Wednesday, November 2, 2011

August 1964: Kraven!

The Avengers #7

Our Story

Lots of subplots this issue: Iron Man is suspended, presumably without pay, from playing in The Avengers' treehouse for ignoring a call from his team (see Tales of Suspense #56 for details-Pesky Pete); The Executioner and The Enchantress are exiled from Asgard and sent to earth as punishment for attacking Thor (in Journey Into Mystery #103); Steve Rogers (aka Captain America) is brooding endlessly over the death of Bucky Barnes; and Baron Zemo, still smarting from his defeat last issue, is sitting atop his jungle throne, raising taxes and plotting ways of bringing down Captain America. All stories collide when Enchantress and Executioner team up with Zemo to put the hurt on Cap and Thor. Unable to shake off her wanton ways, Thor falls victim to The Enchantress' spell and attacks The Avengers, believing them to be evil villains. Meanwhile, Cap heads to South America to confront Zemo.

JS: We'll teach you for not being available, Iron Man. By not calling on you the next time we need you. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

PE: Why is Odin effectively punishing us by banishing the terrible twosome to earth? He must have some inkling that the first thing these two would do is go after Thor.

JS: I'm guessing they weren't there the last time he called them.

Our sentiments exactly!
PE: Some Giant-Man rule changing here. When Thor attacks and destroys the 'copter carrying Hank Pym and The Wasp, Giant-Man becomes a forty-foot tall Even-Gianter-Man, but the strain of enlarging completely poops him out. So just how high can this guy go (you've seen how low if you read his monthly title)? Stay tuned, true believers.

JS: Clearly that's the cause of his being burn-out. God knows I'm burnt out from following his adventures.

PE: Iron Man, sitting at home plugged into the wall and the boob tube, sees a newscast of the Giant-Man/Thor brawl and decides "banishment or no banishment--the time has come for Iron man to enter the scene again!" Sheesh, if my buddies banished me like these costumed idiots did, I'd let them duke it out and then take over the treehouse all by myself. There are lots of other team-less heroes around to start a new supergroup: The Iron Men, co-starring Doctor Strange, Rick Jones and Willie Lumpkin. And, correct me if I'm wrong but isn't that a cigarette in Tony Stark's hand in the panels below? In a kid's comic book? It would certainly cure his bad heart.

Cancer stick or carrot stick? You be the judge

JS: Yeah, Is Stark a narcissist or an altruistic hero? And what's up with Cap's taking on a roomful of wrestlers?

PE: How is it that The Enchantress' powers extend to causing a cave-in (around Captain America) thousands of miles away? I didn't get that memo.

Jack: Her powers work pretty well on me. She is one sweet dish.

PE: Talk about Odin being irresponsible. Thor does just about the same thing at the conclusion of this epic when he swings a "time warp" around the fleeing vehicle of the three villains. When Giant-Man asks the Thunder God where the ship will end up, Thor shrugs and murmurs "Hell if I know." What if the ship appears in 1776, or Normandy, or Hugh Hefner's Mansion circa 1953? Think of all the great things done for mankind that might be sidetracked.

Fantastic Four #29

Our Story

Ridiculed and pelted with lettuce on Yancy Street, The Fantastic Four are wondering what they've done to deserve such poor treatment. But The Gang is the least of The Four's worries when they're kidnapped by The Red Ghost and his smart monkeys and flown to the moon. There The Ghost unceremoniously dumps the team on the surface, thinking they'll suffocate in minutes. Luckily, Sue Storm is able to hold fresh air in her invisible shield long enough for them to find the home of The Watcher. There, Reed Richards hatches a plan to bring down The Ghost.

PE: An interesting experiment at least. Not enough of the Yancy Street Gang. I think they'd be more exciting than The Red Ghost.

JS: They certainly couldn't be less exciting. I know the golden age of the FF is coming... but seriously, how many more issues do we have to wait?

PE: The Four get stuck without air on the moon but luckily Sue Storm can keep up her invisible field for as long as it takes The Thing to punch a hole into the home of The Watcher. Technical question: if you punch a hole in the wall, doesn't the oxygen leak out? Just askin'.

JS: Everybody say it with me now - unstable molecules!

PE: Stuck on the moon with no way off. What will we do? Deus ex Machina to the rescue.

JS: Honestly, did you expect any less?

Journey Into Mystery #107

Our Story

A French chemist named Paul Duval accidentally spills a compound on his hand and his appendage turns to stone. Soon he discovers that anything he touches turns to stone for a period of one hour – including himself!! While in his stone state, he maintains mobility but everything he turns to stone does not. After amusing himself with petty crimes, Duval sets his sight on bigger things – namely IMMORTALITY. Believing that possessing the Hammer of Thor will give him eternal life, the Grey Gargoyle (as Duval calls himself) plans to turn the Thunder God to stone and steal his weapon.

Duval sees Thor head to Don Blake’s office so he seeks the Thunder God in the Dr.’s lair. The battle begins. Taking the fight to the streets, the Gargoyle gets close enough to turn Thor to stone, but can’t lift his hammer – which in 60 seconds turns back to a walking stick and frees Thor from the spell.

Later . . . Don Blake hatches a daring plan to defeat Duval. Borrowing an advanced projection device from Tony Stark, Blake mounts it on a motorcycle and proceeds to cast an image of Thor in the city skies.

Soon it catches the eye of the Grey Gargoyle who pursues “Thor” until realizing it is a hoax. Duval chases the discovered Blake right off the pier into the Hudson River. Too heavy to float, the Grey Gargoyle finds his new home at the bottom of the river and Blake is proclaimed a HERO!

Tales of Asgard continues to introduce intriguing characters. This time it is Karnilla the Norn Queen a magical mistress of EVIL. Loki, seeking to harm Balder the Brave whom Odin has ordered all living things to protect, learns from Karnilla that mistletoe is immune to the pledge. However, while a dart of the plant could harm Balder, Karnilla has sworn not to and prevents Loki’s weapon from its target.

PE: Don Blake is agonizing because his girlfriend, the lovely and supremely intelligent Jane Foster, believes he betrayed Thor and therefore loathes the lame doc. He can't figure out how to change the girl's mind so what does he do? Changes into Thor and then tells Jane he's here to find that scumbag doctor who ratted him out. I think the doc should come at it from a different angle.

JS: The saddest thing is that none of this is going to change the spunky lame doc. By next issue, I assume they'll be right back to he/she doesn't understand me thought balloons.

PE: I love that panel when Jane tells Thor that, no matter what her weakling boss has done, she can't help but love him. Kirby perfectly captures the "You what?" look on Thor's face. I'm not sure the effect was supposed to be for laughs but sometimes the best entertainment comes from mistakes, right? Priceless!

PE: Thor's glide through the sky screaming "she loves me" at innocent bystanders is a hoot as well. It's no wonder his pop doesn't want him anywhere near Jane Foster. Well, that and the kids they'd produce.

PE: What possible motive could The Grey Gargoyle have for "stoning" his fellow airline travelers? He wants to stay on the down low so he creates an incident. Again, there's not much rational thinking behind the scenes on this one. I like The Grey Gargoyle though his origin is a bit spotty. We find out, in a quickie flashback, that he was a disgruntled chemist who accidentally spilled a liquid on himself that turned his body to stone. On the next page, he's magically turned back to human form. Does his touch turn his body to stone for only one hour as it does others? He's slow and bulky, but I'm sure that will change over the years (in one hilarious caption, Don Blake outruns The Gargoyle "despite his lameness." He resembles a Grey Mole Man, but that title would confuse readers, I think.

JB: Is it one hour or twenty-four that the stone spell lasts? It says both in the story. I wonder if the Grey Gargoyle is supposed to drown when he returns to flesh and blood? Of course, as you point out, Pete, he doesn't.

JS: I give Stan credit for the creation of an interesting, Gorgon-like villain, but the short term nature of his capabilities pretty much softens any impact he should have. Even with that, GG is one of the cooler villains we've seen in quite a while.

PE: Some really wild angles in a few of these panels. Despite the average plotline, laughable dialogue (a police chief insists that his men turn the flamethrowers on The Gargoyle as "flame will turn stone to lava" and a cab driver calls Blake "a spunky, lame doctor"), rushed origin, and ludicrous motorcycle chase, I'd have to say that this is the best, most exciting Thor story I've read in quite a while. Now and then, the kid in me cries out "Just enjoy it already!" The ending would be quite tragic as well if we didn't know that (SPOILER ALERT) The Grey Gargoyle will return in JIM #113.

JB: Yeah, this is a side of Don Blake we haven't seen before. But still, you gotta give him credit, he defeats the Gargoyle where Thor didn't. I like the bigger panel where Blake and Duvall are going off the pier; we get a taste of the full-page ones coming soon.

JS: The Tales of Asgard just gives them an excuse to bring Loki back. Which doesn't do much to offset the scenes of Balder prancing through the forest with his animal friends.

JB: No Loki behind things, that is, until the Tales Of Asgard. However, we get more on the story of Balder, and meet the lovely Norn Queen. Perhaps Balder's purity is why she soon falls madly in love with him, though he can't, or won't, pair with such a sworn enemy of Asgard.

The Amazing Spider-Man #15

Our Story

Spider-Man first foe, The Chameleon, is back but he's learned his lesson since the first time he went up against Spidey. Knowing he doesn't have the strength or agility that the wall-crawler has, The Chameleon hires Kraven, The Hunter, the biggest game hunter on the planet. Coincidentally, Kraven is looking for something to test his prowess and, after watching Spidey capture some bad guys, he's convinced he's found his prey. During their first battle, Spidey wins the upper hand so Kraven fights dirty, scratching the web-spinner with an exotic poison which messes with his equilibrium and renders him easy prey for Kraven. Or so The Hunter thinks. A hunt ensues in a darkened park and Spidey is shackled with Kraven's ultra-powerful vises. Only a sharp scientific brain and lots of gooey web-fluid saves the day.

PE: Call me crazy but about 15 years ago Sylvester Stallone would have made a great Kraven, The Hunter, don't you think?

JS: I don't think he'd do any worse job today. In fact, an older, weathered Kraven might be more impressive.

PE: Some super-villain The Chameleon is. He's afraid of Spider-Man, but wants him out of the way so that he can get on with his plans, so he hires Kraven to do his dirty work for him. They've still not let us in on The Chameleon's real identity. I wonder if Stan had any plan for a surprise unveiling ala The Goblin. I've been a fan of Kraven for years but didn't know (or didn't remember) that he got his strength from "a secret potion, stolen from the witch-doctor of a hidden African tribe."

JS: Peter (Parker, that is) has enough trouble with two women in his life, and now Aunt May is trying to set him up with the Watson girl. I tell ya, the nerd can't catch a break.

PE: Betty Brant, typical Marvel female airhead. Feigning anger when Liz shows up to drool all over Peter and then wondering later why Parker ignores her. Add to that, the brightest bulb at Midtown High, Liz Allen, who scolds Flash Thompson with (and I quote): "Anybody can be a loudmouth like you-- but it takes brains to be smart." When exactly did Women's Lib become popular? Hopefully somewhere around 1965. I can't take much more of these dopey gals. There is light at the end of the tunnel though, true believers as the panel to my right shows.

JS: I can't quite get a handle on Kraven's outfit. Is that a Lion print vest? Or is he actually wearing a vest made of a split lion's head with the mane flowing over his shoulders? I'm not sure which is creepier.

PE: At last, a classic villain, Kraven, who also gets a worthy first entry in this mythos. Too many times, we've seen these great villains (especially in this title) bow with sub-par adventures. Not so here. It's got a very good hunt through Central Park and a third-tier villain, The Chameleon, actually serves a part in advancing the plot. Our last shot of The Chameleon and The Hunter are as they're boarding a boat, deported. That deportation won't last very long and the boys will be back (tag team intact, but this time battling a different hero) in a couple months. Stay tuned.

Daredevil #3

Our Story

The Owl is a crooked financial wizard who has framed his own accountant for his misdeeds and wants to be The Overlord of Crime. After the poor accountant steps in front of a speeding car and commits suicide, the Owl is taken down to the police station, where he arrogantly exclaims that the case against him is so weak that he can win with a lawyer he picks out of the phone book. He selects Nelson & Murdock, and Matt Murdock agrees to take the case. Matt gets The Owl off for a day, and the rotund villain retires to his aerie, an owl-shaped edifice perched atop the Palisades Cliffs across the river in New Jersey. He hires a couple of henchmen named Sad Sam (a marksman) and The Ape (a wrestler) to help him; he also has the ability to "fly" by gliding along on air currents. Owl and his henchmen go to the office next door to Nelson and Murdock, where Daredevil breaks in and a fight ensues. Karen Page wanders in and is taken hostage--Daredevil has to relent, and both he and Karen are taken back to The Owl's aviary, where they are imprisoned in giant bird cages while The Owl perches on a branch to consider his next move. Daredevil manages to escape with Karen; he wrestles with The Owl but is dumped into the river below the aviary by a trick staircase. The Owl glides down to his waiting speedboat, but disappears under the water due to a well-placed billy club. The cops apprehend his henchmen.

Jack: This may be the best Marvel comic I've read yet. The story is entertaining, the art is engaging, and The Owl is an exotic and cool villain!

PE: Well, the suicide is not something you see every month in Marvel. A bit dark for what is assumed ot be a kid's entertainment. Kudos to Stan on that front. Boy, is that art great. Orlando's easing into this strip after a rough start last issue. Again, it's very reminiscent of his work later on in House of Mystery for DC.

JS: Suicide? I thought the guy was happily doing acrobatics to get down from the building. Why else would he be yelling, "Wheeeeee!" What? Oh, that's Daredevil? Now that you mention it, I guess it would be strange to show the lawyer's body bouncing off the building on his way down. But you have to admit, it would have been more shocking than to say he just walked in front of a car (which still could have been an accident).

Jack: I am a little bit concerned about Matt Murdock's suit. First, he rolls it into a ball and bounces it along as he races around town. Then he makes a hood-like pouch to keep it in (shoes and all) when he is dressed as Daredevil. Do you mean to tell me that he's going around fighting crime with a business suit and dress shoes in a pouch on his back? I need to look into this for my next business trip.

JS: It's all about the unstable molecules, I tell ya! Okay, if we're going to talk about outfits, let's discuss DD's. I mean, I know the guy's blind and all, but couldn't someone have told him he grabbed a yellow bolt of fabric by mistake? I can't wait for him to soak the costume in red dye to get it to the color that we all know and love.

PE: The Owl has the coolest, if a bit showy, "hideout." The Aerie is a thing of Orlando-ish beauty. We very seldom run a full page of art but this defies description.

JS: I guess in the days before Google maps you could have a big fortress built on the river right across from the big city without anyone noticing.

Jack: Karen Page and Matt Murdock are quickly turning into a Young Romance comic. He loves her but thinks she can't love him because he's blind. She loves him but can't express it. And now Daredevil tells her "I've seen you in my dreams." Holy Lois Lane!

PE: Well, Matt may be blind but at least he isn't lame!

Tales of Suspense #56

Our Story

Feeling sorry for himself, handsome billionaire Tony Stark decides superheroing is for the birds and stashes his armor away to take a vacation, even ignoring a call to Avengers headquarters (this will result in disciplinary action in Avengers #7). The offtime is limited however as there's a new menace in town: The Unicorn, a (COMMIE ALERT) Russian agent in a suit designed by The Crimson Dynamo, who's come to America to capture Iron Man and bring him back behind the Iron Curtain. To that end, he's equipped with a Power Horn that can destroy anything The Unicorn trains it on. When Iron Man becomes a bit elusive, The Unicorn blackmails the Iron Avenger into surrendering by planting a time bomb in a populated Stark factory. Only the quick thinking of Tony Stark can get our hero out of this mess.

PE: Stan introduces the story he'd microwave every few months afterwards: the disillusioned superhero who quits and turns his back on mankind. Usually, the hero would take an issue or two to resolve inner conflicts but here Tony Stark whines, cries, becomes an asshole, berates his employees, dates a bimbo, sees what the world is left to without Iron Man, and becomes Shellhead reborn, with new energy, all in two pages.

JS: You've summed it up nicely. Unfortunately, one of the also-ran super villains was called in to pull him back from the brink. The Unicorn is not exactly a guy that's going to convince me not to give up the super-hero day job.

PE: Marvel No-Prizes weren't being handed out just yet but if they were, there'd be a lot of takers this issue. The Unicorn talks to Iron Man as if he knows he's actually Tony Stark. He refers to Tony Stark's factory and secretary as belonging to Iron Man and says that if Shellhead doesn't find the bomb The Unicorn planted, he'll see his "life's work go up in flames." Too many titles for Stan to write this month, methinks.

PE: The Unicorn traps Iron Man into giving his word that he'll board that plane to Russia if The Unicorn deactivates the bomb but Iron Man has a trick up his own well-armored sleeve and escapes from the plane after take-off. He did, after all, only promise to board the plane and if The Unicorn is stupid enough to let I.M. get on fully armored and weaponized, that's his problem.

JS: You can only get away with that sort of tomfoolery once, unless the villains are really stu— Oh, wait. Okay, fine.

PE: Stan just can't help leaving us with another dose of As the Marvel Turns in our last few panels. As with every strip Stan Lee wrote at this time, the hero and his secretary/nurse/co-worker/partner play an endless game of "He loves me, she loves me not." Only the names are changed.

PE: Another "Tale of the Watcher" backs up this issue's main feature. We learn from "The Watcher's Sacrifice" that even tall bald aliens can fall in love. Unfortunately, one of the many sacrifices The Watcher had to make was companionship as he is meant to wander through the galaxy, observing other races. In our next-to-last panel, we get a shot of Johnny Storm looking through a "Fantastic Four scrapbook" with candids of The Watcher. Who took these pics? Did Reed hold the camera and tell The Watcher, "Hey big guy, how about a couple Polaroids before you disappear? Hey, Sue, you stand on the right, Johnny..."? This interests me more than battles in far off galaxies.

Strange Tales #123

Human Torch

Our Story

Master mechanic Abner Jenkins has designed a helmet, wings and magno-suction grippers that allow him to feel powerful, fly, and pick up heavy objects. Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm pick up girlfriends Doris Evans and Alicia Masters and take the Fantasti-Car to fly to a drive-in restaurant for a date. The Beetle meets them there and steals a cash register with his beetle grippers. They fight and he flies off. The Torch follows by air; Ben, by motorcycle. Beetle burrows underground to hide until the coast is clear. At the World's Fair in New York, Beetle steals more cash registers and scatters the cash among a crowd of onlookers to thwart pursuit by Johnny and Ben. The Torch creates a flaming wheel to dig below ground and ferret out Beetle; the Things grabs him and the cops take him away.
Jack: Nice to see art by Carl Burgos who, as Stan points out, drew The Torch way back in the 1940s. Stan and Carl even have a cameo in the story's last panel.

PE: Well, he does The Torch just fine but his Ben Grimm looks like early Kirby Thing.

Stan Lee and Carl Burgos
at the World's Fair
PE: I like that The Torch flames off when The Beetle throws a cash register at him so that the proprietor's money won't incinerate (but then won't Johnny be in trouble when the register hits him in his non-fiery midsection). Nice of Johnny to think of small business owners but then The Thing decides he's in a hurry and can't open the front door so he tears a wall out instead. So much for saving money for the little guy.

Jack: Adding The Thing certainly adds life to a Torch story.

PE: Don't get carried away now, Professor Jack! Look for The Beetle to pop up next in The Amazing Spider-Man #21.

Dr. Strange

Our Story

Loki decides to trick Dr. Strange into helping him defeat Thor. He sends a spirit type body to Earth, telling Dr. Strange that the evil Thor has put him in chains. He needs Thor's hammer to be set free. The good doctor creates a roving hand that zips off and grabs Thor's hammer; meanwhile, Dr. Strange figures out that Loki is a bad guy. Realizing that the jig is up, Loki attacks Dr. Strange, who uses some trickery of his own to hold off the evil god and return Thor's hammer to its rightful owner. Loki is about to finish off Dr. Strange when he senses Thor approaching and hotfoots it back to Asgard. Dr. Strange ends with a little plug for The Avengers.

JS: The great Marvel Universe Mix & Match of 1964 continues—we've got the Doc, we've got Loki, and we've got Thor all under one roof!

Jack: This is a goofy story but it was a nice break from battles with Nightmare and Baron Mordo.

JS: The thought of Doctor Strange going up against Loki sounds like a great idea, but it turns out to be pretty much the same as the other Thor/Loki stories.

Jack: Ditko's renderings of Thor and Loki are not ones I'd like to remember.
JS: Yeah, the Thor image on the splash was pretty silly looking.

Tales to Astonish #58

Our Story

Captain America pays a personal visit to Hank and Jan to let them know that The Avengers need them to investigate a disturbance in Bora-Boru. It seems the natives live in fear of a thirty foot tall "Colossus" who lives on a peak in the middle of the jungle. When the giant demands a human sacrifice, the natives get word to Avengers headquarters. Giant-Man, testing out his new mental shrinkage helmet, is dying to take on the challenge but poor Jan just wants to take a vacation at Lake Placid. The decidedly un-Dynamic Duo fly to the jungle where they are immediately attacked by the Colossus who, it turns out, is actually an alien from Vega Superior here on earth to collect samples of human life.

JS: Let's see, rather than taking a pill, I'll just think it and make it so. I'll be interested to see how this capability is utilized in the future.

PE: I might have been napping (believe me, a good possibility that one) when Stan introduced the terrible twosome's "insect powers," including the ability to run up the sides of cliffs.

JS: Insect powers? Do we need to revisit the origin again? On second thought, let's not and say we did.                                                             

PE: Another sample of what the bottom of the barrel tasted like in 1964, devoid of anything entertaining. Dick Ayers' art seems to be deteriorating from month to month and it ain't a pretty sight. 

JS: Snidely Whiplash (aka The Magician) makes an appearance in the back-up tale.

Also this month

Modeling with Millie #32
Patsy and Hedy #95
Patsy Walker #116
Rawhide Kid #41
Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos #9


The Rawhide Kid is shot and run out of town by Keno Barkerton and the deadly Barkerton Gang. Once he's done licking his wounds, The Kid has a hankerin' for revenge so he spends months tracking down Barkerton. Resting in Tombstone Flats, he overhears a woman begging the townfolk to search for her husband in the feared Tombstone Territory (where a man goes in but never comes out), her pleas falling on deaf ears. Being that he's the purest heart in the West, The Kid volunteers to track down the woman's husband, leading him into the Tombstone Territory (where a man goes in but never comes out). There he finds "The Tyrant of Tombstone Territory" (Rawhide Kid #41), the one and only Keno Barkerton, who has struck gold and is enslaving wanderers through the territory to mine his lode. In the few months since his run-in with The Kid and hitting the big time, Keno has declared himself a king and built an impossibly big wall to keep the law out. Rawhide is forced to mine, but that doesn't last and, before long, he's engineered a mutiny. Used to be I looked forward to Jack Heller's art jobs but here all we get are unfinished sketches and minimal backgrounds.

Stan Lee teaches the Indian language
Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos are given the ultimate task: their "Mission - Capture Adolf Hitler" (#9). Aided by an underground rebel, the Howlers are able to sneak into Hitler's headquarters. There they meet up with a little trouble in the form of Baron Strucker (see Sgt. Fury #5), before Fury is able to "convince" the Baron that he should cooperate. The boys manage to capture Der Feuhrer and whisk him away in a plane to London, only to find that they've actually kidnapped one of Hitler's doubles. I hate to be all doom and gloom but the glory that was Sgt Fury in its first seven issues was the artwork of Jack Kirby and the fine dialogue of Stan Lee. Last issue's surrender to Dick Ayers wasn't so bad but this issue is a letdown. Kirby's detailed backgrounds and characters give way to Ayers' solid reds or yellows and interchangeable faces. In some panels, the only way you can tell these characters apart is by their mustache or clothing. The inking (by usually reliable George Bell) is reduced to outlines (and heavy black outlines as well) giving the illusion that the Howlers are appearing in front of a blue screen in a movie. Some figures go from thin to bloated in a matter of a few panels. The story is awful as well. The snappy one-liners are given over to cliched dialogue and unintelligible drawls (Reb's "Right naow, ah'd rather feel la'k a li'l ol' nobody 'way back home" for example). A monstrous collapse of a great title. In the letters page, Dave Cockrum writes in to praise Stan and Jack for handling the racial issues in #6 so well. I wonder what Cockrum thought of this issue.


  1. It seems like each month that goes by finds a more exciting Marvel Universe. Characters are crossing over everywhere, and each issue of Spider-Man introduces another great villain. Knowing what's coming, it's neat to see The Watcher pop up more often, and I have to wonder if Tarantino saw this issue of Sgt. Fury at some point and it bubbled around in his subconscious.

  2. I second Jack's motion re: the ever-effervescent Marvel Universe. Always had a soft spot for the Grey Gargoyle, due especially to an early issue of MARVEL TEAM-UP (mebbe #13?) in which he squared off against Spidey and Cap. Also vaguely remember them doing some interesting things with the Unicorn (most notably his death, if I recall correctly) years later in Shellhead's own book. But this is all 20/20 hindsight.