Sunday, 7 February 2021

Fifty years ago this month - February 1971.

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

Who mourns for Adonais? Forget that. Who mourns for Tommy Steele? For, February 1971 was a terrible month for the toothsome tune dispenser.

It was the moment at which his movie Half a Sixpence, merely four years old, no longer made any sense.

That's because it was the month in which the UK and Ireland switched to decimal currency, leading to howls of protest from pensioners, across both realms, that they couldn't understand a new monetary system which required the ability to divide by ten rather than twelve.

Speaking personally, I've never got over it and still insist on buying all my goods by the groatload.

And, up in space, things were just as fancy and modern, thanks to it being the month in which Apollo 14 landed on the moon.

Also flying high was Evel Knievel who managed to set a world record by jumping over 19 cars in Ontario, California.

Flying noticeably lower was legendary icon of Britishness Rolls Royce which went bankrupt and was promptly nationalised.

Captain America and the Falcon #134, Stone Face

Stone-Face makes his dynamic debut, as Cap and the Falcon decide to take him down for whatever it is he's been up to.

Come to think of it, I'm not sure just what it is he has been up to.

Probably trying to start a race war and take over Harlem. That's my guess.

Amazing Spider-Man #93 Prowler

"He's back! More dangerous than ever!" declares the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #93 but the genius of Stan Lee and John Romita is that, once inside the mag, they make no attempt to convince us the Prowler's at all dangerous.

The tooled-up window cleaner's merely an annoyance, slowing Spidey down as he tries to reach Gwen before she leaves the country.

So outclassed is the Prowler that, in the end, Spider-Man doesn't get to her in time purely because he must rush his opponent to hospital after almost accidentally killing him.

Avengers #85 Squadron Supreme

After escaping the world of Arkon, a group of Avengers find themselves in an alternate world where they have to help the Squadron Supreme defeat an evil child genius with a huge head.

Conan the Barbarian #3 Grim Grey God

The early days of Barry Smith's Conan continue as he confronts the Grim Grey God.

It's intriguing see, "grey," being spelt British style but I must confess to recalling nothing of the story itself.

Daredevil #73 Nick Fury and Iron Man

I must have read this in the Mighty World of Marvel but, if I did, I don't remember when.

Nor do I recall anything that happens in it.

Fantastic Four #107

Sadly, John Romita's stint on the strip's now ended.

Happily, John Buscema's has started!

This is a good thing, as I always dug the way he drew the Thing's pebbles.

But, forget pebbles. It's Ben's marbles Reed needs to worry about, as it's quickly becoming clear his attempt to cure the Thing has turned the man evil.


Incredible Hulk #136 Xeron Klaatu

Upon Bruce Banner's return to New York, the Hulk must overcome both Xeron and the space beast Klaatu, a monster as big as the Empire State Building!

Not only that but the Abomination's back!

Iron Man #34 Spymaster

This one's not ringing any bells for me.

But, clearly, the Spymaster's involved.

Thor #185 evil Odin

Hold onto your hats, Asgardophiles, because Thor finds himself facing an evil version of Odin.

It has to be said, given the trouble Odin causes at the best of times, I'm not sure an evil version of him's any bigger a threat to the universe than the normal one is.

X-Men #68, the Sentinels

The X-Men invade the Sentinels' underground lair and promptly get themselves captured.

This leads the Sentinels' leader Master Mold to decide it's time for his giant robots to conquer the world!

Batman #229

"Well, that was all lovely for Marvel," I hear you cry, "but what was DC up to?"

Because you the Reader demanded it, here's a quick look at some of the more intriguing stuff the company was unleashing at the same time.

That's a dramatic cover by Neal Adams.

Sadly, I can't say whether the interior's as dramatic but I do know Batman's up against the Asylum of the Futurians.

Although, to be frank, I don't have a clue who the Futurians are or why they need an asylum.

Detective Comics #408

And it's another dramatic Adams cover, as Robin appears to have met his maker.

Not only that but the interior art's by Nefarious Neal as well.

I suspect that, this time out, the caped crusader's up against a haunted house - and he doesn't even have the Scooby-Doo Gang to help him!

Also inside, Batgirl tangles with a phantom bullfighter.

Falling in Love #121

I don't know if the comic's any good but that's one magnificent cover for a title I've never heard of.

It would appear to be the handiwork of Tony DeZuniga who also inked the lead story, a Ric Estrada pencilled tale of a woman who gives up her feminist beliefs, to aid the career development of her boyfriend.

I have no doubt at all that she'll live to regret such reckless foolishness.


Anonymous said...

Steve - You may have read 'Daredevil' # 73 in 'Rampage Weekly' # 19, disguised as an Iron Man story (?)

Also, Steve - I've just found some 1980/early 81 (?) Marvel Digest Pocket Books, in the garage (which I didn't previously review, because I'd lost them.) So, if you ever feel like doing a feature on Marvel Digest Pocket Books, I can maybe review a few.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve! Steve! Steve!

Charlie is getting the FF and Cap out of the long box for a re-read. (It's been how many decades since they've seen daylight?)

But what is bewildering is that Charlie has no recall of the other Marvels!

Oh man... dig the DC's! Thank you much you strapping dog-stealing Yorkshire man!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

That Falling in Love 121 cover sent Charlie running to ebay.

This is one scarce comic apparently.

Only seems to be one issue for sale on the infinite internet and it is slapped at starting at $199!

Falling in Love 99 is going for $499!

Now mind you, the rest of the run seems pretty standard but those two covers are Yowza! Thanks for posting, pilgrim!

Anonymous said...

Scrolling down reading the post I was quite surprised to see the Caped Crusader, even though I demanded it. Well done on backing the will of the people Steve.

Fyi, in Batman #229 the Futurians were a weird prophetic ESP cult, which I suspect may have been based on the Seekers - some Illinois UFO nuts led by the prophet and former Scientologist Dorothy Martin - who were the subject of the book When Prophecy Fails, which coined the theory of "cognitive dissonance".

I loved the Scooby Doo quality of early '70s Batman stories, with haunted houses, ghosts and whatnot which were always explained away by the reasoning skills of the world's greatest detective.
Or were they? In Detective #408 all the weird stuff is an hallucination induced by Dr Tzin-Tzin of the League Of Assassins. But when captured at the end he pulls off a spooky disappearance that leaves you wondering...

And yes, that is an excellent Falling In Love cover - its the kind of image you could imagine Steranko doing for one of the Marvel romance comics. Which makes it the best thing I've seen by Tony DeZuniga.


Anonymous said...

Charlie, the really crazy thing about those prices is that most of Falling In Love seems to be made up of reprints!

Steve, a quick look at last months post confirms that Cap #134 is the first issue with the "& The Falcon" double billed title on the cover. Good for Captain Whitey.

Pretty sure Stone-Face was just a local gangster doing local gangster stuff. I think he might have been the one Cap villain in this period who didn't try to start a race war and take over Harlem.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - Charlie ain't expert in Romance Comics but Charlie suspects any extraordinary pricing is due to the cover art or perhaps that one-off interior story by Adams, Sternanko, whomever, if they really did some far out stuff.

That said, the Neal Adams work on various Superman titles (Charlie wants to say Jimmy Olsen for example) don't command much of a price so...

Perhaps it's just that groovy Steranko-esque cover on FIL 121 that carries the show b/c Charlie don't know that DeZuniga works command a premium?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Charlie seems to recall thinking, many decades ago when he started read Luke Cage Hero for Hire, that Stone Face would have been a perfect villain for Luke Cage Hero for Hire.

You know... just mixing it up with the local punks. And then the bullet-proof thing a nice fall back weather a storm of bullets to eventually pound someone's head in.

Those first 15 or so issues of Luke Cage Hero for Hire are quite enjoyable.

Steve W. said...

Phillip, sadly, I don't think I ever had that issue of Rampage Weekly. I shall bear in mind your Marvel Digest pocket book suggestion.

Charlie, I would say the Thor, Hulk, FF, Avengers and Spidey issues this month are memorable - especially the Hulk one. The other Marvels are not so memorable.

Sean, thanks for the Batman/Futurian, Stone-Face and Tzin-Tzin info.

Anonymous said...

Ahhhh — ‘Twilight of the Grim Grey God’, my favorite Barry Smith Conan comic! I know I’ve blathered on and on about this one before (over at Redartz’s site, I think) but I’m gonna do it again, so, apologies.

My first CTB was #25, which also just happened to be John Buscema’s first ish as penciller. Over the next year or so, Crom on a crutch, there was SO much moaning in the letters column about how wonderful Barry Smith was, how IRREPLACEABLE he was, how they were all gonna stop buying the comic if Roy didn’t bring Barry back right this minute, etc. Much as I adored Buscema’s Conan, I have to admit I got pretty dang curious about this Barry Smith guy — could he really be all that amazing?

So, finally, GIANT-SIZE CONAN #1 hits the spinner rack, with a reprint of Barry’s ‘Grey God’ in the back, and I get my first look at his stuff. I don’t know if it’s ‘better’ than Buscema’s, but it IS pretty great! It’s from Barry’s early period — he’s out-grown his ‘Kirby and Steranko Trippin’ Balls’ style, but it’s not yet in that hyper-noodle-y Art Nouveau / Pre-Raphaelite style he perfected a little later on. It’s just really solid, his staging is dramatic and dynamic, and the story itself has a melancholy ‘End Of All Things’ mood to it that Barry absolutely nails. Also, he re-colored it for for its reprint appearance and it makes a HUGE difference. It’s a shame they didn’t use Barry’s re-done color schemes for the recent Epic Collection and Omnibus reprints of the story.

Also — I think this was the first Conan comic adapted from a Robert E. Howard story (if we don’t count that weird unauthorized Mexican ‘La Reina De La Costa Negra’’ comic from the 50s)— it’s just not adapted from a Robert E. Howard CONAN story. REH’s original version was a historical adventure called ‘Spears of Clontarf’, based on a real battle in Ireland circa 1000 AD, which he failed to place with various ‘straight’ adventures pulps. He then added some supernatural fantasy elements, changed the title to ‘The Grey God Passes’ and tried to sell it to to WEIRD TALES, again with no luck. This is the version Roy and Barry turned into ‘Twilight of the Grim Grey God’. REH finally did manage to sell a THIRD version of the story, a pretty drastic revision called ‘The Cairn on the Headland’, to STRANGE TALES. It’s by far the weakest of the three versions, I think.

Roy is beating L. Sprague DeCamp at his own game here, transforming non-Hyborian Age REH stories into Conan adventures by replacing the lead character with the Cimmerian, and adding supernatural elements if necessary. This story and ‘The Warrior and the Were-woman’ in CTB #37 (adapted from REH’s ‘The House of Arabs’) are excellent examples of DeCamp’s technique done RIGHT.

Oh, and while all that bleating was going on in the letters column about Barry’s God’s Gift-iness, apparently the sales kept growing and growing with Buscema drawing the book, until it actually became Marvel’s Number One best-selling title for a time. Which doesn’t PROVE anything in the ‘Barry Vs Big John’ debate — it’s just interesting.


Anonymous said...

I think Romance comics tend to be somewhat pricier on the secondary market in general. Maybe Silver and Bronze Age Girl fans were less inclined to cataloguing and hoarding than Boy fans (I hope that’s not too sexist) — meaning, more copies of SPIDER-MAN and TEEN TITANS got bagged and boarded and kept safely in dresser drawers and boxes (and thus survived) than copies of OUR LOVE and SECRET HEARTS.

Charlie: I LOVE those first fifteen or sixteen issues of HERO FOR HIRE. They have a super-gritty ‘New York in the 70s’ vibe that’s pretty unique for mainstream comics of the period.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

b.t. - This Boomah agrees with you 110% on HERO FOR HIRE! Not only that but where could you get a HERO saying, "You motherless freaking piece of scum!"

And IIRC, there were nice touches like where Luke is getting amorous with a girl while walking and the Cop says something like 'Hey, this is a no sparking zone, lol."

And the whole thing about chasing down Doc Doom b/c he hadn't paid his bill, lol. I mean, it was fun!

Anyhow, I am going to dig out that FF issue now! Maybe I can contribute something on target!

Anonymous said...

Steve, first of all, stop stealing dogs.
I salute you bringing in some D.C.! SDC is a mutating animal, and as mutating animals ourselves, the readership will support this bold move.
A strong crop of comics here. I was unaware that the Conan story was based on an old REH tale. Wasn't the God's name Buri or something like that? Like from Norse mythology. It was a great story.
As for Spider-Man, I always liked the Prowler. Cool costume, and those freaky claws he uses to dig into the sides of buildings. But the guy was basically still a teenager with no super powers I know about. It's hard to figure how he could give Spider-Man a hard time.
Then again. I don't think Spidey was written as powerful as he was later (like when he took out Firelord). Even Kingpin could pose a physical threat. Maybe it was better back then, before he got powered up and was more of an underdog.
The Hulk was a wild comic during this period. I remember Xeron and Klattu being some kind of Ahab-Moby Dick kind of deal.
When in doubt, mine the classics. Another cool comic.
This Thor arc was amazing. Buscema was inspired, and having field day drawing the likes of the Silent One and this big four-armed goon who fights Thor in some kind of cosmic swamp.
Lee and Buscema were going full cosmic.
Great post!


Redartz said...

Thanks for the DC touch this post, Steve! I'm unfamiliar with much of DC'S early 70's output, so any exposure is beneficial!
And that Falling in Love cover is gorgeous. As for those eye opening prices, it seems that these days many once-overlooked genres are getting speculator attention. All the books I ignored as a kid- romance, war, western, horror- all showing collector interest nowadays. Even those Archie and teen humor titles! If it's truly vintage, someone's looking for it...

Anonymous said...

I think the grim grey god was a Hyborianised Buri M.P.

The Norse-type stuff makes sense if it was based on a Howard story about the battle of Cath Chluain Tarbh as b.t. says, because that was when the Irish beat the invading Vikings and the Norse king of Dublin Sygtrygg Silkbeard, who I believe was also the king of York (you had to watch out for your dog in Dublin back in those days).


Anonymous said...

I'll bet! See, Sean, that's the kind of history they don't teach us about over here in school (or at university, for that matter).
I've got some googling to do.
I'll bet every man-jack and his dog had to keep their heads on a swivel in them days.
Take Snorri Sturluson for example, the great Icelandic poet and historian to whom we owe a great deal of our knowledge of Norse mythology.
He got into politics, but his political aspirations met a significant setback when somebody buried an ax in his head.

Maybe that was what they called "voting."


Steve W. said...

Thanks, Red. :)

Sean, b.t. and MP, thanks for the Conan/Ireland/Viking/York history lesson.

MP, I shall never give up stealing dogs. I now have 137 of them in my home and reckon there's room for at least another 50 if I stack them vertically. Sygtrygg Silkbeard would be proud of me

Anonymous said...

On today's Hulk cover, could Klaatu be named after Michael Rennie's character, from 'The Day the Earth Stood Still' ?

b.t. - My first Conan story was also Barry WS - but it was 'The Song of Red Sonya.'

Below, REH Conan, you had L.Sprague de Camp; below him you had Andrew J. Offut; and below that you had 'Tark & the Golden Tide' - that was the bottom of the barrel!

Charlie - Luke Cage stories, when I try to explain they're good, don't sound good - but - like you said - it's all in the repartee & street talk!

Sean - In Irish mythology, you lot used to accidentally kill hounds, then call yourselves hounds yourselves, and act as guardians/watchdogs, to make recompense. We Yorkshiremen haven't actually called ourselves dogs, yet - we just steal them (supposedly) - we've got nothing on you!


Anonymous said...

That was one particular incident Phillip, and anyway, it was self defence (Culann's guard dog was ferociously big).


Colin Jones said...

I remember the "Grim Grey God" Conan story from Marvel UK's Conan weekly, Savage Sword Of Conan #3 in 1975. The armies of two kings are about to meet on the field of battle but the two kings end up killing each other in a tent - that's all I can recall of the story. And one of the kings was called Brian which seemed like an odd name for a king. Robert E. Howard claimed Scottish-Irish lineage and he wrote stories about Bran Mak Morn, the "last king of the Picts" in Roman-era Scotland (Caledonia) and Turlough O'Brien, an 11th Century Irishman.

Charlie Horse 47 said...


I just heard on TalkSport UK that the weather is so bad there that Sheffield is cut off from Leeds!!!

What are the implications of that??? Sounds grave....

Anonymous said...

Charlie - there's one frightening implication. Leeds is deprived of Henderson's relish!


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Phillip - now that is indeed something bordering on Armageddon or an existential threat of sorts for sure!

Henderson's Relish is a condiment produced in Sheffield in South Yorkshire, England. It is similar in appearance to Worcestershire sauce, but contains no anchovies. It is made of water, sugar and spirit vinegar with a selection of spices and colouring.

Perhaps even more monumental than that is Charlie just learned Worcestshire has anchovies. Charlie is incredulous and wonders if whoever put that blurb above into Wiki has it right?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Ummm.... you don't suppose Hendo goes good with dog?

Anonymous said...


‘Tark and the Golden Tide’!!! By Ishtar’s Jugs, that’s a deep cut, for certain! Without even looking it up, I even remembered the author’s name, Collum MacConnell (oh, the crap that gets lodged in one’s brain). Which means I either have that book in the Conan Knock-off Section of my library or that I owned it at one point, tore off the nice Ken Barr cover and tossed the book itself in the garbage bin. In any case, I never have read the thing.

If we’re ranking ‘Best to Worst Sword and Sorcery’, I would actually rate Offutt quite a ways above DeCamp, whose work i find to be as dry and flavorless as gluten-free toast.


Anonymous said...

L Sprague de Camp has a more impressive name though b.t.

Colin, Brian is only an odd name for a king in England.
The fighting at Chluain Tarbh is known to have been fierce - as recorded in historic chronicles like the Cogad Gaedel re Gallaib and the 1985 2000AD Annual - and I expect Howard was drawn to the fatalism of it all, with both king Brian Boru and his enemy Mael Morda the king of Leinster dying, as well as the Danish king Brodir of the Isle of Man, and Sigurd the Stout of the Orkneys.

A lot of the lords on both sides were wiped out, so really it was a win for the people, Irish and Norse.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Stan's Soap Box in FF 107:

It starts out "One thing we've always promised to do is level with you..."

" [We are cancelling Silver Surfer because] it was losing money! [It was] one of our biggest successes from the standpoint of reader acceptance. Those who bought it were fanatical about it. We had created a comic book for the older reader, for the more literate, more perceptive, more cognizant fan. But we were too far over the heads of younger readers, and for that reason we lost a great many sales. Rather than compromise our integrity[by changing the format] we have chosen to discontinue it."

There you have it.

I am quite surprised Stan felt compelled to write a column about it?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

By the way, per the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins, Rascally Roy had just finished spending 3 weeks in Great Britain 50 years ago!

How about that!

Anonymous said...

Sean - You haven't pointed out Colin's name is derived from the Irish/Celtic Culann!

b.t. - My guess is 'Tark' is so bad you didn't finish it. In the 1980s, I started it, but didn't finish it - and that's very unusual for me; a book has to be pretty bad!

Charlie - Sacrilege, wasting good Henderson's just to spice up your dog stew!


Anonymous said...

What do you use for seasoning your dog stew then Phillip?

The Colin/Culann thing didn't occur to me at all. Although I did nearly suggest that it was a bit much to call out Brian as an odd name for a monarch when the king of England in the early 11th century was somewhat unfortunately called Cnut.


Anonymous said...

Sean - don't add sauce to a dish until you've tasted it first.

Cnut was a Dane/Viking, who took the throne by conquest!


Anonymous said...

He was still the king of England though Phillip.
Not saying its a good system, but thats how divine right works.


Colin Jones said...

Sean, I should have said that Brian seemed like an odd name for a king when I was 9 and I was first reading the "Grim Grey God" Conan story - the only Brians I knew at that time were Brian Cant from Play School and Brian the snail from the Magic Roundabout.

Phil, I've read that Colin is derived from Columba, the Latin word for dove (and the name of Saint Columba), but Culann sounds a lot cooler - now I feel inspired to pick up a broadsword and drive my enemies before me and hear the lamentations of their women :D

Anonymous said...

b.t.,..."Ishtar's jugs"...(snort!)
How does one pronounce Cnut?
A Polish guy once complained to me about the English language. He spoke several languages and he said English was the hardest to learn because any letter in the alphabet can have wildly varying sounds or no sound at all. And the grammar was confusing too. He said there didn't seem to be much in the way of rules or logic.
I told him that I figured English was bastard language, cobbled together from disparate sources like some kind of lingual Frankenstein monster.
Sean, you're probably at least somewhat familiar with Gaelic. What were they thinking back then when they came up with the spelling for Gaelic words? Were they drunk?
I mean, like REALLY drunk?

"Cnut took the throne by conquest!" I like that, Phil. I immediately thought of Conan strangling the king of Aquilonia on his throne.
Of course, Cnut probably had most of his stranglings done for him. That's what I would do.
I'm learning a lot about the history of Britain on this blog.


Colin Jones said...

MP, Cnut used to be called Canute but nowadays Cnut is considered to be the more accurate spelling, despite the unfortunate anagram. In this country Cnut/Canute is famous for standing at the sea shore and demonstrating to his fawning courtiers that he couldn't hold back the waves.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Charlie wants to know if this Cnut guy is the Norseman / French Man who conquered England in 1066.

And then, b/c once he left his thrown and properties in France to domicile in England the French started ignoring him.

So then his descendant Richard the 3rd had to go back to France to retake his thrown in Normandy leading to the 100 years war where the English had many traitors in their midst and so cut off the fingers that would pull bow strings to that these traitors could not use the long bow?

Is this the same Cnut Charlie is thinking of?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of pronunciations and Olde Irish Heroes...

How does one pronounce ‘Cuchulainn’? Is it ‘Koo-KULL-en’ or ‘Kuh-HOO-len’? I’ve heard it both ways. Or are those both wrong?


Anonymous said...

No, different guy, Charlie. You're thinking of William the Conqueror. Cnut was the king of Demark who conquered a large chunk of England and he preceded William, who was a duke in Normandy, by about thirty years.
They were both basically Norsemen.


Anonymous said...

Well, languages are just different to each other M.P.

Although fwiw, I believe linguists theorize that before Irish was written using the Latin alphabet, the earlier Ogham script was deliberately cryptic, designed by the druids to be a secret means of communication impenetrable to outsiders.
Mind you, some might say we can manage to do that well enough using English...


Anonymous said...

People who speak Irish fairly well say Koo-kull-en b.t.
But there might be regional variations - Crom only knows what they call him in Scottish.


Anonymous said...

So it was designed to be impenetrable!
That actually makes a lot of sense, Sean, given the history over there.
My father once told me that his parents spoke in Dutch to each other when they were talking about something they didn't think he needed to hear.