Sunday, 4 November 2018

Fifty years ago this month - November 1968.

We all know that life's full of ups and downs - and this month in 1968 was no exception.

For instance, it was a terrible time in which to be a Sea-Monkey salesman, thanks to it being the month in which Britain's Trade Descriptions Act came into force, making it illegal for shops and traders to describe goods in a misleading manner. That was all very well and good but now what were X-ray specs manufacturers supposed to do for a living?

It was also a terrible time for anyone who lived on the dark side of the moon and wanted a bit of privacy because it was the month in which NASA announced it'd soon be launching three astronauts to orbit that self-same satellite, via Apollo 8.

It was, however, a good month for fans of confusingly titled double albums, as the Beatles released their twin LP The Beatles which, for some reason, everyone has known ever since as The White Album. I wonder at what point after its release it became the universal practise to know it simply by its nickname and totally ignore its real title?

Avengers #58

It's another classic, from my favourite Avengers era, as the team debate whether to accept the Vision as a new member, and get to explore his origin.

Doesn't this issue also reveal the origin of Ultron, or is that dealt with in a different story?

Captain America #107, Dr Faustus

I do believe this is the yarn in which Dr Faustus makes his psychiatrical debut and proceeds to take all kinds of advantage of Cap's tortured mind.

Needless to say, that means we get plenty of mithering about Bucky.

Daredevil #46, the Jester

Daredevil sets out to bring an end to the Jester's plot to frame him for a murder that never occurred.

Doesn't he do it by appearing on a chat show, dressed as the Jester, in order to troll the villain into revealing the truth about his plan?

Fantastic Four #80

Forget Galactus. It's time to learn the true meaning of fear, as Tomazooma the living totem goes on the rampage in the reservation and Wyatt Wingfoot makes his return.

I seem to remember Tomazooma being revealed to be some sort of hoax perpetrated by an evil company, in order to get its greedy hands on the reservation's natural resources, or something similar

Hulk #109, Ka-Zar

Hooray! It's the first story I ever read which featured Ka-Zar!

How exciting he seemed to be, with his sabre-toothed tiger and his hidden kingdom filled with strange beasties and even stranger people.

It was only later that I discovered just what a disparity there was between him and the Hulk when it came to sheer power and that a fight between them was never going to amount to much.

Still, it did set up the thrillingest Hulk yarn I'd read up to that point in my life.

Iron Man #7, the Gladiator

Fed up of being regularly knocked out by Marvel's weakest hero, the Gladiator decides to take on Iron Man instead.

I can't help feeling that might not be the sort of logic that leads to success.

But does this mean we can look forward to a tussle between Iron Man and Stilt-Man at some point?

And why is, "Stilt-Man," hyphenated and, "Iron Man," isn't?

And why is, "Superman," one word and, "Spider-Man," isn't?

Amazing Spider-Man #66, Mysterio

Speaking of which, it's another of my faves, as Mysterio returns and has concocted yet another plan designed to drive our beloved wall-crawler mad.

Thor #158

I do believe this is the issue which reacquaints us with the tale of how Don Blake discovered the cane that gave him his Thor powers, and makes a start on explaining the mystery of how Thor can simultaneously be a genuine Norse god and an American doctor.

Speaking of mysteries, I don't have a clue who drew that big Thor face on the cover but I'm fairly certain it wasn't Jack Kirby.

X-Men #50

As Sort of the Atom pointed out in last month's comments section, this issue sees the debut of the brand new logo designed by Jim Steranko; not to mention a classic cover.

As well as Lorna Dane and Magnetobot action, this issue gives us the origin of the Beast.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I'm getting a feeling of new beginnings this month.
- new origin for Thor
- new member in the Avengers
- new artist for X-Men
and the one that nobody's mentioned
- Don Heck's last work on ASM. From next month we have Romita back. He will last for nine issues before we get to the much underrated John Buscema run.

Anonymous said...

Some exceptionally good covers this month Steve -
X-Men 50 is immediately obvious standout as its been reprinted quite a few times times; but while John Buscema isn't as flashy, that Avengers image must have been reused even more often.
Not a fan of Herb Trimpe (sorry), but thats a nice Hulk cover; of course, its not hard for an artist to look good with the mighty John Severin inking.
Cool Cap and DD covers too.

Shame about that Thor - the GCD credits it to Kirby and Marie Severin, although that face doesn't really look much like her work to me.
And Iron Man #7 looks even more rubbish.

Pro-Chinese communists will be excited to know that Jack Kirby draws a cool Mao Zedong, making a cameo in Cap #107.


Steve W. said...

Sean, I agree, there are some great covers. I'd say the Spider-Man and Hulk covers are my favourites. I do remember diligently copying the Avengers cover, as a child, in my trusty drawing pad, so, clearly, it grabbed me.

Dangermash, it is always surprising to me just how few issues of Spider-Man John Romita actually drew without input from other artists. Romita was great but the contributions of Heck, Buscema and Mooney all tend to get overlooked.

Steve W. said...

Come to think of it, I remember Jim Starlin chipping in on at least one issue, although, looking at it, it's hard to detect any sign of his influence.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, after getting defeated repeatedly by Daredevil, The Gladiator should've set his sights a bit lower than Iron Man. But Howard the Duck wasn't around back then.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

If logic follows (not sure of how much logic there is in the MU) then Jester shall take on Iron Man too?

And what was Don Heck's contribution to that ASM? The cover or internal?

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

It's not entirely clear (what with Stan's crazy credits) but the artwork in ASM 57-64 and 66 is credited to Heck but that Romita had some sort of contribution (maybe layouts?) by Romita.

ASM was apparently brought to us by Lee and Romita, aided and abetted by Heck and Mooney, lettered by Simek with special effects by Forbush. Good luck with making sense of that!

Anonymous said...

Well, one of Iron Man's arch enemies was a guy with a whip. It was like, an adamantium whip, or something like that. Still, theoretically he could be defeated by any guy with a pistol. Then there was the Unicorn, who shot rays out of his head. He too could've bee taken out by a pistol.
You can't really pick your rogues gallery, if you're a superhero. You kinda hafta take whatever comes around, I guess.
Oh, and there was Princess Python, too. She, uh, had a snake.
On the other hand, Iron Man was the first superhero to take on Thanos. With pretty mixed results, however.


Anonymous said...

That is a great Avengers cover but I think I prefer our version (Avengers weekly #84). Probably due to the larger size, rather than the slightly altered colour. Also, a great Steranko cover. The X-men had a run illustrated by Steranko, Barry Smith and Neal Adams and still became a reprint title...


Anonymous said...

I noticed Mysterio on one of those covers. I've read he's gonna show up in the next Spider-Man movie.
Might be interesting.
I always thought he was a visually stunning character, with that fish-bowl helmet and the cape.
Only the mind and hand of Ditko could come up with that.


Steve W. said...

DW, I think I like the UK and US versions of that Avengers cover equally.

MP, if the movie version of Mysterio doesn't have a smoke-filled goldfish bowl on his head, I will be very unhappy.

Anonymous said...

Happy Guy Fawkes Night to one and all, but especially Charlie :D

"Not a fan of Herb Trimpe" - gasp!! Sean, you sir are a frightful cad.

Steve W. said...

Happy Guy Fawkes Night to you too, Colin.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

More on the Don Heck run in ASM.

Looking back at those issues, the way I'd describe the art is stiff but polished. The stiffness comes from Heck and the polish from some combination of Romita and Mooney. The stiffness gradually reduces over the run though. I like to think this is due to Heck improving with Spider-Man experience but it could be Romita getting more and more directly involved as he and Stan start to phase Heck out.

And there's definitely no Heck input on the covers.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

CJ - Thank You! That is the first time anyone has wished me a "Happy Guy Fawkes Night!" And it is 5 PM in Chicago and dark, since yesterday we moved the clocks back an hour.

(Try to find someone who agrees with this, LOL!)

Happy Guy Fawkes to one and all, and to all a good night!

Cheers, Charlie