Tuesday 5 December 2023

The Marvel Lucky Bag - December 1973.

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

I don't know what Hollywood was on in December 1973 but it was clearly working. It was, after all, a month which saw the release of more memorable movies than you could shake a stick at.

Not only were we treated to such films as Serpico, Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World, Fantastic Planet, The Wicker Man, The Three Musketeers, Papillon, Sleeper, The Day of the Dolphin, The Sting and Magnum Force, we were also subjected, for the first time, to the legendary terror of The Exorcist.

Of those films, I've seen Serpico, DigbyThe Wicker Man, The Three Musketeers, Papillon, Sleeper, The Day of the Dolphin, The Sting, Magnum Force and The Exorcist. To be honest, I couldn't choose a favourite from that lot but, being a horror fan, I'm always going to have a leaning towards The Wicker Man.

But I must confess that, in my head, I always get Digby, the Biggest Dog in the World mixed up with One of Our Dinosaurs is Missing.

Astonishing Tales #21, IT! The Living Colossus

The Living Colossus may not be one of Marvel's great characters but it seems you can't get him to stay away.

In this thrilling adventure, special effects man Bob O'Bryan's legs are broken by a vengeful actor. Fortunately, he then discovers he can mentally control the gigantic body of our main character.

But that's not all we get. We're also treated to a Lee/Ditko reprint titled The Man Who Captured Death! in which a dying man traps Death, in order to save himself but, holy smoke, he then discovers Death brings peace to us and is needed to keep things running smoothly.

Hold on. Isn't this basically the plot of the first dozen issues of Neil Gaiman's Sandman?

The Defenders #11

Now that they've finally got that bothersome clash with the Avengers out of the way, Marvel's non-team are free to get on with the task of revivifying the Black Knight, following his unfortunate descent into petrification.

Thus it is that they travel back to the crusades, for reasons I can't quite remember.

Marvel Double Feature #1, Captain America and Iron Man

Put out the bunting because a brand new mag hits the shelves!

Granted, it's not that new. A quick glance at the cover will alert sharp-eyed readers to the fact it's a reprint book. 

Inside, we encounter The Other Iron Man which I believe to be the one in which the Mandarin abducts Happy Hogan, thinking him to be Iron Man - not realising he was just wearing the armour to enable Shellhead and Tony Stark to be seen by people in two separate places at the same time.

And then we get the Captain America tale in which the Adaptoid becomes the Super-Adaptoid.

That doesn't of course, prevent the star-spangled shield-slinger from spanking his bottom.

Special Marvel Edition #15, Shang-Chi, master of Kung Fu

But, let's face it, this is what all sensible people came here for, as Fu Manchu's son makes his sensei-shattering debut.

After assassinating the unfortunate Dr Petrie, Shang-Chi feels bad enough about it to kung-fu his way past super-apes and sumos, for a confrontation with his malevolent father.

Weird Wonder Tales #1

But that's enough of the new, because another reprint mag's turned up in our lives.

In this one, we find The Thing That Devoured a Planet, Enter: the Machine Age!It Came From Beneath the Earth! - and The Eye of Doom in which floating eyes from Venus invade the Earth. All of these tales are 1950s reprints.

Interesting that, in that first story, a professor postulates the existence of a giant being who roams through space and eats planets.

There's no news of whether it's been seen in the company of a man on a surfboard.

Dead of Night #1

And yet another new title enters our lives. Even if that title's taken from a 1940s movie.

Inside can be discovered such treats as The Ghost Still WalksHouse of Fear!My Brother... the Ghoul, and He Dwells in a Dungeon! which doesn't seem like the best place to dwell. Whoever he is, he really ought to consider moving to somewhere nicer.

Yet again, these are all reprints from the 1950s.

Uncanny Tales #1

Knock me down with a feather, it's yet another new book launch. And guess what? It's filled with 1950s reprints.

This time, we're supplied with Like a Chicken Without a Head!Rudolph's Racket, Propaganda! and Time Marches On!

Sadly, Rudolph's Racket doesn't appear to involve any red-nosed reindeers.

Chili #26

There've been plenty of first appearances, this month but there's also a final one, as Millie's rival meets her Waterloo.

All the tales in this are reprints as well but, this time, from 1970.

Amongst them are Soak It to MeTime for a Sit-InGroovy Southern Styles for ChiliMore Money, Honey? and One Redhead Too Many.


Anonymous said...

Funnily enough Steve, when commenting on the Avengers under Thursday's Marvel UK post I nearly added that the Dr Strange story that week, 'The World Beyond' (originally from Strange Tales #122), seemed to be the basic idea behind Neil Gaiman's Sandman.
Put that one together 'The Man Who Captured Death!' - ie switch Death for a character conceptually similar to Nightmare - and, yeah, thats it really.

Stan Lee recycled 'The Man Who Captured Death!' too, in one of his post-Kirby Thors - #190 I think? - where Odin temporarily offs Hela, and it turns out death is needed to keep things running smoothly...


Anonymous said...

PS On the subject of Astonishing Tales #21, the lead feature - It - is really bad. You wouldn't expect much from the creative team of Tony Isabella and Dick Ayers... yet they still manage to disappoint.


Anonymous said...

"Sensei-shattering debut"? Nice one, Steve.
Thats the kind of thing we come here for!


Anonymous said...

If we really wanted sensei-shattering debuts this month, should we not be turning to Charlton’s “Yang?”

Anonymous said...

81 years ago this week University of Chicago conducted the world’s first atomic reaction (under the Chicago Bears’ football stadium).

81.5 years later Adam Ant is coming to Chicago to perform Ant Music! What should we make of this? Mere coincidence?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Steve, I need to make a correction. The Cap story reprinted in MARVEL DOUBLE FEATURE 1 doesn’t have anything to do with The Adaptoid, Super or otherwise. It’s actually “If A Hostage Should Die” from TALES OF SUSPENSE 77, featuring the first appearance of The Girl From Cap’s Past, later to be identified as Peggy Carter.

I remember seeing a house ad for SPECIAL MARVEL EDITION 15 in another comic, reading about the MASTER OF KUNG FU debut on Bullpen Bulletins page, thinking it looked pretty groovy, and being surprised and delighted to find a copy on the spinner rack at Smith’s Food King a few days later. I was knocked out by it , both story and art, and to this day I consider it one of the best Origin Story/First Issues ever.

Oh, and Sean : yes, ASTOUNDING TALES 21 is bloody awful.


Anonymous said...

b.t., If it wasn't for the old Lee/Ditko back up, I'd say Astonishing Tales #21 was the worst 70s Marvel comic I've ever read. As it is, that dubious honour goes to the full length Red Wolf #8.

I was really into Master of Kung Fu as a youngster, and its the clear stand out here (although admittedly I came to it with Paul Gulacy already in place, and haven't actually read the early Judo Jim stuff). I'm a little surprised Steve didn't include Fear #19 in this month's Lucky Bag though, with the debut of a certain talking duck...
But you know, maybe the last appearance of Millie's Rival, Chili is actually a more interesting comic. No, seriously. I shall look for it online, and check it out.


Anonymous said...

B.t. is your Smith’s Food Market still there?

My go-to in Gary, Indiana and then Crown Point, Indiana, are long gone. One is a bunch of condos and the other some kind of healthier food restaurant.

Anonymous said...

No Charlie, Smith’s Food King is long gone. Currently in its space is a Marshall’s Discount Clothing Store.

My other neighborhood destination for comics, Michael’s Liquors, IS still in business. But it’s been many, many years since I last ventured inside it. I kinda doubt they even have a magazine rack, much less a spinner.


Anonymous said...

B.t. You are telling Charlie you bought your comics at a liquor store? Holey Moley dude!

Colin Jones said...

In other news "Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree" by Brenda Lee has reached #1 on America's Billboard Hot 100 - a whopping 65 years after it was first released in 1958. Not only is Brenda Lee still alive to enjoy her chart-topping success but she recently made a new video for the song!

Do any UK readers remember the 1987 comedy version by Kim Wilde & Mel Smith? It seems to have been completely forgotten and it's the Brenda Lee original which is currently riding high in the UK singles chart.

Wham! and Macca are the only UK Xmas songs in the Billboard Hot 100 - what happened to the "British Invasion"?

On the subject of Sir Macca - Denny Laine of Wings fame has died.

Colin Jones said...

Steve, 'The Wicker Man' was on BBC Four tonight - I'll definitely be watching on iplayer!

Anonymous said...

I think I figured out what tripped you up. The Iron Man story in MARVEL DOUBLE FEATURE 1 was originally published in SUSPENSE 84, as was that Super-Adaptoid story. But when MDF began, more of the original Iron Man stories had been recently reprinted (in places like MARVEL SUPER-HEROES and MARVEL TALES) than Cap stories — so the Cap stories in MDF were always 7 or more issues behind the Iron Man stories, chronologically.

In SoCal, Liquor Stores weren’t just places to buy booze, they were more like Convenience Stores. Most of ‘em also sold snacks, soda pop, bread, dairy products, cigarettes and various other sundries — and most also sold magazines and sometimes, comics. It wasn’t at all unusual for kids to spend their allowances on candy, bubble gum, etc in such places.


Steve W. said...

Bt, thanks for the info re Captain America's activities in that comic.

Colin, I watched that BBC Four Wicker Man broadcast. In many ways, it's a very silly film but totally compelling - and Edward Woodward is great in it.

I remember the Mel Smith/Kim Wilde version of Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. In fact, I'm fairly certain that, before the arrival of the internet, it was the only version I'd ever heard. The Brenda Lee version never seemed to get played on the radio, back then.

Sean, I must confess that the absence of Adventure Into Fear was an oversight.

Matthew McKinnon said...

Colin -

I had happily forgotten that Smith / Wilde track completely until you reminded me. Now I keep seeing flashes of the video.

Thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

Steve, you can always cover the first Howard the Duck story next month, as it carries over into Man-Thing #1. If you want to. I mean, its up to you which comics you select, and this post was as good as ever anyway.

So, I read Chili #26, and can report back.
Firstly, allow me to correct you a little - there were only four tales in that issue. 'Groovy Southern Styles for Chili' was actually a feature, just pics of Chili - who was after all a model - showing off a variety of looks: far out hippy chick, swinging suburban housewife, etc. All quite groovy, although I wasn't sure where 'southern' came into it. Apart from maybe the last drawing, where she has got the kind of hat on that suggests she might have been dressed up to go and watch the Allmans play somewhere.

The artwork was fairly generic, but to be fair I don't really have the correct cultural background to judge whether its a particularly well done example of that kind of Archie-style humour stuff or not.

With the stories there's a kind of sociological point of interest, that in a comic aimed at a young female readership the characters - Chili, Millie, and Dolly Dimly ('the world's most incompetent secretary') - are all either in an idealised fantasy occupation, modelling, or doing the kind of office work that actually was available to young single women in the post-war era, offering them a reasonable degree of economic independence.

Unfortunately, along with various unpleasant traits they're all stupid, which seems to be the regular cause of trouble for their long suffering male employers (nice one, Stan). I found it annoying, and while the comic obviously wasn't aimed at 21st century tofu-eating metropolitan elitists like me, I suspect young lady readers in the changing times of the late 60s/early 70s probably wouldn't have been too impressed either, which would explain why long-running series like Millie the Model and spin-offs disappeared by the end of '73.

Not a good comic. I read it so you don't have to.


Anonymous said...

Sean! Thank you for your service!

Anonymous said...

It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it!


Steve W. said...

Yes, thank you, Sean. You definitely deserve the status of a Steve Does Comics Real Frantic One.