Sunday, 10 February 2019

Forty years ago today - February 1979.

I can think of no clever ways in which to introduce this post, so I shall get straight on with looking at what our favourite Marvel heroes were up to in the mags that bore this cover date of exactly forty years ago.

Avengers #180, the Monolith

On an island in the middle of nowhere, the Avengers are up against a living statue called The Monolith - although I must confess that, when I first saw this cover, I assumed it to be the Absorbing Man.

Regardless, it all ends happily for the Avengers.

But not so happily for Bloodhawk who breathes his last, thanks to a would-be super-villain called the Stinger.

Conan the Barbarian #95

Conan finds himself in a cave and having to fight a small dinosaur.

When will he ever learn to stay out of caves?

Apparently, he also has to fight the hordes of the Beast-King of Abombi.

I don't have a clue who they are.

Clearly, it's a very big cave.

Captain America #230, the Hulk

Cap sets out to rescue the Falcon from Alcatraz, where the Corporation are holding him prisoner.

Unfortunately, they're also holding Bruce Banner who turns into the Hulk and has a punch-up with Cap which then leads to a woman turning into a psychic caveman called the Animus.

I'm sure it all made sense at the time.

Fantastic Four #203

If I remember rightly, a hospitalised boy inadvertently creates evil replicas of the FF who then go on the rampage and create all kinds of trouble for the real team.

Incredible Hulk #232, Captain America

It's the senses-shattering conclusion to the tale that was set up in this month's Captain America with the Animus and a captive Falcon.

Needless to say, it all ends well for everyone, except the villains who end up either dead or mindless.

Iron Man #119

With its crew unconscious, the SHIELD Helicarrier drifts into Soviet airspace, and Iron Man has to defend it against the full might of the Russian military.

That done, Tony Stark discovers SHIELD have been buying up shares in his company, in an attempted takeover.

Amazing Spider-Man #189

A mystery villain who's clearly Professor Smythe has kidnapped John Jameson, wrapped him in bandages, for some reason, and commanded him to kidnap his own father.

With a set-up like that, how long can it be before the Man-Wolf puts in an appearance?

Spectacular Spider-Man #27, Daredevil

Spidey's still blind and he and DD are searching the city for the man who caused it.

Oddly enough, in The Amazing Spider-Man, he's not blind. I'm not sure how that works.

But that cover does always bring to mind Captain Britain's battle with Lord Hawk.

Thor #280, Hyperion

The good Hyperion recruits Thor to help him fight the bad Hyperion. After that, it all starts to get a bit confusing for everyone involved.

But, of course, what really matters is that this issue's drawn by Wayne Boring. Wayne Boring is probably the best ever name for a comic book artist.

X-Men #118

The X-Men turn up in Japan, just in time to blunder across a scheme by Moses Magnum that I think might involve earthquakes.

Needless to say, given the location, it's not long before Sun-Fire shows up, determined to annoy everyone he meets.

I think this might be the issue in which we first find out that Wolverine is a former resident of Japan.


dangermash said...

Surely Wayne Boring must be Rick Jones pencilling under cover?

Aggy said...

I vaguely recall John Jameson once complaining about the number of times he had been mind controlled. I suspect it was in a mid-90s Cap America issue when he was the Caps pilot.

I suspect it was likely around the Cap Wolf issues.

Anonymous said...

Come on mate focus, Wayne Boring - classic 60s Superman artist comes out of retirement to do his only work for Marvel, Byrne does Spiderman - inked (probably for the first and last time) by Jim Mooney and Frank Millar one of his first jobs pencils Spectacular Spiderman - classic month for Marvel.

Anonymous said...

All I remember from that Captain America/Hulk crossover is that Cap didn't have the airfare to get to Alcatraz, and went on the blag at Avengers mansion; but - like the British queen - they don't carry money, and he ended up having to get the bus.
Don't ask me why he didn't use a quinjet - obviously rescuing the Falcon wasn't high on anyone's list of priorities (seriously, how long does it take to get across the US by bus?)

And the Hulk got a lift from someone having a quick smoke, from which I learned - somewhat surprisingly in the era of the comics code - that being mildly stoned transforms the Hulk back into Banner.

Come to think of it, I do also recall that the story was rubbish, but at least it was the end of all that SHIELD super-agents nonsense.
Young Frank Miller notwithstanding, the only comic here thats actually worth reading is that X-Men. Moses Magnum is a great name for a super-villain.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents - after seeing all those wonderful covers this past week, from "Marvel 50 years ago" I am wondering if any of you feel these covers are "better" (very loosely defined).

I have the sense that I am older than many of you and cut my teeth on a lot of the "50 years ago" artists. Thus when I see the 40 years ago stuff... it just doesn't do it for me.

So I am curious if you younger guys who were reading 40 years ago think the covers above are better?

Are the covers we appreciate most a function of when we were reading or, collectively, were JBuscema, Colan, Ditko, Kirby, Steranko simply better?

P.S. there is no right or wrong answer. No one will be banished to a cave full of bracelets you have to try on, to see what happens. LOL.

(Steve I apologize for going astray. But until you fess-up to having bought a Sten Gun from the comics back in the day, I am not too apologetic, lol!)

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I think you're probably right about appreciation of comics being a function of when we started reading, but its slightly complicated - at least for a lot of us commenting here - by Marvel UK reprints.
So, for instance, I love the late 60's Colan/Palmer Dr Strange but read it in the old Avengers weekly around '74.

Pretty sure my antipathy to the comics here is because I lost interest in Marvel over the course of the later 70s. Whether thats due to a decrease in quality or just me being a bit older is hard to tell.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Interesting thoughts there, Sean.

You gents do seem to have a very different "rate of exposure" than we did.

Aside from the reprinting and the mix of stories in a reprint, you were able to buy the marvel comics as they were released (in real time) more / less?

I thought that's what I understood?

Anonymous said...

On that Conan cover, Conan is obviously fighting a dinosaur. A small one, but yeah, it's a dinosaur.
Given the prevalence of horrific walking, crawling or flying things during the Hyborian Age, a dinosaur fight was a dull work day.
How did anybody even stay alive? People must have gotten outta bed in the morning thinking, "Boy, I hope I don't get eaten today." I woulda called in sick a lot.
It was even worse than Australia! At least there the spiders don't get any bigger than, say, a car tire.


dangermash said...

I'm with Charlie. 50 years ago >>>> 40 years ago. Not just the covers but the artwork inside. And not just the artwork but Stan's writing.

Steve W. said...

I think it depends on the comic.

When it comes to writing, I'd say that 1960s FF and Thor tales are better than 1970s ones. For me, the Hulk and Spidey peaked in the 1970s. The X-Men peaked from the mid 1970s onwards. The 1960s and 70s were a draw when it came to The Avengers. Captain America and Iron Man didn't have a peak.

When it comes to artwork, The FF and Thor peaked in the 1970s. The Hulk peaked in the 1970s. The X-Men peaked from mid 1970s onwards. The 1960s and 1970s were a draw when it came to Spidey. The Avengers peaked in the 1970s. Captain America peaked with Jim Steranko. Iron Man peaked with Gene Colan.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I guess writing could have been important to me, as a youth, but honestly it was 90% art and action! To me that stable of 60s artists trumped the 70s artists.

But I do have to wonder if those Marvel 60s artists have been drawing DC comics, if DC would have held my attention any more than it did in 60s and 70s, which wasn't much. Yet, when N Adams was drawing DC stuff, I would check it out, on the spinner. and occasionally make a buy.

B Smith said...

"Wayne Boring - classic 60s Superman artist comes out of retirement to do his only work for Marvel..."

A pedant writes - not so, Anonymous...Boring had also done the pencils for #22 - #24 of Captain Marvel's book back in 1972.

Dougie said...

The only two comics here that I bought at the time wee X-Men and Thor. I'd always liked the Squadron Sinister- less so the Squadron Supreme. I don't think I had realised until that issue of Thor that they were parodies of the JLA!
Every issue of the Byrne/Claremont X-Men was special, even if the stories were a bit corny. The redistribution finally began to settle down a bit at this point, enabling me to read every issue in Lanarkshire- except for the essential second part of Alpha Flight's debut.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I'm with you on the artists being central to the appeal of US comics back then.
As it happens, my theory on the specific appeal of the late '60s was that the classic "Marvel method" - which gave the artists more freedom by basically making them co-writers - was still in use

So for instance, while in many ways Gene Colan and Tom Palmer's work on the mid-70s Englehart-era Dr Strange was more accomplished than their late 60s Doc run, I like the earlier work more.
I don't think thats because I read them significantly earlier - due to my "rate of exposure" I read a couple of issues of Doc they drew in late '75 not long after reading the "blue mask"-era stories the same year in Avengers weekly.
Hope that makes some sort of sense :)


Redartz said...

Intriguing discussion here about '40 years ago vs. 50 years ago'. This particular group of comics was, at the time, a bit unremarkable in my eyes. But looking at the bigger picture:

I was around and reading during both era's, though less so in the late 60s. Marvel's aces in 1969, such as Adams, Kane, Dolan and Romita, certainly set the bar high. Nevertheless, the late 70's lineup in comics really stoked my fire. The twin titans of John Byrne and George Perez alone could have carried the industry to remarkable levels.

Steve, your comments about the respective peaks of various titles prompts much thought. I'd submit that Iron Man peaked in the early 80s under Michelinie/Romita Jr./Layton. I agree that Avengers could have multiple peaks; I'd put their climax between 73 and 79 (granted, probably due to sentimental attachment as much as artistic quality). Fantastic Four peaked with Lee/Kirby, but I'd risk heresy by placing Byrne's magnificent run on an equal level with the former. Long story short, I'd give big points to both eras. I was most fortunate to be there for both...

Steve W. said...

Redartz, I must admit I remember very little about Byrne's run on the FF but his short stint on Captain America is my favourite era of that strip.

Dougie, I didn't have any of the above comics at the time. It's a surprise to me just how many I've read since.

B, thanks for the Wayne Boring info. I had a feeling he'd done more work for Marvel than just that issue.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve! Gents! Get yourselves over to and let folks know about your "go to" blog places for your comic fix!

I put in a plug for SDC because, well, I really like it! You should too!

Steve W. said...

Thanks, Charlie. I shall rush over there, immediately.

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