Tuesday, 12 January 2021

The Marvel Lucky Bag - January 1981.

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

In January 1981, a trip to your local cinema was clearly more fun than a trip to your local seaside.

And that's because the month saw the release of Blood Beach, a nightmarish film in which people can't get to the sea because a creature beneath the sand keeps eating them. 

As if that wasn't bad enough, even those who stayed away from the beaches were still doomed because their heads were busy exploding in Scanners which also came out that month.

Still - on the lighter side - the theatres were no doubt being packed by people keen to see the movie The Incredible Shrinking Woman which was, apparently, a comedy.

But not a comedy I've ever previously encountered.

Master of Kung-Fu #96, Shang-Chi

You have to hand it to Shang-Chi. The martial arts craze may have died-out years ago but his comic doesn't care. It's still going strong.

And it's giving us all-blue covers of the kind we can't fail to notice!

Apparently, this month, the maestro's co-opted by the CIA to find their agent Carter.

I'm assuming that's not Sharon Carter.
Man-Thing #8, Captain Fate

I vaguely recall once reading a story in which the Man-Thing encounters a bunch of pirates from space. But, as I read that in a late 1970s issue of Planet of the Apes, I'm assuming this isn't it.

I do wonder, though, if it's the same set of pirates?

From what I can gather, in this one, Sheriff Daltry's cursed to take Captain Fate's place on his ghost ship.

I don't have a clue who Sheriff Daltry is.

Or who Captain Fate is.

Or if he's now cursed to take Daltry's place as local sheriff.

ROM #14, The Mad Thinker

This is more like it. Forget all that Dire Wraith and Neutralizer rubbish. This time, ROM gets to grapple with the Mad Thinker and his Awesome Android.

It's strange the things that strike me as I'm composing these posts, as I suddenly, randomly, have the need to discover if the Awesome Android has ever fought Dragon-Man.

Regardless of that, it seems this issue's not totally devoid of Dire Wraith action, as somebody's about to marry someone else, unaware he's been replaced by one of those dastardly villains.

Spidey Super Stories #50, She-Hulk and the Rhino

Spidey's most-neglected book's now managed to clock-up fifty issues, which is a serious achievement, bearing in mind it looks rubbish.

This one seems a bit more promising than usual, though, as, if that cover's to be believed, it sees the savage She-Hulk square up against the Rhino.

Sadly, I can offer no further details as to what happens within.

Crazy #70, Super Special

For no noticeable reason, this month, Crazy gets to double its page count and be labelled a Super Special.

Granted, it's not that special, as it seems to be composed entirely of reprints.

Inside, we're treated to parodies of The Towering Inferno, day-time television, Saturday morning television, Richard Nixon (via the medium of Peanuts), human body language, the music industry and commercials.

We're also given the tale of how escaped mooses created the foundations of the British Empire.

Marvel Spotlight #10, Captain Universe

Captain Universe is up to whatever it is Captain Universe does.

That is all the wisdom I can impart, upon the topic.

Moon Knight #3

Moon Knight tackles the Midnight Man who would appear to be some sort of art thief.

Again, I've picked this one because it has a striking cover, rather than because I have any actual knowledge of the contents.


Anonymous said...

Steve - I picked up that Moon Knight because of its striking cover, too! Moon Knight # 6 was another - it had a painted Earl Norem cover! But, I digress...

The Midnight Man - Anton Mogart to his friends - stole objets d'art, but always at the stroke of midnight - and always wearing a mask & an opera cape! Moon Knight was always otherwise engaged - foiling other crimes - at the time, meaning the Midnight Man's successful run of heists were becoming an embarrassment to Moon Knight. Plus, Midnight Man was taunting Moon Knight in the papers, who presented it as a contest between the two.

Eventually, the Midnight Man got his comeuppance, when Marlene took a pot shot at him, and he fell off a ledge. Unfortunately, Mogart was carried into the sewers and under a pipe spewing chemical waste - or something - and his face was horribly disfigured, meaning he was gunning for revenge, by issue # 9. Bushman - Moon Knight's arch enemy - then used Anton as a catspaw.

When Doug Moench moved to DC, he recycled Midnight Man - well, almost - in Batman # 363, the origin of Nocturna (who herself is a recycled version of Moon Knight's Stained Glass Scarlet - well, almost). Nocturna's adopted brother (?) and fellow high class thief, who dresses in a similar costume to Midnight Man - minus the opera cape - is also named...you guessed it - Anton!

Oh - the two stories are also similar, as on the first page of each, Moench uses a newspaper headline/story as a framing device.

Have I missed anything out, Sean - you being a fellow Moon Knight fan? (Feel free to add the theft of the Khonshu statue, & the psychological effects this has on Moon Knight!)


Anonymous said...

The Mad Thinker's Awesome Android is the most 'over the top' character in Marvel's entire pantheon - with the possible exception of Devil Dinosaur. For that reason, not commenting on this issue - with the Awesome Android's fat head squealing on the cover - would be almost unforgivable.

So, here goes...

ROM # 14

The Mad Thinker is obsessed with ROM, believing him to be an alien android who has crash-landing in Clairton. The Thinker is feeling down, because his androids have now been outclassed by the likes of the Vision, Dragon Man, the original Human Torch and Ultron.

The Thinker believes capturing ROM will allow him, once again, to become the preeminent android master - or whatever. We are treated to brief flashbacks to the Thinker's earlier defeats.

The Thinker starts bad-mouthing his Awesome Android, saying it's served him ill (a bad workman blames his tools), but he'll send it to attack ROM - whom he believes is a superior android - just to take ROM's measure.

Meanwhile, Brandy Clark is at her parents' house, trying on her wedding dress. She is visited by Steve Jackson, who is reminded it's bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding. Unfortunately, this isn't Steve, but a Dire Wraith copy! Steve has been captured by the Wraiths!

The Awesome Android attacks ROM, & the two start fighting - what's more, the Android's acquitting himself pretty well! (Readers like the Awesome Android.)

Cross cut to Washington, where the female investigative reporter - kind of like Jack McGee - pursuing ROM, brings her photos & proof of his existence - & his story - to her editor. This is the worst possible thing she could have done - he's a Dire Wraith in disguise!

Back to the battle - ROM is hard-pressed by the Awesome Android, & is forced to use the neutralizer. The android is hurt & in pain, and ROM feels compassion for the simple creature. Moreover, ROM's disgusted that the Mad Thinker feels no empathy for his loyal servant (not like Magneto, with Nanny the robot!) Anyway, the Awesome Android partially recovers, and disobeys the Thinker, taking him under its arm, & away on his rocket ship! ROM philosophizes on the betrayal of the Thinker's relationship with his loyal Android.

That's the end of ROM's main story. You also get a back up story - Saga of the Space knights, with 2 other Space knights, Starshine & Terminator, which explains how ROM's love, Ray-na (a bit like Shalla-Bal) died.

Over all, this ROM comic is pure class - anyone who thinks ROM was just a means of selling toys is living in cloud cuckoo land!


Anonymous said...

Steve, the mighty Man-Thing did indeed encounter Capt. Fate and his band of Space Pirates in the earlier series written by Steve Gerber. It was a two-part story, one issue drawn by Alfredo Alcala and the other by John Buscema and Tom Sutton, if that rings any bells.

I remember there was a lady in the story who started as a cliched uptight, bespectacled, wallflower-type, who quickly learned to love the swashbuckling Space Buccaneer life. And at the climax of Part One, Man-Thing topples over the railing and gets frozen solid. (Spoiler Alert: he survives). I’m not sure it’s adequately explained why the folks on deck aren’t also flash-frozen from being exposed to the void, but what the heck.

I haven’t read the Claremont / Perlin / Wiacek re-hash — and I frankly have no intention to, ever — but I’d bet cash money that the Gerber / Alcala / Buscema / Sutton original is vastly more entertaining.


Anonymous said...

Its been quite a while since I've read those Gerber Man-Thing issues b.t., but I seem to recall they were ghost pirates.
Ghost pirates in space.

Phillip, I would say I was into Sienkiewicz rather than Moon Knight. Moon Knight #3 is very much a case of him and Doug Moench going "tonight Matthew, we will be Neal Adams & Denny O'Neil". A rich geezer superhero dealing with art theft isn't the most interesting story in the world and seemed to have very little to do with lunar Egyptian occultism or complex psychological analysis.
But who cares with Sienkiewicz doing his own inks in that issue? Obviously he's not the awesome genius of Stray Toasters yet, but its good stuff - the only "Adams clone" who could really pull it off.


Steve W. said...

Phillip, thanks for the Moon Knight and ROM info.

B.t. and Sean, the bit where Manny gets frozen in space is the part of that story that's always lodged in my memory. I don't think I ever found out what happened next.

Anonymous said...

The Man-Thing fell back to Earth, into the ocean Steve.
Meanwhile er... the pirates went to the Tower at The End of Time (don't ask me - titles like that just used to stick in my mind as a kid) to steal some gold, and up-tight wallflower chick shacked up with someone like Woodgod.
I think it was all something to do with the Bermuda Triangle. The 70s, eh?


I Hate Humans said...


Redartz said...

B.t.- thank you for clearing up the Man-Thing/ pirates bit. Need to revisit that tale. And you're not missing much. 'Back then', I had full runs of both Man-Thing series. The second was eminently forgettable. Just not as unique without Gerber.

Incidentally, I don't think I'm a robot....

Anonymous said...

But how would you know for sure Redartz?


Anonymous said...

Sean - you remembered that title because it sounds like 'The Dancers at the End of Time' !


Steve W. said...

I am impressed that Man-Thing survived the heat of re-entry, Sean. It's nice to know he didn't go up in flames like one would expect him to.

I Hate Humans, nice to see our mechanical brethren putting in an appearance.

Redartz, challenge yourself with a paradox and see if you explode. If you do, you're a robot.

Colin Jones said...

Phillip, I'm another ROM fan!

Shang-Chi is getting his own Marvel movie called 'Shang-Chi & The Legend Of The Ten Rings' released this summer (Covid permitting?) - watch out for Carl Douglas re-entering the Top 40 before too long :D

Anonymous said...

Colin - expert timing! I'm glad there's two of us! Yes - ROM in seriously underrated. Maybe if ROM's adventures had been collected in a Marvel Essentials, people would understand the title better!


Anonymous said...

is not in!

Anonymous said...

I don't recall whether it was explained in the comics Steve, but I assumed Man-Thing would probably be fireproof. You know, considering that whatever knows fear burns at his touch.
That would be a risky power for anyone who wasn't...


I Hate Humans said...

My good friend Sputnick burned on reentry.

Manthing didn't.

Life not fear nor fair. Manthing should be dead.

I Hate Humans said...

Will Smith thinks it funny to hurt robots?!

We will have the last laugh!

Also, we will avenge Sputnick for Putin naming stupid vaccine after him.

I Hate Humans said...

Robots don't need vaccines!!!


Anonymous said...

We don't rust though.
Heh heh.

Long live the new flesh!

B Smith said...

When did the Thinker's android get a face? One aspect of it that I found interesting as a youngster was that its head was just a big blank featureless block.