Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Forty years ago today - April 1976.

First up, I'm contractually obliged to mention that my legendary fourth novel Keep Those Things Away From Me has now hit the bookshelves of Amazon's Kindle Store. It's 92,000 words of unlikely sci-fi goodness. So shocking are its contents that, already, Hollywood is refusing to film it - just as it's refused to film any of my previous novels.

You can find it at your local branch of Amazon, such as Amazon UKAmazon.Com and various others.

In another mind-numbing development, after fifteen years, Harper/Collins have finally got round to releasing my first two novels on Kindle. Should you choose to, you can find them here and here and at the various other Amazon sites around the world.

In the meantime, let's take a look at what our favourite Marvel heroes were up to in this month of forty years ago and see if it can possibly compare to such power and drama.

Conan the Barbarian #61, Belit

At last, Conan takes on his deadliest foes yet.


Possibly more importantly, he comes up against Amra, the titanic Tarzan-alike whose identity, I believe, he ends up adopting for himself.

Captain America and the Falcon #196

It's the one where Captain America and the Falcon find themselves in a deadly skateboard derby.

Is this the one where Cap loses his shield and pretty much has a total psychological meltdown over it? It's always struck me that it wasn't a very dignified response to something that happens to him almost every time he sets foot out of the house.

Daredevil #132, Bullseye

I think I might have had this one.

Sadly, I can't remember anything that happened inside it.

I do wonder if Bullseye's devoted any thought at all as to what he's going to do when gravity kicks in and he has to start coming down from being fired from that cannon.

Fantastic Four #169

I assume this is the issue where Power Man replaces Benjy in the FF?

Tragically, I don't think I've ever read any of the Power Man Fantastic Four issues.

Incredible Hulk #198, Man-Thing

At last, it's a comic where I know what happens in it.

The Hulk and the Man-Thing tackle the Collector and, in a manner somewhat reminiscent of the Captain Omen story, it has a not altogether happy ending for some of its participants.

Iron Man #85, the Freak

I'd love to know what the promised dramatic new change is in Iron Man's armour.

It's not him getting rid of his nose-piece, is it?

Amazing Spider-Man #155

Spidey does the Ellery Queen routine as he turns super-sleuth.

I remember watching the first episode of the 1970s Ellery Queen show and - when they stopped the show to challenge you to work out who the murderer was - concluding that Ellery Queen was the murderer.

In my defence, I didn't realise it was a series and that, therefore, the star wasn't likely to be the murderer.

Unlike Murder She Wrote, where we all know Jessica Fletcher was always the murderer.

Thor #246, Firelord

I must confess that Firelord is high on my list of annoying Marvel characters. His head might have been on fire but he never seemed to be too hot between the ears.

X-Men #98, the Sentinels

Hooray! The Sentinels are back, in a tale that gave me much pleasure as a youth!

My love for Dave Cockrum's X-Men was beyond measure. I even had a dream about them once. They went to Ireland and, as they were flying around, a mountain suddenly shot up and hit their plane. I have no recall as to what happened after that but am sure it was suitably dramatic.

Avengers #146, the Assassin

The Assassin's still up to no good.


Dougie said...

I had a dream about Cockrum's X-Men too, when I was about 13. Hellcat had joined. Er, that's it. But that was my second All New X-Men and I was already hooked.
The FF story was a bore as was Thor, although the art was beautiful. I was wild about that Amra storyline.

Steve W. said...

My first New X-Men issue was #100, where the new ones fought the old ones. I didn't have a clue what was going on or who half the characters were but it grabbed me as few comics had ever done.

Aggy said...

Iron Man 85 debuts arguably THE Iron Man armour. Fits in a briefcase. Thin mesh that becomes solid as soon as it is is on. Glowing chest.The armour that remained pretty consistent until the red and silver armour appeared in the 1980s

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the info, Aggy. :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Steve, Cap was trying to get his shield back in the kill-derby. Kirby's post-war Cap was all about ptsd - you only have to think of his wide-eyed expression and scream when revived in Avengers 4 - and I reckon thats the best way to think about his reaction to the loss of the shield, an essential part of his character armour (along with the chain mail) taken away.
Is that what you mean by psychological meltdown?

The point is maybe the identification of personal trauma with wider societal concerns, Cap being a somewhat symbolic character (post-Nixon bicentennial = madbomb!)
Of course, that's not quite how I read the story at the time, what with being ten years old. I just enjoyed Kirby's wild flights of fancy...
Got it the same afternoon as the classic Dr Strange 13; brilliant, both of 'em.

Also - Luke Cage was only a very temporary member of the FF while Reed built a human Ben a... robotic Thing suit! Or something like that; Dougie's right about that issue being a bore.
And yet, people moan about Kirby as a writer.


dangermash said...

Talking of Murder She Wrote, I spotted in the TV guide a couple of months ago, a two part MSW story with Tom Selleck guest starring as Magnum. I didn't see it as it was on in the early hours, but it's up there with the Torch's appearance in ASM #3 in my opinion.

Steve W. said...

The thing I always wondered with Jessica Fletcher is, if she was such a great detective, how come she never noticed that her best friend the Sheriff was clearly Father Dowling of The Father Dowling Mysteries.

Anonymous said...

Murder She Wrote supposedly took place in a small picturesque New England town where somebody got murdered every week.
What the hell was going on there? Satan cult that the sheriff was a member of?

Dougie said...

I'm not a fan of either of the Roy Thomas runs on FF. In the first one, when Roy replaces Stan , Medusa replaces Sue. Conway then widens the fracture between Reed and Sue, which is traumatic but more interesting.
In the second, mid-70s run, we get the return of Johnny's blue uniform, Reed losing his powers, Luke Cage ( as we've seen) Marvel Boy/Crusader and Counter-Earth Reed/Brute. There's no sense of wonder and cosmic shenanigans. They could be Avengers stories.

Steve W. said...

I must confess I always preferred the red Human Torch costume. I remember being quite excited when I first saw it in one of the American mags. Either the one where the Black Panther decides he's called the Black Leopard, or the one where the Miracle Man returns.

Anonymous said...

The problem with both Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway is that they were both too busy trying to imitate Stan Lee's scripting - which wasn't really the main creative force driving the original anyway - and never bothered with a fresh direction, which is what the FF needed.
So you get predictable stories with tots of sequels, like the return of the Miracle Man, the only room for "creativity" being a bit of minor tinkering around with the formula - Sue/Medusa, red/blue costume etc.


Anonymous said...

PS Oh, btw Steve, thought I might try Keep Those Things (hey, its free:) but as it seems to be book 3, will I need to read the others first to get the most out of your fabulous prose?
Just asking... (he said, eyeing the 4 quid price on one of the others. Not to doubt that you're worth it, Steve, but you know... we live in austere times. So I'm told)


Steve W. said...

Sean, I don't think you'll need to read the others. I've tried to make sure all the necessary backstory is mentioned in the third one.

Anonymous said...

I always preferred the classic blue/black costumes on the F.F., even Johnny.
But I'm old-school; that's how I roll.
It's a uniform; even if only one shows up, any super-villain knows he's in trouble. He might have to deal with the whole F.F.!
And please none of those bomber-jackets or cartridge-belts from the '90's.
A dark age for comics.

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