Sunday 1 October 2023

Fifty years ago today - October 1973.

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

Plunge with me into the primordial soup that is the 1970s.

Amazing Spider-Man #125, Man-Wolf

Man-Wolf is still causing trouble - and flashbacks - for our hero. He's out to get J Jonah Jameson and - judging by that cover - out to get his own girlfriend, as well. Is there no stopping the yellow-clad maniac?

I believe this is the first issue of Amazing Spider-Man Ross Andru ever drew. 
As Andru was my favourite Spider-Man artist when I was a lad, I regard this as no bad thing.

Avengers #116, Silver Surfer vs the Vision

The Avengers/Defenders Evil Eye saga gets into full swing when the Silver Surfer takes on the Vision and Scarlet Witch.

Captain America and the Falcon #166, mummies

I don't believe I've ever read this one and, so, my ignorance is total. However, my eagle eyes tell me mummies may be involved.

And the internet tells me the Yellow Claw is too!

Conan the Barbarian #31, John Romita

John Romita does a mammoth amount of reworking to a Gil Kane cover. Much as I love the Jazzy one, I can't help feeling his Conan doesn't look anything like barbaric enough.

As for the insides, I do believe the heroic Hyborean helps the Turanian army fight someone called the Hill-Men.

And then he has to do battle with his own shadow!

Daredevil and the Black Widow #104, Kraven the Hunter

Good to see Daredevil's radar sense being as much use as a stainless steel tennis ball.

As for the book's contents, I've no recollection of ever having read this yarn but it seems someone called The Man sends Kraven to kill Daredevil, causing the jungle jeopardising bounder to gatecrash a party at the home of the senior partner in Matt's law firm.

I just hope The Man's real name isn't Stan.

But, hold on. There's a senior partner in Matt Murdock's law firm? When did that happen?

Fantastic Four #139, The Miracle Man

Hooray! I bought this issue from Sheffield's late lamented Sheaf Market and, thanks to the return of the Miracle Man, the artwork of John Buscema and the presence of Medusa, it's still a comic I love.

The Miracle Man's not only back, he's taken over a local reservation, evicted the inhabitants and is in the process of creating a city from thin air. Can the FF thwart his ghastly plan to do whatever it is he's ghastlyly planning to do?

Incredible Hulk #168, the Harpy

Well, here's a turn-up for the books. Betty Ross has turned into a super-villain!

That's because MODOK's exposed her to a mighty dose of gamma radiation, transforming her into the Harpy. Blaming the Hulk for her husband's death, she's now on the warpath.

And several flight paths.

Iron Man #63, Dr Spectrum

Dr Spectrum's back.

Meanwhile, Pepper's distraught about Happy leaving her.

And then she kisses Tony Stark, just as Happy walks into the room!

Oh, those Marvel love triangles.

Thor #216, Mercurio

Mercurio and Thor are still at odds, over a big, talking jewel that's captured Sif and Karnilla.

I do feel "Karnilla" is one of the greatest names in literature. It's a source of great regret to me that I've never met anyone in the real world who bears that name.

X-Men #84

Apparently, Mekano lives.

Presumably, Leggo's feeling quite well too.

Stikklebrix is, however, well and truly a goner.

From Beyond the Unknown #24

That's Marvel's big hitters accounted for.

But what of the Distinguished Competition?

For comparison's sake, let's see what a random selection of its mags bearing the same cover date is up to.

A flying, green, taloned monster with red hair? Who could resist buying a book with that image on it?

Not me. That's why I bought it when I first encountered it in the summer of 1975.

Inside, we get three tales. All reprints.

In the first, Evans Talbot makes himself immortal but then realises that, in doing so, he's doomed the rest of humanity.

In the second, cartoonist Don Doyle discovers the winged alien he's created has come to life and wants nothing but the destruction of us all.

In the third, Ron Madden's a hero to the Thalar race. Why, then, do they shun him when he returns to their world?

100-Page Super Spectacular #DC-21, Superboy

Brace yourself because we're about to be hit in the face by a hundred pages of concentrated super-heroic goodness. 

In our first tale, Superboy hypnotizes himself to think he's just a normal person, in order to fool the Superboy Revenge Squad. This causes Pete Ross to pretend to be him and trick Clark into accidentally performing super feats.

Next, when Lena Thorul learns she's Lex Luthor's sister,  the shock causes her to lose her memory and adopt the identity of a jungle princess, inadvertently using her telepathic powers to control animals.

Next, the Eastingham Institute is awarding a prize to the student who makes the best invention.

Then, Kid Eternity finds himself confronting the awesome villainy of... ...the Beagle!

Then, Lightning Lad loses an arm to the Super-Moby Dick of Space and goes on a mad quest for vengeance.

Then, Mr. Twister's kidnapped all the teenagers from Hatton Corners, causing the formation of the Teen Titans.

And, finally, Professor Tinker creates a formula that transforms Superboy into a giant.

Supergirl #7, Zatanna

At last, Supergirl and Zatanna team up.

But not before fighting over a boy.

I don't recall too much of what happens in this one, other than that the cover's not a totally accurate representation of what happens inside.

Superboy #198, the Fatal Five

It's more magic from Dave Cockrum, as the Fatal Five show up in 1950s Smallville.

Meanwhile, a Legion of Super-Heroes team also turns up there. Can they thwart the quarrelsome quintet before its bomb rewrites history in a way that means the Legion will never come to exist?

Weird War Tales #18

Forget the future. We're travelling to the past where Dracula shows up in 1940s Italy, and Napoleon's ghost shows up in World War One France.

Plop! #1

You've heard about it. You've read about it. You might even have talked about it.

But have you ever read it?

I haven't but I do know Plop's making its first appearance - and does so with a string of titter-worthy tales from Sergio Aragonés, Frank Robbins, George Evans, Bernie Wrightson, Basil Wolverton and numerous humorous others.


Anonymous said...

Steve - 'The Man' (whom Angar referenced, too) is Kerwin J Broderick, if I remember correctly.

The Senior partner is Jason Sloan.


Steve W. said...

Thanks, Phillip. Their names ring a bell for me.

In other news, having checked with the internet, I can announce that I had two of Marvel's comics from this month, nine of DC's and two of Charlton's.

dangermash said...
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dangermash said...
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dangermash said...

Yes. Ross Andru's first work on ASM, although he'd pencilled another Spider-Man story at an earlier point that appeared in Marvel takes or some comic like that. It was reprinted in one of those huge A3 sized anthologies that were published in the U.K. I still think it's weird how Andru was plunged right into the middle of a two part story when the Marvel method meant that artists had a big say in the plot.

I did check that Avengers comic and the Surfer vs Wanda and Vision crash was the only fight in that issue. I think the next issues of Defenders and Avengers each feature two fights.

And in Hulk, Brucee Banner's girlfriend turns into a Harpy? Been there. Got the t-Shirt.

Having one of those OCD days when I keep seeing typos in my comments and have to delete and correct them.

dangermash said...

Oh, and a comment I've made on other blogs about this Avengers Defenders war.

The evil eye is in six pieces and you have to divide the team up into six to send them out to retrieve them. Easy for the Defenders who only have six in the team- you just send them all out in their own. But what do the Avengers do with eight team members? Shouldn't they just identify Thor, Iron Man, Vision and Wanda as the four most powerful, and send them all out on their own? Then tell Cap and Black Panther that one of them will get Mantis tagging along and the other the Swordsman? Instead, nobody's brave enough to try separating Vision and Wanda and they're allowed to head out together while Swordsman is handed a hospital pass and sent out in his own, hoping to get Hawkeye because that's his only chance of not getting well and truly battered.

Anonymous said...

dangermash - Some less powerful Avengers, however, have criminal backgrounds - an advantage, perhaps, when purloining Evil Eye pieces!


dangermash said...

True Phillip. In Thunderbirds, former criminal Parker's safe cracking abilities turn out to be useful in one episode. But IMHO Swordsman's background makes it even less likely that in assigning teams I’d want to send him out on his own. Remember Fred Foswell - a villain turned good (well, police informer anyway) but it doesn’t take much in ASM#51 for him to be tempted back onto the other side.

Anonymous said...

dangermash - One of Lady Penelope's memorable sayings is "Parker always calls paintings 'photos'."

I never understood this. But maybe Parker was speaking in 'code', perhaps if he were a former art thief, like the Midnight Man!

I think the Swordsman proving his worth, despite the Avengers' negative expectations, was a recurring theme, wasn't it? (Although I suppose Mantis & himself attacking the Avengers - good intentions notwithstanding - means they've got no-one but themselves to blame for said negative expectations!)


dangermash said...

In the end it's about managing people. Everyone's different. Would it have been better for the Swordsman or the Avengers long term to send him out as junior partner with Cap or the Panther or to send him out on his own? Only the Watcher knows the answer. But I'm still side eyeing the Vision for not insisting that as, what, second or third most powerful Avenger, he should head out alone.

Anonymous said...

Hmm! For me, the encounters/clashes made sense, for the most part. Thor & the Hulk was obvious. Cap & Namor know each other (so, writer opportunities). Mantis & Dr.Strange - well, sort of (a bit of martial arts schtick). Hawkeye & the Swordsman have 'previous', so yes! The Silver Surfer & the Vision - disappointing, but outstanding possibilities. Neither's powers were showcased, to any extent. However, with Steve Englehart, the Vision's treatment was odd, in general The Vision almost never used his density-altering powers, or his disruption technique - which, later, Jim Shooter frequently employed. Also, with Englehart, the Vision frequently used 'eye-beams', rather than beams from the jewel in his forehead. Plus, what was that Englehart thing about the Vision's aversion to water?


Anonymous said...

That being said, my memory is hazy. Was the Vision, zapped by the surfer, and falling in the lava/magma, the cause of his later fear of drowning? I forget...


dangermash said...

The vision froze in the lava and at some point earlier or later froze rather than jumping into a swimming pool. Neither of them caused by the other but instead both later revealed to be due to t(e vision's body being that of the original human torch and still carrying subliminal memories of him being kept under water or buried under sand to keep everyone safe from him flaming on unintentionally? Something like that.

As for the pairings, if I was the Grandmaster and wanted six interesting fights, yes, I may well have copied the writer and sent Swordsman out on his own. But when the Avengers decided how to divided up into eight, what makes a good story shouldn't have been on their list of criteria.

Colin Jones said...

The poet WH Auden died on September 29th 1973 and the Yom Kippur War broke out on October 6th 1973. On Saturday night Radio 4 had an interesting documentary about the long term effects of the Yom Kippur War such as how the subsequent rise in oil prices caused high inflation and economic turmoil which led to Thatcher and Reagan getting elected.

Anonymous said...

dangermash - Thanks for clarifying the Vision's aversion to water. That's an issue I must have missed! Thinking about it, other combinations were possible. Mantis defeated Thor once (a silly episode), due to her martial arts pressure points knowledge. So maybe she could have taken out the Hulk, leaving Thor free to defeat Namor. Then everyone spare could gang up on the Silver Surfer! That was the Defenders' problem, having the Hulk, Namor & the Surfer - too much power, as a team! Probably why the latter two got removed, to be replaced by Luke Cage, and a variety of others. Come to think of it, Valkyrie vs Swordsman might have worked better than Hawkeye, as Dragonfang vs the Swordsman's bolt-firing sword might have been good - "My super-sword is better than yours!" etc. Also, Sal used that 'stop-motion' technique, which he later perfected in the Hulk's Sal/Ernie Chan run. In one box, unfortunately, Mantis's right thumb appears twice!


Anonymous said...

Colin - Yes, OPEC turned the screws (or rather oil taps!) on the West, for supporting Israel!


Anonymous said...

dangermash - I haven't fully woken up yet (that's my excuse!) In a later panel, I can see Val & the Swordsman do battle each other!


Anonymous said...

Cover of the month is obviously Plop #1, Steve.
Basil Wolverton was timelessly brilliant. I recall seeing one of his old strips reprinted in an issue of Art Spiegelman's Raw magazine, and it didn't look out of place next to the rest of the 'open wounds from the cutting edge of comix' at all.

Plop was a companion title to House of Mystery and House of Secrets, and also featured Cain and Abel as hosts, making it a horror comic as well as a humour one. A kind of US Monster Fun, if you will. Except much better, because it featured artists like Berni Wrightson, Alfredo Alcala and Sergio Aragonés (fortunately Frank Robbins only had his writer hat on in that first issue).

Btw, Dracula does not show up in Weird War Tales #18.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hello All!

So... a brief vignette from the comic-reading life of Charlie in context of the Legion cover and that tall creature with his brain exposed.

Around 1967, while visiting his comic-reading older cousin, Charlie read a Legion comic with that character fighting Superboy (?) in a boxing ring IIRC. (Help with the issue? My memory is vague at best.)

So when this issue appeared on the spinner about 6 years later Charlie had to have it, based on that cover. I honestly don't recall the story but actually still have it in the long boxes.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Best cover goes to Weird War Tales! Charlie grabbed it off the spinner just for that!

And, looking at Mike's World of Comics, these issues were on the spinners in July 1973.

DC had another comic out that month called Black Magic #1 per Mike's, with Modok's twin brother on the cover, in addition to PLOP #1. Anyhow, young Charlie found both covers so unusual that he got this weird taste in his mouth like he ate a fly or something.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

If you dudes get a chance, check out Charltons Just Married #97 at Mikes.

It is odd for a bikini beach cover for it's lack of muscle tone, in both the male and females?

Maybe it's just charlie...?

Colin Jones said...

Steve, I'd forgotten all about stickle bricks.

The first issue of the US Conan The Barbarian comic I ever bought was #62 dated May 1976 and it too featured a cover drawn by Gil Kane and inked by John Romita. On the cover Conan fights a warthog watched by the obligatory helpless scantily-clad wench but on this occasion she's black for a change because the story takes place in the Hyborian version of Africa. A floating skull looms over the scene accompanied by the strapline "Death In The Land Of Dagon!"

Steve W. said...

Charlie, that Just Married cover is strangely undynamic, all round.

Sadly, I can shed no light upon the identity of that LSH boxing issue.

Sean, you are right. The only reference to Dracula is in the main story's title.

Steve W. said...

Colin, I suspect most people have forgotten about Stickle Bricks. They did always seem to be the unwanted member of the construction toy family.

Anonymous said...

Steve & Colin - Stickle bricks were alive & well, when I started Infants school. My brother got in trouble for making a stickle brick gun, & flicking a stickle brick at a girl in our class!


Anonymous said...

Charlie, Black Magic #1 is a pretty good cover. There's something about it thats very Steve Does Comics imo, so - as it's actually cover dated November - maybe it'll appear here next month?
I've noticed its a weird quirk of Mike's that DC bi-monthlies appear in the Newsstand the month before the actual cover date. So for instance Wonder Woman #208 appears for this month, is listed as Oct/Nov, and actually has Nov on the cover (so presumably it would appear in this feature next time if it appeals to our host).

Marvel bi-monthlies on the other hand are listed by - and appear - the same month as the actual cover date. Don't ask me to explain it!

Steve, I've just been checking out that Superboy 100 Page Spectacular online, so thanks for featuring it as I've wanted to read that Super Moby Dick of Space story for ages. Ever since I heard Alan Moore and Stewart Lee discussing it on Radio 4 ages ago.

Best of all though, I wasn't familiar with that Supergirl/Lena Thorul story, which was proper mental. How did they actually come up with stuff like that? Its a lost art.


Anonymous said...

About that Captain America comic, I have a serious problem with Yellow Claw. He bred giant man-eating spiders and unleashed them on people in the subway.
That is NOT okay.
It's beyond the pale. Dammit, there's gotta be a rule book for acceptable super-villain conduct somewhere.


Steve W. said...

Sean, I once reviewed that Supergirl story, a long, long time ago.

I've always been impressed by the panel where Lena's dad tells her Lex is dead. It's a masterclass in how not to break traumatic news to a child.

Anonymous said...

And Lena's dad had the presence of mind to change their name to an anagram of Luthor at exactly the same moment, Steve! You don't get that kind of compressed, multi-layered story-telling in mainstream comics these days.
Although I think I might actually be more impressed by the previous panel - "Lena, don't touch that space-brain!"

Thanks for the link, I was wondering where I'd seen that first title image before.