Captain Marvel 11
Marvel Super-Heroes 19
Ka-Zar breaks up a fox hunt arranged by his brother, who reminds the Jungle Lord that their father was a power-crazed evildoer who tried to harness dangerous anti-metal that he discovered in the Savage Land. Ka-Zar realizes that his brother wants to same thing and heads back to his jungle habitat, where the noble Golden People have been driven from their home by the Reptile Men. The scaly folk are enamored by a space alien who recently crash landed in their midst and who draws strength from the supply of anti-metal in the jungle. Ka-Zar defeats the alien just as his brother arrives to try to steal the precious material; poor Ka-Zar never learns the truth about his father who was, in reality, a peaceful man.
PE: There's so much going on in this story, it's hard to keep track. The art (by George Tuska and Sid Greene) and script (by MU dartboard target Arnold Drake and newcomer Steve Parkhouse) are predictably mediocre but then so's the character. That's why the strip (ostensibly a "banked" story that was destined to run in the aborted Ka-Zar solo title) ended up in MSH. Why Ka-Zar would accept an invitation to come stay with his hated brother (aka The Plunderer) is anyone's guess. Parkhouse was a British writer who co-wrote this script and one more for Marvel (the upcoming Nick Fury #12) and then returned to England, where he found success as an artist on 2000AD, Warrior and Doctor Who.
Jack: Just dreadful! Why are we reading this stuff again? I had to laugh when Vanessa, a woman who is hanging out with the Plunderer, is rescued by a nearly naked Ka-Zar and remarks on his "strange clothes." What she really meant to say was "loin cloth," but she was too busy drooling. This story reminded me yet again why I don't read comics with art by George Tuska. Life is too short.
PE: Elsewhere in this issue, The Human Torch fights the laughably uniformed The Vulture in a reprint from Young Men #26 (March 1954); Bill Everett's Marvel Boy tackles Pasha, the evil magician, in a story reprinted from Astonishing #6 (1951); the untouchable Joe Maneely descends from Heaven to grace us with another gorgeous Black Knight yarn (who reads these things?) from Black Knight #3 (September 1955); and Namor is captured by armored aliens who want the people of Earth to give up their atomic and hydrogen bomb testing...or else (also from Young Men #26). Those aliens, by the way, are revealed in the climax to be...you'll never believe it...commies!
Jack: The Human Torch story ends with the bad guy escaping and an atomic bomb going off, which I'd say was not a very successful outing for our boy in red. Marvel Boy divides his time between Earth and Uranus, no pun intended. I gave up reading the reprints halfway through the Marvel Boy story and just flipped through the last two stories to admire the art by Maneely and Everett.
The Amazing Spider-Man 70
With The Kingpin in jail, The Amazing Spider-Man has one more problem on his hands (or his back): how to get rid of a supernaturally gifted ancient tablet when the cops are ready for you on every corner? Our favorite wall-crawler doesn't have time to stew though as The Kingpin breaks out of prison and comes looking for him. A battle ensues and, yet again, the fat man escapes, this time courtesy of his mysterious wife. After the big man's flight, Spider-Man has a heated confrontation with J. Jonah Jameson, who collapses, ostensibly from a heart attack.
The Hulk crash lands back on Earth after having a close call with the cabin pressure nearly killing Bruce Banner. The Sandman has been plotting vengeance against the Fantastic Four since his last defeat at their hands. He reads in the daily newspaper that a special ship that can travel across dimensions has just been built at a U.S. Air force base. The villain wants to use the ship so he can travel to the Negative Zone to bring back his old partner in crime, Blastaar. The Sandman finds the Hulk sleeping near the base and tries to order him around. After a brief skirmish, Sandman is able to trick the Hulk into attacking the military base for him. As the Hulk readies to wreck the station, he realizes that Betty may be staying there. It’s too late, though, as army troops have already spied the green monster and attack. Betty, along with Thunderbolt Ross and Talbot, are all at the base to witness this. The Sandman takes advantage of the confusion to drive off in a truck that is hauling the ship. He is about to crash into a car with Betty inside of it before the Hulk intervenes. The two powerhouses battle it out pretty evenly until the Hulk creates a tornado by swinging shattered ship pieces around. This causes the Sandman to be literally blown away. In the end, the Hulk leaps away a hero, while the Sandman regroups and promises to get his revenge.
|Is this the end of the Sandman? Nah...|
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. 10
Dr. Strange figures that he needs to find other Sons of Satannish to reverse Asmodeus’s spell calling forth the fire and ice gods, so he sends his astral body to England seeking help from Victoria Bentley. Ms. Bentley is hosting a party and one of her guests happens to be her new neighbor, the Black Knight! Dr. Strange enlists his aid and they journey to the 6th dimension, where Tiboro guards the banished Sons of Satannish. Dr. Strange and the Black Knight battle Tiboro and emerge victorious, taking the Sons of Satannish back to Earth to meet the challenge of the waiting demons of fire and ice.
|Victoria Bentley, |
Alexander Summers, brother of Scott "Cyclops" Summers, has latent mutant powers but he doesn't know just yet and his brother has been staying mum on the subject until Alex is old enough to handle the news. Now, Scott's hand is forced when Alex is kidnapped by The Living Pharaoh, who is convinced that Alex Summers is the only obstacle to world domination. After a battle ensues between Cyclops and The Pharaoh (with Alex a witness), Scott is knocked unconscious and awakes to find his brother gone, The Pharaoh dead, and cops accusing him of the murder. Cyclops must escape to prove his innocence.
JS: So after an opening splash with Cyclops caught dead to rights by museum security, he offers the most ridiculous transition to the flashback with the line, "It started on a lovely spring day..."
PE: I've never seen Jean Grey use her mental powers to smell out "mind patterns of the last people in the room" to track down kidnapping victims. New power time? The Pharaoh's line, "like ten thousand bolts of lightning strikes" might sound familiar as it was used in the Ka-Zar strip this month over in Marvel Super-Heroes #19, also written by Dra-no, who never let a really good tagline (or a bad one, obviously) die on the vine. The Loving Pharaoh's "loyal warriors" are about as hammy as Victor Buono's henchmen on Batman.
JS: It's worth noting that this issue clearly breaks from the standard panel format, with only a handful of panel borders parallel with the page borders. While the artwork within the panels pales in comparison, the panel style already has me thinking about the forthcoming arrival of Neal Adams!
Daredevil is in the middle of a heated battle against an android programmed to kill him. Even when it seems like he gets the upper hand, the robot monster keeps on fighting. It even grows to the size of a giant as it batters the hero helplessly about. Thinking fast, Daredevil times it so the android crashes into a fuse box while chasing him. This causes it to malfunction and head back to its creator to be reprogrammed. Double D follows his adversary to Starr Saxon’s lab. In the ensuing conflict, Saxon escapes, but not before he accidentally loads his robot with a photo of gangster Biggie Benson, causing his android to be programmed to kill the crook who originally hired him. Double D heads off to the penitentiary to warn the gangster. As the android busts through the prison walls, Biggie, believing that Daredevil is somehow trying to trick him, knocks the hero out. The story ends with Double D trying to remain conscious as the android closes in on Benson.
|Mighty big shoes to fill!|
Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner 11
The Sub-Mariner makes one of the hardest decisions in his life when he chooses to protect Florida from a nuclear missile instead of going after the Serpent Crown. The bomb hits Namor, but it wasn’t the real nuclear missile that Captain Barracuda has in his possession. Namor attacks a U.S. submarine that started firing against him when it saw him swimming about the harbor earlier. He just wants to reach the commanders of the ship to explain to them what is going on. Meanwhile, Captain Barracuda takes advantage of the melee to steal a control device that will let him control the direction of any torpedo. Unfortunately for him, he activates it so a recently launched missile ends up bombing his crew. With the battle seemingly over, Namor swims off undersea to find the Serpent Crown.
Tom: This is probably the worst issue to come out of the Sub-Mariner series. One wonders what the sales were like and if the changes from focusing on Namor, while he was in his own kingdom, to following his adventures near the surface world were part of shifting marketing strategies?
|"Spang" was a sound effect|
often found in Little Golden Books.
The Mighty Thor 162
Having aided Ego the Living Planet in defeating Galactus, the grateful world has sent Thor and the Recorder back to Rigel, express-style. They are greeted by the High Commissioner and his wife, Tana Nile. The plan is to disconnect the Recorder permanently, after absorbing the information from his memory banks. The Thunder God intervenes, citing the noble characteristics his companion has shown; clearly he has a soul. It is agreed by all: the Recorder shall live on! Thor returns home to Asgard, where he is greeted first by Heimdall, then the dashing Warriors Three. They make haste to the royal throne room, where All-Father Odin, with the assistance of the realms cosmic counselor Torger, shows them a vision of times past. It is the past of Galactus, or rather remnants of it. In the distant past an unnamed world has created an orbiting Incuba-Cell, designed to create a new life form. The people below, who made it, let the cell open, as they are threatened by the space fleet of a conquering race. The being within vaporizes the fleet and absorbs it energy; then does the same to the planet beneath him, unwittingly destroying the very ones who created him. Thus was born Galactus. With the audience ended and the menace of Galactus staved off for a future date, Thor turns his attention to other matters. Namely, to determine the whereabouts of his friend Balder, and his lady love Sif, the latter of whom had been sent to Earth to investigate a mystery… and has not been heard from since.
|Is that Asgardian for Tiger?|
PE: As is my wont to point out, the cover's a bit of a cheat since, aside from a sketchy and rushed three-page "origin" (which begs to be filled in and, I suspect, probably has been over the years), there's no world-gulping menace in attendance this issue. That's not to say there aren't quite a few subplot kick-offs to whet my appetite. What has become of Sif, who was sent to earth on some mystery mission and hasn't been heard from since? Why can't Balder the Brave get Queen Karnilla out of his mind? Is it of her doing or does Balder maybe have an itch he won't admit needs scratching? If Odin's so doggone worried about the threat of Galactus, why doesn't he go after him? He practically pshaws his son when Thor dares question whether his father's power matches up with the planet-drainer. I've said it before and, doubtless, I'll continue to say it: this series just keeps getting better. Name another Marvel title you can say that about in 1969.
The Invincible Iron Man 11
The Mandarin has deduced that Iron Man is, in reality, billionaire weapons manufacturer Tony Stark and intends to use this information to bankrupt Stark. But Tony didn't become a rich playboy on looks alone. Through an extremely elaborate (some would argue impossibly elaborate) ruse, Tony Stark throws The Mandarin off his scent. First, he disguises himself under his armor as a blonde beach boy so when Mandy unmasks him, the evil ring fetishist now believes that Iron Man is one of The Beach Boys. Next, Stark programs one of his LMDs (Life Model Decoys) to fool a batch of journalists at a remote cabin while Mandy views it on a television. Enraged, The Mandarin flies to the cabin to take Stark prisoner. Able to rid himself of the incredibly life-like plastic mask and then escape from his prison, Iron Man flies to the cabin to head off The Mandarin before he realizes that the Stark he saw on television is not the real McCoy. After a ferocious battle, The Mandarin takes Janice Cord hostage aboard his turbo jet craft (piloted by Mei-Ling) but I.M. is able to rescue the girl. Mei-Ling is zapped inadvertently by one of the villain's rings while delivering a touching speech on move and matrimony and the pair go out in style in a fiery explosion when the jet hits a mountain. Tony and Janice arrive back at the cabin just as the LMD is being driven away in an ambulance. Uh-oh!
|If we didn't know better, we'd swear that's the real Stark!|
|Evil genius, my ass.|
The Mighty Avengers 62
The Black Panther’s remote-controlled plane picks up the Avengers and flies them to Wakanda, where they are met by armed guards following orders from T’Challa’s second in command, M’Baku. Having grown too big for his britches in his leader’s absence, M’Baku now craves power and tries to get it by drugging the Avengers and dressing up as the Man Ape, a giant white gorilla. After a long battle with the Black Panther, the Man Ape appears to triumph, but when he tries to push the prince’s big panther statute over onto T’Challa it crumbles and kills M’Baku instead.
Jack: The Avengers is now The Mighty Avengers, at least on the cover. This issue seems like a tryout for a Black Panther comic. Oddly enough, the Black Panther suddenly reminds me of Batman, with his robot plane and his utility belt that hides miniature devices in its buckle. Who knew the Back Panther wore a belt? Holy Wakanda! As for the story, it seems that Wakanda is similar to Namor’s Atlantis, where the lead warriors can never be trusted in the prince’s absence. Sales figures are published this issue and show average sales as of October 1968 at 275,421.
Captain America 111
The training of Rick Jones to become the new Bucky Barnes becomes a daunting task for both Captain America and Rick himself. Neither believes the big boots of the long-dead Bucky can be filled overnight but frustration is getting the best of the duo. Meanwhile, Hydra begins striking at Steve Rogers, using an amusement park as its backdrop. In an effort to capture Captain America, the evil group net Rick Jones instead and use the boy to draw Cap out into the open. At the amusement park, the star-spangled Avenger is attacked by the Hydra robot known as Man-Killer but manages to destroy the machine with its own mini-missiles. Escaping from his captors, Rick Jones attempts to come to the aid of Captain America but arrives in time only to witness the shooting and apparent drowning of his new partner. The police fish a uniform and a strange Steve Rogers life-mask out of the bay. Was it the real Cap who drowned or could it be that Steve Rogers was, in fact, never Captain America?
Fantastic Four 84
Returning home from the Great Refuge in a gyro-plane gifted to them by the Inhumans, it doesn’t take long for the F.F. to be flagged down by a fleet of fighter jets, or rather the man in the lead plane: Nick Fury of Shield. He has a mystery on his hands: a robot hand, literally. It takes on a life of its own, attacking, until Johnny zaps it with his flame; not much left for Tony Stark to analyze. Fury is convinced it’s a weapon representing a deadly danger. And guess who he wants to investigate? That Richards kid back at home will have to wait a little while longer to get named. Not far away, as the crow flies, a bearded man desperately flees through a system of underground tunnels to make his escape from what he feels is a place of deadly danger that the rest of the world needs to know about. As he reaches the cave exit to the open ocean, his plan is thwarted. Flanked by protective robots stands none other than Victor Von Doom, the ruler of Latveria, and a gun blast later, the poor fellow learns the folly of trying to escape. Back with the F.F., Fury relates that one of his agents has disappeared, and he believes a small but deadly army in Europe may be the cause. Reed pieces together that it must be his old pal Dr. Doom (who else is the master of making robots?) who is behind it all. Posing as civilians on a mission, they drive into Latveria, knowing that Doom must know they are coming, and capture them. He does. Starting with a magnetic road that tears the car apart, then a hostile robot greeting designed to have a counter for each of their powers. The end result being unconsciousness, only to awake to an entirely different tune: a town’s people who greet them with a delicious breakfast and a holiday (Fantastic Four Fiesta Day) in their honour. They know it’s a sham, as is displayed when Reed forces the issue by making a dash for the town border. A force bolt stops him in his tracks, as a robotic screen rises from the ground with the face and words of Dr. Doom: stay, be happy, or die. Little does the F.F. know that their arch enemy has hypnotically planted the belief in their brains that they are powerless, as they will find out when they try to use their power.
JB: The thing that struck me about this issue is how much it reminded me of the classic TV series “The Prisoner.” The old man, sure he has made a clean escape only to be captured again, the façade of happiness everywhere, even awakening to the sounds and sights of a glorious morning; all your wants will be granted… unless you try to escape, or stir up discontent. I liked seeing them hiding in plains clothes, driving into Latveria against all good advice. This one really “feels” like a classic story breaking; somehow the Inhumans tale just past didn’t have this. Like the cover of F.F. # 39, having the larger-than-life vision of Doom watching over them makes an impressive first vision for this issue, a fitting return of perhaps their most classic foe
Also this month
Captain Savage and His Battlefield Raiders #12
Marvel Tales #19
Millie the Model #168
Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos #64