outage occurred.

Avengers #22, Power Man

North America may have been saying, "There's no power, man," but Captain America was quickly discovering that there was more than enough Power Man.

Fantastic Four #44, Gorgon

Gorgon makes his debut, Medusa starts to turn into a good guy and Dragon Man makes his fiery return in probably my favourite Lee/Kirby FF storyline.

Journey Into Mystery #122, Odin vs Absorbing Man

The Absorbing Man tries to steal the throne of Asgard from Odin.

Let's be honest, if he succeeds, would he actually be able to make a worse job of running things than Odin ever did?

Amazing Spider-Man #30, the Cat

A story in which the lack of communication between Steve Ditko and Stan Lee hits you in the face, as Lee doesn't quite seem to know who the bad guy is and gets Dr Octopus mixed up with the Cat, leaving readers well and truly confused as to what's going on.

Strange Tales #138, Nick Fury, SHIELD

I don't care how much Nick Fury's contributed to my knowledge of 1960s' power cuts, I'd still rather see Dr Strange on the cover of a mag.

Tales of Suspense #71, Iron Man vs Titanium Man

It's Iron vs Titanium in what I think was either Don Heck's last issue on the strip or Gene Colan's first.

Of course, back then, so that DC wouldn't know they'd borrowed their artist, Marvel was calling Gene Colan, "Adam Austin." A ruse that fooled no one who had a pair of eyes.

Tales to Astonish #73, the Hulk and the Watcher

I think this tale was the first time I ever encountered the Watcher.

I was suitably impressed and have modelled myself on him ever since - especially his habit of interfering in absolutely everything that everyone does.

X-Men #14, the Sentinels

I assume this is the first appearance of the Sentinels. In which case, the Original X-Men comic finally manages to do something that interests me.


TC said...

Ah, yes. The Big Blackout of 1965. It affected much of the northeast US and Ontario. There were wild conspiracy theories speculating about every possibility from Red China to Martians to gremlins. (Today, the Usual Suspects would be the CIA, NSA, Tea Party, Fox News, Koch Brothers, and Mossad.)

Turned out a circuit breaker was accidentally set too low, so the relay station shut down to prevent an overload that would not have happened anyway. I guess in the Nick Fury story, it was sabotage by A.I.M. or Hydra.

I don't even remember hearing about it at the time. It didn't affect our region. I do remember the 1968 movie, "Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?" I saw it on TV, at least two years later. When I was eleven or twelve, it seemed terribly risque. The ending had Doris Day giving birth nine months after the blackout. Which may have contributed to the urban legend (since debunked), that the birth rate in New York went up in summer of 1966.

Mid-1966 also was when I first started reading "serious" superhero comics, so (once again), the ones shown here were slightly before my time, although I know some of them from reprints.

I think I first encountered that Avengers story in the Marvel Super Heroes TV cartoon series, and later read a reprint in Marvel Triple Action. Was it the one where the Kooky Quartet are framed, and Captain America, in disguise, visits the real villains and gets a confession using a concealed tape recorder? And then rips off the disguise, and he's wearing his costume (including his mask) underneath?

I read the Iron Man vs. Titanium Man showdown when it was reprinted in Iron Man Annual #1 ca. 1970. I'm pretty sure the artwork was by Don Heck.

Anonymous said...

I too admire the Watcher, Steve, so much so that I've been growing my own bald spot on top of my head, in imitation of him, and I'm happy to say it's coming along nicely. I'm being fitted for a toga next week.

I always loved how Kirby drew Dragon Man; this big, ponderous heavy thing that just kind of hangs weightlessly suspended in the air and barfs jets of fire. There is a lot goin' on in that cover, Dragon Man, Medusa, and all of a sudden this weird hooved guy named Gorgon stomping rooftops to pieces with his feet. I can only imagine a kid seeing this for the first time and thinking, "What the..."

John said...

You must be a Medusa fan, Steve? I like her as well, though I preferred her as the evil female member of the Frightful Four. Still, she did do a decent job in the mid-70's, by standing by Reed when Sue walked out on the team.

Steve W. said...

I have always felt that Medusa was my favourite female member of the Fantastic Four. Sue was a bit too wimpy and defeatist for my liking. While, much as I loved Crystal, she was clearly too powerful to be a member of the FF. She could have defeated most of their foes on her own. Medusa had just the right combination of assertiveness and power-limitation to be in the team.

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