Sunday 3 September 2023

Fifty years ago today - September 1973.

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

It is time to collapse into the ever-swirling Time Vortex that has filled my living room and see just what strange shores we land upon.

Avengers #115

And we land upon the strange shores of the West Midlands, as the world's mightiest super-team visit central England and discover that the area which gave us Slade, ELO and Duran Duran is actually inhabited by homicidal troglodytes who the gang have a baffling amount of difficulty overcoming.

Captain America and the Falcon #165, Yellow Claw

We all know you can't go wrong writing a tale that features giant spiders.

Sadly, I suspect the Yellow Claw does go wrong with them and that Cap and his plucky sidekick will, ultimately, win the day.

Conan the Barbarian #30, Nergal

I've not read this one but I gather Conan helps the Turanian army against the legions of someone called Munthassem Khan.

But does the title mean it's an adaptation of Robert E Howard's The Hand of Nergal?

Daredevil and the Black Widow #103, Spider-Man and Ramrod.

I read this one on holiday in 1978. After all those years of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer, suddenly being exposed to Don Heck at his less-than-finest convinced me it was the moment Daredevil as a strip had died.

Fortunately, I was wrong. I'm glad to say the strip recovered and had many a happy year ahead of it.

As for what happens this month, boy reporter Peter Parker visits San Francisco to interview Daredevil and the Black Widow but Ramrod attacks their house, and the trio of heroes must join forces to stop the brutal battler.

Fantastic Four #138, Miracle Man

The Miracle Man returns but can't get what's left of the Fantastic Four to take him seriously.

But, then, with a twist that could stagger the gods themselves, it turns out he now has actual real super-powers - and he's not afraid to use them.

And that's bad news for Wyatt Wingfoot's tribe whose land he's rudely decided to take control of.

Incredible Hulk #167, Modok

It's good news for Betty when her father returns from his Russian captivity.

But it's not such good news when he has to tell her her husband Glenn kicked the bucket rescuing him.

Needless to say, this all puts Betty in a psychiatric institution.

And that's when MODOK shows up, looking to use her as an instrument of vengeance.

Iron Man #62, Whiplash

Apparently, Whiplash steals Tony Stark's latest Micro-Power Cell and then destroys every single one of Shellhead's weapons.

Fortunately, our hero then hits upon the genius idea of taking his whip off him. At which point the fight's over.

Amazing Spider-Man #124, Man-Wolf

Everyone's favourite astronaut John Jameson is back from the moon but now has a gem stuck to him that turns him into a yellow-clad werewolf!

And, for some reason, that werewolf has it in for his own father!

Thor #215, Xorr.

I believe this is the one where Thor fights a giant, stroppy space crystal that's holding Sif and Karnilla captive.

Fortunately, the thunder god has the help of the ever-mercurial Mercurio.

Batman #251, the joker

That's Marvel accounted for but, for comparison's sake, what was a random selection of DC books bearing that same date offering us?

It's an iconic cover for a famous issue, as the Joker returns to cause mischief and mayhem for Gotham's finest. If I remember right, the villain sets out to bump off some of his old henchmen and it all climaxes with a shark fight and a wheelchair.

The Phantom Stranger #26, Spawn of Frankenstein

Mike Kaluta provides the cover and Jim Aparo provides the innards when DC's premier man of mystery meets Mary Shelley's man of many parts in a tale of demonic possession, big houses and blood-thirsty vendetta.

Prez #1

History's made when America gets its youngest-ever president, in a short-lived series that's either groundbreaking satirical genius or total cobblers, depending on who you ask.

Shazam! #5

It's the only issue of Shazam I ever owned and I'm struggling to recall anything that happens in it but I do recall liking CC Beck's artwork.

Apparently, a leprechaun and a boy who wants to be the world's toughest guy feature in the issue's first two tales.

And there's even room for Captain Marvel Junior to launch himself into sensational solo action.

Superboy #197, Timber Wolf

Excitement greets us all, as Timber Wolf returns from the dead.

Not that I'd previously been aware that he was dead.

Nor had I previously been aware that he'd ever existed.

Still, his return proves to be big news, with potential assassination involved and plenty of Dave Cockrum magic. Not to mention a classic Nick Cardy cover.

Wonder Woman #207

I've no idea what goes on in this one but it's a cover that demands I buy it.

Apparently, writer Robert Kanigher is credited as Charles Moulton in this issue. I can only assume there's a Bob Kane style situnario underway.


Anonymous said...

Interesting pick, Steve!

Maybe the troglodytes were Level 42, or Ozzy. Could the Troggs themselves qualify? No, as it seems they're from Hampshire!

On Cap's cover, the Yellow Claw strongly resembles Ming the Merciless.

I'm tempted to say Conan's easily cover of the month, but that's one of my fave FF covers, it being widely plugged when I started reading Marvel. To me, the Thing is particularly well done.

Never has the Ramrod's face resembled the actor Robert Loggia more, than in that Daredevil!

Iron Man looks interesting.

Timberwolf's obviously Wolverine's inspiration, with the logo in the middle of his chest nicked for Starfox!


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

A couple of random Spider-Man comments:

- I looked through ASM #124 to see if I could find anything interesting. And I saw Mary Jane as a student at ESU, which is still weird all these years later. Was this the first time she popped up as a student?

- issue #125 will be Ross Andru's ASM debut although he's pencilled a Spider-Man story (vs the Sorcerer a few years before, a story that appeared in that huge A3 sized Spider-Man holiday compilation that came out at the same time as the Marvel Holiday Grabbag). This is another thing I still find weird. How with artists coplotting they could change artist in the middle of a two parter. This also happened in Souder-Man vs Hulk in ASM #119-120.

- this Ramrod guy in Daredevil appears in the next two or three issues but his next appearance is in ASM #221. Looking at that issue without having read those DDs, he seems like a pretty dull character. Don't know whether he was among the D listers bumped off by Scourge in The Bar With No Name in the 1980s but if he wasn't then he should have been.

Anonymous said...

Wow Steve! Excellent post comme d’habitude!

I do recall starting to lose interest in Marvel hard and fast at this point… basically inflicting pain in June on my sensibilities with Don Heck on DD after I’d been faithfully reading since ariund issue 86 and no matter more Spidey. (And besides… a werewolf…. Wth…)

I did buy Cap. I think I was highly motivated by the 1950s pages of Cap reprinted in Caps origin in #155 in which Cap busts up The Yellow Claw… stupid commie deserved as ass whoopin!

Yep… I started buying DC: the Batman, the Legion, Prez… nice change of pace.

Anonymous said...

Lovely Irv Novick (?) cover on the Barman. To be honest I thought Irv’s work on Bats was as good as Adams’s. Anyone else?


Anonymous said...

dangermash - The Ramrod pointed up Captain Marvel's superiority. Ramrod caused Spidey, Black Widow & Daredevil all kinds of Daredevil problems, before Captain Marvel easily dispatched that troublesome cyborg. In fact, Marvell made Daredevil seem pretty irrelevant, in DD's own title, too! I think charging people with your steel-hard head owes a debt to Hammerhead - or is it vice-versa?


Anonymous said...

Delete the second 'Daredevil' from my second sentence! It's Fast Show time!


dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Yes, Phillip. Looking like a poor man's Hammerhead. Also reminds me a bit of Vinnie Jones Juggernaut in an old X–Men film. I seem to remember him smashing through lots of walls with his head.

Oh, and Hammerhead was first in the scene in ASM #113, which must have been 11 months earlier.

Anonymous said...

Rhino, Juggernaut, Hammer head, Ramrod… keep the head-bangers ball going!!! Who else??? Anyone on the DC or Charlton side ???

Redartz said...

I'd say DC wins the week on the strength of Batman alone! A classic in every sense.

Steve, you are quite right to wonder what gave the Avengers so much difficulty with the Trogs (guess they really were 'wild things'). Most engaging thing about that issue is the story it was leading into...

As for Spidey, what's more 70's than monsters? Unless it's disco, but the Hypno Hustler was still a few years away. Anyway, you already had Morbius, now the Man-Wolf. Pretty soon Marvel Team-Up would complete the big trio with Frankenstein's Monster.

Regarding the 'head bangers'; gotta give the high marks to Hammerhead. He has the best flattop going since J. Jonah Jameson!

Colin Jones said...

Steve, Robert E Howard only wrote a couple of pages of 'The Hand Of Nergal' but it was later turned into a full story by Lin Carter and I think this issue of Conan has indeed adapted that story.

Colin Jones said...

Phillip, The Fast Show will be the subject of 'What's Funny About..?' on Radio 4 next Friday. Hopefully the programme will be interesting and nobody will need to get their coat.

Anonymous said...

I thought Steve was making some Fast Show reference in the post with 'situnario'. But I looked it up, and apparently its nothing to do with Channel 9 Neus or anything like that.
Clearly you are too exotic and intelligent for me, Steve.

Wonder Woman seemed to change direction every few months in the early 70s, and with #207 they dropped all the Nubia stuff from the previous couple of issues, and went for a retro recreation of the original WW instead (hence the 'by Charles Moulton' credit I guess). Kanigher does a reasonable Marston impression - hardly surprising really, as both stories in that issue are basically rewrites of a couple of his old ones - and the artwork is a kind of generic Giordano-lite 70s DC spin on the 40s stuff.
Its enjoyable enough, if a bit second hand.
Great cover, but disappointingly there isn't much bondage inside.


Anonymous said...

Ground breaking satirical genius, or cobblers? I would say Prez was somewhere inbetween, Steve.
The only issue of the original series I read - the one where the Minutemen tried to whack him because he was going to take away their beautiful second amendment rights - was kind of stupid, and yet also interesting. Which is an unusual combination.

Prez was very much of its time (or maybe a couple of years behind it). From a modern perspective of course, the idea of a US president even being under 75 seems preposterously far fetched...


Anonymous said...

Charlie, the Batman cover is by Neal Adams.


Anonymous said...

Head bangers? What about cannonball, from the Circus of Crime? Also, maybe that Warthog outfit wearing guy (a low ebb), in Spidey?

Colin - How dare Radio 4 even ask "What's Funny About?" the Fast Show? It's sacrilege! Although the Fast Show got replaced by The Office's 'new' style of comedy, as the decades pass, people still use the Fast Show's catch-phrases, whereas it's the Office which will become 'old-fashioned' !

Charlie - 'Prez' made me think of those sweet(candy)-dispensers - but I checked, and they are called 'Pez' !


Anonymous said...

PEZ!!! That is an Austrian creation? Got a lot of interest here in the USA with the kids since the 1960s yet i rarely saw kids with them when i was in school, like comic books. Maybe twice in 10 years did I ever see another kid at the spinner rack. But someone had to be buying them…

And of course there is (was?) the whole collectible boom in the 1990s just like with SUPERMAN IS DEAD.with comic related Pez getting top $.

Anonymous said...

BTW - if you want to rethink your professional careers, a few years ago i had read about PEZ SMUGGLING. Like some cat was making bank smuggling from Austria to “lawless” Serbia (?) and then onwards

I just googled “Pez smuggling” and some cat did make $MM smuggling this shit out of Austria.


Why did I get all educated when i could have smuggled Pez?


Colin Jones said...

Phillip, Radio 4's What's Funny About..? has been around for 3 or 4 years but last week's episode was a first for me because they discussed a comedy series I'd never heard of before called 'Catastrophe' which I had to google to get more information on. I rarely watch TV nowadays so I'm mostly clueless about what's happening in tellyland (I wouldn't have known that BBC4 is currently repeating I Claudius if Sean hadn't mentioned it) and yet I've got the BBC iplayer app on my laptop and two tablets - I really must explore it more often!

Colin Jones said...

By the way, I've never seen 'The Office' but I did watch 'Extras' when it was first broadcast and again on iplayer a couple of years ago (thus proving that I do sometimes look at iplayer).

Colin Jones said...

Yesterday's 200th special edition of 'The Reunion' on Radio 4 was all about Spitting Image and the guests included Steve Nallon doing his brilliant Thatcher impression and Chris Barrie doing his Reagan impression. All the classic moments from Spitting Image got a mention including the "vegetables" Thatcher sketch, the 'Tomorrow Belongs To Me' election-night sketch and of course The Chicken Song!

Hold a chicken in the air
Stick a deckchair up your nose
Buy a jumbo jet
And bury all your clothes...

Anonymous said...

Colin - The Thatcher puppet's nostrils flared, almost to Gil Kane-like proportions!


Anonymous said...

Charlie - What's next, a black market selling Tabs? Pez selling like hot cakes, in the Balkans, simply baffles me!


Anonymous said...

It was the 3rd of September

Anonymous said...

A day I’ll always remember.