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Sunday, 4 July 2021

Fifty years ago this month - July 1971.

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

A renowned cosmologist once claimed that giant steps are what you take, walking on the moon.

Not if you're Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin, they're not.

This week in 1971, the pair bypassed that situation completely by not taking steps at all. Instead, they became the first astronauts to ride in a Lunar Roving Vehicle. Which they did, a day after landing on the Moon.

Flying not quite so high was the British government. For it was in this month the UK opted out of the Space Race by cancelling its BLACK ARROW launch vehicle. Yes, for some reason, its name was always written in all-capitals. I can only assume they thought that meant it'd fly faster. It managed to carry one satellite into space before the government decided it was cheaper to hire foreign rockets.

Also, that July, the 26th Amendment to the United States Constitution, certified by Richard Nixon, lowered the American voting age from 21 to 18, enabling Prez to become President.

And elsewherer in that land, the South Tower of New York's World Trade Center topped out at 1,362 feet, making it the second-tallest building in the world. I would assume the North Tower was the tallest. If not, I don't know what was.

Amazing Spider-Man #98, Green Goblin, Gil Kane

Judging by that cover, Spider-Man doesn't only lose his grip, this issue but, also, the spider-symbol on his back, thanks to the Green Goblin's latest shenanigans.

I seem to recall that, thanks to Gil Kane, there's lots of up-the-nose action in this one.

And I'm not just talking about Harry Osborn's recreational activities.

Avengers #90

The preamble to the 
Kree/Skrull War continues when the Avengers have to fight Ronan the Accuser at the North or South Pole.

And Hank Pym turns into a caveman.

Captain America #139, John Romita

From what I can remember of this one, Captain America decides to become a beat cop. No doubt, so he can help normal people.

Whatever happens in it, I like to think that, at some point, the Falcon gives him a speech about, "The ordinary Joes on the street," and how each and every one of them is, "a hero, just for managing to hold it together in this crazy world." It's written by Stan Lee, so I'm just about certain he will.

Conan the Barbarian #7, Barry Smith

I do believe this is an adaptation of a Robert E Howard tale in which Conan and a bunch of others hang around in a house, overnight, for a whodunit tale and he ends up having to fight a snake with the head of a beautiful woman.

Is it called The God in the Bowl?

It may very well be.

Daredevil #78, Man-Bull

It's horn head vs hornier head, as the man without useful powers takes on Man-Bull, for the first time ever.

It would appear the mysterious Mr Kline also puts in an appearance.

And is that a Herb Trimpe cover I detect?

Fantastic Four #112, Hulk vs the Thing

As every good comic reader knows, there's nothing more suited to set the pulse alight than a fight between the Thing and the Hulk, even though it's always obvious who's going to win.

What is in doubt is whether Reed Richards will be able to restore Aunt Petunia's favourite nephew to the path of goodness, now that he's turned evil again.

Incredible Hulk #141, Doc Samson

It's one of my favourite Hulk tales from my favourite Hulk era, as Doc Samson makes his debut and Bruce Banner goes green with envy when the super-strength psychiatrist starts to make the move on Betty Ross.

Iron Man #39, Herb Trimpe

I detect yet another Herb Trimpe cover.

Sadly, that's all I detect, as I don't have a clue what happens in this one.

Thor #190, Death of Hela

I remember this one well enough. It's the one where Odin kills Hela to save Thor from her terrible touch.

But then discovers why it's a bad idea to kill death. 

Adventure Comics #408, Supergirl

So, that's what Marvel is up to this month but, for comparison, let's have a limited sample of what DC has to offer.

It's another adventure and another costume for Supergirl, as she investigates a haunted house. I can't recall if the story's any good but I do love the cover.

And, if I remember right, the back-up strip features an invasion of Earth by water-breathing aliens. It's clearly a busy month for the maid of might.

Brave and the Bold #96, Batman and Sgt Rock

Hooray! It's the first-ever Batman comic I ever read, as the caped crusader enters South America and starts to think his old war-time buddy Sgt Rock's turned bad.

Will our hero bring him to justice?

And will Rock stop acting weird?

Detective Comics #413, Batman and Batgirl

It's a tale I've never read and I don't have a clue what happens in it but that's a dramatic cover by Neal Adams.

Batgirl also gets an adventure, this issue, thanks to the typewriter of Frank Robbins and the pencil of Don Heck.

New Gods #3, the Black Racer

Issue #3 hits us between the eyes, thanks to the Black Racer making his debut by coming to Earth and taking possession of Willie Walker.

I must confess to not having a clue who Willie Walker is or why the Black Racer would want to possess him.

Action Comics #402, Superman

It's the first issue of Action Comics I ever owned, and the second book to feature Superman that I ever owned, with him in danger of getting flambéd by a bunch of Native Americans unhappy with the behaviour of big business.

I'm sure the back-up strip was my first-ever exposure to Supergirl and sees her and Supes declare war on each other in their Fortress of Solitude.

Bearing in mind it's basically the home of Superman, Supergirl, all the super pets, all the Super-Robots and the entire population of the city of Kandor, it's not really a fortress of solitude, at all, is it? It's easily the most overcrowded building on Earth.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Yes Steve - lots of up the nose action in that issue but ASM #103 is the ultimate up the nose issue, looking like it's being filmed by a midget. But what grates most for me about this Spider-Man run is the combination of Sugar Kane on pencils and Frank Giacoia on inks - the two of them just don’t go together. Kane on pencils with John Romita on inks is fantastic and I expect there were other pencillers around that Frank could really make pop but together they were like Baileys and lemonade.

Anonymous said...

Rather than Baileys & Viennetta....?


Fantastic Four follower said...

Loved Spiderman by Kane and this era was basically Stans last year though I didn't know it as I read Spidey.Avengers was peaking at this time and there was a real vibrancy about Marvel leading into the double sized month in November 1971.Hulk had never been better and Ironman,A persistently weak second rate title improved dramatically.DD had Conway scripting and Colan drawing so it too was brilliant!FF was gaining momentum with Buscema as was Thor with the same team.I loved Cap but each issue seemed to change direction culminating in the frankly crazy issues around 145 -150 with Red Skull,Kingpin,Schemer,Stranger,Las Vegas etc!!!!!!Bonkers but I liked them.DC in 1970 had gone Mystery Mad...Every title seemed to feature haunted houses,witches,ghosts,monsters,phantoms...and that was just the superhero titles!However they did have the greatest DC artist of all time ...Neal Adams.He was in his prime and I think that cover featured 2 brothers he met at a convention and decided to draw them as characters in this story.Perhaps one of your contributors would confirm this.What a month for comics.Could life get any better in the summer of 1971?Keep up the great work mate.

D.D.Degg said...

Trimpe covers (DD & IM) but obvious Marie layouts.

Anonymous said...

I had this issue of DD fresh off the spinner rack. This was still in the days before I became fully obsessed with buying comics, they were still just kind of an occasional ‘impulse buy’. But when I DID spend 15 cents on a comic during this period (out of my 25 cents a week allowance), it was usually a Gene Colan Daredevil. There are at least two more DDs coming up that I bought before my hardcore addiction really kicked in.

This one is pretty neat. It was the first one I owned that had been inked by Tom Palmer, and even my little ten-year-old eyes realized this issue looked darker, sleeker, just plain BETTER than the ones I’d owned previously. It may have been the first time that I noticed how artists’ work could look so different depending on who the inker was (tho i’m sure I hadn’t quite put it all together quite that solidly yet).

There’s a sub-plot involving DD rescuing a long-haired bearded guy and his wife from being kidnapped by Bull and his gang — after the goons run off, DD tells the couple, ‘Hey, if you don’t have a place to crash tonight, you can sleep over at my pal Matt Murdock’s place.’ They’re both like, ‘Really? He’s not gonna freak out when he gets home and finds two complete strangers in his pad? Two HIPPIE strangers?’ And DD’s all ‘Nahh, he’s cool, don’t worry about it. We’re old friends, he and I . We…um…’ After an awkward pause, he goes on: , ‘But come to think of it, ha ha, it might be better if you just kinda keep your distance a bit when he comes in — don’t crowd him — he, uh, he gets a little claustrophobic. Oh, and whatever you do, don’t stare at the lower half of his face — he, um — he’s really sensitive about, uh…the scars …yeah, the scars that he got from that, um, that…that horrible shaving accident…’

The wife says, ‘Dude, are you okay? You seem kinda nervous all of a sudden…’ and the husband says, ‘Yeah, and your voice is suddenly very deep, it’s pitched like a whole octave lower…’

And DD stammers, ‘Oh, it’th nothin’, — juth a thlight head-cold ah’ve been tryin’ to thake off theeth lath few dayth — koff, koff — y’all know how it it ith…theeth goth-darn Thummer Coldth… ha ha …koff…’

The wife whispers, ‘Did he have a pronounced lisp a minute ago?’ And the husband whispers back, ‘No and he didn’t have a Southern Accent either. Maybe he’s disguising his voice, for some reason, or…’

‘Or maybe he’s a lunatic,’ she says. They start slowly backing away from him, and the guy says, ‘Y’know, thanks anyway, but ah, we’re good…just gonna grab a taxi… or, or a bus…HONEY, RUN!’

Actually, it’s been a long time since I read it, it may not have happened quite like that….


Steve W. said...

Dangermash, I agree. I've never been very keen on Frank Giacoia's inks over Gil Kane.

Thanks, FFf. It does indeed seem like a strong month for Marvel.

DDD, Marie's handiwork is indeed apparent on those covers.

Bt, I feel confident that's exactly how it happened.

Anonymous said...

"Death is the Black Racer! Like the very source of all things, he is an ever present fear that sweeps through the universe on swift, silent skis. The charred husks of great stars are left in his passing... and small lives vanish with their dreams at his touch!"
And people say Jack Kirby couldn't write!
New Gods #3 is a stunning comic Steve - you're right, it really does hit you between the eyes.

Willie Weeks was a paralyzed vet, possessed by the Racer because... well, thats the question isn't it? What is it all about?
The Racer says its "because in your despair you summoned me..." Kirby of course was a vet himself - and from a ghetto - and had actually nearly had his legs amputated before being discharged, so I understand the story to be about the will to survive, the urge to transcend circumstance.

Good to see enough time has now passed for the return of Supergirl to SteveDoesComics on a Sunday. Although personally I don't care much for the Maid of Might's fashion sense at this point - her hot pants era is where its at imo.


Anonymous said...

That Conan comic is an adaption of "The God in the Bowl", one of Howard's better Conan stories. I've loved it since I was a kid. It's a bit of a detective story. There is a crime scene in a palace of some sort, somebody's been murdered, there are the cops, or Nemedian guardsmen, and a detective, in this case the local prefect.
And then you got the usual suspects, not the least of which is a young wild-eyed Cimmerian goon who says he just came there to steal stuff.
There is political and police corruption; the only thing missing in this prehistoric crime-noir piece is a dame with killer legs and a chequered past. (She would show up in some private detective's office and ask for a light for her cigarette. This would give him a chance to look her up and down). This one strikes me as one of the few REH Conan stories that doesn't have a damsel in distress.
The reader doesn't find out till the end what really happened, and when he does he is confronted by unspeakable cosmic horror. It gives me the willies thinking about it.
So what does Marvel do? Well, comics on the spinner racks were sold by their covers, and the more dramatic, the better, so they gave away the ending right up front. And where did that girl come from?
I've never read this issue, which is okay. Something always gets lost in these translations, don't it!


Anonymous said...

M.P., I assume the Conan cover girl came from where ever all the others did. Everyone knows there were plenty of nubile wenches just waiting for the chance to flash a bit of skin for a barbarian fighting a giant snake (or man-ape) in the Hyborian Age.

The real question is - why isn't she clinging to his leg, which was the usual custom back then?


Anonymous said...

Sean, if I'm ever confronted by a giant snake or killer man-ape, or some demonic creature called down from the Outer Gulfs by an evil sorcerer, I would prefer to have both my legs free, because I'm going to need them to make a cowardly run for it in the opposite direction.


Anonymous said...

M.P. —

‘The God in The Bowl’ is one of my least favorite of Howard’s original Conan stories. I do appreciate the experimental nature of it — Conan in a locked-room murder mystery, for Crom’s sake! But unfortunately, I find it kinda talky, plodding and dull. I always assumed other REH fans would share my fairly low opinion (I’ve got it down near the bottom, keeping ‘Vale of Lost Women’ and ‘Pool of the Black One’ company) but I’ve recently been surprised to find online reviews by plenty of others who also rate it highly, as you do. Different strokes, etc !

The Marvel version is one of the few times — actually, the ONLY time that i can think of — where Roy’s adaptation actually improves on Howard’s original. By making Conan’s employer a haughty but hot-as-a-pistol WOMAN, instead of just some snooty dude, he and Barry add that essential dose of sex appeal, and the gender-swap also helps make Conan’s reluctance to turn his temporary boss in to the police a lot more credible. Honor Schmonor! — he’s hoping to get lucky with her once he gets away from the cops. And when she coldly betrays him to the authorities, it’s a blow to his self-esteem, and it stings more. These are all really smart choices on Roy’s part.

Plus, it’s one of Barry’s better early Conan jobs — the treacherous Boss Lady looks sexy as hell in her stuck-up Hyborian One-Percenter way, and Conan’s battle with the snake thing is spectacularly well - staged. Roy wisely cuts down Howard’s procedural yakkety-yak to a minimum (‘Something still doesn’t add up here. Let’s hear your story again, fellow, from the top’ etc etc ) and gets to the creepy and violent bits a lot quicker. I think it’s a gem.


Anonymous said...

So Thomas wrote Conan's secret employer as a femme fatale, eh, b.t.? And the pacing is changed, I take it.
Hmm. That does sounds interesting. Maybe I should check out that comic after all!


Anonymous said...

Roy Thomas turned one of Howard's characters from a man into a woman...?
Its political correctness gone mad b.t.! These Marvel SJWs, eh?

Did the original snooty dude at least cling to Conan's leg?


Anonymous said...

Y'know, I'm not terribly familiar with D.C. Comics during this period. I've picked up some used copies at comic book stores over the years, usually motivated by the covers (not to mention the price; if they were a little banged up they might go for cheap).
But dang it, D.C. comics had beautiful covers back then, illustrated by the likes of Neil Adams, Nick Cardy and others.
Steve, I don't remember the first Batman comic I ever read, but if you're as goofy as I am, that issue of The Brave and the Bold must have sentimental value to you.
Even if it's in the Haneyverse! I confess, I am intrigued by the cover. I have a later issue of TBatB where Bats and Rock team up again, this time against a mysterious foe who, it is suggested, may or may not be Adolf Hitler.
In the 1970's, for chrissakes. That's a little too far out for me. Nobody was keeping an eye on Haney at all, apparently. That guy was out wandering around in the traffic, so to speak.
I do remember my first issue of Amazing Spider-Man. #150. When I got older (like twenty years later) I hadda buy another used copy cause the first one got read to pieces.
It's weird going through these old comics because you compare what you remember about them to what you see now. It can be a bit surprising.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

You are approaching the point in Charlie's life where he became mentally aware of being able to take his bike, and his loot, and go buy all the comics he wanted, being able to dodge his parents in the process. IN a month or two I will go from buying 1-2 comics a month to maybe 8 - 9.

DO we all go through that maturation / change of perception / mental growth /awareness?

What is really strange though, is though I have several of these, if I were to see the FF one and the Hulk one side by side, I would say that the FF preceded the Hulk by 5 years... like 1968 vs. 1973.

I don't know how my brain / memory can be that short circuited. It is actually rather unnerving. Truly.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - at least for me, this post is too fleeting. It should be an entire week's worth of posts... not one posting lasting 2 days.

Perhaps though it is because (I sense) that I am a good handful of years older than most of your clan. (I turned 60 on Sunday. Redartz turned 60 last week, too!)

So this is really hitting my sweet spot and I want to prolong the memories but I suspect for most of the gang this is 3-5 years too early and 2 days of this post suffices?

Anonymous said...

I'll admit that these comics are a few years before my time, Charles, but the mind of M.P. can traverse both time and space.
There are few corners of reality that his eyeballs and brain do not probe.


Anonymous said...

Charlie - A belated Happy Birthday! Hope you had a nice meal (or something!) That Thing vs Hulk is one of Marvel's greatest battles, surely!


Anonymous said...

Your birthday is actually on the 4th of July, Charlie? Happy birthday, and congrats on getting the Brits out.
Did you celebrate in traditional Chicago style, with a drive-by or something?


Anonymous said...

Er... maybe that was in poor taste.
No offence intended. Seriously, happy birthday Charlie.


Steve W. said...

Charlie and Redartz, happy birthday to the pair of you.

Steve W. said...

MP, that Batman story does indeed have nostalgic value for me, even if, for decades, my memories of it were so vague that it was only a couple of years ago that I finally found out just which issue it was.

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Redartz:
Happy Birthday to you both — welcome to Club Six-O!


Anonymous said...


I know what that’s like. There is an issue ACTION that my mom bought for me when I was home sick with the flu, that’s been nagging at me for over 50 years. I have zero memory of the lead story at all, but the back-up was a Clark Kent story — a bunch of idiots in hot rods are playing ‘chicken’ and this one guy never loses because of this highly-reflective chrome-plated
Hood ornament that he uses to blind his opponents. I’m not much into Silver/Bronze Age Superman comics (I own maybe three or four, tops) but I’ve been trying to find that one issue for the longest time. I don’t even remember the cover, so tracking it down has been really difficult. It’s like a vague itch I can’t scratch.

But just now I googled ‘Clark Kent hot rod chicken’ and, Great Caesar’s Ghost, I think I’ve found it! ‘Requiem for a Hot Rod!’ from ACTION 394, November 1970 sure seems to fit the bill. If I can find a cheap enough copy on eBay, I’ll finally be able to close the book on that case.