Sunday 8 August 2021

Forty years ago today - August 1981.

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

Can life have any meaning now the Olympics are over?

No, it can't. So, let's seek solace, instead, in nostalgia.

Avengers #210, the Weathermen

For once, it's not just the British who're obsessing over the weather, as nightmarish meteorological manoeuverings hit the whole world - including New York City.

What can be behind this frightful phenomenon?

It's a weather-monitoring satellite that's got too big for its boots and decided to control the climate instead of just watching it, also creating a group of mindless but super-powered slaves to enforce its global catastrophe.

Fortunately, despite having been shamefully ignored by her teammates, Jocasta comes to the rescue and saves the day while the others flounder around uselessly.

Captain America #260

Following a recent spate of escapes from it, Captain America agrees to be sent to prison, in order to put its security to the test.

Not only does he have to contend with his fellow inmates trying to kill him but, when there's an attempted breakout, what should Cap do? Does he stop it or assist it?

In the meantime, he helps, of course, to reform a young offender he's encountered there.

Amazing Spider-Man #219

Concerned about a recent spate of escapes from the local prison, Spider-Man breaks into it and finds himself behind bars and confronted with...

Hold on. This all sounds strangely familiar from somewhere.

Anyway, once in prison, he encounters an attempted breakout by the Grey Gargoyle and Jonas Harrow.

Needless to say, he thwarts it.

To my knowledge, he doesn't manage to reform any young offenders he encounters there.

Spectacular Spider-Man #57

When Will-O'-The-Wisp takes control of Killer Shrike's battle suit and forces the villain to kidnap Marla Madison, Spider-Man, inevitably, rushes to the rescue and does something or other to a machine, which sorts everything out.

My recollections of this one are a bit vague.

Thor #310, Mephisto

When Thor manages to quickly reform a gang of muggers, Mephisto's not at all pleased about it, spotting a potential threat to his realm if super-heroes suddenly start reforming bad guys, rather than just thumping them.

Thus it is that we get an epic confrontation between Lord of Evil and God of Thunder.

One which neither combatant has the power to win, even though the villain has the power to defeat the Silver Surfer and should, therefore, be able to beat Thor.

Uncanny X-Men #148, Caliban

It's a strange one in which a mutant called Caliban turns up and tries to kidnap Kitty Pryde because he wants a friend.

It's mostly strange because Caliban looks like Death-Stalker after a prolonged bout of drug and alcohol abuse. I'm not sure if that design choice is an accident or not.

Elsewhere, Cyclops is in solo action and on some island where he blunders across the latest secret HQ of Magneto.

Fantastic Four #233, the Human Torch in solo action

The Human Torch is in sizzling solo action, as he sets out to clear the name of a condemned man and discovers the real killer is none other than Hammerhead, who he should be able to make mincemeat of but, instead, makes a right old Horlicks of fighting.

Iron Man #149, Dr Doom

This is more like it!

For the first time I can remember, Marvel's two greatest armoured characters come up against each other, as Iron Man breaks into Latveria to forcibly reclaim some high-tech his company's illegally sold to Dr Doom.

While the pair battle, the villain's current Head Lackey takes the distraction as a chance to use his boss's time machine to send the combatants into a past from which they may never return.

Conan the Barbarian #125

Well, this is a downer.

Conan discovers the two amiable youths he's befriended and travelled with for the last few issues are, in fact, evil godlings and that he's now going to have to slaughter them.

Which I'm fairly sure he does.

Because he's Conan and that's what he does.

Daredevil #173

After a series of attacks on young women, it becomes clear the Gladiator's to blame and that Daredevil's going to have to stop him.

Except the Gladiator isn't to blame. It's some other wrongdoer who looks exactly like him.

At least, he does in his civvies. In his costume, he bears no resemblance whatsoever to the buzzsaw-bearing bruiser.

Incredible Hulk #262

It's a very odd issue in which Bruce Banner encounters a barking mad sculptor who wants to turn him into glass.

Needless to say, the Hulk soon smashes her plans to pieces.

That means there's time for him to have a second adventure. One in which Bruce goes to the aid of a child who's clearly being mistreated by his scientist parents.

Except he's not a child.

In a sinister inversion of the Superman story, he's a Dire Wraith who they found, as a baby, in a crashed space capsule and adopted as their own.

But, now, that Dire Wraith has realised he's not like other boys, and is out to create nothing but mayhem.


Anonymous said...

Steve - I think 'Weathermen' is a punning reference to a certain group from the 1960s. Not a musical group - more a 'down with the Man'-type group! I'm sure Team USA will flesh out the details!


Anonymous said...

"Counterculture" - that's the word I was angling for!


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Ah, that will be the Amazing Spider-Man issue where Jonas Harrow spends all his time dressed up as a dentist.

And don't get me started on how unlikely a duo Harrow and the Gargoyle make.

Anonymous said...

dangermash - inspired by 'Marathon Man', perhaps?


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I'll take your word for it Phillip. Only film I know with dentists in is Horrible Bosses. In fact, nothing but dentists all the way through that film, although that may just be me with the fast forward button.

Anonymous said...

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows, Phillip.

Looks like fearless Frank Miller's star is still rising this month at Marvel Steve, bagging both Spidey covers as well as Daredevil. I think he did last month too, but now they're letting him do the inks, and break away from the house style.
That AMS #219 cover in particular looks like an early example of fearless Frank's later, more stylized approach to inking.


Anonymous said...

Keep your head down, Sean - or you'll get roped into giving a counterculture tutorial! ; )


Anonymous said...

dangermash - In 'Marathon Man', Dustin Hoffman was method acting, living on the streets, etc, & getting dishevelled for the part. Olivier said to Dustin (imagine a plummy Olivier voice): "Try acting, my boy - it's much easier!"


Anonymous said...

I bought Captain America of the spinner and subsequently Avengers, Daredevil and X-men, this month. Funny that Miller illustrates three covers, but the most Milleresque cover this month was Al Milgrom's Captain America.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

I was about to say the exact same thing about Milgrom’s cover out-Millering Miller . They even went toe-to-toe with duelling ‘Our Hero Behind Bars!’ covers in the same month and Amiable Al’s is much more successful, IMO.

At this point, I’d become a big fan of Miller’s work on Daredevil, but have to confess that when he started inking his own work (as on this week’s batch of covers) I wasn’t keen on the results. This batch look like they were banged out in a hurry, so I’m sure that’s part of the problem.

The Weathermen may indeed be a reference to the infamous group of radical anarchists from the 1960s — but if so, it went way over my head back in 1981. First I ever heard of them was during the 2008 Presidential Election cycle, when Sarah Palin repeatedly tried to smear Barack Obama because he’d briefly rubbed elbows with a former Weatherman during his days as a community organizer in Chicago — characterizing Obama as a ‘guy who pals around with terrorists.’

I love that story about Olivier ragging on Hoffman about his technique — it’s one of my favorite examples of actors getting all bitchy with their co-stars. Another favorite involves Harrison Ford and Brad Pitt making ‘The Devil’s Own’. The story goes that Pitt would speak with an Irish accent even when he wasn’t in front of the camera, which is a fairly common acting technique, from what I understand, and makes a certain amount of sense to me — but Ford apparently thought it was kinda silly. One day Pitt shows up on set and says, ‘Top o’ the mornin’ to ye, Boyo’ and Ford says, ‘Hey Brad. What’s going on.’ Pitt says, ‘Ah, just workin’ on me Irish accent, don’t ya know.’ And Ford deadpans, ‘All right, let’s hear it.’ :)


Anonymous said...


Yes Miller's inking originally seemed a bit over the top. I was initially put off by the first issue of Ronin for that reason, although I eventually came to really appreciate the style. I now much prefer his self inked work, even if he kind of lost the plot somewhat a few years back.


Anonymous said...

I was never really convinced by Miller as an artist, that wasn't his strong point as a comic creator. He obviously knew himself that, say, a David Mazzuchelli would bring something he couldn't to Daredevil and Batman; and working on Elektra Lives there was no point in trying to be "better" than Sienkiewicz.

Ronin was Miller's first real go at finding a way to turn his limitations to an advantage... and the first Sin City a way to see if that style could work without Lynn Varley's colours.


B Smith said...

I thought Ronin was more the result of Miller reading Moebius's SF-tinged work, and Sin City the same, but with Hugo Pratt.

Anonymous said...

As regards Iron Man & Dr.Doom, the two clashed before in the Gerry Conway Avengers story (with Attuma, Tyrak, etc) - 'The Private War of Dr.Doom'. On that occasion, Dr.Doom easily trashed Iron Man, causing his circular chest plate bit to get smashed off (Iron Man's equivalent of Thor's helmet being knocked off, to the show the seriousness of an incident!) Dr.Doom also easily beat the Vision. I thought 'The Private War of Dr.Doom' would have been an outstanding story - if not for that stupid incident. At that time, the Avengers were far more powerful than the Fantastic Four (who always beat Doom) so, to me - as a kid - it didn't compute for Doom to win. Hopefully, in this issue, Iron Man will give Doom a good kicking, to even their earlier score!

That X-Men was the last X-Men I ever bought, until 1990. At that age, I wasn't aware 'Caliban' was referencing 'The Tempest'. Unfortunately, the X-Men's quality had dropped considerably. By that point, I think Iron Fist was the virtually the only title keeping me going (although I'd have to check my rubbish one line/per day diary to be sure.)

As well as the Weathermen, and the Black Panthers, I seem to remember there was a third radical group, the title of which was a 4 letter acronym - a bit like the French rail company, S.N.C.F. - but, with different letters, obviously! I read about all this 30 years ago, so memories are hazy. There's always Wikipedia, as a "cheat"!


Colin Jones said...

Phil and Steve, the New Statesman Summer Special is just the ordinary issue but a bit thicker and covers three weeks instead of one (July 30th-August 19th). I used to buy The New Statesman on a regular-ish basis but now I only buy it once in a blue moon.

Colin Jones said...

When I was 13 I bought a book called 'The Usborne Book Of The Future' which tried to predict what the next 200 years would be like. On one page they imagined the 2020 Olympics taking place on the moon because naturally there'd be a lunar colony by 2020. There was a lovely painting of the events taking place in the Olympic stadium as Earth hung in the sky outside the colony's protective dome. Sadly the 2020 Olympics weren't on the moon but they did get postponed for a year due to a global pandemic which, back in 1979, probably seemed like a more unlikely event than a lunar Olympics!

Colin Jones said...

I should mention the comics as this post is actually about comics. The only one I recognise is Fantastic Four which makes me wonder what I was buying at this time. By now I'd completely abandoned Marvel UK in order to concentrate on the US Marvel comics but it seems I was mostly buying the B-list titles.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I feel like a schmo not knowing any of these comics! But I do say the covers in general are very appealing! And two jail-cell covers! What are the odds???

Regarding US terror groups back in the 60s... A lot of the fear comes from this notion that the equal-rights movements were being organized by communist russia.

For instance, Lee Harvey Oswald tried to assassinate General Walker at his home in Texas, a few months prior to shooting Kennedy. Walker got wrapped up in the whole commie-racial agitation theory manifesting his sacking by Kennedy.

I'll let those interested read up on it here. (I only include the second article b/c the comments are interesting about the viability of one man shooting Kennedy. Can of corn, baby...)

Philip you may be thinking of the Symbionese Liberation Army that had kidnapped Patti Hearst.

And as a child I got to drive by the Black Panthers' destroyed plane, at Gary International Airport, about a million times. It had been burned or blown up, I don't recall. Whites said that Louis Farrakan's Nation of Islam did it. Blacks said it was the FBI.

Anonymous said...

Colin - Thanks for telling me about that Usborne title. I had several others, including UFOs, Monsters & Ghosts (the re-issue) + Undersea World (?), and Supercars - but I'd never heard of an Usborne Book of the Future.

b.t. & Charlie - Thanks for your input on radical groups. Charlie, sometimes it seems like all roads lead to Gary, Indiana!


Anonymous said...

Charlie - that first article also, perhaps, throws some light on the phrase, 'midnight riders'(which I previously didn't understand the significance of), in the Johnny Cash song, 'God's Gonna Cut You Down'. I mistakenly thought most of that reds-under-the-bed stuff ended with McCarthyism. I suppose it was satirized in the early 70s cartoon, 'Wait 'Till Your Father Gets Home', with that character who was obsessed with commies - so maybe it was still around, even then.


Anonymous said...

Phillip, seeing as we're dealing with the 80s I assumed you were thinking of MOVE, the people bombed by the cops in Philadelphia.
Personally I'd draw a distinction between groups like the Panthers who, whatever you think of them, their altercations with the police and state clearly came out of their views on self-defence, and on the other hand Weathermen-types who thought they could bomb their society into change.

Charlie, that stuff about the general sounds like part of the attempt to set up Oswald publicly as a Cuban sympathizer.
Watch out for the black helicopters...


Anonymous said...

Sean - the 60s, not the 80s!

Both groups were "radical", compared to the status quo - albeit not the same.

The thing about self-defense is totally justifiable.

Do you know much about Eldridge Cleaver?

Later, Cleaver found God & renounced his view of what constituted a political act.


Steve W. said...

Phillip, thanks for the history of Doom vs Iron Man.

Colin, when it comes to predictions of the future, I remember that one of those cards you used to get with tea predicted that, in the future, we'd all live in domed cities at the bottom of the sea, thanks to overcrowding on the surface. I'm still waiting for any signs that that is going to happen.

Then again, I remember Tomorrow's World repeatedly predicting that, by now, we'd all be living on a diet of nothing but meat-flavoured soya beans.

Anonymous said...

I assumed the 80s because we're discussing a 40 Years Ago post Phillip.
Eldridge Cleaver ended up a conservative Republican, and in the Church of Latter Day Saints - he doesn't come across as one of the more impressive figures to come out of the Black Panther Party.


Anonymous said...

Sean - I get you! I suppose, as a child, 13 years seems an eternity. However, to an adult Marvel writer, the time between '68 & 81 wouldn't seem long at all. To me, 2008 doesn't seem long ago. Hence, to them 'the weathermen' might seem a more recent reference than it does, to us, in retrospect.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Sean -

The simple truth is that "your" Donald Maclean, of the Cambridge 5, was working on instructions from your biggest traitor Kim Philby, to recruit Oswald, our biggest traitor, when he was living in Russia, to kill Kennedy.

Once Oswald came back to the USA in June 1962, Philby signaled him to move forward. Knowing that Oswald was two bricks short of a full load, Philby defected to the USSR in January 1963. Then Oswald shot at General Walker in April 1963 and Kennedy in November 1963.

This is all very simple.

Though I don't know if Philby's defection is still considered the greatest betrayal by a spy in history?

Anonymous said...

No Charlie, Oswald was the patsy in an American plot, and part of that was setting him up to look like a pro-Castro commie. Why else would he have been let back into the US so easily after "defecting" to the Soviet Union?
Ultimately though, the Ancient Illuminated Seers of Bavaria were behind it all.

Btw, Philby, Maclean and that lot aren't "mine".


Colin Jones said...

Gosh, Steve Does Comics has become very political. Down with Boris!

Phil, I had the Usborne book about ghosts, monsters and UFOs too. It was called 'Mysteries Of The Unknown' which I got for Christmas 1978. All three sections of the book were also available separately as softcover books and I'd already bought the UFO one.

Anonymous said...

Dangermash, you forgot the greatest dentist in all film history.
That would be Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors.
Why he didn't get a Best Supporting Oscar for that is beyond me.
It's the Academy, man. It's all politics.

Sean, I'm a fan of Mazzuchelli. I'm not nearly smart enough about art to discuss it intelligently, (not that that's ever given me pause before) but it seems to me like there's economy of lines, like a sparseness, where things are sometimes only suggested, but your brain thinks they are there. It's really clean, and I think the guy can do noir as good as anybody.
I think I've seen later artists who might have been inspired by that. That remind me of Mazzuchelli, anyway.
He and Miller were definitely a dream team. Until, that is, Miller became clinically insane.


Anonymous said...

Colin - What I find interesting is in Usborne 'UFOs', Roswell doesn't get a single mention - yet, nowadays, viewers are repeatedly told it's the most famous case in history. Not in the 70s, it wasn't! Also, there isn't a single 'grey' to be found anywhere in the book, either! Although, on the cover, that weird alien with big ears, is a bit like a 'grey'!

Seeing as we're talking about the Kennedy assassination, I've introduced aliens too. Loch Ness monster/Bermuda Triangle, anyone? (No renditions of Barry Manilow, please.)


Colin Jones said...

Phil, I remember making a comment on another blog (which has since closed) mentioning the fact that we hadn't heard of Roswell when we were kids in the '70s. The whole Roswell event must have only become famous in the '80s, nearly 40 years after it supposedly happened which is rather strange considering how iconic it has become! My most vivid memory of the Usborne UFO book concerns the sighting of the alien called the "Hopkinsville goblin" and the book's attempt to imagine what his homeworld must be like - it was cold and about 19 light-years from Earth as I recall!

Anonymous said...

Colin - Yes, those UFO shows are re-writing 1970s history! The Hopkinsville goblin IS the alien with the big ears:

Again, on the cover:

My most vivid memory is the Lonnie Zamora egg-shaped UFO:

Here's a nostalgic trip to the Hopkinsville goblin's speculated homeworld: