Sunday, 14 June 2020

Forty years ago today - June 1980.

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

It is time, once more, for us to plunge down the plughole of History and discover what delights may be found in the U-Bend of Nostalgia.

Avengers #196, the Taskmaster

After messing around, doing pretty much nothing for the last two issues, the Avengers finally decide to invade the psychiatric institution that's holding the Wasp, Ant-Man and Yellowjacket captive...

...only to discover they're up against the Taskmaster, a strangely annoying villain who knows how to counter the fighting style of any hero.

I suspect that won't do him much good when Thor hits him over the head with his hammer.
Conan the Barbarian #111

Conan's still in the city of the little people and having trouble with electricity, in his attempts to smash the king in the face.

Needless to say, no level of voltage has been invented that can stop Hyboria's finest.

This story revolves around a set of fake ears.

Fantastic Four #219

It's panic-stations-a-go-go, as Captain Barracuda gets his hands on Namor's magnificent trumpet and insists on blowing it, in order to unleash giant sea monsters upon New York.

I believe he does this to create a distraction while he robs the city's banks.

Needless to say, the Sub-Mariner can't allow that kind of misdemeanor to go unpunished and, so, teams up with the Fantastic Four to put a stop to it.

Incredible Hulk #248, the Gardener

Determined to find a suitable place for Jarella's people to dwell, the Hulk takes on the Gardener who's determined to maintain the exclusivity of the only habitable area left on the whole planet.

The Gardener may have the Power Cosmic - and a soul gem - but even that's not enough to thwart the will of the Hulk.

Iron Man #135, Titanium Man

If I remember right, the Titanium Man's trying to get back in the good books of his former Soviet masters and has, inevitably, decided the best way to do that is to beat up Iron Man.

As always, the titanium terror proves woefully inadequate for the task.

Amazing Spider-Man #205, the Black Cat

The Black Cat's still being a nuisance and stealing stuff, left, right and centre.

Anyway, it turns out she's a demented Spider-Man fan who's constructed a shrine to him, in her home.

Captain America #246, A Guy Named Joe

It's the return of the early Spider-Man foe who, possibly, very few people even remembered before he reappeared in this tale.

Despite having retired from his short-lived career of crime, he, I think, responds to the death of his son, by going on a homicidal rampage that only the nation's favourite shield-slinger can stop.

Quite how he stops it, I don't recall.

Thor #296

Do you remember when Stan Lee would leave speech balloons blank on a page and leave it to you The Reader to decide what should be in them?

Well, here's your chance to do something similar because, instead of me saying what happens in this issue, I'm going to invite you to do it.

This, of course, has nothing to do with me not having a clue what's going on in it.

From what I can remember, a man who isn't Thor but is Thor gets into a duel to the death with some bloke or other, over some woman, while Thor and Odin watch. And it's all a flashback.

Or something.

Uncanny X-Men #134, Phoenx vs the Hellfire Club

The Hellfire Club's only gone and done it. Its messing about with Jean Grey's mind has unleashed the Dark Phoenix - and now the whole universe is in danger.

I hope they learn their lesson from all this.

I know I have.

Spectacular Spider-Man #43, Belladonna

Spidey gets dragged into the schemes and intrigues of the Fashion Industry, as the woman known as Belladonna sets out to gain her revenge upon a designer who's in the habit of stealing other designers' ideas.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

That looks like a grim month's reading.

Avengers and Iron Man look most tempting. The Avengers cover is pretty good for who, I assume is a new villain. A shame there are no floating heads there, otherwise it would be Very reminiscent of Avengers #19 which Charlie was talking about the other day. With Iron Man, it's Titanium Man who sells it. I always liked a good Titanium Man story in the pre-Dez U.K. Spider-Man comic.

The Cap cover is weird. What is it about Joe Smith that makes artists not want to bother with a cover, so the editor has to make one up from interior panels? It's what happened with ASM #38 and it looks as if something similar has happened here.

And I counted up the covers and found only eight of the big ten. Doctor Strange is presumably on hiatus at this point. It took me a while to work out what the other missing comic was but I know now. It's Daredevil. What's up with DD Steve? Has he been relegated to the midweek post?

Steve W. said...

Dangermash, I'm afraid Daredevil's mag in this era was only coming out once every two months and this was one of his off months.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Ah, OK. Cheers Steve

Anonymous said...

"Captain Barracuda gets his hands on Namor's magnificent trumpet and insists on blowing it" - oo-er Steve, you cheeky northern joker.
Actually, having read FF #219 I do realize that is what happens - fortunately, Reed happened to have a sonic-gun which worked "like a Moog synthesizer" that overpowered it. Handy, eh?

Its the first issue by the team of Doug Moench and mighty Bill Sienkiewicz, which you'd think would be good news for any comic.
But no - Sienkiewicz didn't mesh well with Joe Sinnott, and Moench wasn't even much of an improvement on Marv Wolfman. The FF is a hard series to get right.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Man... with FF and Namor in the same ish, you'd think ole Subby would be prominent on that cover??? At least he'd be more prominent than that goober in the lower left hand corner!!!

Titanium Man - always, always, always a fav! His clunkier armor always seemed to well represent the commies as opposed to IM's sleek show-all-my-muscles armor, an obvious product of the free world and the market economy. It always reminded me of the old US v. Russia boxing matches during the Olympics, during the Cold War.

That said, I've always felt that Don Heck's Iron Man was always the most realistic Iron Man... grey, clunky but clear on the concept that metal does not bend and flex like spandex. I'm inclined to say that's were Don's style was best suited.

Killdumpster said...

While I dug Iron Man's original armor ( loved it when Tony had to don it to fight his LMD replica), Ditko's pointy faceplate Japanese styled armor is still my favorite.

Taskmaster is highly overrated.

Anonymous said...

Free world and the market economy? You crack me up Charlie (;

The Titanium Man was ok, but my fave commie superhero was the Red Guardian (the female one, obviously).


Anonymous said...

I didn't always dig Don Heck, but he was great on Iron Man. He drew him looking very heavy and solid. Metallic, I would say.
Sometimes an artist just seems to have a feel for a title or a character.
Johhn Buscema on Thor, or Sal (this is where I hear a chorus of groans from you guys) on the Hulk. Or Trimpe on the Hulk for that matter.
Now I'm going to hide under a table because a lot of tomatoes are gonna be thrown at me.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP- You said it perfectly. Heck drew him to look very heavy and solid, indeed metallic. And I agree Trimpe was in his element with the Hulk.

Sean - Sometimes I like to puff things up a bit, lol. But I don't know if it was just a coincidence either, that Titanium Man looked bigger and more metallic. Oddly enough I was youtubing Iron Man's Marvel 66 cartoon and the one I found was Titanium Man.

Anyone know why Sir Paul had "Magneto and Titanium Man" together in that lyric? Sean, if you had mentioned Crimson Dynamo instead of Red Guardian, we could of hit the Sir Paul Trifecta at Steve Does Comics!!!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean- to the best of my recall, my fav commie villain was Black Widow. Of course, by the time I was able to appreciate her corporate assets, Gene the Dean was drawing her but then wasn't a commie anymore! Oh the paradoxes Marvel could weave!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - It's usually against my religion to use the Internet on Sundays but I made an exception for Joseph Smith a.k.a. Joe because the story sounded so intriguing that anyone could have the strength to take on Captain America without yielding his Xmas scarf like Baldini.

Joe didn't actually kill anyone and Captain America (the original from the 1940s found in a block of ice 20 years later) talked him out of killing the guy he held responsible for his son's death. His son was known as Joe Jr.

I am curious... Joe got his anger-management issues by happening to be electrically shocked standing in/ near a bunch of chemicals. It would seem Marvel really wasted an opportunity to create something more, like a Luke Cage, than just a Joe Smith who deveoped mood disorders???

Anonymous said...

Charlie, my guess is McCartney was smokin' a doobie and somebody left some Marvel Comics layin' around. Thus, a song was born.
You know what songs sound timely right now to me? The Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and "Street Fighting Man." It's like '68 all over again.
( or so I'm told. I was piloting a diaper at the time.)

...It just occurred to me, Captain Marvel showed up in "Bungalow Bill."
Maybe Paul was a Marvel fan. Unless it was the Fawcett Marvel, who knows.


Anonymous said...

Was the Black Widow ever a commie Charlie? It was never clear to me whether her surname Romanov meant she was some sort of aristo exile (mind you, if Marvel had a clue her name would have been Romanovna, so its probably pointless reading anything into it).


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sorry to hear of the passing of the famous Welsh singer Ricky Valance.

Colin Jones said...

So we are supposed to invent a word bubble for the Thor cover? OK, the woman is thinking:
"There I was - minding my own business, cleaning the house and preparing dinner when I got roped in to be the obligatory cowering female while two macho men knock seven bells out of each other".

And the Conan cover wouldn't be complete without its' obligatory cowering female but since Conan's return to Marvel early last year not a single Conan cover has featured a half-naked female in need of saving. How times change.

Anonymous said...

Don Heck was good on Iron Man, as he made Iron Man look 'robotic.' A prime example is Don Heck's art on Iron Man's very first battle with the Titanium Man. Dave Cockrum also made Iron Man look robotic. Joe Staton's embellishments on Sal Buscema gave Iron Man a good nose!

For me, comics-wise, June 1980 was a great month. Nowadays, George Perez is probably barely noticed. But, at the time, Perez produced art which seemed incredibly "cool", compared to what preceded him. To me, June 1980 was possibly the best George Perez month, with the Taskmaster Avengers story, plus Marvel-Two-in-One, featuring the Stingray - more great art - 2 Perez masterpieces in the same month (admittedly, my favourite Perez art ever, is the Ant-man story in Jim Shooter's Avengers, which wasn't June 1980!) In addition, that June 1980 Thor story is one of my favourite Thor issues. Pollard's cover is very polished, and all the Wagnerian ring-saga stuff worked for me, too. On top of that, in June 1980 the X-Men was also on good form. Nowadays, everyone can recite the Dark Phoenix Saga backwards, but back then, reading it for the first time, it was all brand new. To repeat, June 1980 - a fantastic month!

Phillip Beadham

Anonymous said...

Re: SteveDoesComics caption competition (is this a new feature Steve?) -
Thor - the real one - is saying "It ain't over til the fat lady sings!"
Because the lady on the cover isn't fat, and that Wagner storyline seemed to go on forever.

Sorry Phillip, but back then every time an issue of Thor started with a splash page of a Celestial or the talking eyeball my heart sank a bit.
Fitting the Eternals into the Marvel universe, and adapting Wagner in Thor were iffy ideas on their own, but both in the same storyline? That ran for nearly twenty issues?!? Thats ultimate Roy Thomas.
Different tastes and all that, but it put me off Thor for ages, till Simonson and the arrival of Beta Ray Bill.


Anonymous said...

That Mike Golden HULK cover is so bad-ass.

Instead of a ubiquitous cringing female for that PETER PARKER cover, Byrne gives us a semi-conscious effeminate man, complete with stereotypical puckery lips and limp-wristed hand posture. I can’t tell if putting a “gay-coded” man on the cover of a Marvel comic should be considered “progressive” or “re-enforcing LGBTQ stereotypes”. No snark, seriously pondering the question.

Isn’t that issue of AVENGERS suddenly worth like a gazillion dollars now, because Taskmaster is supposed to be in some upcoming Marvel movie? I’m not even sure I still HAVE my copy anymore. Haven’t laid eyes on it years, may have dumped it in a down-sizing purge. Today’s lesson, kids: never get rid of ANY Marvel comic you own, EVER. Ignore your wife when she says she’s tired of navigating those towers of newsprint you’ve got all over the damn place, because someday they might just put Joshua Plague in the first Tigra movie and that VG-minus copy of MARVEL CHILLERS #3 you’ve had for decades is gonna be worth a freakin’ fortune.


Redartz said...

Thor cover caption :
Thor: "Thou hast my hammer cought in thy accursed trident!"
Odin: "Nay, Thor,my noble trident hath been foully jammed by thine base hammer!"

M.P. and Charlie- regarding Sir Paul and his fondness for comics- have you ever noticed all the vintage DC books resting upon his piano in the boys' apartment scene in "Help!"?

B.t.- breathe Peter Parker cover- good question. Perhaps it was progressive then, but would be regressive now?
And yes, that Taskmaster book is currently pricey. Great point about the amusing potential value of once- ignored books. I'm still holding my "Omega the Unknown" in hopes of providing for my retirement...

Anonymous said...

I've got that Taskmaster Avengers. However, the cover background's now a somewhat different shade of green, due to age deterioration! Still, it's an average copy.

Phillip Beadham

Steve W. said...

Colin, it was more that I was challenging people to see if anyone can explain what happens inside the comic, as I suspect there's not a living human being who could. Thanks for the caption, regardless, and thanks, also to Red an Sean for your captions.

Bt and Phillip, who would ever have thought Taskmaster would be such a draw?

MP and Charlie, my understanding is Paul and Linda bought some comics for their kids, Paul took a look at them and was inspired to write a song about the characters in them, without really knowing who they were.

Charlie and KD, I definitely prefer the Ditko armour to the original one, even if the original looks more like a real 20th Century suit of armour would.

Anonymous said...

Redartz — seriously, if someone had told 15-year old me that Arnim Zola, Drax the Destroyer, Jasper Sitwell, Colleen Wing and Claire Temple were going to be live-action movie and TV characters someday, I would have thought they were out of their friggin minds!

- b.t.

Anonymous said...

I'm with ya there, B.T. I couldn't have imagined it either. I freaked out when they made a Conan movie!
Even relatively minor characters like the Shocker and Klaw have made cameos.\
...I think that's who they were supposed to be, anyway. The Mandarin sure got rough treatment.
When is Squirrel Girl gonna show up?
If not now, when? If not us,...ah, nevermind.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - there is no accounting for taste, lol. To me the Ditko Iron Man looks... well... like something Ditko would draw but shouldn't have. (If that makes sense.)

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents - what a coincidence you mention Sir Paul!!!

You know that his birthday is this Thursday???!!!

He'll be 78.

Killdumpster said...

Gentleman, I'd would love to respond to many of your observations, but ... Oh my brothers... I'm taking myself outta the game...

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the spacing up there.
I have a poor command of the keyboard.

Red, that argument between Odin and Thor sounds like a Resus Peanut Butter Cup ad.
"Zounds! Thou hast gotten thine peanut butter in my chocolate!"
"I say thee nay! Thou hast intermingled thy chocolate with mine peanut butter!"
…"Hold! This doth be a winning flavor combination."


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I'm just waiting for Swordsman to appear in an Avengers film. I have my copy of Avengers #19 with its amazing cover and missing centre pages just waiting to find my pension.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

More seriously, is KD OK? That's quite a scary looking post.

Redartz said...

Indeed, KD- are you well?

Killdumpster said...

I am so sorry, oh my brothers, if my comment last night sounded cryptic.

I actually really wanted to reply to alot of everyone's comments, but I was completely "in the bag" and kept accidentally deleting my statements.

I had too much fun that night, and was a VERY bad boy. Felt it all day at work today. I'm too old for that stuff any more, but I was partying with a barmaid that I'm fond of and she's quite the drinker.

The concern is touching, oh my brothers, but unnecessary.

I was just exhausted and drunk, lol!

"Everything's cool,
That's apart of the plan,
And my Monster Mash,
Is the hit of the land!"

You guys rule!!!

Killdumpster said...

As far as minor league Spidey villains go, I'd have to say I liked the design of Joe's costume, as well as the Looter's/Meteor Man's. Ditko did a good job on making those mundane guys visually interesting.

Redartz said...

Glad to hear that all is well, KD! Impressive tale, I couldn't handle an evening like that nowadays. Milk and cookies are more my speed. Ok, a bit of milk and a bunch of cookies...

Charlie Horse 47 said...

KD - glad you made it back. I was going to have the Federal Marshall's do a wellness check!

Steve W. said...

Nice to know you're still alive and well, KD.