Sunday, 1 December 2019

Fifty years ago this month - December 1969.

December 1969 was a good month for all lovers of the anomalous because it was when we saw the release of possibly the most anomalous James Bond movie of them all; On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Not only did we get an Australian Bond who was never seen again and even talked directly to the camera but we got our hero operating outside the purview of British Intelligence, and an ending which I won't give away in case there's a single person left in the world who's never seen it.

Diana Rigg was, of course, present, as was Joanna Lumley. With Honor Blackman having already appeared in Goldfinger, it means Linda Thorson's the only Avengers girl to have never appeared in a Bond movie.

Then again, she's still alive. There's hope for her yet.

And, also, this argument depends upon me ignoring the existence of Uma Thurman.

Elsewhere, the month also saw the holding of the first draft lottery in the United States since World War II, courtesy of the Vietnam War.

Meanwhile, the Boeing 747 jumbo jet made its first passenger flight, carrying 191 people, mostly reporters and photographers, from Seattle to New York, and the Rolling Stones released their album Let It Bleed.

Let it Bleed is, of course, most known to me because it was the title of a Don Heck drawn Marvel Dracula story about a huge heart living in a shed, like a malevolent version of How's Jack Hargreaves.

I'm not sure there's much shed action in any of the following comics.

Avengers #71, the Invaders

Hooray! The Avenger take on the Invaders, though Frank Robbins is nowhere to be seen.

Neither are Toro and Bucky, as far as I remember. Namor, to my knowledge, never had a youthful sidekick, which seemed a little unfair on him.

I do think it's odd the way the Invaders automatically assume the Avengers are Nazis, based on no evidence at all. Still, they get their just deserts and Roy Thomas's test run for the team is completed with their utter and total defeat.

Thinking about it, it's not an auspicious start for them, is it?

I am intrigued, though, that it's labelled, "The Final Battle," when it isn't the final battle for either team, nor is it the final battle of World War Two, nor is it the final battle in the contest between Kang and the Grandmaster. So exactly why is it labelled, "The Final Battle?"

Captain America #120, Crack-Up on Campus

My memories of this one are vague. Doesn't Cap become a college lecturer for some reason and then AIM or Hydra try to kidnap a scientist by pretending to be protesting students?

It does make me think, did any Marvel hero ever go to a university campus, in those days, without a student protest breaking out?

Daredevil #59, The Torpedo

I really have no recollection of this tale at all. Is this Torpedo the same Torpedo who turned up later in Marvel comics or is he a totally different one?

Fantastic Four #93, Torgo

I think this issue is the conclusion to the tale, in which the rest of the FF turn up to help the Thing thwart the Skrulls' racket.

I'm struggling to remember how the FF actually manage to get there, bearing in mind it's set in another galaxy. Do they use Kurrgo's flying saucer which has been sitting on their roof, seemingly forgotten about, since issue #7?

Incredible Hulk #122, the Fantastic Four

No one with any sense can ever resist a scrap between the Hulk and the Thing, even though I've a feeling this is the first time the FF have met the Hulk in the pages of his own mag. If that's true, it does seem amazing that it took so long for it to happen.

Anyway, what matters is that Bruce Banner comes up with half a cure for him being the Hulk and sets off to the Baxter Building to share it with Reed Richards who's independently come up with the other half.

Needless to say, it's not long before the obligatory punch-up breaks out.

Iron Man #20, Lucifer

I've a feeling Lucifer gives some random bloke super-powers so he can defeat Iron Man, on his behalf.

Granted, I'm not totally sure who Lucifer actually is or why he's so determined to beat Iron Man.

Amazing Spider-Man #79, the Prowler

It's the story we never thought we'd see; the death of Peter Parker.

Admittedly, we were right to think we'd never see it because we don't. In retrospect, it does seem remarkable that the Prowler's debut has managed to be spread over two issues, bearing in mind how totally outclassed by Spidey he is.

But who cares? It's a pleasing story and you can't help feeling sorry for poor Hobie and his window cleaning frustrations.

Thor #171, the Wrecker

I genuinely have no memory of this story at all, and I know for a fact that I've read it.

I gather the Wrecker makes his senses-shattering return. Apart from that, I'm clueless.

But that's a very intriguing cover. It looks like someone's got a Jack Kirby image and done fairly major amounts of redrawing over it.

X-Men #63, Magneto

I don't think I've ever read this one but I would assume Magneto and the X-Men are still in the Savage Land.

I'm willing to bet the blurb is lying and that Magneto doesn't triumph.


Killdumpster said...

Somehow I managed to get quite a few of the books featured. Must've been because I got rewarded for a good report card.

Hulk #122 had me in frantic-mode all the way home. I couldn't wait to crack it open. You just can't go wrong with a FF/Hulk battle, even if it was a little short.

Thor #171 was a great battle issue. The Wrecker was one of my fav villains.

Uncertain if the Torpedo in the DD book was the same guy who appeared later, but I don't think so.

I've read somewhere that one of reasons George Lazenby didn't do another Bond was at the advice of his agent. They seemed to believe the Bond series was on it's last legs. The joke was on them.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Man oh man! Awesome covers! And in alphabetical order! Kirby, Buscema, Adams, Romita... what's not to love about the news stand this month?

IIRC, the Avengers is where the son (Vision) sort of kills his father (Torch) though that plot line had not been developed yet? (Torch's "DNA" gets implanted into Vision via Ultron? Help me out True Believers!)

Frankly I thought Roy the Boy was on the hash pipe making the Torch into an Android... I really can't see any purpose to it.

I also think Roy went through a bunch of machinations to explain Cap's triangular shield on the cover since Cap only had it in his first issue in 1940/41 before the war had even started yet?

Anonymous said...

Whats not to love here?
The inking on that Kirby Thor cover (by Bill Everett I believe).

From what I recall Steve, Captain America became a college lecturer because SHIELD hypnotized him. Quite why they needed to do that to get him to go on a mission I couldn't say, as he usually only needed to be asked.

And yeah, it was AIM behind the demos. Between Modok doing the "hell no, we won't go" thing and the revelation in a few issues that the Red Skull was behind the black power movement, it seems the supervillains knew what time it was back then. You have to wonder why they're even considered villains at all...


Anonymous said...

I concur with these gentlemen, Steve, this is indeed an impressive line-up.
You gotta hand it to Roy Thomas. That Avengers arc featured Kang and introduced the Grandmaster and the Squadron Sinister. But that wasn't enough, oh no. Some of the Avengers hadda go back in time to fight the Invaders.
When Thomas got going, he threw in everything including the kitchen sink, like with the later Kree-Skrull War epic.
He sure loved those '40's comic book characters and I can understand why. If you grew up in Podunk Nowhere, like me, comics were a big deal.
He did some interesting stuff with the JSA over at D.C some years later.

On another note, I always liked the Wrecker. Can you imagine the meeting where Stan said, "Jack, next issue let's have for a villain some goon with a crowbar! Figure it out! Excelsior!"
Kirby leaves grumbling under his breath "That sunava…"


Colin Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Colin Jones said...

Steve, you forgot about the Rolling Stones' infamous Altamont concert which took place on December 6th 1969. There was a documentary about it on Radio 4 last Saturday night.

And did you know that the cake on the 'Let It Bleed' cover was baked by a then unknown Delia Smith?

Steve W. said...

I did know that about Delia, Colin. However, the anniversary of Altamont had bypassed my historical gaze when I was writing the post.

KD, Sean, MP and Charlie, I would say the Avengers, Hulk and Spidey tales are my favourites of this month's pick. I also like the FF story but not quite as much.

Charlie, wasn't the original Human Torch always an android? As far as I can remember, Ultron retrieved the Torch's body from the Mad Thinker and reanimated it as the Vision, giving it Wonder Man's brain patterns while he was at it.

Killdumpster said...

Steve, they ran the "original Torch is the Vision" for a long, long time. That was kind of tossed out in West Coast Avengers, I believe.

dangermash said...

This Thor/Wrecker story appeared in a hardback book called The Best Of Marvel comics that I picked up in a Virgin shop back the late 80s. Like the cover, inked by Bill Everett rather than Vince Coletta. Looks good.

Killdumpster said...

The OG Torch was apparently brought back to life by Wanda. She's gotta be one of Marvel's greatest plot foils, next to Franklin Richards.

It would've been great for the Torch & Johnny Storm to have a rematch.

Dangermash, I'm not surprised the Thor/Wrecker battle was in a "best of" book. It was an excellent issue. So loaded with excitement that this then-young Killdumpster craved.

Killdumpster said...

Being a fan of Steed's Avengers, Diana Rigg has a very large place in my heart. The Honor Blackman episodes seemed a little more realistic, while Linda Thorson's started to border on ridiculous. Plus she couldn't hold a candle to Dame Rigg.

Killdumpster said...

I pulled On Her Majesty's Secret Service out of my library. Its on my coffee table. It will be re-viewed tonight. He's not Connery, but I liked him better than Moore.

dangermash said...

That Best Of Marvel Comics was a strange book. It's. Are£ hardback with a springy feeling cover. I think I read somewhere that it was made specially for some supermarket chain to sell in their stores?

From memory the book included:
- that Thor story
- another Thor issue from a few months before or after where it's revealed that the Don Blake character was just a sham
- ASM 31-30: the Master Planner storyline
- FF 52-53? The Black Panther's first appearance
- one of those Captain America origin issues, this one pencilled by John Byrne
- a generic looking Doctor Strange issue against three wizards
- an X-Men issue where Juggernaut beats up colossus In a bar and Wolverine just watches because Colossus deserves it
- a short wolverine story based in Japan

Nothing else, so nothing from the other four of the big ten: Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, Daredevil

Anonymous said...

Or, K.D., as Mad Magazine called it, "On Her Majesty's Secret Surface."

Also, Diana Rigg was very cool in GOT! She didn't take any crap off anybody.
...of course, that did get her poisoned...


Charlie Horse 47 said...

The Torch - Vision - Wonder Man - Ultron thing gave me a headache after a while...

Sean, et al. Only one more month until the release of Kirby's "Dingbat Love!"

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Who was tuffer vs. Thor? Wrecker or Demolisher?

Anonymous said...

I kinda forgot about Lucifer. Man, he was a funky villain. IIRC, he was a scout from an alien world who came here and accomplished absolutely nothing, apart from being somewhat responsible for putting Charles Xavier in a wheelchair. He then managed to get himself shunted into an alien dimension. He was bad at his job.
He had a goatee, and in the '60's that meant he was either a hipster or he was evil. Often it meant both.


Anonymous said...

I'm counting down the days to the publishing event of the decade Charlie.
Soul Love was brilliant - hope theres more of it I haven't seen before.