The Masked Marauder is out to recruit Stilt-Man as his new partner in crime. To impress the hydraulic tough guy, the Marauder shows him his latest invention: a helicopter with a force field around it. If anything touches the force field, it will be evaporated into nothingness. The Masked fiend comes up with a plan to kidnap Matt, Foggy, and Karen, since he is convinced that one of them knows the secret identity of Daredevil. Meanwhile, as Daredevil searches for Stilt-Man, he comes across Spider-Man fighting some thugs. He helps Spidey subdue them and lets him know that Stilt-Man is on the loose. Double D retires back to the law office and Stilt-Man is able to kidnap him, Karen, and Foggy. He puts them aboard the helicopter where the Masked Marauder is waiting. After some brief interrogation, Matt tells the villains that Daredevil is his twin brother Mike. Believing him, the Marauder sends Stilt-Man to find Mike Murdock. It’s not an easy task looking for a made up person and eventually Stilts crosses paths with Spider-Man. The two fight it out as the Marauder attempts to throw Matt off the helicopter. Quickly changing into his Daredevil costume under the helicopter, Double D climbs back on board to give the Marauder a beat down. During the skirmish, the Marauder gets unmasked before he falls out of the helicopter and hits its force field, accidentally killing himself. Spider-Man is unable to take down Stilt-Man so he takes a powder. Unfortunately for Stilts, Daredevil happens to be passing by in the helicopter and is able to subdue him for the cops to arrest.
|Colan is veering dangerously close to Wally Wood territory...|
Tom: So much to like and so much to dislike in another issue of Daredevil. While it’s no great loss that the Marauder met his demise, I kind of wish the title of this issue lived up to what it advertised as I can’t stand the Mike Murdock alter-ego angle. On the good side, the action and art was great as usual. Is it me or did Spider-Man seem a little out of character in this story?
Jack: I love the cover, with separate drawings of DD, Stilt-Man, the Masked Marauder, and Foggy and Karen—with word balloons! The story may be called “Mike Murdock Must Die!” but the goofy brother never appears—or dies. There is no good reason for Spider-Man to show up, and of course the little matter of his letter of a couple of issues ago is never mentioned. As usual, DD does some impossible things, and the death of the Masked Marauder is a surprise, but this story—as busy as it is—never seems to go anywhere.
Fantastic Four 61
The Mighty Thor 129
Thor, his hammer stolen by the trolls in their underground battle on Earth, has sixty seconds before he reverts to the human form of Don Blake. At that moment a subway train heads his way, and curtains appear to be drawing for the Thunder God and his lady the stunning Sif. It is her magical power however, to bypass time and space, that saves the day, as they depart not a second too soon. Her accuracy unerring, the two arrive below Asgard in the troll kingdom. In the realm above them, the war wages madly; the trolls have weapons of power and complexity that Odin realizes must come from some other source. Even the power of his magic scepter, which decimates countless trolls, is rendered useless by the force of Orikal’s uti-force cannon. Undiscouraged, the All-Father leads his warriors forth, no matter what the cost. A more fortunate turn of events takes place below, as Thor and Sif find his hammer. The bizarre power of Orikal has created a duplicate of Mjolnir, now in the hands of Ulik. Thor’s own mallet returns to him now, and once again, he and Ulik, more evenly matched than ever, renew their clash. Sif dispatches an assembly line of lesser trolls, until King Geirrodur summons Orikal to turn the tide in their favour. Thor and Sif and are raised high against a rock wall by an unseen force, open targets for a rain of weapons. Thor’s answer—smash open the wall that holds them! In so doing the come face to face with Orikal, the awesome alien held prisoner in a well of flames in the cavern beyond. He (or it?) reveals that he has no real interest in the struggle between Asgard and the trolls; he is merely doing what Geirrodur demands, in hope the troll king will grant him his freedom. Before the Asgardians can learn any more, Ulik enters the scene. This time however, it is Orikal that the troll has eyes for, knowing that until the alien is destroyed, Ulik can never be the mightiest of all. The super troll unintentionally reveals the lever that controls the flames from below, and before Ulik can increase the flames to maximum power, Thor knocks him out with a mighty throw of his hammer. Thor then turns off the flames, after telling Orikal to withdraw his aid from the trolls. Such a promise is scarcely necessary, as Orikal is a creature of honour, and before he disappears in a shimmer of energy, he compliments the Asgardians on their spirit. Thor and Sif spare the remaining trolls, including Geirrodur, and return to Asgard, where the troll army, without all the magic weaponry, have fled to the depths below.
In Tales Of Asgard, Thor and the Warriors Three find that the Mystic Mountain of Mogul is underground, in a giant crystal stalagmite.
JB: Interesting that the duplicate Mjolnir apparently wasn’t as heavy as the original. Not only could Ulik lift it, but Sif as well, when she quietly relieved it from the unconscious troll. When the two exit the invasion tunnel back to Asgard above, the hammer doesn’t seem to be present. Maybe it vanished like the other instruments of Orikal. A pity this cool alien disappeared so soon, his brief appearance was very memorable.
PE: For those who think I may have taken leave of my senses last week by proclaiming The Mighty Thor "the best Marvel title of 1967," I present this issue as further evidence. If anything, this installment doubles the intensity and excitement. I can just imagine "The King" at his drawing board smiling and laughing at his own inventions. There's a lot of violence here as well; Comics Code-approved of course, but Sif gets in what looks to be a beheading (an act I haven't seen in a Marvel comic to date) and she and Thor put down a wave of trolls in spectacular fashion. The Asgardian goddess is one tough chick: in our finale, Geirroddur vows to regroup and then hit Asgard with all he's got and Sif tells the Thunder God he should off the whole lot of them right then and there and avoid future problems. That panel of the dynamic duo bursting through a wall and facing Orikal for the first time, his back to us and his throne encircled by fire, is goosebump-inducing. On the other hand, Ulik hooking himself up to the switch on the wall (!) that controls the flames around Orikal's throne had me larfing out loud for several Marvel Age minutes. That "quality shield" bestowed below could just as easily have been awarded last issue as well.
Tales to Astonish 90
Namor, The Sub-Mariner
While Namor has been victorious over the last few challengers to his throne, another old enemy has been planning an attack. Byrrah is his name and Namor believes him to be a harmless opponent from years past. He even put Byrrah in charge of producing weapons for the military. Byrrah has waited long enough. Going to speak at various public councils, the villain is able to use his amazing speaking powers to turn the people of Atlantis against Namor. He has them believe that their prince is nothing more than a war monger. When Namor hears of this treachery, he confronts Byrrah. The cocky bad guy challenges him to a test of combat under the ancient laws. Namor agrees and the two meet to duke it out. Byrrah outsmarts the Sub-Mariner in a few key tactical battle plans. While the rules say that neither of them shall show up armed for the contest, there is nothing that says they can’t use items in the underwater environment around them to fight. Byrrah had shown up before the bout to rig several items to his advantage, such as putting an explosive in a sea shell. The most deadly of his constructions is putting chemicals on a saw-fish. Once he hurls the fish at Namor and cuts him with it, it causes him to weaken and lose his strength. Eventually, Byrrah punches out Subby, becoming the winner and new king! Namor is demoralized. He’s not so much upset with the loss as with how all the people of Atlantis have backed and welcomed Byrrah as their new leader.
Tom: Quite a surprise. While I’ve never claimed to be a Sub-Mariner expert, I was pretty sure that I knew all of the villains in his underwater rogues' gallery. Byrrah came out of nowhere and managed to beat the star of this title in basically half a comic book story. Good for him. Namor gets a little too cocky now and then and it will be interesting to see how he handles this defeat. The best part was the strategy the villain used to come out on top. Byrrah didn’t really cheat, he just bent the rules.
Jack: Byrrah, which sounds like a noise you would make by sticking out your tongue, is said to be Namor’s cousin and the emperor’s stepson. Ever the diligent Marvel U professor, I went straight to the internet, only to find myself trapped in the web of confusion that surrounds such sites as the Grand Comics Database, Wikipedia and Comic Vine. Wikipedia has Byrrah first appearing in Marvel Mystery Comics 82 (May 1947), while the Grand Comics Database has him first showing up in Sub-Mariner 35 (August 1954), which is after what I would consider the Golden Age. The emperor appears to be Emperor Thakorr, who may have been mentioned in Marvel Mystery Comics 1 (May 1939) or maybe not until the 1990s. Wikipedia says that this emperor was Namor’s grandfather on his mother’s side. As Peter says, I really need a vacation.
Jack: I really do learn things doing this unpaid slave labor. I learned from Dr. Strange what it means to crave a boon, and now I learned what plebiscite means.
|The blond thought this was a go go bar.|
Jack: As for the story, it’s too much talk and not enough action. The people of Atlantis are as fickle as the citizens of Gotham City over in Batman—they turn on Namor in a heartbeat! The letters page this issue includes a note by Bill Mantlo, future Marvel writer and later unfortunate victim of a rollerblading accident.
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
After taking the Q-ray machine and its creator, Anton Trojak, aboard the Helicarrier for a test, Fury is attacked by two Hydra killers in his quarters, and defeats them using infra-red contact lenses. His most trusted men are hypnotized by “Bronson,” while Fury is subdued with an electrical shock (from which he is partially protected by his electronic absorber) by “Trojak,” another incognito Hydra agent, and tied to their aphonic bomb. Escaping just as the AUTOFAC chamber is destroyed in a soundless explosion, Nick battles his entranced agents, but even a brainwashed Sitwell cannot turn against S.H.I.E.L.D., and Fury overloads the Q-ray menacing them before Laura is found, alive, in the wreckage of the AUTOFAC chamber.
The Amazing Spider-Man 47
In a flashback sequence, we learn that The Green Goblin had offered a bounty of $20,000 to Kraven, the Hunter for the capture of The Amazing Spider-Man and used his own alter ego, Norman Osborn, as his front. Of course, as we saw in Kraven's last appearance (issue #34-Paste-Pot Pete), that didn't go as planned. Now that he's been released from prison, Kraven wants two things: his money from The Goblin and revenge on the "only living being who's ever defeated" him, Spider-Man. In the alter ego section of Spider-Man's life, Peter Parker and his roommate are visited by Norman Osborn, who doesn't yet remember that just recently he had unmasked Spidey and threatened to kill him. We also get to attend the swingin' going away party for Flash Thompson. An uninvited guest to the party, Kraven, busts in and attempts to take Harry as a hostage in order to draw out Norman. Peter does his best "I'll get the police" routine and comes back in his fighting gear. Kraven uses his new weapon to neutralize Spider-Man's powers but becomes distracted by the arrival of Norman Osborn before he can deliver the killing blow. When he confronts Osborn and relaizes the man has no idea what The Hunter is talking about, he loses the thrill of the hunt and hightails it before Spidey can regain his powers.
PE: Peter Parker may be able to swing from rooftops and beat up bad guys but when it comes to dancing, he's bad, dad! That appears to be some kind of 1920's hip-shaker he's involved in, one I'm not that familiar with. I'm still having a problem associating this Gwen Stacy with the one I grew up with (not in real life, you ninnies, I mean in the funny books). Am I misremembering this girl as being more of the quiet, shy type rather than Mary Jane's clone?
|Nope, that ain't Ditko!|
Tales of Suspense 88
The Mole Man has captured Tony Stark's factory and with it Stark's brand new Atomic Earth Digger, designed to bore through to the center of the earth. That's not all he has since Iron Man and Pepper Potts were also along for the ride. Iron Man must face a mechanical dragon and millions of mindless molemen before he manages to save the day through trickery.
PE: The Mole Man wants Toby's Stark's Atomic Earth Digger so that he and his molemen can dig through to the surface and take over our world. Um, what about using all the holes that are left by the buildings he's been sucking down?
A message from someone claiming to be Cap's long-dead partner Bucky is beamed into Avengers HQ. The Bucky look-alike claims that he was taken prisoner and has been held all these years, against his will, on Sea Gull Isle and only just got away long enough to send out an SOS. Mentally weighing the advantages and disadvantages of a cry for help from a supposedly dead boy who doesn't seem to have aged a day, Cap hops into a Tony Stark jet and heads for Gull Isle. At the same time, a bubble holding Power Man and The Swordsman lands on the Island and a strange voice tells the duo they will be rewarded nicely if they defeat Captain America in battle.
PE: I like Gil Kane a lot but Cap really isn't his character. This story cries out KIRBY!!! with its magnificent machinery and aircraft. Then there's Cap himself, a Kirby character if there ever was one. However, having said that, I got a kick out of this entry. Anything having to do with Cap's World War II days and partner Bucky usually lights my fanboy-fire. Add to that the return of Cap's #1 foe... ah, but that would be spoiling the surprise that will be doled out next issue (although, as Stan Lee notes in the letters column, "half of you have him pegged already!" This story is especially interesting for those who have read "Winter Soldier," an outrageous and implausible, almost DC Elseworlds-ish arc that ran in Captain America back in 2007. In the tale, we learn that Bucky was saved from the plane explosion that supposedly killed him by the crew of a Soviet submarine but is struck with a form of amnesia. He's trained to be a Soviet spy. If you've read (or seen) The Bourne Identity, you can fill in a lot of blanks along the way but to make a long story short, Bucky reappears just before the events of "The Death of Captain America" (which was just about as truthful as any other death on comics) and eventually becomes the new Cap! Though I don't have much time or patience for contemporary comics (nor post-1980 comics in general), I thought "Winter Soldier" was a lot of fun and actually had me haunting my local comic shop for the first time in twenty years.
The Avengers 39
Hawkeye is depressed when h reads in the paper that Black Widow as stolen secret plans for an atomic sub. He doesn’t know that she’s a double agent working for SHIELD! Meanwhile, the Mad Thinker is back with plans to kill The Avengers so he can get his hands on Tony Stark’s gizmos. He sends three new villains out to do his dirty work: Hammerhead defeats Hawkeye, Piledriver takes care of Goliath and the Wasp, and Thunderboot makes quick work of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Hercules appears in the nick of time to free The Avengers, and they turn the tables on the Mad Thinker and his triumvirate of terror.
Jack: I don’t know if it’s Roy Thomas’s writing or George Bell’s inks over Don Heck’s pencils, but this series is getting more enjoyable. Hercules doesn’t hurt—he’s a very entertaining character. The triumvirate of terror isn’t very terrifying, though I did appreciate the big letters on their chests that help identify who’s who.
The older buddy of one of Jean's school chums turns out to have a suit of Cobalt armor in his closet that rivals Iron Man's outfit. When he gets a rap on the noggin, he goes a little crazy and decides to attack Stark HQ. As this is an issue of X-Men and not Tales of Suspense, you can rest assured that our mutant heroes save the day.
JS: Just to be clear, we're basically a bad colorist away from an Iron Man/X-Men crossover, yes?
Also this month
Fantasy Masterpieces #8
Ghost Rider #2
Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #8
Millie the Model #148
Modeling with Millie #53
Rawhide Kid #57
Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos #41