Wednesday, April 3, 2013

August 1970: It's Astonishing! It's Amazing! It's Ka-Zar!

The Avengers 79
Our Story

Thor and Iron Man are summoned back to the team in order to help find the captured Black Panther and Monica, held by the newly formed Lethal Legion. Their goal is to capture the Avengers and kill them "in the selfsame instant," and whichever team member captures the most, wins "the greatest reward." After the Legion is dispersed to complete their tasks, the Panther escapes his bonds and contacts the Avengers to warn them about the Legion. However, the Legion's leader, the Grim Reaper, planned this in order to split the Avengers. The Reaper still blames the Avengers for the death of his brother Simon, the Wonder Man. After a pitched battle, four of the Avengers are captured and bottled as a deadly vapor fills their cell. However, when the Reaper discovers his brother Simon's brain pattern was used in the Vision, he frees him. This tips the battle and the Avengers mop up. Suddenly, however, the Vision decides it sucks to be an android and leaves the team.

SM: I recently nominated John Buscema as the greatest Marvel artist of the 60's, and I don't regret this choice. However, he does have a habit of going way over the top with his hyper-dramatic angles, character poses and, as seen in this story, teeth-bearing angry faces. The cover alone had me laughing out loud with its stereotypical "villain" faces. On page four, the image of the Grim Reaper looks as if someone shoves a steel bar into his anus. There's a thin line that separates "dynamic" from "overbaked," and this issue crosses it repeatedly. I know I use the word "overbaked" a lot, but it truly fits this title. The story is okay, the standard Marvel punch up with lots and lots of over the top dialog. Nobody talks like these guys. Either Marvel tries to hard to be hip with the lingo, or they have people speaking in this weird, heroic manner, referring to each other by titles "'easy, Avenger," "I just had a wild thought, Thunder God!" and so on. Roy Thomas does his best impersonation of Stan, but it's getting old.

MB: The pencils have now ping-ponged back to Big John, with mix-and-match inker Palmer remaining in place, although Artie Simek embellished the cover (where, in my view, the grimaces on the faces of the villains are a bit too exaggerated).  Well, I’m still undecided on this issue’s humdinger status, but man, it sure is eventful, with its baker’s dozen good and bad guys whaling the tar out of one another; of particular interest to me were the Vision’s first attempt at “passing,” and the Reaper’s surprisingly fraternal attitude toward his brother’s, let’s say, residual presence.  My biggest regret, as is often the case, is that villains I consider formidable, such as Power Man and the Swordsman, are all too readily lost in the shuffle during these group gropes.

SM: There are far too many characters in this issue, which again wraps up in two parts. While character development is welcome, constant villain bickering is tiresome and too many panels are wasted early on as the Legion indulges in a pissing contest. Well, at least it wasn't another heavy-handed message story,

"This is gonna hurt me more than you!"
PE: When Captain America decided several months ago to tell the world he wasn't actually Steve Rogers, did he wink at his Avenger partners? I thought that this was a ploy for the whole world to swallow but evidently not. I may not have been paying attention previously but it raised my eyebrows when Wanda calls our star-spangled Avenger "Steve." I await my correctors. The Vision's obviously been watching some noir on The Late Show. How else could you explain the private dick clothes when he goes to check on The Panther? If I was Miss Hotchkiss, I'd be phoning the cops pronto. I'm still trying to figure out what position Clint is in when he clobbers Power-Man (see the panel to the right of me) and the Vision's shocking revelation at the climax is not too... shocking, really. It's kinda silly, actually. He's decided to quit the team because he's not human yet he's surrounded by super powered freaks and mutants. He belongs.

SM: Yet another perfect latex face mask allows the Vision to creepily call the Panther in sick from his day job teaching at an inner city school (apparently run by white people, if Bessie Hotchkiss is any indication). Would you believe some guy dressed in a hat and overcoat, speaking in an ice cold voice wearing what seems to be a rubber mask? Wouldn't it have been easier to simply pick up the phone instead of creeping out some old woman?

No, really, we think he means it this time

PE: The letters page is turned over to one, very long missive. Philip Mallory Jones, a black reader, takes a frame-by-frame look at Avengers #74 and points out what he feels are the negatives of the story (and America in general). Many of the slams are obvious (how could a white writer begin to know how a black man feels?) and I'd cut Roy a whole lot of slack but the phony hip black lingo should have been disposed of months ago. Unfortunately, it'll stay around for a long time, infesting even my favorite 1970s title, Captain America. A good, thought-provoking essay that will be answered by Roy next issue. "Till (sic) then," our nameless letter-opener beseeches us, "mull it over." 

Captain America 128
Our Story

Bored out of his mind, Steve Rogers wanders the city, stopping when he sees people looking at posters of past idols at a bookstore. He overhears people dissing Captain America as a well-past-his-prime has-been. So Steve makes up his mind to buy a motorcycle and ride the streets of the US - away from SHIELD and Sharon, to find a life for himself. After a mere few hours of riding, he reaches Coits Neck, NJ and is promptly arrested for not wearing a helmet by some jackass cop. It seems he assumed square, clean cut Steve Rogers was one of the visiting Satan's Angels because, you know, he was riding a motorcycle. The Angels see the cops running in a "bike brother" and promptly break Steve out of jail. When Steve stays behind to help a cop the Angels attacked, he makes an immediate enemy of their leader, Whitey. Later, at a Woodstock-like rock concert, the Angels bust in and go nuts. Cap arrives and tackles the gang. When Whitey gets tossed off his bike, the cycle goes flying into his brother Dickie (seriously), who is seriously injured. Cap leaves him to ponder his brother's fate while the Red Skull spotting Cap on video, vows revenge!

Vic Morrow makes his Marvel debut
SM: Eight pages of Steve's whining and the reward for enduring this is a tepid biker gang story? It feels
like one of those old crappy Crown International 70's drive in movies, with all sorts of "topical" hell raising and ironic shock endings where someone close to the lead character is tragically killed - only Stan gives Dickie a chance to survive. Cap vs Bikers is not even lukewarm stuff and the art is finally awful. Dick Ayers was a shitty artist, but usually a fine inker, but apparently only for Kirby, since his work here is well below par. At least the final panel promising the return of the Red Skull promises some good times. But this issue is instantly forgettable. Why is it that Cap is a has-been and a square, but none of the other heroes in town are? Sometimes it feels like each book exists in its own universe. Finally, the cover: it would have worked just fine without a single dialog balloon, so why bother? Too many covers have needless dialog, spelling out what the illustrations make perfectly clear.

Jack, please come back!
MB: Wally Wood having bopped on over to Astonishing Tales, the task of inking Cap now devolves to Dick Ayers, who has received his fair (?) share of abuse from the faculty over the years, but this issue…seems unlikely to alter that.  I won’t say Colan’s work is unrecognizable—that would be a tall order—yet it does look the worse for wear, which is just one of the many things wrong with this issue, including the umpteenth instant replay of Bucky’s death.  Worse, we open with yet another extended mope-fest by Cap, who is now ready to dump his proud uniform into the incinerator because a few young folks don’t “get him”; you’d think an Avenger, the freakin’ Sentinel of Liberty for Chrissake, would be made of slightly stronger stuff.

PE: Mere months after Altamont, Stan feels pretty confident he has the perfect villain but nothing smells like desperation more than a superhero story involving a biker gang. The climax is a bit vague but it seems as though The Red Skull is upset because Cap interrupted the music festival rather than some ol' vengeance thing. Unpredictably, the art didn't infuriate me. Perhaps because the bar has been set so low in the past by Mr. Ayers, I know what to expect when I see his name on the splash page. There's no Colan left in this swirling mess.

JT: I will say, that's some nifty cover! Not the traditional Cap vs. Villain, but action-packed and timely for sure.

Daredevil 67
Our Story

Matt Murdock crashes Karen Page’s L.A. pad to rave about her reviews while she is waiting for a phone call about another acting gig. It’s a new series with the Stunt-Master, and they ask her if she can convince Daredevil to act. To keep Karen by his side, Matt agrees. The first day of filming, after getting the large remuneration in order, DD becomes a pseudo-assistant: answering Karen’s phone call (from Foggy), finding out why Stunt-Master is tardy . . . While this is going on, Stilt-Man appears! He is the reason Stunt-Master is not ready for filming – having knocked the ex-villain out, Stilt-Man uses makeup to alter his facial features, so he can exact revenge on DD as Stunt-Master. When Daredevil finds “Stunt-Master” he notices a difference in his friend’s heartbeat, but puts it down to pre-filming jitters. On film, Stilt-Man rides the tied-up actor’s motorcycle, his hydraulic legs in tow, straight towards Daredevil . . . but he misses and falls off a bridge into the water below. Holding his breath in order to don his stilts, the villain pops out of the water and steps on a few boats on his way to best DD. However, DD suspected it wasn’t Stunt-Master, and is ready for the Stilt-Man. With his billy club line, DD circles and ties up the scoundrel.  The police take Stilt-Man away, but the show must go on. DD has to go back to New York (Foggy needs him there), so he tells his lady that it’s her career or him. Karen’s unsure, so Daredevil gives her time to make up her mind, but not much!

NC:  Although this was a very silly issue, I kind of liked it. Poor Stilt-Man – he’s kind of losing his edge when it comes to villainhood. The Stunt-Master warms my heart when he points out that he is not so noble that he won’t accept a big wage – a bit of realism – when a life of crime dries up it must be a bit hard to find a good job!  I’m also a bit happy that DD’s decided not to follow Karen around like a puppy dog drooling over a piece of chicken.  Yes, I agree that he is being unfair in not considering dropping his career for her (or even looking at a supportive compromise), but it is a bit annoying when he trails around after her.

JB: I’m really starting to question how “dark” or “serious” a superhero DD is, but I’m enjoying the soap opera for now. I love the alliteration in the title (Stilt-Man Stalks The Sound Stage!), and Gene Colan’s action sequences are still second to none for visual flair.

MB: Like a bloated corpse, Gary Friedrich resurfaces amid Marvel’s super-hero titles this month, scripting Roy’s plot here and—in a curious coincidence—writing the adventures of DD’s future partner, the Black Widow, in Amazing Adventures.  Doing my darnedest to keep an open mind after the damage he did to Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Captain Marvel, I’ll aim any brickbats at Roy and that self-serving bitch, Karen Page (“The critics loved me!”), who consistently objects to Matt’s DD identity…until he can do her nascent stardom some good.  My soft spot for the Stilt-Man notwithstanding, he seems more absurd than usual in a horizontal city like L.A. instead of a vertical one like New York, as does his imposture of the Stunt-Master (him again?!).

SM: Still in California, Karen is given a role in a new TV pilot about the Stunt Master, and DD is also cast. Wow, how easy it is in Hollywood to get jobs. I ought to take the next plane out there. I love how DD gets hired without anyone knowing his real name (I hope they pay cash). DD takes a call for Karen and it's Foggy, who apparently doesn't recognize Matt's voice - or Daredevil's (never was it mentioned DD puts on a different voice in costume, but I hope he doesn't sound like Christian Bale). As usually, Marvel gets Hollywood ass backward. Usually stunt men and actors don't keep a full stock of theatrical make up in their dressing rooms, this is why studios have make-up people. But Stilt Man (yeah, Stilt Man!) finds a pack in Stunt Master's trailer and, since Stilty is suddenly a master of disguise, he makes his face into a perfect likeness. Again, as if make up could do this (if it could, you'd never have to worry about recasting actors). Then, since Stunty is gone too long, having been knocked out by Stilty, the director sends DD to find him, rather than the Assistant Director, whose job that would normally be. Of course, Stilty's voice and heartbeat are different than Stunty's, but Daredevil, naturally, ignores this thinking it's his own jitters. Seriously, can this whole issue get any stupider? Why yes. At the end, after Stilt Man attacks and clears Stunt Master, DD tells Karen Foggy needs Matt back in NY and it's either him or her career. A totally unfair ultimatum. How about you, Matt? You expect Karen to give it up for love, but are you even considering doing the same? Why not give up your NY law practice and work in California to be with Karen? 

JT: Stilt-Man?!?!?! Aaaarrrrggghhhh! What makes him evil? Because he can use his height to mess up your TV antenna, or drop water balloons on your head?Can he eventually turn to the side of good and clean out your gutters for a nominal fee? Sigh....I'm sorry, Prof Matthew, but I just don't get it.

PE: Just be thankful, Professor Joe, that Stan never cracked open a medical journal or we may have been forced to endure Stint-Man instead of Stilt-Man (drum soounds). Just tryin' to point out that sometimes the glass is half full, is all.

SM: Gary Friedrich is writing this dud, but it's really no worse than Stan's less stellar efforts. The art is great, Syd Shores is much better with Gene than Dick Ayers was. But overall, this is a warmed over "super hero in the movies" issue done too often already with Spider-Man and the FF. Next.

Fantastic Four 101
Our Story

A little relaxation time is all the Fantastic Four get before they get interrupted with an eviction notice. The Maggia, the world’s largest crime syndicate, has bought the Baxter Building out from under them! While the Maggia leaders make their plans, our heroes take a stroll in Central Park to relax, until they see a helicopter landing on the roof of the Baxter Building. It’s the Maggia, and when the Torch flies to investigate, they’re ready for him, knocking him down and capturing him. The rest of the team head for their headquarters, determined to regain control of it. Making their way to the T.V. monitor room, they see the Maggia men everywhere. Soon they’re under attack, and knocked out by noxo-gas before they can stop the criminals. The second in command, Gimlet, puts them in concrete crates and dumps them in the river, despite orders from Maggia leader Top Man to do things legally. Crystal blasts out of her crate first, and then helps the others free themselves; they swim to shore. Sue, meanwhile, having taken Franklin back to Agatha Harkness, has entered the Baxter Building, invisibly of course. The gangsters discover her, but she holds off their attacks until the rest of the team return. The doorman of the Baxter Building appears, and shoots Gimlet. Reed is suspicious, and unmasks the doorman, who is actually Top Man, having used this position to spy on them for weeks. The legal takeover has blown its cover.

JB: I remember seeing the cover of this issue years ago. Never having read it, I’d hoped for something totally different. I don’t mind Alicia’s new hair colour; if I recall she’s one of the Marvel gals who seems to change her appearance frequently. With the miniskirt and all, she seems to be getting younger! I like the Woody Allen and Cassius Clay references, which oddly, don’t date the issue that much; they’d fit as easily years later.  

MB: Pitting the FF against the Maggia seems as strange as having Spidey fight Doc Doom…oh, wait, we did that back in ’63.  Am I the only one who wonders how that “gang o’ crummy killers” can legally buy the Baxter Building?  What are they, Maggia, Inc.?  I guess so, since Reed’s “It’s a Maggia ship!” suggests that they have a fleet of identifiable helicopters, not to mention those hitherto unseen uniforms.  Even if the purchase was made by a legal front, their notice clearly exposes that fiction.  Yeah, I know:  it’s just a comic book.  I’ll shut up now.  And nobody noticed that Alicia’s hair is totally the wrong color?  Sorry...  I love how everybody still refers to Franklin as “the baby”—oops.  It seems that I just have to nitpick this one to death.

PE: Well, there's plenty of nits to pick here, Professor Matthew. Alicia's new hair color shot out at me like one of Johnny's turbo flame bursts and I had it noted to mention here but then all the rest of the goofiness seemed to push "Is it real or... Only her hairdresser knows for sure!" to the back of the bus. I'm completely confused by the Maggia's take over of The Baxter Building. It's not that they bought the thing that confuses me because we all know those crafty mafia guys can get their hands on anything they want. No, it's the whole "Let's do it legal-like... No, let's shoot them off the roof... No, let's do it in court... No, let's kill them all!" ping-pong match that has me bewildered. How is it legal to go in and take the place from The Four before they get their stuff out if they're up on their rent? And why would The Maggia want the building in the first place? That's an awful lot of money to spend on a skyscraper when all they wanted to do was steal the gizmos from The Four in the first place. Just attack and pilfer, I says. It's nice of Reed to want to shelter Sue from "how really dangerous The Maggia threat can be" but isn't this the same Invisible Girl who fought Mole Men, Doom Doctors, and fawning fishmen? Reed looks resplendent in his green turtle neck sweater courtesy of Giordini's of Soho. 

"And my partna here is Grasshopper!"
SM: Oh man, this one is a true guilty pleasure. It's nowhere near "good," but it is a lot of fun if you're hopped up on enough goofballs or half in the bag. The Maggia guys are your typical Untouchables style gangsters, dudes who just look so totally stereotypically evil they'd burst into flame just looking at a church. The restaurant owner, a loud mouthed idiot, gets the "Maggia Touch" which we never get to see. Jack just shows us faces, but obviously it involves asses and pinching, judging by the expressions depicted. More awesome names: Maggia #2 is "Gimlet." Kill me. Gimlet, of course, is a blood thirsty a-hole who seems to think that completely disobeying the leader will lead to a promotion (because that always works) and decides to kill the captured FF rather than doing it all "legal like." As pointed out, the story is nonsense. Between Jack's "half out the door" attitude and Stan's total lack of coherence, this issue is a mess. And, yet again, another totally convincing face mask hiding Top Man's features. Top Man. God…..

The Incredible Hulk 130
Our Story

Bruce Banner visits his old college campus to meet up with his former professor.  Instead, he bumps into another colleague named Raoul Stoddard.  With a military spy plane following them, Stoddard agrees to help Banner and he drives him underneath a secret lab. Once inside, Stoddard subjects Banner to a machine to help cure him, only it completely separates him from the Hulk, making them two separate entities.  All the Hulk knows is that he wants to destroy Banner.  Bruce is able to escape where he runs to Thunderbolt Ross and Betty for help.  The Hulk tracks him down like a homing pigeon and Banner believes that the two must be reunited into one form otherwise he will die if the Hulk is killed.  Banner makes it back to Stoddard's secret lair where the scientist shows his true colors in that he is jealous of Banner's accomplishments and wants him dead.  The Hulk shows up along with Thunderbolt Ross and some army troops.  Stoddard threatens to shoot them with some type of neutralizer gun but he is disarmed by the Hulk.  Feeling that he walked into a trap, the Hulk leaps away, vowing to kill Banner at a later date.

Tom:  This was one of the worst Hulk stories I've read in awhile.  The story really accomplished nothing unless the next issue has some great payoff, though I doubt it. And since when can the Hulk not run fast?  That was convenient in order for Banner to be able to run away from him so many times.  Stoddard definitely won't go down in the books as a great villain.  Being a 'tool' alone does not make for an interesting bad guy. The only part in this issue I liked was Stoddard giving a shout out to Boris Karloff's Thriller show.  

SM:. Quirky art and a stunning full page panel on page 9 make this issue stand out more than it might have otherwise. Raoul Stoddard looks like a pink-skinned version of The Leader with his freaking elongated forehead. The separation of Banner from the Hulk is a decent idea that doesn't get as much play as it will many years later. Notice when Hulk smashes the helicopter, there is no mention of soldiers bailing out or escaping. Are they dead? Is this the first time the Hulk just turned around and killed people? It's a Banner-less Hulk, but a Hulk nonetheless. It doesn't set well with me. Back in the first Hulk Annual, Gary Friedrich had him yell "Hulk kill!" That bothered me then too.

MB:  Fresh from walloping Captain Marvel into its two-year oblivion, the Hulk returns to Navapo, New Mexico, yet Editor Stan screws the pooch big-time on page 3, where Dr. Weller’s first name mysteriously changes from Josiah to Herbet and, worse, his footnote asserts, “Not even Bruce knows of the unique relationship between Rick and the alien Mar-Vell,” which Roy just had Rick reveal to him.  In #123, we saw a Banner who could control his transformation into the Hulk, and now we see a Banner who is separated from the Hulk (but we won’t expect the change to be any more permanent than it was last time).  Although we know retroactively that he deserved it, Bruce took an awful chance that the Hulk wouldn’t smash Stoddard when he ankled.

SM: A quick and nice touch has Banner give Talbot credit for being a better man than he previously thought. There has been some real effort to flesh out the military guys and there will be more when General Ross meets Jim Wilson. Ol' Thunderbolt will seem practically human. Another well remembered issue from my childhood.

The Mighty Thor 179
Our Story

Odin sends Thor to Earth to find Loki, who has to answer for attempting to usurp the throne of Asgard. The God of Evil, and his sidekick, the wizard Igron, have created a new weapon: a seething energy “facemask.” When Thor arrives he transforms to Dr. Blake, knowing that Loki will be watching; thus when his half-brother appears, it is Thor not Blake who waits. Loki releases the facemask from it’s casing, and it attacks the Thunder God’s face. Energy between the two of them exchanges their powers—and their faces! Now with the upper hand, Loki “Thor” strikes his brother down, and changes their clothes, making the switch complete. When Balder and Sif come to Earth to aid their friend, they find “Loki” instead in Blake’s office. They don’t believe him to be Thor, and demand his whereabouts. Only when Thor is forced to stun Balder with Loki’s power, but doesn’t finish him off, do the brave and stunning ones believe that the identity exchange is real.

JB: An interesting cover (Marie Severin); if the general rules (as Professor Glenn has mentioned) included the primary character facing front, then here we get a variation. The very vicious-looking Balder and Sif, swords raised, facing Thor (hammer down) create an effective image, even if this isn’t how it happens inside. The facemask bit is a different enough tool to make the identity exchange worthwhile.  Loki is in good form (the illusion of “money” he passes the hotel staff, banishing Igron to the trolls after he’s served his purpose). Once again, we get a look at the team of Balder/Sif working together. “I don’t want to marry Thor, Odin’s making me!” at least Balder might hope. Stan Lee didn’t wish Jack Kirby much in the way of good luck, or say how valuable he was to Marvel, as he announced his departure. Hmmm…

MB: “Remember a few years back when Steve Ditko suddenly left the hallowed halls of Marvel to seek his fortunes elsewhere?  Well, at the time of this writing (early in March), Jack Kirby has unexpectedly announced his resignation from our surprised but stalwart little staff…. [Yet Marvel] is passionately preparing some of the wildest and wackiest surprises yet to electrify your eyeballs and stagger your senses!  That’s where we’re at—under-staffed, under-manned, and under-fed—but as bushy-tailed and bewildered as ever!  So, watch for the fireworks, friend, as we turn ourselves on, knock ourselves out, and do ourselves in to prove once again that, while we may not be the biggest, we’re still the boldest and the best!,” modestly quoth Stan’s Soapbox. Which brings us to Kirby’s final issue of Thor (if not of the FF, which appears next month), aptly teamed with longtime collaborators Lee and Colletta, although I’m sorry to say that the artwork looks sloppy and rushed.  For some reason, Jack and Vinnie have always had trouble establishing a consistent look for Loki, and this issue was already no exception in that department when I got to page 18, panel 4 (above) and saw the true jaw-dropper:  Loki-as-Thor looking for all the world like his face had been transferred to Silly Putty and then  stretched sideways.  It would be understandable if Jack didn’t have his heart in it, but Stan can’t offer that excuse, and having just done a lengthy arc with Captain America and his arch-enemy trading bodies, he’s breaking no new ground here.

PE: Despite the umpteenth variation on the "switcheroo" (and sometimes I'm not sure there are variations) this month (or maybe it just feels like they've all been this month) I enjoyed the hell out of the opening of this three part arc. I've never understood why characters who get the "switcheroo" played on them don't just sit their friends down and reminisce as only a friend could do: "Heyeth, Balder, don't thou remembereth when thou and mine burnt downeth Farmer O'Malley's barn when we snuck some of Odin's tobacco when we were verily young lads of Asgard?" It would save a heap of hurt. Instead, we get thought balloons about how Sif and Balder will never believe he's actually Thor caught in the body of his half-brother. And here we go again: I'm still confused as to the reasoning behind Loki lifting Mjolnir when we were all born and raised to believe Thor's hammer could only be hefted by one who was "pure in heart and said his prayers by night..." or something like that. In fact, isn't that fact hammered home years later by the Beta Ray Bill saga? Despite some bumps in the road, The King goes out on a high note... in this title at least. And I love love love that panel of Curly of Asgard Thor rolling on the ground trying to rip the cream pie mask off his face.

SM: The final Kirby issue and it's pretty obvious Jack is halfway to DC already. The aforementioned depiction of Loki/Thor on page 18, panel 4 is proof he was pretty much around the bend. The story itself is another rehash of the old identity switch. Loki rewards his faithful with troll slavery. Wouldn't it be better for his own ends if Loki actually rewarded his minions? That way he'll more easily get better minions. Instead, he's a douche all the way through, so never mind. He even tips people with imaginary money. This guy's a hoot! Almost as funny is Odin, who insists Thor and Sif kneel and then rise because they are "in the presence." An era ends with Jack's parting and I wish he left on a better note than this. His work is truly below his ability and it's a sad end to a great (and sometimes not so great) run.

Sub-Mariner 28
Our Story

Namor spends some time in New York hanging out with his friend Diane Arliss.  He laments  he can't stand how many surface dwellers litter and pollute the earth.  While walking about, they come upon a protest rally where kids are demonstrating against a company that wants to tear up a park to build a factory.  Some goons that work for the factory owner, Mr. Westman, try roughing them up.  Namor saves them and one of the kids turns out to be Westman's son.  Subby is reluctant to get involved when he is invited to speak at a rally but gives in when he sees the monstrous Brutivac construction, a machine that looks like a supersized bulldozer.  Supposedly, the machine can destroy anything and also works underwater.  At the rally, Namor makes his appearance as Westman and his goons show up to start trouble.  Westman goes beserk as he takes control of the Brutivac in order to destroy the park and anyone that tries to stop him.  Even Namor is no match for the machine as it lays him out, helpless.  He is saved when Westman's son jumps in front of the Brutivac.  Westman comes to his senses and stops the machine, but only after it injures his son. In the end, the villainous tycoon is remorseful as he promises the youth he will listen to him as he takes him home.

Tom: You know a story is written too sappily when you feel like you've come down with diabetes after reading it.  Simply terrible. The Brutivac looked stupid. Westman's turn around is so completely dramatic and unbelievable. One moment he's spazzing out, ready to kill everyone, the next thing you know he's giving his driver the evening off because he turned into such a 'nice guy.'  I have no problem with Namor stories speaking out against pollution when they are done right, like a few issues ago, but stories like this make it no surprise that this series never made it past the 1970's.  Future Namor adventures can get no worse then this.  

Next issue: Better working conditions for Kazoo Manufacturers
MB: Having watched the Buscema/Gaudioso team since it started here, I think Sal is doing well, while wondering if it’s time to find him a steadier inker, and I offer page 2, panel 1 and page 3, panel 3 as evidence.  Mrs. Professor Matthew disagrees, but to me, those almost look like different characters, even though they show Subby from an almost identical “camera angle.”  As for Roy, if your story basically boils down to Namor vs. a tractor, you’ve got a built-in flaw:  it’s not a plausible threat to Namor unless said tractor is the size of Duluth, yet the minute said tractor becomes the size of Duluth, as this one is, your suspension of disbelief goes straight out the window; meanwhile, jealousy—an ugly emotion—is having similarly ugly effects on Dorma.

SM: Namor is still in NY, observing humankind, when Diane leads him to some demonstrators. Things get out of hand and Namor takes action - of course he has to strip down to his underpants to do it instead of fighting in his street clothing. Of course, the big machine can't just be a "giant derrick" or a "super plow." It's a Brutivac. Of course, the evil industrialist, who is frothing like a madman for most of the issue, gets a sudden change of heart when the son he's been treating like crap gets hurt by the dude's own machine. Um, Sub-Mariner, Mr.Gideon called, he wants his character arc back. Yawns all around for this heavy-handed issue-issue.

The Amazing Spider-Man 87
Our Story

Still battling a mysterious illness, Spidey/Peter Parker realizes he needs help, and heads out to the one person he can trust, Dr. Curt Connors—to no avail. The woozy web-swinger then realizes Gwen’s surprise party is tonight and, needing a gift ASAP, he breaks into a jewelry store to swipe some pearls! Luckily, he catches himself and returns the jewels, but with his powers slipping away, he falls to the ground and realizes he may have just taken his final swing. Meanwhile, Gwen’s party rocks on, with people pondering where Peter is, until Mr. Parker shows up late—with Spider-Man mask in hand, claiming he’s the wall-crawler himself! Best bud Harry is skeptical, remembering an earlier Peter “impersonation” of Spidey (from ish #12!), but Gwen is torn and upset. Peter then changes back into costume and heads to a clinic, where an understanding doctor diagnoses him with a horrible case of the flu. One rapid recovery later, and Pete realizes he has to cover up his big reveal. Some quick thinking leads him to the house of Hobie Brown, aka The Prowler, who owes Spidey a huge favor. Dropping by the Stacy house, Peter tries to explain he was delirious from illness earlier, and when Hobie-Spidey shows up, everyone is set straight…but Peter still feels something is amiss.

JT: Let me preface my comments this week by saying I had previously never seen one panel of this issue in my life, and man, I feel the worse for it. A definite departure from the rest of the 1970 issues so far, Amazing Spider-Man #87 features no traditional super-villains, no JJJ, no action-packed battles, yet is a solid episode in both story and evolution of character. Peter Parker has always been, to this Spidey-obsessed fan, a conflicted youth that’s always juggling his responsibility as a super-powered hero (spurred by his love and respect for Uncle Ben and his life lessons) with his love for family and friends and ongoing need to protect them both physically and emotionally. Sure, he sometimes acts like a whiny bratty teen, but heck, he’s normal (kinda) and slightly insecure!

PE: "He's either a masked menace -- or a psycho case! Take your pick!" Wow, that's no way to talk about your future hubby, MJ!. A little silly that Spidey's been on death's doorstep for two issues now but three seconds after giving him the thumbs-up, the doc exclaims "I've never seen anyone recover so fast!" and The Amazing Spider-Man begins doing jumping jacks, death in the rearview obviously. I can't remember the last time we had an entire comic book sans villain. Considering the events of the next few issues, it's strange that Captain Stacy seems almost convinced that Peter Parker is not Spider-Man. We'll discuss this further soon. A very well-written issue, proving the medium doesn't need wall-to-wall action to satisfy.

MB:  It’s a time-honored ritual:  something compromises Peter’s secret i.d., forcing him to concoct a far-fetched scheme (in this case recruiting Hobie, who somehow knows exactly how to carry on “his” end of the conversation with the Staceys et al., yet does not guess who Spidey is).  Smiley, Ring-a-Ding, and Madman make it eminently readable, and it’s interesting—after all of the “cheat” covers we’ve seen—that although this one’s physical set-up is different from its inside counterpart, the dialogue is almost verbatim.  I like the character of the doctor, who remarks upon the severity of Spidey’s flu, a rare strain that not only compels him to reveal his deepest secret but also, at least in my Marvel Tales reprint, turns his hazel eyes blue.

JT: Future Marvel/DC scribe Doug (Douglas) Moench (Moon Knight, Godzilla, FF, Deathlok, etc) enters “The Spider’s Web” to rightly sing the praises of Jazzy John Romita. As should we all! And young Douglas rightly falls on the side of less exclamation points. I mean, less exclamation points! Wait…..Anyway, the Web also features future Spider-Man penciller Alan Kupperberg (whose long resume will also include The Invaders, What If? and the classic Obnoxio The Clown vs. The X-Men…yes, I once owned that one!), who asks to see less Kingpin. What are you thinking, young Alan? 

SM: Finally, a really great story to review! This is top wrung Spider-Man, even if the logic gaps are wide. Peter exposes his own identity and has to wrangle his way out of the mess. Gwen takes it very badly, which is a shock to Peter (and at this point in the run, me too). I get that Hobie agreed to do this without asking questions and Spidey told him what to say, but somehow, Hobie can address Parker directly, ignoring the others, and not make the connection. And you can't tell me, even with the "muffled voices" that Hobie sounds like Spider-Man - especially with his lingo. Captain Stacy is also convinced, even though Peter seems to think otherwise. Nothing about George Stacy and his suspicions about Spider-Man's identity will make sense. I'll talk more about that when the time comes in a few issues.

JT:  I think this issue, the first one this year where the script surpasses the normally stellar artwork, sees our little Peter grow up a little, turning a nasty bout with the flu and his desire to finally let the spider out of the bag into some super-smart thinking, even finally calling in a favor. Good for you, Peter! Although showing up at the very end of Gwen’s party was a faux pas, flu or not. Boy, that kid has a lot to learn about the ladies. The cover is also a departure from recent Spideys, but it’s not lying when it says “If you only read ONE mag this month…IT MUST BE THIS ONE!” Then again, I felt that way about Amazing Spider-Man back in the day until the Claremont/Byrne X-Men hit their stride.

SM: MJ is, again, a bitch. She's so on-again/off-again about Spider-Man, it's annoying. Did she and Harry really decide to come back to Gwen's house simply because Peter just might return to explain why they were there? How long did they wait? And all of this for the flu? The doctor is a little too flippant for me, but whatever. My family physician is also a jokester, so it's fine. He just sounds more like Stan than his own character. Great art, a fine story and a resolution that almost works. But Hobie really ought to be doing some hard thinking.

The Invincible Iron Man 28
Our Story

Summoned by Meredith McCall, a teenage love from whom Tony was separated because their fathers were rivals, Tony and Jasper stop en route to upstate Pinewood Sanitarium to investigate a scream from the woods; unseen, the Controller—transferred to Pinewood—flees before enslaving Meredith.  The director, Dr. Eric Thorne, says she is a patient, not an employee, and shows them a bedridden Basil Sandhurst, yet as Jasper departs, the enthralled doctor’s intern, Hugo, is revealed as the Controller.  Finding a slave disc in the woods, Jasper doubles back, and after his arrival enables Tony to become Iron Man and trigger a deficiency in the new helmet the Controller forced him to make, Tony reveals that Meredith is indeed an employee…and married.

MB: Well, if Artful Archie wanted to go out on a high note, he could do a lot worse in this writer’s opinion than to bring back one of my favorite villains (and Goodwin creations), the Controller, and to do so without the excess of captions that has marred some of his recent efforts.  It’s certainly not Archie’s fault that the Heck/Craig team wasn’t fully able to do ol’ Basil justice, and I liked that the story ended with a rapprochement between Tony and Sitwell, as well as with the latter’s professional instincts validated.  My main complaint is this: does every female about whom Tony is ever serious have to be the daughter of a Stark family competitor—especially as it was Goodwin himself who’d introduced the late Janice Cord and her father, Drexel, back in #2?

JS: I just assumed that Tony specifically sought out the nubile daughters of his fathers competitors... 

SM: Middling art, a villain that does nothing for me, and a final twist I predicted the moment we learned Meredith had history with Stark, results in an issue I could have skipped and never felt I missed a thing. Jasper proves to be a burden, which is a shame. I'd love to see him amount to more than a whiny third of a love triangle. I wish I could dig up more to say about this issue, but it just lays there, like dead fish.

JS: I'm with Professor ScottI thought this was pretty dull.  But then you know you're in trouble if The Comptroller would make for a more compelling villain.  As far as the art is concerned, I won't hold the legendary Johnny Craig responsible for this mess. I mean seriously, was Heck suffering from vertigo when he laid out these panels?


Captain Marvel 21
Our Story

About to smash the unconscious Rick as a presumed spy, the Hulk spares his defenseless target, reverts to Banner, and agrees to try to find a way into the Negative Zone, believing that its relation to cosmic and gamma rays may aid him and/or Ben Grimm.  When he seeks help from an expert in relativity, Josiah Weller, he learns that his old professor, who has a weak heart, is besieged in his Desert State University lab by student radicals, and the strain once again triggers the change.  Smashing the apparatus Bruce was working on, the Hulk heads for his alma mater after knocking out Mar-Vell, who exhausts his allotted three hours in a rematch, thus leaving Rick to talk down his emerald pal.  [Based on reprint in Giant-Size Captain Marvel #1.]

MB: Although Roy would bring him back two months hence in Sub-Mariner #30, and later as a major player in the Kree-Skrull War in The Avengers, Mar-Vell’s own title was now put on ice for two long years, losing the stellar Thomas/Kane/Adkins creative team.  Even knowing of the greatness to come doesn’t erase my sadness that, like Roy’s Dr. Strange, it was cut down in its prime; alas, my reprint omits whatever editorial send-off Marvel provided.  We’re not surprised that Banner’s ambitious effort solves nobody’s problem, but it’s fun to watch him try—especially given the raw power Sugar-Lips provides—while learning a little more about the Neg-Zone in the process, and the student-protest angle seems less old hat when Bruce has such a personal stake in the conflict.

SM: You know, there's no real reason why Rick couldn't approach Reed Richards. Even if Reed forbids access to the Negative Zone, what's the harm in asking? If Rick explains and doesn't lose his temper, Reed would probably help. So how would that work if Reed took some jet packs, went into the Negative Zone and brought back Mar-Vell? Could he and Rick co-exist in our reality?

We know The Hulk and you are not the Hulk, sir!

PE: We now know why The Incredible Hulk took out that restraining order on Gil Kane. Make no bones about it, Kane was one of the highlights of 1970s Marvel, a reason to pick up a title (and so many fabulous covers to boot), but could not draw the greenskin goliath to save his life. Is it my imagination or did Roy forget all about Professor Weller in all the excitement? As for the editorial send-off, Professor Matthew, Roy chimes in on that in the letters column this issue: "This issue... is the second and last of a second "trial" series of Captain Marvel comic mags. There was sufficient interest in and sales of the first three done by Roy and Gil to warrant a second try - and now it's all up to the readers. If enough of you bought enough copies of these two issues, Mar-Vell will doubtless be back on a more steady basis. If not, he'll become one of our critically-acclaimed cast of supporting characters. Either way, he'll be around for a long time!" Sadly, it seems as though Roy may have been talking to himself by this time but what I'd like to know is: what critically-acclaimed supporting cast is The Rascally One alluding to?

SM: I love how Rick says Bruce might wish he "never laid eyes on Rick Jones!" I would think Bruce felt that way from day one. Instead Bruce is thankful Rick stood by him "in the days when I first became the Hulk!" Bruce, you do remember who was responsible for your plight, right? Or do you really blame what happened on Igor the spy? A decent fight issue with Rick's pants a bit too tight, but with this the book going on hiatus, it'll take more than aping the original Captain Marvel with a Billy Batson type situation to make this book a success.

Amazing Adventures 1
The Black Widow
Our Story

Previously a repentant Iron Man evildoer, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and lover/almost-teammate of the Avenger Hawkeye, Madame Natasha has decided that it is time to renew her career as a super-heroine, the Black Widow.  Following her encounter with a fellow arachnid in Amazing Spider-Man #86, she is still eager to road-test her new costume, web, and temporarily paralyzing widow’s bite, and finds the perfect opportunity when she learns that the son of her housekeeper, Maria, is being threatened by loan sharks whom he is unable to pay.  Natasha’s chauffeur, Ivan, drives her in her Rolls uptown, where the hoods take the boy hostage, but she makes short work of them, and is left alone to ponder her place “in a world such as this.”

MB: Natasha here begins a seven-and-a-half-year run as one of Marvel’s most tenacious second-string heroes, despite the fact that this strip was so short-lived; her co-stars, the Inhumans, outlasted her by two issues, while over in their sister magazine, Astonishing Tales, Dr. Doom tied her at eight, leaving Ka-Zar the winner with twenty.  Yet after a month-long breather, the Widow reappeared as Daredevil’s love interest and/or co-star for 44 issues—retitled Daredevil and the Black Widow on #92-107—and then, after another month off, she popped up once again for a 17-issue stint as a member of The Champions.  The most noteworthy aspect of Gary Friedrich’s slim vignette, so beautifully drawn by John Buscema and John Verpoorten, is the introduction of Ivan Petrovich.

SM: Not the worst kickoff to her own series, but nothing particularly special either. She's still smoking hot for a drawing and her own epiphany about needing a mask if she doesn’t want to be recognized is interesting. I wonder how far this thread will go, since I don't recall her wearing a mask after this. Had I seen this issue when it premiered, I probably wouldn't have followed it, but it's a decent time waster.

The Inhumans
Our Story

The FF review “the only film ever shot of the realm of the Inhumans,” who strenuously avoid contact with humans, and are then seen repelling a mission by Chinese soldiers seeking “a live specimen.” Black Bolt, Gorgon, Karnak, and Medusa return to the Great Refuge, where Triton informs them of a missile headed straight for them; we soon learn that it is the first of two to be launched by Maximus, who wishes to discredit Black Bolt among his people by fomenting war with the humans.  Black Bolt easily destroys the first missile (whose trajectory suggests that it was launched by the FF) miles above the earth, but the second is narrowly dissolved in the Great Refuge, and the wreckage has been labeled to implicate the FF.

MB: The landscape is littered with attempts to let the Inhumans go solo, from the Medusa-toplined Marvel Super-Heroes #15 and the abortive title cannibalized into the Thor back-up feature to this strip and the eponymous 1975 book that outlived it by only two issues; why such a fertile group of characters and storylines consistently failed to take root is anybody’s guess.  Per last month’s Bullpen page, “Sly ol’ Stan not only conned Jack into doing two yarns at once, but even cajoled the King into doing the script as well as the pencilling for this great new series,” which—as many have observed—may not have been the best idea.  The dialogue in the weird opening scene is beyond stilted, and the MCDb points out that he gets the names of three evil Inhumans wrong.

SM: Jack and Chic are together again and the results…aren’t that good. Jack was gone and gone and gone. The story is weak and predictable and this feature might have been a much more interesting addition to the Might Marvel Checklist if it was done when the Inhumans were interesting, around FF issue 45. They work best as supporting cast rather than leads.

Astonishing Tales 1
Our Story

LIVE Magazine subscriber Kraven the Hunter finds “the perfect subject” for a new hunt: Ka-Zar’s faithful saber-tooth tiger, Zabu. In the “vast, uncharted jungle, bordered by the ever-drifting glaciers of far-off Antarctica”, aka The Savage Land, Ka-Zar and Zabu save a herd of stampeding mammoths from falling into giant pits…dug by Kraven! Kraven appears, stuns both man and beast and uses tranquilizer spray to subdue the angry Zabu. Ka-Zar emerges from the pit in hot pursuit of Kraven, who takes off with Zabu. When Ka-Zar gets to Kraven’s ship, he’s ambushed by the Hunter. Kraven is initially unimpressed, until Ka-Zar breaks the grip that’s “feared wherever men may hunt!” But Kraven employs more tranquilizer spray, and his henchmen throw Ka-Zar overboard, where he’s saved by NATO planes that drop a life raft. Cut to Ka-Zar in street clothes in New York City, where he vows to hunt down Kraven and save Zabu.

JT: I have to admit, I was surprised that the big two of Lee/Kirby were the team on a half-ish featuring Ka-Zar. But maybe for a debut issue, they had to go with the lead team? Then again, Stan seemed to really have a jones for K-Z back then. The story is much better than I would have expected, but seems to zip along a bit too quick, like a half hour soap opera episode. The art’s surprisingly good Kirby for Ka-Zar, but with mediocre Sam Grainger inks which may have been the reason for the odd expressions on Zabu and Kraven on page 7. Not sure what makes this “Astonishing” other than it’s “astonishing” that K-Z would get his own half of a title. Looking at The Mighty Marvel Checklist, this came out the same month as FF #100? That couldn’t have been good for sales.

MB: A tentative testing of waters for their first super-hero expansion since 1968, Marvel’s return to split books was abbreviated:  both new titles abandoned the experiment after eight issues, in favor of a single-story try-out format, and this is the only one of the four original strips to spawn a direct spin-off.  Jack’s imminent departure ensures that the Lee/Kirby creative team will not last, and in fact each book was a bit of a revolving door, yet on the plus side, those doors let in some impressive talent, both new and old.  Kevin Plunder (inked by Sam Grainger) looks worlds away from the darker and more serious character we saw last year in X-Men, but it was inspired to pit him and Zabu against Kraven, which I’m surprised hadn’t been done before.

SM: Never liked Ka-Zar. I don't know if anyone enjoyed this low rent Tarzan, but Stan foisted this guy on us again and again. Honestly, this story, drawn by Jack while the door was smacking him in the ass, is just blah. Sam Grainger inking Jack is a new twist that looks no worse than Mike Royer would later. I barely paid attention to this issue, honestly. Neither Ka-Zar nor Doctor Doom are worthy of their own titles.

Doctor Doom 
Our Story

Dr. Doom seems ticked off that the “foolhardy Americans” have landed on the Moon again. Until “Buzz” and “Neil” find a sphere on the Moon’s surface that was teleported there by Doom to prove his superiority. Doom then posturizes in his Latverian castle, gloating over his creation of a super-powered being. But Prince Rudolfo has other ideas, as he plots the secret overthrow of Doom. A robot discovers the unconscious Ramona, who resembles Doom’s beloved Valeria but was planted by Rudolfo. Doom hypnotizes the girl and removes his mask (gasp!) where she sees the illusion of an unscarred Doom, who has second thoughts and runs off to care for his creation. Rudolfo breaks the spell Ramona is under so she can follow Doom and smash the master control panel, plunging the castle into darkness. Emerging from the catacombs, Rudolfo and his men press on, until the appearance of the cosmic ray-strengthened Doomsman and Dr. Doom himself stop his progress. When Doom is proven to be a robot, the real Doom contacts Rudolfo with the promise that the final victory will be his.

JT: Does Doom’s showboating about creating a “super-powerful living being – fed and
activated by cosmic rays, the very lifeblood of the universe itself” mean he’s actually jealous of Reed Richards? Nah, probably not. But the “Doomsman” name is a bit obvious, as is this whole half story. Roy Thomas and Wally Wood give it the old college try, but inevitably, this is run-of-the-mill Doom at best. Complete with fist-shaking anger!

MB: This is the second attempt—following Marvel Super-Heroes #20—to make Dr. Doom, if not a hero, then at least a protagonist, with his own set of supporting characters and plotlines, and Marvel would try again in 1975 by matching him with the recently orphaned Namor in Super-Villain Team-Up.  The common thread among all those efforts is Roy Thomas, who will also write some interesting Doom stories in Fantastic Four, and pairs up with a resurgent Wally Wood (inking his own pencils) on this brief series.  Roy packs a commendable amount of material into 10 pages, setting up many characters and plotlines, some building on the MSH tale, and Wood’s art is scrumptious, with Doom properly menacing and Ramona ravishing.

SM: In contrast to the Ka-Zar feature, least Wally Wood's illos are nice to look at (even when you can spot his Kirby reference material). Things get weird when the rebels start dressing like refugees from a Gold Key sci-fi comic with their little jet packs. I never saw the reason to give Doom his own title, he'd have to be beaten every issue - or otherwise have it be about the internal power struggles in Latveria. Fascinating. Once Doom ran from the young women because he didn't want to live a lie, I knew this story was in trouble. Amazing Adventures and Astonishing Tales are a slog to get through. Praying for a short run of both.

Also this month

Chamber of Darkness #6
Chili #16
Invincible Iron Man King-Size Special #1 (all-reprint)
Ka-Zar #1 ->
Kid Colt Outlaw #149
Mad About Millie #14
Marvel's Greatest Comics #28
Millie the Model Queen-Size Special #9
Millie the Model #185
Our Love Story #6
Outlaw Kid #1
Rawhide Kid #79
Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos King-Size Special #6
Western Gunfighters #1

One of the most puzzling moves of 1970 would have to be the new Ka-Zar (featuring Daredevil and X-Men) since KZ is starring in one-half of Astonishing Tales, also debuting this month. The most chin-scratching aspect of this new title though is the fact that two-thirds are reprints. Oh, make no mistake, I understand the economics of reprints: they're fast and they're dirt cheap. This one, carrying a higher price tag than most other Marvels, contains KZ's first appearance from X-Men #10 and a reprint of Daredevil #24 (also featuring KZ) along with, inexplicably, a new Hercules tale from the crackerjack team of Allyn Brodsky, Frank Springer (who illustrated the single worst Marvel story in the 1960s), and Dick Ayers (who illustrated most of the other worst stories of the 1960s). Herc's pop, Zeus, who has the orneriest streak this side of Odin, becomes enraged by his strongman offspring and sicks The Huntsman on him. Amazingly, I liked the art (as though torn from the pages of a 1950s comic) quite a bit but the story is a bizarre fragment that not only leaves us without a conclusion but appears to show the great God running from danger with his tail tucked between his kilt. The final panel asks what the reader thinks of Hercules and if more adventures (ostensibly, the second part of this to begin with!) should be forthcoming. Readers are warned that plot points of this story may pop up in future issues of Sub-Mariner. Was this story ever finished? Why would such a truncated story appear in the first place?  Ironically, no mention is made of Herc on the cover even though this was the only new material in the issue. The big Ka-Zar lasted a mere three issues.



  1. Rest assured, Professor Joe, that I do not attempt to explain, defend, or justify my affection for Stilt-Man. I admit that he's a totally silly villain, but he's just one of those for whom I have an inexplicable fondness, like someone's idiot cousin out in the Bronx.

    Must respectfully differ with Dean Enfantino on Gil Kane's Hulk. I thought his four issues of TALES TO ASTONISH, including the introduction of the Abomination, stood out in that morass.

    For what it's worth, the Huntsman story was indeed finished in next month's SUB-MARINER #29. Can't say I'm devastated at missing part one, combining the uniquely horrific "talents" of Brodsky (who would give mediocrity a new name when he took over on IRON MAN) et alia.

    The last two issues of this incarnation of KA-ZAR kicked off an Angel three-parter that, due to its cancellation, again had to be completed elsewhere, this time in the pages of MARVEL TALES #30 (the only issue with new material).

    1. No prob about Stilt-Man. We've known each other long enough to know we differ on many subjects and characters, my friend.

    Dr. Doom: Wally Wood's artwork still looks good, but by 1970, he'd learned to crank it out by the numbers, reproducing familiar poses and backgrounds lifted from his Avon, E.C. and Tower work. BTW, am I the only to see an Outer Limits connection?

    Speeding up the process: Sometime in early 1970 Marie Severin took on the task of designing most of Marvel's covers. This was done as a time saving measure. To avoid the need to reject or alter covers submitted by the artist, Stan got Marie to sketch out a thumbnail of the proposed cover, and once approved, her layouts were handed to the artist who would then follow her lead. Here's Marie's layout for Fantastic Four 101 next to the finished cover.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  3. Glenn,

    Thanks for posting Marie's layout for FF 101. Given Kirby's speed and work ethic, it just more proof that he was hard at work on the Fourth World for DC or no one would be needed to help him to "save time." Speaking of the King, with all respect to Prof SM's love for Big Johnny B (which I share btw) by any rational measure, Jack Kirby was not only the Marvel artist of the 1960's, but THE COMIC ARTIST OF THE 1960'S. It's not even close....

  4. Prof Scott: Careful what you say about my beloved punishment, both Amazing Adventures and Astonishing Tales will run for years!!