Sunday, 3 July 2022

Fifty years ago today - July 1972.

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

In the 1970s, what was the one thing we all knew about chess?

That it was played by Bobby Fischer and he was good at it.

And how did we know?

Because of the match between him and world champion Boris Spassky that kicked off in July 1972 in Iceland's very own city of Reykjavík.

I do believe that Fischer, after a poor start, went on to win the clash by 12½ – 8½, and a legend was born.

Amazing Spider-Man #110, The Gibbon, John Romita cover

Speaking of legends being born, a sensational new super-doer makes his debut, as, inspired by Spider-Man's antics, social misfit Marty Blank dons an ape costume and becomes the Gibbon.

But all he gets for his efforts are failure and Spider-Man's mockery.

Spidey really isn't the most endearing of characters in this tale.

Still, at least Kraven's around to cheer Marty up.

Avengers #101, Rich Buckler

And speaking of Bobby Fischer, doesn't he get namechecked in this tale, as it opens with the mystery death of a Russian chess grandmaster?

Rich Buckler, thankfully, resists the urge to imitate Jack Kirby, as the Watcher tells The Avengers they must let five innocent people die if they wish to save the world.

Captain America and the Falcon #151, Mr Hyde and the Scorpion

I've never read this one but it would appear to feature Mr Hyde and the Scorpion kidnapping Sharon Carter.

And what sort of madman wouldn't want to experience a tale in which that pair of nasties team up?

Conan the Barbarian #16, The Frost Giants Daughter, Barry Windsor Smith, Roy Thomas, Robert E Howard

Roy Thomas and Lord Barrington Wyndsor Smythersley the Third give us their adaptation of Robert E Howard's The Frost Giant's Daughter in which Conan's behaviour is ungentlemanly to a degree you'd struggle to get away with these days.

Daredevil #89, Electro, Killgrave the Purple Man

If Cap thinks he's got his hands full with the Scorpion and Mr Hyde, he should be glad he's not Daredevil, because the man without fear has to deal with both the pulse-pounding peril of the Purple Man and also Electro.

Frankly, I don't fancy his chances.

Fantastic Four #121, Creature From The Black Lagoon

Hooray! It's the return of the monster that bears no resemblance to the Creature from the Black Lagoon!

I remember reading this in Captain Britain's comic, although I don't recall much about the tale itself. Am I right in thinking the creature's seeking medical assistance for his ailing wife?

Incredible Hulk #153, Trial

It's another of my faves, as the Hulk finds himself on trial and has to face a whole barrage of famous witnesses for and against the prosecution.

Fortunately, Mr Fantastic's on hand to boost the Hulk's strength and enable his escape.

I'm not totally sure that boosting the Hulk's strength is the most responsible way to behave.

Iron Man #48, Firebrand melts armor

Iron Man gets his metal tested by a man with the same taste in colours as himself.

In all honesty, I'm struggling to remember what happens in this one.

Mighty Thor #201, Pluto

It's Thor vs Pluto for the soul of Odin!

But what's this? As the two battle, Hela tries to take Odin’s life?

Still, all ends well when the old duffer wakes up and sorts the whole mess out with his magic powers.

Adventure Comics #421, Supergirl

That's Marvel accounted for but now, for comparison's sake, let's inspect a random sample of DC books that also bore a July 1972 cover date.

That's a very dramatic cover.

And the comic's probably just as dramatic inside. After all, within it, someone called Nightflame kidnaps Supergirl and forces her to face her own death wish.

!!!egaruoc dna htiaf fo kcal sih htiw evitceted a spleh annataZ chihw ni elat a teg osla eW.

The Brave and the Bold #102, Batman and the Teen Titans

Can it be true? Can Batman have turned against his own sidekick and his sidekick's chums?

It all kicks off when the cowled crusader recruits the Teen Titans to help defuse a confrontation between Gotham City's establishment and a group of youngsters who inhabit a crime-ridden neighbourhood. But the situation's quickly complicated by the presence of a local crime boss.

Elsewhere, the Doom Patrol finds itself in a tale the world knows as The Robot-Maker Must Die.

Detective Comics #425, Bernie Wrightson

Hooray! Bernie Wrightson gets to draw a Batman cover!

Sadly, he doesn't get to draw the interior but it is pencilled by the more-than-capable Dick Dillin, while William Shakespeare achieves his life ambition and gets a co-writing credit alongside Denny O'Neil.

We also get a tale called Open-and-Shut Case! which stars someone called Jason Bard. Presumably, no relation to the above-mentioned bard.

Star Spangled War Stories #163

I think this is the first time I've ever featured Star Spangled War Stories in this slot.

But, thanks to it, we get epics bearing such combative titles as Kill the General!, The Ace Who Died Twice! and Sgt. Storm Cloud, starring such characters as the Unknown Soldier, Steve Savage and, I would assume, Sgt Storm Cloud.

Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #124

Lois Lane proves to be a bit of a liability when The 100 make her believe she's a jungle princess

And, speaking of foes of The 100, in the back-up strip, the unknowing Rose takes a job at a car plant where the Thorn then discovers criminals are creating drug-smuggling spaces inside the automobiles!


Matthew McKinnon said...

Is Supergirl wearing cut-offs? Was that a thing back then?

Anonymous said...

Daredevil # 89

A couple of issues ago, Daredevil's "Golden Age" began! Namely, the Colan & Palmer era.

But, for me, this comic Daredevil # 89 - heralded the Man Without Fear's "Golden Age", it being the my first Daredevil (albeit I read it in my brother's 'MWOM'# 269, not DD # 89!)

First...the cover. Classic, quintessential Sal Buscema! This cover's style struck the 'key note' for many subsequent stories I read, in later comics.

Being so prolific, Sal Buscema seemed Marvel UK's "House Artist", in late 1977/78.

In fact, Sal virtually WAS Marvel comics, at one point!

In 1977/78 UK weeklies, Sal drew the Hulk in 'MWOM', the Defenders & Nova in 'Rampage Weekly' - Sal sometimes even drew Spidey, in 'SS&CB'.

Thus - for me - the keynote was struck, by this Sal Buscema cover, for many subsequent Sal-drawn Marvel UK stories I read!

Why else is this cover interesting?

Well, DD # 89 & 'MWOM' # 269's cover voice captions differ considerably! On DD # 89, Killgrave rasps at Daredevil, "Why don't you lay down and die, Daredevil?"; whereas Marvel UK's Killgrave voices the much tamer, "Give up, Daredevil!"

Was Marvel UK's editor worried plain talk shocks a young reader? Surely not!

Anonymous said...

Interesting how else? Well, this cover has Electro's 'starfish/star' mask design we all know & love. Yet inside, the temples of Electro's mask have double lightning bolts protruding - totally different. Electro's costume's different in other ways, too - Colan being inventive/creative, perhaps?

Killgrave's the 'Purple Man', so his goons where purple uniforms on the cover - stands to reason, doesn't it?

Besides, on DD # 89's cover, the story's events aren't portrayed accurately. You're right! This has never happened before, in Marvel's entire history of covers! (Irony mode engaged!) Why inaccurate?

Well, Daredevil doesn't single-handedly take on Killgrave & Electro. Daredevil shares the chores with the Black Widow (like Ka-zar & Shanna!) Natasha battles Electro, & Matt tackles Killgrave. However, it being the sexist 1970s, this cover airbrushes out Natasha's part in the victory. To Daredevil goes credit for tackling the two rascally blackguards! Bad show, 1970s editors!

Let's turn the cover. Well, as usual, the title's introduced by a 'Stan Lee PRESENTS': character intro box.

"He dwells in eternal night - but the blackness is filled with sounds and scents other men cannot perceive."

Aged 8, metaphor confused me. Did Daredevil stories always take place at night?

Now, the story proper...

The story starts with a splash page.

Anonymous said...

A hovercraft, resembling a flying saucer, is Killgrave's mode of transport. This saucer-shaped craft is roofless (is it a convertible?), for some strange reason. Oddly, this circular hole brought to mind Sheffield's famous 'hole in the road' (now long gone)!

From the top, Electro emerges from Killgrave's flying saucer / hovercraft, converging on Daredevil & Natasha. Colan draws Electro looking 'shark-like', almost swimming along his stream of electricity - an interesting pose! Tigershark springs to mind.

Electro tells Daredevil he owes him a debt. (Yes, I know the debt Dr.Doom owed Luke Cage sprang into your mind!) This pay-back parallels the score /debt Daredevil's settling with Killgrave (who previously captured & tormented DD).

Perhaps, for the story, underscoring such a parallel more heavily was in order. "Clinch this point!" - as a tutor of mine once said! Exposition, however, wasn't Gerry Conway's bag, at this time (as M.P. astutely highlighted, ages ago!)

For many Marvel writers, at this time, continuous exposition was off the cards, but later much of an entire comic got devoted to unpacking a particular plot point - or some such thing - relevant to the story (e.g. the Defenders 'Who is Barbara Norris & how is she Val?', or the Mantis Celestial Madonna exposition issue, about the Badoon, etc.)

Back at the ranch...

Daredevil tells Natasha Killgrave's the tougher opponent, he's leaving Electro to her. A bit patronizing, Matt? (Like Inspector Morse telling Barbara Flynn he's completed all a crossword's difficult answers for her - but, I digress...) Natasha replies, "I'll hold off Electro till you return--but hurry, Daredevil--I need you near me, now--you know that!"

What? Natasha - a helpless, damsel in distress? Surely not!

For Natasha, this 'helpless female' phraseology doesn't track, with later events. After all, in subsequent issues, Daredevil & the Black Widow's break up was caused by Natasha - a former secret agent - being ready to use lethal force, whereas ethical lawyer, Matt, most definitely was not (admittedly, this moral rift happened under Steve Gerber, not Gerry Conway). Much later, DD became 'morally ambiguous' (didn't everybody?) - but I much preferred this Daredevil.

Then again, even if Natasha's reaction doesn't "track", Conway's lack of exposition handily provides room to manoeuvre.

Put another way, Conway's lack of exposition allows the reader to speculate on possible explanations for this character inconsistency.

For example, Natasha could be acting "out of character", if Mr.Fear (who's a subsequent villain) is testing his Fear gas in small doses, before the bigger dose Fear surreptitiously gives Natasha next issue. I'll admit - it's tenuous!

With Chris Claremont (in Spidey Team-up), this dichotomy between Natasha the victim to be rescued (for 1970s plot purposes), and Natasha the extremely ruthless (not roofless, like Killgrave's saucer!) ex-secret agent, willing to use lethal force, got some dissociative personality disorder treatment, a la Moon Knight. After all, Natasha was brainwashed into being 3rd grade elementary school teacher, Nancy Rushman - or something - before the brainwashing wore off, and she returned to being a "lethal lady".

Then again, Nancy Rushman wasn't a victim to be rescued all the time. A couple of times she saved Spidey's life, using Karate! At least Nancy Rushman's initials were the same as Natasha Romanoff 's, to help the Black Widow remember her own name!

Anonymous said...

But...I digress.

Daredevil, before going after Killgrave, softens up Electro for Natasha's benefit, by throwing his billy-club, at close range. Daredevil then jokes with Natasha that he's being chivalrous! By modern standards, this again sounds extremely patronizing! But, aged 8, I thought this story was terrific - probably more due to the art!

It's also interesting how the billy-club - after striking Electro - returns to Daredevil's hand, just like Mjolnir with Thor, Cap's shield, or Marine Boy's electric boomerang, do for their respective masters! How can the billy-club impact a soft, irregular surface, like a human body, and bounce back?

When Colan's at his best, little artistic details distinguish his work from that of lesser artists. Just before Daredevil slings his billy-club at Killgrave's saucer-craft, Colan draws the line "kinked", part way along, like a metal tape measure - so it looks more real. A nice little touch!

As noted many times before, in Chris Claremont's stories, goons get personalized, with individual names and identities (most famously "Cole", in X-Men # 133, who returned in X-Men # 152). After all, anonymous goons don't interest a reader at all! Well, here, Conway's personalizing his goons 8 years before Claremont! Killgrave's goons are "Raoul" (did Bushman work for Killgrave, as a former career?) & "Renaud". Maybe Batroc, the Grey Gargoyle, Cyclone & Radion aren't the only French villains in Marvel!

Nevertheless, DD # 89's characterization lacks something, when read as a 'stand alone' comic. Maybe because Gerry Conway's exposition isn't continual. As characters, Killgrave, Raoul, Renaud, etc are names - and little else. However, had you read the previous issues, Killgrave & Daredevil's bad blood is fleshed out - and we learn Renaud was Killgrave's most intelligent goon - before being subjected to the purple mist. With Conway, stories read chronologically make sense - with some exceptions - but as 'stand alone' tales, questions are left hanging.

But - as 'stand alone' tales - lack of exposition can also make Conway's stories strangely mysterious & intriguing!

There's fisticuffs-a-plenty in Daredevil stories. Also, Matt's nifty nostril filters stop Killgrave's purple mist. Next issue, the gas thing gets repetitive, as Mr.Fear's using gas, too, albeit the reader doesn't know it's him. ( Gas repetition happened in Spidey, too with Belladonna, straight after the Cobra ? - I forget!)

Daredevil's Marvel's weakest superhero - just about. Yet in Colan's art, DD appears strong, and courageous. Daredevil battles three goons, simultaneously, at very close quarters - despite having no superstrength. Colan conveys physical impressions - at his best - not just action per se.

Daredevil's billy-club ends the battle, impacting Killgrave's saucer-craft's delicate controls. Daredevil exits the stricken craft - in style - whilst Killgrave (supposedly) and his goons, perish! Here, Gerry Conway anticipates another Chris Claremont feature (we've already had 'named goons') - namely, an intrusive narrator:

"But men make their choices early in life, Daredevil--and once that decision is formed, for some men it can never be unmade!"

Anonymous said...

Intrusive narrators criticized Cyclops all the time - likewise Claremont's Iron Fist! Anyway, shut up, intrusive narrator! Daredevil escapes Killgrave's stricken saucercraft, breaking his fall by grabbing a flag-pole, which Colan expertly depicts "vibrating". This little touch shows Colan-at-his-best, yet again - something lesser artists simply couldn't pull off.

Meanwhile, Natasha battles Electro. A previous Daredevil comic (see Paul's blog) had Natasha on her tip-toes (incidentally, toe-walkers are called "digitigrades" - cats, for example - but, I digress...) in one panel, at least. Well, in DD # 89, Natasha's not tip-toeing around, but sitting - in at least 3 panels - like Little Miss Muffet! 1970s passivity & disempowerment? Not necessarily. Natasha's "baiting" Electro into a trap!

She goads Electro into firing an electrical bolt at her, then dodges it, so a lightning conductor store - or something - behind her, discharges all Electro's power! Even aged 8, this solution seemed too "pat" - but...there you go!

Natasha muses to Daredevil... If she could only solve all her other problems - like Danny French - so easily!

So, Gerry Conway's exposition's thin-on-the-ground, at this time - I'll grant that! But Conway wasn't ad-libbing - a mere improviser. This isn't a Spider-woman story! Gerry's planning ahead, foreshadowing/trailing the Danny French/Project 4 story line, & possibly Mr.Fear, too (Natasha's "pre-game jitters"?) Suspense, readers - suspense!

Altogether - for me - a fine start to the Colan & Palmer Daredevil run, with Palmer's shadows making the most atmospheric Daredevil stories to date!

Aged 8, Adam West's Batman was my first reference point - as regards superheroes - before reading this comic (& a couple before it). And, to me, Daredevil resembled Batman - in that their masks both had pointy ears (actually "horns", in DD's case). But Daredevil seemed much more "realistic" - whatever that meant - to 8 year old me - with proper characters, and villains (not like the Joker & Penguin!) Of course, Batman's real stories were unknown to me, at that time!

Incidentally, did anyone else find it strange Dan Dare having Daredevil's monogram on his chest, on the cover of 1978's 2000AD Annual?

This summary/review's dedicated to my mother, who bought those Marvel comics, more than 40 years ago.


Anonymous said...

Hope everything's ok with you Phillip (aside from what I suspect that dedication may mean).

I can't possibly match those comments, but I will point out that in Captain America #151 Leila Taylor finally gets a name.
Mind you, somewhat oddly she does introduce herself to the Falcon, which raises the possibility that perhaps he was knocking around with a different 'militant girl' in earlier issues, and its actually Leila's first appearance. The afro and big earings look was pretty standard for sistas in 70s Marvel comics, so who knows?
Either way, fortunately the same attitude is there and she gives Captain Whitey and his token sidekick an appropriately hard time.


Anonymous said...

Over at DC we seem to arrived at the switch to a 20 cents cover price and shorter page count.

More importantly, its the Supergirl hotpants era!
C'mon Matthew - its her classic look. Always good to see the Maid of Might in your blog on a Sunday, Steve.
Especially as thats not a bad story in Adventure #421, although the ending where she regains consciousness because her boyfriend with the 'tache loves her and they kiss is annoying.
But its the back-up that really lets the comic down - Zatanna is really disappointing after the previous stories drawn by Gray Morrow.


Anonymous said...

Steve, Lois made a pretty good jungle princess. She was definitely better at it than being a journalist anyway.


Steve W. said...

Matthew, as Sean says, the hot pants look was easily Supergirl's best outfit of the 1970s.

Philip, thanks for that jam-packed Daredevil review. I still haven't got over the loss of the Hole in the Road and its mighty fish tank.

Sean, I too noticed the shortening of DC's mags, this month. It was a relief to not have to summarise as many back-up strips as previously.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sean!

Steve, yeah - I always remember the hole, when walking down to the bus/train station!


McSCOTTY said...

Bobby Fisher was indeed mentioned in Avemgers 101 Steve although Thor called him by his posh name Robert Fisher.

I missed Captain America and the Falcon issue 151 first time around as well ( strange as Caps title was regularly in sale where I lived at the time) I picked it up a few years ago and it's a fun action packed Gerry Conway written and Sal Buscema illustrated comic where Cap on the last page smacks old Nick Fury is the face. Cap America at this time was so much fun under Sal's artistic endeavours . That Hulk issue is a classic as well.

Colin Jones said...

Steve, I too read that FF story in Captain Britain. The monster was indeed seeking medical help for his mate/wife and at the end they took off in their spaceship with the FF waving goodbye. I remember thinking the spaceship looked very peculiar, as if it was made of dried mud. It didn't look like it would stand the rigours of interstellar travel but obviously it must have done!

Anonymous said...

Team USA may be absent, celebrating Independence Day.


McSCOTTY said...

Happy holidays to our American pals, enjoy your day.

Colin Jones said...

Yes, Happy 4th July to our American friends (still 16 minutes left).

Colin Jones said...

15 minutes.

Colin Jones said...

But in the US the fireworks are only getting started about now!

Anonymous said...

Yes, independence from Britain is probably the most widely celebrated holiday in the world.
Hope the Americans are enjoying it today (hey, its still the 4th there).


Colin Jones said...

Phil, I hope you're feeling a bit better after your recent bereavement. Are you planning any more reviews or was this the last one ever?

Anonymous said...

Hello to our UK friends! Yes we are celebrating. Redartz and i spoke today about seeing the Chicago Comic Con next Sunday witht the gents who ran Back in the Bronze Age! We are psyched!

I actually bought each of those Marvels off the spinner and still have my feeble attempt at drawing the Iron Man cover 50 years ago. 50 years ago is my comic sweet spot!

And today, July 4, is Charlie’s birthday! (61. Ouch!)

And of course there was a mini massacre at a parade 20 minutes up the street from me in Highlad Park Illinois at 10:00 AM. No fireworks shows or parades for us today! Nope.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

STEVE! To be sure, your blog is a venerable display of beauty! But any chance you can throw in JLA covers? Muchas Gracias! Charlie

Anonymous said...

JLA 100 is August 1972. Seven Soldiers of Victory! JSA too!

Redartz said...

Greetings all! Still observing the 4th, in the form of watching a baseball game and eating a hot dog. But no apple pie, and I don't drive a Chevy (in joke for any who remember that Chevrolet jingle from the 70's).

That Amazing Spider-Man issue didn't really impress me. But the Conan issue did. At least the art did; the story was originally published in Savage Tales in b/w. Apparently Barry colored it for this presentation. Looks pretty nice. He is a fine colorist, as seen in his work in the Conan Marvel Treasury Edition.

Oh, and happy birthday Charlie! My big day was 4 days ago; guess we can celebrate at the Big Show this weekend!

And one more comment- thanks for giving us the Star Spangled War book! Always a solid cover, usually Kubert.

Anonymous said...

I read that Star Spangled War Stories issue online earlier - the Unknown Soldier story is drawn by Dan Spiegle. Not an artist I've ever paid any attention to, but it looks alright in an early 70s DC war comic kind of way.

Although the 'realistic' style is a bit at odds with the character's ridiculous master of disguise gimmick - at one point he actually manages to pass as a fairly fit blonde nurse!
Why does a fella who can do that spend so much time covered in bandages? How come he can't disguise himself as er, himself?

The 'The Ace Who Died Twice' back-up reprint is fantastic. As you'd expect from Joe Kubert bi-plane action.

Happy birthday Charlie - hope you're having a good one (local massacre aside, obviously).
You too Red, belatedly.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Sean! It was a great day (local- massacre exclusion invoked).

Redartz said...

Thank you Sean! I too had a fine day.
And you're right, Kubert sure could draw those planes...

Anonymous said...

Yes, thanks Colin (albeit, there are other issues.) As regards reviews, certain comics motivate me - putting the reviews together requires considerable planning - to write, and the momentum builds. At other times, I can't get motivated. So...maybe some more - I can't say yet!

Charlie - Drawing superheroes - that awakens memories! As a kid, the art was absolutely the most interesting thing - but, later, I drifted over to literature instead.

Happy Birthday, Charlie - & a belated Happy Birthday to Redartz. The dates being so close, maybe joint celebrations next year!


Colin Jones said...

A belated happy birthday, Red!

Charlie, why have you never mentioned that your birthday is on July 4th?? That's like having a birthday on Christmas Day if you're American!

Colin Jones said...

Belated happy birthday, Charlie :)

Steve W. said...

Happy birthday, Charlie. Sadly, there wasn't a Justice League comic cover-dated July 1972. I shall definitely include issue #100 in my next 50-years post.

Happy birthday, Red.

Anonymous said...

With my infrequent ability to pickup comics during that time period, I managed to get 4 of the books featured.

The cover of Avengers #101 misled me. I actually thought our heroes were battling the Molten Man at first glance. Though disappointed at first, that turned out to be a great one issue story. I don't know why I thought Molty could stand up to the Avengers. I usually didn't have time to peruse a book before purchase.

Cap #151 was a joy. I love it when heroes fight classic villains that are outside their regular rogues gallery.

Speaking about classic rogues galleries, it was a must-buy to see DD battle Elektro & Purple Man. It had taken me awhile to get used to Widow sharing DD's book, but by #89 I couldn't live without her. I was very sad when she left.

Firebrand, if I remember correctly, was a kind of militant terrorist. Though his costume was cool, and who could resist a Gil Kane cover with Shellhead melting like a candle?


Steve W. said...

KD, I didn't have any of the Marvel comics above but I have read all of them, except the Cap and Iron Man issues, in reprint form. I didn't have any of the DC ones at the time but I have read the Supergirl one in the last decade.