Tuesday, 3 March 2020

The Marvel Lucky Bag - March 1970.

In this month of 1970, the hangar doors parted and a momentous movie emerged to roll down the runway of Expectation before cruising to the upper levels of stratospheric success, with epic ramifications.

That film was Airport, the movie which launched what felt like a billion sequels and, without which, Airplane would never have existed.

But, over on the British LP chart, people were flying high in a far more serene manner because Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water spent the whole of that month at Number One, successfully seeing-off such challengers as the soundtracks of Easy Rider and Paint Your Wagon.

And it was also a battle between Simon and Garfunkel and Paint Your Wagon on the UK singles chart, as the month kicked off with Lee Marvin's Wand'rin' Star hogging the top spot before it was deposed by the single release of Bridge Over Troubled Water.

Amazingly, that Lee Marvin record kept the Beatles' final UK single Let it Be off the top spot, meaning that, in their time, the Beatles had been denied the British summit by both Lee Marvin and Engelbert Humperdinck. Oh, the indignity.

Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos #76, the Red Baron

It's a rare appearance for Sgt Fury in this feature and I must confess the only reason I'm including him now is because the issue features him fighting the Red Baron.

Well, no, not really. As far as I can make out, it features Nick Fury's dad fighting the Red Baron.

If the cover's to be believed, Fury just knelt there, with his eyes closed, smoking a cigar, while the action was going on.

I wonder if the Red Baron ever tangled with the Phantom Eagle?

Silver Surfer #14, Spider-Man

It's the question we've all asked; "Who'd win a fight between Spider-Man and the Silver Surfer?"

And I think we've all answered it instantly.

Obviously, the Silver Surfer would win. He'd bore Spidey to death, complaining about everything.

I have read this one but I can't recall how the pair come to be in conflict.

However, the internet tells me the duo battle it out while a young boy's life hangs in the balance.

Sub-Mariner #23, Orka

I do believe it's the first-ever appearance of Orka the human killer whale.

And, by the looks of it, it could be the last-ever appearance by the Sub-Mariner.

Where Monsters Dwell #2, Sporr

Hooray! Sporr makes his tentacular debut!

I'm including this one because I had this issue.

And what an issue it is, with the Earth being threatened in three tales, which feature a giant amoeba, a fire monster and a mud monster.

Needless to say, despite their seeming invincibility, the trio are all quickly defeated by wily Earthmen.

Still, that didn't prevent Taboo the mud monster returning, years later, to battle the Hulk on behalf of Xemnu the Titan.

Sporr, of course, returned to fight Thor.

I have no knowledge of whether Dragoom the fire monster was ever seen again.

But, hold on. If Xemnu's a Titan, does that mean he's related to Thanos?


dangermash said...

In that Surfer comic, I seem to remember Spider-Man decides to start a fight with the Surfer after the web line he's swinging from gets accidentally chopped by the Surfer's board. Such lazy story writing. It feels like the first half of a Marvel TeamUp story bulked out to 20 pages with extra large panels and the usual whining. Quite a few panels from that issue ended up in How To Draw Conics The Marvel Way.

Anonymous said...

The Phantom Eagle fought the Red Baron in an issue of Excalibur Steve. Possibly it may have been in the first world war on an alternate earth, in a story involving more than one version of Captain Britain, but I don't recall it well. I'm a bit embarrassed I know anything about it at all tbh.

If you need more of an excuse, a John Severin cover is a fairly good reason for including Sgt Fury this time round too...


Fantastic Four follower said...

A thought just occurred to me as I enjoy your'Lucky Bag'selection:Was the Marvel checklist in order of importance or sales? For a decade(I think) it was FF first and then in descending order Amazing Spiderman, Avengers, Xmen, DD, Thor, Cap, Ironman, Subby, Shield, Dr. Strange etc. The order might change if Marvel was promoting a new title, Silver Surfer #1(putting it above FF) for that month.When Amazing Spiderman began outselling FF(early 70,s?)the checklist reflected this by promoting Spidey to nos 1.Any thoughts mate?

Killdumpster said...

It did seem that there was a consistent order to the checklist, FFf.

I loved the short description of the available comics, and was slightly angry when I was interested in a book, I usually couldn't get it.

Always wanted to read a story featuring the Challenger. I have no idea who he was, but the checklist made him sound formidable.

Steve W. said...

That's an interesting question, FFF. Tomorrow, I'm going to dig out a few 1970s Marvel comics and see just what order the Checklists are in. I shall report back here upon my findings.

Thanks for the Red Baron info, Sean.

And thanks for the Surfer vs Spidey info, Dangermash. You're right about panels from that story being used in the Lee/Buscema book. I remember it also used a fair number of images from that month's Avengers/Panther/Sons of the Serpent tale as well.

KD, I'm not sure I've ever even heard of the Challenger, let alone read any stories involving him.

dangermash said...

The Lee/Buscema Book also includes at least one panel from ASM #132, no real than four years after those Surfer and Avengers issues. Very weird, especially given that Buscema had the Spider-Man pencils for the previous six months (ASM #76-81) - surely there must have been some decent material in there?

dangermash said...

No real —> more

Killdumpster said...

Well, Steve, I did some searching, and what I came up with was 3 characters named Challenger.

A golden-age Timely hero, a demon of Mephisto, and an Elder like the Grandmaster.

According to what I found, he supposively didn't have a silver/bronze age appearance till 1976.

I could swear he was mentioned in a late 60's-early 70's checklist. For the life of me, I can't remember what book.

Killdumpster said...

To stay on topic, I always thought Orka had a goofy headpiece.

Anonymous said...

i've always been fairly tolerant of the Merry Marvel Misunderstanding nonsense, but even as a kid i thought the reason for the Surfer/ Spider-man dust-up was super-weak. i'm guessing the sales must've really been in the toilet by that point; i can almost hear Stan saying, "Only one thing to do -- put Spidey on the cover!" Can't imagine him spending more than five minutes "plotting" this one out on the phone with Big John.

Well... they can't all be "This Man, This Monster".

- b.t.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I was thinking that Spidey could bore the Surfer to death… At this time in ASM it was not uncommon to have numerous pages of Parker the Mope. Not that I blame him. I’d want to get rid of my Spidey powers too and just shack up with Gwen. Surprised Marvel never thought of doing that. And I too thought the fight about SS cutting SPidey's web was pretty lame.

This is important. Why does Orca the Killer Whale have webbed feet but not webbed hands?

I was actually wondering if Sgt Fury’s daddy actually met the Hulk, who went back in time of kill the Phantom Eagle, courtesy of Kang! I have to imagine WW 1 vets were talking a lot about the Hulk.

Redartz said...

Yes, that Surfer/Spidey 'battle' was a bit lackluster. However, that cover is SHEER DYNAMITE!!!!!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Red - you are spot on amigo! It is a great cover. I think the next one is the Torch? I never really dug the supernatural covers he had... Gimme the Spidey, Thor, Torch covers any day!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, b.t., This Man This Monster was a favourite of mine too.
Its appropriate the Silver Surfer came up here after the comment thread last time, as the series - and that issue in particular - make for an interesting contrast to the classic FF when it comes to results of the "Marvel method". Especially as John Buscema went on to draw the worlds greatest comic mag, and that Stan Lee should have chosen to use the one Marvel character we know for sure was created by Kirby alone to do his Great Work as a writer.

Buscema was an astounding artist, in many ways more accomplished than Kirby or Ditko... but he didn't have that creative, visionary quality Lee needed in a collaborator, and was much more suited to working with a hands-on writer eg his work on Conan stuff.


Anonymous said...

*"his work on Conan" Duh, sorry about the awkward edit at the end there.

Anyhow, if Xemnu is a Titan, does that mean he's an Eternal? (Its been revealed they're the same thing, right?)

Also - I've just been watching A Dark Song on tv, and it turned out to be the best new(ish) film I'd seen for ages. Well worth keeping an eye out for, particularly for anyone into horror (maybe it'll be on Film 4 again in the next week or two; I think its on Netflix, for those who have it).


Steve W. said...

I've now checked a number of Marvel Checklists and it does appear that Fantastic Four Follower is correct. The big-hitters appeared at the top of it, with the very lower rungs reserved for the monster mags and the reprint books.

Anonymous said...

Charlie Horse 47:

Respectfully, I beg to differ about Romita’s supernatural covers. Check out his covers for DEAD OF NIGHT #1 and #4, and JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #16, for starters. STRANGE TALES #169 (debut of Brother Voodoo) and FRANKENSTEIN #11 are pretty nice too. And if you wanna see something really cool, check out Earl Norem’s cover painting on MONSTERS UNLEASHED #8 — I’d bet cash money that Romita re-painted the faces on both the girl and the Monster. Plus, the poses on both figures and the overall composition make me think he did a rough layout for the piece as well. Jazzy Johnny could bring the spooky when he wanted to.

Pound for pound, I think he’s my favorite “regular” Bronze Age cover guy. Gil Kane may have done more, but when I think “70s Marvel” Romita’s work is what pops up in my mind’s eye.


Killdumpster said...

Sean, I'm definitely going to keep an eye out for A Dark Star the next time I'm in a used CD/DVD shop. It's on my list.

b.t., you're right. Romita could do horror, while Gil Kane's style usually didn't invoke dread on his monster stuff. Superhero/Sci-Fi covers were his forte.

I know we've been around this block before, folks, but Ploog had to be one of the best horror artists Marvel had in the 70's.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hi b.t.!

I was actually just referring to the Surfer covers from 69-70. There are covers where he is fighting Mephisto in # 3 and Frankenstein in #6 which I think of as "super natural."

That is all I was referring to as "super natural" as compared to some nearly-iconic covers (because Steranko did not draw them, lol) where Surfer squares off against Thor, Spidey, Torch...

Clearly there are great super natural covers like Steranko did of Nick Fury Agent of Shield # 3 (I think by... Steranko... LOL) that are a thing of beauty!

Anonymous said...

Steranko's 70s Marvel covers weren't up to his late 60s classics though (remember the underwater SHIELD Charlie?;)

Gotta say on Gil Kane v John Romita - which sounds like a SteveDoesComics poll waiting to happen - I go for the master of the deep perspective up-the-nostrils shot every time.
Dunno about Strange tales #169 - I really liked Gene Colan's interior artwork, which made Brother Voodoo rise a bit above the obvious blaxploitation of the concept (and story), but the cover was a real cliche. Sorry b.t., but while that probably made commercial sense, for my taste Romita was better suited to the more mainstream Marvel superheroes.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - i could not agree more about 60s vs. 70s Steranko which is iconic vs. functional. Just wonder why the big change in style???

Another SDC poll CHarlie proposes is, just for nostalgia b/c we all experienced "it":

Fr@nk R@bbins vs. D*n H*ck!!! Yep! Invaders, Cpt America, The Shadow vs. Iron Man, DD, Cpt Marvel (the good Marvel - you know- the one in Green / White!)

C'mon Steve Does Everything!

Now if you UK guys would only tell Charlie what the hell are "untaxed" cars in the UK? He keeps hearing the Government "Pay your car tax or else!" commercials on the UK Radio show Talk Sport driving to work. He gets the idea about avoiding tax, (dont we all try??) but how the hell do you buy something that costs $20,000 - $45,000 on average and not pay your taxes on it? Crooked auto dealerships?

Anonymous said...

Charlie Horse:
OHHHHHHhhh — supernatural SURFER covers, not supernatural ROMITA covers, got it, got it — never mind, then :)

I see your point about the Brother Voodoo cover. I think it works because it’s SUPPOSED to be selling the “Superhero” and “Supernatural” angles equally, like 50/50, but yeah, it ain’t the moodiest thing. Also I think the rather “blehhh” color scheme isn’t doing it any favors. And look, I totally dig Kane’s 70s covers too. Back in the day, I even preferred Kane over Romita, as I thought Romita was a bit middle-of-the-road or generic compared to Kane’s exaggerated dynamism. But over the years I’ve come to appreciate Romita more and more. Seeing his stuff in crisp black and white in those ESSENTIAL SPIDEY phone books was a real eye-opener, and a turning point for me. Oh, how I wish I’d bought a few pages of his original art back when they were relatively affordable! The prices are so astronomical now, you can’t get anywhere near them...

Re: Steranko 60s v 70s :
Part of it may have to do with the cover format / trade dress of the two eras. The 60s covers seem to have more open space all around, and look taller and leaner, giving Steranko more vertical real estate to play with, to stretch out and have fun with— the famous Fury In Space and Dali Homage covers definitely benefit from the “bigger canvas” effect. The top third of the 70s covers feel very crowded and boxy — they have that “MARVEL COMICS GROUP” banner taking up space at the top, the logos seem wider, etc — plus, they actually DID create a solid “box” for the art to sit in for a year or two, which had to be somewhat restrictive for a guy like Steranko. Most of his 70s covers (FF and SHIELD especially) feel cramped, and hampered by the format. Having said all that, Steranko did manage to pull off some striking covers in the 70s — Shanna, Doc Savage, Gulliver Jones, Thongor, and I REALLY like that WESTERN GUNFIGHTERS cover with the Black Rider.

— b.t.

Steve W. said...

Charlie, Car Tax is a charge you have to pay each year if you have a car. The money from it originally went towards paying for road maintenance but, these days, it just goes into the government's general money pot. Some naughty people don't pay it, hence the adverts.

Redartz said...

B.t.- like you I have a great fondness for Kane and Romita (there artwork, that is, nothing for anyone to wonder about). In fact, at least on Spider-Man, Kane pencils with Romita inks just about tops anything.
And yes, I wish I'd picked up a Romita page or two. Do you actually have any original art? I have a Milgrom/Austin page. Once upon a time I had a Perez/Sinnott page and a Byrne/Dezuniga page, but sold them (he says with tears in his eyes)...