Sunday, 13 September 2020

Forty years ago today - September 1980.

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


Wait! What's that sound?

It's the Past!

And it's calling us to leap right into it!

Avengers #199, Red Ronin

The Avengers complete their battle with the out-of-control Red Ronin.

If I remember correctly, Iron Man defeats it by cutting it to pieces with its own laser sword.

And we all get back to the Avengers Mansion, just in time for Ms Marvel to go into labour!
Captain America #249, Machinesmith

Captain America invades Machinesmith's secret HQ and defeats his army of androids...

...only to discover it was all a ruse by the villain, to make the star-spangled Avenger kill him by destroying the computer in which his mind now resides.

Daredevil #166, the Gladiator

I have a feeling this is one of those stories in which the authorities decide to give a super-villain his deadly costume back, in order to calm his tormented mind.

Anyway, the Gladiator's gone mad and is out to impress someone - possibly his female psychiatrist - by murdering Daredevil in a local museum.

I must confess that's the first thing I always do when I want to impress a psychiatrist.

Fantastic Four #222

Having messed about with the entrance to the Negative Zone, the Richards' only son has now been possessed by Agatha Harkness' banished son - leading to a dramatic intervention by Gabriel the exorcist!

I have to say that's a very left-field guest appearance. I mean, yes, he is an exorcist but he's not a character I'd ever expect to show up in any Marvel book, ever, and I can think of a Marvel exorcist who seems a more obvious choice for the job.

Incredible Hulk #251, the 3-D Man

Down on his luck again, Bruce Banner's taken in by a kind stranger.

Only for it to turn out he's the alter-ego of 3-D Man who's out to destroy the Hulk before he can do any more damage!

I have a feeling 3-D Man dies in this tale, suggesting it was created mainly to wrap up loose ends from the character's own short-lived series.

Thor #299

There's all sorts of stuff going on in this tale, involving the Valkyrie and a king and queen who want her and a Thor-substitute as their spouses.

That's about as much sense of it as I can make.

X-Men #137

It's an all-time classic, as the X-Men conclude their fight with the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, and Jean Grey makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the universe from herself.

Iron Man #138, Dreadnought

I don't recall too much about this one but, clearly, there's a Dreadnought on the loose.

I'm also aware we get the return of Madame Masque who seems to have reverted to her villainous ways.

Conan the Barbarian #114

I believe Conan and his latest lady friend find themselves in a castle inhabited by a giant dog possessed by the malevolent spirit of its deceased and sorcerous owner.

Needless to say, Conan soon lets it know who's boss.

Amazing Spider-Man #208

Thanks to some sort of lab accident, a scientist and his janitor brother find themselves fused into a single but conflicted entity.

Fortunately, Spider-Man's on hand to stop them before they destroy New York.

Spectacular Spider-Man #46, the Cobra

Escaping from jail, the Cobra decides to dump his usual partner Mr Hyde and strike out on his own.

And strike-out he does, as barely has he returned to his life of crime than Spider-Man shows up and arrests him, thanks to a fight that can only be labelled, "One-sided."


Redartz said...

Marvel, in the first months of the 80's, was a study in highs and lows. This week's books illustrate that nicely.

X-men, as you mentioned Steve, was a classic. Claremont and Byrne at their peak in a truly iconic tale. Avengers was pretty solid, but soon to take a serious downturn. Iron Man was good, and Daredevil was terrific (even with Melvin Potter's psychological problems). And Spectacular Spiderman was a good read.

But alas, poor Amazing Spider-Man. Not one of his more memorable issues. Indeed, the book was falling from the pinnacle of my favorites to a status of "should I finally drop this book?". As a Spider-Man fan, I kept buying it (eventually to be rewarded by Roger Stern's fine run).

Some very attractive covers, but all sadly and badly marred by that banner ad at the top. Alas.

Anonymous said...

On the subject of covers, whats going on with the Cobra's head next to his knee on the front of Peter Parker #46? And are those cops on the roof giants, or the ones on the street below insect sized? Early days still for Frank Miller obviously (although for me his strengths were always as a storyteller and writer, more than artist).

I don't know if Thor #299 is particularly nonsensical in itself Steve - its basically the story of Siegfried and Brunnhilde among the Gibichungs, from the Gotterdammerung (thats German for Ragnarok donchyaknow - who says comics aren't educational?)
What I don't understand is why Siegfried and Brunnhilde look like Thor and Val in this run, and what all that Wagnerian nonsense has to do with the Celestials' Fourth Host. And why would someone who isn't P. Craig Russell bother adapting Wagner to comics anyway?
Phillip and M.P. seem to like this stuff - maybe they know?


Anonymous said...

Yeah, I got that Russell's version, I think. I picked up a graphic novel years ago in the local library, well, it wasn't a graphic novel but a collection of his adaptions of different stories. I seem to remember his take on "Salome". Maybe Salome was the only story in it, I forget. He definitely has a flair for that kinda stuff. I oughtta see if they still got that.
If memory serves, Siegfried and Brunnhilde (not to confused with Siegfried and Roy, legendary tiger-botherers) WERE actually Thor and Val. Odin had wiped their memories and given them knew ones, for some reason. I dunno, penance or something. Who knows why Odin does anything? This was a guy who nailed himself to tree and tore out his own eyeball, for cryin' out loud.
I think it had something to do with the curse of the Rhinegold, and some shifty deal Odin made with a dwarf. That guy, I tell ya.
It was Wagner stuff; apparently Roy Thomas was a fan.

I absolutely agree with Red that Marvel was very uneven at this point. But I dug the Machinesmith arc in Captain America. It was a pretty slick comic there for a while. I dig anything with Dragon Man in it! I dunno why, I just like him.


Anonymous said...

I meant "new" not "knew", but signals of my advancing senility aside, yeah, after doing a little research I guess there was a hardcover of Russel's interpretations of pieces from operas that I read years ago. This was not merely a product of my fevered imagination. Another piece was from "The Clowns", you know, Smoky Robinson, uh wait... I mean Pagliacci.
The others are foreign to me: what I don't know about opera would fill a football stadium.
I do have Russel's version of Der Ring Des Nibelungen but it struck me as maybe too light and airy for a work I would expect to be much more dark and apocalyptic. Which I think is what they were aiming at in Thor.
We are talking about Ragnarok, y'know.


Anonymous said...

X-Men # 137 - an all time classic - but in 1980, unavailable in my local WHSmiths, or any other newsagent! Very disappointing, as a kid, after buying every preceding issue. Later on, my ending to this story came in, 'What if Phoenix had not died?' in a Marvel UK Winter Special, rather than the "real" ending. Ten years later, I finally got a copy in Classic X-Men, in a comics shop at the bottom of Princes Avenue, in Hull. I told the proprietor, "I've been waiting 10 years to read this story!" He replied, "I hope it's worth it!"

Sean - you've beaten me to the punch. I was going to comment about you NOT liking such a fantastic story/comic - hee, hee! Incidentally, didn't Roy Thomas 'cover himself ' by using slightly different names than Wagner? Rather than Siegfried, wasn't it something like "Siegmund", & Val was "Sieglinda"? I'm trying to remember from 41 years ago!

M.P. - Have you noticed Steve's selected an Ernie Chan cover, in this week's selection? Incidentally, like yourself, I'm a big Ernie Chan fan,too. I think it's notable that Ernie Chan's greatest Hulk inking (the Mongu/Maha Yogi story) - read in black & white, not colour, of course - is in a Conanesque (is that a word?) Hulk story, rather than a superhero style one. If you want apocalyptic P.Craig Russell, there's nothing more apocalyptic than Killraven, except the world being swallowed by the Fenris wolf. Or that German Shepherd you were talking about last week!

Overall, 1980 - great. X-Men - great. Thor - great. Captain America - great. Iron Man & Avengers - great, but Jim Shooter's era definitely better than Michelinie. Spider-man - weak - but, for me, not a problem, as my 1980 Spidey reading was compensated with UK Marvel Digest Pocket books.

Interesting last week that Byrne & Stern's Jonas Harrow has the same initials as Iron Man's Justin Hammer. Also, Jonas Harrow is, perhaps, a slightly similar character to Byrne & Stern's Machine Smith.


Colin Jones said...

But Jean Grey DIDN'T sacrifice herself to save the universe because it was later revealed that the Phoenix Force had been pretending to be Jean all along...and that's how Marvel ruined Uncanny X-Men #137.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't think they ruined X-Men #137 Colin, so much as they made their later comics increasingly irrelevant.

Phillip, now you mention it I think thats right about the name changes in Thor.
And M.P., thanks for explaining about Thor and Val, even if - through no fault of yours - its not very satisfying.
I don't really see the point of having them both as lovers in another life when they never had any kind of relationship like that in previous comics.
To be clear, I'm not querying Roy Thomas' purposes, not Odin's. Its like he just needed a recognizable female character to be "Brunnhilde" and thought hey, the Valkyrie's from Asgard, so she'll do.

Not familiar with Russell's Nibelung, but I have read some of his other Wagner comics - Parsifal, Siegfried - and reckon the light airy quality works in their favour, undercutting what could otherwise easily be quite pompous and overbearing.


Anonymous said...

* Poor editing there - that should be "I'm querying Roy Thomas motives, not Odin's" above. Duh.


Anonymous said...

Sean - if Roy Thomas's story were to be a stage version of Wagner's ring saga, the ideal Asgardian woman to play "Sieglinda" would be Hildegarde - she already looks like an operatic diva. Moreover, Hildegarde's certainly big enough to belt out the high notes! But, in the comics, you're left with Sif or Val (or Hela, maybe, to be controversial!)

Roy Thomas has my sympathy. This was his final story before he either a.) got fired or b.) decided he couldn't stand things anymore. The parting of the ways, after all Roy Thomas's memorable stories, through the years. There may be compelling cases for and against; but, to me, at least Roy Thomas left on a 'high.'


Anonymous said...

Actually, I must be careful about thinking out loud, like this. I can't remember the exact circumstances of Roy Thomas's exit, so should not idly speculate! People can repeat other people's commentary, when it's not accurate.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I loved Ernie's inks on the Hulk! Yeah, the Maha Yogi arc, the Quintronic Man, Jack of Hearts and later, the baleful Bi-Beast. He was a great inker for Sal and the Hulk was a pretty good comic back then.
What I dug the most was the covers he did for D.C. in the mid-Seventies. The guy was everywhere. Very prolific. Justice League of America, Batman, All-Star Comics etc.
I think some he drew and some he inked, or both, and some were better than others, but they were what I saw as a very young kid and so they have a sentimental value to me.
He did some pretty wild covers. They would seem quaint now, but they certainly grabbed my eyeballs when I saw 'em in the spinner rack at age seven or eight.
They were not boring!

Sean, are you familiar with Russel's Elric? Maybe I've asked you that before.


Anonymous said...

M.P. - You've just named nearly all my favourite Ernie Chan Hulks, but don't forget the Constrictor! I think in the second part of Hulk vs Jack of Hearts, Tom Palmer took over the inking duties. You're absolutely spot on about the sentimental value, as you and I read these at roughly the same age. Comics have a "magic" at that age, which diminishes slightly when you get a little older.

As regards D.C, I read that far less. Shade the Changing Man, Green Lantern, Return of the New Gods. Superman & Batman annuals - but not much else. My preference was Marvel. Oh - there was one memorable Karate Kid story, with lobster monsters (D.C. beat Marvel on surrealism) that was really "out there", & a Haunted House spoof of Hamlet. I don't ever remember seeing Swamp Thing on the racks at all.

To return to the Constrictor, I thought he was a fantastic villain. Most villains are bullies/cowards, but the Constrictor took on the Hulk, despite being no stronger than Daredevil (admittedly, he had electric adamantium coils.) But the Constrictor wasn't so much brave, as incredibly arrogant. He spoke in a grandiose style, like Dr.Doom, despite being far less powerful.

Later, when the Constrictor next popped up, in Captain America, he was far less articulate, just speaking in the manner of a rent-a-goon - I thought Roger McKenzie got the characterization completely wrong, in that story. I know a change in a villain's speech/voice has happened before, with Electro, but then an explanation was given. After that, through villain deflation, the Constrictor (along with Sabre tooth) was easily beaten by Power Man & Iron Fist. How the mighty have fallen - a long way from that Ernie Chan inked Hulk story!

The P Craig Russell Elric - I'll let Sean respond - as I've misplaced my PCR Elric graphic novel!


Killdumpster said...

Sean, I really don't see that much of a proportion issue on the Spec Spidey cover. As far as the depiction of the Cobra on the cover, keep in mind his main power is being a super-contortionist.

Steve, "one-sided", really? Cobra once took on Thor by himself. I think he would've made a great Spidey villain.

Only got two issues presented in this post, as my subscriptions had run out. The DD & PPSSM, just because they contained 2 of my favorite silver-age villains. Grabbed them at a shop when I was buying rolling papers. Lol.

I had enough of 3-D Man after his stint in Marvel Premier(?). He was also in the What If? The Avengers Were Formed In The 50's. That was a fun book.

Steve W. said...

KD, I think this Hulk tale is my only ever exposure to 3-D Man.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, the 50s Avengers...
Who ever thought a group made up of 3-D Man, Venus, Gorilla Man and Marvel Boy deserved a comic to themselves, even an issue of What If? And yet they actually turned up again, as one of a number of line-ups from different time lines in avengers Forever.
(My favourite line-up from that series were a near future Avengers with Killraven, the Black Panther, Thundra and Crimson Dynamo - now they really should have got their own comic)

Anyway, yes M.P., I'm familiar with Russell's Elric. Including his comic book adaptation of Neil Gaiman's "One Life Furnished In Early Moorcock".
If anyone's interested - I know Steve loves a bit of Gaiman (; - the original short story is online at


Killdumpster said...

That Future Avengers line-up you mentioned sure sounds interesting, Sean.

Did they fight Martians?

Anonymous said...

They did indeed fight Martians Kd.


Killdumpster said...

Thanks, oh my brother. Hopefully I can find a TB of that series.

B Smith said...

So did any of those comics turn out to be worth $2500 to anybody?

Steve W. said...

Not for me, I'm afraid. :(