Egghead uses a death ray shot from an orbiting satellite to destroy a small western city. He then threatens to wipe out larger cities if his terms are not met. Jarvis the butler brings in mobster Barney Barton to provide details about the space station, since Egghead met with mob bosses in an attempt to raise money. The Avengers blast off for the space station, where they fight Egghead’s killer robots before he stops them with a paralysis ray. Barton saves the day by blowing up Egghead’s death ray but forfeits his life in the process. Goliath/Hawkeye mourns Barton, revealing the mobster to have been his brother.
Jack: Colan seems to dash off his issues of The Avengers; they don't seem as lovingly crafted as Dr. Strange. Maybe we can blame the inker. Nothing much seems to happen in this issue. The death ray and space station come out of nowhere and the resolution to the menace provided by Egghead is too pat. This is not one of the better issues of The Avengers of late.
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. 12
The Amazing Spider-Man 72
Word has leaked out that Captain Stacy has the mysterious ancient tablet in his home wall safe and The Shocker has decided it's going to make him a very rich man. The vibro-shocking villain plans to auction the tablet off to the highest bidder but gets a rude surprise when he learns that no one wants to get anywhere near the object since The Kingpin declared it off limits. Meanwhile, Peter Parker's love life takes another hit when Flash Thompson hits town during one of his army leaves and renews his fondness for Gwen Stacy in front of the bewildered teen. The resulting argument sends Gwen away, angered. Needing an outlet for his frustration, Parker changes into his night clothes and does battle with The Shocker again after the baddie robs an armored truck. New powers can't overcome spider-power and soon The Shocker is in a web, awaiting police custody. The tablet is nowhere to be found.
PE: The confrontation between Peter and Flash is a really weird, confusing scene. Peter becomes rightfully jealous when Flash hits on Gwen but she scolds Parker for reading Thompson wrong. Flash then tells Peter that only a numbskull would avoid picking up on Gwen. Parker eventually apologizes to the pair. For what, I have no idea. Peter mentions that the last time he ran into Flash, on leave from duty in Viet Nam, the two were becoming friends. I'm just guessing but perhaps Stan missed the pathos of that antagonism?
After besting Iron Man in a raging battle and leaving the red and gold Avenger to sleep with the fish, The Controller takes his mind-sapping Absorbatron on the road to New York. Hijacking a train and making its crew and passengers his mindless slaves, the evil genius plans to ride his Absorba-Train right through the heart of Manhattan (deliberately avoiding Jersey), leeching millions of brain cells for his nefarious plans. Unluckily for The Controller, Iron Man seems to have survived his watery grave and boarded the doomed train. While Shellhead and The Controller battle to the death, Jasper Sitwell sneaks aboard and uncouples the cars carrying the Absorbatron and its slaves. Since he must have his invention close by to reap its benefits, The Controller's power soon fades to nothing and he's quickly dispatched by Iron Man. In a reflective mood after his mighty battle, Tony Stark wonders if he can have a normal life when all the chicks he digs end up being taken hostage by crazy guys in silly outfits.
PE: That coda, with Stark suddenly being struck by the responsibility inherent in being a superhero, would have come off more powerful if it hadn't been played out several times already over the last eight years in various titles. The guy's been Iron Man for several (Marvel) years and the thought that anyone around him may be in danger has just occurred to him? And I'm with Professor Matthew, who thought the twist ending (Jasper on the train) was brilliant. Sometimes it doesn't take Orgasmotron Rockets to defeat a villain. Just common sense. I'd expect nothing less from Archie Goodwin.
|Check out those bulging abs!|
Doctor Strange 180
In a dream, Dr. Strange calls out to Eternity but is answered by Nightmare. Awakening to find it is a snowy New Year’s Eve, he picks up Clea and they head for Times Square. As the clock tolls midnight, the crowd is assailed by prehistoric monsters and Vikings from distant times and places. Dr. Strange battles the creatures and soon Nightmare is revealed as their cause. Seeing a vision of Eternity in chains, Dr. Strange accepts Nightmare’s challenge to fight a battle to the death.
Jack: This is a fantastic issue from start to finish, beginning with the outstanding cover and including page two, the source of the black light poster I’ve been waiting for for so long. I wonder if any readers of this blog know if Colan ever discussed the obvious Eisner influence on his work at this point in his Marvel tenure—once again, we have a striking example on page three, where we see Dr. Strange’s point of view looking through the eyeholes of his mask. It would not be hard to find the source for this page in The Spirit. I was happy to see that Clea finally got some new clothes, though it took a magic spell to make them appear. Dr. Strange also meets his pal Tom Wolfe (the writer) and the last panel of this classic tale makes me wonder if the Code restrictions were starting to ease; the monsters are pretty frightening!
The Incredible Hulk 115
General Ross has a problem: he has captured the Hulk, but how can he keep him without killing him? Along comes the Leader, who explains that he created a humanoid to bring him back to life. The Leader offers to help Ross. The Hulk escapes and creates mayhem, but the Army blasts him with a neutralizer ray and knocks him out again. The Leader imprisons the Hulk in a living cage made of Plastithene, a cage from which the Hulk finds himself unable to break free.
|The MU professors' lament.|
|Are you really scholarly if you can't spell?|
The X-Men 56
The Living Pharaoh uses the power of Alex Summers to become The Living Monolith. But before he can do much damage in his XXL-state, the power reverts to the young, would-be X-Man.
Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner 13
Though Namor is furious after Dorma’s seeming death, he still is powerless to defeat Naga as long as the power-mad ruler wears the serpent crown. Naga kills his strongest supporters but allows Namor to fight to the death in front of him; Namor defeats all comers and finally challenges Naga himself. The old ruler accepts, only to be slain from behind by Karthon after it is revealed that the woman who appeared to be Dorma had actually been Karthon’s sister. An earthquake on the ocean floor claims the body of Naga and the serpent crown, Karthon agrees to lead his people, and Namor heads home toward Atlantis.
Captain America 113
Since the world believes Captain America is dead, the tributes continue to roll in. A strange item found near his torn and frayed costume has tongues wagging: an equally torn and frayed Steve Rigers mask. Could it be that the alter ego of Captain America was nothing but a ruse, a way to keep the public from guessing Cap's true secret identity? The Avengers and Nick Fury hold a private ceremony for their fallen comrade but are felled by the noxious gases of Hydra (hidden in Cap's coffin), who take advantage of the heroes' grief to mount a surprise attack on the team. Boxing the superheroes into coffins, the evil group is about to bury their enemies alive when they are bushwhacked by the very-much-alive Captain America! Believing she has failed in her mission, Madame Hydra attempts to commit suicide while taking out Cap and his teammates with a Hydra-missile, but the poor girl can't even get that right, ending only her own life in a fiery climax. Cap explains to Rick Jones how and why he faked his own death. Tired of risking the lives of those around him, Cap "killed" Steve Rogers to regain a secret identity. Confident he's accomplished this task, he walks away from the carnage a free man once again.
PE: What kind of amazing comic world would we have had if Steranko had stayed with Marvel into the 1970s? A shame, since this issue proves there would have been nothing but improvement in his superhero penciling (outside that awkwardly posed shot of The Avengers at the bottom of page 5). Well, I could also question Sharon Carter's choice of funeral attire. A bit too chic for the occasion, I'd say. The scene revolving around Madame Hydra's reflection on her own past though is a highlight of Steranko's brief Marvel career. 1970 could have been the year of Steranko, Adams, and Windsor-Smith.
|Modeling day at Avengers Mansion|
The Mighty Thor 164
Thor and Sif face off with Pluto, Lord of the Netherworld and his army, the Mutates (humans deformed by the radiation of a future nuclear war), in the distant future of Earth. Before leading his army into the present time to conquer our world, Pluto wants to destroy the mysterious, cocooned being in the Atomic Research Centre, the building he abducted from the 20th Century. In the battle to prevent this, Thor uses the power of his Mjolnir to return them to the 20th century. By this time, Balder the Brave, haunted by thoughts of Karnilla the Norn Queen, whom he loves, but dares not be with, has been sent by Odin to join the battle on Earth. As humans, gods and mutates battle head to head, it comes to the attention of Zeus, in far-off Olympus, that Pluto has left the domain of the Netherworld. While the battle on Earth seems evenly matched, the Lord of Olympus steps in, returning Pluto and his army to the Netherworld, where it is ordained that the evil one must rule. At that moment, in the Atomic Research Centre, a hand breaks through the cocoon to reveal…what?
Marvel Super-Heroes 20
|Young Victor Von Doom, being subtle.|
The police ask Black Panther for help finding the ailing Daredevil, who knocks the Panther out before he knows who he is. Starr Saxon holds Karen Page captive at Matt Murdock’s apartment, where both the revived Panther and Daredevil make short work of him. A doctor determines that a cut on his hand saved Daredevil by allowing some of the toxins in his blood to seep out; Karen notices the coincidence that Matt Murdock cut his hand on a glass on their recent date. Daredevil allows Starr Saxon to escape in order to protect his own secret identity.
Jack: I admit I am not a big fan of the Black Panther, but this issue is the first time I recall hearing of his ability to see in the dark. The art by Barry Smith is still pretty raw and I’ll be glad to welcome Colan back next issue. Starr Saxon is quite the old movie buff, referring to Lon Chaney, Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks at various points in the story.
|Starr Saxon? Or David Bowie?|
|Smithers? What has |
Simpson done this time?
Also this month
Captain Savage and His Battlefield Raiders #14
Marvel Tales #20
Millie the Model #170
Not Brand Echh #13 (final issue)
Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos #66
It would, perhaps, be a shame, if not criminal, if we ignored Not Brand Echh's rotting corpse. The Marvel University is proud to present Professor Joe Tura, a name you will be seeing quite a bit of when the 1970s roll around, and his heart-felt eulogy to a comic book that may have been before its time or maybe just another rip-off or...whatever. Here's Professor Joe: