Sunday, 5 April 2020

Fifty years ago this month - April 1970.

Fifty years ago this month, humanity was left reeling, as Paul McCartney announced the end of the Beatles.

Would the world ever be the same again?

No it wouldn't.

And yet, even in that month, all was not lost for music fans. For exciting things were stirring in that field, as Elton John, the man who'd go on to be almost as big in the '70s as the Beatles had been in the '60s, had his first-ever album release in the United States.

It was, in fact, the second album he'd made but, for whatever reason, his first LP had somehow failed to find its way across the Atlantic.

Finding their way to the Pacific were the crew of Apollo 13 which, just four days after setting off for the moon, had been forced to turn round and come back when an oxygen tank exploded, threatening the survival of them all and inspiring an entire movie.

Elton John has also inspired a movie.

And he once sang a song about astronauts.

Coincidence? Or a mind-boggling twist of cunning Fate beyond human comprehension?

I shall leave you to decide upon that.

Avengers #75, Quicksilver

I do believe this is the one in which Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch scour the globe in an attempt to discover why at least one of them's lost their powers.

Inevitably, it leads to a lightning-bolt throwing Conan rip-off appearing from another dimension and threatening the survival of us all.

I hate it when that happens.

Captain America #124

I have only vague ideas about what happens in this one.

From the cover, I'm guessing it's the tale in which Captain America demands Sharon Carter quits SHIELD, as he can't tolerate the thought of her being in danger - and she tells him where to stick his concern.

Daredevil #63, the Gladiator

Genuinely, I'm the living definition of vagueness when it comes to this one.

Is it the story in which Daredevil has to fight the Gladiator, at the insistence of the Maggia

 Or am I mixing it up with a totally different, and earlier, story?

Fantastic Four #97, the Monster From the Lost Lagoon

At last! A comic whose contents I'm not in the slightest bit vague about, as Jack Kirby continues his recent habit of seemingly banging out stories in response to whatever happens to be on TV while he's drawing.

Granted, I'm assuming that's what he's doing.

This time, the FF are on their holidays and encounter the Monster from the Lost Lagoon who bears no resemblance to any creature we may have ever seen in any 1950s Hollywood movie.

Incredible Hulk #126, the Night Crawler

It's great news for any Steve Does Comics readers who can't get enough of Jack Norris, when his actions get the Hulk stranded in the world of the Undying Ones and force the green Goliath to confront the menace of the Night-Crawler.

By the end of it, the Undying Ones' plan is in tatters, Barbara Norriss is trapped, Dr Strange is free and it's anyone's guess where Jack's got to.

The Invincible Iron Man #24, the Minotaur

I'm back to the vagueness with this one. Just why does the man on the cover have a Minotaur for a son and why does he have Madame Masque strapped to a slab?

Amazing Spider-Man #83, the Schemer

I do, at least, have more than a clue about what's going on in this one.

But, then, it's a story no one could forget. Bringing an end to the book's brief run of done-in-one stories, the Schemer launches an all-out war against the Kingpin.

But who is the Schemer?

And what is his mind-boggling secret?

And why do we keep being told about the Kingpin's missing son?

Thor #175, The Fall of Asgard, Loki, marie severin cover

Help! Help! The vagueness is back!

Loki's threatening Thor, which means it could be any one of a zillion stories.

I do know we're coming to the end of Jack Kirby's run, which makes me wonder if it's the start of the tale in which Loki and Thor swap faces and Neal Adams ends up stepping in to take over the strip for a very short spell.


Killdumpster said...

Akron was a favorite villain of mine, but don't ask me why. He was very one dimensional and arrogant. Must've been those goofy lighting bolts of his.

I read that FF issue before I ever finally got to see The Creature From The Black Lagoon on late-night tv.

When I'd draw pseudo-theatre posters I'd accidentally mix the titles of the film & the comics story.

Yay! The Gladiator! Though having a lame origin, his "power", costume, and name made him seem to be a more head-to-head villain than the scheming Jester.

Killdumpster said...

If I remember correctly, #126 is the issue where Hulk does one of his first "incredible" feats of strength destroying an entire dimension/universe.

I was equally destroyed when the Beatles broke up.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

DD # 63 - Finally a comic I can remember!

It is soooo full of "suspending disbelief" to make this story work that I really only think a young tot could not scream, "Seriously Roy!"

Gladiator is feigning mental illness to get off Alcatraz. The prison doctor thinks if only we let him put his saw blades back on, it may cause his mental illness to go away. Murdock and Foggy are to be there to witness this, to see if Gladiator is "sane / insane."

And of course DD happens to show up when Gladiator goes nuts but no one puts 2 + 2 together.

And at the end, DD swings away from the defeated Gladiator with his billy club. Really? If you think London / UK doesn't have high buildings to support spidey / DD swinging, where the hell do you go on a prison island like Alcatraz, LOL.

I don't know... maybe Roy had a belly full of Boones Farm Strawberry Wine in him?

Fantastic Four follower said...

Entering a time period that Marvel could do no wrong,every comic was a must have!From a vantage point of 50 years(!!!!!!!)it is easy to criticise the quality of some of the stories but the artwork stands the test of time.Avengers was in the Golden era of Buscema/Palmer with Thomas,in my opinion,at the top of his game.Kirby too was at his peak though stories were so so.Daredevil and Captain America had Gene Colan masterpieces that remain incredible,but yet again directionless or constantly changing storylines that probably seemed progressive in 1970.Thor had Kirby and definately better storylines than FF so no complaints there.Ironman seemed to be one of the lesser titles and I too found certain issues/villains bland.Amazing Spiderman was just fantastic with John Buscema being followed by Romita and then Gil Kane and that Schemer story stayed looong in the memory for some strange reason;particularly that scene with the Schemer sleeping/living in his car hidden by snow in New York!Weird!You could probably have an entire topic devoted to single panels that left an impression.Hulk was a title that appeals more to me now than then,might have been the artwork by Herb Trimpe and yet some of my favourite Marvels are Hulk #159-171.Magic memories.Please look after yourself and all your contributors in this testing time.

dangermash said...

I had a word with the resident actuary, Charlie. He says:

"I'm not actually a mortality specialist - I'm more of an investment risk specialist these days. And even if I was a mortality specialist, I'd only be able to speculate on the distribution of ages at death of a large group of people. I wouldn’t know which of the group were going to live for longest or shortest. That's more of a question for an underwriter."

He does seem to talk differently when people ask him questions like this. He also offered to come up with a set of PowerPoint slides and go into more detail but at that point I quickly closed the cellar door.

Anonymous said...

You're getting a bit ahead of things here Steve, as Thor #175 isn't the one with the face swap, and Kirby was still around for the next two issues, featuring Surter.
And after that theres a one-off drawn by John Buscema before Loki does the Travolta/Cage thing, and Neal Adams turns up.

Did Sharon Carter tell Cap where to stick his concern? From what I recall, he wasn't concerned at all, and she was more upset than anything else.
He asked Nick Fury to keep his squeeze out of missions - as of course the head of an intelligence would do for an agent's boyfriend, it being the good old days before political correctness went mad - and then dumped her when she turned up to help him, making her cry.
Cap was an arse.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

FF 97, 98, 99... I have to wonder if the "one issue" stories edict was still in place. Each of these could have been 2, with 98 and 99 easily spanning 3, issues.

They are short of action, too compressed, rely on well trodden tropes to carry the story lines. Honestly, if I was a a kid, I would not have bought them.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about FF 97 is it has 2 (two) marvel checklists - Last month's issues and this months.

Also, because it deals the Monster who works at an aquarium and lives in a cave underwater we get to see Jack really honing his skills for Kamandi. I almost wonder if this issue is a catalyst towards Kamandi in some way.

Don't get me wrong, it's a solid story but much too short.

Charlie Horse 47 said...


Sure I'll take any Powerpoints!!! Steve has my email! (His is Stevedoesthings@gmail.)

I got to figure out what to do about Charlie. Either he goes, or I get help, but there isn't room here for two of us!

I'll keep the Dachshund though as it is fun looking for muskrats and minx!

I'll be sure to keep him off the computer so he won't read this.

I know! I'll tel him there is a monster from the black lagoon where he saw the muskrat!

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I believe it was Carmine Infantino at DC who specifically asked Kirby for something similar to Planet of the Apes, so Jack reworked an old proposal of his for a strip called Kamandi Of The Caves... from 1956!

Kirby continually reworked and adapted old ideas, and you can see the same - or similar - themes and concepts recurring in his work throughout his career.
So I reckon if his late FF was a catalyst for what followed it would be in a more general sense, like anticipating a shift in style. His DC artwork does have a distinct look different to the later 60s Marvels.

Keep walking your dachshund, and don't let the muskrats get you down.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean -

Me and Charlie appreciate you being our resident Historian! Kamandi was as early as 1956... who'd a thunk it??? It's just when I saw those dolphins on the splash page I immediately thought "Kamandi" though that wasn't for a few years yet.

Never heard if you watched "A French Village?' Thoughts? I wonder if it was a prelude to the UK show "The Village?"

Kirby's artwork is solid, for sure. It is looking more DC like than Marvel in a way, at this point.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Johnny Storm: "Reed, what if he's from some strange undersea race?"

Ben Grimm: "You mean the old 'They're gonna take over the world" trick? How corny can you be?'"

They just don't write 'em like that anymore, do they?

Anonymous said...

Steve, concerning the Beatles, they broke up along time before they broke up, if you know what I mean. You basically had three solo artists and one Ringo. But it's understandable. People get sick and tired of each other after a while. Roger Daltrey was known for occasionally beating the crap out of his bandmates on general principle.
On another note, a fairly strong crop of comics today. True, the F.F. was petering out. All great partnerships have an expiration date.


Killdumpster said...

Steve, the reason why Madame Masque was tied to a table on the cover of Iron Man #24 is because women in bondage are hot.

Even women, though shapely, that have maimed facial features.

She's not in Wonder Woman's class, though.

Killdumpster said...

Charlie, I'm willing to give Roy a bit of thin slack concerning the DD tale.

In the 60's "reverse-psychology" was very much in vogue.

Giving the Gladiator his blades back is kinda like handing Leatherface a chainsaw, though.

"Okay, you have your vicious, murderous implements now. So... Let's talk about feelings..."

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD - I mean, at least the lawyer and Matt and Fogey could have removed the batteries before putting on his saw blades, no? And maybe made his mask out of tissue paper or something?

Now that I think about it, how were his blades powered??? Didn't he slice his finger with a radioactive table saw working as a carpenter or something and the blades transmogrified with his body?

If I recall correctly, doesn't Karen Page leave Matt and go to San Fran and this is what leads DD to San Fran and into cahoots with the Black Widow eventually through like DD 100 or so? OR maybe not. Well, I could ask Charlie but I'd rather like a muskrat at this time.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone else see a touch of Neal Adams in the Thor cover? I looked it up and apparently it's Marie Severin, but my first instinct was Adams (or perhaps Barry Smith in his Kirby phase).


Anonymous said...

M.P., not sure the FF - and Thor - can be described as the work of a partnership in the same sense as the Beatles or the Who, because Jack Kirby was basically working with his boss, which is a different dynamic. Not to knock him, but if Stan Lee decided to change the story, it got changed.
Maybe Townsend had more influence in the Who because he wrote most of the tunes - I'm not enough of a fan to be up on all the details - but it seems things were still up for discussion. The other three weren't his employees doing work for hire.


Anonymous said...

Sean, maybe so. It's my understanding Kirby, like Ditko, got fed up with the arrangement. But maybe it's not an accurate comparison.
About the Gladiator, yeah, it's hard to figure out the science behind that. I used to work in a cabinet factory and I had to cut end panels for cabinets on a table saw. That circular saw blade was about a foot wide, it spun so fast it was a blur and it could slice through hard wood or take off a finger in a split second. It's a minor miracle I still have both my hands, because I was drunk a lot back in those days.
Anyway, to get to the point, the idea of having one of those circular blades strapped to each wrist is a terrifying thought. One wrong move and you've severed a major artery. And taking a leak would be fraught with peril.
And where's the motor? Where is Gladiator stashing that motor, which oughtta be about the size of a case of beer, at least.
No, I give a supervillain with that contraption strapped on about a day before he accidently cuts his own head clean off.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like you missed your chance to become a super-villain there M.P.
Thats the trick to it I reckon, not to worry about your power or weapon accidentally cutting your head off. In that particular instance obviously; like, if instead you had, say, massive stilts, you can't think about what might happen if you fall over.


Anonymous said...

Yeah! I mean, Dr. Octopus might absentmindedly reach up to scratch his nose and accidentally tear his own face off.
I haven't yet ruled out becoming a super-villain, Sean, but I don't think circular wrist blades or stilts are the way to go. On the other hand, if I could perfect some kind of knock-out gas...


Anonymous said...

Knock out gas? You're not considering the big leagues then, M.P.?
Fair enough - mastering science and sorcery, and then taking over and running your own east European country is probably harder than it looks.


Anonymous said...

Or maybe wrist-gauntlets like the Shocker has. I could just drill into a bank vault.
But I dunno if that hold's up scientifically either. Any of our fellow readers ever operate a jack-hammer? Is that feasible?


Charlie Horse 47 said...

You know... I like that idea MP and Sean of becoming a super villain!

I can jump, not very high, but there are already Batroc, Leapfrog, Toad, Roo / Kangaroo.

But I can also hold my breadth under water under water for like 5 seconds.

I am not aware of any Marvel character who do those two things. It might as well be me!

I'll call myself:

Muskrat Man!

You gotta admit it's catchy, has a certain "je ne sais quoi..." Maybe it has a lot of "je ne sais quoi?"

Charlie Horse 47 said...

As I was reading above, it occurred to me that it would have been a delight to have had Marie Severin draw the Gladiator dueling with Stilt Man in a Not Brand Yeech!

For some reason the seen from Monty Python's Holy Grail where that white rabbit rips the k-ni-git apart limb by limb comes to mind, while the knight's yelling "Come back! I can still hop on one leg! I'll stomp you!" Something like that... LOL.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Boy I'm stuck on Gladiator and saw blades.

Imagine DD tied up in ropes by Gladie, bored...

"Hey Gladie, what time you got?"

"Just a second... Let me see... You know I'm a bit nearsighted... Ouch, I just sliced my pancreas and gallbladder in half, I'll be with you in a minute DD!"

Anonymous said...

Namor can jump quite high, and hold his breath underwater Charlie.
On top of that he also happens to be ruler of his own undersea realm, the posh git. Thats the upper classes for you - you'd have a big head start breaking into super-villainy if you were lord of your own dark dimension, a god of mischief adopted by Odin, or inherited a bigly amount of money from a rich racist New York landlord father.


Anonymous said...

The Schemer has a special place in my heart because my first ever Spidey comic was Marvel UK's 'Spider-Man Comics Weekly' No.103, dated February 1st 1975 which featured that very story of The Schemer vs. The Kingpin.

SPOILER: The Schemer turns out to be The Kingpin's son wearing a rubber mask (which fooled everybody). The moment when the Schemer pulls off his mask was my first ever "rubber mask reveal" in Marvel comics :D

Anonymous said...

Btw, if anyone's after something to read during lock down theres free Marvel comics on offer (like the complete Winter Soldier, so it doesn't seem to be stuff they can't usually sell)


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dangermash said...

Thanks for the tip Sean. I’ve been in and bagged a boxful.

Anonymous said...

I hope Mike in the cellar enjoys them as much as the uh, "chess mags" dm.


Redartz said...

Hi guys! Loving the Gladiator discussion. Like M.P., I have some experience with such blades. I wonder how often he has to sharpen them. Maybe that's why he always went up against Daredevil, just vulnerable flesh and blood. Gladiator against Iron Man? Those blades would get pretty dull pretty quickly.

As for supervillainy, I'd be out of luck. My only super power is a double jointed thumb. It might unnerve a weak-stomached hero, though...

Charlie- have fun with your dachshund! My dog (dachshund/Manchester Terrier mix) is enjoying some longer walks these days...

Charlie Horse 47 said...

OK Sean, Dangermash, Mike (as in Mike Murdoch???), I surrender! What's up with "Chess" magazines? Be from Chicago, when one says Chess one thinks of Chess Records and the Rolling Stones much celebrated "Chess Record Sessions."

Red - My Dachshund has been getting walks of 2 - 3 miles daily and she's 12 years old. She is a beautiful long-haired Dachsy beast: all lungs as leg muscles. I should have bred her.

Gladiator vs. Stilt man! It was meant to be!

I too have experiences with saw blades. Hell, when I worked in the steel mills we had blades literally 6 feet in diameter that would slice steel I beams. Brute force! Add both my grand parents were carpenters to some degree and missing a couple fingers from the table saws, LOL.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean, et al. I was musing a few blogs ago about the difference between Steranko's 1968-69 works vs. a few years later. I found this gem of a site!

Sean - if you provided it to me I forgot and am sorry. Or perhaps you gave it to Charlie and he didn't tell me. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I am intrigued by the idea of "Muskrat Man." As I have mentioned before, I have come to admire the mighty and noble muskrat as he boldly cruises the waters at my local park.
To have the proportional powers and strength of a muskrat would be a boon indeed.
You could swim in icy waters with aplomb, paying the temperature no heed.
And from what I observed a couple weeks ago, you could sit on the bank and scratch yourself in places that you might now not be able to reach.


Anonymous said...

Redartz, good to here from ya. Having a double-jointed thumb is indeed a super power of sorts. My brother can do a fairly decent Kermit the Frog impersonation.
I knew a girl in school who could turn her eyelids inside out.
I kinda had the hots for her...


Redartz said...

M.P.- I understand your feelings. In college I knew a girl who could touch her nose with her tongue. I'll say nothing more...

Charlie Horse 47 said...

M.P. - I could not agree more!

Look, I think Marvel was on the lam, starting in the 70s. They really had not exhausted the animal kingdom.

Fer example: Muskrat Man, Mink Man, Otter Man, Beaver Boy... I mean, there is a whole genus of land/water animals waiting to be exploited.

And given they all have decent tails, they could have formed the Tail Posse with Lizard, Scorpion, etc. I mean, this could have been a 3-parter: Tails of the Transmorgification 1, 2, and 3!

I mean, Marvel just gave up trying by the late 60s. Simple as that.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sad news. Actress Honor Blackman famous for her role as "Pussy Galore" in the classic and iconic 007 film GOLDFINGER passed away.

Anonymous said...

She was my favorite Bond Girl, Charlie.
And there was some very serious competition for that title.


dangermash said...

I'd definitely approve of Chess record label magazines, Charlie. I do like my blues, even I& I prefer Southern Rock these days.

As for Mike, he's starting to become a complication in my life I don't really need. Mike Mash must die. Leave that one with me.

Anonymous said...

Play him the complete Allmans back catalogue, that should do it.
(Sorry dm, couldn't resist)


Charlie Horse 47 said...

I suspect that Mike (Murdoch) the Actuary is trapped in DM's cellar being forced to endlessly stream Noggin the Nog. That should kill him off. But if you needs tips. let me know. You probably don't know this but Charlie used to have a twin brother as well.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

B.t.w. at the ripe age of 9, I am pretty sure that Silver Surfer 15 was the first comic I ever bought, one chilly Saturday afternoon in Gary, Indiana.

You gotta admit it does have a striking, uncomplicated cover that would appeal to any 9 year old.

My distant recollection is that I thumbed through several of those comics pictured here and on Sunday's blog, and ultimately, this one had the most action. Action being fighting. I liked fighting in my comics. I can tell you that FF 97 had practically zip, nada, zero fighting.