Sunday, 12 May 2019

Forty years ago today - May 1979.

It is occasion for me to once more bend Time to my will, like Plasticine, and see what was afoot in the comics that bore the cover date of this month of forty years ago.

Will our heroes have, at last, found the peace that none of them ever seem to seek?

Captain America #233

Captain America certainly won't. Dr Faustus is still trying to start a race war in New York - and now he's kidnapped Sharon Carter!

You do wonder what would happen if Faustus, the Sons of the Serpent, Hate-Monger and the Red Skull all tried to start a race war simultaneously. The people of New York wouldn't know if they were coming or going.

Daredevil #158, Death-Stalker

I do believe this is the one which reveals Death-Stalker to have once been the Exterminator, even though I remain convinced it would have made more thematic sense for him to have been Mr Fear.

Come to think of it, both Mr Fear and the Exterminator made use of the services of The Ani-Men, didn't they?

And so does Death-Stalker in this issue.

Anyway, whoever he is, he comes a cropper when, like a total wally, he materialises inside a gravestone. You never saw the Vision making that mistake.

Iron Man #122

Iron Man decides to sit around retelling his origin.

Who does he think he is? Captain America?

Spectacular Spider-Man #30, Carrion

At last, the true identity of Carrion is revealed.

As far as I can remember, he's the clone of Professor Warren who managed to die but be simultaneously kept alive by Warren's cloning solution thing.

Thor #283, the Celestials

It's a somewhat odd story, mostly dedicated to Thor standing on a mountain in Mexico and demanding Odin tell him what he needs to know about the Celestials.

With grim inevitability, the annoying old duffer goes out of his way to be of no use at all on that score.

Uncanny X-Men #121, Alpha Force

The X-Men are in Canada, out to rescue Wolverine from Alpha Force.

Then it turns out he never needed rescuing, coz he's Wolverine and he's self-sufficient like that.

Fantastic Four #206

The FF make a right old mess of stopping the Skrulls from destroying a planet, and then get shot at by Nova's ship which is packed with more oddball super-doers than you can shake a stick at.

Conan the Barbarian #98

Conan and his gang of sailors encounter a beautiful woman who lives in the sea.

Needless to say, it's not long before she's slaughtering crew members.

Equally needless to say, it's not long before Conan's out there in the sea, with a dagger in his mouth, looking to give her a good stabbing.

Avengers #183, the Absorbing Man

Crusher Creel's back, having last been seen smashing into a million pieces of glass. And, thanks to him not being able to go five minutes without launching into a bar fight, he very quickly has to contend with the Avengers turning up to stop him.

Amazing Spider-Man #192

From the cover, I'm assuming Professor Smythe's still causing trouble.

Beyond that, I can say nothing, as I know nothing.

Incredible Hulk #235, Machine Man

Machine Man's up against the Hulk.

And gets killed, by the looks of it.


Anonymous said...

That Thor/Eternals crossover must be the worst run of any A-list Marvel in the 70s, and it seemed to go on forever. For ages any issue I read would start with a splash page of a Celestial, and consist mainly of Thor listening to a disembodied eyeball telling him about dwarves, rings and whatnot (and not in a good way).
As if forcing the Eternals to fit into the Marvel universe wasn't a bad enough idea, Roy Thomas decided to add Wagner's ring cycle (wf?) to the mix too.

Also disappointing to see Gene Colan was no longer drawing Daredevil that month. Without him, it was rarely worth reading, and with some new kid as artist DD was obviously going to be rubbish for the forseeable future...


Anonymous said...

PS Clearly I was mistaken last month, but I think that must be the issue of Cap where Sharon Carter dies.


Killdumpster said...

Steve, like you, I was always a fan of Death Stalker. He and Mr. Fear had the coolest costumes of all of DD's foes.

Always thought Alpha Flight were lame, as well as Nova's crew. I believe for a while they called themselves the Champions. What a joke. If I remember correctly they consisted of a lot of Nova's boring villains.

Any book that contained the Absorbing Man got a big thumbs-up from me.

Of all of Kirby's creations, Machine Man was one of my least favorites.

Killdumpster said...

If Faustus, Sons of the Serpent, the Monger & the Skull got together nothing would get accomplished. They'd just squabble over masterplans,then probably have a fight and/or leave the meeting in a indignant huff.

Anonymous said...

That Nova series was a game attempt at replicating early Spider-Man, and introducing a host of new characters.
It wasn't awful, but it never quite became very interesting or memorable. I salute the effort, though. Marvel was TRYING.


Anonymous said...

This month's comics were 'non distributed' in Britain. I believe there was a change in distributer and it took the new mob two months to sort things out. Consequently these issues became quite pricey on in the back-issue market. X-men #121 featuring the lively Alpha-flight fight and Daredevil #158 being (as teased by Sean) the first Frank Miller issue, both attracted silly prices over the next decade or so.


Steve W. said...

Sean, I'm pretty sure Sharon Carter doesn't die this issue, although Cap does decapitate a robot duplicate of her. I think Peggy Carter may be in intensive care in it. Then again, Peggy might be dead, thanks to a murder attempt in the previous month. I'm not certain.

KD, I'm afraid my knowledge of Machine Man is very limited but he never seemed like a character I'd be interested in.

MP, I do have a soft spot for Nova. It always seemed an odd strip to me, trying to replicate a low-key hero like Spider-Man by creating a hero who got his powers from a distinctly not-low-key source.

DW, the non-distribution thing is always interesting to me. It rarely seemed to affect whether comics were actually available. For instance, I had two early issues of Iron Fist which were supposedly not distributed in Britain but, somehow, they found their way over here anyway.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I looked it up, and while Sharon Carter does get killed off in that National Force storyline - at least until that was retconned as a SHIELD undercover ruse in the '90s - apparently it goes on for another three issues (gawd, five issues! - that sounds even worse than I remember) so it could have happened in any of them.

On distribution - by this point maybe there were enough comic shops that it became easier (relatively speaking of course) to find comics that weren't distributed as regular newstand imports?
I think '79 was when Marvel first started actually chasing the direct market, offering it better terms.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - Assuming we've run out of comic-related commentary...

Who won the Snooker Champs this year?

B.t.w. I really enjoyed the photos of Sheffield! Are there any plaques or monuments or anything in town pointing out where ABC and Human League and Heaven 17 hung out, wrote music, etc? I've been to Salzburg a few times and noted they are really big on promoting Mozart's homes, operas, etc... wondering if Sheffield was same?

dangermash said...

Charlie, the World Super Championship was won by.............

............Trump! 😂

Steve W. said...

Charlie, the World Snooker Championship was indeed won by Judd Trump - who, as far as I know, is not related to anyone else of that name who is currently in the news. Trump beat John Higgins by 18 frames to 9.

When it comes to famous Sheffielders, there are blue plaques on various buildings to mark their connection to the lives of local worthies. Whether any of these plaques relate to modern musicians, I'm not sure. However, there is a Walk of Fame outside the town hall, in which stars bearing the names of local celebrities - including bands and singers - are inlaid into the pavement. I shall see if I can get photos of them the next time I'm in town.

Sean, thanks for the Sharon Carter info. Marvel did seem to be keen on multi-part storylines at the time. I don't know if it was down to an edict Jim Shooter had handed out.

dbutler16 said...

Somehow, I missed that issue of X-Men, and had to buy it from the local comic shop as a back issue at an exorbitant cost a few months later. Great issue. And for the record, I am a fan of Alpha Flight, and their solo series was great, until John Byrne left it, after which it promptly went down the toilet.

I also had that issue of the Fantastic Four (meh) and Avengers (great, as most issue of the Avengers were at this time).

I agree that Death Stalker is a very cool looking villain. Though I don’t have the issue of Daredevil above, I do have a couple of his earlier appearances, and he always appealed to me.

As a fan of Machine Man, I’ll have to check out hat that Hulk issue.

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