Sunday, 4 April 2021

Fifty years ago this month - April 1971.

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

How good a month was April 1971 for UK lovers of gold?

It was a great one. Suddenly, after five years of restrictions, it was now legal to own as much of the stuff as you liked.

Since 1966, United Kingdomonians had been banned, by law, from holding more than four gold coins or from buying any new ones, unless they held a licence.

But, now, that was all in the bin and, since then, the people of Britain have been bathing, every day, in a bathful of melted gold.

Or, at least, I have. 

I'm assuming I'm typical.

It seems unlikely that I'm not.

It wasn't such a good month for the Brythonic tongues, as eight members of the Welsh Language Society went on trial for destroying English language road signs in their country.

And it was an even worse one for Charles Manson because the homicidal cultist was sentenced to death in the United States.

Then again, it turned out not to be that bad for him, as he didn't actually die until 2017 - and that was from natural causes.

X-Men #69, the Mimic

This month, we get an X-Men double bill, as, first, the misfit mutants find themselves battling the Sentinels and their deadly leader the Master Mold.

Not content with that, they must then deal with the Mimic and his uncanny ability to ape their powers.

Amazing Spider-Man #95, Spidey goes to London

It's a thrill for all British readers, as the Amazing Spider-Man finds himself visiting London, in a bid to retrieve the heart and mind of Gwen Stacy.

Needless to say, it's a city which bears no resemblance to any London anyone from Britain will ever recognise. Just how long has Tower Bridge been next to the Houses of Parliament?

Sadly, it's also a London teeming with terrorists who've planted a time bomb.

But where have they planted it? Where?

Avengers #87, the origin of the Black Panther revealed

The Avengers take a break from foiling world-threatening menaces, to listen to T'Challa recount the tale of his origin.

It probably makes a nice change for them to escape from Captain America boring them with endless retellings of his origin.

Captain America and the Falcon #136, the Mole Man

This cover promises us a mystery villain, though, looking at that profile and the mention of, "The World Below," I'm betting it might just be the Mole Man.

For some of us, the main mystery is why Marvel keeps bringing the Mole Man back when it has the far more stylish Tyrannus available.

There is also, of course, a super-intelligent gorilla to be dealt with.

Conan the Barbarian #4, Barry Windsor Smith, giant spider

Barry Smith's art develops apace, as our hero discovers he must thwart a giant spider.

Daredevil #75, El Condor

Matt and Foggy find themselves enmeshed in the revolutionary activities of El Condor, a South American villain of whom I have very limited memories.

Fantastic Four #109, Annihilus

Hooray! The Fantastic Four enter the Negative Zone to have another punch-up with Annihilus!

From what I can remember, they're really after Janus the Nega-Man who's managed to get himself stranded there and has, no doubt, plans to take the place over.

I suspect a certain evil grasshopper'll have something to say about that.

Incredible Hulk #138, The Sandman turns to glass

It's yet another stunner when the Sandman decides the cure for his problem of having been turned into glass is to turn Betty Ross into glass, instead.

No wonder the woman had a nervous breakdown.

Iron Man #36, Ramrod

It's another of those Iron Man tales I must have read but have no memory of, though I do recall the name, "Ramrod."

Looking at that picture, even though the cover's by Sal Buscema, Ramrod himself looks very much like he's a Don Heck creation.

Thor #187, Thor vs Odin

Who'd win a fight between Thor and Odin?

The reader would!

It's true. Odin's managed the unique feat of being taken over by himself and is now a threat to all who live.

Happily, his son's around to give him the punch in the teeth he's asking for.

Green Lantern #83

That's what Marvel's up to but what of its biggest rival?

Of DC's output, this month, just two books leap off the spinner rack at me.

The first is Green Lantern #83.

The Lantern and the Green Arrow investigate a school that plans to use a psychic child to control the other students.

I've never read this tale but it's by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, so, I shall assume it's fully socially relevant and will teach us - and the Green Lantern - a valuable life lesson we'll never forget.

Jimmy Olsen #137

Jack Kirby continues to make his mark on Superman's best pal.

And, thanks to it, the world's mightiest mortal must confront a clone created by Simyan and Mokkari.

I don't have a clue who Simyan and Mokkari are or why their clone seems to have four arms.

I do know that cover's inked by Neal Adams, though.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Ole Charlie did his homework for today's lecture by at least digging Cap out of the long box and reading it!

3 points of interest:

1) In the Soapbox Stan is beseeching Marveldom to send letters about the comics themselves, not the numerous social issues blazing away at the time. I think he says, " For example, only got two letters on the previous Cap issue were about Cap. The rest were about the war, social strife..." (Gist of it.) Stan wants to know if Marveldom would prefer "2 pages of story and 20 pages of letters!"

2) Everett inks this. It is really well done! Please you guys know way more about comics than me. I want to know what Gene drew vs. Bill inked in. There is a lot of lines for shading e.g. Fury's face on page 5, panel 4. I assume Gene drew these in and Bill retained them? I just don't recall Gene's work having so much shading done with lines. It's pervasive in this issue which made me wonder if Bill added some in? Seems unlikely? HELP!

3) There is an infinitely deep hole that Cap and Magilla fall down. That's why they run into Mole Man. Falcon goes to Tony Stark for help. Tony gives him a rocket pack that only has enough juice to get him to the bottom of the hole so it's a one-way trip, lol. The obvious question is why Tony doesn't strap on his armor and fly down the infinitely deep hole himself, rather than give Falcon a one-way ticket, lol.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

There's a nice half-page ad running this month!

"It had to happen! Dr. Doom vs. the Red Skull! Marvel's Mightiest Arch-villains clash at last in Astonishing Tales!"

The only way Skull beats Doom is if Doom gets his hand on the Cosmic Cube!!!

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Colan and Everett also did that Black Widow story that I raved about from a few weeks ago. Definitely a winning combination.

Anonymous said...

Steve, surely the correct spelling is United Kingdomoanians?

Don't know about Brythonic languages generally, but it doesn't sound like it was a bad month for Welsh at all. Those 8 might have been in court but look at how things are in Wales now - not only are all the road signs in their own language but so is a lot of media, and local and devolved government.
And people say direct action doesn't work!
This why you don't have the signs int' north in Northern. You have to push for it.

Green Lantern #83 is indeed by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams, and is suitably relevant which is why that character on the front cover has been drawn to resemble then Vice-President Spiro Agnew.


Anonymous said...

Charlie, its amusing to remember the complaints Marvel used to get back in the day when you read online rants about the problem with their current output being rampant political correctness gone mad. Not at all like in the 70s!

I expect cross hatching was Everett's solution for how to render Colan's shading. Personally, I don't care much for his inks. Just compare with the previous issue - with (I think) Tom Palmer - which was much better imo.

And Steve, the Mole Man is cooler than Tyrannus. Perhaps one of your legendary SteveDoesComics polls is called for to settle the matter?


Colin Jones said...

The Conan cover features the obligatory cowering scantily-clad wench even though the story inside, "The Tower Of The Elephant", doesn't include any women at all. Conan returned to Marvel in 2019 and not a single Conan cover has featured a terrified female in need of rescuing - it's rampant political correctness gone mad!!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand why Marvel put out a Captain America comic with a super-intelligent ape AND the Mole Man. I see no connection. Who plotted that?
Still, super-intelligent monkeys and apes abound. Often it's because they were sent into space on an experimental mission and came back, well, really smart. Possibly because of cosmic rays.
I've seen that in comics, on a cartoon and even on the Simpsons, where there was a chimp on roller skates wearing a suit and speaking with an upper-crust English accent. He was a big shot at NASA. In Grant Morrison's The Filth a chimp shot into space by the Soviets came back and became a sarcastic, dope-smoking master assassin who may or may not have shot JFK.

Colin, I thought the same thing about Tower of the Elephant. There was no cowering girl in that story, at least in REH's original version. That was rather gratuitous, them sticking the obligatory cowering female in there.

I've never been to Wales (and I'd love to go there), but I seem to remember seeing pictures
of road signs in native Welsh, which, if I understand correctly, is part of a larger group of Celtic languages. Now, at some point in the past, somebody, like a monk maybe, woulda had to sit down and convert this language into the Latin alphabet. He hadda figure out how to spell those words using the common alphabet.

...was that guy like, really, really drunk when he did it?
No, seriously. What the hell happened there?


Redartz said...

Colin- yes, I always wondered about that Conan cover. As striking a figure as Yag Kosha was, you'd think he'd have been prioritized over a spider...

Sean- to respond to your poll request- here's a vote for the Mole Man! The world needs more villains willing to promote the public wearing of 3-D glasses.

And Charlie- yes, no way does the Red Skull beat Doom without some help. He does have a cool headgear, though; so he can take some comfort in that...

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Mole Man! Nice one Redartz.

M.P., maybe when the Welsh started using the Latin alphabet there was a vowel shortage?

My understanding is that there are two groups of Celtic languages from the Northwestern European Archipelago. Theres the Brythonic, like Welsh, Cornish, Breton, and Cumbric (which was a form of Welsh spoken in the Hen Ogledd, the area the Romans knew as Brittania Inferior, and we now call the North).
While the more sophisticated Celts to the west and far north were Goidelic, speaking Irish, and Scottish Gaelic.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Humor Charlie with this posting...

For my UK comrades, Steve does mention Charles Manson in the opening remarks.

At that time, though, the headlines alternated daily (literally) between Manson and Lt. Calley's, the US Army's fall guy for the My Lai massacre, just one of many in Vietnam.

My thanks to Yorkshire television for producing this valuable documentary (out of Sheffield? Leeds?)

And though Charlie (me, not Manson) was initially inspired to fly choppers by Apocalypse Now, his only real military hero is the Army pilot Hugh Thompson at My Lai.

Anonymous said...

Is that true, Charlie? You were inspired to become a helicopter pilot after watching Apocalypse Now?
I guess I can see that. I did some time in the Iowa National Guard in an Air Cav unit, where it was my job to refuel the choppers. This simple task I performed with aplomb; at the same time I thought those pilots were nuts. There's no REASON those things could fly, and to make matters worse, the mechanics were heavy drinkers. I know, because I used to drink with them.
In '94, at the end of a two week field exercise, the pilots offered us enlisted guys free rides, and I said "no way, Jose." M.P. is a cat who does not dig heights. Still, they hollered at me and the "p-word" was mentioned (the one ending with y) and I got shamed into getting into that thing.
There was no door on it! I gazed out into the abyss, and it gazed back.


Steve W. said...

Charlie, from the work I've seen, when he pencilled, Colan totally ignored the fact his work was going to have to be inked and just drew in varying shades of grey, meaning the poor inker had to work out how to deal with areas of grey when he didn't have the option of using grey ink. Therefore, it's a safe bet the lines were put there by Everett, in an attempt to indicate an area of grey.

Anonymous said...

M.P. - As regards Wales, a while back I downloaded (onto my kindle) the Description of Wales (?) by a medieval clergyman, named Gerald of Wales. He makes all kinds of observations about Wales & the Welsh, in medieval times (obviously, there'll be bias in it.) He also wrote stuff about Ireland, but I haven't read that. As regards your quotation about being 'very, very drunk', I can see you're familiar with Rowley Birkin, from 'The Fast Show'!

The Tower of the Elephant is probably one of the most memorable of all Conan stories.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

You gotta admit Marvel was on it's "A" game for astro-physics in FF 109 with Reed telling us that 'negative power" holds the universe together and that's why Annihilus can't be allowed in to "our side" of the universe from the Negative Zone.

I mean, if 95% of the universe is dark matter / dark energy (whatever the terms are these days for what they can't describe yet) we can just as well call it "Negative Power" no?

In fact, I may start lobbying my Senator (Tammy Duckworth) to have NASA start referring to it as Negative Power!

And Janus himself is basically crushed to death in the equivalent of a black hole of sorts isn't he?

Someone does whip out a Cosmic Rod in this little FF trilogy... is it Annihilus? I thought it was Janus but surely a Cosmic Rod would have saved him from being crushed in a black hole?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

SDC - THank you for the DC issues! I've read a bunch of the Jimmy Olsen!

I loved 'em so much I mailed them off to KD last week (heh, heh) as I continue down sizing my abode!

Honestly, the art is hard to look at. And, dare I say it, the reprinting of Newsboy Legion stories (from Star Spangled Comics during WW 2?) were the real gems in this run!!!

Charlie Horse 47 said...


Regarding Ramrod looking like a Heck creation, I've come to the conclusion that Don Heck would look at DC artist's Sekowsky's JLA stories, put Silly Putty on the page to transfer the art, stretch it out left/right, and then draw that.

But IIRC didn't DD go up against a "Ramrod" around issue 100-ish? I think he was a normal-ish guy with a metal plate on his head / jaw?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

SDC - I am feeling old with this 50-years-ag0 column of yours because I distincly recall digging into my long boxes to look at the Skull-Cap-Falcon intro issues around Cap 116 or so.

That's like 2 years ago now?

Good lord... I'll be farting dust before I know it!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

MP - yep! Apocalypse Now, Baa Baa Black Sheep, the movie "The Battle of Britain" they were my inspirations to fly.

We also flew those gas-powered, balsa-wood airplanes on a string for a few years in high school for fun.

We also launched a bucket-load of Estes rockets... often at houses or perhaps packed with BBs or perhaps magnesium to see if we could create a real flaming rocket that would illuminate a football field and reign death from above, lol.

They, along with making gun powder, were my primary after-school activity (besides weed and Barbie Benton).

Anonymous said...

Legion of Charlies, not only did Manson and Calley alternate in the headlines they shared them same day. Check the pic of the '69 LA Times here -


Anonymous said...

I’m always so excited to see one of the rare comics I owned in the days before I became a total Comic Book Junkie, here in the Fifty Years Ago column.

DAREDEVIL 75 is one that I bought with my very own money, hot off the spinner rack. I love that cover blurb, “RIPPED FROM TODAY’S SCREAMING HEADLINES!” Funny, I don’t recall Mexican revolutionaries dressing up like Dr. Syn and causing trouble being a thing in the news at the time. I do remember reading this comic in Dad’s car while we drove an hour and a half to see some snow. And a day or two after that was the big Sylmar Earthquake. First earthquake I ever remember experiencing and it was a whopper. We had to evacuate for a day when it looked like the Van Norman Reservoir was gonna collapse and flood the upper San Fernando Valley (it came pretty close).

Our house didn’t really suffer any damage — quite the opposite, in fact. There was a big crack in the wall and ceiling in our living room which Dad had tried to putty up several times, but it never stayed fixed. But after the ‘71 quake, BOOM, the crack slammed shut and STAYED shut.

Yes, there WAS a second Ramrod, the bare-chested guy with Steel plating on his head and along his arms and shoulders — and that one WAS designed and drawn by Don Heck. Small world!


Anonymous said...

I've just been looking at an old SSOC - from back in the days before Conan became a rampant social justice warrior - with a version of "Tower of the Elephant" drawn by John Buscema and Alfredo Alcala.
The artwork is obviously more accomplished than in the young Bashful Barry version, but does that make it "better"?

Not that its a competition or anything - and theres no reason you can't appreciate both for what they have to offer in their different ways - but still... interesting to compare the two.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents - thank you for your thoughts about Everett's line-shading on Colan's art for Cap. It all makes sense! (I never learned about art vs. inks until this site!)

Lt. Calley and Charlie Manson were in our heads as 2nd graders in 1969 b/c were learning about newspapers. Daily we read them in front of the class and discussed the headlines.

Charlie was able to help the teacher keep his fellow students straight! For Manson, California was considering using their "in need of repair" gas chamber and for Calley there was hanging or the firing squad by the Army. I never got it mixed up. May have even got a gold star from the teacher?

Steve W. said...

Sean, I remember The Bronze Age Babies once doing a post that compared the Buscema and Smith versions of Tower of the Elephant.

Bt, I'm very glad we never had to contend with earthquakes where I grew up.

Anonymous said...

Phil, I agree that Tower of the Elephant is Howard at his best. You can see a little bit of Lovecraft in there, when Yag-Kosha reveals the cosmic history of his alien people to the barbaric thief. Lovecraft was a bit of a mentor to Howard, I think. They were pen pals.
...Rogues in the House is my favorite! "That would be Thak." Yep, that was Thak allright. Ugly all over.

I wasn't making fun of Celtic spelling; on the contrary I find it fascinating that it's so utterly different. Take "samhain" for example. It's pronounced completely different from how it's spelled. I'm a history nerd, and methinks there is a mystery here. I ask myself, how did that happen? And what did they have against vowels, anyway? In Grant Morrison's JLA, the sprites of the fifth dimension avoided vowels like the plague. Like they were bad magic. A connection? Or am I reaching?


Anonymous said...

Charlie - The Ramrod(in DD/Spider-man)'s face resembles the actor, Robert Loggia.

I'm just saying this because Dangermash equated Patrick Troughton with Mr.Hyde - whilst earlier, M.P. pointed up Hogun being based on Charles Bronson - after I said Fandral was Errol Flynn!

Then again, I think Robert Loggia was also the basis for a minor character, in the Cockrum X-Men era, around the time Thunderbird got killed. Basically, a military guy with a furrowed, wrinkly forehead.