Sunday 3 March 2024

Fifty years ago today - March 1974.

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

Legion are the men who've claimed to be able to foresee the future but only Steve Does Comics can foresee the past.

Avengers #121, Zodiac

It's a case of fully mind the bullocks, as Taurus captures the Avengers in the least likely trap of all time - a shed with space travel capabilities.

And, at last, we discover the answer to the mystery that's been haunting us all for months, when we discover that Taurus is, in fact, Cornelius Van Lunt!

Conan the Barbarian #36

From what I can gather, Conan returns to Aghrapur and saves King Yildiz from a golem made of stone.

Captain America and the Falcon #171, Black Panther

It's a jam-packed comic, this month.

Not only is Cap busted out of prison by the unfortunately-named Sanitation Unit but the Falcon and Panther rescue Leila from Stoneface!

Then Falc finds out about Cap's murder charge - just in time for Moonstone to show up and give them both a bashing!

Daredevil and the Black Widow #108, The Beetle

This can't be good news. Foggy Nelson's been shot while 
investigating something called the Black Spectre!

Needless to say, DD abandons wherever it is he is and returns to New York to do something about it.

Moondragon, meanwhile, says farewell to our hero and departs for the stars.

It's easy to knock her but there's not many women who can say goodbye to a man and then depart for the stars.

Fantastic Four #144, Dr Doom, The Seeker

I've no recollection of what happens in this one but I do know Darkoth the Death Demon's in it.

Judging by that cover, it would seem someone called the Seeker's also in it.

Based on his appearance, I'm assuming he's not the Seeker who showed up, in pursuit of the Inhumans, in Fantastic Four #46 but is, instead, a new Seeker.

Incredible Hulk #173, Cobalt Man

The Cobalt Man makes his return and celebrates it by going completely mad.

Not to fear. If there's anyone can punch some sanity into a man, it's the Hulk.

I would love to know, though, just why the decision was made by Marvel to replace his Iron Man style armour with what looks suspiciously like an American footballer's outfit.

Amazing Spider-Man #130, Hammerhead

The world's most block-headed villain makes his debut - and he's in league with the Jackal!

More importantly, this is the issue in which the Spider-Mobile makes its block-headed debut.

And so cool is it that it doesn't need to be in league with anyone.

Thor #221, Hercules

I don't think I've ever read this one but my razor-sharp senses tell me Hercules is back.

Superman #273

That's Marvel's output dealt with but we should never forget that, somewhere across New York, lurks the base of its deadliest enemy. An enemy that just loves to churn out comic books.

And what shall we find in a random sampling of DC's offerings which bear that month's date upon them?

When a scientist somehow gets a magic eye implanted in the middle of his forehead, he sets out to do good deeds in exchange for the adoration of the public.

But it soon turns out there's a price to pay for such a power.

And, unless Superman can put a stop to that man's relentless do-gooding, it's the planet Earth that'll have to pay it.

But that's not all. In the book's second tale, Superman loses his sight, until he realises his condition's purely psychosomatic and connected to a commitment he's made to entertain a group of blind children.

The Brave and the Bold #111, Batman and the Joker

Can it be? The caped crusader? And the clown prince of crime? In league with each other? And at odds with Gotham City's finest custodians of justice?

Too right it can.

Or I assume it can, as I'm not totally sure I've read this tale or how such an unholy alliance can have come to be.

The Phantom Stranger #29

Luis Dominguez gives us, surely, the most disturbing Phantom Stranger cover ever, as the trilby-toting tormentor of night-dark souls encounters The Devil Dolls of Dr. Z!

While, in the backup strip, the Spawn of Frankenstein would appear to be up against a snake god!

Prez #4, Dracula

You can say what you like about Prez but it's a comic whose covers know how to make me grab it from a spinner rack.

In a dark remake of The Mouse That Roared, the United States accidentally finds itself at war with Transylvania.

And that means the nation's first teenage president's going to have to survive an encounter with Dracula.

But a very different version of that fiend to the one we're used to.

Wonder Woman #210

I can remember little of this issue but I know we get two adventures; one which bears the title The Golden Women and the White Star and one which carries the name The Shrinking Formula.

I do recall that, in the latter tale, our heroine must defeat a villain while being no bigger than an ant.

Needless to say, she's still more than up to the task.


Rip Jagger said...

My back aches just thinking about how long it's been since I almost all of these off the racks. Sigh.

Redartz said...

Ah, at last! I've finally caught up with you all; this was the month that I joined the ranks of comic fandom for good! It all started with that ASM 130; Hammerhead, the Jackal and the Spider-Mobile. Why I jumped on here and not with, say, the Punisher an issue earlier- a total unfathomable mystery. Anyway, I was quite pleased to find that Doc Ock also joined the fun in this issue. A nice, wintry Romita cover, too. This would be the first of some ten years of consecutive Spidey purchases.

I didn't immediately pick up any of Steve's other offerings ( I looked for that Fantastic Four, but it had disappeared from our local spinner rack; and I'd not yet discovered the comic shop in town). Nonetheless, I found numerous other comics that portentous month. Marvel Team-Up with Ka-Zar, and Marvel 2 in 1 with Sub-Mariner were among those. Loved those teamup books from the start.

Did get that Daredevil issue soon after, which was pretty good- started off that nice arc with Mandrill. Soon came to appreciate the writer of this book, one Steve Gerber...

Anonymous said...

That was my first Avengers, in Super Spider-man & CB # 248! Vikings, robots (I thought Iron Man was a robot), androids, minotaur-lookalikes - it was as if somebody had read a 1970s kid's mind, and supplied a title replete with their pre-existing interests!


Anonymous said...

Damn! I mean # 247, not # 248!


Anonymous said...

What an awesome post. Scrolling through it is just one happy memory after another. I bought all but one of these Marvels hot off the spinner rack, and that magical BRAVE AND THE BOLD too.

Busy, energetic, carefully choreographed AVENGERS cover by Jazzy Johnny — I love it. In retrospect, Zodiac really shouldn’t have been that much of a challenge for The Assemblers, but I didn’t care back in ‘73, I totally went with it. Every time John Buscema would pinch-hit for Bob Brown and bang out an issue’s worth of layouts over the weekend, it was always a treat. Some amazing action sequences in this issue — Vision’s INSANE rescue of Mantis, Iron Man and Thor repairing the building afterward, the wild free-for-all in Zodiac’s hide-out (T’Challa’s cheeky “Hello!” has stayed with me all these years for some reason) — and for all my slagging of Don Heck in recent weeks, his lickety-split finishes over Big John’s layouts are fabulous here.

CONAN 36 is one of Roy’s excellent palette-cleanser issues. Conan learns how to fight on horseback, masters the bow and arrow (even though he considers archery “Unmanly!”), begins an affair with his commanding officer’s woman and saves King Yildiz from a murderous animated statue sent to him ( perhaps intentionally?) by his son Yezdigerd. All good barbaric fun, but the next issue is REALLY something special.

CAP 171: Sean is welcome to his opinion, but I liked this story arc. He and I will at least agree that Leila in Wakanda is a good time.

I managed to miss DD 108, only acquired it years later as a back issue. Paul Gulacy is the MVP of the issue for me — he only had one previous Pro credit at the time (pencilling the first color Morbius solo story in FEAR) and to me it seems like he looked at this assignment as a chance to show off his “Pseudo Steranko Stylistics” skills, instead of just competently inking Bob Brown’s pencils. There are a few panels that look as though he actually erased the pencils and re-drew the figures from scratch. He’s obviously still learning his craft here, but WOW.

FF 144 : the excellent cover is still “Real Rich Buckler” style, but the figures inside are getting blockier as he leans more heavilyinto his “Xerox Kirby” style. The Seeker gets a big shout-out on the cover (he’s the robot busting thru the wall) but he’s just a throwaway minor “Oddjob”, not a “Goldfinger”.

HULK 173 : Trimpe’s own inks over his pencils are crisp and exciting.

Aaaaahhh, SPIDEY 130. I love everything about this one, starting with THAT COVER — it’s gotta be my favorite Spidey issue from this period. Redartz mentions the wintery ambience — it struck me at the time too. How unusual to see snow on the ground in Marvel Manhattan! It’s a nice, somewhat melancholy touch. I have a vividly fond memory of reading this while walking home from school one chilly, overcast December afternoon. Two memorable sequences : test-driving the Spider-mobile, Spidey recklessly hits the accelerator when he doesn’t even know how to drive, and the Torch practically craps his pants — and Peter leaving MJ hanging under the mistletoe at Betty Brandt’s Christmas party (Awwww…)

THOR 221 : ye olde Mighty Marvel Misunderstanding causes Thor and Hercules to smite each other manfully. Mike Esposito does a decent job not wrecking Buscema’s pencils.

BRAVE AND BOLD 111: much as I loved Aparo and Batman, B and B wasn’t always an Instant Buy for me — I was very much a Marvel Zombie and didn’t particularly like some of the DC heroes that Batman teamed up with, so I’d flip thru each issue before deciding whether to buy it or not. This issue was absolutely an Instant Buy — JUST LOOK AT THAT FREAKING COVER, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?


Anonymous said...

Oh, and I like that WONDER WOMAN cover. I suppose it’s kinda sexist, but whatever. I don’t think saw it on the spinner back in the day, but I have a memory of a teeny tiny postage-stamp-sized repro in a DC house ad — the bold simplicity of the style (and composition) really helped it stand out.


Colin Jones said...

I'm not sure how the United States can be at war with Transylvania which is only a region of Romania. That's like the US being at war with Yorkshire.

Anonymous said...

Or like the British fighting a war just in six counties of Ireland, Colin. Oh, wait...

Steve, 'trilby-toting tormentor' is another good one. Not quite 'puce-panted powerhouse' maybe, but then let's face it, that's going to be a hard one to beat. I have faith that you'll manage it before too long though!


Anonymous said...

Charlie had the FF only, per above, from Marvel. I assume I had more of the 2nd-banana titles from Marvel.

That said, I went to the storage locker a few weeks ago and pulled FF 144 out of the long box. It was full of action.

Doom ultimately destroys the robot Seeker. And Doom ends up in a spaceship cum skyscraper that, due to Darkoth also betraying Doom on the spaceship, blows up in outer space b/c it crashes into Doom's satellite with a Vibro bomb on it. End of Story.

The Bullpen page announces that hence forth there will always be two bullpen pages, and possibly even a letters page. The 2nd Bullpen page was mostly full of FOOM related info.

FWIW - The Marvel Value Stamp in FF 144 was #39 - Iron Fist. Coincidentally, Iron Fist was on the primary Bullpen Page giving us an important message that was encoded. You had to be FOOM member to have the code.

Anonymous said...

Charlie perused Mikes Amazing World and learned he really did not buy many comics at all in November 1973.

As I look at the titles above, I vaguely recall what was going through my 12 year old head, having been on a three-year-long comic-book binger, lol.

Indeed, the only comic that got my ya yas out was Shadow #2. Truly an original cover from Kaluta that made Charlie feel quite the sophisticate for buying it!

Will Steve post it on Tuesday? My breath is bated and hopefully sufficiently baited to get Steve to bite!

Anonymous said...

b.t., Wonder Woman #210 looks pretty much like that inside too. It's part of a run of about half a dozen or so issues after DC dropped attempts at 'relevance' and tried (sort of) updating the Marston/Peter approach - but not as kinky - in a way that felt a bit 'silver age'. Or maybe 70s DC lite would be more accurate.
Anyway, it worked reasonably well, and thats a good issue. Especially the first story where Diana and a team of Amazons help the Golden Women of the Red Planet against the mean warmongers of the white star. "What a peaceful universe this would be -- if men stopped using it as an atomic football!"
Right on!

Meanwhile, over in Captain America #171, I might not be into the main storyline, but yeah - Leila is as foxy as ever. I particularly like her and the Falcon's return to New York. She's keen to have got back to where the action is, but suggests first they go somewhere cosy, with no Wakandans or anyone around to watch them...
To which Sam says "Later Leila - I'm bursting to go and show Cap my new wings"
She looks distinctly impressed as he flies off.

Still, it could be worse. A few pages into Daredevil #108, and DD gives Natasha a good slap. And then patronizes her about being a bit unstable. Then he chats up his house guest Moondragon. Tsk tsk, Hornhead. Anyway, Moondragon knocked him back because clearly she's too cosmic for him. Good for her.
Perhaps things will get better next issue. With er... the Mandrill.

If that's what it's like in the late 20th century over at Marvel, I dread to think how Conan's treating that lady friend of his from the cover of #36 back in the Hyborian Age.


Anonymous said...

*She looks distinctly UNimpressed


Anonymous said...

A pretty strong month for Marvel Comics.
That Captain America cover is a classic (John Romita, I take it?) and Englehart had a truly great run. Imagine trying to write CA when America was dealing with Watergate and the closing months of the Viet Nam War.
He made it work.
a character caught between idealism and reality, and somehow coming to terms with things.
More or less.


Anonymous said...

b.t.'s hit the nail on the head, regarding Gulacy - some of Daredevil's best inks ever.

Sean - DD slapped Natasha to stop her murdering some two-bit thug. Were it the Punisher, would DD have slapped him? Probably a billy-club crack would suffice! Incidentally, DD's behaviour becomes much, much more sexist, after Gerber departs - but let's not spoil the surprise...that's for subsequent '50 years agos'! Moon Dragon earned DD's gratitude by curing his blindness - temporarily. So what? Karen Page - who isn't arrogant - found an opthalmic surgeon who also cured Matt's blindness ('What If?') Anyway, after DD, Moon Dragon, trading up, set her cap (headwear necessary to prevent sun-burn, on her bald head!) at Thor. That woman's sights were aimed higher than a lowly lawyer, like Matt!


Anonymous said...

Phillip, at the risk of sounding a bit pedantic (who, me?) I do feel I should point out that if it was in What If then Karen Page didn't actually find a surgeon to fix Matt Murdoch's eyesight.
Not that I have anything against her, but was she really his type? You know, not being a Russian superspy, cosmic Titan, or ninja assassin. Or jungle she-devil (iirc Shanna turns up in DD soon).

Got to disagree with you and b.t. on the artwork in Daredevil #8, as the result of Paul Gulacy's second job at Marvel doesn't appeal to me anymore than his first (see last month's Lucky Bag). In fairness, his work does get better. Which is more than you can say for Bob Brown.


Anonymous said...

*Daredevil #108


Anonymous said...

Sean - You've forgotten Heather Glenn!


Anonymous said...

Ah yes, Heather Glenn. Didn't she become an alcoholic?
Not saying that was Matt Murdoch's fault. No doubt Karen Page becoming a junkie was an unfortunate coincidence, but it does tend to suggest that non-super ladies would do well to be cautious about involvement...


Anonymous said...

Sean - Heather's father died, and Matt carried the can (but no - she wasn't a Doug Moench female character! )


Anonymous said...

I’m probably mistaken but IIRC, Heather’s dad was some kind of criminal and Matt/DD was responsible for his going to jail and committing suicide and she ended up having a good old-fashioned nervous breakdown (without the help of alcohol or drugs).

Sean, that look Leila gives Falcon as he’s telling her he wants to show off his neat-o new wings to his best friend Captain White Dude instead of ringing her bell — oh MAN. It may be Sal Buscema’s finest hour.


Anonymous said...

Maybe Heather’s dad was being mind-controlled by the Purple Man, but no one knew it at the time….?

Charlie, are you positive Iron Fist was the Marvel Value Stamp in FF 144? I thought his first appearance in MARVEL PREMIERE was still a few months away?


Anonymous said...

Back-tracking to the Spider-mobile, didn't its ironic ridiculousness lie in Spidey trying to drive a converted beach-buggy, in the middle of winter (as Redartz noted, the snow was highlighted.)

The same kind of irony as the Pequod (in Moby Dick) meeting a whaling ship named 'Rosebud' (c.f. Citizen Kane) which stunk to high hell, it carrying 2 rotten & decomposing whales!


Anonymous said...

b.t. The standard Sal scowl finally found its most fitting use, with Leila in that issue of Captain America.

Btw, Dr Strange makes his last appearance in Premiere this month, and Iron Fist debuts in the next issue (cover dated May). But I could easily imagine the value stamp was already prepared and who ever was in charge of placing it not checking when the comics actually came out.


Anonymous said...

BT, Sean, et al?

So in FF 144, on page 19 which is the Letters page, there is Marvel Value Stamp 39 with Iron Fist. Green uniform on a all red background.

What is weird perhaps is that on page 28, which is the so-called Bullpen Bonus Page, there is also a Hulk Stamp #5. BUT it does not say is a Marvel Value Stamp.

I am inclined to go with Sean and things just got a little out of whack at the House of Weed?

I mean, we have 3 non-story Bullpen / Letters pages; they are hucking FOOM out the ying yang; they actually have a small Marvel Checklist on the Bullpen Bonus Page while simultaneously running one on the bottom of several pages as they were doing at this time.

BUT they do have Iron Fist on the primary Bullpen Page speaking in FOOM code. AND they say (paraphrasing) "we can only show you the face of this new character who will appear in the New Year." (Remember, these issues were on the spinner in November 1973, not March 1974.)

I am going to guess that there was simply too much non-story stuff going on and the Iron Fist stamp slipped in by accident b/c they do NOT reveal the name of Iron Fist on the Bullpen page though they do on the Stamp?


Anonymous said...

Ya ever buy a back issue in which some goober cut out the value stamp?
It was never made clear (to me anyway) what those things were for.
I mean, yeah, they were cool, I guess. I think you can get a book where they're all presented.
I also enjoyed those Bullpen pages, where they would offer tantalizing images of superheroes to come, like Ikaris or the Human Fly. "Who is this?"
It roused my interest.

At least, until I read an issue of the Human Fly...

Ikaris was kinda cool, though.
He was a "polar Eternal" who fought "the cosmic-powered Hulk" to a standstill. Great fight!


Anonymous said...

Sersi was the really cool Eternal though, M.P.

Anyway, what do you mean what were Marvel value stamps for? They were a collectors item! Next you'll be saying the one I cut out of my copy of Hulk #181 isn't worth anything...


Anonymous said...

About Sersi, I'll grant you that, Sean.

Y'know, I remember reading on this very blog, somebody had a theory that Tintin was actually the Eternal Sprite.

It makes sense, if you think about it. They're identical.
It would also explain why that little f***er never got killed.

He sure was asking for it.


Anonymous said...

That was you wasn't it, M.P., going on here about Tintin being Sprite?
How does that work, finding out stuff from reading your own comments?