Sunday, 3 March 2019

Fifty years ago this month - March 1969.

If you were in Yorkshire in March 1969, I hope you were good at running because it was the month in which Britain's tallest structure, the 1,263 ft tall Emley Moor TV transmitter fell over, thanks to wind, ice and, "oscillation." Happily, no one was hurt and it was soon rebuilt, although a church did get clobbered in the incident.

In Toulouse, France, another major product of 20th Century engineering was having far more luck at the time. It was there, in that month, that the first Concorde test flight was conducted.

Also hoping to fly high that March, Paul McCartney married Linda Eastman at London's Marylebone register office and, not to be outdone, mere days later, John Lennon married Yoko Ono, in Gibraltar.

Just over the border from John and Yoko, in Spain, Lulu also had something to celebrate, thanks to Boom Bang-a-Bang sharing first place in the Eurovision Song Contest, in a four-way tie with France, the Netherlands and the host country.

Elsewhere, the first B&Q DIY superstore was launched, in Southampton, while NASA did a spot of DIY themselves and launched Apollo 9, in order to test the lunar module.

I often complain of months in which nothing happens that interests me but I can't make that complaint about March 1969. It was clearly jam-packed with incident.

And, you know what?

I have a feeling I'm going to be able to say the same about the Marvel comics whose corner boxes bore that month's name.

Avengers #62, Man-Ape

The mendacious Man-Ape makes his debut and gives the Avengers (and the Black Knight) far more trouble than he really should do.

But it could, I suppose, be seen as a precursor to T'Challa's later problems in Don McGregor's Panther's Rage.

Clearly, there's a warning for him in this tale, about the dangers of ignoring his kingdom. A warning he fatally fails to learn from.

Captain America #111

Hooray! Cap and Ricky team up to take on the assembled hordes of Hydra, thanks to the pencils of Jim Steranko.

How well does working with Rick go for Cap?

I'm not saying. I shall merely point out that, at the end of this tale, the star-spangled Avenger opts to commit suicide by diving into a hail of bullets

Daredevil #50

Barry Smith makes his Daredevil debut, as our hero finds himself attacked by a deadly robot.

Smith's debt to Jack Kirby is obvious in these pages but, even at this early stage, his stylish layouts betray a greater level of ambition than might first meet the eye.

Fantastic Four #84, Dr Doom

It's the first FF tale I read after their strip moved to The Titans from Mighty World of Marvel. The fabulous foursome find themselves as guests of Dr Doom in a tale based on The Prisoner.

Can they escape his malevolent machinations?

And will the absence of Sue prove to be significant?

Incredible Hulk #113, the Sand Man

The Hulk returns to Earth and promptly bumps into the Sandman who convinces him he's his only friend and recruits him to attack Thunderbolt Ross's base, so he can steal some secret device or other.

You would have thought that, by now, the Hulk would have learnt how to distinguish between friends and foes. Generally speaking, if someone calls you a, "Brainless dolt," upon first encountering you, then tries to murder you, he's probably not your friend.

Iron Man #11

The Mandarin's out to reveal to the world that Tony Stark is Iron Man but the industrious industrialist foils him by wearing a rubber mask and getting an LMD to take his place.

The only problem is that, when the LMD stops moving and lies on the floor, with no heartbeat, everyone assumes Tony Stark has died. How's he going to get out of this one?

Amazing Spider-Man #70

Spidey finds himself lumbered with that ancient tablet which contains the secret to immortality.

More significantly, this issue sees the first (off-camera) appearance of the Kingpin's wife and also gives J Jonah Jameson a heart attack when Spidey snaps and threatens him. Has it happened? Has the webbed wonder finally become the killer Jameson has always claimed him to be?
Thor #162, Galactus

Unless I miss my guess, we get the first part of the origin of Galactus, which isn't a very good origin. Basically, he's just some bloke who got super-powers, thanks to radiation. So he's basically Peter Parker on a big scale.

X-Men #54

The Living Pharaoh's on the loose again but no one cares about that bum. What really matters is it's the issue in which Scott's brother Alex learns the truth about Scott and his membership of the X-Men.

It's also the issue whose back-up strip features the origin of the Angel.


Anonymous said...

My word to describe this is "stupifying!" As in to "astound" not "make stupid."

What a serious bunch of artists in that stable!

I am not a robot.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, just to let you know, Cyclops does not really die in that issue of Xmen!

Timothy Field said...

Ahh this month features the ASM cover that adorns my king-size duvet cover.

Which evidently has to be retired when I move in with girlfriend, she muttered something about not fitting the 'minimalist aesthetic' of her flat but I know an evil mind-control plot when I see one.

Anonymous said...

Did you folks know that if you even trap one grain of Sandman's sand, he is like dead or something?

Wouldn't you think with how hard the Hulk must breathe he would inhale some of those grains and that would finish off Sandy?

Or would the sand act like Alien and pop out of Hulk's chest trying to rejoin its master?

Someone out there has to know.

Hulk fighting Sandy gives new meaning to the expression "Why don't you go pound some sand" I think!

Anonymous said...

Great issue of Captain America of course - Steranko was ahead of his time, doing 90s comics a few decades early (to be fair though, he had a lot more style than Jim Lee or Rob Liefeld).

Got to agree with Anon - who sounds suspiciously like Charlie - about the artists Marvel had back then, although its hard to think of a more dubious combo from that period than the team of Don Heck and Vince Colleta on X-Men #54.


Anonymous said...

Apparently theres one particle of sand that contains Sandman's conscious mind. So long as he keeps that, he can absorb or lose sand according to the wiki (although it sounds like bollocks to me)


Anonymous said...

Anon is Charlie!

I can't login to google and am stuck using Anon.

I am reading my CA #111 as I type. Steranko does a double-page splash on pages 12-13 that is just OOTFW!!!

Also, I note in the Bullpen Bulletins that Stan states, "Everyone's talking about Bashful Barry Smith we just imported from merrie old England. Barry's work is just not to be believed! [His] style combines the pulse-pounding power of Jack (King) Kirby awith the off-beat improvisations of Jaunty Jim Steranko!"

So my question is, "Why is England always 'merrie?'"

Anonymous said...

Isn't that a question for Americans, Charlie? Or at least Stan Lee? Better get your ouija board out if you want to ask him.

Now I think about it, as Vince Colleta was in the habit of leaving out some of the pencils he was probably the best inker Don Heck had at Marvel...


Anonymous said...


I just heard the BBC has stopped playing all Michael Jackson songs!

Now if that isn't news I don't know what is (other than Cyclops really doesn't die in XMen 54)!

England is not as merry as it was just a few minutes ago :(

Anonymous said...

Yeah, that's a good point, Steve, about Galactus. He was like Peter Parker, except instead of getting bit by a radioactive spider the guy that was Galactus got bit by a radioactive universe.
The lesson here? Be careful about what radioactive thing bites you. I just can't stress that enough, people.


Anonymous said...

England is merrie and Scotland is bonnie.

Steve, that FF cover made me think of The Titans #27 too. I remember standing in a newsagents dithering over whether to buy that issue of The Titans or Super Spider-Man & The Superheroes (I must have had only enough money for one of them). I finally chose Spidey.

Charlie, I heard a discussion on BBC radio this morning about whether we should all stop listening to Michael Jackson songs because a new documentary claims he committed child abuse. I didn't know the BBC had actually banned his songs. Those allegations about Jackson have been around for decades so it's strange the BBC decides to act now.

Steve W. said...

Colin, I suspect the BBC has an institutionalised wishy-washiness that means it'll choose whichever decision feels like the least controversial at the time.

MP, it's why I insist on only ever being bitten by radioactive sheep.

Sean, I did always like Vince inking Don. I felt his style softened Don's sometimes harsh pencils.

Charlie, when you comment, there should be an option that says, "Name/URL," under, "Choose an identity." If you're locked out of Google and you choose that option, you can type your Google name into that, so you don't have to appear as, "Anonymous."

Tim, never give ground when it comes to your Spider-Man duvet. Some things are worth battling to keep.

Anonymous said...

I'm convinced that the four part Doctor Doom prisoner story has been reprinted as a Treasury Edition or Annual but can't find any evidence. I definitely didn't read it in the Titans and so it must have been in the pocket book series in the early 80's. Agreed about the quality of artists this month.


Fantastic Four follower said...

Marvel produced 2 FF annuals in 1969/70 and the 2nd reprinted that 4 issue arc.(I think the first annual had 3 George Bell issues 22-24 and #81 featuring Sinnott inks that looked spectacular in comparison to the muddy inks of Bell!)

Anonymous said...

Hi, all. I'm a long time lurker and fan of Steve Does Comics.

Did anyone else notice that one of the bystanders on that FF cover bears striking resemblance to The Penguin? Latveria is a long way from Gotham City for a flightless bird to migrate...

Unknown said...

Oops. Forgot to sign my Anon post.


Steve W. said...

Hi, FB, welcome to the comments section. We clearly now have to views FF #84 as being the first ever Marvel/DC crossover.