Tuesday 9 April 2024

Forty years ago today - April 1984.

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

I do believe this month is a huge one in the history of Marvel Comics and its biggest heroes.

But how will that event impact upon the lives of those heroes in their everyday books?

Iron Man #181, the Mandarin

Rhodey's still in China and having to tackle the Mandarin without bursting out laughing at his terrible costume.

Granted, it'll be fairly easy to avoid laughing, as the villain's using his mind-control ring to force the hero to slit his own throat.

Also, the Manchurian mischief maker's out to start a nuclear war between his homeland and the United States.

As if that wasn't more than enough drama for any super-doer to have to handle, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

The Amazing Spider-Man #251, Hobgoblin

It's one of those fights that never seems to end, as Spidey confronts the Hobgoblin in the villain's lair and they end up taking it onto the streets outside.

It all climaxes with Hobby driving his van into the river and disappearing, seemingly dead.

But why do I get the feeling he's not as deceased as he seems to be?

In other news, Peter Parker's shocked to discover J Jonah Jameson's quit his editorial role at The Daily Bugle, following his public confession that he was to blame for the creation of the Scorpion.

Also, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

Conan the Barbarian #157

From what I remember, some king or other has offered a huge wodge of cash to any warrior who can rescue his young wife from an evil sorcerer who lives atop a mountain.

Needless to say, Crom's barbarian of choice accepts that challenge.

But it's not an easy one to complete.

And it turns out that things are not necessarily as they've been portrayed.

Why do I feel like we've had a story very like this before?

Daredevil #205, the Gael

A brand new villain makes his debut when Irish hitman the Gael shows up in The Big Apple, planting shamrocks on his victims' bodies.

It all happens when Debbie Harris's niece arrives from Ireland and Daredevil has to protect her from the attentions of the IRA.

The Avengers #242

It's a bit of a downtime issue, as the gang return home to find that, in their absence, Hawkeye's married Mockingbird.

Meanwhile, the Vision once more has the power to move and the Wasp is trying to work out what to do with so many Avengers.

But it's not all rest and recuperation because the team then discover a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

Captain America #292

Issue #292 throws us an odd story in which a man called the Black Crow battles our hero, seeking retribution for the United States' transgressions against Native Americans.

With his seemingly limitless set of super-powers, this foe's clearly too much for Cap to handle but, for reasons I can't recall, they part company as bezzie mates.

Also, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

The Incredible Hulk #294

With his days as a public menace behind him, Bruce Banner sets out to find a cure for cancer.

When his methods have spectacular results, a former mob overlord sends the Boomerang to capture Banner, so the scientist can cure that overlord's cancer.

Bruce is reluctant to do so, thanks to the untested nature of his technique - but he has no choice but to comply because Boomie's holding his girlfriend hostage in a secret location.

Also, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

The Spectacular Spider-Man #89, the Black Cat

The Black Cat decides the reason she's proving such a liability to her boyfriend is that she lacks any super-powers.

Therefore, she strikes a deal with the Kingpin. He'll use his resources to give her unspecified special abilities in return for her doing him an unspecified favour at some unspecified point in the unspecified future.

I'm sure Spidey's going to be delighted about that and it's all going to end well.

Also, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

The Uncanny X-Men #180

Forget the Dark Phoenix Saga. This is what we really want.

It's a thriller and a half as we're treated to a whole issue of Kitty complaining about Storm having a Mohawk, and Storm telling her to belt up about it.

Also, a huge, alien structure's appeared in a park in New York...

Fantastic Four #265

We get two tales in this one.

In the first, the Trapster's in sensational solo action, as he  attempts to take over the Baxter Building and gets beaten up by the team's receptionist.

In the second, it's one big headache for Sue when Reed, Johnny and Ben disappear into a huge, alien structure that's appeared in a park in New York.

Curiously, they triumphantly re-emerge from it but, during their short absence, Ben's quit the group and been replaced by the She-Hulk!

Thor #342

Everyone's favourite thunder god finds himself in a viking village in the Arctic Circle where an ancient Norseman tries to goad him into killing him, so he can enter Valhalla when he dies.

Will Thor be willing to accommodate him?


Matthew McKinnon said...

Well, obviously the Thor.

I think at this stage my enthusiasm for American comics was peaking, as I was picking up random bits and pieces here and there in an attempt to satisfy my hunger. I got that ASM for sure. I had completely forgotten about it, but I can now clearly remember the tacked-on last page where Spiderman disappears off to Event Miniseries World, or whatever it was called. Did Janson ink the interior art as well? That would have been reason enough for me to buy it back then.

I had that Daredevil, though god knows why. That cover is a good example of how appalling the contents were at this point.

I had that FF. See my note on ASM for explanation.

I had that Iron Man but I think I got it 2nd hand later on.

I really like that Captain America cover, never seen it before. Hannigan & Janson are making hay this month for sure.

I really, really like that surprisingly arty Hulk cover. And I'm quite pleased with myself because my brain went 'that looks like Ken Steacy art'. I only know Ken Steacy from a couple of issues of Epic Illustrated from back then, but a Google search confirms I was right.

Was Kitty still whining about Storm's hair...? Didn't she burst into tears about it a couple of years ago?

Anonymous said...

Oh no! Some skinny dude is toppling a small pile of rocks off a low cliff toward Conan The Fashion Victim! Well, things could be worse — at least there’s no huge alien structure appearing in a park in Brythunia.


Anonymous said...

Poor old Conan no-mates, b.t., left out of the Secret Wars.
Steve, is it just the sorceror he's up against in the story, or is there a man-ape or giant snake in it too?

Daredevil #205 is one of the few post-70s issues I've read that doesn't have a Frank Miller credit (which is a few too many). About the best thing you can say for the story is that at least there aren't any leprechauns in it.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Word Balloons! Yay!

Iron Man's word balloons... wtf are they thinking? A 10 year old needs to read "slit your throat?" Bunch of jackasses running that show.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I find the glib (and un-funny) jokey-ness of Rhodey’s ‘whatever you say, boss!’ more objectionable than ‘slit your throat’. I seem to remember there was a lot of that on Marvel covers in the ‘80s. Even on this month’s FF cover, Johnny’s smug leer and casually sexist joke is pretty grating.


Steve W. said...

Sean, as far as I can recall, there are no supernatural menaces in the Conan story. It even turns out there's not even a sorcerer.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't that actually make it quite unusual for a Conan story then, Steve?
I don't think I've read one with no supernatural menaces at all.


Anonymous said...

BT… the “yes boss” is also quite repugnant and frankly the whole conversation is really amateurish. Like out of the old Frankenstein (?) movies where the brute responds to commands with “yes master.”

And, I don’t know which form of chauvinism is more grating: Stan and Jack’s portrayal of women (Black Widow, Sue Richards…) in the 60s as literally laying on the couch, eating candies, and looking at fashion magazines or Byrne’s outfit for Sue 40 years ago in order to get Reed’s attention. Or something like that…

Colin Jones said...

There was an issue of Conan from 1982 (#133 I think, which I bought anyway) in which Conan attempts to rescue another damsel-in-distress atop a glass hill or something but when he reaches the top he finds only a skeleton. Gil Kane was the artist but that's all I can remember.

Steve W. said...

Colin, thank you. I do believe that was the story I was thinking of.

Anonymous said...

Another dull month for the mighty (?) Marvel A-list, Thor excepted. Fortunately there was some interesting reading from DC -

Action Comics #554, the last of Gil Kane's Superman run (admittedly its a bit of a dumb Marv Wolfman story though).
Batman Special #1, a double-sized one-shot drawn by Michael Golden.
Saga of the Swamp Thing #23, by Alan Moore, and Steve Bissette/John Totleben.
Nathaniel Dusk #3 by Don McGregor, and Gene Colan.

And - just when you thought it was safe, b.t. (; - Eclipse made it a Dauntless Don Double this month with Sabre #9, by himself, and the Irreverent Billy Graham.

Yet even so, the April '84 purplest prose award goes to Affable Al, for SotST #23: "There - something cold and ugly brushes against me, black images congealing like tar, there is the creaking of boughs, an Adidas sneaker twirling in the hot breeze... it crawls like cancer, painting everything with the sticky darkness of old blood"


Anonymous said...

I found SABRE damn near unreadable, Sean. Have you ever read McGregor’s collection of prose stories, DRAGONFLAME AND OTHER NIGHTMARES (with illustrations by Gulacy)? I remember hating it back in the day but don’t remember why.


Matthew McKinnon said...

Do you know, I didn’t have Swamp Thing 22 and 23 for quite some time: there were limited copies of US comics making their way to the racks in my small town, and I mustn’t have been quick enough off the mark. I got 20 & 21 on cold winters days, but the next one I was able to secure was 24 on a hot day in May 84.

I think I got 23 for Christmas later that year but 22 I don’t come across until around 1990 or something.

Anonymous said...

Funnily enough, I got SotST #24 before #s22 and 23 too, Matthew, which I had to look for later in newsagents. That wasn't too unusual forty years ago - I also recall getting Thor #339 before the two previous issues, which had sold out in comic shops - as direct market imports - very quickly.

b.t., Sabre was basically Killraven without editorial oversight. As you mentioned here recently, it does read like a parody of Dauntless Don's work. Even I'd given up on it by #9.

I've not read Dragonflame, although I do recall gazing at ads for it in 70s comics, bitterly disappointed knowing - as was often the case back then - that I would never see a copy of it for sale here anywhere. Not that I'm complaining now of course.
My suspicion is that it was probably no Illuminations.

Btw, if anyone's interested Alan Moore and Steve (no relation) Moore's Moon & Serpent Bumper Book of Magic is finally coming out in October -



Matthew McKinnon said...

Yep, that’s pre-ordered! Should be fun.