Sunday, 5 May 2019

Fifty years ago this month - May 1969.

Have you ever felt an urge to travel very slowly from Southampton to New York?

If so, you'd have loved May of 1969 because it was in that month that the QE2 left Southampton, on its maiden voyage to that very metropolis.

Travelling somewhat faster was the crew of Apollo 10's lunar module which separated from the lunar orbiter to make mankind's closest approach yet to the Moon, coming within 10 miles of that globe's surface.

It was also the month in which The Who released their album Tommy.

But all those things paled into insignificance when placed beside one particular event.

And that was the release of Carry On Camping, which went on to become the year's most successful film at the UK box office. That's a genuinely astonishing stat. Much as I love a good Carry On, I'd never realised they were quite that popular.

Avengers #64, giant hands

Isn't this the one where Egghead, the Thinker and Puppet Master team up on a satellite, in order to fire laser beams at various cities, before Hawkeye's gangster brother sacrifices himself to save the day?

If so, I think that means this is the issue in which we finally get to learn Hawkeye's real name, after all those years of him appearing in Marvel comics.

Captain America #113, Jim Steranko

Jim Steranko's back, and all sorts of trouble breaks out at Cap's funeral, thanks to Hydra deciding it's the perfect opportunity to attack both Nick Fury and the Avengers.

Happily, Rick Jones is on hand to save the day.

And so is Cap!

Daredevil #52, Barry Smith

The Black Panther helps DD rescue Karen Page from Starr Saxon.

Although I recall reading this story, I don't remember very much at all, in terms of details.

For that matter, I don't even remember who Starr Saxon was or why he was after Daredevil.

Fantastic Four #86, Doctor Doom

The FF are still taking their time when it comes to escaping the clutches of Dr Doom and his quaint but sinister kingdom.

Incredible Hulk #115, the Leader

Doesn't Thunderbolt Ross enlist the services of the Leader to help him capture the Hulk?

I can't think of what could possibly go wrong with a plan that sensible.

Iron Man #13, the Controller

The QE2 may be slowly chugging its way towards New York but the Controller prefers a faster means of transit.

Therefore, he steals a train in order to reach that city - not to make it big in showbiz but to enslave everyone who lives there, before seizing control of the entire world.

Amazing Spider-Man #72, the Shocker

What's that? Keep taking the tablets?

The Shocker certainly does because it's the story famously reprinted in Origins of Marvel Comics, where the quilted wrongdoer steals the slab containing the secret of eternal youth, on behalf of the Maggia, and Spidey has to try and get it back from him.

Thor #164, Pluto and Zeus

Thor's still up against Pluto in a story that leads to the awesome return of Him!

X-Men #56, Neal Adams

I've a feeling this may be Neal Adams' first X-Men story, when the Living Pharaoh becomes the Living Monolith and causes no end of trouble.

I remember reading this tale in an Alan Class comic and, therefore, wonder if it was the first X-Men story I ever read.

And, just for extras, this issue, we also get the conclusion of the Angel's origin.


TC said...

Starr Saxon was a robot-making villain who somehow found out Daredevil's secret identity and tried to blackmail him. So DD rigged a plane crash to make it appear that Matt Murdock had been killed.

Saxon then adopted the identity of the villain Mr. Fear (after murdering Zoltan Drago, the original Mr. Fear), and was apparently killed when he fell off of a hovercraft while fighting Daredevil. (DD #55)

In 1980, it was revealed (Captain America #249) that Saxon had survived. His mind had been transplanted into a robot or computer, and he became the villain Machinesmith.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the Starr Saxon info, TC.

I did have it in my head that the original Mr Fear turned into Death-Stalker but it turns out it was the Exterminator who became Death-Stalker.

Killdumpster said...

All the issues presented today were missed by me when released, as for some reason I wasn't exposed to civilization that month. Eventually I did get to read most, thanks to Marvel's reprint titles.

Sometimes I think the inspiration for the Shocker came from somebody staying at a cheap motel. They had coin-operated vibrating mattresses back then. That would explain the powers & costume.

Aggy said...

Favourite fact about Apollo 10 is that, even though it was a test run for Apollo 11 and identical, they short filled the landing modules fuel tanks. They were concerned the astronauts would "have a problem" and have to land on the moon. If they did actually have a problem that forced a landing they could not take off again.

Anonymous said...

Possibly an urban myth,or unique to British comics, but apparently the word flick was avoided in case the ink ran causing the l and i to merge into a saucy u. In the same way, I'm surprised Marvel were happy to have a character names Clint. Although given Hawkeye's initial personality, perhaps Stan was sending a hidden message.

All together, this was a pretty solid month for Marvel. Kirby FF and Thor, Romita and Buscema Spidey, Adam's X-men and Steranko Cap.


TC said...

I seem to remember reading somewhere (maybe in Steranko's History of Comics) that DC had a rule against using the word "flick" because the ink might run the L and I together.

Dunno if Hawkeye's real name had any significance. Clint Eastwood was starting to hit it big in the movies in the mid-to-late 1960s, and Clint Walker had been very popular on TV a few years earlier.

Comicsfan said...

Aggy, really?? That sounds like something Conan O'Brien would come up with! That is hysterical.

Anonymous said...

Ah, the Controller.
Bushwacker extraordinaire, and rather unpleasant to be around generally. The guy really enjoyed sneaking up on people.
Here is a list, by no means complete, of people he's snuck up on:
Iron Man
the Vision
Black Panther (!)
Captain America (unsuccessfully)
Magneto (also unsuccessfully)
Captain Marvel (ditto)
Thor (abortive attempt)
assorted minor characters

Just a nasty person, all around.


Anonymous said...

I recall reading somewhere in an old interview with Barry Smith that Starr Saxon was supposed to be gay, and because of the comics code that had to be implied in the artwork (but - somewhat fortunately really - he wasn't a good enough artist to manage it).
Maybe that explains why the figure on the right of that Daredevil cover looks a bit odd? Mind you, DD and the Panther look pretty strange too...

A lot of people like that issue, but unlike Steranko I don't think that for all his enthusiasm Smith was able to transcend his limitations. Not quite yet.


Anonymous said...

Smith's stuff was pretty rough at this point, but still kinda compelling. He was channeling some Kirby here, but he was a young artist and hadn't found his own style yet. He did a pretty good Ultron in an Avengers issue.
It's pretty bombastic, isn't it! But he got much more subtle during his tenure on Conan. There was a big difference between his first and final work on that series. His final issues were spectacular.
And his Red Sonja...holy moly.


Anonymous said...

Smith's Conan run as a whole is great for just that reason M.P. To go from the still fairly rudimentary work of the first issue to Song of the Red Sonja in a couple of years, while dealing with the daily grind of monthly comics and meeting deadlines (well, ok, mostly meeting deadlines) is seriously impressive.

But for all Smith's enthusiasm I still don't think Daredevil #52 is a good comic.
True, his Avengers was a bit better, but thats not really saying much.


Redartz said...

I picked up many of these books as back issues years after the fact. The one I actually bought off the stands was Amazing Spider-man. I'd been following that "Stone tablet/Kingpin/Shocker/Silvermane story. Ultimately, due to the inconsistencies of newsstand distribution at the time, I missed out on the final issue in the story! It was only years later that I could read the conclusion. And Steve, you mentioned that book's inclusion in "Origins of Marvel Comics". Indeed; an odd choice for that honor, being smack dab in the middle of a multi-issue storyline.

And regarding Apollo 10- one can only imagine the frustration of that crew. Soooooooo close...

dangermash said...

Of the three crew members in Apollo 10, two of them (John Young and Eugene Cernan) did end up walking on the moon in later Apollo missions. Imagine that - visiting the moon twice in a lifetime, even if on one of those occasions all you did was drive around without getting out of the car.

dangermash said...

Of the twelve men to walk on the moon, only four are still alive, aged 83-89. I'm feeling old right now.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of space travel, there's something I've always wondered. Those monkeys they sent up into space, are they still up there? Or did they develop super-intelligence and mental powers, presumably from cosmic rays, as I've heard from some sources?
I've run across that scenario at least three different times in various places. That's sure some coincidence, is all I'm sayin'.


Steve W. said...

Redartz, you're right about that Spidey story. A number of the tales selected for the Origins books were odd choices. The Thor and Iron Man selections, in particular, made no sense at well.

MP, I can confirm that those monkeys returned to Earth and are now involved in politics.

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