Wednesday, September 5, 2012

April 1968: The One and Only Iron Man and Sub-Mariner!

Captain America 100
Our Story

Knocked unconscious by Baron Zemo, Captain America finds himself wandering down Memory Lane to the time when The Avengers fished him out of the ice and brought him back to the real world (from Avengers #4). Once he comes to, he finds Irma Kruhl (actually - SPOILER ALERT!!! - Agent 13/Sharon Carter) aiming a raygun at his head and vowing to Zemo that Captain America will die. Fortunately, Kruhl is able to pull off a ruse and Cap and The Black Panther (who's along for the ride) are saved. Agent 13/Kruhl manages to win the trust of Baron Zemo long enough to destroy his beloved orbiting death ray satellite but Zemo is far from helpless. He turns his unending mob of henchmen and the deadly Destructon android on the trio but finds that no matter of force will bring the heroes down. In the end, Cap unmasks the madman as a fraud and restores world order.

PE: Zemo's such an evil genius he can't tell when Agent 13/Sharon Carter/Irma Kuhl shoots above Cap's head! He then decides it's not all that important to kill the hero who has foiled his plans time and again when he's got him right in the crosshairs. Then, after that mistake, he broadcasts to the whole room that "my death ray would be nothing more than "space debris" without this main console. Oh, and by the way, Irma, without this gizmo here, the shields around my death ray would evaporate. Any more questions?" After all this inane dialogue, I kid you not, I was convinced Nick Fury, in a Baron Zemo costume, was running an elaborate Doomsday Scenario or some silly nonsense. Oh, and if you're going to unleash a Destructon android on Captain America, you might want to position the On/Off switch somewhere else besides on his stomach. Meanwhile, Captain America shows he's a man so in love that he can't recognize Agent Thirteen when she dons a pair of glasses and ponytail and identifies herself as an agent of SHIELD! I think these two desperately need a vacation together before resuming their romance.

MB:  It begins.  The Bullpen page has heralded 1968 as “the year of Marvel,” and their first major expansion starts as Tales of Suspense morphs into Cap’s solo title, continuity provided by carrying over the Lee/Kirby/Shores creative team from the past two issues.  While a delirious Cap flashes back briefly to his icy imprisonment and discovery by the Avengers, we do not get the full-on origin-retelling seen in this mag’s companion premiere, Incredible Hulk #102. Good to have a whole issue to wrap up this plot; the faux Zemo getting wiped out by “his” own men when they realized they’d been duped reminded me of the Hydra bodyguards who gunned down wimpy Arnold Brown, because they did not believe he was their apparently imposing boss.

PE: Once Cap and Agent 13 join forces against Zemo, the dialogue falls back into the same old "We can't fail. I haven't fought this hard to lose you again" and "If I have to die, may it be with you, my beloved" claptrap it always degenerates into. The worst line uttered by a Marvel hero this month is: "Why is duty such a jealous master? Can it never share the heart -- with love?" Revealing that the bad guy isn't actually Zemo but the Baron's pilot who had studied his master's papers and charts so well he was able to build a Killer Ray Beam from Outer Space seems a bit... oh, I don't know... stupid? It's admirable that the original Zemo was one villain who stayed dead when he was killed (though his son, Helmut, would later pick up the... helmet) but the faux-Baron device is just too hard to swallow. As many complaints as I have with the plot, I have none regarding the art. Inker Syd Shores is the perfect compliment to The King, giving the strip a very 1940s look. Disappointing premiere issue (as far as the story goes) but it gets the loose Tales of Suspense threads out of the way before setting us up for a 4-issue Red Skull arc.

The Amazing Spider-Man 59
Our Story

Now that he's recovered from an extremely vicious strain of amnesia, The Amazing Spider-Man makes his #1 priority seeing the hospital bed-ridden May Parker. This leads to more problems than the lad had expected. Our poor hero has to come up with a quick alibi for the police as to where he's been and, seeing as how The Daily Bugle has plastered their front pages with "Peter Parker Taken Hostage By Spider-Menace!" this seems as good a story as any. Meanwhile, a new menace has come to town in the form of The Brainwasher, an underworld figure who's employed a scientist to perfect a camera that hypnotizes government officials. The plan is to run the government before the villain runs out of film. In a truly shocking finale, The Brainwasher is revealed to be none other than The Kingpin!

A mind-reading doctor!
PE: Peter Parker has always been annoyed that Spider-Man is hunted and perceived of as a bad guy so what's his alibi when he shows up in public after his bout of amnesia? "Spider-Man kidnapped me!" Brilliant! Captain Stacy's obsession with Spider-Man (those Super-Eights of Spidey fighting assorted villains must have been obtained on the grey market) seems a little odd. Since we know that later (SPOILER ALERT!!!) he'll reveal he knows the true identity of Spider-Man, I wonder if the good Captain is fishing when he asks Peter to come 'round to view his collection or if he sincerely just wants another opinion. Either way, Stacy was always a solid character in my book (although his leers at MJ while she's onstage raise a few questions). This seems to be the turning point in the Peter/Gwen relationship, when Mary Jane began to take a back seat (so to speak) in the dame department (her saucy cover solo notwithstanding). These days, Marvel's new writers would have MJ wrapped around a pole rather than go-go-ing.

The original Red Sonja
MB:  Even more so than in the last issue, if the credits hadn’t told me that Heck’s “enchantment” was interpolated in between Romita’s breakdowns and Esposito’s inks, I would not have guessed it, although seeing M.J. as a go-go dancer might have distracted me.  It’s interesting that more than once in this title, Stan has felt the need to hide a major villain behind a sobriquet (Master Planner/Dr. Octopus, Brainwasher/Kingpin).  I especially appreciated Captain Stacy’s staunch effort to give Spidey the benefit of the doubt; Peter’s ability to nudge his cover story in the same direction; Gwen’s overt affection toward him; Harry’s willingness to bury the hatchet (“It wasn’t a lifetime project!”); and the heady prospect of a rematch with the Kingpin.

PE: I'm not as enamored of this issue's insides. Like last issue, it's a weak story accented by mediocre art. Why in the world would Kingpin bother calling himself The Brainwasher for a total of one issue? As far as I can tell, he never used the alias again and the people working for him must have known who he was (how many 500 pound mafia guys with walking sticks are there in NY?), so the ruse was only for the audience. Holy coincidence! MJ goes to work for the same strip club that The Brain (Kingpin) Washer owns and unknowingly takes part in his conniving scheme! Throw in a dopey plot to control the government via a hypnotizing camera (with the first victim being the highly influential but still retired Captain Stacy) and you've got a vastly forgettable installment.

All that's missing is a little Dylan

Fantastic Four 73
Our Story

Ben, Reed and Johnny ready themselves for the arrival of Dr. Doom, or Daredevil; or that is, Dr. Doom in the body of Daredevil. Of course they don’t realize that the red costumed hero has escaped from the body transference that Doom had inflicted upon him, and seeks merely to warn them. The Torch spots him and attacks, Daredevil positioning himself so the hot-headed teenager runs smack into water tower and loses consciousness, where DD lays him to dry out. Along comes a spider, man that is, who offers to help clear up the misunderstanding. Daredevil doesn’t really want the help, but the webslinger isn’t taking no for an answer, and heads off to grab another convincing ally: Thor the mighty, not so fresh from his battle with the Wrecker. Goldilocks has better things to do until Spidey calls him yellow, and what self-respecting god wants that? Spiderman gives the flightless Thor a lift to the Baxter Building, by which time Mr. Fantastic has ensnared Daredevil. Another of Reed’s inventions, the Demelo-Gun, goes off, which the Thing destroys to stop further damage. Johnny arrives back at the scene, and the matchup is complete. Thor vs. Thing, DD vs. Stretcho, and teen hotheads Spidey and the Torch to complete the puzzle. Everybody kind of pulls their punches; the three visitors don’t seem like Doom’s robots, but who knows for sure? Leave it to a lady; the Invisible Girl knows. The six P.M. news had Victor Von Doom addressing his ministers in Latveria, and Sue hearing of a tiny tussle at the Baxter Building, did what any loving wife and teammate would: set things to right.

MB: Picking up where Daredevil #38 leaves off, this is one of those check-your-brain-at-the-door yarns that’s just plain fun, with well-chosen guest-star match-ups:  Reed/DD, powerhouses Thing/Thor, traditional frenemies Torch/Spidey.  Here and especially in the current Avengers, Stan makes a serious stab at inter-title continuity, even if he can’t seem to make up his mind when this story transpires vis-à-vis Thor’s battle with the Wrecker.  It’s a change of pace to see the Kirby/Sinnott team’s rendition of our guests (not that Jolly Jack is any stranger to Thor), and when you consider how often readers have griped, “Hey, how come all of these Manhattan-based super-heroes don’t bump into each other more often?,” it’s no surprise that they do so here.

PE: On the nose, Professor Matthew. This is a big, dopey box of sweets that's meant to be downed as quick as possible before you think about it too much. Could this be the first case of multi-title crossover? Stan proves he's an ingenious business man as he gives us an early dose of "What do you mean, you don't buy Daredevil? Well, now you'll have to!" A rather innocent example actually considering the title-orgies that occurred on a monthly basis in the 1980s. Since we've received back-to-back one-shot stories, I wonder if Stan was experimenting with the format. Though Marvel had made strides in its bid for a bigger chunk of the comic book buyer's dollar, the company was still far behind DC and its non-existent title continuity. According to this issue's publication of the yearly sales statement, the FF title was selling an average of 329,536 copies, which made it Marvel's second-biggest seller. In contrast, DC had ten titles that sold more than Marvel's biggest hit (The Amazing Spider-Man with 361,663) and one (Batman) that sold more than twice the amount. Was Stan eyeing a return to inclusive storylines (the multi-title crossover notwithstanding)? Does anyone else wonder what exactly The Demolo-Gun does?

Jack: Note that Stan the Man name checks Moshe Dayan (misspelled Moishe), the prominent Israeli who was very much involved in the Six-Day War in June 1967 that resulted in the capture of East Jerusalem. Stan's Judaism doesn't often peek through in his comic writing, but this was too big an event to ignore.

JB: My first thought when I saw this one years ago was, oh, no. And when I went to re-read it this time, I wasn’t too optimistic either. But I have to agree with the rest of our panel. This is one big blast of fun, an excuse to see who-would-win-if. Personally, I enjoyed seeing what a Sinnott-inked Thor looks like, being used to the higher and lower visuals of Colletta. That’s sharp observation Professor Jack, one I missed. This issue is what my dad used to think all comics were like, back in my teen years, when I tried to convince him they were much more high brow. Well, not always…

Strange Tales 167
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Our Story

Jimmy’s vow of vengeance is soon forgotten as a S.H.I.E.L.D. borer bursts through the floor of the Claw’s complex, and the suicide squad erupts forth to tackle his men. Using his pseudo-elliptoid wrist tracer, Fury follows a bug he had planted on the Claw, arriving just as the latter is slipping out of reach into the space-time continuum with his Infinity Sphere, yet Nick dons an experimental warp-vest, locks in on the Claw’s cosmic trajectory, and offsets his psychic powers with a mind-amplifying device. Fury attacks with the Satan Claw he took from Baron Strucker, but his opponent is revealed as a robot, and all the participants merely pieces in a high-tech chess game in Latveria, where the Prime Mover has just beaten Dr. Doom.

MB: Steranko and Sinnott continue to make beautiful music together, part of what Stan calls “merely one of the greatest teams Marvel has ever assembled!” (modestly including himself and letterer Sam Rosen), but this is the first time I’ve felt that Jaunty Jim might have overreached himself in other ways. For instance, cool though that four-page spread of the fighting between S.H.I.E.L.D. and the Claw’s men must look when assembled, it “requires a second ish placed side-by-side,” as Jim tells us—not a very viable option with a 47-year-old magazine. And don’t even ask me about that ending, which I’m sure must have confused and/or annoyed other readers in addition to myself, because I have no idea what the hell that’s all about. Pretty awesome cover, though.

PE: We're in agreement yet again, Professor Matthew, that cover's a classic (well, except for poor Val, whose eyes are a tad crossed). If I didn't know better, I'd think Jaunty Jim had a Smilin' Stan "The Man" scripting over his shoulder ("Witness the effect as my Infinity Sphere enters Nucleo-Phoretic drive!") for the first half of this story and a psychedelic poster company knocking on his door with lots of greenbacks in their hands (that alternately silly and stunning four page spread). I'd hate to think that Jim was running out of gas, and history seems to prove that theory wrong, but most of the eye-gouging half-page illos of Nick in action are some variation of that classic "border" pose we saw last issue. As for the ending: WTF? I could better explain what Roger Waters meant when he sang "You raise the blade, you make the change" than how Doctor Doom figured in all this and how The Yellow Fang was really an android and does that mean Fang's niece was one as well and what about Fury himself and...could someone, please, get me a couple Excedrins? And why didn't Stanley Kubrick make a flick out of this issue?


Jack: Once again, amazing art that just makes me want to stare at it, and a story that doesn't make much sense. This is the second time recently that Dr. Doom has been revealed on the last page of a comic other than Fantastic Four--if the guy is so darn powerful, how come he never wins? It continues to annoy me that Nick Fury is saddled wit' such dopey dialogue--I wish they had just dropped the whole Sgt. Fury way of tawkin' and made him sound just a bit less stupid.

Doctor Strange
Our Story

This story is definitely not

based on "Arena" by

Fredric Brown.

The Ancient One isn't dead after all. He and Dr. Strange head home, where the Ancient One helps Dr. Strange travel into the dimension of dreams, where he finds Yandroth, Victoria Bentley, and a creature that is either Godzilla's cousin or the alien from "Fun and Games" on The Outer Limits.

MB: Adkins remains the only constant, now back to handling both pencils and inks as short-timer Jim Lawrence gives way to returning scribe Denny O’Neil, whose work, as usual, underwhelms me. I found his script somewhat muddled, leaving me unclear as to exactly what was happening, especially with regard to the mechanics of Yandroth’s teleportation, although I suppose in all fairness this may be attributed partly to the recent musical chairs among writers. Conversely, the magenta sky and icy Himalayan landscape dwarfing Dr. Strange and the Ancient One on page 3, as well as forming such an evocative backdrop for the panels on page 4, provide the type of visual splendor that makes me appreciate Dapper Dan’s tenure on this strip.

Jack: I'm sure Glenn will tell us that it's all swiped from somewhere, but Dan Adkins's art on this strip is very impressive. It is certainly not a huge letdown from the first half of the comic book, where Steranko is going wild!

The Avengers 51
Our Story

Hawkeye's attempt to restore Goliath's growth power by means of the Vibratron does not go as planned. Soon after, the Collector draws Hawkeye, Goliath and the Wasp up to his ship, which hovers over New York. He has already collected Thor and now he adds three more Avengers to his collection. He tries to restore Goliath's growth powers but fails. He sends Thor out to collect Iron Man, leading to a fight between the two original Avengers. The Wasp manages to free herself and her comrades, but the Collector sends a giant Robotoid to fight them. The Robotoid accidentally grabs the Collector, who escapes by vanishing. The Avengers defeat the Robotoid and a dinosaur and escape from the ship before it explodes. Goliath's growth power is fully restored as a delayed effect of the Collector's attempts, and Captain America radios from an island near Africa to ask if his new friend the Panther can replace him on the team.

MB: I’d taken it as a given that anything would be a comedown after the awesome art of the past two issues, but although Tuska’s touch here isn’t quite as invisible as in this month’s Daredevil, I think it’s a noticeable improvement over the last time he inked Buscema’s pencils in #47. They’ve carefully synched this story up with current events in Cap’s own mag(s), providing a transition to the Black Panther’s Avengers debut next issue, and Cap’s confidence that T’Challa will make an excellent addition to their roster is not misplaced. Meanwhile, the ongoing absence of Wanda and Pietro is offset with return appearances by founding members Iron Man and Thor, and I, for one, am pleased to see the restoration of Goliath’s on-again, off-again growing powers.

Jack: Another solid issue by Thomas and Buscema. A note on page one apologizes for coloring Goliath with his old costume's colors on the cover. What Stan should really apologize for is his insistence on putting his name in bigger letters in the credits even when he's not writing the story! On this month's letters page we have missives from Douglas Moench and Tony Isabella. Had I only known that writing letters of comment was the path to comic writing glory, I would have bought more stamps!

Daredevil 39
Our Story

A crime spree has swarmed over New York City after the Bird-Man, Cat-Man, and Ape-Man break out of prison. Now dubbed the Unholy Trio, minus their former comrade Frog-Man, these misfits get busted by Daredevil while in the act of stealing a safe. The hero thwarts their theft but they manage to escape to a hideout. It’s revealed that their new benefactor is a villainous creep named the Exterminator. He shows the animal men his new invention that sends people into a displaced moment in time where they disappear for however long the weapon is set to. The Exterminator experiments on Ape-Man and has him disappear in time for a half hour before he comes back. Back in Matt Murdock’s world he, along with Karen, Foggy, and former jailbird Debbie Harris, head out for a night of dancing. Some lowlife thug spots them and calls the Exterminator, figuring that the villain might find the information useful since Foggy is running for D.A. The Exterminator plans to kidnap Debbie and use her as a possible pawn against Foggy should he be elected. He sends the Unholy Trio, who actually manage to accomplish a mission as the Bird-Man shoots Debbie with one of the Time Displacement ray guns, causing her to vanish. Our story ends with Foggy in an irate panic and Matt getting ready to don his Daredevil disguise to stop the insanity.

Tom: While I’ll never claim to know about every super-villain that has scammed his way across the Marvel Universe, the Exterminator is one that I’ve never heard of before. He’s kind of a hard guy to respect. He may be a genius, the way he created the powerful time displacement ray gun thingamajigs, but why not sell them to some other country or crooked U.S. military liaison for millions of dollars and retire to Hawaii? To him, it’s a better idea to use it to kidnap some prison strumpet that’s a girlfriend (not even a wife) of a husky fellah who is running for D.A.?! I will give him points for constantly putting down his animal-men lackeys. While he might not be a fun guy to work for, his spot-on putdowns of the Unholy Trio were amusing. Especially since they pretty much took it like they were his prison bitches.

Va va voom!

MB: Utility player George Tuska is a busy boy this month, inking at least three mags, and if the essence of a good embellisher is to show the penciler’s work to best advantage, rather than necessarily leaving his mark on the results, then Gorgeous George has done an excellent job here, with finished art that looks like pure Colan. I missed the original Deborah Harris/Ani-Men issues (#10-11), in which the Organizer was pulling the strings, but based on this and some of the Unholy Three’s subsequent appearances, I’m not at all sure that’s a big loss. The Exterminator, too, seemed fairly forgettable until I peeked ahead and learned his notable future, which I won’t reveal here, and the poorly explained time-displacement bit seems like typical DD weird science.

Jack: I'm still missing Mike Murdock. At least Foggy remembers him in this issue, telling Matt that he'd better find his brother to come and avenge what he thinks is the death of Debbie.

The Incredible Hulk 102
Our Story

As Bruce Banner falls to what looks like his untimely death, he flashes back to Betty and Rick, regretting that he will never be able to make up for the love that they have shown him during his tumultuous life. He is saved when the Enchantress, accompanied by the Executioner, rescues him with one of her spells. She has the hots for Hercules, and since she senses Banner is from Earth, she quizzes him about the whereabouts of her crush. Meanwhile, the Warriors Three seek out Oldar the Oracle to learn more about the Hulk. In a couple of flashbacks, they learn just what the Hulk is all about, and are a little leery now of their new friend. The Enchantress doesn’t get any info out of Banner because he has no idea who Hercules is (besides what he learned in school about mythology) so the Executioner moves in for the kill. That’s when Banner turns into the Hulk and the fight is on. It’s pretty even until the villains release the troll army that they plan on using to take over Asgard. Not only does the Hulk stop them from killing him, but he later joins in on the battle at Asgard, turning the tide for the good guys. Before they leave in defeat, the Enchantress kills the Hulk with one of her spells. Odin saves the Hulk with his own magic powers; however, the Hulk mistakes him for an enemy. Instead of destroying the Hulk, Odin banishes him back to the place from whence he came.

Tom: As big of a Hulk fan as I am, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have never read this story before. It’s not bad, but personally I liked the Hulk and Executioner brawl from the previous Tales to Astonish issue a little better than this one. You can see that they were trying to make new readers familiar with the Hulk’s origin with the Warriors Three getting the green goliath’s past history from the Oracle. It’s all good, because some of the Hulk’s best adventures are right around the corner.

MB: This issue, embellished by Inker of the Month George Tuska, exemplifies the tradition of recapping a hero’s origin when he graduates to his own book, now that the Hulk’s strip has expanded to fill the former Tales to Astonish. After a year of writing Westerns and war comics, this is the earliest credit I’ve seen for “Groovy Gary” Friedrich, brought aboard by fellow Missourian Roy Thomas (whom he was once expected to succeed). Alas, his woefully overwritten Hulk debut is hardly an auspicious one, cluttered with captions and word balloons that almost obliterate the art; worse, Oldar relates Greenskin’s backstory to the Warriors Three—who can have no concept of gamma radiation—in flashbacks overlarded with both dialogue and redundant rhyming narration.


A Marvel rhyme is not a crime
But Oldar's lines are uninspired.
While this new ish deserved a look
The Hulk's adventures still seem tired.

They drag in Volstagg and his gang
The Executioner and the rest
Stick in an origin to fill space
But still The Hulk is not the best.

Ms. Severin's art is Not Brand Ecch
Friedrich's writing inconsistent
Twenty pages seems like thirty
But Stan Lee was too insistent.

Goodbye to Tales to Astonish
Hulk's adventures still seem clownish.

Iron Man and Sub-Mariner 1
Iron Man
Our Story

Iron Man has been able to escape the confines of a magnetized table but the ship he's aboard is taking on water fast. The boat, a floating casino, is owned by The Maggia and their leader, The Big M, has hired the deadly Whiplash to destroy Iron Man but before the task can be completed, the boat is attacked by the forces of A.I.M. Shellhead is trapped between the two warring factions and his only hope seems to be Jasper ("every inch a SHIELD man") Sitwell, who's tracked the Golden Avenger to the sinking ship. A.I.M. proves to be too much for Iron Man though and he's sucked into a waiting submarine by the organization's Vortex-Suction Beam.

PE: The Big M and A.I.M. seem to have packed just the right defensive and offensive weapons for the battle. This issue we get the debuts of the "Gyro-Oscillator", which seems to have been devised by The Maggia for the sole purpose of righting a listing ship and A.I.M.'s "Vortex-Suction Beam" which, I have to admit, I never did get a proper read on. Perhaps this snippet from the head goon at A.I.M. might help:

 "We could not operate the Vortex-Suction Beam until the proper warm-up period was observed. Only a few moments remain before the beam's power pack registers critical mass. In that time we can lock-sync its directional unit with the sonic tracker!"Well, alright, maybe that doesn't help much. It does its job though whether I understand the mechanism or not.

MB: A unique artifact of the expansion I was mistakenly calling Phase Two, somewhat awkwardly dubbed by Stan “the Second Golden Age of Marvel” (hereinafter…TSGAOM? G2? I dunno), is this one-time-only split book. It was created solely to use up the stories orphaned when Cap and Greenskin got their own mags, but Marvel Double Feature naturally reprinted only Shellhead’s half, carrying over the Goodwin/Colan/Craig team. It seems as though our once-mighty hero has been hunkered down in a defensive crouch since he defeated the Gargoyle four months ago, and now that A.I.M. has hoovered him out of the Maggia ship/sub combo, it looks like that long-promised showdown with Whiplash ain’t gonna happen…

PE: It is odd that Stan couldn't wait one month before booting Shellhead and Subby from their respective titles. 

Jack: I'm just happy to see an old EC guy get some work! Still waiting for Ghastly to turn up somewhere . . .

Our Story

Namor faces off against a mysterious yet strangely familiar villain named Destiny. Even though he is unable to remember exactly where they have met before, Namor knows that this character is out to do him harm. He hurls himself at Destiny but misses. Destiny shoots Namor with several icicles that come from a bizarre helmet that he is wearing. Paralyzed, Namor listens as Destiny decides to tell him a story about a mind reader named Mentallo who thirsted for power. One day, Mentallo found an ancient book of spells that told of powerful objects and riches buried in the Arctic mountains by the race of Ancients. Mentallo hires Captain Leonard McKenzie and his crew to help him find the valuables. The good Captain turns out to be Namor's father. Captain McKenzie and Mentallo find a machine buried deep inside a cavern. As the greedy mentalist continues to spout off about all the power he is going to have, the Captain wisely ditches him. As Mentallo frantically tries to break the machine out of the ice, the cavern collapses on him. It looks as if he is about to die until he sees the strange helmet that the narrator, Destiny, is wearing. By this time, the effects of the icicles, that were mere mind control illusions, have worn off of Subby. He and Destiny renew their brawl with Destiny using a giant Sonar Cannon. Namor takes the weapon away from him and hurls it through the icy ceiling. The story ends with ice collapsing on Namor, apparently killing him, as Destiny gloats about his triumph.

 Tom: Assuming that Mentallo turns out to be Destiny, this was a very good origin story. It was a lot more creative than most of the lame super-villain back stories and the brief fight scenes were very exciting to read. Here's hoping the quality will continue when Subby's solo series begins next month.

Jack: Like you, Tom, I am a sucker for an origin story. Here's hoping that the origin of Destiny segues into the origin of Sub-Mariner that I ave been waiting for lo, these many issues. The art by Colan and Giacoia is top-notch; kudos to Prof. Matthew for recognizing their value as a team.

The Mighty Thor 151
Our Story

Our Thunder God has been spared from the Wrecker by a far more deadly foe: the Destroyer! Animated by none other than Thor’s love, the lady Sif, the unstoppable creation of Odin can do naught but do as it was designed to, despite her efforts to control it. Unable to speak through the Destroyer, Sif can’t let Thor know she is there. Thor attacks, trying to gain an advantage where there is none; it is only a matter of time before the Destroyer wins. From the realm of the Norns, Karnilla and Loki watch with great glee. The evil queen lets Balder, still her captive, know that she finds him attractive, but he cannot return the affection of one so opposed to everything Asgardian. Any thoughts of discussion are squelched, when a new invader appears, none other than the mightiest of the trolls, Ulik, now armed with enchantment of his own by King Geirrodur’s wizards, bent upon not only their destruction, but revenge on Thor as well. Karnilla frees Balder, who offers to battle Ulik should the Norn queen withdraw any future plans against Asgard. In the Golden Realm, Odin finally sees fit to return his son’s powers, and in the battle below, Thor feels his much-needed power return. Even so, he is backed into an alley, where the final confrontation awaits. 

In the back pages, the Inhumans story this month picks up with Triton captured in a water tank by a movie crew. Not for long though, as he realizes the human’s intentions are only to exploit him. He breaks free, managing to destroy the boat before diving back into the sea.

MB: Okay, I need a reality check here—i.e., for one or more faculty members to confirm that the Destroyer had the power of speech in at least some earlier appearances—because I know I remember his prattling on in the voice of that great white hunter whose life-force animated him way back when, but I don’t have time to go pawing through my back issues.  Yes, Karnilla (who, as I recall, looked a lot better when drawn by other artists) may have whipped up a handy spell to suppress that power when Sif animated him, yet if she did, we need to know about that, or it just seems careless.  I welcome Odin’s inevitable restoration of Thor’s full power, and am enjoying the Inhumans back-up feature, but must agree with the reader who recently asked, “Why Thor?”

JB: Professor Mathew you’re correct! I looked back to double-check, and the Destroyer did indeed talk when animated with another spirit, both in Journey Into Mystery #’s 118-19, and Thor Annual two, so why not here? I’m also wondering why Sif might not be able to control the Destroyer’s actions while in his body; both unanswered questions. The wizard who at Odin’s request has replaced the Crystal of Eternal View is unnamed (Ularik?). We get a hint of the sparks that ignite between Balder and Karnilla, perhaps designed to give the Brave one someone (equally unavailable, due to Balder’s loyalty) other than Sif to long for. The issue isn’t as good as last month, true, but the use of such classic villains as the Destroyer and now Ulik, are so welcome, it almost doesn’t matter. I don’t know about this magic power the troll has all of a sudden; it seems very convenient.

PE: Evidently, Karnilla robbed Sif of her power of spelling as well since, if she was so hellbent on getting a message across to her rampaging beau, I'd think maybe a big cardboard sign (or an etching in the concrete via super-powered fingers) that read: "Hey Thunder God! It's me, Sif!" might do the trick. I'm a bit confused as to why Odin took Thor's powers away this time. He claims it's because his son was losing his humility. I guess if saving the world a few dozen times (and pulling pop's fat out of the fire on a few occasions as well) can go to a man's head he may be right but restoring Thor's power without letting him in on the Sif-is-Destroyer secret seems a little mean-spirited. He says he's "all-knowing" and I believe him. Like the recent Fantastic Four, I've become spoiled by The Mighty Thor and so, if this issue doesn't quite scale the heights of the last couple, I can live with it. Let's deem it a "tweener" and say it succeeds as a transitional chapter in the arc.

The X-Men 43
Our Story

The Prof is dead. Against the desires of poppa Magneto, Quicksilver makes an appearance at the funeral, but gets away quickly (go figure). The X-kiddos play the 'play this if I die in the next few days' video from Chuck, in which he clues them into the next few issues storyline with Magneto which, you guessed it, means the confrontation with Magneto is to be continued...

JS: "The accursed mentor of the X-Men is dead at last" is a pretty strong statement from Magneto, who in the years to come will prove to have a bit of a closer relationship with Chuck, enemies though they will often be.

They try to get me go to rehab, I said no no no!!
PE: I get that Quicksilver is a mindless dolt who'll fall for anything but what about Wanda? How can
these two numbskulls wake up one day and think, "Mankind is not being kind to us. Let's leave the Avengers for someone who understands us. Like Magneto!" I haven't been reading The Avengers lately but there must have been one heck of a Marvel Misunderstanding between those covers at some point. Since The Rascally One writes both titles, I'm sure he had the whole epic all mapped out. Cross yer fingers. The writing's mediocre but The X-Men continues to be the Marvel title with the most consistently awful art. George Tuska and John Tartaglione team up to produce something stiff and unexciting--faces are interchangeable with the exception of Magneto, who looks like a crazed Meth addict.

Jack: The luscious Wanda's head was grazed by a bullet, causing her to forget everything except her makeup, hair and wardrobe mastery. Keep up, Peter!

JS: So just to be clear, did Quicksilver think he might run fast enough to make it to Xavier's funeral before he was dead? And am I the only one who thinks that Wanda and Pietro's relationship comes across as inappropriate?

PE: Forgive me if I'm wrong but don't you have to have your enemies lined up to use a battering ram in an efficient manner? So, someone tell the X-Dolts not to stand in front of The Toad's magnificent weapon! The X-Kids gather to watch the "Play This Message Only After My Death" video from Professor X. We all know that X's death has to be (SPOILER ALERT!!!) staged so I'm wondering if he'll have the next video labeled "No, really, this is the last message to be played after my death!" Guy's probably got a warehouse full of 'em.

Jack: Sure, the Tuska art is not great, but the cover by Buscema is terrific and the comic has come a long way in a short time. Not so long ago we were hanging out at ye old malt shoppe. How many issues til Neal Adams?

JS: Too many, Jack. Too many. I will say this—the presence of Magneto and the BOEM (Brotherhood of Evil Mutants) does elevate this issue from some of the series' low points of late. It is interesting to note how small the title has become on the cover starting with the last issue, as if they're trying to grab new readers without their realizing that they're picking up the latest issue of The X-Men. Or perhaps they were trying to groom a replacement title, in case any particular subject resonated with readers.

Also this month

Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #14
Millie the Model #158
Not Brand Echh #7
Rawhide Kid #63
Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos #53


  1. Mega-kudos to Professor Jack for his rhyming (and on-target) Hulk commments.

  2. Thanks a lot, Professor Bradley
    You who love Nick Fury madly.

    My poetry rivals that of our mutual idol, Felix Unger.

    Born of the rubble that lies there--

  3. "...only man can make a fortieth floor."

  4. I think I'll stick with Doctor Doom,
    You two should get a room.

  5. Back in 1980, Melbourne got it's first specialized comic book store. I showed up on day one, and found one of the books on my want list, Strange Tales #167. Over the years, my copy had somehow lost the middle four pages, and I was looking for a replacement. I took it to the counter and handed it to Greg, one of the staff, who looked at the book and went into a rant. “Dan @#$%^&* Adkins! He's the biggest &^%$#@ rip-off artist in the history of comics!!!” He calmed down when I told him I was mainly interested in the Nick Fury story.

    I was already aware of Adkins' Kirby and Ditko swipes. Adkins was hardly the Lone Ranger in that department, just check out some of the Thor stories drawn by Joe Sinnott, but Greg assured me that Adkins' Kirby and Ditko swipes were just the tip of the iceberg. I showed up at the comic book store every Saturday morning at nine, as regular as clockwork, so my visits were very predictable. I'd become pretty friendly with Greg, who was also very active in Sci-Fi fandom. Other staff members told me he had a Sci-Fi pulp collection that was almost as big as his very large comic book collection.

    One Saturday morning, Greg was waiting for me with a handful of Sci-Fi magazines. I was amazed at what I saw. He showed me, among other things, the original versions of the icy wasteland seen on page 3 of ST #167, the one-eyed snail from ST #164, The Ed Emsh Robot from X-Men #34 and the Wally Wood Space scene Adkins swiped for the Sub-Mariner story in TTA #92.

    Sometimes, when an artist dropped their work off at the Marvel Offices, they'd be recruited to fix someone else's work, or, they could be asked to change a panel, redraw a cover, or draw a whole new page. To save time, they'd find a spot in a corner somewhere, and get the job done before going home.

    One day, Dan Adkins dropped off his finished work, and was asked to come up with another page of artwork. This was possibly when the Dr. Strange stories went from ten to eleven pages. He was given a sheet of paper and a pencil, and, so the story goes, sat in the Marvel office staring at it, unable to draw a single line. The story is probably not true, but you have to wonder.

    Meanwhile, Steranko's work on Nick Fury is a major victory for style over substance. The ending barely makes any sense. In ST #165, the Yellow Claw used thought balloons to bemoan the fact that utilizing his hyper-psionic brain wave emanations as a weapon had put a strain on his nervous system. Then, using more thought balloons, he released his “Duplikeds,” robot duplicates of himself designed to fool Fury and his team. So, based on the last page of ST #167, he must be a robot with a nervous system who is capable of sub-concious thought. The finale should have shown that Fury had captured one of the robots planted in the storyline two months earlier, while the real Claw slipped away. Up until page nine, that's the way it plays out. I suspect someone decided to slip Dr. Doom into the storyline at the last minute, and forgot that it had been established that the Claw was a real person.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  6. You should have been in charge of writing Steranko's scripts, Glenn. It almost makes sense when you explain it.

  7. WOW-EEE! What an enjoyable post this week, from Poetic Prof. Jack to bug-eyed Magneto and va-va-voom MJ pics to the usual clever captioning.
    And a big shout out to some of the best panel captures yet.

    I remember that FF issue, although I had it as a reprint of course. Cool stuff, and certainly groundbreaking in retrospect considering the current Avengers vs. X-Men "event" Marvel has going on. (I've already promised to buy my Avengers-obsessed daughter the paperback collection when it comes out).

  8. " It almost makes sense when you explain it."
    And it only took me 44 years to figure it out.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)