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Sunday, 1 August 2021

Fifty years ago this month - August 1971.

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

Showjumping. As we all know, it's a genteel sport for the toffs, cucumber sandwich eaters and people who can't get through a sentence without declaring, "I say!"

But not this month in 1971, it wasn't.

That's because, that August, Harvey Smith was stripped of his victory in the British Show Jumping Derby for giving the V sign. Who he gave it to and why, I don't know but, all around the country, the shocked monocles of retired colonels were, doubtless, falling out and landing in glasses of port, at this latest scandal.

But did Smith only do that once? I kind of assumed he did it every single time he competed. Wasn't that basically his claim to fame?

Elsewhere in the world of sport, that month saw construction begin on New Orleans' Louisiana Superdome.

And Chay Blyth became the first person to sail around the world from east to west, against the prevailing winds.

On a more serious note, it was the month in which Australia and New Zealand decided to withdraw their troops from Vietnam.

Amazing Spider-Man #99

In a break from the norm, instead of battling super-villains, everyone's favourite webhead t
ackles a prison riot and then goes on TV to call for penal reform.

Right on, Spidey.

Obviously, the authorities listen to Spider-Man's demands because he's a well-respected figure and...

Ah. I think I've just spotted the flaw in his plan.

Captain America and the Falcon #140, the Grey/Gray Gargoyle

Cap traces a missing policeman to a graveyard and, for reasons that aren't altogether clear to me, that leads a fight with the Grey Gargoyle.

Happily, our hero survives the encounter and then leaves the Falcon to follow the villain to his lair while he himself goes off to have a meeting with Nick Fury.

I'm willing to bet good money that Redwing is turned to stone at some point in this tale.

Conan the Barbarian #8, Barry Smith

From what I recall of this one, Conan does his usual grave-robbing routine but quickly learns he's disturbed more than he bargained for.

I do believe that's Jenna on the cover, rather than the usual random hapless lovely.

Daredevil #79, the Man-Bull

It's the man without fear vs the man without trousers, as the Man-Bull goes on the rampage.

I've always liked the Man-Bull. I find his nastiness appealing.

And, while all that's going on, Foggy's busy trying to deal with the mysterious Mr Kline's blackmail attempt.

Fantastic Four #113, the Over-Mind

The Over-Mind's on the loose, doing whatever it is he's doing, for whatever reason, it is he's doing it.

And it seems there's no one can stop him.

No doubt the Watcher will refuse to get involved, in the same way that he always refuses to get involved.

Iron Man #40

Iron Man continues his tradition of coming across as being feeble and futile on his covers.

Frankly, I don't have a clue what happens in this one but it seems the White Dragon dies.

But I don't know who the White Dragon is.

He's not that villain who turned up in that issue of Spider-Man, is he?

Thor #191. Loki

Is this the one where Loki claims the throne of Asgard and tries to get his leg over with Sif then creates the Demolisher?

I always liked the Demolisher. Was he ever seen again after this story?

I hope so, if only because he smashed the Silver Surfer's board into pieces. Not being a fan of the Surfer, I liked to see the pewter plonker suffer.

Trouble was, suffering just gave him even more motivation to complain about everything.

X-Men #71, Lucifer

It's another one of whose contents I am majestically ignorant.

I do know, though, that it contains Lucifer and we discover how Professor X lost the use of his legs.

I know that because the cover tells me so.

Incredible Hulk #142, the Valkyrie, Samantha Parrington

This, on the other hand, is a comic I know plenty about.

Steve Does Comics' favourite Asgardian makes her second-ever appearance, as campaigning women's libber Samantha Parrington adopts the Valkyrie mantle to give male chauvinist pig the Hulk a lesson in feminism. One he, needless to say, completely fails to learn.

But how could anyone not love a comic with a cover like that?

Avengers #91, The Kree/Skrull War, Ronan, the Sentry, Captain Marvel

The prelude to the 
Kree/Skrull War continues, as the Avengers find themselves at one of the Earth's poles, battling Ronan, the Sentry and their own member Goliath, while Hank Pym and the Wondrous Wasp find everything getting too hairy for comfort.

So, that's what Marvel was giving us that month.

But even Marvel isn't the whole of reality.

And, thus, for comparison, here's a quick look at some of the more eye-catching output DC was producing at the same time.

I'm posting this one purely because of Supergirl's latest catastrophic costume. Seriously, what's even holding it on?

Apart from battling against wardrobe disaster, she also has to contend with a bunch of Mer-Men.

In the back-up strip, we get the menace of Satan Girl.

Wasn't Satan Girl some sort of short-lived clone of Supergirl or something?

I've no knowledge of what transpires in this one but that's another striking cover by Neal Adams, in a style reminiscent of the way Jim Aparo would later handle the same character.

Mister Miracle hits his third issue by encountering the Paranoid Pill.

Apparently, Dr Bedlam traps Scott in a skyscraper full of berserk people but I have no idea who either of those people are.

I'm assuming Scott is the real name of Mr Miracle.

I'm assuming Dr Bedlam is a villain.

Superman once again proves he's the biggest menace humanity's ever encountered, when he brings an alien vegetable to Earth and plants it.

Then it grows up evil and tries to kill Lois!

Step aside, Dark Phoenix, because it would appear a malevolent spirit has decided to possess Wonder Girl!

But we don't care about that. All that really matters is that awesome cover by Nick Cardy.


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

The most Gil Kane Gil Kane ASM cover ever.

I'm in no doubt that if Sugar were still alive today he'd be walking up and down London Tube with his mobile phone trying to grab sneaky up the nose photos of his fellow passengers.

Steve W. said...

Come to think of it, that's Gil's only cover in this post. I wonder if he'll turn up in the Lucky Bag feature on Tuesday?

Anonymous said...

Horsey toffs in t'North?
By 'eck Steve, with Northerners now voting tory and your accents apparently dying out in the next few decades how will we be able to tell the difference between Yorkies and southern softies?

Stan Lee's timing on Amazing Spider-man #99 was pretty good - the San Quentin uprising was in August '71, and Attica kicked off the following month. Although whether he had anything interesting to say about American prisons I've no idea, not having read the story.

But does it matter? I do know that Roy Thomas' take on feminism was pretty dodgy - apparently that Hulk story was inspired in part by Tom Wolfe's reactionary Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers - but comics often work visually. The memorable cover, and John Buscema's (I think?) striking Val design make much more of an impression than Roy's intent.

Btw, Mr Miracle is of course the subtly named Scott Free.
But why did DC not colour him on the cover of #3? How does the production dept forget something like that?


Anonymous said...

PS Good to see Supergirl in one of your Sunday posts again Steve, that costume notwithstanding (iirc her numerous fashion crimes in that Adventure era were designed by readers).
Satan Girl was a short-lived duplicate of the maid of might caused by exposure to red kryptonite.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Well it's nice to realize that this month, 50 years ago when Charlie was 10, his full stream of comic consciousness awakened!

I busted open the piggy bank and started buying like 5 - 10 comics a month!

Of the those above I distinctly remember buying Cap, Hulk, and Avengers on a warm Saturday afternoon off the spinner rack at Weiss's grocery store in Gary, Indiana.

I do recall looking at the Spidey and thinking "this looks boring" lol.

We are now seeing reprints in the X-Men, yes?

Charlie Horse 47 said...


I did meet kids who grew up in Vietnam and fled when the USA left.

They never mentioned the Anzacs but boy of boy were they afraid of the South Korean soldiers. To quote, "If they came to your village they killed everything: man, woman, child, chicken, pig..."

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the Australian army had some expertise in counter-insurgency jungle warfare as a result of the "Malayan Emergency" Charlie, which was useful for training American troops.
But that does rather make you wonder why the British - who are usually up for a bit of a war - weren't involved in Vietnam.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean - I'm going to go out on a limb and guess (I do mean guess) that the Brits may have figured the whole "colonial war" thing out and that meant staying out of Vietnam?

Using 1966 as a good year...

13 years earlier you guys got beat up with us in Korea.

Then barely 10 years earlier, the Brit-French alliance to take back the Suez canal in 1956 ended in utter disaster with France asking Britain to merge the two countries.

Then you got to watch their French pals kill perhaps 1,000,000 Algerians (1 in 9 of the natives) and lose that colonial war. (Is that a ghastly kill ratio or what?)

So... who knows.

Anyhow, it's been a really hot weekend here and Charlie is drinking a Corona thinking that Supergirl's outfit ain't half bad?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Teen Titans is one of those titles...

It seems everytime I picked up The Buyers Guide for Comic Fandom during the 1970s, which was bi-weekly and then weekly and had 4 sections and I swear a few hundred pages, folks were singing the high praises of Teen Titans: bleeding edge, great stories, incredible art, etc. (I think a common refrain was the TTs told Supes, Bats, GL, GA, et al. to "punch off" and let the kids do it! And that made them cool.)

Yet... I've been hard pressed the last 50 years to find anyone who actually read these issues. I read a few... just a few... and only opportunistically. I never bought one IIRC.

And actually, I remember the covers in large part because in the USA we had packs of cards with bubble gum (like baseball cards or Odd Rods) and one of the series was Comic Book covers. I seemed to end up with more than a few TT covers in my bubble gum packs.

Anonymous said...

Sean, regarding prisons--here in the Gulag Archipelago one of the first things on every American man's mind is avoiding it.
We have a deep abiding dread of ending up there. 1.8 million at the last count.
Not that many of them shouldn't be there...

a strong crop of comics, here, Steve. I liked Man-bull too! Limited skill-set, (just charging, basically) but He had moxy.
And then there's Lucifer. a forward scout for an alien race bent on conquering and colonizing Earth.
Like Tana Nile of the Rigelians, he was bad at his job.

I'm not at all familiar with the D.C. Comics up there, but those are some great covers.


Anonymous said...

Charlie - Here's something a book informed me of (years ago), so it must be true!

To the UK government(and/or press), a military venture is never described as a "war", unless they've won it.

The Falklands was always referred to as the Falklands "conflict", until the UK govt/press decided it had won it. Only then was it referred to as the Falklands "War".

That's why we've got the 1956 Suez "Crisis", and the Malayan "Emergency", because the UK didn't "win" those - so it thinks up some other stupid euphemism for a war.

If the UK participated in Vietnam, it would have called the Vietnam "expedition" - or something!

The Man-bull gets my vote, too. Man-bull (or his goon) shooting Daredevil at point blank range was one of the biggest cliff-hangers to which I never got the conclusion (until years later). The cliffhanger ended with the Black Widow telling Man-bull: "If Daredevil dies, then so do you. This, the Black Widow swears!" As a little kid, I didn't understand it was just a cliffhanger - I thought it might really be curtains for Daredevil! Unfortunately, the conclusion (which I got years later) didn't live up to my expectations.

Our Southern overlords are arguing amongst themselves, right now, about whether or not to pronounce 'g' at the end of words. I wish they'd make up their minds about what they're going to eradicate/replace Northern language with!


Colin Jones said...

I think LBJ wanted the British government to send troops to Vietnam but Harold Wilson refused. And there was a lot of pressure from the Labour rank and file for Wilson to condemn the war outright but he didn't.

Colin Jones said...

Superman turning into a tree makes me think of the Greek legend of Apollo and Daphne when Daphne is turned into a laurel tree to escape Apollo's lust. The plot of Robert E. Howard's "The Frost Giant's Daughter" borrows partly from the legend of Apollo & Daphne which is possibly why the story was rejected for publication in 'Weird Tales' magazine in the 1930s - it wasn't original.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Gents - Just in case you didn't see Redartz's posting this past week (Back in the Bronze Age), it' still "current." It features Joe Kubert and, naturally, a lot of the covers are of the war variety.

I think there is even a black and white cover of something he'd done about Vietnam and Sgt Rock?

Anonymous said...

Colin - In Greek mythology, Myrrha was transformed into a tree, too. That story might upset the Comics Code, if it influenced Howard.


Anonymous said...

I knew Supes' tree-transformation was familiar. Somebody got transformed into a tree in 'Forces in Combat' # 36, in Chamber of Horrors, after getting an injection of Redwood sap. Seems ages ago, now.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

All this talk of trees makes me think of Wood God!

Anonymous said...

Just free-associating - In the early 80s, did anyone read Stephen Donaldson's Chronicles of Thomas Covenant? Hile Troy got transformed into a tree-like being, when he was made into a Forestal (similar to an Ent, in Tolkien).


Anonymous said...

Northern, southern... to me you're all British overlords Phillip (;
Seriously though, was that the Digby Jones tweet you were referring too a few comments back? Because I don't think a woman from Poplar really qualifies as anyone's overlord.

My understanding is that Cumbric - the Brythonic language of Yr Hen Ogledd (the Old North) - is basically a form of Welsh. So with Wales you have a sort of political/cultural template for how to revive Northern...
(Fwiw, I thought that "research" on regional accents dying out sounded suspiciously like bollocks)


Anonymous said...

Charlie, the major British wars since '66 have been in the sort of places - Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq - that make it pretty obvious the government learned absolutely nothing from its military history. Only last month they were challenging the Russians over the Crimea...
Colin has it right I think, that it just wasn't politically possible for Wilson to involve the Brits in Vietnam.

Btw, on euphemisms, I do recall reading about the "Malayan Emergency" that the term was used because in the imperial era if had officially been called a war (in a British territory) insurance companies wouldn't have been liable for any damages, and the government would have to pay out...


Anonymous said...

Sean - English overlords, surely!

To be serious (semi-serious) - I'm ambivalent about the N/S stuff. My sister's lived darn sarf since about 83 or 84. She's got southern friends, and friends who are from other parts of the country who've moved down south. My brother works darn sarf - he's got friends from all kinds of places. People go there for the money/opportunities. There are parts of northern culture I like, and other parts I'm less keen on. About the accent/dialect stuff, I'm not that bothered either way! That's why jokes about it don't offend me.