Sunday 30 September 2018

Fifty years ago this month - October 1968.

They can't accuse this site of not being ahead of its time. It's still only September and I'm already dealing with October.

Admittedly, it's October of 1968 and the comics I'm looking at came out several months before even that but, still, I'm not going to let it prevent me feeling proud of myself.

And someone with reason to feel proud of themselves that month were the zombie population of the United States because that was when their movie Night of the Living Dead had its US premiere.

Not to be outdone by his old rivals the walking dead, William Shakespeare was hitting back with Franco Zeffirelli's movie version of Romeo and Juliet which was celebrating its US release, seven months after its London premiere.

Also not to be left out when it came to first appearances were Led Zeppelin who were making their live debut under that name, at Surrey University.

Avengers #57, the Vision

Speaking of first appearances, it's a classic cover for a classic story, as the Vision has his Avengers introduction.

Is he hero?

Is he villain?

Is he man or machine?

Who can know?

All we can know is he's the coolest Marvel character of the 1960s and things will never be the same again.

Captain America #106

I do believe Captain America's fighting a robot replica of Steve Rogers. Why and how, I have no idea but I suspect that SHIELD and their love of LMDs are probably involved in it all, somehow.

Daredevil #45, the Jester

The Jester's nightmarish plot to frame Daredevil for murder continues apace and our hero finds himself in jail.

Can he escape - and will he bump into Spider-Man while he's at it?

Fantastic Four #79

If I remember rightly, the Fantastic Four are having trouble with the Mad Thinker's latest android, and bashful Benjy's feeling anti-social again, thanks to Reed's latest attempt to cure him.

Incredible Hulk #108, the Mandarin

The Hulk's first encounter with the Mandarin comes to a fortress-flattening conclusion, thanks to the help of Nick Fury and SHIELD.

Iron Man #6, the Crusher

Was the Crusher a scientist who got carried away with himself during an experiment or was he a wrestler who a scientist got carried away with during an experiment?

Did he come from Cuba?

Was Fidel Castro mixed up in it all, somehow?

Frankly, confusion is claiming me.

Amazing Spider-Man #65, jail break

I love that cover and I love this story.

Not to be outdone by Daredevil, Spider-Man's also attempting to break out of jail.

Is it the same jail?

I suspect it might be. I shall have to re-read both stories to see if there's anything in either of them that hints that both jail breaks are happening simultaneously.

Thor #157, Mangog

Mangog is still out to unsheathe the Odin Sword and destroy the universe, and Thor's still not managing to do anything about it.

X-Men #49, Jim Steranko

It's a Jim Steranko drawn cover but a Don Heck and Werner Roth drawn interior.

I've no idea who the Demi-Men are but I've reason to believe Mesmero's mixed up in it all.

Thursday 27 September 2018

September 27th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

As all good fans of swordplay can tell you, if there's one thing in this life that you just can't beat, it's a good old dose of Conan.

And that's exactly what BBC Two was giving us on this evening in 1978.

Admittedly, it wasn't the Conan of the barbaric variety that they were serving up. It was the Conan of the detective variety, as the channel gave us a drama about the legendary Cottingley Fairies, and Arthur Conan Doyle's involvement in the incident.

Were the Cottingley Fairies real?

Were they a hoax?

Who can know?

Admittedly, I can know because it's obvious.

However, as we're all aware, a fairy dies every time someone says they don't believe in them and, therefore, I shall keep my trap shut on the matter.

What I won't keep my trap shut about is the fact that Summer Nights by John Travolta and Olivia Newton John was at Number One on the UK singles chart in that week. I must confess that, by this point, I was thoroughly fed up of Grease and couldn't wait for the Boomtown Rats to come and save us all.

Star Wars Weekly #34

As always, I can say little of what occurs in the main strip but it looks like its curtains for everyone's favourite Mark Hamill lookalike.

When it comes to the back-up strips, I can give no info at all on what Star-Lord's up to this issue - assuming he's even in it - but I do know the Seeker 3000 strip is still doing whatever it is the Seeker 3000 strip did.

In a shock development, I can reveal that this issue contains an advert which shows a stunt kite being flown by the Hulk.

Mighty World of Marvel #313, the Hulk

It would appear the Hulk's on the rampage in a university, and all of Jim Wilson's best efforts aren't enough to prevent him starting a fight with a statue.

Meanwhile, this is the issue in which Daredevil, the Black Widow, Moondragon and Captain Marvel finally get to polish off Terrex and cure Angar the Screamer.

Elsewhere, Iron Man's up against the maddening menace of Mr Kline and a man called Mikas.

Super Spider-Man #294, the Beetle

Hold on. What's that the Beetle's saying? Spider-Man has a cop friend? When did that happen? Usually, New York's finest can't wait to start shooting at him.

As for the story inside, it would appear the Beetle's launched a crime wave, in order to lure the police away from their station, so that he can purloin something from its evidence room.

In other news, half of the Avengers, and Immortus, are in the Wild West and in the process of teaming up with a bunch of Marvel's cowboy stars, in order to tackle Kang.

Sunday 23 September 2018

Your favourite artists for your favourite heroes.

How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, Stan Lee, John Buscema
Pictures. Without them, where would comics be?

Probably in the Literature section of your local library and taken far more seriously by intellectuals.

However, those intellectuals would be wrong. It's the pictures that make comics great and it's artists who make the pictures great.

Therefore, we must all, at some point, address the issue of who our favourite artist is on each of our favourite strips and, in the absence of any better ideas for a post right now, that's exactly what I'm about to do.

Spider-Man. Ross Andru. For me, he was the perfect middle ground between the styles of John Romita and Gil Kane.

The Fantastic Four. In my youth, it was John Buscema but, now that I'm older, I can properly appreciate the work of Jolly Jack Kirby and put him at Number One.

Thor. Jack Kirby again. Who else could so perfectly capture the glory and grandeur of Asgard? Or the stupidity of Odin?

Dr Strange. I love Steve Ditko's work but, for me, there's nothing quite like the magic of Genial Gene Colan.

The Hulk. Happy Herb Trimpe. Not the most fluid of artists but just about every issue of the strip that he drew was great.

Iron Man. Dashing Don Heck, in his early stint. He gave Shellhead roller skates. What more could you demand of a man?

The X-Men. Dave Cockrum.

The Avengers. John Buscema, although Neal Adams did have a great, if short, run.

The Silver Surfer. John Buscema.

Daredevil. John Romita. He wasn't there for long but his simple style felt perfect for such a low-key strip, and his romance comic background made him the ideal man for the interminable Matt/Foggy/Karen love triangle that Stan was so keen on.

Captain America. Gene Colan.

Conan. It's a tough choice between Barry Smith and John Buscema but I'll go for Big John, if only for the sheer quantity of exemplary work he produced.

The Sub-Mariner. John Buscema. A strip perfectly suited to his elegant figure work and dynamic layouts.

Superman. I think the only artists I ever saw draw Superman with any regularity were Curt Swan and Kurt Schaffenberger. As Schaffenberger's man of steel was slightly more cartoony, I shall go for Curt Swan.

Batman. Jim Aparo. I know a lot of people prefer Neal Adams but I prefer Aparo's more rough-hewn look.

Supergirl. Jim Mooney. No matter how weird and perverted her stories got, Gentleman Jim managed to make them not look weird and perverted. In light of what was going on in some of those tales, that was a serious achievement.

Wonder Woman. I think that all the stories I ever read were drawn by Don Heck, well after his peak and, therefore, I have to leave this vacancy unfilled.

The Justice League of America. Dick Dillin because he's the only artist I ever saw drawing them.

The Legion of Super-Heroes. Dave Cockrum. He reinvented them just as brilliantly as he later reinvented the X-Men.

Aquaman. I think the only artist I ever saw draw him was Mike Grell, so I'd better go for him.

The Green Lantern. Gil Kane.

Anyway, those are my nominations. Feel free to voice your own opinions on your favourite artists for your favourite heroes, should you feel any need to.

Thursday 20 September 2018

September 20th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

All I have to do is utter the immortal words, "I don't like cricket," and, instantly, you'll know what was Number One on the UK singles chart in this week of forty years ago.

That's right. It was Dreadlock Holiday by 10cc, the cod Reggae hit that gave them their third UK Number One and proved beyond all doubt they were indeed one of the biggest bands of the 1970s.

Ironically enough, having done that, they were never again to reach the Top 40, other than with a re-release of I'm Not In Love, in 1995.

Even more excitingly for music lovers, Jilted John was now up to Number Four on that chart. Could nothing stop the man?

More importantly, could anything prevent me getting my hands on that week's Marvel UK mags?


Nothing could.

Star Wars Weekly #33

I've no idea at all what's happening in the main story this week, other than that Luke Skywalker would appear to be back on his home planet, having flashbacks and hanging around with Biggs again.

I do know that, when it comes to the back-up strips, Star-Lord is still in the desert, still being bothered by bugs and now trying to communicate with something that looks like a rock.

But that's not all the excitement we have in store, because The Tales of the Watcher has been replaced with Seeker 3000, the Tom Sutton drawn sci-fi strip.

I do recall that people, in the comments section, have previously explained to me what that strip was all about but I must confess to having forgotten what they said.

I am, however, fairly sure it involves a spaceship.

Mighty World of Marvel #312, the Hulk

I genuinely have not the slightest clue what happens in this one.

I suspect the Hulk tale is the one I've been recently covering in the US equivalent of this feature, the one with Thunderbolt Ross's notorious Death Helmet and Doc Samson's attempts to enter the Hulk's mind. That's how close to catching up with the US originals the Hulk strip now is.

Elsewhere, I'm fairly sure the FF are still in the mag, as it says so on the cover, and that Iron Man's still present.

Beyond that, I can say nothing.

Super Spider-Man #293

Despite what the cover show us, I do suspect that, once we get inside, Spider-Man may be up against the Beetle - but don't quote me on that.

What I can guarantee is that, in the back-up strips, Thor's fighting the Destroyer, which would appear to now be possessed by the mind of a scientist.

Elsewhere, Cap's having yet another identity crisis. I have no doubt this will require him to revisit his origin. While this is going on, the Falcon's abducted by a mysterious person who's clearly Dum Dum Dugan.

Meanwhile, in their strip, some of the Avengers are going back to the days of the Wild West, in order to rescue the missing Hawkeye - and sort out Kang, once and for all.

Sunday 16 September 2018

2000 AD - August 1980.

As the chill gloom of autumn descends upon the nation, it's time for me to seek refuge in the hot and hazy days of August.

But not this August. The August that happened in 1980.

Tragically for this blog, nothing interesting seems to have happened in the world in that month of that year but I do know that ABBA, David Bowie and the Jam dominated the Number One slot on the British singles chart, with The Winner Takes it All, Ashes to Ashes and Start, while Back in Black by AC/DC and then Flesh and Blood by Roxy Music hogged the top spot on the album chart.

Such absence of riveting world events means I shall plunge straight into my look at what the galaxy's greatest comic was up to at that time.

And the truth  is I know very little of what was happening in the galaxy's greatest comic at that time. I do know Judge Dredd's Judge Child saga's still ongoing, Wolfie Smith is still in the comic and still stirring no memories for me whatsoever, while, obviously, the Stainless Steel Rat's still saving the world. From what he's saving it, I haven't a clue. It is surprising to see that Tornado is still sharing the masthead with 2000 AD, a full year after the two comics merged.

I do recall Brian Bolland's Judge Dredd cover to Prog 173 but have no recollection of the advertised Galactic Olympics from Progs 174 and 175. I'm assuming it involves people, with mechanical legs, leaping five miles into the air - and people throwing objects twenty miles, thanks to the reduced gravity of an alien world - but this is mere speculation on my part.

2000 AD Prog 171, Stainless Steel Rat

2000 AD Prog 172, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 173, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 174

2000 AD Prog 175

Thursday 13 September 2018

September 13th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

It's time to put on your dancing boots and hop around like Bobby Farrell on speed because, in this week of 1978, Boney M were at Number One on the UK album chart, with Nightflight to Venus, living proof that, sometimes, quality really will rise to the top.

But what of our favourite weekly mags? Had their quality risen to the top?

There's only one way to find out.

And this probably isn't it.

Star Wars Weekly #32

I've no idea what happens in this issue but I do know that's a very nice cover from John Buscema and Klaus Janson, although it has to be said it doesn't look very Buscemaesque to me.

I may not know what happens in the comic but I do know that, hot on the heels of the recent back-cover news of Fatty Foulke, this week's back cover tells us about the oldest ever footballer to be capped for his country. According to it, that was Billie Meredith, in 1920, for Wales, at the age of 45. Whether he's still the oldest player ever to have been capped, I couldn't say.

Mighty World of Marvel #311, Doc Samson and the Death Helmet

I would love to know just how Thunderbolt Ross's, "Death Helmet," works. I'm assuming it involves gas.

I'm also assuming it's not meant to actually kill, as Ross was generally not a homicidal maniac and usually seemed content to merely knock the Hulk out and then put him in a cell that he'd declare to be inescapable - five panels before the Hulk smashed his way out of it.

Elsewhere, Daredevil and the Black Widow are up against Ramrod and Terrex, in a story drawn by Don Heck.

In his own strip, Tony Stark's being questioned by the Senate about problems with his latest weapons. No sooner has he started his stirring defence than the Capitol building starts to fall down around their ears.

It would appear to all be connected to someone called Demitrius.

I have no idea who Demitrius is. I've just done a Google image search for him and he would appear to be a strange-looking gentleman with horns and polka dots.

Super Spider-Man #292, the Green Goblin x2

I think that, at some point in our lives, we've all uttered the words, "Those battling goblins! I can't tell which one is my friend!" and now it's Spider-Man's turn, as Harry and Bart go head-to-head with each other. I think this may be the last part of the epic tale that's literally gone on for months.

In the back-ups, a John Romita drawn tale sees Spider-Man, the Falcon and Captain America in the process of teaming-up with each other - but not without the obligatory misunderstanding that causes them to get into a short-lived scrap.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - September 1978.

Gadzooks! Can it be the second Tuesday of the month once more?

Yes it can.

And we all know what that means.

That Steve Does Comics' page views are about to plummet dramatically as I look at what a selective sample of Marvel's lesser titles were up to with the mags that featured the name of this month of forty years ago.

Captain Marvel #58, Drax the Destroyer

Drax the Destroyer decides to take on Captain Marvel.

Why he does it, I've no idea, so I'm going to assume he thinks Marvy's working for Thanos.

Or, possibly, he's upset that, now that Thanos has gone, he has no one to fight, and decides to take it out on his former ally for robbing him of his meaning in life.

I've no evidence that either of these theories is correct but they're the only ones I have.

Invaders #32, Thor

Everyone's favourite war comic ups-the-ante as Thor shows up.

And, this time, he's on Hitler's side!

Is he being mind-controlled? Has he been duped into thinking the Invaders are the bad guys? Has he not being paying enough attention to current affairs? Is Thor a Nazi? Is he just angry? Who can know? But Thor vs the Invaders is certainly a more enticing prospect than the usual one of them facing up to yet another German super-soldier gone wrong.

John Carter Warlord of Mars Annual #2

Who would have thought John Carter would manage to have not one but two Marvel annuals?

I wouldn't.

And he didn't.

He actually had three.

Never having read a single Marvel John Carter story, I've no idea what's going on inside but, apparently, Tal Tarag is trapped in the body of a great white space ape and is trying to get his original body back.

In all honesty, I don't have a clue who Tal Tarag is but I wish him well in his attempts.

Unless he's a bad guy. In which case, I don't.

Nova #21

Nova's true identity is revealed to his parents? Is this the end for our hero?

As a matter of fact, it is, as this is, as far as I can ascertain, his final issue.

Poor Nova. He just never caught on, did he?

In fact, he so didn't catch on that I'm left with the worrying feeling that, when he dramatically announces, "Mom! Dad! I'm Nova!" they'll respond by saying, "Who?"

Red Sonja #11

There are no such problems for Red Sonja. Not only is she a legend in the Hyborian Age but she's still got another four issues to go before cancellation.

Admittedly, that means she'll only have managed fifteen issues before hitting the scrap heap but, bearing in mind she's now blind, that's quite an achievement.

Spider-Man #6, Werewolf by Night

It had to happen! Spider-Woman teams up with Werewolf by Night.

Admittedly, it didn't really have to happen but it kind of feels like it was almost inevitable that it would.

The good news for her is that, while other Marvel heroes around her are falling like dominoes, she still has another twenty seven issues to go before cancellation, meaning she'll have had a better run than either Nova or Red Sonja. That's the power of spideryness for you.

Thor King Size Special #7

Someone who doesn't have to worry about cancellation is everyone's favourite thunder god. Not only does he get to fight the Invaders this month but he also gets to fight his Inca equivalent and have his first ever encounter with the Eternals, although, afterwards, he doesn't recall the meeting.

But just what is the soul-searing secret of the Third Host that the cover boasts of?

Sunday 9 September 2018

Forty years ago today - September 1978.

If I stare at the wall long enough and hard enough, I have no doubt I'll be able to think of a brilliant introduction to this post about what our favourite Marvel heroes were up to in the comics that bore this month's cover date of exactly forty years ago.

I'm staring at that wall.

I'm still staring.

I'm staring at it even more.

It's staring straight back at me.

I'm staring straight back at it.

I'm starting to have doubts.

It's starting to have its doubts about me.

I think maybe I should just launch straight into the post before I have to teach the wall a lesson it'll never forget.

Avengers #175

Apparently, this issue reveals the origin of Michael Korvac.

After all these years of internetting, I still know nothing at all about Michael Korvac, who he was or what he was up to but I gather, from the number of times I've seen his name mentioned, that he was of some significance.

Judging by that cover, the Avengers clearly agree.

Conan the barbarian #90

Comedy covers for Conan? What is this madness?

Apparently, our heroes encounter a giant in a cavern that's been opened by an earthquake. When will they ever learn to stay out of uninviting places?

Daredevil #154

It's one of those I've read but struggle to remember. It seems DD must battle his deadliest foes, in order to save Heather Glenn.

I have no idea who Heather Glenn is.

She wasn't Foggy's niece, was she? Or am I thinking of someone else?

Fantastic Four #198, Dr Doom

I believe this is the story that leads to Dr Doom losing control of Latveria, forever.

I bet that doesn't last.

Incredible Hulk #227, the original Avengers

I don't have a clue what happens in this one but it would seem that the Hulk's origin's retold. How this involves the original Avengers, I know not.

Either way, it's nice to see happy Herb getting to do another Hulk cover.

Iron Man #114

This is a remarkably similar cover to that of this month's Hulk comic. Given that both feature the Avengers, it would be nice to think it was all planned but I suspect it's pure coincidence.

As for the action, Iron Man finds himself up against the menace of Arsenal.

Presumably, next week, he'll be up against the terror of Millwall.
Amazing Spider-Man #184, White Dragon

The impressively lengthy Ross Andru era's rapidly approaching its climax and the White Dragon makes what I assume is his senses-shattering debut.

I was thinking he was a good guy but I think I may have been mixing him up with the White Tiger who, I believe, turns up in this month's Spectacular Spider-Man.

It's interesting to see that it's not just the Hulk who's now being billed as, "Marvel's TV sensation," though I do feel the word, "Sensation," may be a bit of a stretch, as I seem to remember Spidey's show flopping quite dismally.

Still, at least the TV version could console himself with the fact that he never had to put up with being flung into a vat of burning oil, like his comic book equivalent has to.

Spectacular Spider-Man #22, Moon-Knight

The Maggia are out to capture Moon Knight but our favourite TV sensation gets in the way.

I do recall Moon Knight's strip having been a regular feature in one of Marvel UK's mags. It was either The Titans or the landscape version of Super Spider-Man and the Super-Heroes but I recall little of his adventures or what he was about, other than wearing a cape and throwing croissants at everyone. I'm not sure he ever actually managed to hit anyone with them.

Thor #275, Loki

Thor finds himself becoming yet another of Marvel's TV sensations - but, this time, for real.

Balder is dead and Odin's battling to stave of Ragnarok, while a television crew try to film it all.

X-Men #113, Magneto

The X-Men escape Magneto's lair and bring a whole load of lava down on their own heads.

Captain America #225

Apparently, this issue sees Cap's false origin revealed.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I can't think of any comic from my youth that was more obsessed with its star's origin then Captain America was. It genuinely did seem to be regurgitated in every other issue of the book.

Thursday 6 September 2018

September 6th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Oi, you, put on your tap shoes and grab that sequinned top hat because, on this evening of 1978, BBC One was giving us On Broadway With Lena Zavaroni, its award-winning entry for that year's Golden Seaswallow of Knokke competition.

To be honest, song and dance shows are not my bag but I don't care about that. All I care about is the award it won. I don't have a clue what the Golden Seaswallow of Knokke is but it has to be the best name for an award ever.

On the UK singles chart, many interesting things were underway that week but, surely, the highlight had to be the presence, at Number Eight, of Supernature by Cerrone; in my book, the greatest Disco record not to have been sung by someone called Gibb, and a reminder that 1970s mainland Europe was often a remarkably potent source of songs to go clubbing to. I do believe it was also the first chart entry for any song written by Lene Lovich. So, there's a piece of history, for you, right there.

Star Wars Weekly #31

I definitely have no idea at all as to what happens in this issue but that Hunter person looks like he's trouble.

I do have to say that's a really nice cover by the mighty Walt Simonson, proving he could do rabbits, robots and ray guns just as effectively as he could do thunder gods and manhunters.

Speaking of which, I see that rabbit is back, which suggests he must have been popular with readers.

Marvel UK, Savage Sword of Conan #11, Tower of the Elephant

Unless I miss my guess, this issue gives us the John Buscema version of The Tower of the Elephant, even though Marvel had previously published a version drawn by Barry Smith.

I don't know whether this was the only instance of Buscema being given a crack at a Conan story that had already been tackled by Bazza. Either way, it provides an intriguing opportunity to compare the way two very different artists can approach the same tale.

Mighty World of Marvel #310, the Incredible Hulk

The TV star himself is up against the Leader but, this time, he has the help of Doc Samson.

Despite being smarter than anyone else alive, I have no doubt the Leader will still, somehow, mess it all up and lose again.

Meanwhile, I can reveal that this issue's Iron Man tale finds the armoured Avenger up against Mr Kline, in a George Tuska drawn tale I have no memory of.

It seems odd to me that I have strong recollections of Daredevil's problems with Mr Kline but Iron Man's tussles with him totally escape my recall. I am starting to think Iron Man must have been Marvel's least memorable hero during my childhood, judging by how few of his adventures, after Don Heck's initial run, have stuck in my mind.

Rampage Monthly #3, the Hulk vs Metal Master

I do believe I had both this comic and the original issue of The Rampaging Hulk from which its main story's sourced.

Sadly, I have little recall of the tale itself, other than that our hero finds himself up against a hefty-looking robot controlled by the Metal Master.

I'm fairly sure the story's drawn by the previously mentioned Walt Simonson and inked by Alfredo Alcala, which is a fairly blockbuster combination. I just hope Alfredo's famously strong inking doesn't totally obliterate all trace of Walt's style.
Super Spider-Man #291, the Green Goblin

Spidey's still having trouble with the fake Green Goblin. I'm not sure if the Harry Osborn incarnation's turned up yet.

In the back-up strips, you have to fear the worst for Hercules because he finds himself battling the Destroyer, without the slightest clue what he's up against.

Elsewhere, in the Captain America tale, Spider-Man's helping the good Captain and the Falcon against Stone Face.

Unfortunately, things aren't going too well for the Falcon who's just been knocked out and tied up.

I don't know much about Stone Face but, given his lack of a high profile in the Marvel universe, if he's capable of defeating Spider-Man, Captain America and the Falcon all at once, I shall be very surprised.

Sunday 2 September 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - September 1968.

At last it can be told!

You demanded to know what the greatest Punk song of all time is - and Steve Does Comics can tell you!

Over a period of one week, this site's rampant hordes have been voting, and the results of that voting are as follows:

London Calling - the Clash. 1 vote.
God Save the Queen - the  Sex Pistols. 1 vote.
My Way - the Sex Pistols. 1 vote.
New Rose - the Damned. 1 vote.
Electroc*te Your C*ck - the Voms. 1 vote.
Bloodstains - Agent Orange. 1 vote.
Everything else. 0 votes.

I can, therefore, announce that there is no greatest Punk song of all time. There are, in fact, six greatest Punk songs of all time.

Well, that may be true but there is definitely a greatest super-hero of all time.

Who he is, I don't know but I do know who he's not - and that's any of the characters headlining the comics below.

But that's not to say they're not great in their own right, and that's why I'm taking a look at what they were up to in the comics whose cover date was that of this month of fifty years ago.

Doctor Strange #172

The good doctor's in a dread dimension, confronted by hideous creatures and trying to liberate Victoria Bentley and Clea from the clutches of Dormammu.

I do believe this all, somehow, leads to Dormammu gaining access to the Earth, via some sort of giant crack in something or other.

Dormammu had a remarkable knack of repeatedly attacking the Earth, for someone who'd vowed never to attack the Earth. He must have purchased his vows from the same place that Galactus did.

Marvel Super-Heroes #16, the Phantom Eagle

Happy Herb Trimpe's barely got his feet under the table on the Hulk's strip than he's unleashing the Phantom Eagle on us.

Despite the cover blurb's claim that he's Marvel's greatest action hero, I must confess he's a character I know only from his guest appearance in one issue of The Incredible Hulk.

I'm fairly certain that tale revealed him to be an ancestor of Bruce Banner, thus drawing him to the attention of the murderous Kang.

This particular comic seems to have about eighty million pages and also features stories involving the original Human Torch, Captain America, the Patriot, the Sub-Mariner and Joe Maneely's Black Knight. The Subby tale looks to be the one reprinted in Les Daniels' epic Marvel tome.

Captain Marvel #5, the Metazoid

Don Heck takes over the artistic reins from Gene Colan, and the Metazoid arrives.

Memory tells me this was reprinted in issue #1 of Marvel UK's The Titans and that, despite his monstrous appearance, the Metazoid was an oddly sympathetic character who had little taste for wrong-doing.

I also remember The Titans printed some of the pages in the wrong order, making it a somewhat confusing read.

Despite that, I could tell that Marvy was still maintaining his Walt Lawson identity and still trying to avoid arousing the suspicions of Carol Danvers.

Agent of SHIELD #4, Jim Steranko

It would seem that this issue retells the story of how Nick Fury came to be head of SHIELD, presumably for the benefit and entertainment of those who'd missed the original tale.

From what I can make out, it seems to be a faithful but elongated retelling.

The Sub-Mariner #5, Tiger Shark

Hooray! My favourite Sub-Mariner villain makes his diabolical debut, in yet another Subby issue that features some of John Buscema's finest pencilling.