Wednesday, October 1, 2014

April 1966

(Continued from March 1966)

STRANGE TALES 143  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Mike Esposito
"TO FREE A BRAIN SLAVE"
Synopsis:
While SHIELD HQ is in the hands of Mentallo & The Fixer, and Fury a helpless prisoner, Dum Dum & his men prepare to strike back! Tony Stark takes command as the technos prepare his "Neutralizer". The ESP Division are unable to pick up any trace of Fury's thoughts, but the Doctor in charge of suspects Stark has a heart condition. The baddies attach a miniature H-Bomb to Fury's wrists, then remove the mind-control mask. Big mistake-- as Fury immediately begins thinking of an old war song, which acts as the "go" signal. After a burning chemical forces the baddies to remove their protective helmets, they come under attack by the ESP Division. While Fury holds out, Stark's Neutralizer disolves the H-Bomb! Mentallo & The Fixer fight to escape, but are quickly captured, with the help of SHIELD's "Metronome Unit". It's revealed that the ESP attack has destroyed Mentallos' powers, and that Fury was wearing a "Mental Transmitter" to contact them. But elsewhere, a jet takes off from The Heli-Carrier-- but is quickly shot down by a flying golden egg...

Indexer notes:
Part 3 of 3. Fixer mentions the H-Bomb was supplied by "THEM". The "Metronome Units" join the ranks of Jack Kirby's wildest design ideas. Without their helmets, The Fixer & Mentallo bear a striking resemblance to DC's Lex Luthor & Brainiac! (The bearded mind-reading Mentallo in particular may well have been the inspiration for John Byrne's human mentalist "Brainiac" who debuted in ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #438 (March 1988).

"TO FREE A BRAIN SLAVE"
Tony Stark takes persona charge of the effort to free NICK FURY from Mentallo & The Fixer. JACK KIRBY supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, HOWARD PURCELL steps in supplying pencils, and Mike Esposito continues on inks. Purcell wasn't bad, not too flashy, but at least serviceable, and I preferred him over Severin or Heck.
     (3-11-2014)

"WITH NONE BESIDE ME!"
Synopsis:
Strange hides his bound body in a rooftop water tank, as The Demon & his men search for him. At their HQ, Strange retrieves his Cloak Of Levitation, and uses it to capture one of Mordo's men. But his body has been found by the witch. The complex cat-and-mouse game continues until Strange finally regains control of his body and Amulet, and he hypnotizes Mordo's minions into forgetting all they know of black magic. Now he is free again to focus on the remaining threat of Dormammu, and the missing Clea...

Indexer notes:
Part 14 of 17. 1st early DR. STRANGE story never reprinted until 1978.


FANTASTIC FOUR 49  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott
"IF THIS BE DOOMSDAY"
The FF watch HELPLESS as The Watcher is incapable of talking Galactus out of DESTROYING all life on planet Earth. But he has a plan... JACK KIRBY supplies story & art for one of the most famous mini-epics of his entire career, ye "editor" fills balloons and JOE SINNOTT provides absolutely STUNNING inks. WHOA!!!!!
     (3-11-2014)


TALES TO ASTONISH 78  /
cover by Gene Colan & Vince Colletta
"THE PRINCE AND THE PUPPET!"
How many times does Namor have "misunderstandings" with surface-men? (Never mind that-- how many, MANY times do ALL Marvel heroes have "misunderstandings" with other heroes?) You'd think it'd get boring after awhile... Oh well, This story, which featured guest appearances of Hank Pym & Janet Van Dyne, served as a lead-in to their re-introduction to THE AVENGERS in issue #26 of that series (Mar'66-- it's really the same month as this one, but the cover dates on AVENGERS, DAREDEVIL, THOR and X-MEN were one month "off" for some reason, and stayed that way until the Nov'71 issues.)

10 months earlier, in STRANGE TALES #133 (Jun'65), Bob Powell had inexplicably given The Puppet Master (one of my LEAST-favorite villains in the entire Marvel Universe) a complete make-over, resulting in him no longer looking like Howdy Doody's evil twin brother and more like just your average short, bald, overweight schlep of a badguy. In that story, he claimed he did it so people wouldn't know who he was, but his "new" identity was found out only a few pages later... which shows just how efficient his planning tends to be. (Of course, I do find myself wondering if that wasn't supposed to be SOME OTHER VILLAIN entirely, and Stan's dialogue either mistook it for or just changed him to The Puppet Master, but that's something others can debate.)

At any rate, this annoying, sick psycho is back, still with his "new" look, and looking more ominous than ever under Gene Colan & Vince Colletta.

Page 7: WHAT a cool shot! Might have made a nice poster, if not for all that repetitive dialogue all over it.
     (12-30-2010)

"THE HULK MUST DIE!"
Exactly TWO YEARS after DAREDEVIL #1, Bill Everett finally returned to Marvel full-time, and of course, where else should he find himself but in TALES TO ASTONISH. But NOT doing his own creation, SUB-MARINER-- no! Instead, he was doing pencils AND inks over Jack Kirby's layouts on THE HULK. Well, this is certainly the most "different" The Hulk has looked since Steve Ditko worked on it. The drawing is a lot more "cartoony", but the linework is a lot SHARPER and SLICKER than Mike Esposito or any dozen other inkers could ever dream of accomplishing. DAMN, is this guy GOOD!!!

That General Ross-- he thought he had security problems with Bruce Banner. This issue, he's got one he doesn't even KNOW about, in the form of Dr. Konrad Zaxon, allegedly a top US scientist, but unless I'm mistaken, another foreign spy out to steal secrets and the like. In this case, he's figured out how to draw the incredible life-force power from the Hulk to use it as part of a highly-destructive weapon-- killing greenskin in the process.

Presumably for protection, he dons a suit of armor... and we get to see what IRON MAN might have looked like if Bill Everett had created the character back in the early 50's, instead of Jack Kirby in the early 60's. (I know Kirby worked on this episode, but under Everett's full art, he could have been doing stick-figures for all I know!) Everett's sense of design is unique in the 60's, as his machinery could easily have turned up decades earlier.

For the first time in quite awhile, the Hulk is imprisoned by the Army, and Zaxon deliberately lets him loose so he can siphon his power off (and kill him, of course). It looks like we could have an episode-long battle royal next time. But looks can be deceiving!
     (12-30-2010)

"THE PRINCE AND THE PUPPET"
SUB-MARINER falls victim to the M.U.'s answer Howdy Doody. GENE COLAN supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and Vince "Who IS this guy?" Colletta does his final inks on Subby (for now).
     (3-11-2014)

"THE HULK MUST DIE!"
This follows up on the shocking revelation that Bruce Banner has a problem being green. JACK KIRBY supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue (making HULK dumber and dumber with each passing episode), while BILL EVERETT comes aboard supplying pencils & inks. WOW!!! Now this is really COOL!
     (3-11-2014)


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 35  /
cover by STEVE DITKO and Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky
Review  (coming soon)


TALES OF SUSPENSE 76  /
cover by Jack Kirby & John Romita
"HERE LIES HIDDEN... THE UNSPEAKABLE ULTIMO!"
IRON MAN battles a collossaal robot that would give ULTRA MAN a run for his money. And while that's going on in the far east, back home, Senator Byrd, tired of Tony Stark failing to cooperate with his Senate investigating committee, decided to put out a warrant for his arrest, and SHUT DOWN his factory in the process. GENE COLAN suppies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and JACK ABEL makes it look so pretty with his inks.

I would like to point out, that while the dialogue gives every indication that THE MANDARIN is the one who somehow created ULTIMO, this doesn't really make sense, and much-later writers totally contradicted this, indicating that he FOUND the robot, an ALIEN construct-- just as he FOUND his 10 power-rings. Was this meant to be the original intent, and ye "editor" just WASN'T PAYING ATTENTION again while banging the typewriter keys, or, like a typical "Hollywood kinda guy", did he just figure, in his own arrogance, that he had "A REALLY COOL IDEA!", and decide to F*** over the story, regardless of how little sense it might make doing so?

"THE GLADIATOR, THE GIRL AAND THE GLORY"
CAPTAIN AMERICA join forces with Batroc Ze Lepair, while SHIELD Agent 13 thinks CAP's turned rogue. But he's just trying to save her life-- and that of the lives of everyone in New York City-- by retrieving the damaged canister before it goes critical and causes mass devastation. CAP has a brief run-in with the mysterious "Them", who brag about having bottomless bank accounts to finance their cause. Sound like NEO-NAZIS to me, what about you? (Sounds like NEO-CONSERVATIVES, too, come to think of it.)

JACK KIRBY supplies story & layouts, ye "editor" does dialogue, and JOHN ROMITA supplies pencils & inks. WOW!!!!! It's too bad these guys didn't stay together on this series for a nice long haul. This is WAY better than Romita's run on DAREDEVIL.
     (3-11-2014)


THOR 127  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Vince Colletta
"THE HAMMER AND THE HOLOCAUST!"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: The weakened and defeated Thor returns to Asgard where he finds Seidring has taken over. He battles the 'odin power' and defeats Seidring only to collapse himself."

Seems like Odin can't trust ANYBODY except the SON who's proven over and over and over to him how loyal and truthful he is. It's like Dale Arden & Flash Gordon in the newspaper strip. No matter how much Flash PROVED himself, no matter how much he risked his LIFE to save her, Dale KEPT accusing him of chasing every other woman in sight. Maybe Flash should have hooked up with Prince Barin. Those two could have given Dale & Aura something to think about.

JACK KIRBY doth supply wondrous story & art beyond the normal scope of mere funny-books! Yon weasely "editor" doth filleth in the word balloons while cravenly STEALING credit & pay for the entire story; and Vince "sword-carrier" Colletta maketh with the multitudinous ink lines. MISS IT NOT!!

"THE MEANING OF RAGNAROK!"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: Volla reveals the events of the day of Ragnarok."

The cycle of the gods is UNVEILED in all its darkly portent. The only question one MIGHT ask is... are the events on display a foreboding a a future yet to come-- or a look into the dim recesses of the past, showing how an EARLIER cycle of Norse gods didst destroy themselves, but were reborn in the form of the "Marvel Universe" Norse gods??? OR-- BOTH???

JACK KIRBY supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and Vince "I don't get it" Colletta does inks. VERILY!

While I read the lead story in MARVEL TREASURY EDITION #3 (1974), the back-up I have in MARVEL SPECTACULAR #12 (also 1974). Oddly enough, this issue is one that falls thru the cracks in between THOR MASTERWORKS Vol.3 and ESSENTIAL THOR Vol.3, and so is one of many I've either had to track down originals of, or, read the poorly-reproduced 70's reprints of. I just didn't feel like buying an entire extra reprint volume to get a FEW issues I was still missing.
    (3-11-2014)


THE AVENGERS 27  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Don Heck
"FOUR AGAINST THE FLOODTIDE"
After Hank Pym has finally convinced the team that, YES, he's GIANT-MAN, they save NYC from destruction by Attuma and a machine that can generate destructive tidal waves. DON HECK supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and Frank Giacoia does inks.
     (3-11-2014)


SGT. FURY & HIS HOWLING HOLOCAUSTERS 29  /
cover by Dick Ayers & John Tartaglione
"ARMAGEDDON!"
Baron Strucker returns. Former high school English teacher and lifelong DC fanboy Roy Thomas joins the team, and it's difficult to know whether he actually wrote this issue, or just the dialogue. DICK AYERS certainly did the art, possibly much more, and John Tartaglione did inks.
     (3-11-2014)


DAREDEVIL 15  /
cover by John Romita & Frank Giacoia
"AND MEN SHALL CALL HIM OX"
A mad scientist swaps brains with one of Jack Kirby's lesser SPIDER-MAN villains, and winds up paying for it in the process. JOHN ROMITA returns DD to NYC, and already things improve tremendously, as he supplies story & art. Ye "editor" does dialogue, and Frank Giacoia does inks.
     (3-11-2014)


X-MEN 19  /
cover by Werner Roth & Dick Ayers  (alterations by Marie Severin)
"LO, NOW SHALL APPEAR-- THE MIMIC!"
I'd sure like to know who's got this increasing leaning toward flowery or "Biblical" sounding story titles. A rather lame and annoying villain makes his debut. WERNER ROTH supplies story, art & cover, and possibly even the villain; ye "editor" does dialogue, and Dick Ayers does inks. Not very memorable, unfortunately. I forgot to mention, but #17 was Kirby's last issue on story & layouts. With Roth flying solo, the "editor" apparently became desperate to find someone to fill in for him, since a number of these "DC" kinda guys weren't too hot in the writing department. But then, NEITHER was the "editor".
     (3-11-2014)


(Continued in May 1966)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

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