Tuesday, 6 November 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - November 1968.

Last week, I survived Halloween. This week, I survived Guy Fawkes Night. Truly I  am on a roll beyond human imagination.

And you know who was on a roll in this month of fifty years ago?

Mary Hopkin, Joe Cocker and Hugo Montenegro because each of them claimed the Number One spot on the UK singles chart in that four week period, thanks to the tracks Those Were the Days, With a Little Help From My Friends and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

When it came to the album chart, the UK top spot that November belonged to just two LPs, Greatest Hits by the Hollies and The Sound of Music by the people from The Sound of Music.

Those were human beings who were sustaining a high profile at the time but what of the Marvel Comics publications that were of a noticeably lower profile? What were they up to in the mags that were just being removed from the news racks as that month began?

Captain Marvel #7, Quasimodo

Captain Marvel fights Quasimodo in a story I think I may have read in an early issue of The Titans.

Beyond that, I remember little. Does it involve the good captain being attacked by a bunch of robots dressed as people from the 19th Century? Or was that a totally different story altogether?

Doctor Strange #174

According to the Grand Comics Database, our hero's battling someone called Lord Nekron who's struck a bargain with Satannish that he'll be gifted immortality, provided he finds a mystic to take his place within twelve months. I would assume that means the mystic he's got in mind is the doctor himself.

I've no memory of ever having read this tale but I feel confident in asserting that Lord Nekron's bound to be unrelated to the character Nekron who turned up in an issue of the JLA I once read.

Fantastic Four Annual #6, Annihilus

It's a landmark issue, as the FF come up against Annihilus for the first time.

If I recall correctly, they have to enter the Negative Zone, in order to find a cure for the pregnant but unwell Sue, which leads to them needing to get their hands on Annihilus' Cosmic Control Rod.

Quite how they knew that a treatment for Sue could be found in the Negative Zone, I have no idea.

Marvel Super-Heroes #17, the Black Knight

It's a momentous day, as Dane Whitman gets a run-out in what I assume is his first solo adventure.

But he's not the only one in action because the original Human Torch also gets a tale in this issue, as do the Sub-Mariner and the All-Winners Squad, giving us a massive 68 pages of action.

Agent of SHIELD #6

It's another classic Steranko cover, as Nick Fury gets space-bound, although Jim doesn't draw the comic's interior.

It would seem that an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth and that it's all the fault of a group of mysterious people living in the Andes, who are up to no good with their force beam.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #5

At last, Spider-Man learns what happened to his parents -  and it all turns out to be too glamorous and exciting for my liking, with the Red Skull and international espionage involved.

I do feel Peter Parker shouldn't have an exciting back story which incorporates parents who're secret agents. It does somewhat rob him of his down-to-Earth status.

Spectacular Spider-Man #2, the Green Goblin

Spider-Man's second 1960s title may have only lasted for two issues but, in its second outing, it did give us a classic tale, as the Green Goblin returns to cause no end of mischief for our hero.

It's a more nightmarish seeming Goblin than we'd seen before, one armed with strange, psychedelic drugs.

And if that weren't enough to get you buying the thing, how could any sane reader not love that cover?

Sub-Mariner #7

It's a rare use of photos by John Buscema.

I don't have a clue what happens in this issue but it features Tiger Shark and someone called Paul Destine, whom, I suspect, may be out to become president.


dangermash said...

Well, if that's the second and last issue of SSM, I guess that frees up Romita to spend more time on ASM.

Better start swotting up on Captain Marvel, Don.

Timothy Field said...

I must say this is the first I've ever heard of The Spectacular Spider-Man from this period. You really do learn something new everyday.

Steve W. said...

Tim, Spectacular Spider-Man was a 68 page comic aimed at the more grown-up market. The first issue featured the Richard Raleigh for mayor storyline which was later reprinted, in modified form, in Amazing Spider-Man #116-118.

The second issue featured Norman Osborn regaining his memory and setting out to gain his revenge on Peter Parker, before falling victim to his own psychedelic pumpkins and losing his memory again.

Around this era, there are several scenes in Amazing Spider-Man in which Osborn is having nightmares and flashbacks. They're there to set up the story that happens in Spectacular Spider-Man.

Among other things, the tale featured a dinner scene involving Peter, Norman, Gwen, MJ and Harry which inspired a similar scene in the first Tobey Maguire Spidey flick.

Dangermash, thinking about it, the presence of a 68 page Spectacular Spider-Man comic does explain why Romita needed so much help to put together an Amazing Spider-Man book each month.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Alas - with no more Colan, Cap Marvel really started sucking.

To me, that Steranko cover is his finest work... or at least one of, lol.

The King Size SM #5... gosh I remember bidding and winning (nothing like "winning" by pissing away your money) it in an ebay bid only to realize it was a reprinting by a big department store (J.C. Penney?) Nope, only Charlie could not be bothered to divine the description in the ebay posting and had to pay like $25 for it in near mint condition. Charlie - you dum @ss!!!!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant cover on SHIELD #6 (obviously).
I'm struck by the variety of approaches to the Marvel covers this month, whether its the photo background on that Sub-Mariner or the way (in Sunday's post) Gene Colan actually managed to make a pic of Daredevil fighting the Jester look interesting.
Steranko gets a lot of credit for his striking cover ideas - rightly so - but maybe he didn't have to argue his corner quite as much as he sometimes makes out?


TC said...

AFAIK, Marvel Super Heroes #17 was Dane Whitman's first solo adventure. At the time, MSH consisted of a new story as the lead feature, with 1940s and 1950s reprints as the back-ups.

The lead feature was similar to DC's Showcase; that is, it was used as a try-out. Sometimes, it introduced new characters (Captain Mar-Vell, Guardians of the Galaxy), and sometimes it spotlighted team members, sidekicks, or other secondary characters (Black Knight, Ka-Zar) to see if they would be popular enough to rate their own series.

I seem to recall there was a seance or something, and Dane was contacted by the ghost of his ancestor, the original Black Knight, who encouraged him to continue as a superhero. The original BK had been a Zorro-type hero (a masked swashbuckler who posed as a mincing fop in his secret identity) in King Arthur's Camelot. Some of the original Black Knight stories (published by Atlas/Marvel in the 1950s) were also reprinted in MSH in the late 1960s.

The All-Winners team was Timely/Marvel's imitation of DC's Justice Society in All-Star Comics. Read either one of their stories and you will never complain about Fr@nk R*bb#ns or T#e Inv@d*rs again.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

TC - Fr&nk R&bbins was in a league all his own, lol.

I mean, granted some / much of the WW 2 stuff is crude (the big exception being Fawcett and Quality) but my expectations are not high either, for 75 years ago. But for Marvel/DC to be using F.R. in the 70s, for books like Cap America, when we are surrounded by the covers shown above, just creates its own very special bit of insanity.

Sean - what about Steranko "arguing his corner?" I'm not a big historian on the ins/outs of Marvel other than the Kirby saga.

And as we say in Chicago, on election day, "Vote early, vote often!"

Anonymous said...

Charlie, so far as I know, there wasn't any major fall out between Steranko and Marvel, its just that he's said in several interviews he had to really argue against editorial resistance for some of his cover ideas.
But looking at SHIELD #6 (my fave of his too) and X-Men #50 alongside other covers from the same month, it seems as if Marvel were quite open to trying stuff out at this point.


Anonymous said...

PS On your elections Charlie, I just read that Ted Cruz is holding a rally in Houston at a place called the Redneck Country Club, which is pretty funny.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hi Sean,

Now that I have read, before. I agree with you... he seemed to have a lot of "freedom" to do what he wanted considering it is so different than other Marvel artists. But once upon a time I think I read he also wanted to plot or script and thought he was being constrained there?

Ted Cruz... I owe a 3 week vacation to him! He single-handedly engineered the 3 week shut down of the government maybe 6 years ago? LOL.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, if Steranko was constrained it must have been early on in his time at Marvel - I think there was just one issue where he was credited as co-plotter before he became the writer as well as artist on SHIELD (in Strange Tales).
Jack Kirby probably wouldn't have minded being constrained like that - he wasn't allowed to completely write his own stuff until the Inhumans in Amazing Adventures.


Colin Jones said...

The Sound Of Music came out in 1965 so why was the film soundtrack No.1 in 1968?
Charlie, partial congratulations on the mid-term results. Trump must be the only president who thinks losing the House of Representatives is "a great success".

Anonymous said...

Colin, apparently the Sound of Music was no.1 in the UK in '65, as well as '68. And '66.
Thats the sixties for you. Crazy times - doing it in the road, dropping acid, listening to Edelweiss...


Charlie Horse 47 said...

UK Gents - as always your song charts always fascinates me... How a song can be #1 20 - 30 - 40 years later I'll never know, lol, from our side of the pond. I only have 1 recollection of a similar occurence here, when McCartney's Silly Love Songs hit #1 (along with Listen to what the man says?) and it caused a handful of Beatles songs to rechart. I think Got to Get you into My Life may have reached #1 even? THis is probably 1975ish?

Colin - The election is mercifully over. Apparently the stock market liked the results, with big gains, lol! As for me / us we have to relive all this again starting in about 1 year. Not only with 100% of the Congress being voted on but also the President. I'm ready to go "ex pat" and move to France, LOL!

Anonymous said...

Charlie, you'll only have to vote once in a while for Macron - or whichever dweeb is put up against a fascist next time - instead.

Lucky you - the Brits, always crazy for all things American, are voting more often than ever. Not that they'll go so far as to elect, say, a head of state (thats a hereditary position, limited to a rich German family for some reason) but brexit seems to be keeping pollsters in gainful employment.
Theres already talk about another EU referendum and/or general election, and the last were only, respectively, in 2016 and 2017 (and before that 2015).

And then after March next year, probably another Scottish referendum, and then the north Irish six counties joining the republic (that one should be... eventful).


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Well, the nice thing (as far as I know) about European voting is that the majority wins. I find it to be a refreshingly novel concept and would love to give it a try here, lol! We've had two presidents come to power (Bush, Trump) due to a system developed 220 years ago heavily influenced by the desire to keep slaves. Of course there are like 20 other countries with this system like Argentina and such...

ON the Brexit, and I confess I don't follow UK politics closely, are you folks actually revoting on the subject? It could be undone by a vote?

Scotland - well my father's mother's mother hailed from Dundee. Hence my deep exposure to the Thomson Annuals growing up in the 60s and 70s! Would Dennis the Menace vote to leave the UK? I wonder...

Umm... you are serious about Ireland unifying outside the UK? That DOES sound eventful! We have many, many folks of Irish (and Polish) descent in Chicago land. I'm neither. But I do like beer and cabbage and potatoes and Pierogis so I guess it's worn off on me, LOL.

B Smith said...

I've read Steranko saying that SHIELD #5's cover was his tribute to Wally Wood.

And that he had some disagreement with Stan about the cover of "Tower Of Shadows" #1 (you may recall it had that Steranko-drawn "At The Stroke Of Midnight" story)...use Google to find the original that Steranko wanted to use, and the Romita-drawn art that was finally used.

Also, Steranko had a special deal with Marvel wherein he received his original art back - the only artist to have such an arrangement at the time.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I wouldn't say the British are revolting (!) but they do seem to be split on brexit. And naturally, if one referendum screws up the country, obviously the thing to do is have a second.

Don't ask me why anyone wants another, as I don't get why Brexit ever became a big issue in the first place - its largely an English thing.
The Irish border does seem to be the hold up to a negotiated agreement with the EU. Like that wasn't completely predictable! (Except to British politicians, who suddenly seem surprised to discover that not everyone in the north of Ireland is happy with being part of the UK)

Seems unlikely to me that Dennis the Menace would be a Remainer, but the resemblance of well-known Brexit-loon Jacob Rees-Mogg to the Dennis-bothering Walter has been noted.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

SEAN! YOU ROCK DUDE! That link has me, and my french wife, LMAOing! GOod grief does he look like Walter!

Just what I need to start the 45 minute slog through CHicago's highways to get to work! Thanks!

Well, maybe H&J on Talk Sport will amuse me. They often do and make the ride pass quickly!


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