Wednesday, October 1, 2014

January 1966

(Continued from December 1965)

STRANGE TALES 140  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott
"THE END OF HYDRA"
Synopsis:
Fury just barely manages to stop the "Hunter" robot. Surrounded on all sides by HYDRA's "Tiger" squad, Dum Dum, Gabe & the SHIELD squad use a "Flying Wedge" formation with an "Electro-Jab" weapon to push thru. HYDRA retaliates with "Skate Board Units". Meanwhile, Tony Stark arrives at the Heli-Carrier via the flying Porche 904, then takes off with the Braino-Saur via a 2-stage Atlas booster rocket. Fury joins up with Dum Dum and turns the tide of battle, causing Imperial Hydra to realize he must use "Operation Last Resort". In space, Stark manages to disarm the Betraton Bomb, and SHIELD orders the arrest of all HYDRA agents worldwide. Fury & co. blast into HYDRA's "Nerve Center", while its leader slowly walks up the stairs leading to Imperial Industries International's boardroom. As he prepares to hit the "destruct" button, we finally learn his real identity...

SHIELD has located & invaded Hydra's NYC base of operations, and a full-scale battle zone erupts. As the daughter of the Imperial Hydra leads NICK FURY to her father's stronghold, we learn the identity of the man is NOT the obvious suspect, but that little guy in the corner of Imperial Enterprises who was posing as a secretary. Realizing he has no choice but to kill his own daughter along with his enemies, he propares to push the destruct button. JACK KIRBY supplies story & layouts, DON HECK steps in on pencils, and Joe Sinnott continues on inks. Oh, yeah, and the "editor" fills in the word balloons while taking credit for all of it. Part 6 of 7.

Don Heck, while a slight step up from Joe Sinnott in the pencils department, and looking very SHARP under Sinnott's inks, is, frankly, WASTED here, wedged in as he is between Kirby's layouts & Sinnott's inks. Was there some kind of disagreement, a minor falling-out between him and the "editor", or was it simply a total lack of respect on the guy's part that saw him shove Heck off of IRON MAN and into this slot? It sure seems like an insult to me. Heck would only do this one episode at this point, but would return for more later-- and without the benefit of Sinnott's clean, sharp inks.

Indexer notes:
Part 6 of 7. Arnold Brown revealed as Imperial Hydra in this episode. The "Flying Wedge" and the "Skate Board Units" must rank among the most outrageous ideas ever from Jack Kirby. In this episode, Nick Fury is a dead ringer for Ralph Meeker, who played Mike Hammer in the film KISS ME DEADLY (1955), while Arnold Brown bears a resemblance to Warren editor Archie Goodwin!

"THE PINCERS OF POWER"
Part 11 of 17  /  Synopsis:
Dormammu sends Strange, Mordo & The Ancient One to a "neutral" dimension. He then uses a sleeping potion on the Mindless Ones, so his domain will be safe from them temporarily. He then summons various rulers of nearby dimensions. Then, he arrives to challenge Strange in person to battle, for total mastery of Earth! Strange accepts, then Dormammu declares they shall fight using only the "Pincers Of Power", and no other spells or incantations. This way, it will be a battle of skill, not power. The battle is fierce-- but when it appears Strange is about to overcome his adversary, Mordo strikes Strange from behind...

DR. STRANGE & The Dread Dormammu squaring off one-on-one without either of them using their magic. STEVE DITKO supplies story & full art, ye "editor" does dialogue. Part 11 of 17.
     (3-5-2014)


FANTASTIC FOUR 46  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott
"THOSE WHO WOULD DESTROY US!"
Following a free-for-all between the two fightin' "families", the FF are confronted by an overbearing character called "The Seeker" who informs of them of just enough to make sure they'll ignore his deadly serious warning to "back off and leave things alone". Dragon Man escapes, and Triton, his water system damaged, is in danger of dying. JACK KIRBY supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue without bothering to really pay attention to what the hell the REAL writer is doing, and JOE SINNOTT does the slickest inks ever seen on Kirby this side of Wally Wood. WHOA! Part 3 of 5.
     (3-4-2014)

It's been pointed out over the years that there are a number of severe plot holes in the Inhumans story. Some-- "MMMS" types mostly-- have said, this is "evidence" that Kirby was taking more control of the stories, and clearly was a very sloppy writer. This, of course, is B***S***. As one friend of mine has pointed out on numerous occasions-- and as it proved itself to me, when I recently re-read all those early-70's DCs of Kirby I have in my collection-- Kirby is a BRILLIANT writer, his stories and the character personalities in them are consistent, and there are NO plot-holes. Clearly, his "editor" at Marvel-- who has admitted in interviews that he "hated" writing, that he had no interest in the business, the stories, the characters, that he "raced through writing dialogue to get it done as quickly as possible", was NOT paying attention to the stories he CLAIMED he wrote in the first place. THAT's where the plot holes and inconsistencies cropped up.

Something I found amazing was when I watched the early-90's tv cartoon adaptation of the Inhumans story. I hated the designs, the animation, the dialogue, the voices, and the music. But whoever worked on that show must have been paying attention. Because they FIXED the plot-holes. That's right. Those half-baked tv adaptations made MORE SENSE than the original comic-books. And it didn't take much fixing. A few lines of dialogue was all that was required to set things straight.

See? A "real" editor-- or a real "writer"-- would have done this. Marvel's "editor".... DIDN'T.
     (3-5-2014)


TALES TO ASTONISH 75  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky and Gene Colan & Vince Colletta
"THE END OF THE QUEST!" 
SUB-MARINER's quest for Neptune's Trident reaches a climax, courtesy of GENE COLAN on story & art, ye "editor" on dialogue & Vince "What's with all the fish?" Colletta on inks.

"NOT ALL MY POWER CAN SAVE ME"
The Leader is DEAD! The Watcher uses the brain-machine to send HULK a message that his friend Rick Jones is in trouble, so Hulk heads to Washington, DC. Ross has had Bruce Banner's "T-Gun" built-- without having the slightest idea what the thing does. And, as Hulk approaches The White House, Ross has the thing FIRED!!! Suddenly, Washington DC is in ruins. But it's not the city the weapon has affected-- but its target, as Hulk realizes, he's been zapped into the FAR FUTURE!! (Just like Charlton Heston in that movie about those hairy guys.) JACK KIRBY supplies story & layouts, ye "editor" does dialogue, and MIKE ESPOSITO (who, like Gene Colan, it quivering in fear that DC might find out he's working for Marvel) does pencils & inks.

This was actually my very 1st HULK story, which I read in the HULK ANNUAL reprint. I don't know about anyone else, but I PREFER when Hulk can THINK. The "editor" seemed to prefer to do things the "Hollywood" way-- DUMBING DOWN the character, just like the Boris Karloff FRANKENSTEIN, the Johnny Weismuller TARZAN, and the Nigel Bruce DR. WATSON.
    (3-4-2014)

I had actually done a longer review several years earlier.  Well, here it is... 
"NOT ALL MY POWER CAN SAVE ME!"
For many years, I heard about The Leader, but all I knew was he was this DEAD guy. Seems almost a shame somebody "had" to bring him back to life, for endless inferior sequels, doesn't it?

More of "Jack Kirby" shows thru this time than the last time it was just him and "M.Demeo", so I'm guessing Jack did fuller pencils, though still not as "full" as when he & Esposito teamed up for one episode of SHIELD. People who kvetch and complain about Vince Colletta should take a good CLOSE look at this. It's clear that Esposito is STILL murdering Kirby's work, even though this is lots better than what it had been a few months earlier. The storytelling and the POSES Kirby put down are SO good, SO inspired, it's like nothing could really "kill" it... but Esposito sure seems to be trying. Never mind THOR-- this episode gets my vote for one of Kirby's stories MOST deserving to be RE-INKED by someone who actually knows and cares what the hell he's doing.

Maybe it's because this is exactly where I came in, but as far as the writing goes, this is my FAVORITE version of The HULK. Halfway between smart and stupid, tough but well-meaning. Had he been a bit more like this, his absurdly-brief time in THE AVENGERS might have lasted longer. When I started reading the "dumb" HULK, the one who was always moaning about wanting to be left alone, and who almost talked like something out of a bad DC comic, I was disappointed. I don't see how THAT version of the character ever lasted so DAMN long.

Page 3: "Now all I gotta do is figure out what to do next." This line could ALMOST have inspired Arthur C. Clarke's repeated line in the novel 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, first regarding "Moon-Watcher", later Dave Bowman when he becomes the "Star-Child".

The T-Gun: even something so absurd in its design has a "real-world" believability about it when Kirby designs it. The way the thing is mounted looks like something out of a machine-shop. Leave it to the army to build something when they have NO IDEA what it is, what it does, and somehow expect to find out when they fire it. (WHICH-- THEY DON'T!!! Find out, that is.)

Page 4: those close-ups are making with wish for Vince Colletta-- or better yet, DICK AYERS.

Page 5: The Ultimate Machine sure reminds me of "The Teacher" from the much-maligned STAR TREK story, "SPOCK'S BRAIN".

Page 6: Paul Frees has another cameo... "I have sworn never to interfere in the affairs of others, and yet..." YEAH RIGHT.

Page 7: I love the bit where HULK LEAPS, hits the ground, then keeps going. Siegel & Shuster's SUPERMAN he ain't. My question might be, how does he do this without causing massive destruction to every one of his "jumping-off points"?

Page 8: Here's the big one: HOW did Ross get the T-Gun to WASHINGTON, D.C.??? Isn't he-- and Banner's lab-- in the southwest? And WHY would he think to transport it and test it anywhere near the nation's Capital, without advance knowledge that The HULK might show up there? This scene is SCREAMING for a "no-prize" explanation!!!

Page 9: Hey, didn't we see this scene in PLANET OF THE APES? Oh, wait-- that was 2-1/2 years later. And actually, the bit with The Mall and The Lincoln Memorial was in the movie LOGAN'S RUN, where the film-makers were clearly trying to visually reference POTA. (Unless, of course, they had instead READ THIS COMIC...??)

Page 10: I might wonder how a bunch of marauders in the far future so quickly recognize The HULK and comprehend that he's travelled from the past to their time... but considering everything else, I guess it's one of those things you just gotta take on faith.

Finally-- HOW COME on the splash page, the "editor" is the ONLY one with his FULL name spelled out? Was he trying to side-line everybody else??? (Oh, don't answer that...)
     (12-28-2010)


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 32  /
cover by STEVE DITKO
Review  (coming soon)


TALES OF SUSPENSE 73  /
cover by Gene Colan & Jack Abel
"MY LIFE FOR YOURS"
Shockingly, a whole new era begins for IRON MAN without any warning (if you don't count the SPECTACULAR cover by the current SUB-MARINER artist). Happy Hogan, still on the verge of death, is kidnapped out of the hospital, and Shellhead is in hot pursuit, finding it's the work of former Master Of Evil card-holding member and former GIANT-MAN baddie The Black Knight. A fight turns deadly when BK falls off his horse and... well, we never DO find out what happened to him in this issue.. or in this SERIES, for that matter. Talk about SLOPPY writing!!

GENE COLAN steps up to the plate (still using his "Adam Austin" psudonym to try and hide the fact he's moonlighting from DC-- if their editors can't recognize his style here, they must be BLIND as well as STUPID), supplying story & art, while Flo Steinberg-- ALLEGEDLY!!!-- actually got the ball rolling with a story idea. Roy Thomas fills in for ye "editor" on dialogue, and must use 3 times as much dialogue per panel as his boss normally does. Finally, Jack Abel does inks-- GORGEOUS, SHARP, CRYSTAL-CLEAR inks you wouldn't think would look this good over Colan-- BUT BOY THEY DO!! I only wish Abel had inked Don Heck instead of Esposito, Colletta & Ayers.

I still think it's criminal that Don Heck should be so unceremoniously KICKED OFF his own series. He may not have created the character, but he'd done superb work on it almost from the beginning. This total lack of respect is a serious black mark against the comics industry in general, I think.

"WHERE WALKS THE SLEEPER"
Part 2 of this 3-part CAPTAIN AMERICA thriller, as the various components of the most clunky robot ever seen in comics is slowly assembled. JACK KIRBY supplies story & layouts, ye "editor" does dialogue, and GEORGE TUSKA does pencils & inks.
     (3-4-2014)


JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 124  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Vince Colletta
"THE GRANDEUR AND THE GLORY!"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: Thor reveals his secret i.d. to Jane Foster (she believes him this time)."
"Indexer Notes: First appearance of Atlas.
"

THOR tackles The Witch Doctor. But meanwhile, Hercules decides to go to Earth, for the first time in ages. This COULD mean trouble... (heh)

JACK KIRBY supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and Vince "When do you need this by?" Colletta does inks. Oh, joy!

"CLOSER COMES THE SWARM!"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: While the Asgardians are licking their wounds after a battle with a dragon, Queen Ula sends out the Flying Trolls of Thryheim to finish them off."

Something I never noticed before is how much Queen Ula and her "swarm" of flying trolls resemble "Lightning Lady" and her insectons (or whatever they were called) in CAPTAIN VICTORY. Variations on a theme!

JACK KIRBY supplies story & art on this latest installment of "Tales Of Asgard". Ye "editor" does dialogue & Vince "Where are the white women?" Colletta does inks.
     (3-4-2014)


THE AVENGERS 24  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
"FROM THE ASHES OF DEFEAT"
The team actually joins forces with Kang to put down the rebellion, mostly to save the lives of countless innocents in the future city. And, for once, we see a semi-decent side to the world-conqueror, but of course, it ends in tragedy. DON HECK supplies story & art (no doubt working from Jack Kirby's springboard), ye "editor" does dialogue, and because Romita is now busy on D.D., Dick Ayers returns on inks. Too bad...
     (3-5-2014)


SGT. FURY & HIS HOWLING MANIACS 26  /
cover by DICK AYERS
"DUM DUM DOES IT THE HARD WAY!"
DICK AYERS does story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and Carl Hubbell does inks.
     (3-5-2014)


DAREDEVIL 12  /
cover by John Romita & Vince Collett   (from a design by Wally Wood)
"SIGHTLESS, IN A SAVAGE LAND"
A whole new era begins, and BOY, is it a mess. Matt Murdock has quit his job, decides on a whim to take a sea voyage, finds the ship he's on attacked by a modern-day ocean-going pirate with a hi-tech submarine, and, most insanely of all, finds himself in The Savage Land of KA-ZAR. Frankly, this is one of the worst-written Marvels of the whole of the 1960's, and although it's nowhere near as bad as DD #2-4 were, it's getting there. I actually did some research on this and figured out there were no less than 5 different writers involved, although only one took credit (and pay) for the whole mess. It breaks down this way, as I see it...

Wally Wood came up with the idea of starting the SUB-MARINER series with a story set in a dinosaur-infested "lost world". But when he had his falling-out with his "editor", Gene Colan got the job instead, and did something else entirely. Dick Ayers was briefly considered for the job, and apparently is the one who came up with the idea of DD on a sea voyage, which may even be why Wood's story idea got used here instead, where it makes very little sense. JACK KIRBY actually wrote 2 full issues and did layouts. But then JOHN ROMITA, who'd worked on CAPTAIN AMERICA back in the 50's, and who'd gotten sick to death of doing endless romance stories for DC, came looking for some work inking, he was shoved on here instead, where the "editor" hoped he could get him to do WRITING (unpaid, uncredited, as with everyone else doing it at Marvel). Romita took Kirby's story, ignored most of the layouts, and RE-WROTE the thing almost from scratch in his own style, while doing full art. Frankly, after Wally Wood, this was a MAJOR, major come-down on every single level.

After that, the "editor" wrote the dialogue and took pay & credit for the entire thing. It's positively mind-boggling that he should somehow act like he was proud of the story here-- or that his fans should actually praise "his" efforts. This thing is almost UNREADABLE.

Oh yeah-- and I didn't even notice at first, the cover-- which is also awful-- actually has a layout very similar to Wally Wood's rough sketch which started the whole mess. Which only confirms what I'd already suspected.
     (3-5-2014)

For MORE detail, go to Professor H's Wayback Machine!


X-MEN 16  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
"THE SUPREME SACRIFICE"
The lunatic nutcase scientist who created The Sentinels (who then turned against HIM) winds up paying the supreme penalty for trying to reinvent Nazi Germany's racial policies. This might have been a lot more impressive if JACK KIRBY had been able to do full pencils instead of "just" story & layouts. Ye "editor" does dialogue, WERNER ROTH does pencils, and Dick Ayers does inks. I also think I'd have been a lot happier if this had been a stand-alone storyline, without the ENDLESS, interminable sequels done over the years, as first Roy Thomas, and then Chris Claremont, and then who knows how many other writers, kept bringing back The Sentinels over and over and over and over, clearly having no original ideas of their own.
     (3-5-2014)


(Continued in February 1966)

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

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