Sunday, 4 September 2016

Fifty years ago this month - September 1966.

September 1966 was an historic month in the history of television, with Star Trek, Ron Ely's Tarzan, The Monkees and Mission Impossible all making their very first appearance.

Clearly, Marvel was going to have to pull out all the stops if it was going to yank us away from our TV screens that month.

Admittedly, they wouldn't have had to work that hard to yank me away from my TV screen, as I was in England and probably couldn't see any of them until about two years later.

Still, what dynamic first appearances was Marvel going to fling at us, in order to counter those of the dread gogglebox?

Avengers #32, the Sons of the Serpent

Is this the first ever appearance of the Sons of the Serpent? And was there a single Sons of the Serpent storyline when I was young that didn't climax with the shocking reveal that their leader was actually black?

After the fifth time that that revelation was made, it had started to somewhat lose its dramatic impact.

As I work my way through these covers each month, I am increasingly of the opinion that the main reason Goliath/Giant-Man was in the Avengers was because Marvel felt it was dramatic to have a giant on the cover.

Daredevil #20, the Owl

Hooray! The Owl is back! With his awesome power of gliding!

I'm trying to recall if this was his first appearance since his debut in issue #3. At the time, that seemed like a massive gap, although it was only seventeen issues.

I believe this story may have featured the first appearance of his giant mechanical owl. A thing so huge, bulky and heavy that it'd clearly never be able to get off the ground in the real world.

Fantastic Four #54

I have a feeling this may feature the first appearance of Prester John, of whom I'd never heard until I read this story, proving once more the educational value of comics.

I believe this means it's also the first appearance of the Evil Eye. And we all remember the trouble that ended up causing.

Come to think of it, has Thanos ever tried to get his hands on it? He's tried to get his hands on every other awesome object in the Marvel Universe. The last I heard, he'd worked his way through so many awesome objects that he was reduced to trying to get his hands on the Leap-Frog's shoe springs while declaring, "With the Leap-Frog's shoe springs, nothing can stop me destroying the universe! Nothing!"

I believe that Death then told him he might benefit from taking a holiday for a while.

Amazing Spider-Man #40, the Green Goblin

A cover that doesn't exactly leave you in doubt as to who wins the most dramatic clash yet between Spidey and his arch-nemesis.

Strange Tales #148, Dr Strange vs Kaluu

I know nothing of this tale - or of Kaluu.

I assume the Ancient One's on the brink of death again. It was always a contest between the Ancient One and Aunt May to see which one would pop their clogs first.

I have a suspicion that, fifty years later, they're both still alive and well, and possibly younger than they were then.

Tales of Suspense #81, The Titanium Man

A very odd cover indeed by Gene Colan.

I always had a soft spot for the Titanium Man. He was appealingly anti-social.

Tales to Astonish #83, the Hulk

I have no idea at all as to what happens in this story. Wasn't there one, around this time, where Thunderbolt Ross gets captured by The Leader or an enemy power or something and the Hulk has to rescue him or something, from somewhere or other?

Thor #132

Hooray! Thor's making his first ever visit to the lovely planet of Rigel!

And that means a first-ever battle with Ego can't be far behind.

X-Men #24, the Locust

Wasn't there a villain called The Locust who showed up in one of the first Hulk tales that Sal Buscema drew? Is it the same Locust?

And why does he seen to be holding a microphone in a way that suggests he's about to inflict a spot of karaoke on the X-Men?


dangermash said...

Is "odd cover by Gene Colan" secret code for "Titanium Man has nice legs, doesn't he?". It does look as if that was originally a woman strapped down on the cover and that someone's attempted to change her to Titanium Man by just painting the costume on.

Colin Jones said...

Steve, we had to wait longer than two years for Star Trek - it arrived on British TV screens in the autumn of 1969. Star Trek was one of the earliest TV shows I can remember watching, along with Dr. Who, Scooby Doo and the Clangers.

Steve W. said...

Dangermash, I think you're right. It would explain the strangeness of it all.

Colin, Star Trek snuck up on me by surprise. I remember us changing channels one Saturday afternoon to be confronted by a man with a dinosaur's head, trying to kill another man, while some other people watched in a spaceship. That was on November 15th, 1969. Why I'd been unaware of any of the previously broadcast episodes, I have no idea. I can only assume there must have been something really exciting on ITV in the same time slot.

Colin Jones said...

According to BBC Genome the first episode of Star Trek broadcast on British TV was "Where No Man Has Gone Before" on Saturday, July 12th 1969.

TC said...

AFAIR, Avengers #32 was the first appearance of the Serpents. They seemed to be a right-wing extremist, white supremacist group, but at the end of #33, their leader was unmasked, and turned out to be an agent provocateur from some unnamed Asian communist country.

I always thought Titanium Man had potential as Iron man's Soviet counterpart, but he always ended up not only defeated, but humiliated.

IIRC, #132 was the first Thor comic I ever had. That last page of the lead story, with Ego, blew me away when I was eight. I missed the next issue, but finally read "The Living Planet" many years later, in Marvel Spectacular or some other reprint comic.

That Owl two-parter seems to be one of the most often reprinted Daredevil stories. It turned up in a Lancer paperback book in the 1960's and in either Marvel Triple Action or Marvel Adventure in the 1970's. And it did have that aerodynamically impractical giant robot owl. DD and the judge used it to escape from the villain's island at the end of part two.

"Where No Man Has Gone Before" was intended as the second pilot episode for Star Trek, after "The Menagerie" (with Jeffrey Hunter) failed to sell. For some reason, though, it was not the first to be broadcast in the US. At least two other episodes were shown before it. "The Man-Trap" was the first episode broadcast in America, although it was the sixth to be filmed. Your guess is as good as mine as to why.

IIRC, Batman premiered in January 1966, as a mid-season replacement for some show that had been cancelled. Star Trek, Tarzan, and The Monkees premiered in autumn, at the start of the new, regular season.

Several sitcoms (That Girl, Love On a Rooftop, Hey Landlord, The Pruitts of South Hampton, It's About Time, The Tammy Grimes Show) and several action and/or drama shows (Hawk, T.H.E. Cat, The Rat Patrol, Felony Squad, The Green Hornet, and The Time Tunnel) also premiered at that same time. Most were short-lived.

Hawk starred Burt Reynolds as a detective. It was rerun in the 1970's, after Burt became a big star.

The Monkees and Rat Patrol were both popular with my third grade classmates, although the latter was not specifically intended as a kids' show.

We were all annoyed because some cool action shows got crammed into the same time slot, opposite each other, on Friday nights. Tarzan and T.H.E. Cat on the NBC network, the Green Hornet and Time Tunnel on ABC-TV. And The Wild Wild West (1965-69), still running on CBS. And, of course, we didn't have VCR's or DVR's back then, so we had to choose one and miss the others.

TC said...

Just remembered, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. also premiered in the 1966-67 season. I liked Stefanie Powers, but '66-67 was the peak of the spy-fi fad, and with so many spy movies and TV shows, TGFU may have just gotten lost in the shuffle. And, by 1967, the fads for spy-fi, pop art, and high camp were all passing, anyway.

IANAL, but the title of that Daredevil story makes no sense. The "verdict" would be "guilty" or "not guilty." Surely the title should have been "The Sentence Is Death"? Oh well, too late to do anything about it now.

Joe S.Walker said...

You haven't missed much not reading that Dr Strange story. It's got art by Bill Everett - a great artist, but his renderings of Steve Ditko-style spells and mystical dimensions were almost unintelligible.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the great mass of TV info, TC. And thanks for the Dr Strange info, Joe.

Colin Jones said...

Steve, did you know that the very first episode of The Clangers was broadcast on November 16th 1969, the day after you discovered Star Trek.

Steve W. said...

I didn't know that, Colin. Clearly, the fickle finger of Fate was at work.

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