Sunday, 18 October 2020

Forty years ago today - October 1980.

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


You know, a wise man once said, "Get on with it, you moron." So, I will.

Conan the Barbarian #115, Red Sonja

Zukala's back!

And, for reasons I don't recall, he wants to sacrifice Red Sonja.

Obviously, Conan's having none of that.

Except it turns out he's having plenty of that - because Zukala's promised he'll restore BĂȘlit to life if Conan helps him bump off the warrior woman.

Happily, the barbarian thinks better of it and comes to Sonja's rescue, just in the nick of time.

Not so happily, throughout the tale, Rascally Roy manages to portray Sonja as barely more than another feeble damsel in distress.

Royston, let Sonja kick bottom, for once.

Fantastic Four #223, Salem's Seven

The FF, Agatha Harkness and Gabriel the exorcist have all descended upon Salem, to sort out Agatha's son and free Franklin Richards from his evil possession.

But, before they can do that, they're going to have to deal with the return of the town's very own team of super-villains.

Incredible Hulk #252

Woodgod's gone all High Evolutionary and created a whole community of animal-men for him to lead.

Now, the Hulk's ventured into their midst, in order to rescue Rick Jones and friends from their clutches.

I seem to recall this tale just sort of fizzling out, with the Hulk getting bored of fighting, and leaving.

Amazing Spider-Man #209, Kraven the Hunter

Kraven's gone into retirement, having decided that being a super-villain is unworthy of a man of his principles

Unfortunately, his disapproving girlfriend goads him into making one final attempt to get the better of Spider-Man.

And, of course, it all ends the same way it always has.

Kraven is, however, portrayed in a far more sympathetic light, here, than has traditionally been the case.

Spectacular Spider-Man #47, the Prowler

What's this? Hobie Brown is back and causing limited trouble for our hero again?

As it transpires, he isn't. The Cat Burglar from Amazing Spider-Man #30 has, in fact, returned and is running errands for fashion criminal Belladonna, in Hobie's stolen costume.

Sadly, the man seems to be more of a pathetic dupe than anything and it's not long before his employer's betraying him, in her attempts to bump-off Spidey.

Thor #300

At last, we get an answer to why Odin struck a deal with the Celestials, umpteen zillion years ago - and it all leads to Odin taking over the Destroyer and having a noticeably one-sided fight with the Celestials before Thor has a noticeably one-sided fight with them before Thor's mum turns up, from nowhere, and does a deal with the space giants to make them go away.

This implies, to me, that the solution to any problem is to just have Thor's mum show up.

Back in the real world,  humanity emits a sigh of relief, as a protracted and confusing storyline finally comes to an end.

X-Men #138, Cyclops quits

In the wake of Jean's death, Cyclops quits the team, and Kitty Pryde joins it.

I think this issue's mostly taken up with flashbacks but I could be wrong.

Captain America #250, President?

How very topical. People keep telling Cap he should run for president and, so, he gives it considerable thought before bottling it and deciding it's not his bag, man.

I'm fairly certain this issue contains a flashback to his origin because where would an issue of Captain America be without telling us how he came into being, for the gabillionth time?

Avengers #200

Thor may be celebrating his 300th issue but the Avengers are celebrating their 200th.

And they do it by unravelling the mystery of where Ms Marvel's baby's come from and how it's growing to adulthood at an alarming rate.

As far as I can recall, it's all something to do with Immortus, female abduction, mind-control, gaslighting and dubious weirdness that probably doesn't even make any sense, anyway, when you try to figure it out.

Iron Man #139, Madame Masque

Madame Masque has returned to her life of crime but, fortunately, Iron Man and friends are on hand to put a stop to whatever nefarious schemes she's concocted.


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

I just looked through ASM to see if there was anything in the story worth commenting on. I couldn’t find anything,

On the other hand, there's an ad for Marvel Fun And Games magazine in which Spider-Woman says "The what's missing page in Marvel Fun And Games Really Turns Me On!" and describes it as "The most fun you'll ever have with a pencil!" Good enough for me.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

You know it's fascinating! Avengers 100 came out the same month as Thor 200, as well! I do recall buying those off the spinner rack at the News Agency in Crown Point, IN.

I did not buy Avengers 200 or Thor 300. But for some reason I bought, literally, 10+ copies of XMen 138 off the rack. I'm not sure I ever read one but it seemed like a good investment. Looks like they might be worth a smoking-hot $15 now! Can I get a "yowza?" That should get me a Big Mac meal in London or Chicago!

Anonymous said...

Close, but no cigar Charlie - if only you'd gone for the issue before, X-Men #137.

Re: Cap #250. As I recall Steve, Cap thought about trying to drain the swamp and make America great again in response to a specific offer to run for president by third party geeks the Populists. And then both the Democrats and Republicans asked him to be their candidate (which you could choose to read as quite an astute observation on electoral politics).

A superhero in an election seems ridiculous of course.
Seriously - running for president in a face mask?


Anonymous said...

Woodgod is another weird character from the '70's.
What was his deal? Some kinda genetic experiment who rebelled. Ain't that always the way? It seems like the only people who created super-beings who did what they were supposed to were the Nazis. Captain Nazi followed orders, you gotta give him that much credit.
Speaking of Nazis, I have a theory that Donald Trump is actually the Red Skull in a not-very-convincing rubber mask and wig.
It makes sense, if you think about it.
Where is the real Donald? Probably at the bottom of the East River in a pair of cement overshoes.

Charlie, I'm somewhat disappointed that you did not deign to pick up a copy of Thor #300. Where is the love?
Was it a great comic? No, I wouldn't say that, exactly. Not as good as #200.
But tradition, Charlie. It's the invisible web that holds civilization together.
Buying #300 and maybe even reading the goddam thing is a respectful gesture to the past glories of that comic.
M.P. is a sentimental cat. He's got a heart as big as all outdoors.


Anonymous said...

Tradition? Respect for the past?
Using that argument you could just as easily say he should have picked up Avengers #200 M.P.


Anonymous said...

Well, I dunno if I would go THAT far, Sean. The Avengers at that point...
75 cents was a lotta money back then.
That's three games of Galaxian or Space Invaders, right there.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - Ole Charlie was 19 years old and had more/less stopped reading comics 6 or so years earlier but for The Invaders, The Shadow or other WWII or Pulp-type comics. (WHenever Gerry Conway got his meat hooks on Spidey and FF and turned them into his personal psychological sandbox to screw with kids.)

But to be honest, when I bought Avengers 100, I had no idea what the hell was going on. Distribution has been so piss poor, I had bought like Avengers 92 or 93 and then never saw another issue until 100. And then, every Avenger looked like freakin Conan thanks to B W Smith's art work.

And then I read Thor 200 and again had no idea what the heck was going on as I seldom read Thor (I only has so many nickels and dimes at the time, you dig?)

Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - Paste Pot Pete stole my can of invisible glue. I think he used it to become Daredevil to sneak into the Baxter Building once to take on the FF. I can't recall. Much. Anymore.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, clearly I was joking.
But yeah, Marvel did have serious distribution problems back then. They were hard to find, sometimes.
Somebody dropped the ball somewhere, I figure.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - Charlie knows you were joking! No umbrage taken by Charlie!

Charlie notices though that MP always writes his remarks in the late evening hours USA time. Nothing sinister going on like "werewolf by night" is there? Halloween is coming up, the Hunter's Moon is coming up... Just want to be ready.

Killdumpster said...

In the early 1980's I had extremely lightened up on comics reading/ buying. Mostly because of going to art school and being penniless, but seeing that give-away blurb on the covers wasn't very enticing for me either.

I know I have an "ashcan" size version of the Captain America book, I have no idea where it came from. I do know it was insanely hard to read.

Killdumpster said...

No, MP, for better or worse, Trump truly is Trump.

Charlie, I've been re-viewing the werewolf movies in my collection, and viewing "newer" stuff online.

Dog Soldiers is entertaining, but I think Howl is better. A buncha folks trapped on a broken-down passenger train in in the middle of nowhere, fending off a pack of werewolves.

Reminds when I set-up sound for Warren Zevon (Werewolves Of London fame). He had lost his contract with Elektra records, and was touring without a back-up band. He played his show solo, with a 12 string guitar & the house piano. He was incredible.

Anonymous said...

To be fair to M.P. - hey, someone's gotta be, right? - its not that much of a leap from Trump to the Red Skull.
Current events in the US do seem a bit like the plot of a mid-70s Captain America comic.


Killdumpster said...

Now, now, now, Sean, oh my brother.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Charlie, I think the last anniversary issue I bought of ANY comic was Thor #500.
I read it and said to myself, "I think I am done with this."
The thing about the Red Skull that always struck me was, it seemed like he was somewhat incompetent at his job of being a super-villain. Look at the way Kirby drew him. Dinner robe, cigarette holder, it's like John Barrymore on crack. In the Acts of Vengeance storyline, he was almost just comic relief. Even the Wizard had more dignity.
The guy's M.O. was basically just digging up hidden Nazi doomsday weapons and turning them on.
And don't get me started on the Cosmic Cube debacle. If your a villain and you show up in a Hostess Twinkie ad, you know your rep is trashed.

K.D., you did a set up Warren Zevon? I take it you met him?
Holy Moly. I love that guy's music.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget the Red Skull also kidnapped Jim Callaghan, M.P.
Which I guess is the kind of thing left for a super-villain after Twinkies ads. That, and politics.


Killdumpster said...

Yeah MP. Still have the album he autographed.

He was a very quiet man, though. After the sound-check, he didn't talk much to anyone. He stayed in the dressing room with his assistant till the show. The girls that delivered his meals to the room said he was weird.

He asked me to not make microphone stand adjustments too tight. He liked to fiddle with them during the show.

Anonymous said...

Was he kind of a little guy, K.D.? I always got that impression.
What a voice, though. He could sound booming when he wanted to.
As a song writer, I always thought he was to rock music what Kurt Vonnegut was to American fiction. Dripping with irony.


Anonymous said...

#115 was Roy Thomas’ swan-song on CONAN, right? Yeah, I agree that Sonja wasn’t written particularly well in this one, but Roy’s writing at its absolute worst is light-years ahead of the cardboard cookie-cutter scripts Conan got for the next ten years or so.

Is that the infamous ‘Immortus Roofies Ms. Marvel’ story? I think I’d stopped buying AVENGERS by that point, not sure I ever even read that one. Just know it by reputation.

Bill Sienkiewicz inked by Joe Sinnott is just about as pleasing an art combo as Neal Adams inked by Joe Sinnott. It’s like the opposite of a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup — two great tastes that DON’T taste great together.

- b.t.

Steve W. said...

Bt, it was indeed the end of Thomas's epic run on Conan the Barbarian.

Steve W. said...

MP, KD, Sean, Charlie and Dangermash, thanks for your comments as well.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Chaps! Mates! Blokes! Buddies! Pals! Friends!

There are just a ton of $1 comics at the LCBS reprinting Marvel keys. "True Believers" line.

E.g., I just got Amazing Adventures #1 (split cover - Inhumans, Black Widow)! (Spoiler Warning: J Busecma/Verpooten's Widow is a distant second to Colan / Everett! )

I think they were all constipated due to Covid and suddenly they are having a blow out!

Redartz said...

Wow, that was a busy time for Marvel's Anniversary issues. And that Conan issue was the last of that title that I bought. Actually, I never found Conan as engaging after about issue 50.

B.t.- yes that was the notorious Avengers issue. Great cover but the story was awful.

With the industry now constantly rebooting, anniversary issues might have become a thing of the past. But at least DC has been putting some out. I bought Action 1000, it was kinda fun.

Killdumpster said...

Yes, Zevon was small in stature.

Fantastic Four follower said...

Re Redartz:Curious coincidence:My interest in Conan ended around #50 too.It was a special comic in its day but similar to Spiderman it degenerated in quality with multiple title. Was there 6 different titles at one point? Savage Tales, Savage Sword, Conan, King Conan, Conan Annual, Giant Size Conan etc. Loved the first 45 issues but 50 was a logical place to end. Picked up #116(I think) which had a strange Adams /Buscema mix which was neither to be honest!

Anonymous said...

Completely agree with FF follower and Redartz, although I'd add (most of) the first two dozen or so issues of SSOC - basically the Buscema/Alcala era - as at least as engaging as the early colour comic.
Whether thats because of the actual quality of the work, or simply that theres a very finite number of Conan stories you can read before it all gets a bit samey and diminishing returns sets in, is open to debate.

I mean, if you weren't familiar with the comic, and started reading around #50 maybe Conan was still pretty good?
To be fair, from what I've read Roy Thomas' writing was pretty consistent over his whole run, and theres not really much to complain about with the Buscema/Chan team (can't say the same for Tony deZuniga's inks on Big John's b&w stuff though).


Colin Jones said...

Conan the Barbarian (2019 version) #15 was published yesterday - 7 months after #14 (apparently the delay was due to some virus that's been going around).

Anonymous said...

I bet Conan still doesn't wear a mask though.


Steve W. said...

Personally, I'm also in the camp that thinks the lack of grippingness of Conan the Barbarian after the mid-1970s is simply down to over-familiarity with the formula, rather than a decline in the stories themselves.