Sunday, 2 April 2017

Fifty years ago this month - April 1967.

April 1967 was one of the most important months in the history of  humanity. Not only did Sandie Shaw win the Eurovision Song Contest with her classic hit Puppet on a String but television first broadcast the Star Trek episode City on the Edge of Forever, which was possibly unique in casting Joan Collins as a good guy.

But there was even more excitement than that, because that month also saw the start of Expo 67 in Montreal.

Granted, I know nothing about Expo 67 but its geodesic dome showed up in an issue of Spider-Man and that's good enough to convince me it must have been important.

Clearly, with such things going on, the Marvel comics that bore the name of that month upon their front covers were going to have to go some to match that level of epochalityness.

Did they manage it?

There's only one way to find out.

Avengers #39, Hercules

Hercules finds himself up against the Mad Thinker's Triumvirate of Terror - the only member of which that I can recall being Hammerhead who was a  bloke with a metal hat, who liked to run into people. I suspect he was no relation to the character of the same name who liked to fight Spider-Man.

Needless to say, such buffoonery couldn't triumph against the Prince of Power.

Daredevil #27

Speaking of Spider-Man, is this the one where Daredevil's fighting Stilt-Man but then Spidey shows up and offers to fight the villain on DD's behalf, so DD can tackle the Masked Marauder - and then Spider-Man proceeds to demolish Stilt-Man with no difficulty whatsoever?

That really didn't reflect well on Daredevil, bearing in mind what a meal he always made of stopping Stilt-Man.

Fantastic Four #61, Sandman

Is this the one where the Sandman breaks into the Baxter Building, in an attempt to steal Mr Fantastic's scientific secrets and ends up unwittingly unleashing Blastaar upon the world?

I always liked Blastaar. He was suitably unpleasant.

It was also nice to know there was more than one villain living in the Negative Zone, a place that, from previous showings, had seemed somewhat short on inhabitants.
Amazing Spider-Man #47, Kraven

I believe this is the one where we start with a totally baffling flashback to that story where the Green Goblin hired Kraven to kill Spider-Man.

I remember being genuinely mystified while reading it, because I had no recollection of any such tale. It was only once I got the Internet that I had it confirmed to me that no such story had ever existed. What kind of madness had Stan Lee succumbed to when he wrote this issue?

I'm pretty sure the story also features Mary Jane in a chequerboard dress. This may not be a key plot development but it was a classic example of John Romita's design genius.

Strange Tales #155, Nick Fury and SHIELD

That's really not a cover that tells me anything about what happens inside, other than that Hydra are involved, which isn't that great a shock, bearing in mind it's a SHIELD. story.

Tales of Suspense #88. Captain America vs Swordsman and Power Man

A mystery villain (in a Captain America story? I wonder who that could be?) hires the Swordsman and Power Man to give Cap a good clobbering.

Needless to say, they fail and it all ends up with Manhattan being kidnapped in a giant bubble. How many times have we seen such a sequence of events occur, over the years?
Tales to Astonish #90, Sub-Mariner

Although I've heard of him; never having read a story featuring him, I've never really been sure who Byrrah actually is.

I'm taking it, from the blurb, that he's a revived villain from the Golden Age?

Thor #139

Sif's wielding a replica of Thor's hammer. I know such an object features in the story, thanks to the trolls having made one, possibly for Ulik but does she actually get to use it?

Come to think of it, whatever happened to that replica? Was it ever seen again?

X-Men #31, Cobalt Man

Cobalt Man makes his debut, as a kind of evil version of Iron Man.


dangermash said...

A quick look in those paperback marvel indices from two or three years ago reveals the other two members or the Triumvirate of Terror to be Piledriver and Thunderboot. Lame.

But their lameness can't compare to the revelation of Captan Amerca's mystery villain. Thought for a second it was the Mole Man but he's in the Iron Man strip. No, Power Man and Swordsman are in the employment of the Red Skull. Along with a robot version of Bucky.

Your memory's bang on with the ASM strip. One thing I respectfully disagree with though - you thought last month that Romita really took off in ASM #46. For me, it was ASM #47.

Anonymous said...

It was the Red Skull?
Didn't see that one coming...


Steve W. said...

What I love is that the story treated the revelation like it was the biggest shock ever.

Anonymous said...

Making a robot version of Bucky, eh? As levels of super-villainous cunning go, thats up there with kidnapping Jim Callaghan.


TC said...

I'm sure that Dame Joan must have played some sympathetic parts besides that Star Trek episode once in a while. But no one (including me) remembers them. She was so good at being bad that casting her as a nice person was a waste.

I never had Avengers #39 or Daredevil #27, but I had the reprints in Marvel Triple Action and Marvel Adventure. Spider-Man seemed to be in a bad mood, telling Daredevil to butt out when DD offered to help nab some muggers or something.

I had Thor #139, which concluded the Asgard vs. the Rock Trolls serial. I have no memory whatever of the duplicate hammer, though.

And I had Suspense #88. Even when I was eight, I knew that the "mystery villain" would have to be the Red Skull or Zemo. Who else was there? I might have been surprised if it had turned out to be Lex Luthor or the Joker.

From the cover blurb, it was clear that Power Man and the Swordsman were recurring villains, but their previous appearances were a little before my time. TOS #88 may have been the first time they teamed up. They later appeared together in Avengers Annual #1.

Steve W. said...

From what I can remember, the trolls decided to make a replica of Thor's hammer for Ulik, on the grounds that it'd make him unbeatable, so they kidnapped Thor's hammer (they seemed to have no trouble carrying it, despite it supposedly being unliftable) and somehow replicated it in their troll forges. I can't remember if Ulik ever got to use it.

dangermash said...

TC- Power Man and Swordsman first teamed up (with Black Widow) in Avengers 29-30. Hawkeye went up against them solo and won, albeit with help from the Widow, whose brainwashing wore off mid-fight.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - awesome display here! Face front all true believers!!!

TC said...

Now that you mention it, I seem to remember the Black Widow leading a team of bad guys against the Avengers, although I did not remember who her henchmen were. That arc would also have been before my time, but I probably read it in 1970's Marvel Triple Action and/or Marvel Super Action reprints. I think Hawkeye asked Cap to let him tackle the villains solo, because he had previously fouled up and allowed them to escape, and he wanted to redeem himself?

I also seem to vaguely recall Byrrah in a reprint of a Golden Age story, maybe in Fantasy Masterpieces or Marvel Super-Heroes, or maybe in Jules Feiffer's book The Great Comic Book Heroes.

dangermash said...

That's the one TC, although how he expected to prosper against Power Man I really don't know.

John said...

FF 61 had a really nice cover, but then I always favored Sandman, ever since his Frightful Four membership began in FF 36.

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