Wednesday, June 27, 2012

June 1967: John Buscema Joins The Avengers!

The X-Men 33

Our Story

The Juggernaut, having just kicked X-butt in the last issue, breezes past the comic equivalent of two green army men on his way to join Factor Three.

Meanwhile, Xavier remains in a coma. Jean taps into his brainwaves to see a flashback showing how the monster Xorak was imprisoned in the crimson gem of Cyttorak by Doc Strange's old buddy the Ancient One (looking confusingly like Xavier himself). When they try to get T.A.O. on the horn, astral Doc Strange shows up to provide the necessary plot points before taking off.

Long story short—Jean and Scott venture into the crystal, where the Outcast (Xorak) tries to wrap them with Twizzlers (aka Scarlet Circles of Doom). I won't ruin the ridiculous manner in which they vanquish the Outcast, but with gem in hand, they're able to take care of Juggs, only to arrive back at X-headquarters to find that Professor X has been kidnapped!

PE: I love it when Cyclops is asked who his partner will be on the dangerous journey and he says "Eenie... meenie... miney... Jeanie!" fooling absolutely nobody and proving the guy will put romance before safety. He'll probably find plenty of excuses to keep Jean Grey's shapely rear end constantly in front of him.

Jack: What I liked about that sequence was how the other X-Men referred to themselves in the third person, as in "I hope you choose The Angel!" or "How about The Iceman!" Why not just say "pick me! pick me!" like on Let's Make a Deal? They already have the costumes.

JS: The least they could have done was referred to their real names.  "I hope you choose Warren!" or "How about Bobby!"

PE: Though I won't go so far as to say there's a marked improvement in this story over the mindless dreck we've been saddled with for time immemorial, I did like the mind-reading sequence with a cameo by both The Ancient One and Dr. Strange, but then I dig it when writers tie in previous events. That one page, however, doesn't salvage the rest of this incomprehensible mess. Just as bad, if not worse, is the continued decline in the art of Werner Roth. One sequence is supposed to show the effect that Juggernaut's fists have on the landscape when he pounds them on the ground. To me, it looks as though someone has quickly erected eight tepees. To be fair, Roth may have had some instruction from Stan or Roy to make The Outcast a dead ringer for The Abomination, so I won't lay the blame at his feet. I've re-read Jean's and Scott's battle with The Outcast and I'm still not sure exactly what happened. Maybe that's for the best? In the climax (which I also found indecipherable), Scott says "I was afraid this would happen" and I thought that was a perfect epitaph for this title.

JS: When I saw Strange-O show up, my hopes went up that we might get a unique and interesting team up, but alas, he was gone faster than The Ancient One can say, "What happened to my hat!"

Jack: I thought this issue was much better than last issue. We had no visit to the soda shoppe, no beat poetry, and no motorcycle gang. The use of the ticking watch to defeat the guy in the other dimension was kind of funny, though--I expected it to be called The Ticking Timex of Terror!

JS: Yes Jack. The trajectory is certainly up from last issue's antics, but let's not get too excited by the limited angle of incidence...

PE: And why should we be happy that the beat poetry is gone?

The Amazing Spider-Man 49
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Left for dead on a snowy rooftop, The Amazing Spider-Man must limp back home and jump into bed with a really bad cold. Aunt May arrives and demands a doctor see her poor little Peter. Meanwhile, The Vulture continues his crazed crime spree by pulling off a daring mid-air hijacking of a helicopter, Nearby, watching the theft is Kraven, The Hunter, who's a little jealous that The Vulture has stolen some of his spotlight as New York's Most Dangerous Criminal and sets out to pluck some feathers. The ensuing battle brings the attention of the media and, feeling much better, Peter suits up and heads out to join in the fun.

PE: A fun "nothing really happens" issue. Peter's private life is put on hold (May, Gwen, MJ, and the gang all make cameos) while Marvel tries out the pilot issue of Super-Villain Team-Up. Spider-Man himself takes a back seat in his own zine. Romita has really slid into that art seat. His Kraven runs circles around Ditko's. This guy looks like a mean dude. I liked that the two baddies never really team-up as Kraven seems to want no part of that. Boy, have things changed. It was only back in the wild, wooly days of 1967 that a surgeon would interrupt his heavy day of operations to make a house call on a kid with a head cold. Though Professor Matthew confesses to harboring no love for either baddy, I gotta say that it's only a matter of time before they end up on the silver screen, probably both in the same film.

MB:  It ain’t necessarily so that combining two villains I’m not crazy about will make me like a story more than one, but it certainly turned out to be true in this case, as Stan neatly wraps up the events of the last few issues in one fell swoop.  We are pleased,  if not overly surprised, to see Spidey survive his snowy fall, and some enjoyable comedy is provided by Peter having to feign further illness to conceal his spider-spawned powers of recuperation (even if both Harry [page 3, panel 6] and Aunt May [page 6, panel 4] seem to be suffering from a serious case of banana-chin).  The climactic battle was satisfyingly choreographed, providing an example of the time-honored principle that dual villains sometimes beat each other faster than the hero does.

The Avengers 41
Our Story

Hawkeye and Hercules get into a minor fight while working out at Avengers Mansion, but Hawkeye is just grumpy because he misses the Black Widow. She arrives in an unidentified Far Eastern country (Vietnam) and is shown the Psychotron; the Reds quickly realize she's a spy and test out their new device on her. Back in New York, Goliath receives the android Dragon Man in order to study it, but Diablo shows up and reactivates the big stone creature, which battles high pockets until the rest of the Avengers arrive. They are no match for Diablo and Dragon Man, and the story ends as Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye watch groggily as Dragon Man carries Diablo, Goliath and the Wasp away toward Diablo's hideout across the sea.

PE: Big laugh, for me, this issue was the Psychotron build-up and reveal. In a lot of Steven Spielberg's films, his characters turn corners, reach the top of a hill, or open a door to some amazing wonder that we can't see. When we do get to see the spectacle, it's usually a hum-drum sight. Our (COMMIE ALERT!) foreign bad guy takes Black Widow to see The Psychotron for the first time and they utter a collective gasp at the astonishing sight of a... giant Ker Plunk!

The PsyKer-Plunk
MB:  Let’s get this out of the way right up front:  as diligently as I defend Don Heck’s work on this strip (given a proper inker), I consider John Buscema the finest penciler Marvel ever had, so putting him on my long-term favorite book is automatically cause for celebration.  Yet it is not, as it were, instant gratification, for while Bell’s inks do offer some continuity from the last few issues, they only allow Big John’s highly recognizable style to shine through intermittently here (e.g, Pietro’s profile in page 3, panel 2).  The Widow’s plight seems to be pretty dire, with a magnificently hallucinogenic shot signaling her cliffhanger, and although I’ve always considered Diablo a lightweight, Dragon Man is anything but, so I await with pleasure his tackling Hercules.

PE: When Steve Ditko left The Amazing Spider-Man, his replacement (the vastly superior) John Romita remarked that he consciously aped Ditko's style for the first few issues. Is Big John Buscema a victim of the same malady here? If I didn't have the credits right in front of me, I'd swear this was another Heck job (and I stand beside Professor Matthew in his admiration of Buscema's work). Will Roy Thomas outgrow the need to show off his college diploma soon? I sure hope so as the dialogue at times can be mighty flowery ("For, whom the Gods would destroy -- they first make mad!"). I'm glad to see Hawkeye has a new verbal sparring partner in Hercules as I'd hate to see this title lapse into something novel -- a strip about a team that gets along.

Jack: I, too was disappointed by Buscema's work in this issue. As usual, when we see something we don't think lives up to the usual level of an artist's work, we blame the inker--or else, if something looks better than usual, we credit the inker. Maybe it just took Big John awhile to get into his groove. That is one fantastic cover, though!

Daredevil 29
Our Story

With the Masked Marauder dead and gone, his henchmen are having a hard time readjusting. Thankfully, he left a special note behind, in case of his demise, instructing his minions that Foggy and Karen know Daredevil’s true identity, and it would be in their best interest to kidnap them and to find out just who he is. Unfortunately for them, a traitor runs and snitches to the local mob head honcho, known as the Boss, about their whereabouts. The Boss and his crew basically beat up the Marauder gang and force them to join his outfit. Once he figures out their plans, they kidnap Karen but leave Foggy behind, tied up and gagged. Matt finds the pathetic Foggy and a note leads him to the Boss's hideout. In the end, Daredevil comes out on top after a very big brawl and saves Karen, learning at the end that he could never seriously be with her when she would be in so much danger from his enemies.

Tom: Daredevil’s downward spiral of mediocrity continues with another tale bogged down by a torturous unrequited love story. At the beginning, Matt is working himself up the courage to ask Karen to marry him, even though the Masked Marauder’s bookies would probably be laying down heavy odds that he never even made it to first base with her yet. The fact that he wonders whether or not to ask her as himself or as his fake alter-ego twin makes me wonder if Double D was starting to border on psychosis at this point.

PE: One of the perks of this job is re-discovering ancient classics and gems I hadn't read when I was a kid. And then there's reading The X-Men and Daredevil. Every issue, it seems, Stan lets out of the bag some new revelation about Matt Murdock. This issue we find out that not only does our sightless lawyer wear dark shades while he's working out (in his DD uniform) but he keeps said shades on under his mask! Matt Murdock wakes up one morning and decides he's running out of time and just has to propose to secretary Karen Page asap. Now, the only conundrum is: in which personality of his schizo life should he propose? As Matt, Mike, Daredevil, or possibly Foggy? Matt is smart enough to have graduated law school and yet sees no flaws in see-sawing between proposing to future lady of the night Karen Page as Matt or Mike. How long would it take, after the wedding, for Karen to realize that her new hubby, Mike Murdock, is wearing dark glasses to bed? It's all a moot point, of course, since we all knew that when marriage popped into his head, we'd get a conclusion where he decided the danger to Karen would be too great and she should marry Foggy instead. I know because I read it several months ago in Iron Man.

Jack: Isn't this all just an ongoing swipe of Superman's age-old reason for not marrying Lois Lane?

MB:  Once again, Genial Gene’s art (inked by John Tartaglione, who’s no Giacoia, but does not embarrass himself) goes a long way toward salvaging a silly story of Stan’s.  How often Matt Murdock can suit up as Hornhead while pretending that he’s only posing as DD, rather than actually being DD—are you following this?—I don’t know, but the whole Matt/Mike/DD shtick seems poised to collapse under its own weight any minute, with the icing on the cake being Matt wearing his dark glasses under his cowl, despite the fact that they do not distort the shape of said cowl in the slightest.  Oddly enough, I found the sight of DD sporting a pistol really cool, even if it also seems unlikely that he just happened to have a gun and matching red holster right on hand.

PE: Wouldn't anyone in New York notice a man on a ledge changing out of his superhero outfit? Scintillating dialogue when Matt unties his captured partner. He feels the need to describe every action and move he makes to disguise that he's got super senses. I'm sure every blind guy talks like that: "A noise on the floor, sounding muffled! I shall bend over to investigate! Foggy, is that you? Of course, I'm blind so I don't know if it's really you or not but since you're usually the one who gets captured, I'm taking a wild guess. Let me untie your soft white cotton gag, made in Korea according to the ink..."

Jack: You are so picky! Matt was just showing off his acting skill, something he does routinely when he slips into his Mike Murdock identity.

PE: The Boss! Now there's a moniker that probably took Stan all of thirty seconds to whip up. With all the mob bosses in New York, I'm sure this name has been appropriated several times. Even a guitar-playing kid in Jersey stole it. Such an exciting finale, wrapped up in two panels with a trick right out of The Three Stooges and The Boss surrendering without a fight. Meh!

Strange Tales 157
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Our Story

Fury deploys his sixty-second invisibility pill to escape from the Alphatron platform, while Sitwell leads a search for the Death Spore time bomb aboard the crippled Helicarrier, steering a course for Antarctica in the hope of destroying the bacteria just in case.  Nick takes out countless Hydra hoods in armed and hand-to-hand combat, and by using the Hallucination Cube, before facing Baron Strucker “eyepatch to monocle.”  Finally brought down by Strucker’s electrically charged Satan Claw, he reminds his nemesis that having penetrated the defenses of Hydra Island on his own, triumphed over a vastly superior force, and fought Strucker unarmed, he must be considered the victor even if Strucker kills him, as he is now poised to do…

MB: Okay, I was mistaken about the current plotline being wrapped up in this issue, which is just as well, since Fury’s final showdown with Strucker requires sufficient space; I got to around page 10 and said to myself, “They can’t possibly do justice to resolving this in two more pages.”  As bad as things looked for Nick at the end of our last installment, they don’t appear much better here, but he gets some glorious licks in along the way, giving Steranko an excuse for another artistic tour-de-force, including those full-page “tournament of death” and Hallucination Cube shots and the Plan K-11 judo-fest.  Fury’s bravado in the face of almost certain death is always an inspiration, and Jasper has proven to be a very capable agent, justifying Nick’s faith in him.

PE: Not that I'd tell him to his face, but I find it a bit alarming that Nick Fury shaves his chest. Where's all that masculine fur he proudly put on display in World War II? The nine-panel page of Fury taking out Hydra goons one-by-one probably would have been more effective sans dialogue. As it is, it's a nice display of power marred only by a succession of progressively worse one-liners like "Who writes your material, Soupy Sales" and "You musta learned to grapple by runnin' the bubble machine on the Lawrence Welk show." Hey Steranko! Who writes your material, Stan Lee? More visual with no distraction, please.

Jack: Once again, great art, so so plot, lousy dialogue. If only all of those word balloons didn't get in the way of some of these pages, they'd be suitable for framing. New word I learned this month: coruscating. And what is Hydra if not a precursor to Al Qaeda--a terrorist organization operating outside state sponsorship?

Doctor Strange
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The Ancient One seems to give his life to help Dr. Strange defeat Zom, who finally gives in when Dr. Strange yanks out his long, flowing forelock of hair. This rash act unleashes a sense of evil among the world's mystics and the menace of Zom is replaced by that of The Living Tribunal, who announces that the entire planet must now be destroyed.

Jack: Herb Trimpe inks Marie Severin's pencils this time around, and it helps considerably. This is the first Marvel credit I've seen for the future star artist on Hulk. I think we all know that the Ancient One is about as dead as Clea was a couple of issues ago. The fight with Zom is pretty good, and the appearance of The Living Tribunal whets my appetite for next issue.

MB:  In the same Bullpen Bulletin that welcomes Dan Adkins, they “say hello to Herb Trimpe (pronounced Trimp-y), another fabulous fledgling”; the soon-to-be Hulk mainstay becomes this strip’s first dedicated inker since the Lee/Severin team took over in #153.  The repetitious plot has gotten a little ridiculous:  “Whew—we’re finally rid of [Umar/Zom], but now we face an even bigger menace in the form of [Zom/the Living Tribunal]!”  But it’s worth it just to get rid of Zom, who I hope never returns, with or without his idiotic-looking forelock, and there’s something poignant and inspiring about the Ancient One’s sacrificing himself on what we hope is a temporary basis (in Stonehenge, of all places) to give Doc a boost with his own power.

The Mighty Thor 141
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Notorious mob boss Slugger Sykes shows how he got his nickname by handing out a beating to the guy that’s causing him problems:  The Mighty Thor.  Actually, “Thor” is a robot, or rather a “replica” created by a scientist named Chuda, who has entered into a plan to aid Sykes to their mutual benefit.  Chuda has created his ultimate replica, simply called Replicus, as the ultimate weapon in crime.  His invention wastes no time in proving its capabilities, effortlessly carrying out various robberies.  Dr. Don Blake, meanwhile, makes a house call on a new patient, an older lady who calls herself Granny Gardenia because she’s a street corner flower vendor.  During his visit, two of Slugger Sykes men pop in; apparently the mob boss buys a fresh gardenia from her everyday, even when she’s in hospital.  Later, in his office, Blake reads enough about Replicus (the creature was heard to be calling itself) to know it’s a job for his alter ego, Thor.  His Uru hammer leading him to its mark, the Thunder God sets out to give Replicus his comeuppance.  The lesson proves no easy task, as Replicus seems to match Thor in speed and power, eventually snaring the Asgardian in his cobalt cable fingers.  Watching the struggle on a TV screen, Chuda lets slip his real intentions:  world conquest.  He is from another planet and Sykes is but one pawn that Chuda intends on using to  plant his replicas throughout the world as tools for his peoples conquest of Earth.  Chuda’s words make the mob boss realize, perhaps for the first time in his life, the evil of his own ways.  He tackles Chuda, and in the ensuing struggle, the machinery explodes, killing them both.  Replicus, without a remote source of guidance, falls to the ground lifeless.  Later, Dr. Blake pays a call to Granny Gardenia, who is a little sad.  Her son just died, one certain mob-boss-turned hero.

Tales of Asgard:  Thor and the Warriors Three find Mogul, whose newest plan is to transform a common thief into a powerful warrior, to lead Satan’s forty horsemen against the Asgardians.

JB:  This story reminds me of a 1967 version of a much earlier Thor issue, a Journey Into Mystery within issues 83 to 99.  If Lee/Kirby were taking a break while they conceived some more epic adventures for Thor, this story at least is neat and tidy, and wraps up with a satisfactory, albeit corny conclusion.  I don’t have much sympathy for Slugger Sykes though.

PE: Another weak science fiction-based entry. I thought it a tad too tidy that the conscience-free Slugger Sykes discovers patriotism ("I may be a murderer what sells women into slavery, cheats on my taxes, and molests children, but I ain't no durn commie!") at the moment of truth and stops the alien's mad plan of destruction. Can we please go back to Asgard now?

JB:  Replicus is interesting, even though his appearance isn’t especially striking.  The opening is eye-catching, seeing an ordinary Joe send Thor a-flying.  The cover is curious too, although it’s merely blowups of some of the interior panels (the inks look less scratchy than some of Colletta’s; someone else maybe?).

Fantastic Four 63
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Scarcely having a chance to recover from Reed’s rescue from the negative zone, the F.F., (except for Johnny, who’s out with Crystal) find the ceiling above them “melting” from some unknown force. Reed surmises correctly that something may have followed him back from the negative zone, and stretches up to take a look. A brief glimpse and he gets confirmation, from one of Blastaar’s finger blasts. Triton, the Inhuman who rescued Reed last issue, is next to take a look, and being forewarned, he wastes no time in tackling the alien, as Sandman awaits his turn. A blast of sand it is, causing Triton temporary blindness, and a punch from Blastaar (who has just now learned hand-to-hand combat) renders the water-breather unconscious. The Sandman, having entered in a shaky alliance with the negative zone menace, feels it important to show he’s equally powerful, as he picks up Blastaar and walks with him down the side of the Baxter Building to the street below (thanks to one of Sandy’s new chemical goodies that turn his sand adhesive).  The police arrive with a new weapon: a cement gun that instantly hardens around the Sandman as it dries. If Blastaar hadn’t been handy to blast him lose, Sandy may have been headed back to the slammer. Johnny and Crystal, enjoying some time on the town, see this unfold, and Johnny enters the fray. Ben arrives a moment later, and between them, they learn of the alien’s powers--and he theirs. Reed has come up with a plan. First he has put Triton in a water tank with some healing balm added. Next he has what he thinks will be a positive on the negative-zoner: a helmut that if affixed to Blastaar’s head, will effectively cut off his ability to build up the energy in his own body (which is how he creates his finger blasts). The Sandman has taken Ben for a magic carpet ride, that is, wrapped up in a sand carpet and rolled down the street. Sandy’s goal is to get Ben to the dock, where, unconscious from the centrifugal force, the Thing will sink like a stone to the ocean bottom. It works to that point, but the cold water revives Ben, and he swims upward again. The Sandman’s gloating lasts long enough for Ben to shatter the dock beneath him; his sand scatters throughout the water, carried in different directions by the tide. With the help of Sue and Johnny, Reed finally gets the helmut on Blastaar, and without being able to harness the energy in his body, the alien is vulnerable to Mr. Fantastic’s best punch. Rejoined by Ben, they carry Blastaar to the Baxter Building, to send him back to the negative zone.

PE: Finally the NYPD caught on to the fact that super-baddies aren't slowed by service revolvers. These guys show up to the Blastaar/Sandman shindig equipped with a giant cement cannon! It works momentarily against The Sandman, until Blastaar busts him free, so I'm thinking that any future bouts with Spidey or the FF should be short-lived if they bring along cement. I'm sure Blastaar won't be the only baddie that creeps in the door to the Negative Zone when it's ajar.

Reed Richards, steroid abuser
MB: Blastaar isn’t the most nuanced villain the FF ever fought, but he’s for sure a heavyweight, as shown in that great full-page shot, and as expected, his alliance with Sandman is pretty shaky.  Strange that Sandy expects a dip in the drink to finish Ben, or that the NYPD has an off-the-shelf weapon to use on him, and Johnny’s ability to convert Blastaar’s power into raw heat seems out of left field, unless I’m being forgetful.  But there’s almost too much good stuff to list:  more Triton heroism; choice dialogue (“Can someone so grotesque be an Earthling, too?,” “Boom-Boom,” “Another county heard from!”); Crystal unleashed; Blasty believing that almost all Earth beings possess super-powers; and Stretcho’s Frammistat Cupboard and final haymaker.

"There's my football!"
JB: It’s ironic that it’s Reed’s haymaker that puts Blastaar in his place, after everything else he fought off! In that aforementioned full--page panel, they really emphasize Blastaar’s power by having the Sandman looking tiny in the background. The shaky alliance between the two, as they point out frequently, would make their eventual defeat likely. Instead of that approach, the storyline instead offers one of Reed’s inventions to save the day.  I kind of enjoyed Ben’s swim in the ocean, although having the tide scatter the Sandman everywhere isn’t too sure a way to keep him away. Nice to see Triton and Crystal use their powers too. We need to see our pal Wyatt Wingfoot join in!

PE: To that dialogue list, Professor Matthew, I add Blastaar's exclamation: "For that you will perish as none have ever perished before!" and Susie's well-timed "Forgive me... for... suddenly turning... feminine...!" King Kirby hits a bull's eye on the laugh-o-meter with that panel of Reed searching through his cupboard for one of his important gizmos, tossing doohickeys over his shoulder like a three year-old rummaging in his toy box. According to Blasty, he's used to the heat because of extreme weather conditions in sub-space. Is there weather in sub-space? It seems all we needed was this title to turn that corner and we've been getting classic or near-classic stories ever since. It wasn't all that long ago we were moaning about Space Apes, The Impossible Man, and that dreadful Puppet Master.

Tales of Suspense 90
Iron Man
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Held captive by The Malignant Melter, Tony Stark has no choice but to bow to the evil baddy's wish: a brand new ultra-powerful melting gun. Stark crafts the weapon but pops in a booby-trap that eventually makes the gun too hot to hold. Not able to get to his red and gold armor, Tony Stark must don his previous golden suit to witness The Melter's meltdown.

PE: I wonder why the police squad didn't bring their new cement cannon (see FF 63) to try out on The Melter. I was a bit confused at the beginning of our adventure when Melty continually referred to the golden armor suit as belonging to Tony. I had a memory meltdown, trying to remember if The Melter had learned Tony Stark's secret identity in one of those vintage Iron Man stories I fell asleep during.

MB: This was a very satisfying meat-and-potatoes Shellhead yarn, with a good script by Stan that makes use of a minor yet time-honored villain, and enjoyable art by the reliable GiaColan team.  Of course, it’s a little odd that ol’ Melty thought Stark wouldn’t know his new gun could be set to “flesh” when Tony had just finished assembling it for him, but hey, it’s only a comic book, right?  It’s nice that it was due more to his brains than to Shellhead’s brawn that Tony was able to defeat the Melter, although the latter came in mighty handy when he needed to save the cops assembled outside his factory from the girders brought down on them by the Melter, and I love iconic moments like IM going into battle clad in his original golden armor.

PE: I like the fact that the new-fangled ray gun has an adjustable wheel on its barrel that reads "flesh," "metal," "stone," and "wood." I don't know what's more impressive, that Melty took the time to etch the labels or that he found a way to melt wood. I'm not sure about how bright the guy is though. Didn't he notice that Tony didn't melt when he was blasted? As Professor Matthew noted, the Golden Armor sequence is very cool though I'd question Stark's reasoning behind wearing the suit. He claims it would have been too dangerous to go to his office to get his regular suit. Won't The Melter, dumb as he is, put two and two together and come up with "secret identity" when Iron Man shows up in his old costume? And, puzzlingly, the authorities think there are actually two different Iron Mans (Men?). Why would that be?

Captain America
Our Story

The Red Skull uses his plastic bubble to raise a good portion of Manhattan into the sky. Only Captain America can defeat The Red Skull and put all that prime real estate back where it belongs. But can Cap defeat mechanical watch-dogs and The Skull's sheer strength before his greatest enemy drops Manhattan into the Atlantic? To save millions of lives, Cap must give his word to The Skull that he'll do anything he wants for 24 hours.

PE: A bit short-sighted on The Skull's part to ask for 24 hours. As quickly as Cap said yes, the nasty Nazi could have asked for a week, a month, or maybe even a year. I'll lay odds he regrets his foolishness.

MB: Having a penciler ink himself can sometimes turn out better than that long stretch of pure Heck before Buscema ascended to The Avengers, yet I often prefer that even a more successful self-inker (e.g., Romita’s Spidey or Kane’s Cap) be paired up with a dedicated inker to bring out the best in his work.  Sinnott takes on Cap here, and while his strong hand partially obscures Kane’s unique style—for which Joltin’ Joe has been criticized—I won’t complain when the results look so good, but it points up what a useful baseline an artist’s unfiltered work is against which to assess other inkers’ contributions.  Feast your eyes, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy the ride as the Skull scoops up a square mile of Manhattan in a bubble!

PE: We've discussed before the scientific questions that arise when dealing with the disappearance of a city block. Does the bubble dig deep enough to transport all sewer systems as well? I doubt it, so that bubble is not going to smell very good. There's bound to be flooding and electrical fires, not to mention the fact that most of those skyscrapers have foundations that go hundreds of feet into the ground for the purpose of keeping them from tipping over. Barbara Carey, on the "Mails of Suspense" page, asks the name of the blonde agent Captain America was supposed to have dinner with back in #86. Good question that, and speaking of Sharon Carter, when are we going to delve a bit deeper into her story? I realize this is the same Professor Pete who moans and groans about Pepper, Jane, Betty, Betsy, and Karen (did I leave out any other empty-headed Marvel babe?), but Sharon Carter is... well, she's Sharon Carter. She's like a cool Black Widow. Anyway, Stan's a bit coy with his answer since he doesn't name the blonde but he does mention that "she is the younger sister of another brave female whom Cap had once loved and lost during World War II" so the blueprint is already there.

Tales to Astonish 92
Namor, The Sub-Mariner
Our Story

The Sub-Mariner and his lady Dorma are out for a sea stroll when they notice a submarine doing a dump and run. Upon further inspection, it appears the surface men have left behind a barrel of toxic waste. Namor is furious and throws the drum into the forbidden cavern of darkness. As he and Dorma leave, we see that the drum leaks slightly, which causes a strange, monstrous humanoid to rise up from the muck. The creature goes on a spree of destruction. It first happens upon a Navy radar warning station. The humanoid destroys the station, but not before everyone is able to escape before getting killed. Meanwhile, Subby is still pissed about the surface men dumping garbage in his realm. He orders a small platoon to form up that will accompany him to the surface world for a little chat. As the squad is getting together and swimming their way through the underwater catacombs, the monster humanoid comes across them. The creature attacks the crew. They are no match for him as he easily dispatches them with his superior strength. One of the troops escapes to go and squeal to Namor about the attack. Convinced that it is the surface dwellers, Namor is about to explode with anger. He finds and attacks the monster just as a submarine finds them and is about to attack with its own missiles.

Tom: A fun yarn that gives a shout out to the older monster comics from the opening page with Namor’s antagonist this issue being labeled simply as “IT!” I’m still not sure if the IT monster was created by toxic waste or if it just awoke him from his catnap? The new artwork isn’t sensational by any means, but it gets the job done. 

PE: Who is this strange being so quickly formed from radioactive waste (or has he been awakened by the toxic sludge) to present a problem for both Atlanteans and the surface world? I'm interested to see who'll be the first to name him:

Lady Dorma: My Prince! What is It?
Namor: I'm not sure, my lady, but you've called it the perfect thing.
Lady Dorma: The Thing! That's what It is!
Namor: No, Dorma, The Thing is already taken! It's It!
Lady Dorma: My Prince, It's an Abomination!
Namor: (sigh)

Namor declares war on mankind four or five times this issue and each time he's talked off the ledge by the sensible, gorgeous, and very blue Dorma. Adkins' art doesn't suck, which was a big surprise for me since, when I heard he'd be relieving Wild Bill Everett for a two-issue stint, I reacted violently. I can settle down now and begin my search for a new coffee table.

Good lord---"choke"
Jack: I really liked Adkins's art this issue. The sections of the story on the submarine reminded me of something from an EC comic.

MB: Epitomizing Marvel’s publication-date paradox, the May Daredevil features several June titles in its house ad and checklist, and cites this story in an item welcoming Adkins.  “If his style reminds you of another former Marvel-man [Wally Wood], it’s because Dan has worked with him, sometimes anonymously, for quite a while,” we are told.  He handles both pencils and inks this time, and although Subby looks a little squinty in spots, I have no complaints about the artwork, especially the impressive full-page shot of Atlantis and the way he obscures the features of “It,” who (which?) is very atmospherically rendered; the story is also fun, despite the overworked device of Misunderstanding Between Namor and the Humans #187.

PE: To add to our general confusion re: house ads, the June FF features a "on sale now" pic of the Fantasy Masterpieces from April! More general confusion can be had in the Bullpen Bulletins page (including Stan's Soapbox) which changes depending on the title. I'm sure there's a way, if I had a slide ruler, reams of paper, and lots of time and beer, to decipher which titles were published when during the month. I'll leave that to Honorary Professor Glenn.

Jack: I have a funny feeling that our process of going by cover dates bears only a slight resemblance to the actual order in which these comics came out, that is, in the way one title related to another.

Our Story

After last issue’s titanic battle, everyone seems to take a breather as they wonder where the Hulk has gone to. Betty is her usual hysterical self while General Ross and Major Talbot try to get things back in order. Bruce Banner hides out in a flop house where he tries to experiment on himself to rid his body of the Hulk with typical results as he transforms back into the monster. Our story ends with the Hulk getting smacked down by the Silver Surfer when he leaps into the space guy's path for salvation.

Tom: Even though it was just a slight cameo, the brief appearance of Rick Jones Teen Brigade was almost enough to get me to climb atop a water tower with a sniper rifle and to start shooting anybody wearing a purple colored t-shirt. Other than that, I got no complaints. While I’ve never been a big fan of the Silver Surfer, I can’t recall these two ever having that much interaction and look forward to seeing what happens next issue.

MB: Not sure what element of the story makes this a “Turning Point!” in the life of Greenskin, unless his abortive gamma-ray frammistat (gammistat?) leaves him more or less permanently in his Hulk identity.  As much as I lament the loss of Kane, I’m not upset at Marie Severin adding another erstwhile Everett character alongside Dr. Strange in her portfolio, especially with inks by “Fearless Frank” Giacoia, and I thought the renditions of the Hulk both on the splash page and in the penultimate panel were as good as any I’ve seen in this strip so far. Note to Dr. Banner:  When you are incognito and trying to avoid an intensive nationwide search for your emerald alter-ego, it might be best to forego your trademark purple pants for a change.

Bruce Banner does his impression of
Sub-Mariner from Fantastic Four #4
PE: My LOL-scene of the issue: the TV newscaster who gestures to a "scale model replica" of The Hulk and beseeches the public to study it carefully and contact law officials, the FBI, the PTA, PETA, and anyone else in ear shot if you see this man. Do the residents of New York really need a scale model of an eight foot (?) green behemoth who flies and wears only ripped purple chinos? Hot on the heels of that LOL is the fact that Rick Jones has reorganized the Teen Brigade to search for The Hulk as well. How these lazy, jobless "teens" can see anything from their mom's basement (where they've set up all their toys) is beyond me. "Operation Find the Hulk" indeed. Ironically, I kept kept turning the pages, waiting for that advertised "Turning Point" to show up but, alas, it seemed like the same old ten pages of misunderstood Hulk screaming at the sky that puny man just won't leave him be. Is "The Turning Point" meant to be Marie Severin's mediocre art?

Jack: Bruce Banner is truly the world's most brilliant scientist if he can just tell that his body's chemical makeup has not changed after a Gamma ray bath. I can't say why, but I enjoyed this story. Frank Giacoia's inks help polish Marie Severin's pencils, the bit with Banner hiding out incognito in New York, the Hulk's giant leaps--it all worked for me, and I was completely taken by surprise when the Silver Surfer showed up!

Also this month

Fantasy Masterpieces #9
Ghost Rider #3
Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #9
Millie the Model #150
Modeling with Millie #54 (final issue)
Rawhide Kid #58
Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos #43


PE: I have a soft spot in my collector's heart for Fantasy Masterpieces #9 as that was my very first exposure to Golden Age Marvel Comics. This issue reprinted the origin of the Human Torch (from the legendary Marvel Comics #1), stories featuring Namor and Cap, and three sf tales from the pre-hero anthology titles. It was that Torch story though that led me to read my copy to tatters. Magic!

Jack: I completely agree. Just seeing that cover brings me back to the early to mid-70s and going to the Seuling Cons in New York every summer. That's where I bought this issue, as well as issues of Marvel Collector's Item Classics, Marvel Tales, etc., in order to collect Golden Age stories. It's weird to think that the comics were only 30 years old at that time, while the 1960s Marvels we're rereading now are 45 years old!

MB:  I know I've touched on this before, but the Marvel reprints--at least of the Silver Age stories, which were canonical with what was then being published--were an absolutely essential part of my comics upbringing.  Even after I became aware that they were older stories, I never thought of those mags as any lesser than the first-run ones; to me, they were all just comics.  They very definitely colored my feelings to this day about who the "definitive" artists were for given books, and often shed valuable light on the events underlying those in the contemporary stories, although it was sometimes a little confusing, epecially for a younger reader, to be simultaneously in the middle of two parallel streams of continuity in the same strip!

PE: Since Professor Jack will get angry if I don't read a few words over the corpse of Modeling with Millie, I'm requesting we all have a moment of silence while I feign interest. Her place in the schedule will be filled by Marvel's first four-colored humor zine, a good-natured (and every once in a while funny) poke at itself called Not Brand Ecch!


Jack: In other words, Marvel's swipe of Mad Magazine. I always liked Not Brand Ecch! but I remember it more from the 70s revival.

JS: So much for a moment of silence.

PE: In Stan's Soapbox this month, the spotlight is on a letter received from future author and comics-writer Mark Evanier. Mark claims the MMMS is too disorganized and needs officers. He recommends that fans become:

RFO - Real Frantic One (bestowed on a fan who has just bought his first Marvel comic)
QNS- Quite 'Nuff Sayer (after fan's first published letter)
TB- True Believer (after first No-Prize win)
with each additional No-Prize, a fan becomes:
JHC- Junior Howling Commando
RH- Resident Hulk
AAT- Associate Assistant Thing
MM- Marvelite Maximus (the highest honor bestowed upon a fan)

Stan comments that he thinks it's a great idea.

Jack: Stan also mentions that the Spider-Man and Fantastic Four TV cartoon shows will debut in the fall of '67. I don't think I remember the FF show but now that Spider-Man song is stuck in my head for the rest of the week. At least it will replace "You Only Live Twice," which had been stuck there since the last episode of Mad Men a couple of weeks ago.

MB:  Oldsters like us will remember that Stan did indeed eventually adopt some, but fortunately not all, of Evanier's ranks (e.g., RFO, QNS), to which others were later added.  I'm in the same boat as Jack when it comes to the TV shows, in that Spidey's, and especially the music, is indeliby imprinted on my brain, and yet I have no recollection of the FF's whatsoever.  Funny you should mentionYou Only Live Twice, as I was just struck (while reading a few weeks/months ahead, as usual) by its similarity to Factor Three's master plan in X-Men...


  1. Re: Buscema's AVENGERS debut, I do blame Bell (or, more properly, Roussos). And before Professor Jack accuses me of knee-jerk inkerism, I would look back at the noticeable improvement when "Demeo" replaced Tartaglione as Big John's embellisher during his brief Hulk stint in TALES TO ASTONISH #85-87. It's no coincidence that Professor Pete thought this looked like a Heck of a job (as it were) when Bell bridged the transition between pencilers.

    Not saying Jack's observation has no validity, but I have noticed in the months ahead, for example, that Colan's work looked consistently better under Giacoia's inks than it does under Tartaglione's in DAREDEVIL. And don't even get me started on Vince Colletta.

    Why do I feel like the Frammistat Cupboard is going to become a running M.U. faculty gag?

  2. Peter,

    We all have our personal tastes, but while I admit Romita the Elder's females are much more attractive than Steve Ditko's, he's hardly a "vastly superior" artist. I grew up on Romita's Spidey in the late 60's, loved it then love it now, but even then I recognized the Ditko genius on the original Spidey in the Marvel Tales reprints (to say nothing of the fact that he came up with the uniform, the webshooters, the Spider-Signal, the Spidey-sense "split-face," all the classic villians, on so on). Ditko's New York is wet, dirty, lived-in and drips noir menace. Perfect for the book and unequaled since. To quote Ring-a-Ding John himself, "When you talk about artists like Steve Ditko, you have to put them in a special category. They are creators. You don't have to look around and see which part of it reminds you of their style --- everything reminds you of them. The rest of us are paid illustrators --- we illustrate as close as we can to what the editor wants us to do. That's not false modesty -- it's the truth." 'Nuff said.

  3. Hey Mark-

    Thanks for leaving your thoughts for us to see. You're right, it's all down to personal tastes. Growing up, I thought Ross Andru was the Spider-God and I'm interested to see how he holds up when we get to his stuff in the 1970s. This blog has really messed around with my memories, but usually in a good way.

    1. Peter,
      I thought Andru was too "cartoony" back in the mid-70's; I stopped reading comics for 25 years around the end of that decade. But having re-read Ross' entire run the last couple years, I like him a lot more now than I did then. So I think he'll hold up for you just fine.
      I also used to outright hate Gil Kane (although he was much better when inked by Romita), but I like him much more now, too, although still not a fan of all the "up the nose" shots. Wonder if he was really short and that's the saw he always saw people...

    2. That's good news about Andru.
      Speaking of Gil Kane, I just got through reading a reprint of a 1964 Green Lantern, for the blog on Batman that Jack and I write, with art by Kane. Well, it says art by Gil Kane but it was unrecognizable to me. No up the nose shots. No shading under those noses either. Inks by Joe Giella. That may have something to do with it. Worst Gil Kane art I've seen.

  4. Here's the original cover for X-Men #33 drawn by Gil Kane.

    Apparently, the Comics Code thought the cover ventured too far into the horror genre and was rejected. Werner Roth (with some touch-ups by John Romita) partly redrew the cover, changing the offending Xorak into the Juggernaut, and swapping Scott and Jean with Bobby and Warren. Phew … just imagine how many disturbed kids there would've been if the original cover had made it to the newsstands.

    Still more cover changes. Here's Jack Kirby's original cover for Thor #141.

    This one was rejected by Stan in his capacity as Art Director, and it's not hard to see why. Inside the book, Replicus is about seven feet tall, but towers over Thor on the cover. To get him closer to Thor's height and to get his head below the banner, Jack introduced the strange off kilter bent legged stance. It would've made better design sense to have Replicus facing Thor, mimicking Thor's stance while trying to possess the hammer in a tug-of-war. It must've been a last minute decision to reject the cover, because it got all the way to the inking stage, and the replacement cover is a paste-up cobbled together from interior panels. Clearly, there was no time to have the cover redrawn.

    But wait … there's more. Check out page seven of the Sub-Mariner story in TTA #92. That background looks more like a space scene than an underwater scene for a reason. Dan Adkins swiped the whole thing from a story illustrated by Wally Wood in the April 1960 issue of Galaxy Science Fiction.

    Here's page seven by Adkins.

    Here's the Galaxy illustration by Wood.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  5. I agree with you guys that Buscema's AVENGERS debut is somewhat underwhelming. Roussos' hasty inks are partly to blame, but I think it's also a matter of Big John not quite getting a handle on drawing superheroes yet. He'll improve rapidly, just you wait. We've got a couple more issues of cruddy inks to get through (Roussos and Colletta), but Buscema inks himself on 49 and 50, and believe me, it's something to behold.

    That panel of DD whooping it up on the ledge looks very NOT BRAND ECCHH. So weird.

  6. PE: “I'm sure there's a way, if I had a slide ruler, reams of paper, and lots of time and beer, to decipher which titles were published when during the month. I'll leave that to Honorary Professor Glenn.”

    I don't think the ads are a good indicator of any “distribution order.” At a small time operation like 1960s Marvel, I doubt anyone sat down and meticulously noted the distribution order of the books, and placed the appropriate ads for upcoming books in some strictly correct sequence.

    However, over the next few months, we'll see examples of stories starting in one book and concluding in another, giving us a way to “align” some of the titles with each-other.

    Besides, I'd be the last person to be able to figure out any correct sequence for Marvel books. When all the unsold comic books found their way back to the warehouse, the U.S. distributor sold them to foreign magazine distributors, not as comic books, but as bulk scrap paper, at a value based purely on their weight. Since they were going to be pulped anyway, the U.S. distributor picked up a bit of extra cash. It was the same story for returned magazines.

    Those comic books were then sent by cargo ship, the cheapest form of transport, to places like Australia, where the local distributor sold the “scrap paper” as new comic books, making a very tidy profit. This process took about three months, and when I read a comic book with, say, a June cover date, it was June when I read it.

    Jack: “I really liked Adkins's art this issue. The sections of the story on the submarine reminded me of something from an EC comic.”

    Adkins was possibly the biggest swipe artist in the history of comics. There's no doubt he's a capable illustrator, but he always took the path of least resistance. If you sifted through a few issues of Two Fisted Tales, you'd probably find the source material for those submarine scenes (see above for the source of Adkins' Atlantis cityscape).

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  7. Great thread, all. I was waiting for somebody to pick up the gauntlet on Ditko's behalf. I may prefer Romita (and love Andru), but I have to give Ditko his due for many of the reasons Mark cites. And I'll stand by his Dr. Strange.

    Re: Buscema, I think we're victims of hindsight in this case: when we know what wonderment is to come, it makes us impatient to get through the teething pains, so we're probably more impatient with these early issues than we really ought to be. History has spoiled us!

    Glenn, fascinating (as always) tales of our beloved comics' travels Down Under, and you're right that we're probably agonizing too much over the whole publication-order business. Disappointed to learn about Adkins's swipes, as I have been enjoying his art quite a bit, most notably on Dr. Strange. But that's showbiz.

    Anonymous, great call on that crazy DD panel. I neglected to mention that myself, and was pleased to see that Professor Pete featured it.

    Thanks so much for the great feedback, everyone.

  8. Yep, more great info. Thanks to Glenn (as usual).

    I'd love to take credit for that panel of Daredevil on the ledge but that's all Professor Jack. I dock him points for somehow cropping out the disco ball.

    As for the whole "Monday Morning Quarterback" aspect of this blog, I really try hard to imagine myself reading each comic in 1967, not knowing all the magic to come. That's why I'm in awe of what Steranko was doing (at least visually) with SHIELD and Jack and Stan were doing with Thor and FF.

    If I could take it further and imagine myself as a six year old reading these comics in 1967, it would make Daredevil and X-Men a whole lot easier to understand.

  9. I will enthusiastically pick up the defense of Steve Ditko! When the first Spider-Man movie came out 10 years ago (can it really be that long?), Marvel started reissuing the early Spider-Mans in color paperbacks for about $15, which was a price I could finally afford (unlike the $50 hardcovers). I read the first 40 Spideys over again and I thought they were outstanding. Going over Ditko's art with a fine-toothed comb in this blog has certainly highlighted some of his quirks, but I think he was a top comic artist and one of the best of the 60s. He and Kirby made Marvel what it was and without him I don't think we'd be doing this blog.

    Thanks for providing links to the original covers. Reading the comics in chronological order and without any significant knowledge of what comes later (beyond rather fuzzy memories of what I read as a kid), all we can do is react to what we see on the page. Now that it has been pointed out that Dan Adkins was swiping from Wally Wood, it's obvious, but just reading that Subby story I did not pick up on it. I just thought the art looked good and was satisfied with that.

    It's amazing that our professors hail from the East Coast, the Midwest, the Southwest, the West Coast, and Canada, and our readers come from as far away as Australia! If only air travel were free, we could all meet at some central comic-con and see how old we all really look!

  10. Was lucky enough to meet Professor Jack for dinner in Manhattan a few weeks ago and had a dandy time. He doesn't look a day older than Nick Fury.

  11. Professor Matthew's comment made me realize that most folks don't know what we all look like, so I have updated our faculty & staff page with photos:

  12. Speaking of Nick Fury.

    Perhaps someone can explain to me how he fought in WW II alongside Cap and yet he's still so young! :>

  13. Wow, I made it to the faculty & staff page. Here's a suitable pic to represent me.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  14. While looking for something else, I've accidentally stumbled upon the answer to the Marvel publication order/ house ads conundrum.

    Source: “The Mystery Of Marvel Cover Dates”
    by Keith Srutowski (The Jack Kirby Collector #54)

    Initially, Keith tries to figure out who came first, Spider-Man or Thor. The answer might seem obvious, but Amazing Fantasy #15 and Journey Into Mystery #83 both carry an August 1962 cover date. He then describes the anomaly we've all noticed, that the house ads don't seem to make a lot of sense, often promoting books that have already gone on sale, and he does a bit of digging. After sifting through boxes of books, and noting all the house ads (saving us the trouble) he finds that there are two separate dating methods used for Marvel comic books.

    These books belong to one group (I'll call them group A)

    Fantastic Four
    Amazing Spider-Man
    Strange Tales
    Tales To Astonish
    Tales Of Suspense

    These books belong to the other group (Group B)

    Journey Into Mystery
    Sgt. Fury

    Keith finds that when, say, the Group A books cover dated August hit the stands, they were accompanied by the books cover dated July in Group B. The two groups are one month out of alignment. This explains why a house ad in The Fantastic Four can feature the current issue of Spider-Man and the previous issue of Daredevil in the same ad. This also means Journey Into Mystery #83 was published one month after Amazing Fantasy #15, despite the same cover date.

    With more digging, he learns that all titles in the Marvel Universe were aligned in November 1971, when the Group B titles “skipped a month.” For example, Avengers #92 is cover dated September, and Avengers #93 carries a November date, bypassing October. Nice work Keith.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  15. Another great post, men! And the more bows to Not Brand Ecch, the better!

    How can you wrong with anything John Buscema does? Brother Sal was always one of my faces growing up, but John was more dramatic for sure.

    An issue when nothing happens in a Spidey? No way! Well, not until the early 200s at least....

    Glenn, I don't know where you find this stuff, but it's great!

    1. Not good to type this late while watching JAWS on cable and drinking wine....Sal was one of my faves, not faces....Silly auto spell check....

    2. Tura-

      I'm getting so pumped about that new JAWS blu-ray coming in August! There were some rumblings that Best Buy would have it out for 4th of July but that proved to be rumors, unfortunately.

  16. While reading this weeks post I just realized that Fantastic Four #63 was the oldest comic book that I've ever owned. One of my favorites since it was nice to see the Thing win a match against the durable Sandman.

    John Scoleri - Big lol on the faculty photo update! Sadly, my photo isn't that far off. I did a double take and for a brief moment thought that I may have emailed you a picture of me at work from a long time ago. Even though this is a comic book blog, I'm a bit surprised you didn't pick a photo for yourself from Star Wars or at least one of that 'lizard dude' from Battle Beyond the Stars.

    turafish- Thanks for reminding me as it has been a tradition for me the last three years on the 4th of July to get drunk watching Jaws.

  17. Tom - I started with some photos and some comic panels, and decided I should stick with photos of Marvel characters. Otherwise you would have seen me as Baron Karza or a stormtrooper, and Pete would have been Uncle Creepy.

    And Glenn started off as Galactus, which seemed appropriate, until he suggested his photo. Just to be clear - we would never characterize Glenn as "as without thought as [he is] without voice."

  18. Re: Dan Adkins as major league Swipe Artist -- it's true. He was clearly a rock-solid draftsman in his own right, with bags of innate drawing skills, but for some reason he felt the need to ape other artists' work. In the beginning he was very much into cloning Wood, but he eventually "assimilated" figures and backgrounds from lots of other artists. I'll say this for him, he got pretty good at covering his tracks, adding enough of his own style on top of the swipes that the finished product was fairly seamless (Dick Giordano had a knack for that too). There's a full-page shot of Ka-Zar kicking Gemini in a later ASTONISHING TALES that I always liked -- only to discover that it's based on a Jack Davis panel from MAD, of all things :)

  19. Upcoming episodes of "The Man From S.W.I.P.E." will feature special guest stars Ed Emshwiller, Virgil Finlay, and Ben Casey. :)

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  20. Master Pete: in my case, your chosen photo doesn't do me justice. Of course I could only hope to look like Chris Hemsworth or Thor. However, I'll humbly abide by the appearance you've chosen to give me!

    1. Professor Jim-

      All the blame for the pics goes to Professor John. You think I'd have picked Stark? More like Irving Forbush!

  21. Is this the most comments we've ever had on a single post? (Wait, there's another one--d'oh!)

    Seriously, Glenn, you have outdone yourself (no easy feat) by providing a solution, albeit a second-hand one, to the cover-date mystery. I had already sensed that with enough originals in hand, I could detect those Group A and Group B patterns that Keith documented. But alas, most of my stuff from this era is reprints, except for my fragile old DAREDEVIL and STRANGE TALES issues.

    Another manifestation of said mystery, if I haven't mentioned it already, is that comics with the same cover date can have different Bullpen pages. Since I often like to quote from the Bullpen Bulletins in my posts, this can be tricky. But I prefer to make a virtue out of a necessity, and ascribe the item to whichever month most suits my purposes. :-)

    I am tremendously honored by my faculty photo.