Sunday, 3 May 2020

Fifty years ago this month - May 1970.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.

The World Cup has been staged in Mexico twice. Once in 1986 and once in 1970.

Needless to say, I still haven't got over Diego Maradona's handled goal against England in the 1986 version but, in May 1970, that was all 16 years in the future and, so, people weren't devoting as much thought to it as they could have.

Instead, they were concerned with the 1970 opening ceremony which was in the process of occurring before their very eyes.

England were, of course, in that competition and marked their qualification by releasing the single Back Home, which is where they ended up being after their quarter-final tie with West Germany.

And, speaking of back home, in that very kingdom, the Beatles may have been dead but they were refusing to lie down, thanks to the release of their penultimate album Let it Be which came out several months after their ultimate one Abbey Road. It would be nice to say Let it Be was a magnificent send-off but the album was massively flawed and definitely one for those who didn't care how they got the Beatles, just as long as they got them.

But if the Fab Four's fans were feeling all at sea, they weren't the only ones because, also that month, Thor Heyerdahl set sail from Morocco, on the papyrus boat Ra II, in an attempt to sail across the Atlantic.

I don't know what Thor was thinking of. Crossing the Atlantic like that must have taken forever. He should have used a faster form of travel.

For instance, the Soviet Tupolev Tu-144 which bore a suspicious resemblance to Concorde and, that May, became the first commercial aircraft to exceed Mach 2.

Captain America #125

That's a very striking cover by Marie Severin.

Is this the one in which Cap goes to Asia to rescue an American soldier who's been captured by, "The Enemy?"

If it is, I predict, "The surprise villain of the year," will be the not-at-all surprising Mandarin, as who else would it be in a Marvel tale set in Asia?
Daredevil #64, the Stunt-Master

Daredevil's in Los Angeles, on the hunt for Karen Page but, for reasons I can't recall, ends up battling the Stunt-Master.

As Karen went off to California, in search of movie stardom and the Stunt-Master has a history of working in movies, I'm going to assume these two biographical facts are, in some way, intertwined.

Fantastic Four #98, the Moon Landing

It's a story to rock the heavens themselves, as the Fantastic Four make sure Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to set foot on the moon, even though the FF have already been there at least twice.

And, also, the Andromeda galaxy.

And Planet X.

Have any other Marvel heroes been to the moon at this point? I can't think of any who have but I could be mistaken.

I believe the cover's mystery villain is a Kree Sentinel and that, despite everything the image implies, the FF remain on Earth for the whole of this tale.

Incredible Hulk #127, Mogol

Hooray! It's one of my Hulk faves, as the gamma-powered grappler finds himself facing Tyrannus' lackey Mogol and ends up embroiled in a war between Marvel's two most high-profile denizens of the underworld.

And I don't mean Pluto and Mephisto.

Nor Kala and the Lava Men.

Wait. Hold on. Didn't the Hulk go to the moon in one of his early tales, in order to retrieve a magic intelligence-expanding fishbowl for the Leader?

That's now six humans in the Marvel universe who went to the moon before Neil and Buzz.

Iron Man #25, the Sub-Mariner

Is this the one in which one of Tony Stark's factories is polluting the air above a small island, and Subby decides to do something about it, bringing him into conflict with Shellhead?

Amazing Spider-Man #84, the Kingpin

Spidey's hot on the heels of the Schemer!

And that brings him into conflict with the Kingpin!

Meanwhile, the Kingpin's wife seems a little too concerned for the welfare of the Schemer for Kingy's liking.

I am confident Spider-Man never went to the moon before Armstrong and Aldrin.

Thor #176, Surtur

I genuinely don't have a clue what happens in this one.

I gather Surtur's in it.

What he's up to, I really couldn't say.

I guarantee it's malevolent, though.

Avengers #76, Arkon

Arkon's on Earth - and out to do something to save his own world which will doom our world.

What that thing is, I don't recall but I'm sure it's going to take the combined power of the Avengers to stop him.

I also have the feeling he wants to marry the Scarlet Witch.


Fantastic Four follower said...

Yet another month of Marvels that I loved unreservedly at the time but now can clearly see the uneven quality that was to permeate the entire line through the 70's!FF and Captain America had artwork of the highest quality but stories that left a lot to be desired. Similarly Daredevil suffered mundane stories and villains but the artwork was amazing. Ironman and Submariner were more miss than hit yet Thor retained great story and art! Avengers could do no wrong and I loved the Kingpin trilogy in Amazing. Hulk was in an interesting phase with the glory days from #140-190 still a fair bit off. At the time I loved every Marvel comic with that childish enthusiasm which can never be recaptured. Who would have believed that 50 yrs later Marvel would rule Hollywood and be owned by Walt Disney.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

So, Charlie just read FF 98 scant weeks ago! Charlie is still confused! Neal Armstrong walked on the moon in July 1969, a year earlier. Yet this issue seems to indicate that it hasn't happened yet.

Oh wise Steve, et al. and this venerable site... what's going on?

Anonymous said...

In Cap #125 - "Captured... In Vietnam!" - our hero tries to find a missing doctor Steve, but you're right about the surprise villain being the Mandarin. How do you guess these things?

As I recall, it was a plot by the Mandarin to escalate the Vietnam war. Why he thought he needed to anything when the Americans were obviously busy doing that anyway, I don't know - surely it would have been easier for him to just sit around and wait a bit?

Charlie, placing events in FF #98 is more complicated than you suggest - I'm wondering when they happened according to the Marvel sliding timescale. As I understand it 1 year Marvel time = 5 years of real time.
So... that means these stories all took place ten years ago in the Marvel Universe? That the first humans (not counting the FF and the Red Ghost) walked on the moon in 2010?

Surely that can't be right?
Although on the plus side, I suppose at least the Marvel war in Vietnam was a fair bit shorter...


Steve W. said...

Fantastic Four Follower, I'd say the Hulk and Spidey stories are the stand-out ones for me, this month, with the Avengers close behind. I don't remember much about the DD, Cap and Iron Man ones. And I recall nothing at all about the Thor one. The Fantastic Four tale is OK but a long way short of their classics.

Charlie, I suspect that it was decreed that the truth about the moon landing was so shocking - a giant alien robot trying to interfere with it - that only months after the event could the real story be told.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

SDC - Thanks for that. Makes sense! This is one of those one-and-done issues like the last one, the next one, the next one...

Frankly, with the alien robot (kree?) this thing could have been a storyline for way more than one issue. It really feels like we are getting formulaic or minimum plotting. I mean, least they could do is have Torch throw a teen-age temper tantrum or something...

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Also, It's bemusing in FF 98 to see the three "boys" suddenly blast off in a rocket. Alicia asks Sue where they are headed. Sue replies, "I have no idea. They simply got a rocket from NASA and took off!"

Killdumpster said...

The Beatles' Let It Be album was one of my birthday presents when I turned 8. I was ecstatic.

About 10 years ago they re-issued it, without the Phil Spector production. I sounded like an entirely different album.

I agree with FF follower. Daredevil went through quite a few lame villians during that time. The only time I bought his book was if it featured cool bad guys. Cobra, Hyde, Elektro, Gladiator, and of course Stiltman fit the bill.

We've already discussed the Stunt Master/Evel Knievel inspiration, so I'll avoid re-traveling that beaten trail.

Even though he was just generally used as a plot device, I really disliked seeing Stunt Master in the later Ghost Rider comics. It was inevitable, I guess, with the show-biz/Karen Page storyline. Even if it made sense for him to be used, I didn't enjoy seeing him.

Even if they were wearing kid-gloves to avoid harming Wanda, that line-up of Avengers should've been able to flick Arkon like a light switch.

Anonymous said...

Well, there was a Captain America story drawn by Kirby in which Cap faces off a giant sumo wrestler to save a G.I.
I dunno what sumo wrestling has to with Viet Nam...
Yeah, a pretty decent crop of comics here, Steve. I've always enjoyed battles between the Sub-Mariner and Iron Man. Man, those guys do not like each other. It's almost chemical, the sheer hatred there.
Ever read that Illuminati series? Subby damned near killed Stark over an off-hand remark. Stark is one of those guys who figures he oughta be in charge for the greater good, and that just rubs Namor the wrong way.
K.D., by the way, I envy you for meeting Eric Burdon! Both my brother and I are big fans of the Animals, and we've bought some records. I also dug the stuff he did with War.


Steve W. said...

KD, I do prefer the Let it Be Naked album to the original version. I feel the removal of the talking bits and the addition of Don't Let Me Down make it a more enjoyable experience.

MP, was the giant Sumo wrestler a robot? I seem to remember that robot Sumo wrestlers were a thing in old Marvel comics.

Colin Jones said...

"Back Home" was written by Bill Martin and Phil Coulter who came from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Beatles and their discography... I always thought Hey Jude was their last album. But it was released in Feb 1970. Steve - you are a true eagle eye for detail!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

SO I wake up this morning and CBS radio reminds me that Kent State shootings were 50 years ago today. They interviewed a former student shot in the spine and paralyzed waist down ever since. (When he dreams, he is still walking.) It's time like these I am glad I was born in 1961 and not 1951.

Just curious, though, did you guys have a lot of anti-Vietnam war protests, etc. in the UK like we did here? As far as that goes, did you guys have the upheaval in 68 like they did here or in France? You are such a quite bunch, we never know what you are up to!

Killdumpster said...

The Avengers fought a robot Sump also. They even animated (if you can call it that) that battle in the Captain America segment of the old Marvel Super Heroes cartoon.

Man, I loved that show, cheesiness and all. They used alot of original comics art, and had great theme songs for the heroes.

That was one of the many perks of my old job, getting to hang out with an occasional music legend.

Anonymous said...

Funnily enough Charlie, today is also the day Margaret Thatcher first became PM in '79, which I'd say led to more social upheaval than in the decade before - the policing of the anti-Vietnam demo in London in '68 was somewhat notorious for years, but from all accounts it seems mild compared to stuff that happened in the 80s.

There was quite a prolonged social crisis in the UK through the 70s, but I can't think of anything you could really compare with the '68 evenements in France - or the Italian "Hot Autumn" of '69 - except for the Civil Rights movement and unrest in the north Irish six counties.


Killdumpster said...

Wasn't there a stir in Spain around that time period?

Killdumpster said...

Sean, I know we don't see eye-to-eye on many geopolitical standpoints, but I will say I admire your knowledge and interest on the topic.

Cheers, oh my brother!

Anonymous said...

Steve, I hadda look it up to refresh my memory, but the sumo guy wasn't a robot, he was a gosh-darn no foolin' sumo wrestler who was apparently an NVA officer who called himself "the General".
Cap went over there to rescue a pilot who happened to be the little brother of a soldier he fought along side with in W.W. II.
I dunno who wrote it, probably Stan, but it was illustrated by Kirby and I'm guessing was inked by Chic Stone, from the looks of it.
Are you thinking of that big alien goon with an ax who fought the Hulk in the early days known as Mongu or Mongo or somesuch? He turned out not to be an alien gladiator but a Russian robot operated by a little Ruskie inside of it.
Weirdly enough, another axe-wielding goon calling himself Mongu did show up, and he wasn't a robot but an actual alien from a planet of warriors. He fought Man-thing and later the Hulk. I dunno how this was explained.
None a' this makes a lotta sense.



Anonymous said...

Dang it! poor typing skills.


Anonymous said...

If it was drawn by Jack Kirby theres quite a good chance it was his idea M.P. - after all, he did come up with Sonny Sumo in the Forever People.


Anonymous said...

You're probably right, Sean.

I forgot about Sonny Sumo. If an idea got into Kirby's head, it stayed there. It might pop up in a different form later. Clearly he had a fascination with the statues on Easter Island, and they would show up a few times, like with the Stone Men from Saturn.
Kirby was a keen observer of visual imagery, and it informed his art. He loved westerns, and I see that in his stuff.
I remember one panel he drew of the face of Kalibak, Darkseid's son, which looks exactly like Charles Bronson in the final shootout in Once Upon a Time in the West.


Steve W. said...

MP, I think I was just thinking of the multiple big bad guys who turned out to be robots in the Marvel's Silver Age. There was also the robot neanderthal in Iron Man's second adventure.

Colin, it's madness. Madness!

Anonymous said...

I remember that guy, Steve. He had a loincloth and a club!
Apparently, there were a lotta robots masquerading as troglodyte club-swinging savages.
I'm hoping we build robots that are smarter than we are. I don't need a robot in my house that's dumber than I am.
I got the stupidity angle covered, thank you very much.