Sunday, 12 January 2020

Forty years ago today - January 1980.

Blog posts!

They need great openings, to draw the reader in and give him or her a reason to continue.

This post doesn't have one.

It's doomed! Doomed!

Avengers #191, the Grey Gargoyle

And so is the spirit of law and order in New York City because the Grey Gargoyle's on the rampage!

And he's not at all pleased when he finds out that, in his absence, his flat's been rented out to a random woman - and she's thrown away all his vital chemicals, to make room for her drinks cabinet!

Predictably, the Avengers make a right old mess of trying to deal with a villain they should be able to flatten in about two seconds.

Fantastic Four #214

The rest of the Fantastic Four are on the brink of death from old age - and only the Human Torch can save them.

But, first, he has to deal with a robot Skrull who's been left behind by his colleagues.

The good news is Torchie's got a robot of his own on his side, in the form of HERBIE the contractual obligationbot.

Incredible Hulk #243, Tyrannus

The Hulk finally deals with Tyrannus and his dreams of taking over the world with his magic flame in the Andes.

Somehow, after the end of the fight, the Hulk and Goldbug end up in New York where the villain bumps into Luke Cage and Iron Fist who have a grudge against him for some reason I can't recall.

Iron Man #130

Tony Stark travels to China to deal with an evil demon that's inconveniently killing members of his workforce there.

And it's all the fault of the company computer.

Amazing Spider-Man #200

Only days after talking about Spider-Man tackling the thief who killed Uncle Ben, in Marvel UK's Spectacular Spider-Man Weekly, I'm at it again. Thus is the degree to which the British outfit has caught up with its American parent.

Spectacular Spider-Man #38, Morbius

Morbius is back in town - and this time, he's cured of his vampirism, by being struck by lightning.

Why do I get the feeling it won't last?

Al Milgrom doing his Steve Ditko impersonation on that cover there.
Thor #291, Asgard and Olympus vs the Eternals

It's all action as Thor returns to the Eternals' home base of Olympia, only to discover Odin, Zeus and the combined forces of Olympus and Asgard have decided to invade it. We're definitely going to need a score card to keep track of this one.

Captain America #241, the Punisher

Captain America and the Punisher are after the same villains, which means we get the inevitable fight between the pair before they team up to mete out justice.

The Punisher's as annoying as ever in this one. Why Cap doesn't just smash his face in is anyone's guess.

Conan the Barbarian #106

Conan becomes the bodyguard of some queen or other in possibly the most racist comicbook tale in history.

Genuinely, virtually every single caption and speech bubble mentions skin colour.

As it's adapted from a tale by L Sprague DeCamp and Lin Carter, I shall be kind and assume Rascally Roy's merely being faithful to the source material which is attempting to be faithful to poor old REH.

X-Men #129

I do believe this is the first time we encounter Kitty Pryde, when both the X-Men and Hellfire Club try to recruit her to their respective schools.

Daredevil #162, vs a leopard, steve ditko art, cover

Steve Ditko suddenly turns up on the art, as Matt Murdock suddenly loses his memory and inadvertently relives the latter days of his father, by becoming a boxer who's ultimately ordered to throw a fight.

During all this, does no one watching him box notice the hot new slugger making all the headlines is the high-profile lawyer Matt Murdock who's not exactly kept out of the media, himself, over the years?


Fantastic Four follower said...

At the time I collected Avengers comics and thought that run from roughly #180 - 205 was brilliant with artwork by Byrne and Perez. Just brilliant. However little did I realise that the title would fall off a cliff in terms of quality and for me never actually recovered! But very happy memories from 1979/1980.

Steve4132 said...

The Avengers made hard work of limited villains on occasion, never moreso than the Grey Gargoyle. I don't imagine we will see him as the big threat of any upcoming MCU blockbuster.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Does anyone know if Marvel characters ever made it onto beer coasters / beer mats?

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't Cap just smash the Punisher's face in? Thats a good question Steve. Cap beat the Red Skull when he had the Cosmic Cube, so he should be able to give some nutter who's basically Charles Bronson in a Halloween costume a good slap easily enough.
Its a mystery.

With "Chaos in the land called called Kush" on the cover, its not surprising that issue of Conan is dodgy.
The only one of the Robert E Howard books I tried had a couple of stories like Queen of the Black Coast, set in or around Kush - you didn't have to be a critical reader (I must have been twelve) for it to be obvious something unpleasant was going on.
The Conan comics generally avoided the worst aspect of the original stories, but for some reason Roy Thomas seemed to think adaptations had to include all that stuff...


Anonymous said...

And men shall name him...The Grey Gargoyle!!!
I always liked that guy, but I have no idea why. You'd be hard-pressed to come up with a goofier super-power.
If memory serves, that guy managed to get himself accidently tethered to a rocket and shot off into space at least twice. Most people don't go through that experience even once, as far as I know. I haven't yet.
My advice to the Gargoyle: Give Cape Canaveral a wiiiide berth.
Still, you gotta hand it to the guy. Instead of just floating around in deep space as an asteroid shaped like a Frenchman, he takes control of a ship full of intergalactic pirates, including a first mate with a lion head.
Now that's making lemonade outta lemons, as far as I'm concerned.
I don't think I could pull that off if I ever got shot into space, an event some would no doubt quietly applaud.


B Smith said...

Conan working as a Queen's bodyguard....would you say he had a Kushy job?

I'll get my coat...

Anonymous said...

That's a sound I know well, B.--crickets.


Steve W. said...

Fantastic Four Follower, it is indeed a great run of stories.

B, a career in comedy clearly beckons.

MP, I agree. The Grey Gargoyle did always have a sense of menace about him, even if the forces of law and order should have been able to stop him fairly easily.

Sean, it does seem a bit baffling, given that Marvel in the 1970s was, however clumsily, trying to attract black readers with the likes of Luke Cage, Black Goliath and the Black Panther. Did Roy not at any point think, "Ooh hold on. What if any of those black readers stumble across this one? They'll be put off Marvel for life!"?

Charlie, I don't recall Marvel characters making it onto beer mats. Perhaps it would have been felt that children's characters shouldn't be associated with alcohol?

Steve 4132, I wonder who the least powerful foe was that the Avengers had difficulty defeating.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I don't think it was so much that Marvel were trying to attract black readers in the 70s as hang onto them in changing times (Jack Kirby said the impetus behind coming up with the Black Panther was to reflect a large section of the then current readership).

But yes, it is baffling why they'd do a story like that in 1980. I looked Conan #106 up, and apparently the story was completed by those other two from a Howard outline, so it must be Roy Thomas being a purist, and he was the editor as well as writer.
Mind you, L.Srague de Camp does seem like the name of someone you wouldn't want to argue with (I picture someone with a goatee and monocle who'd challenge you to a duel).


Anonymous said...

* Duh, typo
That should be Sprague (obviously)

Killdumpster said...

I always liked the Grey Gargoyle, but felt that with the group of heroes He usually fought he really needed powered-up.

He was able to sort-of hold his own against Thor & Iron Man, but I kinda remember he had a tough time with Captain America.

Taking on the Avengers? That's out of his league.

As far Morbius goes, I was always happy to see him. I can't wait for the movie. I hope they don't screw him up too much.

Steve4132 said...

For me it's got to be issue 60. Earth's Mightiest Heroes against... The Circus Of Crime. Possibly the lamest group of villains in the history of Marvel comics.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, the Circus of Crime couldn't even beat Howard the Duck as I recall.
Or even Rick Jones! (To be fair, I think that was actually just the Ringmaster on his own, but still... )


Killdumpster said...

Let's face it, even Forbush Man could beat the Circus Of Crime.

They would've been better off just being a legitimate circus after all the beatdowns they suffered (it is fun to trash them,Lol.)

They make a better target for thrashing than my ol' pals Ant-Man & Rick Jones.

If I would've known Ditko did the art in that DD issue, I may have at least perused it. To be honest, though, the boxing themed stories have never been my favorites. When he fought Cap is an exception. I loved Colan's Captain America.

Redartz said...

A couple of classic covers this week; Amazing Spider-man and Captain America. Definite attention grabbers on the spinner racks.

That Ditko Daredevil caught me offgaurd at the time, coming in the middle of Miller's early run. But it was enjoyable enough. Although, like KD, the boxing stories never really appealed to me.

Circus of Crime? How about the Enforcers; another Spidey opponent. At least the Circus had numbers; the Enforcers were only three guys; one armed with a rope. But don't get me wrong; love those early Lee/Ditko tales; loads of fun.

Killdumpster said...

Redartz, about a year ago I came up with a scenario on this site, where Rick Jones & the Enforcers take on the Circus Of Crime.

I almost dragged out my drawing board out for that. Lol.

Hmmm... Never say never...

Anonymous said...

Remember those clowns the Red Skull used to hang around with? The Exiles, I think.
That was a motley crew. Some Russian wrestler named Krushki, some Mussolini type guy that tried to whip on people with his scarf, some old cadaverous old dude named Cadavus, "monarch of the murder chair" some general from Red China and a couple other assorted goofs left over from W.W.2.
I think the Circus of Crime could've taken them down.


Killdumpster said...

Agreed, MP.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

The Exiles! Bellini with his scarf took down Cap who was trapped in Red Skulls body!

Thank god the Falcon, all the way from Harlem and stuck on that stupid island, after his first afternoon of hard training by Cap-Skull, was able to use his Falcon to shake off Bellini.

And then, an island full of "locals" started chucking rocks at the Exiles and they fled.

Clearly, this outfit could have fought the Avengers to a stand still for a few issues? I mean, a long scarf, a wheel chair that shoots, a whip... in the right hands and the right time... very, very deadly weapons!

Killdumpster said...

As far as foes that the Avengers couldn't defeat, with minimal superpowers, my submission is..

Henry Gyrich.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

O.M.G. Me and my two now-adult kids are watching Flash Gordon conquers the Universe!

This stuff is nothing short of brilliant! The pacing is incredible! The cinematography captivating! And it was done in 1940!

As I watch Prof Zharkov I keep thinking of the Legion of Super Heroes! I mean, how does one look for Polarite? Well, have Prof Zharkov whip out a Polarometer, LOL!!! So, so 1960s Legion of Superheroes!!!

How do Flash, et al. survive the impossible frozen atmoshpere of Frigia looking for Polarite? Well, Zharkov invents some spray that protects their skin, LOL!!!

And, you go to love Ming's kamikazee robots!

Good heavens!!! And this only through the first 3 chapters!!!

Killdumpster said...

There's little to argue about that Gyrich was a US government official. At that point, the Carter term, the govt was very weak.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD - Thank you, oh my brother, for the Flash Gordon DVDs!

Killdumpster said...

You're welcome, oh my brother.

Anonymous said...

I dunno how many of you guys get the IFC channel on cable (or if it's available in the U.K. at all) but they've been showing Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes lately. A lot of these I never caught the first time around, but they showed Ed Wood's "Bride of the Monster" with Bela Lugosi and Tor Johnson recently.
I watched it with my brother and we had a great time. We're not really serious pot smokers like many MST3000 fans but we did put away a lot of beer and a bit of whiskey.
Some mind-altering substance is necessary when watching these things, particularly when Ed Wood is involved.


Anonymous said...

Kd, on the plus side though, at least Carter wasn't Nixon, Ford or Reagan - in retrospect, he doesn't seem too bad.
No wars, no trillion dollar national debt... seen from 2020, that doesn't look too bad at all.

Theres a lot to be said for "weak" government imo.


Anonymous said...

I would agree with that.
I'm rather alarmed by the rise of leaders now who are so-called "strong men."
Seems to me that led to utter catastrophe in the past.
I guess we have, as a species, a short memory.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Oh my brothers, have no fear!

Flash (Ah ahhhhh!) Gordon will save very one of us!!!

Freddy Mercury said so!!! (And I still haven't seen that movie about him, or Mr. Rogers.)

Anonymous said...

Holy smokes Bullwinkle, Gordon's alive!
Haven't seen the Freddie flick either, Charlie.
I did see that film with Don Cheadle as Miles Davis recently. It was rubbish.


Killdumpster said...

There's quite a few reasons why Carter only had one term, guys.

He was either unable or unwilling to take command of demanding situations.

The Arabs wiped their feet on him. The Oil Embargo caused the Energy Crisis, doubled fuel prices, tanking our economy. He let them walk.

Does anyone remember the Iranian Hostage Crisis? Yeah, let's be nice to them.

I could go on, but you get the idea.

He should have stayed on the peanut farm.

At least Reagan cut us a 5 lb block of cheese every couple months. Lol.