Tuesday 9 July 2024

The Marvel Lucky Bag - July 1974.

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

We all love a good movie.

Some of us even like bad movies.

But would we find more of the former or of the latter if we traipsed gently to the cinema in July 1974?

I shall leave that to you to decide, by revealing it was a month which saw the release of the following cinematic offerings: Carry On Dick, Mr Majestyk, Death Wish and The Internecine Project.

Frankly, it's hard to believe anyone would vote against Carry On Dick as being the movie of the month.

In fact, I can't believe it never even got an Oscar.

Captain Marvel #33, Thanos

I do believe this is the end of the Thanos/Cosmic Cube saga in which our hero defeats the all-powerful Titan by giving his cube a good karate chopping.

And not even the villain's attempt to age him to death can stop him!

Creatures on the Loose #30, Man-Wolf

Someone at Marvel's clearly decided one werewolf comic a month isn't enough for any sensible reader and so it is that J Jonah Jameson's son gets his very own strip.

Will it be as successful as Werewolf by Night and just how will it distinguish itself from that book?

Simple. He's wearing bright yellow and that's all the difference I need to keep me happy.

The Defenders #14, Nebulon

I don't remember too much of what happens in this yarn but that's a memorable cover and, as far as I'm concerned, that's good enough reason to include it here.

According to the Grand Comics Database, the world's greatest non-team must attempt to prevent the Squadron Sinister and Nebulon from destroying the planet.

As we're all still here, I'm going to assume they succeed.

Giant-Size Creatures Featuring Werewolf #1

I said Marvel now has two werewolf books.

I was wrong.

It now has three!

Admittedly, this one will only last for one issue but it does give us a chance to see Jack Russell team up with Tigra the werewoman!

And, unless I miss my guess, this is the very tale in which Greer Garson ceases to be the Cat and becomes Tigra.

Also, Hydra are involved.

And Cat People!

There's also a two-page feature detailing the origins of the Werewolf by Night strip and there's a Reed Crandall drawn tale in which a blind man has the eyes of a wolf transplanted into his head and, therefore, becomes a werewolf!

Giant-Size Defenders #1

But it's not only lycanthropes who're getting the Giant-Size treatment, this month.

So are the Defenders.

From what I can make out, this would appear to be a string of reprints of solo Dr Strange, Hulk, Sub-Mariner and Silver Surfer tales, held together by a framing narrative of Valkyrie being told their stories, by someone or other.

Jungle Action #10, Black Panther

Billy Graham takes over as artist, while Don McGregor continues to supply the words.

There's a shock revelation for the Panther when he enters the tunnels beneath a cemetery, fights King Cadaver and Baron Macabre and then discovers Killmonger's only been looting the Wakandan armoury!

Marvel Premiere #16, Iron Fist

Ron Fist demonstrates his awesome ability to pointlessly karate chop pavements, on a cover that promises us huge thrills, spills and kills.

In this one, as far as I can make out, Fisty returns to New York, only to have the Shang-Chi problem and immediately blunder into an assassin. This time, it's one called the Scythe.

Sgt. Fury #120

I don't normally include Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos in this feature. Mostly because I can't stand it. However, I do feel I should mention this story, as after a mighty 120 issues, this is the last one.

Do our team go out in style?

That I cannot say but it seems they find themselves Trapped In the Compound of Death!

Giant-Size Spider-Man #1, Dracula

It's the comic anyone with a functioning brain would want, as Marvel's flagship character finds himself having to confront the horror of Dracula.

Or he would if they ever actually got to meet in the story.

Instead, in a massive letdown I still haven't recovered from, we get the tale of Spider-Man boarding a ship which contains a doctor who may be able to help Aunt May pull through her latest health emergency.

However, Dracula and the mob are also after that doctor!

But there's more because we also get a Human Torch adventure in which an art thief frames Spidey, meaning he quickly comes to blows with Torchy. This is, of course, a reprint from 1963's Strange Tales Annual #2.


Anonymous said...

For Captain Marvel, premature aging was used again, when Mar-vell face Deathgrip (CM # 55-56).

Iron Fist vs Scythe featured in Blockbuster # 1. We learn Iron Fist has a bounty placed on his head; also, the story has lots and lots of flashbacks. What 1970s martial arts Western does that reminds us of?

Wasn't that Spidey/Drac non-encounter filler for a UK annual, pre-1978?


Anonymous said...



dangermash said...

Yes Spidey/Dracula was in a UK hardback annual. Those Giant Size SpiderMan comics (which were more like Giant Size MTU) were great for UK annuals as they were standalones that didn’t impact on the ongoing weekly stories, so not a disaster if you missed out on the annual. As well as the Dracula tempo, I remember the Punisher and Doc Savage teamups popping up in annuals.

Anonymous said...

I was still in the ‘Honeymoon’ phase of my love affair with comics when these hit the spinner racks but there were starting to be signs that it might not be all hugs and kisses moving forward, CREATURES ON THE LOOSE 30 (the first solo Man-Wolf story) being a prime example. In retrospect, it’s seems obvious that Doug Moench was taking on as many script assignments as Marvel would give him. Back in the day, based on this and his first few issues of MASTER OF KUNG FU and IRON FIST, I was convinced he was the weakest writer in the Marvel stable. Too many frantic chases and credibility-straining action scenes, not enough characterization and genuine storytelling. Knowing it was coming up here soon, I re-read this one just a few days ago, and I agree with 13-year-old Me : it’s pretty flat and the Tuska / Colletta is extra ugly and rushed-looking. The Kane/Romita cover is easily the best thing about it.

I remember being a bit disappointed by the climax of Starlin’s Mar-Vell vs Thanos epic. It had been steadily building and building in terms of scale and suspense, and then it ended with a fairly bog-standard punch-up between the two in the skies over Manhattan, like a typical Spidey/ Vulture battle or something. As you brilliantly put it, Steve, with our favorite Kree Captain giving the Cosmic Cube a good karate chop. And it’s like it happened in a vacuum — there’s almost no hint of anyone witnessing the cataclysmic conflict. It’s kinda odd. That Starlin/Janson art was sure purty, at least.


Anonymous said...

When I first heard that Billy Graham was going to be the new artist on the Black Panther series, I was frankly dubious. I’d enjoyed his inks over Tuska’s pencils on HERO FOR HIRE but had only seen his pencils on HFH 15 and wasn’t impressed — I thought his stuff was cartoony and lacking in depth.

He totally won me over on the very first page of JUNGLE ACTION 10. I’m sure Janson’s stylish inks helped a lot , but the art throughout the issue was consistently dynamic and looked incredibly sophisticated. Each page was just beautifully designed. I don’t know if he was inspired by McGregor’s scripting or by the lead character and his milieu or some combo of the two, but he definitely “leveled up” on this book.

Rich Buckler had gotten the series off to a great start, and Gil Kane did a fabulous job on JA 9 , but to me, Billy Graham was THE “Panther’s Rage” artist. Finding a new issue of JA on the spinner racks after the long bi-monthly wait was always a cause for celebration.


Anonymous said...

We are all still here. Yes. It’s true! Klaatu barada nikto!

Anonymous said...

Don Perlin and Vince Colletta taking over from Mike Ploog on WEREWOLF BY NIGHT was another sign that things were changing at Marvel and not for the better. I do still have somewhat fond memories of GIANT-SIZE CREATURES 1, but I’m not really sure why. It sure ain’t the art , which is no better than ‘barely acceptable’. This issue and CREATURES ON THE LOOSE 30 made me think that Marvel were starting to over-extend themselves, resulting in too many lackluster or downright shoddy comics.

I think it’s a sign of the frantic behind-the-scenes chaos at Marvel that the final 52-page GIANT-SIZE WHATEVERS FEATURING SOMEONE-OR-OTHER came out in the same month as the first few 68-page GIANTS. In fact, GIANT-SIZE SPIDER-MAN #1 even has the words SUPER-GIANT SPIDER-MAN in a type-set header in the upper gutter of one of its pages, so changes must have been happening right up until the last minute.

Speaking of which, yeah, back in the day I was a bit ticked-off that Spidey and Dracula never came face-to-face in G-S SPIDEY 1. They definitely chickened out. But I loved the surprisingly effective Andru / Heck art, and over the years, I’ve gotten over my disappointment .


Anonymous said...

GIANT-SIZE DEFENDERS 1 works surprisingly well for a GIANT-SIZE mag that only contains 15 pages of ‘All New’ story and art. Helps that those 15 pages are drawn by Jim Starlin firing on all cylinders and the reprints are all really REALLY good, including a Ditko Dr. Strange, an Everett Sub-Mariner from the 50s and best of all, the first solo Silver Surfer story from FF ANNUAL 5, with crisp, energetic art by Kirby and Giacoia. 13-year-old Me felt he got his 50 cents’ worth, for sure.


Redartz said...

Steve, I too found that Defenders cover striking. That was my first issue of that title, and it quickly became a favorite. If memory serves, that was when Nighthawk joined the team.

Speaking of Defenders, like b.t., I enjoyed that Giant. The reprinted sequences were all new to me at the time, and the framing story was beautifully drawn. Pretty cool cover, too.

Going with the crowd on GSSM; thought the story was a bit lacking. Perhaps they should have used Morbius (oh yeah, he appeared in the recently published Giant Size Superheroes). It was an odd time of experimental genres, characters, and formats. The charm of the 70's...

Anonymous said...

I remember that Defenders issue (along with its predecessor, #13) from The Defenders Treasury Edition (#16). I also remember Death Wish as one of the early VHS titles around the late 70s/early 80s. So, I'm very in team repackage, when it comes to these.


Anonymous said...

Here are some others I bought that month back in ‘74:

AMAZING ADVENTURES 25 — Buckler and Janson reunited with McGregor one last time.

FRANKENSTEIN 11 — beneath a sweet Romita cover, Gary Friedrich turns in a manic, emotionally overwrought story full of violence, shifting loyalties and death. Was this Friedrich’s Marvel swan song? I want to say it was.

MAN-THING 7 — First part of a weird two-parter involving the Fountain of Youth. Mike Ploog pencils and inks.

MARVEL’S GREATEST COMICS 50 — the FF face the power of HIM! I’d finally come to realize these stories from Lee and Kirby’s heyday were just SO much better than the ‘current’ stuff by Conway and Buckler.

TOMB OF DRACULA 20 — Dracula confronts a Russian vampire named Gorna who won’t leave his widow alone. Disturbing overtones of sexual abuse in this one. Seriously creepy, kinda reminds me of the ‘Wurdalak’ segment of Bava’s BLACK SABBATH.

SWAMP THING 11– I was sorry to see Wrightson go, but Nestor Redondo’s lush, spectacular art was a solid substitute.

WEIRD WAR TALES 27 — haunted U-boat story with dazzling Frank Robbins art. No, really.


Anonymous said...

Pedants Corner -
b.t., Swamp Thing #11 is cover dated August '74.
With Mike's Newsstand feature you've got to double check for DC bi-monthlies. I believe I've mentioned this here before!

You can add Creepy #63 to the list of this month's comics, which was notable for the inclusion of a delightful story called 'Jenifer', that some Wrightson enthusiasts may be familiar with.
Warren also put out Comix International #1 this month, compiling some of the eye-popping colour stuff Richard Corben had been doing for the company.


Anonymous said...

Steve, unfortunately for me, I've seen all of those films you mentioned, and can confirm Carry On Dick is the worst (although Charles Bronson and Michael Winner certainly put up quite a bit of competition).

The Internecine Project is the best, although pretty much default - I'm not sure I'd go so far as to recommend it to anyone, unless they happen to have a particular fondness for the kind of formulaic but bleak 70s British thriller with a downbeat ending that used to get shown on late night tv circa 1980.
It lacks the edge and social resonance of a Get Carter, which is probably why these days its only really remembered - if at all - because Roy Budd did the soundtrack -



Anonymous said...

*by default

Anonymous said...

Of the comics here -

Best cover: Marvel Premiere #16, by Gil Kane & Dick Giordano.

Best artwork: Jungle Action #10, by the Irreverent Billy Graham & Klaus Janson.

Most writing: Jungle Action #10, by Dauntless Don McGregor (best line: "The flames of the shish kebab dinner blaze sullenly")

Close but no cigar: Captain Marvel #33, by Judo Jim Starlin. And an honourable mention for his trippy framing sequence in Giant-Size Defenders #1. Btw Steve, it was Clea telling Val the stories.


Anonymous said...

Yes, you’ve tsk-tsk’d me before about using Mike’s Newsstand’s listings without double-checking the dates of DC’s bi-monthlies. Right you are — I’ll try to remember…

Even worse: I forgot that I didn’t even buy SWAMP THING 11 when it was first published — I probably WOULD have, but I never saw it at any of my regular comics haunts. Number 12 was actually my first Redondo SWAMPY.

Know what else I didn’t buy that month? CREEPY 63, with the Jones/Wrightson masterpiece ‘Jenifer’. But only because I had never seen a Warren mag out in the wild yet — in fact I didn’t even know that they existed! That would all change when I happened to spot EERIE 59 at Smith’s Food King just a few weeks later.

I don’t know if I’d call MARVEL PREMIERE 16 the “best” cover of the month, but it does show off Gil Kane’s impressive storytelling skills. How can our hero possibly get away from the second-rate assassin and his deadly length of chain? Summon the power of the glowy hot Iron Fist and dig an escape tunnel right under the sidewalk, that’s how. It’s pretty brilliant!


Anonymous said...

Well, 'best' is relative, b.t. In a different month it would just be an unremarkable Gil fight scene - one among many! - but... looking at the last Fifty Years Ago post, July obviously wasn't a good one for Marvel covers.

I wasn't being entirely serious on the Mike's bi-monthly thing (;
There's never a wrong time to bring up Berni Wrightson. Or Nestor Redondo.

Ooh, you just missed the Bern in Eerie #58 this month, 'The Pepper Lake Monster'. Mind you, #59 sounds like it would have been money well spent at that age, with plenty of work by Esteban Maroto.
I didn't find out Warrens existed til the first time I went to a specialist shop that just sold comics, Dark They Were And Golden Eyed, in the late 70s. I would love to be able to say the first one I ever got was a Spirit, but - being a teenage boy - inevitably it was an issue of Vampirella.


Anonymous said...

So — “Best” cover of July 74? There were plenty of “Good” covers that month, but not many that were truly “Outstanding”, IMO.

Brunner’s cover for KA-ZAR 4 is very cool and certainly grabbed my attention back in the day. The composition of Starlin’s CAPTAIN MARVEL 33 cover is fairly basic (and decidedly Non-Cosmic) but I do love how DARK it is — Manhattan at night rarely looked this moody and menacing on comics covers back then.

If we include painted covers, there were some excellent ones that month:

EERIE 58 — Sanjulian (most atmospheric)
DRACULA LIVES 7— Luis Dominguez (prettiest)
HAUNTED 17 — Tom Sutton (creepiest)


Anonymous said...

Yep, I missed ‘Pepper Lake Monster’, curse the luck. But after the humongous All-Maroto EERIE 59, I was lucky enough to get EERIE 60 the following month, which featured Wrightson’s ‘Nightfall’, among other wicked delights. Since I’d missed ‘Jenifer’ , ‘Nightfall’ was my first exposure to Wrightson’s stunning ink-wash technique. I thought at the time that I’d never seen comics art that beautiful.

Unfortunately, that particular magazine rack stopped carrying the Warren mags after that. Months later, I found another Liquor Store relatively nearby that carried b/w comics but I wouldn’t see another issue of EERIE (or CREEPY) until the Fall of ‘75. Yep, that means I missed Wrightson ‘s ‘Muck Monster’ too, dang it.


Anonymous said...

And oh yes, EERIE 59, a 100-page Summer Spectacular containing 80 pages of Esteban Maroto at his artistic peak — page after page after page of half-naked beauties and horrific monsters in a Time-Lost world — it’s hard to imagine a comic more perfectly designed to appeal to teenage boys just as their hormones start kicking in. $1.25 was a lot of money to be spending on a single comic book in 1974 , but it was worth every penny!


Steve W. said...

I feel duty bound to report that I had none of Marvel's comics from this month.

I did, however, possess three of DC's offerings. They were:

Witching Hour #44
Weird War Tales #27
Kamandi #19

I also had three of Charlton's books from this month:

Ghostly Haunts #39
Midnight Tales #8
Yang #3

Anonymous said...

No Marvels Steve? You seem to say that every month. For someone who protested that they didn't really know enough to cover DC comics on their blog regularly, you do seem to have had a lot of them (;

b.t., In general, DC had better covers this month (which wasn't unusual). But then I even like that fairly straight forward one for Superman Family #165 included in the Fifty Years Ago post - with Princess Tlaca giving Supergirl a good whack - by Nick Cardy.
I reckon the best Marvel cover was Savage Tales #5, by Neal Adams.


Steve W. said...

Sean, I'm sure it can only be a question of time before we encounter a month in which I bought more Marvels than I knew what to do with.