Tuesday, 4 May 2021

The Marvel Lucky Bag - May 1971.

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

You know what? There are days when all I do, from dawn to dusk, is rise up out of the floor, manically playing my pipe organ.

And, fortunately, I'm not alone because the Abominable Dr Phibes likes to do the same thing.

And the time when he first started liking to do it was May 1971.

For that was the month in which the movie which bore his name was first unleashed upon cinemas.

That May also saw the release of Escape from the Planet of the Apes, a film which I always feel is terribly underrated.

Then again, I always feel Battle for the Planet of the Apes is underrated too. To this day, I've never understood the hate for it.

Over on the UK singles chart, the month was initially dominated by Dave and Ansel Collins' Double Barrel but that was almost instantly deposed by Dawn's Knock Three Times which spent the rest of the month at Number One.

I'm pretty sure there's an issue of Amazing Spider-Man in which Aunt May declares her love for the works of Tony Orlando and Dawn. So, I'm sure she'll have been delighted by that development.

The UK album chart, meanwhile, kicked off with the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers in top spot - and it looked like it was going to be there for the whole month but, just at the very end of May, it was dethroned by Paul and Linda McCartney's exercise in delirious creativity that the world knows as Ram.

Amazing Adventures #6, the Inhumans

Maximus is causing trouble but I'm not sure what kind of trouble, as I've never read this one.

I'm assuming, though, that it ultimately leads into the events of the Kree/Skrull War.

The Black Widow also has trouble in her life but, yet again, I don't know of what nature.

I do know we get to see the first appearance of Eddie.

No, I don't have a clue who Eddie is.

Creatures on the Loose #11, Moomba

It's the comic which leaves you in no doubt that Moomba's here!

Not that you could fail to notice, judging by that cover.

What's going on is an explorer discovers that a bunch of wooden statues are an advance guard of aliens, led by the dreaded Moomba.

Fortunately, magic saves the day and the Earth is rescued.

In this month's other story, a neglected comic book artist has a chance to achieve fame and fortune.

But, of course, there's a catch...

Savage Tales #1, Conan

It's here! The first issue of the magazine no lover of loincloths would go without, as Savage Tales #1 hits the spinner racks!

First, we get Barry Smith's adaptation of The Frost Giant's Daughter.

Then there's The Fury of the Femizons which I think is a Lee/Romita tale about a warrior woman who discovers love conquers all.

Next, we get what I believe to be the first-ever appearance of the Man-Thing.

After that, there's Black Brother!

I don't have a clue what that's about - and, with a title like that, the mind boggles - but it's, apparently, the only ever appearance by the character.

Anyway, it's brought to us by the epic team of Denny O'Neil, Gene Colan and Bill Everett.

And we finish off with Night of the Looter in which a Mary Jane Watson lookalike turns up in the Savage Land, looking to steal Ka-Zar's Vibranium, with the aid of a tank and her majestic rack.

Sub-Mariner #37, the death of Lady Dorma

This is the Big One, and a pivotal moment in the history of comics.

Not only does Namor get his "marriage" to Llyra instantly annulled but the foul machinations of Attuma get Lady Dorma killed. Can comic books get any more tragic?

Where Creatures Roam #6, Zog

It's the only monster ever to be named after an Albanian king, as Zog returns to life.

Personally, I didn't even know he'd been ill.

In fact, Zog turns out to be harmless. This we discover after a scientist decides to free him from the block of ice he's trapped in, in order to show people they're foolish to be afraid of him.

I have to say that's one hell of a risk that scientist was willing to take with everybody else's lives.

After that, an art thief pays a high price for his criminality, in a tale called The Painting.

Next, a space explorer sells the seeds of an alien plant - only to discover they're in the habit of spawning monsters!

And, lastly but not leastly, we get the tale of a man who needs money for his brother's medical bills and, so, agrees to be a guinea pig for a scientist who wants to test out a shrinking ray.

I think we can spot that one's not going to end happily.

Where Monsters Dwell #9, Bombu

In our main story, when he's killed by lightning, explorers discover African witch doctor Bombu is actually an alien.

Next, a man adjusts his TV and finds it's now showing live footage of a battle between two sets of aliens on another world.

Except it isn't. It's actually a fight between two sets of ants, right outside his window.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that doesn't sound like the greatest story of all time.

After that, a man convinces his wife to use magic to become young again.

Having done so, she promptly takes advantage of her regained youth, by running off with another man.

Finally, a scientist sets out to discover if his time machine sends things into the past or into the future.

The problem is that, when he reaches his destination, he can't tell which of those it is, as the primitive wasteland he encounters could be either.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

On the last page of ASM #156, Aunt May is letting herself in and looking forward to watching Tony Orlando and Dawn on the TV but instead she finds a down and out Doc Ock making himself at home waiting for her. Always the way.

Fantastic Four follower said...

Excellent work as always.Diverse choice as your title suggests.A thought struck me as to a hierarchy of Marvel titles based on the monthly checklist.Did Stan decide in which order the titles were listed or was it popularity and sales.The order did not seem to change after the first few years and certainly influenced my comic buying and swapping back in the 70's.For example Submariner and Ironman were lesser titles in comparison to FF and Spidy who remained 1 and 2 in the pecking order/checklist order for probably 10 years.I still think of the list as a menu of diminishing returns ending with Sgt Fury,Marvels Monster reprints and Romance Comics!!!!Loved reading them and If I remember one month they featured 2 lists in the one issue!FF 96 or 97 I think.Happy memories indeed.

Anonymous said...

A pedant writes -
Black Brother was inked by Tom Palmer not Bill Everett, Steve.
And it was actually written by the late Sergius O'Shaugnessy (;.

I think its technically - because only one episode was ever published (although obviously more were intended) - the first Marvel series with a black lead character. Basically, Joshua is an idealistic local politico in the recently decolonised African country of Potonga, having to deal with the machinations of a corrupt national government in alliance with western oil interests.
Interesting stuff for the time, although uh... O'Shaugnessy's well intentioned script is derailed by the inclusion of a fair bit of what used to be known as cheesecake.
For the record though, Colan and Palmer do draw some fine foxy chicks.

You wouldn't have thought there'd be much need for stuff like that in the origin of Man-Thing, but Ted Sallis' girlfriend spends a fair few panels posing while not wearing very much, courtesy of Gray Morrow.
So it seems like a reasonable assumption there was a specific editorial brief for Savage Tales to include young ladies in various states of undress.

"Come with us to the future -- to the strange and savage 23rd century! Marvel at a world ruled by women -- the vicious voluptuaries we call -- the Femizons!" Oh dear, Stan. What were you thinking?


Anonymous said...

sean: I think Stan and Co. were following Warren’s lead in their b/w books, which by that time were leaning quite a bit into the racier ‘’ Rated ‘M’ for ‘Mature’ ‘’ vibe. Which basically meant rougher violence and lots more skin. I think SAVAGE TALES 1 is a pretty excellent, high-quality package over all. If we’re just judging by the art alone, we’ve got Romita, Colan, Morrow, Barry Smith and Big John Buscema — there ain’t a weak link in THAT chain.

Steve: you’d think any movie that features Paul Williams and John Houston in full prosthetic Orangutan drag couldn’t be ALL bad, right? And, well... I must admit it’s my least favorite of the original series, but I do have a certain nostalgic fondness for it. ESCAPE I like a lot, but on my last couple viewings, the thing I liked best about it is Jerry Goldsmith’s funky Main Title theme. It’s so far-out, it screams ‘It’s the 70s, baby! Get with it!’


Steve W. said...

Dangermash, it's nice to know I wasn't imagining May's love of Dawn.

FFf, I'm afraid I can shed no light on the strategy behind Marvel Checklist ordering. I do remember Fury and his commandos always seemed to be near the bottom of them.

Sean, thanks for the Black Brother correction and info.

Sean and Bt, I don't think there's any doubt the purpose of the B&W mags was to print things that would've made the Comics Code people choke on their cornflakes.

As for Stan's take on feminism, that was always going to be an experience.

Anonymous said...

I do wonder if the Femizons began as part of Stan's pitch to Playboy, Steve.

b.t., that is an impressive line up of artists on Savage Tales #1. But apart from maybe Smith all of them were capable of turning around good work at short notice, and the mag does have a bit of a thrown together feel imo.
Thats down to the writing really, which mostly does seem very formulaic.

Can't say I'm too keen on any of the Apes films after Beneath. The Abominable Dr Phibes is good though. For anyone interested - and there seems to be a fair bit of enthusiasm for Michael Moorcock round these parts - after both Phibes flicks the writer/director Robert Fuest made The Final Programme.
(Watch out for the blink and you'll miss it Hawkwind cameo b.t.;)


Anonymous said...

I loved both Dr. Phibes movies but I’ve never seen THE FINAL PROGRAMME because of its near-universal bad reputation. It’s odd, because when I look at the stills, it kinda LOOKS like what I’d expect a Jerry Cornelius movie to look like, and Jon Finch certainly looks the part in his crushed velvet bell-bottoms and puffy shirt, but....i don’t know. I’m also just not all that into the character anyway. But since it’s on YouTube, I guess I could take a peek.

Also, fair point about SAVAGE TALES 1 having a bit of a slap-dash feel to it. God knows Stan could call Big John up on a Friday afternoon , say ‘ I need 15 pages of Ka-Zar fighting this shifty broad and her boyfriend in the jungle and I need it Monday morning’ and have a reasonable expectation that he’d get it — AND that it would be pretty dang good, if not absolutely Top Drawer. But I think Romita’s Femizon story looks sweet (wonky gender politics aside) and Morrow’s Man-Thing is as slick as anything he ever did. And yes, story-wise, none of the stories are especially inspired or innovative. But they do get the job done.


Anonymous said...

Sorry if I got your hopes up b.t., but the link is just the trailer.

Moorcock doesn't like the film, mainly because of the ending, and he's right - the ending really spoils it. Badly. A shame really, as apart from that it is what you'd want to see - Finch is great as Jerry, and all the other actors are well cast and do a good job too, and everything is appropriately stylish (I think Fuest started out directing Avengers episodes).

I seem to recall reading somewhere that Stan was keen on doing a b&w mag, but Martin Goodman was against it. Which might explain why Savage Tales #1 seems a bit half hearted, and was quickly abandoned for a couple of years.


Redartz said...

Regarding Savage Tales- oh, that cover. Conan being Conan; and obviously getting ahead in his world (sorry...). Kind of feel for the Obligatory Damsel in Distress, she looks rather worn down. Probably tough holding on to a leg while it's owner is carving up the landscape!

"The Frost Giant's Daughter" is a favorite of mine. The reprint , colored by Barry, in Conan 16 is a thing of beauty...

Colin Jones said...

I remember an issue of Amazing Spider-Man in which Aunt May and her friend Anna Watson are off to see the musical "Hair" but I don't think Aunt May ever mentioned what she thought of the experience.

On the subject of the Femizons and a female future - I was in Tesco this morning and I saw a new novel called "The End Of Men" by Christina Sweeney-Baird in which a global pandemic kills off most of the male population. "Is this the end of the world - or its' salvation?" says the blurb for the novel - dare I suggest that a female-dominated world wouldn't be the paradise of love and harmony that feminists imagine? Like how a female Prime-Minister didn't turn out to be a benevolent figure of wisdom and kindness either!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Wow. I mean wow!

Steve you hit one out of the park again! (I suppose that expression comes from Baseball. Translation: You’ve done yet another superlative review!)

To what do you attribute this? Is it due to the pressure of Brexit?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Anyone else think it’s odd that the word Creatures is used on two titles? I mean there are other synonyms… Beast? Critter? Nonhuman? Non-Anthropoid?

I got the perfect title! “Where Non-anthropoids Squat!”

By the way, I don’t know where Creatures Dwell or Monsters Roam but the article below shows where UK Marines fly with jet packs. Awesome PR photo!


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Yep... this is when Subby's life begins to take a royal dump.

His wife is killed, his dad is discovered and killed...

But ruling with a wife under the sea (IMHO) could have really added greatly to the context of the story and stabilized the character. I mean, Subby was often written as an impulsive moron of sorts, in green swim trunks, like Johnny Storm. But had he a regal wife to rule below with, why it could have changed everything.

But as I read the discussions above about how Stan seemed to relate to women, I wonder if he and his cadre just lacked the imagination or respect to do great things with Subby's wife, Gwen Stacey, et al.

Anonymous said...

sean: Oh right, the ending. Doesn’t Jerry end up devolving into a Neanderthal or something?


Anonymous said...

Yeah, a neanderthal/ape-man. Played for laughs.

Charlie, I've seen some of those videos. Personally, I think public money would have been better spent on giving health workers a decent pay rise, especially after all they did over the last year.
But then I am a metropolitan elitist shill who doesn't understand the British people.


Steve W. said...

Charlie, I'm no military expert but wouldn't marines attacking a ship, with jet packs, basically just be great target practice for the enemy?

Colin, I'm impressed by any comment that manages to get Femizons and Tesco in the same sentence.

Redartz, I did always have a suspicion that Conan hired those women and there was an agency that made good cash out of supplying cowering maidens.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Yes, Colin, I remember Aunt May off to see Hair. Wanting to get more "hep" from what I remember. No idea what issue though.

Colin Jones said...

I think the issue of ASM where Aunt May goes to see 'Hair' came out soon after the one Steve is reviewing this month. I first read it in the UK reprint 'Spider-Man Comics Weekly' during the summer of 1975 but at that time I had no idea what 'Hair' actually was.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Got it Colin! It is actually this month's issue: ASM #96.

Colin Jones said...

Steve, have you seen the new apes trilogy?
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)
War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017)

I've only seen the third one but it was excellent and the CGI/motion-capture apes were stunning. The trilogy is basically a remake of 'Conquest' and 'Battle' but this time around most of the human population is killed off in a global pandemic which allows the apes to take over and in the third film the human survivors are affected by a secondary phase of the pandemic which turns them into dumb brutes.

Anonymous said...

That barbarian on the cover of 'Savage Tales' reminds me of the 1980s 8-bit game, 'Barbarian', in which a signature move involved a spinning turn sword stroke, decapitating the other barbarian.

I'll get my coat.


Steve W. said...

Colin, I've seen Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. I was planning to watch War For The Planet Of The Apes the other day and managed to totally forget to do so. I enjoyed the first two.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

You guys won't believe this. I was just in the grocery store and they were playing Tony Orlando and Dawn's "Knock three times!!!"

Anonymous said...

Charlie, on the subject of the unbelievable, this may interest you -
Jet-packs at the ready! Looks like war between Britain and France might be back on after all...


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean! I did indeed hear about it on the radio! Something about the UK going all imperialistic like days of old and wanting to enforce fishing rights around the Jersey Islands? I'd hate to see spilled blood over a piece of cod!

Steve! I thought the same thing about the photo! It immediately reminded me of when the 7th US Army Corp asked us about assaulting the Achille Lauro in 1985 while it was in the middle of the Mediterranean. We happened to be in Genoa with 3 Chinook CH-47s and they wanted us to take a US Ranger company from Vincenza Italy and assault the ship. My Captain said what do you think Lieutenant? I said, "Fly across flat open water, approach the ocean liner, and then hover while Rangers jump out, all this while a bunch of terrorists are blasting away at us from 50 feet away with AK47s??? I don't think it's a good idea." LOL

I can't believe I was not more assertive, wanting to be a hero or something. But Chinooks carry 1000 gallons of jet fuel. I pictured us /myself being shot up, burning alive, plunging into the sea, feeling good for a second as the water put out the fire on my body, and then drowning... Charlie the Chicken

Anonymous said...

Charlie - I suppose pilots of helicopters with big glass canopies - like a Gazelle, for example - must feel even more vulnerable.

Also, that's the problem with the media concept of the aviation hero - like John Boyd, Jack Broughton, etc - it forgets the aircraft pilot is a human being, who values his own life!