Sunday, 10 January 2021

Forty years ago today - January 1981.

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

The year 2021 pushes on as we march into that realm which was once the future.

But, right now, it's the past which interests us.

A past that is packed with incident, heroics and villainy.

Avengers #203

And also packed with bafflingness, as the Beast and Wonder Man get lost in the middle of town and discover a colony of artificial organisms living in the sewers.

Although the organisms are friendly, the locals think they're evil and attack them, causing their destruction.

Then it turns out it all never happened. Or possibly it did. Or possibly it didn't.

Or something.

Anyone who can explain this tale is a better reviewer than I am.

Conan the Barbarian #118

Years after he threw her into a sewer, Conan re-encounters Jenna the not-so-trustworthy good-time girl from Rogues in the House.

Sadly, she's succumbed to a form of deadly leprosy inflicted by an evil sorcerer from space.

And he's been doing it to loads of people.

Needless to say, Conan gives him the stabbing he's asking for, and Jenna gets her good health back.

Daredevil #168, Elektra

Elektra makes her stab-happy debut, as we're given a flashback to Matt Murdock's college days and his and her romance.

You know the one. The one in which he showed her his super-powers and went on a mission to rescue her kidnapped father.

But, of course, we don't need a flashback to it because we all remember it from when it was in Origins of Marvel Comics.

Oh. Wait. Hold on. For some reason, none of this was mentioned in Origins of Marvel Comics.

I blame Stan Lee.

Fantastic Four #226

Finally having got done with fighting space Vikings, the FF are back in civilisation and having to stop a rampant robot that's under the control of some evil person or other.

I think this is all here to wrap up a storyline from whatever that cancelled series was about the people with the giant Japanese robots.

Incredible Hulk #255, Thor

The Hulk's back in town, and Don Blake decides only Thor can stop him - and prove, at last, which of them is the stronger.

Except he doesn't. The fight comes to an abrupt halt when Thor decides it's more important he prevents a road tunnel from collapsing and the Hulk gets bored and leaves.

Spectacular Spider-Man #50, Aliens

It's a very special day for some of us, when the Tinkerer's alien allies reappear.

Except, this time, they're not working for the Tinkerer. They're working with Mysterio.

I hope this isn't one of those tales which claims they're not real aliens and are just men dressed up, because that is a reality I refuse to accept.

As far as I can recall, we also get to meet Aunt May's new fiance who, for once, isn't a man with mechanical arms.

X-Men #141, Days of Future Past

It's the far and distant future.

Probably 1995 or something.

And mutants have been hunted to near-extinction, by the Sentinels.

Needless to say, our heroes do the obvious and send Kitty Pryde back to the present, in order to halt the sequence of events which created the apocalyptical world she knows.

Captain America #253, Baron Blood

Captain America's back in England.

And Baron Blood's back from the dead!

It may be a tale stuffed with inaccurate portrayals of Britain (do village bobbies really investigate serial killings?) but it's still a tale it's impossible to not love.

Thor #303

When Thor helps save a priest and his church from destruction at the hands of local gangsters, the priest rediscovers his faith in the Christian God, even though you would have thought it would merely give him faith in Norse gods.

Iron Man #142

Hooray! We get to see Iron Man's brand new space-armour when someone with a satellite death-rays a small town into oblivion, and Shell Head goes to investigate.

But what's this? When he gets into space, that satellite turns out to have the word Roxxon written on the side of it, in gigantic letters?

Amazing Spider-Man #212, Hydro-Man

Thanks to last issue's scrap between Spidey and Subby, a sailor's now turned into the unstoppable Hydro-Man, a villain who is to water what Flint Marko is to sand.

How can our hero stop such a being?

And does it involve heat?

At least it doesn't involve a vacuum cleaner, so the baddie's one up on Marko.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Well, well, well... finally some issues Charlie had and still has!

1) The XMen with Kitty. I have it! It's like NM "Read once and bagged." If any of you lot are interested in it, let ole Charlie know. I know we do not sell stuff here but my love for all you guys means I would be nearly sort of be giving it away if it would bring you some joy.

2) Cap and Baron Blood. I just remember it as having solid art and enjoying the story, especially being set in England like Spidey was nearly 50 years ago. IIRC, Frank R@bbins drew a fair amount of Baron Blood in the Invaders?

Anonymous said...

Running into an old girlfriend you haven't seen for years, and it turns out she's become a top ninja assassin - who hasn't had a day like that, Steve?
Gritty realism from Frank Miller in Daredevil #168 there, in his first issue as writer.

"The Beast and Wonder Man get lost in the middle of town..."? Sure they did.
I would have thought by 1981 it would have been easier for those two just to come out, rather than resort too implausible stories. I expect the rest of the Avengers had a pretty good idea of what was going on anyway - after all, they do live in Studio 54/Mineshaft era New York.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Daredevil -

Any chance that Gene the Dean drew Electra? I started reading DD under Gene's hand regularly around issue 80. I felt that no one drew the Black Widow better than Gene, but for Everett or Everett inking Gene in those Amazing Adventure split comics. So, I'd be curios if he drew her? (I honestly have no idea and my memory is no where near as sharp as youse guys.

Lastly, I read something quite interesting a few days ago that Gene, while drawing DD, was also the primary writer / editor and that Stan Lee really just did the dialogue for those several years. Any of you others hear that?

Cheers all!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - are you serious about Beast and Wonderman?

I mean, after learning that Gwen Stacy, the love of my pre-pubescent life, was doing the horizontal bob with Norman Osborne, nothing is implausible to this true beliver!

Anonymous said...

Charlie - the only 2 of tonight's selection I got were the same as yours - X-Men & Cap!

Total agreement as regards Colan on Daredevil - and Rich Buckler & Giacoia on Angar were good, too.

I started Daredevil on #89 (9 issues after you), but in MWOM, in black & white, making Tom Palmer's inks/shadows stand out beautifully.


Steve W. said...

Charlie, that particular DD issue was drawn by Miller. I could have sworn I'd seen pictures of Elektra drawn by Gene Colan but a quick search of Google has failed to unearth any.

It was pretty common for Lee to leave experienced artists to do the plotting while he just added dialogue and captions to their work.

As far as I can remember, Robbins was the first artist to draw Baron Blood.

Phillip, I didn't have any of tonight's selection. In fact, I barely read any of them in UK reprints.

Sean, my eyes have been opened, at last, to the truth.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Uh ohhh Phillip... we may be accused of collaboration!

Yes indeed Richie B did a great job as well. I did buy #100, #101, #102 but I felt the cover on 100 and 102 were the best of the 3 and really liked the 102 cover fighting Stilt Man. The 101 cover just seemed sort of "scratchy" to me if that makes any sense, like if you look at DD's back and such? Plus Angar's scream monster is in faded colors. I am not convinced that Rich and Frank did all 3? Help me out here Forward Facing True Believers!

(B.t.w Angar is only 5'10" and 155 pounds. I can't recall if DD landed a punch to him but would be curious to know if it was sufficient to knock him out??

But, you know how it is with your first love (Colan)... everything else is just not quite as good for legit or nostalgic reasons, lol.

Anonymous said...

I'm not buyin' any X-Men comics off you, Charlie!!
You can just forget about it!!


Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - I would have given em to you and even paid the postage of $8:90 for a flat rate envelope cause you seem like an all-round good guy.

I guess you can just go back to chasing prairie dogs and stepping in buffalo terds as you do your daily constitutional while I decide to re-read them!

Actually, I just re-read Xmen Giant Size #2 (Reprints Neal Adams' Sentinel Stories) and #5 King Size (Dr. Strange - they go to Dante's Hell). Oddly I was at my LCBS scooping up more $1 Marvel True Believers and they have reprinted Adams' Sentinel stories yet again (like around issue 58?). Marvel knows how to milk a rerun!

Anonymous said...

You seeem quite insistent there M.P. - is that because its the X-Men, or because its Charlie? Or both?
Personally, I don't need more old comics taking up space, so I'll just cut out the middle man and donate a bit of money straight to Cuba instead.


Redartz said...

Marvel's mixed bag of comics once again this time around! X-men is obviously a classic (kind offer Charlie, I have the TPB version, in which you also get the Kitty Pryde Christmas tale). Cap was great. DD was memorable. Spectacular Spider-Man was good, that Mysterio 2-parter was solid ( and you get to see Deb Whitman break Mysterio's dome).
On the other hand ASM was....forgettable. I didn't care for Hydro-man then and don't now. Basically a soggy Sandman, with a clunky name. Better than "Water-Man", perhaps, but still nothing to excite the imagination.

Anonymous said...

Sean, I'm sure Charlie knows I was only kidding around. It's 'cause I like him.
Yeah, I'm not a big X-Men fan but I am a fan of ol' Charlie.
Actually, I sorta dig the early X-Men stuff. Pre-Claremont, that is.

On another note, I agree with Red about Hydro-Man. "Basically a soggy Sandman."
Besides, we already got the Water Wizard. Do we really need two water guys?
Or was he snuffed by Scourge? I forget. I can think of three D.C. characters who have water-based powers, but I can't remember their names, and I'm much too lazy to look it up.

Captain America was still a great comic at this point. Baron Blood and Union Jack. And Cap decapitates the not-so-good baron with his shield, no less.
And we finally learn why Cap wears chain mail. It deflects vampire bites!


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Regarding Cap and vampires, and this may be way out for you UK guys, but didn't Cap do battle with a vampire or two during his WW2 years under Timely? I mean, we all have seen a reprint or two from WW2 of Cap and I just keep having this vague but certain recall of him and the Bucky duking it out with a vampire? Help?

Sean - If you blow Charlie's cover one more time, he's gonna come over there, hog tie you, and send you down the Monon Line! Don't think he won't! He only told Graham Greene a 10th of what he did in Cuba!

Red - OK! No surprise package for you, then, either! Honestly, the Xmen still sell on ebay so, if I must... Now if any of my fellow Americans have a hankering for the Ray and Condor runs from DC around 1994, let me know!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Steve or Phillip could do you a good deal on some dogs in return for those comics Charlie.


Anonymous said...

Retrospectively (over the next couple of years) I picked up Avengers, Daredevil, X-men, Cap and Spidey. My X-men #141 had a double cover, which I initially thought would be worth millions, but subsequently found to be worth the same as any other copy...

I found Miller's run as writer and artist, on DD from #168 until #191, fantastic and am surprised its not being more highly praised around these parts(Sean aside). I do, however, still think Elektra would have been Peter Parker long lost girlfriend had Miller landed one of the regular Spidey titles.

This was a pretty strong period for Marvel, with most of these titles on solid runs.


Anonymous said...

Speaking of Elektra, what was it with Miller and the Greeks? He seems to have had a fascination with them.


Anonymous said...

Well he is about to enter a heavily ninja and manga influenced period, with a generous helping of Eisner. Comics writers were always somewhat influenced by the classics but the 70s writers were probably the first to be obviously influenced by earlier comics (rather than, say, the pulps or horror and fantasy). I think Miller is very much to comics what Tarantino is to movies, in that the work is easily traceable to its sources, but somehow seems new and exiting. I think these Daredevil comics still hold up.


Anonymous said...

I'm familiar with Tarantino.
So what is that? Is it ironic or "meta"?
Damn I feel old.
Maybe labels aren't very useful here. After all, every artist stands on the shoulders of artists that came before.
Whether they care to admit it or not.


Anonymous said...

Charlie - us Colan fans aren't ganging up on Sean, as - like Sean - DW is a big Miller fan! There's two in each camp!

Buckler & Giacoia have a particular look. It's on DD # 135's cover, too.

It's not the covers I was thinking of, but the art inside # 101 - the Black Widow, and also the visceral fight scene - almost like a schoolyard fight.

Frank Giacoia was strangely inconsistent. He did some great stuff - at least it looked great in black & white - e.g. DD # 101 & the Nova story with the Firefly - but he did lots of average, unmemorable stuff, too.

My thoughts were exactly the same as yours, about Angar's supposed small size - 5' 10", etc.

In DD # 101, Angar is a big, strong guy, who lifts DD over his head, yet Marvel Universe says he's a little guy - doesn't make sense.

As regards Angar getting his comeuppance, I seem to recall DD didn't punch him out, as Natasha got behind Angar, & held her widow's sting against his head at point blank range.

In DD stories, signature moves were: lifting people over your head, drop kicks, monkey climbs - & the occasional karate chop!

Sean - Steve & I can't offer Charlie any dogs at the moment, as they've all been stolen & sold. There's none left!


Colin Jones said...

The only one of those comics that I recall buying is Uncanny X-Men - which was actually set in, not 1995, but the far distant future of 2013, Steve.

Anonymous said...

So Obama was to blame for the Sentinels then?

DW, despite the slightly smartarse remark about "gritty realism" in #168 above, I completely agree with you on Miller's Daredevil run, which I guess won't come as a surprise (although I'd have added his return as writer for issues #227-233 as the high point).
Miller was obviously nowhere near as good an artist - in the technical sense - as Gene Colan, but being an accomplished illustrator wasn't the appeal of his work, which came into its own once he was also the writer.

On the Spidey theory - I like it, but had Miller got the gig back then I doubt he'd ever have been able to reinvent Spider-Man anywhere near as much as he did Daredevil (which was apparently on the verge of cancellation around #158).
Would Marvel have even let a fairly new penciller write a Spider-Man book?
Its not as if we're discussing a genius like Todd McFarlane...


Anonymous said...

Sean -

The reason why Shang-Chi & Iron Fist's martial arts were outstanding, was they studied it from boyhood.

Daredevil, in contrast, was in his early 30s (?)

Suddenly, some guy called Stick turns up, and quickly trains 32 year old (perhaps?) Daredevil into a world class martial artist - despite his muscle memory being accustomed to a different fighting style, for his entire superhero career.

We've already got Shang-Chi, Iron Fist, the White Tiger - why add Daredevil to the list? He's a character in his own right!

Daredevil should have told Stick to take a running jump (to 'Stick it', in other words!) To Byrne, you should return a character to what originally made them successful, not completely reinvent them! Admittedly, that didn't always work....

Sean - you'll have some extra insights into this, however, as I haven't got all the Millers - but I did get the Bullseye/Electra ones.

M.P. - Lightmaster makes weapons out of "solidified light"; Klaw makes weapons out of "solidified sound"; Water Wizard & Hydro-man make weapons out you say, they're all basically the Sandman!

Colin - As regards that X-Men issue, it's also notable that in January 1981, punks with Mohican hair cuts were seen as a terrifying threat to society - whom we need Wolverine to protect us from - not just people who liked different music!


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Geeze... I wish my fish-oil pills would kick is so I could remember what it is I forgot...

My thoughts on Colan, Miller, DD...

I suspect I would have been quite happy with a Miller written and Colan drawn DD. Are there such examples?

So is it fair to say that Colan never drew an Electra-DD issue?

Is it also fair to say the the Black Widow never encountered Electra? Given one important reason DD is alive is the BW happened to rescue him off the bottom of the bay where he was unconscious and drowning (and then they became a team up). I could see her being called in to rescue his butt once again! And then the cat fight would be on?

But in general, perhaps more so on Batman, I found Niller's art unintelligible on many pages as in "w.t.h. am I looking at?"

Anonymous said...

I meant "According to Byrne..."


Charlie Horse 47 said...

FWIW - a nice issue of DD 168 seems to be fetching around $50 - $75 on ebay these days. Lot more than my nice issues of XMen of the same time.

Anonymous said...

Of this lot, I bought the Cap, DD and X-Men issues off the stands. Just a few years before that, I was buying practically every single Marvel title.



Anonymous said...

Actually Phillip, Stick didn't just turn up - he trained Matt Murdoch when he was younger, so really your problem isn't with Miller but, rather, Stan Lee for not mentioning it - or Elektra, the Hand and all that - in DD #1.
(Call it a wild hunch, but somehow I suspect that information won't help ;)

More generally, I have to disagree about reinvention. We're discussing characters and concepts created in the 60s - of course they have to be updated to thrive in the 80s, let alone the 2020s. I reckon Marvel were fortunate to have people like Miller, Byrne and Simonson to do that for them back then (and DC Moore and Chaykin).

Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee and the Toddmeister later... not so much.
Clearly reinvention can be poorly done, but its just something you have to accept with a long lived serial form.
It never bothered me that Gene Colan wasn't drawing Daredevil any more, as I could always enjoy his work on the Batman instead.


Anonymous said...

Sean - good points, well expressed!


Steve W. said...

Colin, thanks for clarifying the date of the X-Men's far future. I'm certainly not looking forward to 2013. It sounds truly nightmarish.

Anonymous said...

Just wait til you hear about 2021 Steve.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - what is Tran28 selling that are the best quality: Colan or Miller Daredevils?

Or perhaps the best of the dogs swiped in from the Shire of York by the men folk there?

Anonymous said...

Phil, I've always thought Klaw was a cool villain, but the ability to make monsters out of solid sound doesn't make sense.
Sound is not a thing, it's an effect.
All it is is sensitive organs inside our ear-holes that register changes in air pressure and send this information to our brains. There it's translated into a particular language, one that we can make sense of. There's no way you could put a kazoo on your arm and make a big red gorilla out of this and make it attack Ben Grimm.
Same thing with the eyeballs. They only see certain spectrums.
What if, like has been suggested in the fiction of Machen and Lovecraft, there are weird things around us we can't perceive, and if we did see them they could get us?

...I'm sorry. I got a lotta free time tonight.


Anonymous said...

You're not the only one with a fair bit of free time these days M.P.

What about infrasound? Thats a thing.
I assumed thats what Kirby had in mind - visually exaggerated - rather than standard frequencies.
Just like the "screamer in the brain" - the madbomb - was inspired by ultrasound and microwaves.


Anonymous said...

Sean, I looked up those links (and I don't mind telling you it took a lotta typing)
I think you're right. They were bombarding those people down in the Cuban embassy with some kinda weird sound wave technology.
I know that sounds like crazy conspiracy B.S. but I think that's what actually happened, and I figure Putin was behind it.
I am not a conspiracy buff. I generally assume other people are incapable of being that organized, probably because I'm incapable of being that organized. But I'm often mistaken.
But geez, it seems like Kirby was a prophet. He was writing stories about genetics and D.N.A. years before these concepts became part of popular culture.
Same with these sound weapons, I guess. I never saw the connection between that and Madbomb before.
I think the U.S. military has some kinda sound device that can stun and debilitate people.

But there's no way they can make a big red elephant outta that.


Anonymous said...

Hey, it just occurred to me.
Kate Bush had a song about exactly this.
"Experiment IV."


Steve W. said...

I don't know, Charlie but it had the word "Bang" in it, so it must have been exciting.

Anonymous said...

M.P. - Klaw's kazoo looked like Cyborg's attachable arm weapon:

I think I had this in about 1975!