Sunday, 6 August 2017

Fifty years ago this month - August 1967.

Do you remember where you were when Fantastic Four #1 hit the newsstands?

I don't.

I wasn't even born.

And you might not have been either but now's the chance to find out how it felt to have been present at the start of such a tumultuous venture, by being present at the start of another tumultuous venture.

That's right. It can only mean I've launched yet another blog. This time it's Steve Does Trailers, in which I give my thoughts on the latest movie and TV promos that have smashed, face first, into the internet.

So far, the highlight of it has to be my discovery of the existence of Toxic Shark, a film clearly destined to challenge Citizen Kane for the title of greatest movie of all time. Then again, there's also my weird inability to read the word, "It," properly and my thoughts on Valerian, the new Doctor Who Christmas special and Star Trek: Discovery.

Admittedly, as most of my blogs last about three months before I either lose interest in them or forget they ever existed, it might not be around for long but, while it is, you can get it while it's hot by clicking on this very link or using the link that's buried somewhere in the sidebar.

Meanwhile, back to this blog's business at hand...


Galloping galaxies! August 1967 was a big month for all people with telescopes. Not only did we get the first ever discovery of a pulsar, by graduate student Jocelyn Bell of  Cambridge University but NASA also published the first ever map of the dark side of the moon.

By sheer coincidence, Pink Floyd, a band inextricably linked to that second event, released their first album Piper at the Gates of Dawn in that month. What a tangled web Fate weaves.

But what webs was Fortune spinning for our favourite Marvel heroes in the comics that bore that month within their corner boxes?

Avengers #43, the Red Guardian

"The most talked about super-villain of the year!" makes his debut.

And it's true. I don't think anyone's stopped talking about him ever since.

Admittedly, that prediction by the blurb writer may have been somewhat overly-optimistic. However, I had a soft spot for the Red Guardian, even if he didn't last very long.

Wasn't he armed with a tiny little disc that was supposed to be his equivalent of Captain America's shield?

Or was it his belt buckle?

Whatever it was, I was never convinced it was going to be of much practical use in a fight to the death.

But is this the issue in which Hercules fights an imaginary hydra? I get the feeling someone had been watching Jason and the Argonauts before plotting this tale.

Daredevil #31, the Cobra and Mr Hyde

The one in which Daredevil's lost his hyper-senses and is therefore genuinely blind but, like a total moron, decides to fool Hyde and the Cobra into thinking he's not blind, by walking across a tightrope, towards them, despite not being able to see.

That has to be the worst plan any super-hero's ever come up with.

More staggeringly, it actually works. At the sight of DD, "Fooling around," on the rope, Hyde and the Cobra decide he's too much for them and flee in a panic.

What kind of super-villains are they? Even with his powers intact, they'd have next to nothing to fear from Daredevil. Are these really people who once had the guts to take on Thor?

Anyway, all they had to do was cut the rope when he was halfway across. Did this not occur to them?

Fantastic Four #65, Ronan the Accuser

It's another landmark FF tale, as Ronan the Accuser makes his dazzling debut. It's just a shame he was used so poorly in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I've always seen him as a major villain, not some disposable, cardboard non-entity.

Strange Tales #159, Captain America vs Nick Fury

Nick Fury takes on Captain America in mortal combat.

I think we all know who's going to win that one - especially as it seems that Fury's stupid enough to try to karate chop Cap's indestructible shield.

No wonder his UK comic only lasted six months.

Tales of Suspense #92, Captain America

And Fury's getting tangled up with Cap again.

I have a feeling that, this time, it's a life model decoy on the cover and it's all a cheat designed to foil Hydra/AIM/Whoever.

Tales to Astonish #94, the Sub-Mariner

I know nothing at all about this tale but Dragorr looks like a fairly hum-drum villain.

X-Men #35, Spider-Man

I know nothing at all about this tale either but Spider-Man's clearly involved.

From my knowledge of the Silver Age Marvel formula, I'm going to assume Professor X mistakes Spidey for a mutant and sends the X-Men to potentially recruit him to their ranks, only for it all to degenerate into a scrap when the various parties display their usual maturity levels upon encountering a super-powered stranger.

Amazing Spider-Man #51, the Kingpin

The Kingpin has well and truly arrived in the Spiderverse, thanks to a classic cover.
Thor #143

The one that was reprinted in Origins of Marvel Comics.

Despite that, it's not one of my favourite Thor tales from this era and I seem to recall it having rather atypical inking for a late 1960s thunder god adventure.


The Artistic Actuary said...

Apart from ASM 51, looks like a pretty humdrum month.

And I've always hated that Avengers cover. The bodies all look out of proportion. And Don Heck's cabn' too gloating heads the way Kirby can.

The Artistic Actuary said...

Spellchecker! He can't do floating heads the way Kirby can.

Steve W. said...

I love the Spidey and FF tales this month. The others, I agree, are nothing special - although The Avengers issue features some of John Buscema's earliest Silver Age Marvel work and it's intriguing to see him still learning the ropes as to how to do things Marvel style.

TC said...

IIRC, Hawkeye and Hercules went to Red China to rescue the Black Widow, who had been captured while on a spy mission for SHIELD. The communists had developed a device that caused hallucinations, and Hercules ended up fighting an imaginary Hydra.

The Red Guardian did have a detachable discus on his belt, and it was his equivalent to Captain America's shield.

I thought that the Red Guardian had potential as a communist counterpart to Cap, but they wasted it by killing him off in the next issue (Avengers #44). At least Iron Man's red counterpart, Titanium Man, got two rematches.

Anonymous said...

Nah, they did the right thing getting rid of the first Red Guardian, otherwise we wouldn't have had the second Red Guardian, the one who joined the Defenders.
She was a brain surgeon and looked hot while fighting against capitalist exploitation of the workers. What more could you ask for from a superhero?


Steve W. said...

I must admit I do prefer the second Red Guardian. She was a lot more fun.

Charlie Horse 47 said...


What a classic time to be alive!

Kirby at his peak! Within a few years his art would start becoming too stylistic.

Steranko getting it all together!

JR on ASM!

Face Front True Believers!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Wouldn't it sound better "Before my eyes Fury dies!"

Steve W. said...

I think we can only conclude that Stan may have loved alliteration but hated rhyming.

Anonymous said...

The Thor issue is a favorite of mine. It begins with Thor in a malt shop drinking a milkshake (is that what you call them in the U.K.?)
For "even a thunder god may feel the pangs of thirst!"
Unfortunately, the Asgardian cheapskate had no money in his cape and had to "charge yon frothy drink."
Balder, on the other hand, stopped being a weenie for once and clobbered the Living Talisman.
Good for him! At least somebody was taking care of business.

M.P. (I suddenly crave a milkshake)

Anonymous said...

I wonder if they planned to have two Cap/Fury cross overs in the same month?


Charlie Horse 47 said...

DW I was thinking same! Steranko had one , Kirby the other. What a great month to be alive!!!

Steve W. said...

MP, we do indeed call them milkshakes in the UK. I had sort of assumed that milkshakes no longer exist but Google tells me they can still be bought in specialised corners of the high street.

Dougie said...

You mean you've never heard of the freakshake, the dessert craze of 2016?

Dragorr and the Gnome were villians in a Bill Everett story for Namor I think.
Your suspicions about the X-Men and Spider-Man debacle are close to the truth- in fact, when the Banshee is truck down by Factor Three's spider-robot, his garbled warning pitches the X-Men into a long and tedious, pointless battle. It's paninero Peter Parker on his scooter, too, Marvel's answer to, er, Scooter.

And yes, obviously brain surgeon Red Guardian is best.

Steve W. said...

Dougie, I don't think I've heard anything about milkshakes since about 1975. I must have been living under a rock.

Anonymous said...

I googled the Freakshake and Good Lord! It would probably kill me if I consumed that.
Only a madman could conceive of such a thing!


Anonymous said...

Not madmen M.P.... Australians!