Sunday, 11 December 2016

Forty years ago today - December 1976.

December 1976 was a momentous month for Marvel Comics.

Well, granted, it wasn't really. It was probably October or September or August that was the momentous month but doing maths hurts my head, so I'll pretend these comics actually came out in December like they pretended to.

Whichever month it was, it was momentous because the company launched a brand new comic that would, in many ways be a harbinger of things to come.

What was it?

Why was it?

How was it?

There's only one way to find out - and that's to read the rest of this post.

Avengers #154, Attuma

Those have to be the most talkative floating heads I've ever seen in my life.

I assume those are special chains that Attuma's using, otherwise it's hard to see how they could pose any problem for a man who can turn intangible.

Conan the Barbarian #69

Hooray! I had this issue!

That means I had four consecutive issues of Conan the Barbarian. That must have been a record for a US Marvel comic.

From what I can recall of the tale, something comes out of the sea and Conan has to fight it.

Admittedly, you could probably tell that from the cover but it's all I can remember of it other than that I liked the artwork which may have been by Val Mayerik.

Captain America and the Falcon #204

I know nothing of this story but the monster reminds me of a less surreal version of Orrgo from Strange Tales #90.

Daredevil #140, the Beetle and the Gladiator

If I guess right, this tale was reprinted in one of the Marvel UK annuals.

From what I can recall, the Beetle and the Gladiator hijack a bus - which seems an odd plan for a pair of super-villains - and there might be some sort of action involving a newsagent.

Admittedly, I may be remembering the tale completely wrongly.

Fantastic Four #177, the Frightful Four

Hooray! I had this one!

That means I had five consecutive issues of The Fantastic Four, which must have been a record for a US Marvel comic.

I enjoyed this issue greatly. With its reappearance of Thundra and Tigra, the debut of that super-villain who passes out at the sight of fire, and the return of The Brute, how could any comic fan not love it?

Incredible Hulk #206

Is this the issue after Jarella dies, when the Hulk gets a bit destructy until the Defenders show up?

Iron Man #93

So, let me get this straight, The villain of this issue is a pirate with a rocket-powered peg leg? Were they a bit short of ideas this month?

Amazing Spider-Man #163

Isn't this the story in which the Kingpin attempts to transfer Spider-Man's life energy into his own son?

What a dastardly bounder that man is.

Spectacular Spider-Man #1, the Tarantula

This is it! A pivotal moment in the history of Marvel Comics, as it launches a second Spider-Man comic!

Admittedly, it's technically a third Spider-Man comic, as we already had Marvel Team-Up but I've never regarded Marvel Team-Up as canon.

Spectacular Spider-Man might have given us even more opportunities to enjoy our hero but I can't help feel it signalled the future trend of Marvel's major heroes starring in a million and one books every month in order to extract as much cash from them as the company possibly could. It's a slippery slope that I don't like sliding down.

I therefore feel that this was a bad thing.

I also tend to feel its existence robbed Amazing Spider-Man of its uniqueness and therefore robbed it of half its magic, making it feel increasingly like it was just another comic.

Thor #254, Odin

Oh blimey. Odin's at it again. Does he never learn?

X-Men #102, the Juggernaut

Hooray! The New X-Men go to Ireland and I get my first exposure to the Juggernaut!

It's a silly tale, with leprechauns showing up but it's oddly endearing and I still enjoyed it.


Anonymous said...

Here in the United States, we are aware of the leprechaun problem in Ireland, and have been warned by our State Dept. on the dangers of travelling there.
It didn't have to be this way. But ever since St. Patrick drove out the snakes, which are the only known natural predator of leprechauns, their numbers have proliferated.


Anonymous said...

Banshee was irritating enough on his own, but bejazus that issue of X-Men was annoying.
Someone should have taken that fecker Claremont to one side and explained that the Oirish don't live in keeps (what?), any more than Russians aren't always pining for the steppe, by Lenin's ghost.
And don't get me started on the little people, MP...


dangermash said...

Oh yes, Spectacular Spider-Man was the beginning of the end. Up to this point, Amazing Spider-Man has told a long story of the evolution of Peter and of his supporting cast. Introducing a second comic book moves us towards standalone tales with no long term character development.

And, yes, Marvel TeamUp does feel non canon. Every time Spider-Man sits back and wastes a month thinking about his life he thinks of Uncle Ben, Captain Stacy. Gwen, maybe the black suit. Never any mention of all the time travelling, visits to the moon, etc in MTU.

Joe S. Walker said...

That Thor issue is actually a reprint of I think issue 159, in which it's revealed that Don Blake was always Thor, sent down to earth by Odin to learn humility.

dangermash said...

I,m looking at the covers of Avengers, Cap, FF. Kirby's style definitely changed while he was away from Marvel. More stilted and with the sort of inking of faces that would have been saved for metallic skinned characters in the past. Not necessarily better or worse but definitely jarring when comparing the before and after without being able to see the gradual change.

Colin Jones said...

Remember that leprechaun in The Defenders who kept turning up and shooting people for no apparent reason ?

Anonymous said...

I think that was an elf, actually.

Steve W. said...

Did we ever find out who the elf was in The Defenders?

Steve W. said...

Joe, thanks for the Thor info.

Sean, having had to endure Marvel's bizarre portrayal of England, I share your pain.

Dangermash, I must confess that I actually preferred Kirby's early/mid-1970s artwork to his 1960s work but his cover work for Marvel in the 1970s never grabbed me. I do feel that, by that point, his work was increasingly unsuited to drawing super-heroes and better suited to more idiosyncratic fare.

Anonymous said...

Steve, that homicidal, gun-toting elf was run over by a moving van, but was later revealed to be one of two or more elves who were working for a mysterious council of aliens who had some connection to the Defenders. Their motives remain shrouded in mystery.
These elves are not to be confused with leprechauns, despite the pointy hat and shoes, as leprechauns are shorter and rarely carry firearms.


Steve W. said...

Thanks for the elf info, M.P.

Colin Jones said...

What do elves do when they are ill ? Use the National Elf Service. Why did the elf move house ? Because there wasn't mush room in the old one. Who is an elf's favourite singer ? Elves Presley.

Ant Master said...

Loved those Defenders issues, but now really confused as I thought Avengers 154 started my first real run of american all color comics. However I was already picking up the X Men from issue 99 so I am wrong, damned memory,

Anyway more on the elf can be found here:-

Anonymous said...

I bought Spectacular Spider-Man off the spinner rack back in the day. It was immediately apparent that the thing was a tacky cash-grab. Blah story by the previously reliable Conway, hack artwork by Buscema and Esposito, second-tier villain etc. I think my personal "Golden Age" might very well have ended with this comic.

Ant Master said...

Reread Defenders 15 last night, Defenders for me were perfect depictions of the Hulk, but when Professor X recruits their help a foot note states that the XMen are otherwise occupied in Marvel Team Up. Proof positive that marvel did know what it was doing.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the elf link, Ant Master. It turns out I'd read the sad demise of the elf but had totally forgotten that he met his fate in such a manner.

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