Wednesday, September 12, 2012

May 1968: Iron Man #1! Sub-Mariner #1! Captain Marvel #1!

The X-Men 44
Our Story

This issue of The X-Men, or The Angel (actually The X-Men featuring The Angel) picks up where the last left off, with the team seemingly defeated by their nemesis Magneto. The Angel, taking advantage of the byline, manages to escape and encounter  a mothballed Marvel old-timer, the Red Raven, for a quickie fight. After a few pages, Red Robin decides he'd rather talk than fight. Soon, Angel is on his way to visit The Avengers in a last ditch attempt to save his teammates.

PE: Editor Stan Lee (or had Roy slipped into editor status behind the scenes by this point?) lets a few logic errors through in this one. Cyclops tells Angel to fly to Avengers headquarters as they would be the only force that could help the X-Kids. Two pages later, Angel exclaims, as if he's hit with lightning, "That's it! I'll fly to Avengers HQ!" The winged teen lands on a "bit of coral" sticking out from the sea which magically becomes an island and the dope waffles on whether to investigate or "save his pals." The Angel finally decides to investigate the newly formed continent because the late Professor X always told the team to check out strange phenomena and, besides, Magneto won't kill his partners for a while anyway! I didn't make that up. When Red Raven explains that he intends to put the rest of his birdmen back on ice instead of resurrecting them, The Angel tries to talk him out of it in the name of science. Why not? These bird guys were put on our planet to conquer us. Why not study them first?  The X-Kids don't have enough on their plate already.

JS: Red Robin is an old-time Marvel superhero, right? I wonder what led to his being thawed out for this appearance.

Much like Po (a/k/a Kung Fu Panda),
Red Raven did not notice he was
different till he came of age.
MB:  Last issue’s Thomas/Tuska/Tartaglione Trio expands to encompass Gary Friedrich, scripting Roy’s plot, and to supplant Tuska with Don Heck’s layouts and Werner Roth’s pencils. Roy’s penchant for mining the Timely/Marvel Golden Age vein comes to the forefront with this revival (in every sense of the word) of Red Raven, whose short-lived eponymous book debuted in August 1940 and instantly morphed into The Human Torch.  Obviously, the Angel’s encounter with his fellow birdman is a sideshow from the Magneto plotline that has been bopping back and forth between here and The Avengers, with a formal crossover coming next month, but at least as reprinted in #92, it makes no sense: how could the wingless Raven not suspect he was different?

Famous mutant pairs: Quicksilver and the
Scarlet Witch, Cyclops and Marvel Girl,
Charlie Brown and Lucy Van Pelt
PE: This one comes off like it was meant for Marvel Super-Heroes, a story that didn't fit in the ongoing arc but was just too good to pass on. Marvel would bask in such titles in the coming decades, culminating in the super-pretty-paper Marvel Fanfare. It also could be a case of Roy Thomas spread so thin that he needed a bit of help this month. But I suspect it was The Rascally One simultaneously exercising his new found power and his jones for silver age characters. The Red Raven story has nothing to do with the Magneto menace and serves no purpose other than to fill the requisite pages. It's an enjoyable little bit of fluff though, certainly moreso than the arc it draws us away from. On the letters page, we get correspondence from Keith Giffen, an artist who would help transform DC's Legion of Super-Heroes into a hugely popular title in the early 80s. He also served a stint on Marvel's The Defenders in the mid-70s.

JS: Does anyone think that The X-Men would have been better served in a split title? Or is it just that the prospect of shorter tales of this caliber might be that much easier...

Jack: And how about that cover? Welcome to The Angel comics #44! The toad is such an annoying toadie--I wish he'd get squashed. The whole Red Raven story is crazy and makes no sense in the context of the Magneto arc, but I'm always happy to see a Golden Age hero come back from obscurity. As for the backup story featuring the Iceman, George Tuska's art rivals that of Werner Roth.

Daredevil 40
Our Story

Daredevil sets out to capture the Unholy Trio and put a stop to their recent activities of making people disappear with their special time displacement guns.  It doesn’t take long for Daredevil to find the gang robbing a bank.  He engages them in a fight that ends up with him being shot with a displacement gun by Ape-Man.  This banishes him off into the time void where everyone else that has been shot is also at, including Debbie Harris, Foggy’s love interest.  Meanwhile Foggy is out playing detective to help find Debbie.  After searching through old newspapers at the local library, he finds out that the Organizer, who was the original leader of the Unholy Trio, had an assistant who had quit and disappeared.  Foggy figures that this unknown assistant might be the Trio’s new master but he has to go to a press conference before he can investigate any further.  Our story ends in the time displacement world where everyone who has been sent into that realm starts to go back to the real world of time.  Double D wonders how long he will have to wait before it’s his turn to go back home, concerned that the powerful blast he received might leave him stuck in the realm for an eternity.

Debbie Harris, drama queen
Tom:  Not much to say regarding this issue’s tale of Daredevil woe.  It moved along pretty fast and final judgment will be reserved for the final issue in this saga.  There is something sort of satisfying when I read that the Ape-Man was able to defeat Daredevil, if only for a temporary time.    

MB: I must admit to having mixed feelings about this installment, because on the one hand, as previously noted, although I am a fan of continued stories in general, I am also sensitive to the possibility of their being dragged out longer than they need to be, which looks like it might be the case with this plotline.  Interestingly, the same subject is raised in a letter by future Marvel writer Mark Gruenwald, printed in this very issue, where he says he is a late convert to continued stories, opining that two issues should suffice for most villains, a viewpoint with which I largely concur.  On the other hand, there’s a certain leisurely quality to the storytelling here that I found I rather enjoyed, especially as it played out across Gene’s large, comfortably uncluttered panels.

Jack: I continue to enjoy the art on this series most of any Marvel comic at this point. Debbie Harris has turned into Foggy's version of Victoria Bentley--he was in love with Karen Page for the longest time but now it's "Karen who?" It's interesting that Stan the Man is still writing this series and that it's only one of five he's still writing--the others are Fantastic Four, Thor, Spider-Man and Captain America--three Kirby series and Spidey, Marvel's most popular. I think that says something about the place of Daredevil in the Marvel pantheon, at least as of 1968.

Where's Dr. Strange when
you need him?

The Invincible Iron Man 1
Our Story

A.I.M. has sunk The Maggia's gambling boat and Iron Man is trapped aboard. While trying to escape, he's gassed by the villains of A.I.M. and transported to a small island off the New England coast, where he'll meet the new boss of the crew, Mordius. Meanwhile, Jasper Sitwell runs into the pretty brunette he encountered back at Stark Industry (Tales of Suspense #98-Pesky Pete) aboard the sinking ship and rescues her. Eager to reward his heroics, the woman reveals that her name is Whitney Frost, socialite, just looking to meet up with Tony Stark. What the lovely lady doesn't reveal to the boys of SHIELD is that she's also known as The Big M, head of The Maggia and is out to steal some of Tony Stark's military weapons for the reboot of her failed organization. Back at the island, Iron Man has been placed in the X-Ray Photo-Chamber, a devious device created by Mordius to make exact replicas of I.M.'s suit of armor. The new gizmo has a few flaws though and the gear comes out a bit skewed, making Mordius' new army easy fodder for the repulsor rays of the real McCoy.

PE: Though I've tired of the "I'm Jasper Sitwell, Agent of SHIELD and I'll save the day" routine, here it's effectively played for laughs. "Next to the illustrious Col. Fury, you couldn't be in safer hands -- once I find my glasses!" could be the funniest line in any Marvel Comic in 1968. Archie Goodwin, a writer who very rarely disappointed me through his entire illustrious career (be it at Warren, Marvel, or DC) has slipped his hands through the reins and guided the runaway carriage back to the station. There are several landmines when dealing with warring terrorist super-villain organizations. The chief among them would have to be that they're so much alike it's hard to tell them apart. I do like the pandemonium caused on board the sinking ship. It's not just Shellhead and Jasper who are involved but also a panicked Whiplash, ironically trapped by his own whip. I'd question the intelligence of Jasper's high jump off the boat, pretty brunette in arms. I see broken bones at the very least. And how do you think the other castaways felt, watching a SHIELD helicopter rescue Sitwell and his new mascot and then flying away in the night, leaving the survivors to fate?

Nope, that ain't Heck!
MB:  Like his Suspense and Astonish colleagues, Shellhead graduated to his own book while tying up dangling plot threads, but in this case, the obligatory origin recap was a back-up feature not included in my truncated Marvel Double Feature reprint.  Having seen him through the transition, penciler Gene Colan left the strip after an outstanding run—perhaps unbroken, but I can’t recall for sure—of 29 issues; for the next three, inker Johnny Craig would handle the pencils as well.  Writer Archie Goodwin seems almost to be overcompensating for I.M.’s essentially defensive posture of late, with this pell-mell conclusion in which Shellhead opens up a mighty can of whoopass against A.I.M., easily trouncing them with brains and brawn.

PE: That scene of rampant destruction in the lab of Mordius -- A.I.M.'s trained goons, suited up in faux-Shellhead gear, bouncing off the walls uncontrollably -- is sheer genius on the level of Jerry Lewis. And how about that violent climax, where dozens of A.I.M. agents are blowed up to bits (following a scene where Mordius vaporizes the faux-Iron Men with a cannon) by Shellhead! A good start in my mind for a title that I pretty much ignored when I was a kid. FF, Spidey, Hulk, and The Avengers were pretty cool but Iron Man was just that: a guy in an iron suit. Big whoop. Here's to the rest of the series proving the 10-year old me wrong. The backup feature, a 3-page retelling of Iron Man's origin is drawn by Colan and inked by Johnny Craig but I've got a feeling they were reaching for a Don Heck vibe with this one.

Strange Tales 168
Doctor Strange
Our Story

Dr. Strange battles Yandroth in the Dimension of Dreams, supported from afar by the Ancient One and trying to save Victoria Bentley. Magic overcomes science and Yandroth is doomed to fall forever, only a dream, as Dr. Strange and Victoria return to Earth courtesy of the Ancient One's power.

MB:  Strange Tales was unique among the three split books, in that it folded without major loose ends in either strip (and, sadly, in the brevity of both the solo titles it spun off as well).  O’Neil and Adkins wind up the five-issue Yandroth arc—nicely collected in Giant-Size Dr. Strange #1—and leave Strange safely reunited with the Ancient One and Victoria Bentley, although they never really ran with the notion of the “Scientist Supreme” as his world’s counterpart to Doc, the sometime Sorcerer Supreme.  A notorious swipe artist Dapper Dan might have been, with one interview I skimmed indicating that he had a kind of cheerfully unrepentant, Nuremberg-Defense attitude, but I admit I love his work on this strip, regardless of its patrimony.

Jack: It turns out that Yandroth wasn't much of a scientist after all. This story is a mess, with Vikings and monsters running around and Victoria just running here and there like a character during a Scooby-Doo song break. I can't wait to see her and Clea face off for the love of the good doctor, though I suspect that will never happen.

The vikings never made much sense anyway

Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Our Story

Fury falls asleep while dictating a letter to Jimmy, in which he reveals that “Suwan” was also a robot and invites him to join S.H.I.E.L.D., only to be awoken by a report from Val about an aerial phenomenon above the city.  An alien craft disgorges a golden man, who calls himself Vaengr and offers Earth a Prism of Miracles that can “banish all hatred, crime, war and violence,” but when Val’s image scanner reveals that his human guise is only an illusion, he incinerates her and Dugan.  Using Vaengr’s own headband, Nick transforms himself into an alien monster and attacks, yet is too late to stop the prism from fulfilling its true purpose, and is witnessing Earth’s destruction when Dugan wakes him…to report a UFO over New York.

Hey Dugan--is that a cigar in
your pocket, or...
MB: It’s strange to see a stand-alone story in this strip, but Steranko presumably knew that this would be the last issue of Strange Tales, and didn’t want to launch any major new plotlines until he had an entire book in which to do so.  Setting aside the fact that it’s probably a little soon for another twist ending, this is a fun little opus, and might be considered the perfect breather after the serial mayhem of the Yellow Claw saga, with plenty of opportunities for Jaunty Jim’s creativity to run riot.  His understandable fascination with Val is manifest in the stunning full-length shot on page 5 (“Yer just about the most unlikely secret agent I ever saw!,” opines Dugan with commendable understatement), and the cataclysmic destruction depicted on page 10 is a veritable tour de force.

PE: With all due respect to my colleague, I shake my head in wonder at this story's "legendary" status. Sure, it's got pretty pitchers but the story (wait, let's see - it's all a dream but maybe not!) is a big ball of hoohah, one part Day the Earth Stood Still, one part pre-hero Tales to Astonish, one part Summer of Love. I do wonder if the climax is Steranko's way of saying that the whole series has been a dream in Nick Fury's skull. Is the ornery ol' cuss actually catching a nap in a foxhole somewhere in Germany? Here's hoping that, when Fury gets his own title next month, the extra pages add up to more story and not just a few more pin-ups.

Jack: I thought this story was great until it turned out to be a dream, and then I felt cheated! Does anyone else think Sinnott's inks are so heavy in places that Steranko's art almost takes on a Kirbyesque appearance? I wonder if the addition of the separate inker is what solved Steranko's problem with drawing human faces, especially female ones.

Oops! Sorry! Only a dream.

The Amazing Spider-Man 60
Our Story

The Amazing Spider-Man manages to escape the clutches of The Kingpin (aka The Brainwasher) but it comes at a price. Trying to save Captain Stacy from being brainwashed in the Brainwash-o-meter, our hero is hurled into a bank of electric equipment and receives a nasty shock, messing with his senses and giving him double vision. This can become precarious for a superhero who depends on swinging through the city and adhering to the sides of walls but sees two of everything. Eventually his vision begins to clear and he hightails it to Captain Stacy's house to see if the man is still under the spell of The Kingpin. It doesn't take long for Parker to find out as, while he's asking the old man some pertinent questions, he's soon looking down the length of Captain Stacy's cane. Unfortunately his instincts take over and he defends himself, sending the Captain reeling, just as (wouldn't 'cha know it) Gwen comes through the door. Outraged, the sexy but shy siren tosses Parker out on his ass and tells him to never darken her door again. As soon as his daughter has retired to her Go-Go lessons upstairs, Stacy calls The Kingpin to alert him that Peter is showing an interest in his extracurricular activities. The mob boss sends some of his goons over to muscle Parker but they encounter Harry instead. This enrages the wall-crawler and he heads out to stop The Kingpin for good. On his way, he spies Captain Stacy heading into a police precinct with a couple of The Kingpin's henchmen. This leads to a confrontation inside the precinct's vault where the wall-crawler finds Stacy rifling the files. The Captain once again gets the upper hand though as he belts Spidey upside the head (amnesia again?) and then spreads a story that our hero was responsible for the theft of secret files. Unknown to the good captain though, The Amazing Spider-Man's set up his camera beforehand and caught Stacy on film. He sells the pics to J. Jonah Jameson and settles back to watch the Gwen hit the fan.

PE: Malady of the month time again. A couple months ago it was amnesia, this month double vision. Next up: Spidey Loses His Hearing! Whining and moaning doesn't become Peter Parker. We learned that in the Ditko years. This issue, Parker reflects on how well his life was going (Gwen, Aunt May, Harry, etc.) but now he's seeing double and his life has fallen apart! Huh? See a doctor, mopey. And how safe is it to the general public to hop on a motor scooter when your vision is blurred? Not a good role model.

MB: I suppose it would be pointless for me to argue that Web-Head could have handled that whole post-explosion dealio [Prof. Matthew is now a rapper--Prof. Jack] better, most likely by finding a phone and calling the cops or the Avengers or Robbie or somebody and saying, in a nutshell, “I’m in bad shape and can’t handle this myself, but somebody needs to know what’s going on in this club!”  One of the things I liked best about this issue is the dichotomy between the bravado he assumes while going into battle and his understandable internal anxiety over facing the Kingpin, against whom he has yet to enjoy a solid victory.  As for the artwork, it becomes irrelevant how many layers of Heck and/or Esposito it’s filtered through, this is still unmistakably 100% John Romita wonderfulness.

Future father-in-law? Not looking great right now.

PE: Yes, I agree that Romita somehow shows through the murkiness that is Esposito and Heck, thank goodness. At least the art's an improvement over the last issue. The story has logic holes you could drive a SHIELD helicarrier through. Obviously Parker's amnesia flares up again this issue (that plus double vision can be a deadly combination). How else to explain when his thought balloon says "It all started at the club...where I found The Kingpin! He's the answer to the entire riddle!" after going through a rip-snorting battle with the fat man at the club! Would a "sound-proof, steel-walled vault chamber" at a police precinct have a window to peek through so that the outside world could see in? And why wouldn't anyone ask the teenage photographer who snapped the damning photo what he was doing looking into a window several floors above the street

Captain Marvel 1
Our Story

Despite being a Kree, Mar-Vell must defend himself from the self-repairing Sentry with nominal support from the base’s troops, one of whom mishears his name as “Captain Marvel.”  Nobody but the captive Una suspects that the Sentry was activated by Yon-Rogg, who anticipates and foils her attempt to monitor Mar-Vell’s status via a mend-mek repair robot; “Walt Lawson’s” suspicious hotel clerk, Jeremy Logan, tampers with his carrier bag and heads for the base, heedless of the ominous click he heard.  After seemingly destroying the Sentry by fusing its circuits with a magnetic charge, Mar-Vell is regarded by Carol Danvers—whose life he saved—and the men as a hero, while Yon-Rogg gets a warning from Ronan for jeopardizing the mission.

MB: “The immediate response of Marveldom Assembled was so overwhelmingly enthusiastic…that we had no choice but to give Captain Marvel his own mag—at once!!”  The tagline on the cover of the “big premiere issue” (one of three this month), above its unusually jubilant pose for one of their most introspective characters, nails what sets “Marvel’s space-born super-hero” apart:  he’s Not From Around Here, which automatically gives his adventures a scope and grandeur lacking in other titles.  By definition, his very presence here on Earth bespeaks the possibility of galactic warfare, and you can’t get more dramatic than that as a backdrop for his exploits, with Thomas’s script and Colan’s art both rising to the occasion, plus the delicious prospect of the Super-Skrull.
Could you repeat that please?

PE: I know I should be praising Roy Thomas for raising a comic strip to adult levels but perhaps it's been raised to a level more adult than mine as I have a hard time keeping up with what's going on. After 21 pages (why the extra page here?) of endless word balloons ("I'll set my uni-beam lens for maximum power...") and characters I can't keep track of, I'm almost ready for a Roy Thomas-scripted X-Men to bring me back to comic earth. What I will thank Roy for is adding a new dopey blonde to the hallowed ranks of BMDs (Brainless Marvel Dames) in Carol Danvers, whose perfect tresses and orange culottes are matched only by her pithy dialogue:

"... strange, but I recall almost nothing from my experience! I must have entered some short-lived state of shock! Perhaps it's only the security officer in me-- but I wish I knew more about the helmeted stranger who rescued me! But somehow I feel certain that we'll meet again!"

Maybe I just need to get a few more issues under my belt. Nice Colan art though.

The Incredible Hulk 103
Our Story

The Hulk is back in town, at Times Square in New York City to be exact, after having been sent there by Odin from Asgard.  The Hulk causes a little bit of property damage before he turns back into Bruce Banner.  Banner is on the run and the only place he can go to is to Rick Jones’s apartment.  While he waits, Bruce turns on a television talk show in time to see Rick basically wash his hands of his former friend, declaring that he should be destroyed, due to his having been slapped by the Hulk in a previous story.  When Rick shows up at his apartment, he almost shoots Bruce but can’t bring himself to do it.  Betty shows up also and is hit by a mind control ray from outer space, sent by the Space Parasite named Randau.  This alien has been monitoring the Hulk from his spaceship because of his immense power.  The Parasite feeds off of other powerful beings in order to maintain his strength; otherwise, he will die.  He is also being observed by his own race of alien people.  In conversation, the aliens relate how Randau was a former leader of theirs who used untested technology to make himself more powerful in order to combat a possible alien invasion.  The rays that he bathed in worked, but at the price of making Randau a mad tyrant constantly killing and taking other creatures’ energy away.  He has spent the last several years conquering various aliens in his quest to remain alive.  As his fellow race of aliens gets ready for the right time to kill him, the Parasite takes on the Hulk in a wild brawl.  They hit each other with just about everything.  In the end, the Hulk is able to shrug off the Parasite’s powers of absorption and defeat him.  Dying from lack of energy, he asks the Hulk to kill him but the Hulk refuses.  The Living Parasite tries to transport to his ship in space.  However, his former colleagues blow up the ship in an attempt to kill him.  Left alone in outer space, Randau rests on a piece of scrap from his ship, waiting to die.  Back in New York, several cops hit the Hulk with gas canisters.  This causes the Hulk to change back into Banner with the cops apparently capturing him.

Tom:   You can’t always judge a book by its cover.  In this case, an experienced comic reader like myself (ass)umed that this issue would feature a lame villain who would get pulverized by the Hulk, never to be heard from again.  The Living Parasite did get his butt kicked, but this issue was great because, as usual, the creators gave him a pretty awesome back story that made the alien more interesting then the Hulk.  After a quick internet check, I found that Randau’s last appearance was in 2007, where he was chopped in half by future Silver Surfer villain Terrax the Tamer.  I guess it’s hard to keep a good Parasite dude down.

Oh yeah, I forgot I was the Hulk
for a moment there
MB: Giacoia is back, after being spelled by Tuska last month, for what almost feels like Space Parasite Comics #1, with Special Guest-Star the Incredible Hulk!  We certainly learn a lot about the erstwhile King Randau for a villain who, I believe, would go on to make but one more Silver- or Bronze-Age appearance almost two years hence, which leaves very little for our hero to do but change back and forth a few times (encompassing some very EC-ish panels set in Rick’s apartment) and fight the obligatory battle.  My major complaint about this issue is that Rick, normally the Hulk’s staunchest supporter—in contrast to Betty, who really cares only what happens to Bruce—both looks and acts out of character, although Ross and Talbot look just fine.

Jack: I wondered if Rick was hit by the Space Parasite's hypno-ray the way that Betty was. I don't think it's clear but that would explain a lot. Why does Hulk seem to change back to Banner at the worst possible moments? He's either falling from a great height or clinging to the ledge of a high building. You'd think the change would come on once in awhile when he's just lounging around. For once, we can pinpoint the exact date of this episode: Hulk falls into Yankee Stadium while the annual Mayor's Trophy game between the Mets and Yankees is going on across town at Shea Stadium. This was May 27, 1968, and the Mets won, 4-3.

Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner 1
Our Story

As he lays buried under tons of ice inside an arctic cave, Namor appears to be dead as the madman known as Destiny cackles with glee.  The Sub-Mariner is still alive, though, as he gets flashbacks that fill in the spaces of memory loss that he has struggled with over the years.  Through these memory recoveries we learn how Namor was conceived when his Atlantean mother ventured to the surface world and met the human Captain McKenzie.  Their happy marriage was short lived when troops from Atlantis shot and killed the Captain.  Namor is seen growing up into a fighting warrior, battling underwater enemies and fighting the Axis Powers during WWII.  In a huge revelation, Namor discovers that Destiny was responsible for the death of his mother and many of his people, all because the villain was experimenting with his powers.  Namor and some troops had gone up to the surface to investigate what had been causing the traumatic tremors in Atlantis.  After his men were wiped out in a blast, he found Destiny and engaged him in battle.  The villain’s powers were too strong for Namor as he used his mind control to show him the death of his mom and everyone else who didn’t escape the underwater earth quake caused by Destiny’s mind control.  He then banished Namor to the surface world with no memory of his past.  It is here that we get a recap of Namor’s first appearance in the Fantastic Four comic, where he was discovered by Johnny Storm.  In the end, Destiny goes off to rule the world while Namor breaks out from all the ice.  Namor swears revenge on Destiny and all mankind.   

MB: Any disappointment I felt that the briefly resurgent Gene Colan did not make the jump to Subby’s solo title was more than compensated for by the fact that Big John Buscema replaced him, with Frank Giacoia’s inks—carried over from the Iron Man and Sub-Mariner one-shot, along with writer Roy Thomas and the Destiny plotline—to sweeten an already yummy pot.  Even my butchered Tales to Astonish Vol. 2 reprint, shorn of three pages (the dirty little secret of those beloved '70s titles), shows Namor to be in good hands with the Avengers team of Roy and John; the artwork is nothing short of sensational, and Subby’s origin, doubtless welcomed by Professor Jack, not only is integral to the story for a change but also contributes new information.

Jack: This is one of the all-time great Marvel covers of the 60s, in my opinion. The origin story is well done, tying together all of the loose ends of Namor's story effectively, despite the slightly confusing role of Destiny. What gets me is the whirlwind courtship between Princess Fen and Captain McKenzie--in one panel, she's thinking about how to escape, since she can only breathe out of water for five hours at a time. In the next panel, they're getting married! What happened in those five days? She did not speak English, was blue, and kept having to jump in the water! Capt. McKenzie must have been quite the player.

Ultimately, this man's Destiny
may rely on a good podiatrist
If only Bill Everett had been around
to draw this issue!
PE: Roy Thomas was the first of a new breed: the writer raised on a voracious appetite of Golden Age comic books who brought that love to his job. That's a double-edged sword in that Roy knows his stuff and he's able to tie current comic events to the past but it can also hinder originality. Here we have the first recorded instance of Marvel Fill-It-In (aka Marvel Revisionism). The writer, perhaps jonesing for the good old days of comics, perhaps hitting a wall just before a deadline, takes an established story and "fills in the cracks" or elaborates as in this issue, where we see the events that lead up to the Sub-Mariner's first appearance in the Silver Age (Fantastic Four #4). It's gotta be pretty easy to write a story like this. All you need is a typewriter and a copy of the original comic (curiously Jack Kirby isn't even acknowledged despite his contribution to the Subby mythos). In the decades to follow, various writers will take established events and screw with them both wondrously (the "true origin" of the Vision as told by Steve Englehart in The Avengers, 1975) and wastefully  (see, once again, J. Michael Straczynski's "Sins Past" in The Amazing Spider-Man, 2004). We get a hint, in Destiny, of what was to come five years later when Big John Buscema would take over Conan the Barbarian and make the title his own. I do have a problem with Destiny's left leg, which stands at an angle no biped could possibly get away with without pain medication and a walker.

Tom:  For a first issue, it’s hard to complain about this one.  Sure, they dragged out Namor’s first appearance in Fantastic Four a little too long but, besides that, it was a pretty entertaining yarn.  Destiny is proving himself to be a very interesting and formidable foe for the underwater prince.  If Conan the Barbarian and Cousin Eerie had a kid, he would look kind of like this guy.  It’s too bad for Destiny that for all those years he spent in the arctic, having his body and mind grow to superior levels, he didn’t have a dentist on hand to fix his teeth.     

Captain America 101
Our Story

Nazi war criminal Werner Von Krimm (aka The Butcher of Lichtengarten) has been living a quiet life as a jewelry merchant until the fiend is spotted on the street by Captain America. Cap's about to put Von Krimm down when he's interrupted by Nick Fury, who tells the man to go on his way. Cap is understandably Fury-ious until Nick tells him he's planted a SHIELD-tracer on The Butcher. This proves to be advantageous as we find out shortly that Von Krimm is now working for The Red Skull! Yes, we know by all appearances that The Skull was blowed up real good in an atomic submarine in Tales of Suspense #91 but anyone with a working knowledge of atomic submarines can tell you that they come equipped with escape nodules. Anyway, The Skull's latest plot is to awaken his "fourth sleeper" and he only awaits Von Krimm, who holds the key to The Sleeper's crypt. Once the robot is activated, he proves to be too much for even The Skull to handle.

PE: I'm as up for a Sleeper story as the next Marvel nut but this is another one of those times when Stan plays with his mythos as he sees fit. Why wouldn't a fourth sleeper have been activated shortly after the failure of the first three? There was no mention of a fourth sleeper. In fact, those of us still awake will remember that the three sleepers formed "a really big UFO with a head."Is there a fifth sleeper awaiting a new dawn?

MB: So far, I’ve been pretty satisfied with Syd Shores’s work on the Silver-Age Cap, and I’m the first to admit that the Red Skull is not the easiest guy in the world to draw, but I must say Kirby’s rendition looked a lot better when he was paired with Chic Stone or Frank Giacoia in the early days of his Suspense stint.  As well, Stan seems to be in a bit of an unseemly haste here; when you bring back a bad guy of the Skull’s magnitude, and introduce something as potentially momentous as a Fourth Sleeper, you want to take the time to do it up right, especially now that you have the luxury of entire issues at your disposal.  Yet Cap seems to be barely out of his oversized airbag when the Skull is seemingly bested again in a single issue—what’s the rush?

PE: Kirby again proves he's the master of really cool-looking robot-things with the awakening of The Sleeper from his tomb. Syd Shores' inks look A-OK to me as does this version of The Red Skull (whose voice, Stan explains, is like "frosted gravel"). Syd's helping hand seems to transport The King back to his 1940s days and that, to me, is essential for a strip like Captain America. Stan's reaching for the brass ring as well this issue, his writing crackling and popping in all the right places, as in the climactic struggle between the two foes, a classic one, with The Skull continually berating Cap for protecting a rotting society: 

"Look around you! The world is consumed by greed, crime, and bigotry! Men are no more than animals! Can't you see?? You're an anachronism! You belong in the dead past! The world -- has no more use -- for idealism!"

Stan does what Stan does best

Pretty heady stuff for a funny book, no? It's tough to decide which is my favorite Marvel Comic right now: Cap or Thor, both not so coincidentally by the team of Kirby and Lee. A very intelligent reader by the name of Pete Snyder begins to piece together the true identity of Agent 13. After a lengthy synopsis of (who we now know are) Sharon and Peggy Carter, Pete wraps up his missive with the pithy question: "Whatever happened to Agent 13 and who was her sister?" Stan (or whoever answers these things) plays dumb with "... we don't know who she is. Only that exists, or existed." Stay tuned as answers are due fairly soon.

The Avengers 52
Our Story

Deciding that the best way to arrive at Avengers Mansion at night is to sneak in, the Panther comes upon the seemingly dead bodies of Hawkeye, Goliath and the Wasp. He is arrested for their murder and must escape to defeat the real culprit: the Grim Reaper, brother of the late Wonder Man, who seeks vengeance on the team he thinks killed his brother.

MB:  Vince Colletta seems to have inherited Inker of the Month honors from George Tuska (who preceded him on this title), also adding Captain Marvel to his usual duties on Thor.  I am uncharacteristically unable to find much fault with his efforts here, which is just one of the many things that went so utterly right with this issue, but at the risk of seeming to take Big John Buscema’s sublime pencils for granted, which I can assure you I do not, I think the top honors in this case have to go to Roy Thomas.  His script not only contrives to introduce the Panther (who, fortunately, will soon be sporting his full-face mask) via a virtual solo story, but also conjures up the spirit of Wonder Man without actually resurrecting him, which would be left to other writers.

The "Agile African"!
Jack: As Prof. Matthew points out, this is the first issue of Black Panther comics, just as this month's issue of X-Men reads like an issue of The Angel comics. On the letters page we find a missive by 15 year old Mike Uslan, who would break into comics writing over at DC in 1975 and go on to earn boatloads of cash producing Batman movies.

We forgive you, Natasha--now
hurry up and get into that '70s outfit!

The Mighty Thor 152
Our Story

The Mighty Thor forces the Destroyer back out of the alley into which their battle has led them. The master of destruction grabs Thor’s thrown Mjolnir from returning to its master; then, after a near miss return blow, promptly falls lifeless to the ground. All-Father Odin witnesses these events in far-off Asgard, and suspects correctly that the answer lies in the Norn Kingdom where Balder prepares to wage battle with the mightiest of trolls, Ulik. In exchange, Karnilla has released Sif from the Destroyer’s body. Back on Earth, a tall imposing older man “from the museum” arrives at the police station where the body of the Destroyer has been held, and as soon as the backs of the officers are turned, the mysterious man (guess who?) and the Destroyer have vanished. The queen of the Norns uses her magic to bring the Thunder God to her lair, where he relieves valiant Balder in battling Ulik. With his powers returned, Thor and Ulik are evenly matched. Thor gets an unexpected break when the wall behind Ulik shatters from the force of his blow, and the troll tumbles into the bottomless Abyss Of Shadows. Just as victory seems won, Thor realizes his hammer is missing. When his hammer fell loose during the battle, it was taken by his evil brother Loki, now departed for Midgard.

The short-lived Inhumans mini-series comes to an end this month, as Triton comes back on land to try to reason with humans, any who will listen. When he realizes fear will prevent any positive contact, Triton returns to the island of Attilan, where his experience convinces Black Bolt to find a safer place for the Inhumans to hide from the rest of the human race.

With or without boots, Ulik is fershizzle!

JB: Another fabulous Thor villain returns: the monstrous Ulik. While his new found powers of enchantment seem to already have been forgotten, the mighty troll is always a guilty pleasure. Having Balder wage the battle in Thor’s absence is a nice touch; a reminder to me how underrated the brave Asgardian is. Even with fear as her spur for releasing Sif’s spirit from the Destroyer, a little jealousy for Balder on Karnilla’s part is evident. And is Sif just concerned for her friend, or have the last months together harbored a fondness for her battle companion?

MB: So Thor, at first without his full power, must battle in quick succession the Wrecker, Sif-as-the-Destroyer, and Ulik. Man!  We’ve got to give this boy a break next issue, and put him up against, I don’t know, the Chameleon or something.  Oh, wait.  Loki’s got his hammer. Dang.  As usual, Colletta saves his best work for this title, and the organized chaos he and the King (not to mention that Lee guy) unleash across these pages is pretty impressive, although it seems odd that they titled this yarn “The Dilemma of Dr. Blake!,” since our, uh, physically challenged medico is nowhere to be seen.  Judging by that last panel, it appears that the Inhumans co-feature has come to an abrupt end, and even if it never seemed like a natural fit with Thor, I do lament its passing.
Depriving these guys of
their own series is... inhuman!

PE: The battles with Ulik, initiated by Balder and climaxed by Thor, are grand ones but the Destroyer storyline seems to sputter and die in the first few pages. The arc was pretty much wrapped up in the last issue and, for some reason, Stan and Jack opted for a rehash in the first few pages here. The quick toss away of an interesting arc like that seems to be indicative of Kirby's impatience to tell more stories and just get on with it. And how in the world can Loki steal Thor's hammer, a theft we've come to believe in the last 70 issues is nigh impossible. Surely Loki cannot be one who is "worthy"? Would Odin really pop down to the precinct to claim his lost pooch? More likely he'd use one of his Asgardian Proto-Seismo-Beams to transport the fallen bodyguard back home.

JB: Ulik seems to have time to take his boots on and off between battle panels; smelly troll feet might be a good secret weapon! Maybe Odin just needed a trip to Earth (just as Thor gets to leave Earth for a the first time in over a year, Marvel time) because he was bored of sitting in his throne room; the least he could do was hang around until Loki arrived and get the hammer back.  I’m going to consider the cover title, “The Wrath Of The Warrior!” as the real one. Usually I’d consider the first page as the official one, but “The Dilemma Of Dr. Blake!” seems like an alternate title for next issue.

Fantastic Four 74
Our Story

Ben brings a gift to his girlfriend Alicia, to find her with a visitor—the Silver Surfer. The former herald of Galactus informs the skeptical Thing that his former master is returning. His return, the boarder informs them, is a dire sign. Galactus had sworn never to return to Earth, and any deviation from the word of one so honorable can only mean he is close to starvation. The Surfer has been summoned to return to his heralding duties by Galactus, and though he longs to return to space, the silver one doesn’t wish to be the bringer of death to innocent worlds. Ben gets a ride to the Baxter Building on the Silver Surfer’s board, moments before the first sign of Galactus’s return appears, in the form of his half living/half robot, the deadly Punisher. An atom-compacting force beam from the Surfer contains the Punisher for a few moments, but no sooner does a curious Ben touch the rocklike cocoon than it shatters. Created by Galactus, the Punisher appears small, but has tremendous strength and speed, as well as a plethora of other powers. Stronger than Ben and immune to Johnny’s flame, the duo holds their own but no more. From a nearby building, Reed and Crystal (trying to comfort a pregnant Sue) spot the battle with the Punisher. Reed makes a quick excuse to leave and join the battle, leaving Crystal to keep watch over his wife. While Reed is no match for the alien, he does save Johnny from drowning, until the Thing rejoins the battle. A sort of victory is achieved when Galactus calls back the Punisher, who disappears in a flash. Galactus, at the edge of our solar system, scans our world for the Silver Surfer with a beam of force. As the F.F. ponder what’s next, Johnny recalls that the Silver Surfer, before he disappeared, said something about “worlds within worlds.”

JB: There’s nothing like classic characters to give a title an epic adventure, and we begin one here. I read these a long time ago, so I can’t recall what comes next, only that it didn’t disappoint. Even just seeing the cover would get your heart beating fast! The Punisher is a gem of a “minor” critter; this is the battle we didn’t get to explore back in F.F. #49, even if he looks like a cool robot/frog hybrid. The full-page arrival of the hungry Galactus is suitably threatening. The human struggles our heroes go through here really make them seem real; it’d be tough being a super hero and still have normal life to deal with. I guess we don’t have it so bad. The Surfer’s continued affinity with Alicia, for example, is one such example; the blind to see beauty motif, as well as Reed and Sue’s family issues our faculty points out. It’s looking like 1968 is a banner year for the F.F., as well as Thor, among others.

MB: I’ve seen many comments here and on Bronze Age Babies about how Peter Parker’s personal life is often worth the price of admission alone, and I agree, yet I believe one reason Spidey and the FF both became such icons is that they are structural opposites.  You can tell me ad infinitum that the FF was a knockoff of the JSA/JLA, but I’ll bet DC hadn’t had a team whose members were a family, with no secret identities, so that the super-hero and soap-opera stuff were seamlessly integrated, as demonstrated here with the debates over Sue’s pregnancy. And oh, by the way, the spectacularly drawn Galactus, the Surfer (whose poor treatment by Ben still rankles me, since he oughtta be more empathetic toward misfits), and the original Punisher are back, too!

PE: A crackingly good first chapter in what seems to be an epic in the making. I've never read this era of FF 'til now but, of course, I've read of the legendary Kirby/Lee mass exodus of amazing ideas from brain to paper. This installment perfectly illustrates how to set up a big arc while still keeping the interest high. Exploring the problems regarding the impending motherhood of a superheroine should provide the boys plenty of subplot fodder. I'd love to know if Jack and Stan sat down and thought about all those problems before jumping in or were they winging it?  Apropos of nothing, whatever happened to Wyatt Wingfoot? Another classic cover, by the way.

Marvel Super-Heroes 14
The Amazing Spider-Man
Our Story

In a dark New York brownstone study sits The Sorcerer, a former psychic phenomena researcher who has decided to use his knowledge of the dark arts to forge a career of crime. To prove himself, his first victim will be The Amazing Spider-Man. The Sorcerer uses black magic and a voodoo doll of Spidey to cloud the wall-crawler's mind, leaving him near-helpless. The evil genius coerces Spider-Man to travel to New Orleans where a huge synthetic man is waiting to knock his block off. Spidey fights a hard battle against the giant but fate intervenes and our hero is granted a reprieve thanks to the United States Postal Service.

PE: Maybe it's because it's hot on the heels of the wall-crawler's double vision in his regular title (and his recent amnesia) but I've had enough of a cloudy headed Spider-Man. You can tell this was a "shelf story" without Stan's disclaimer when Spidey exclaims that he's never felt like this before, clearing forgetting what he's been through lately. Maybe the amnesia is acting up at the same time? I made a joke back there in my comments for The Amazing Spider-Man #60 about the "malady of the month" without having yet read this adventure. How about a broken leg or arm next time, Stan? The Sorcerer is another one of those villains with iffy motives. If they defeat a superhero, they reason, it will get them lots of street cred. It's a lazy way to produce a motive. It also seems a bit suspect to me that The Sorcerer presents himself as a great wizard but needs a "Psycho-Intensifier" to aid him in his bad juju. As far as I can tell, this was the only appearance by The Sorcerer and his Synthetic (Hollow) Man.

MB:  This is a rare case of a story I remember our owning back in the day that did not survive to join my collection, and by the time it was reprinted in a treasury edition, I thought nothing of seeing Spidey drawn by Ross Andru (with Bill Everett inks).  But it was five years before the Boss became his regular penciler, and the Bullpen page calls it “a different type of Spider-Man—drawn by a different artist—just as an experiment.  We couldn’t decide what to do with it—so, instead of keeping it hidden on a shelf,” they popped it in the spot just vacated by Captain Marvel.  I’ve always considered it a honey, with an unusual script by Stan and awesome artwork; that shot of Spidey’s fist going right through the Synthetic Man stuck with me for years.

PE: But Spidey's fist in that panel looks to be about the size of his chest! This story was plodding along like a big dumb gorilla, nothing special in my opinion, until we came to the abrupt finale, an ingenious little twist that's aided by hints throughout the story. Spider-Man never finds out who was behind the giant "Synthetic Man" (who's weirdly referred to by The Sorcerer as "The Hollow Man" only once) nor why it stops its rampage and heads off into the water. In fact, Spidey can't possibly know there is someone guiding the monster. As far as he knows, this was the menace. Getting back to that twist, it's nice to see that, after being ignored for seven years, America's true heroes are acknowledged by Stan. Without the heroic efforts of the men and women of the US Postal Service, would we have gotten our subscriber copies in such great condition when we were kids? I like that Ross Andru is dipping into a character that would make him a household name (well, at least in the Enfantino household) in five years hence but I prefer Frank Giacoia's inking to this issue's assist from Bill Everett. Rounding out this issue are five slices of Golden Age Magic: a Bill Everett Sub-Mariner story from Sub-Mariner Comics #34 (June 1954); a Human Torch and Toro tale from Young Men #25 (February 1954); "Mercury," featuring the first Marvel art by Jack Kirby (from Red Raven Comics #1, August 1940); another gorgeous Joe Maneely "Black Knight" story from Black Knight #2 (July 1955); and a Captain America story with sub-par art by Mort Lawrence and Stan Goldberg from Men's Adventures #27 (May 1954). As is usually the case, the Maneely steals the show.

One more time! Joe Maneely, ladies and gentlemen!

Also this month

Captain Savage and His Leatherneck Raiders #3
Marvel Tales #14
Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos #54

Jack: A record for Marvel--only three comics in "also this month!" This month saw 15 comics with new material, 13 of them with super-heroes. Wow!


  1. Indeed, Professor Jack, I remember commenting when Steranko first turned the embellishment over to a dedicated inker (Giacoia at the time, I believe) that the move seemed to offest his problem with faces. Still loving my Sinnott.

    I think I picked up "dealio" from that great melting pot of pop-culture references, THE SIMPSONS, with no idea that it was spawned by the hip-hop-rap-crap milieu I so despise. Must now wash my mind out with soap to compensate.

    Totally with you on that SUB-MARINER cover.

  2. Here's the uncensored version of page 5 of the Nick Fury story in ST #168.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  3. Hmmm, I thought I put this in the first post. John Romita was instructed to alter the Red Skull's head on the cover of CA #101 because the original was deemed to be too frightening.

    The original version eventually found its way to Marvel Super-Action #2.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  4. Curious how they just happened to have that Andru / Everett Spidey story lying around to slot into MSH on short notice -- maybe it was originally intended for an Annual or something? Far as I know, this was years before Marvel was in the habit of prepping inventory stories to avoid the Dreaded Deadline Doom. Also, it's kind of hard to imagine that the Captain Marvel strip was so phenomenally successful that they gave him his own title after a mere three installments. I'd almost suspect it was the beginning of a bigger strategy to grab market share on the spinner racks, except that I'm pretty sure Marvel was still constrained by the terms of their distribution deal with DC at the time.

    Ah, Big John on Subby -- this is Buscema On Fire. Ultra-dynamic action posing, superb draftsmanship, imaginative panel arrangements, total command of light and shadow, it's all here.
    The next year-and-a-half / two years if his work are what I consider to be his artistic peak.


  5. When Martin Goodman first struck the deal with Independent News in 1957, they were pretty strict about the number of titles he was allowed to publish. He created a roster of bi-monthly books, to create the illusion that Atlas had twice as much product on the stands. For a new title to appear, an old title had to be cancelled.

    In the 1960s, he was able to slip the occasional title onto the schedule while staying under Independent's radar, but generally, they kept the lid on Goodman. From time to time he had meetings with them asking for an increase in the number of titles he could publish. They would screw around with him, suggesting they might let him have more books at one meeting, then change their minds at the next.

    In late 1966/early 1967, Goodman, believing he was close to striking a deal, instructed Stan to prepare a couple of titles to be fast tracked should Independent give him the green light. Those titles were "The Inhumans" and "The Black Panther." As we know, Independent stuck to their guns, and neither title appeared at that time. It's suspected that the story appearing as a backup in Thor was a re-jigged version of what would have been Inhumans #1. Despite the setback, by late 1967, Independent began to loosen it's grip on Goodman's distribution deal.

    At this time Stan also promoted the Silver Surfer, giving him a solo backup story in FF Annual #5 and displaying him prominently on the covers of FF #72 and #74. Incredibly, the FF don't appear at all on either cover. It's most likely Stan was testing the waters for a Silver Surfer book. Goodman also trademarked the name "Captain Marvel" which had just fallen into disuse. To protect the trademark he told Stan to create a new Captain Marvel character. I suspect this is why Captain Marvel was rushed into production, and received his own book so suddenly ... the character carried the Marvel name, and simply had to exist, and had to be heavily promoted. Finally, in 1968, Independent allowed Goodman to increase in the number of titles in the Marvel roster. Initially, the simplest way to do this was to give the characters sharing the split titles their own book, but there was more to come.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  6. Fabulous info, as usual, Glenn, thanks much. I never realized until you produced the evidence that the FF were absent from the cover of their own magazine!

  7. Glenn, allow me to second Peter's enthusiastic thanks. If I had your information when I wrote my portions of these posts (usually a couple of months ahead of "publication"), they would be a great deal more complete and/or accurate! :-) I had heard rumblings before about the abortive INHUMANS book---am I right that some of those early AMAZING ADVENTURES stories may have come from there?---but not about THE BLACK PANTHER.

    It's fascinating---and sad---to see that when it comes to CAPTAIN MARVEL, you can pinpoint exactly where they decided to stop giving the book a serious push. Suddenly, effective with issue #5, it plummets from Thomas and Colan to Arnold Drake and Don Heck, hardly Marvel's top talent at the time. The drop-off in quality is astounding, and it's tough to believe this is the same book they'd recently touted so heavily.

    Curious postscript to the Goodman anecdotes: for a while in my youth, my Dad decided I had too many of those damned comic-book rags cluttering up the house, so he decreed (rather like Independent News) that for every new one I bought, I had to throw an old one out. Time has mercifully erased from my memory the details of which casualties resulted from this SOPHIE'S CHOICE-like ordeal, and a concomitant awareness of what they would cost today---or of how much I probably paid to replace them in my so-called maturity---but in any case, I believe that excruciating experiment was short-lived.

  8. Thanks guys. As far as I've been able to learn, when Martin Goodman instructed Stan to prepare a couple of titles, he figured the simplest solution was to launch characters who had featured in the FF. Kirby penciled the proposed Inhumans story, but I don't think the Black Panther got past the planning stage. After it became apparent that Independent had changed their mind, Stan figured he'd use the Inhumans story as a backup in Thor.

    To fit the backup format, Kirby had to produce the extra splash pages, and shuffle some of the story into five page chapters. Joe Sinnott was then brought in to complete the job. The later Inhumans stories in Amazing Adventures were probably not pre-existing material, but another attempt by Stan to generate interest in the characters.

    Captain Marvel received a bit of free publicity ... from The Beatles.

    In 1968, they released what is now known as "The White Album." Back then it was a double L.P. with a blank cover, with the words "THE BEATLES" embossed on the front in small letters. There was no text on the cover, and no track listing, or any other information on the sleeve. The songs were, however, listed on the labels of each record. The Beatles were so influential, they could release a double album with no information and no cover artwork, and still make it to #1.

    One song, "The continuing story of Bungalow Bill" featured these lyrics:

    Deep in the jungle where the mighty tiger lies
    Bill and his elephants were taken by surprise
    So Captain Marvel zapped him right between the eyes

    The Beatles may or may not have been referring to the original CM, but from Stan's point of view, the timing was perfect.

    Matthew, your Father was more systematic than my Mother. She simply threw my comic books out on the assumption that I'd had them for so long that I must have read them. I soon learned that I had to come up with some good hiding places, and make sure she didn't see me bring any new comic books into the house.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  9. I wonder if the Fab Four were thinking of the Big Red Cheese, later known in the UK as Marvelman?

  10. Well, we know that McCartney was a Grade-A Marvel Zombie (I've been trying to get Macca to contribute to MU but he tells me he's really busy) but Bungalow Bill was written by John so who knows?

  11. Did some cursory Internoodling myself, and have yet to see anybody claim to know for sure which Captain Marvel the lyric referred to. But as Glenn correctly points out, from Stan's perspective, it was perfect--to paraphrase Criswell in PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, can you prove he WASN'T talking about Mar-Vell? :-) My knowledge of the Big Red Chese is slim to none, but I will leave you with this thought: did he actually "zap" people, the way Mar-Vell could with his Uni-Beam? If not, that may be your answer right there. It's a thought...