Sunday, 14 March 2021

Forty years ago today - March 1981.

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

Objects in the rear-view mirror may appear closer than they are.

But just how close do the following comics feel?

And closer to what?

Avengers #205, the Yellow Claw

Still feeling dubious about the Yellow Claw, after last month's encounter, the Avengers again invade his not-so-secret lair but, this time, he's taken the Vision captive, for reasons I'm not too sure of.

Fortunately, the fiendish fiend hasn't taken into account the synthezoid's ability to change his weight, or what effect that might have on the aircraft the pair of them are currently on.

Conan the Barbarian #120,  Vonndhar

Some bloke representing the god of Death shows up, out to deliver Jenna to his master.

However, that bloke finds himself falling for her charms and sacrifices his life to save her.

An act for which she's supremely ungrateful.

Oh, Jenna. You really are a trial, at times.

Captain America #255

Hooray! It's another chance for the book to retell Captain America's origin.

Great news for those who haven't read the previous 255 retellings of it.

Daredevil #169, Bullseye

Oh, dear. Bullseye's back on the loose.

And he's gone completely mad.

Now, he's convinced that everyone he meets is Daredevil.

The problem is, one of them actually is.

And that's the one who's about to smash his teeth in.

Fantastic Four #228, Ego-Spawn

Despite the title on the cover, this story's got nothing to do with long-standing Thor-botherer Ego.

Instead, thanks to Reed's attempts to discover the true nature of his son's powers, that son takes possession of a moron who's been annoying the Torch, during a date, and turns him into a man with the power to defeat even the FF themselves!

Incredible Hulk #257, Gog and Magog

In the Egyptian desert, the Hulk encounters Gog and Magog, long-entombed villains from an ancient era.

Happily, one of the supporting characters is about to randomly turn into the Arabian Knight, a man with a sword and a flying carpet.

Iron Man #144, the origin of Rhodey

The story with Sunturion is, happily, wrapped up very quickly.

But, far more importantly, we get a reminder of just how Tony Stark met his best mate Rhodey, way back during Iron Man's first adventure, in Vietnam.

I think we all remember that meeting, from when it turned-up in Tales of Suspense #39 and...

...hold on, I don't recall Tales of Suspense ever featuring that encounter. I can only conclude it must have occurred at the same time as Matt Murdock was having his student-days love affair with Elektra.

Spectacular Spider-Man #52, the White Tiger

When Gideon Mace has the White Tiger filled with enough holes to convert him into a teabag, Spidey decides to teach the club-handed villain a lesson or two.

The trouble is Mace has gone completely off his rocker and manages to kill himself before Spidey can get anywhere near bringing him to justice.

X-Men #143, Kitty Pryde and the N'garai

When the X-Men decide to go out for the night and leave Kitty Pryde alone in the house, it turns out not to have been such a great idea, as that's when one of the N'garai finds his way into our world and heads straight for the place.

Fortunately, Kitty's recently been receiving lessons on how to operate the Blackbird - and knows exactly who to point its engines at.

Thor #305, the return of Gabriel

Gabriel's back - and totally oblivious to the fact that he's an android.

Soon, he finds himself in conflict with Thor.

But, along the way, he's picked up a youthful sidekick called Kevin. Can Kevin get him to see the error of his ways?

For that matter, does Kevin even care if he sees the error of his ways?

Amazing Spider-Man #214, Llyra and the Frightful Four

For reasons I'm struggling to recollect, Llyra's joined the Frightful Four and, for reasons I'm struggling to recollect, they're out to get Spider-Man.

Fortunately, Prince Namor shows up, for reasons I'm struggling to recollect.

Whatever anyone's motives, faced with those heroes, I suspect the quarrelsome quartet are doomed to failure.


Anonymous said...

The Hulk encounters Gog and Magog? I can't help but feel I've recently read about all that before, Steve. I can't imagine where...

As if the Arabian Knight and his flying carpet weren't ridiculous enough, the next issue introduces Ursa Major - he's Russian, and his super-power is turning into a bear!
Along with the prickly Sabra iirc that Hulk run also gave us the Chinese super-hero Collective Man and - I wouldn't normally bring this up, but Phillip already went there not so long ago - the Shamrock.

My theory is that Bill Mantlo noted the increasing popularity of Chris Claremont's writing on the X-Men and thought, "hey, I could do that..."


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

In ASM, Namor shows up because he's heard Lyra is hanging about in New York.

More to the point, what does this have to do with Spider-Man or the FF (can I call them that?). Well...

- Lyra wants revenge on Namor and asks the Wizard to help her come up with a plan

- the Wizard agrees to this provided Lyra can free Sandman and Trapster from the Nick, which she does

- Wizard's plan is to study Spider-Man's spider sense (using those spider-robots he had following Spider-Man around last month), work out how it works, transfer it from Spider-Man to Namor, then the FF can beat Namor while he's distracted by all this buzzing in his head

- Spider-Man's loss of spider-sense is just a bonus

No nipple clamps involved.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

And Cap #255 featured in The Best Of Marvel Comics, a strange hardbacked volume that appeared on bookshelves in the 1980s.

Steve W. said...

Dangermash, that's an interesting plan the Wizard's concocted, and not at all unnecessarily complicated. Personally, I think he should just use his Wonder Gloves or whatever they were called.

Sean, I like to think Marvel was just trying to see how many people from around the world it could alienate before it lost its entire overseas readership.

Anonymous said...

Once again, if not for John Byrne and Frank Miller, I wouldn’t have bought a single one of this week’s Marvels. IIRC, that’s Byrne’s last X-MEN, isn’t it? Oh wait, that’s his last CAPTAIN AMERICA too, right? I know I kept buying X-MEN for awhile after this (grudgingly!) but this was just about the last CAP I bought for years and years.


Anonymous said...

I'm not Irish, but if I was, Marvel introducing a character called the Shamrock would probably piss me off.
What's next, the Human Potato? Geez, a lotta those international heroes were lame.
My father's people were Dutch, so I wonder what a Dutch superhero would look like.
Captain Windmill? Cheese Man? The Human Dyke?
Well, maybe not that last one. That could cause some confusion...


Anonymous said...

Its worse than it sounds M.P. - iirc, the Shamrock had red hair, her super-power was the luck of the Irish (eh?) and she was the daughter of an IRA bomber.
From the same publisher that gave us Banshee and those f****** leprechauns.

Btw, Klaw was Dutch.

b.t, on the plus side, the end of that Cap run means we're not far off from John Byrne starting as writer/artist on the FF, and Roger Stern returning to Dr Strange, so you lose one readable comic but get two in its place.
Although I think around this point I read more DCs than Marvels, for the first time in ages...


Anonymous said...

Sean, it was maybe three years from this stuff that I started buying D.C. comics.
Maybe it was outta pure frustration with Marvel, but I got sucked in by Swamp Thing, Crisis on Infinite Earths and The Dark Knight Returns.
...and, um, the Ambush Bug Specials...
D.C. became interesting and compelling for a change!
After all, why not take risks at that point? What did they have to lose? They had been moribund.


Anonymous said...


Well, yes, except that I didn’t love Byrne’s run on FF as much as most of my fellow Marvel Nerds did. I LIKED it well enough but it didn’t blow me away. Some things I liked a LOT — Frankie Raye was a good character, with more depth than most “Hero’s Girlfriend” type characters. The Terrax / Galactus / Frankie trilogy (242-244) was an effective remix of an old tune. Terminus was a nifty Kirby-ish villain. She-Hulk was a cool temporary team member. Etc . But it was never one of those books that I got excited about reading every month.

Part of it had to do with the art. Byrne’s inks over his own pencils were ... fine. But man, I’d been spoiled by Terry Austin on thirty-some-odd issues of X-MEN. He absolutely elevated Byrne to a higher level. It’s as if the Claremont / Byrne / Austin team on X-MEN were the Beatles (maybe Tom Orzechowski can be Ringo) — and Byrne all by himself was Wings. (Woof, that’s a terrible analogy, but I’m too tired to think up a better one.)


Anonymous said...

Well M.P., I was always into a bit of Supes and the JLA - well, until the Crisis on Infinite Earths (sorry, but we're just not going to agree on that) - and the occasional DC mystery or war comic. But yeah, they did start to revive at this point.

Like, Dazzler #1 was Marvel's first comic sold purely through the (then) new direct market, while around the same time DC's was Madame Xanadu #1, which - from the Mike Kaluta cover to a back-up drawn by Brian Bolland - was so much better. In retrospect you can see how it anticipated what DC did well through the next decade and a half or so.
Although inevitably Dazzler sold better.


Anonymous said...

b.t., I really liked Byrne's inks on the FF, at least early on in his run - somehow they made his artwork seem both retro and new at the same time.
But then I found Terry Austin's approach a bit too tight for my tastes. Which does seem to be a minority opinion!


Fantastic Four follower said...

Agree with FF comment regarding the title by Byrne. .liked it but always thought the art was the flaw in this being a great title.FF #238 has a back up story concerning Thing which is inked by Austin and the quality just jumps of the page.This is the look I believe would have elevated the title at this time into the realms of X-hen,Miller Daredevil.Byrne Cap,Simon on Thor etc.That issue encapsulates the difference between great and excellent.Just my opinion of course and I bought every issue and was amazed when Byrne left in q9i6 and of course the FF fell off the cliff...and then fell off another cliff and became unreadable!Just my opinion but by #301 I was gone and never bought another issue.

Fantastic Four follower said...

Meant X-men not X-hen....though that has possibilities,perhaps a one shot or a 4 issue mini-series!

Colin Jones said...

Back then it was Captain America's 40th anniversary and here we are another 40 years on...

Anonymous said...

Colin, thanks for putting things in perspective. Gosh! Seems like just yesterday I bought the Stern / Byrne Cap 40th issue at my LCS, and 40 years from now, I’ll be ONE HUNDRED YEARS OLD. Egad!


Anonymous said...

FF follower, you're right about the FF going off a cliff post-Byrne, and I've long since given up on the world's greatest comic magazine too. But if you never read any of it again after #300... you missed the Simonson run!

I am currently wondering whether to splash out on the "treasury edition" of the recent Neal Adams FF, due soon.
Anyone here read the issues, and know if they're a hit or a miss?


Steve W. said...

Sean, is it written by Neal? If so, I don't feel very optimistic about it.

Anonymous said...

I kinda like Neal's writing Steve.
Yep, another minority opinion there - probably a minority of one - but he's proper crazy, which can make for an enjoyably unpredictable read. C'mon, he gave us Batman on a pterodactyl inside a hollow Earth with lizard people and green aliens!

But anyway, its written by Mark Waid who did Kingdom Come with Alex Ross. That wasn't terrible, so...


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Mark Waid did a wonderful run on Archie a few years ago. Solid stuff. I'll at least wander into the LCBS and read bits/ pieces there, assuming it's not behind the counter and poly-bagged or such like the Death of Superman 30 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Waid is a decent writer. He'll throw the reader a curveball once in a while.(As opposed to Grant Morrison, who throws curveballs all the time and at great speeds! snort!)
I notice that Gabriel the Air Walker makes an appearance in this blog.
I always thought he was kinda cool! He shows up in NYC as an angel of wrath proclaiming the end of the world at the hand of a vengeful God.
Then he turns out to be an android. That's Twilight Zone stuff, right there.
But once he had been a real guy, a herald of Galactus who got wasted by aliens. I dunno what's going on up there in that Thor comic.
If we've learned anything by reading Marvel Comics, it's that you shouldn't just leave busted robots lying around. It's ecologically unsound.
Also, next thing you know, you'll be turning on the evening news and see them going on a rampage on main street.
Like with the Cosmic Powered hulk robot. Somebody even put him back together, for some reason.