Wednesday, October 1, 2014

March 1966

(Continued from February 1966)

STRANGE TALES 142  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Mike Esposito
"WHO STRIKES AT--- SHIELD?"
Synopsis:
After a new "Wild Bill" robot goes wild, Fury checks out the "Encephalogram-Inducer", which, when hooked into the "Brainwave Stimulator" can transform the thoughts of the ESP Division into images. (Wha'd he say?) Mentallo breaches multiple defenses of The Fixer's underwater base, then convinces him to join forces. Fury contacts another SHIELD base for info about "Inferno 42" and Batroc The Leaper. Mentallo & The Fixer travel underground to SHIELD HQ in a "Thru-The-Ground Tank", which The Fixer mentions was supplied by "THEM". The Fixer uses "Jericho Tubes" to knock a hole in a 20-foot-thick concrete wall. Inside SHIELD HQ, he uses a "Static Distorter" to cut off all outside communications. After making it thru several more traps, Mentallo & The Fixer take on Fury & his men directly, using "Element Z" to render everyone unconscious. Placing an electronic mask on Fury's face, The Fixer turns him into a mindless slave...

Indexer notes:
Part 2 of 3. Story occurs concurrently with TALES OF SUSPENSE #75 (March 1966). 1st mention of "THEM". Fixer’s "Thru-The-Ground-Tank" strikingly similar to the ones used by The Hate Monger in FANTASTIC FOUR #21 (December 1963) and The Rabble Rouser in STRANGE TALES #119 (April 1964), suggesting a connection between them and "THEM". 3rd & final SHIELD episode where Jack Kirby did full pencils. Kirby would next do full pencils on Nick Fury in the Captain America story in TALES OF SUSPENSE #78 (June 1966).

"WHO STRIKES AT-- SHIELD?"
The answer is, Mentallo & The Fixer, though the latter is using some very advanced technology for a solo baddie. This includes-- no S***-- the "Thru-The-Ground Tank" previously seen in "The Hate Monger" and "The Rabble Rouser" stories, which he tells his partner he got from "Them". This means, Marvel's answer to Lex Luthor is getting weapons from the SAME people who supplied ADOLPH HITLER! As NICK FURY prepares for their assault, he's in touch with other SHIELD branches, and gets an update about that canister Agent 13 is delivering. The Marvel Universe is starting to become a smaller place, with all these inter-related threads going on-- almost all courtesy of one man. JACK KIRBY supplies story & art (his 3rd & final time doing full pencils on this series), ye "editor" does dialogue, and Mike Esposito steps in as inker. I really WISH they could have gotten WALLY WOOD instead... Esposito's inks have already hit a new low in quality.
     (3-9-2014)

"THOSE WHO WOULD DESTROY ME!"
Synopsis:
Realizing he can sense no trace of Mordo in his sanctum, Strange realizes an enemy must have erased it for some purpose. He finds the bomb, and tosses it high into the sky to explode. Stunned by the blast, he's captured by Mordo's 3 minions, who so imprison him that he cannot use his magic. Strange sends a telepathic thought to The Ancient One, but cannot contact him as his Master has sent his spirit form to search for the missing Clea. While 2 of Mordo's minions study Strange's cloak & amulet, The Demon tries to probe his mind-- but Strange is too powerful for him, and takes control instead! Strange fights a desperate battle, barely escaping his captors. But with his body still imprisoned, and without his cloak or amulet, things look dark indeed...

Indexer notes:
Part 13 of 17. The Witch, Kaecilius, and the Demon names revealed in DOCTOR STRANGE #56 (December 1982).


FANTASTIC FOUR 48  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott
"THE COMING OF GALACTUS"
Maximus pulls the trigger on a weapon he believes will wipe out all humanity on Earth. But it doesn't work. So then, he pulls out another device, which creates a "NEGATIVE ZONE", an impenetrable barrier to cover the entire Inhumans' city, trapping all of them inside WITH HIM. The FF barely escape, but Johnny & Crytal are separated. The horror! The heartbreak! Reed vows he will do whatever he can to find a way to break thru the barrier...

...but meanwhile, inexplicably, solar flares & asteroids seem to cover the Earth, and back home, The Watcher tells the FF he's trying to HIDE the entire planet, in order to save it, from... THE SILVER SURFER. A guy on a flying surfboard. No S***. But it doesn't work, and he lands on the roof of The Baxter Building (what are the odds?) and sends a signal to his master... GALACTUS... who arrives in a collosal spaceship, announcing he will now DESTROY THE ENTIRE PLANET.

I ask you... WHAT kind of mind does it take to jump from one multi-part story to another-- 8 PAGES into a 20-page comic-book???

This is often considered THE high point, THE greatest, best, most incredible, etc. etc. etc. FF story ever ever ever. As my Dad used to say (infuriatingly)... "OH I DON'T THINK SO." But, that's me.

I first saw this on the 1967 Hanna-Barbera F.F. cartoon show, adapted by Alex Toth. He had the sense to snip off the part with the Inhumans. He also replaced Alicia with Sue, but then Alicia wasn't a regular on the show (too bad).
Part 5 of 5 --and-- Part 1 of 3.

JACK KIRBY supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and JOE SINNOTT does the slickest inks ever seen in this universe!

This was also adapted-- VERY BADLY-- into a live-action F.F. movie. The comic is better. HELL, the ALEX TOTH cartoon is better!!!
     (3-8-2014)


TALES TO ASTONISH 77  /
cover by Jack Kirby & John Romita
My copy of this one was pretty beat-up, despite costing me more than the rest. (That's because I bought quite a few years after the previous ones, because I just really wanted the original printing.) I lost track of how many hours it took to clean this up... looks like it was WORTH it, though, doesn't it?

John Romita had just returned to Marvel from DC a couple months earlier, and had done 1 issue of THE AVENGERS and either 2 or 3 episodes of DAREDEVIL when he branched out on HULK. What a cover!! Romita has said in many interviews that all he wanted to do at Marvel was ink. It's clear he could have been one of Jack Kirby's best inkers (and probably a lot of other people's as well), but that wasn't what Stan had in mind.

"TO WALK AMONGST MEN!"
If this issue's SUB-MARINER episode proves anything, it's that Gene Colan had a thing for "military" stuff. He does those frogmen so good, you wonder why he's "wasting" his time with super-heroes! Namor, meanwhile, still has a LOT to learn about being the monarch of a small country. Like, you just don't go charging in somewhere INCOGNITO and expect to be recognized diplomatically, which might have made a lot of things a LOT easier for him over the years.
     (12-30-2010)

"TO WALK AMONGST MEN"
A new SUB-MARINER storyline begins. He has a run-in with Hank & Jan (remember them?) while the now-exiled Warlord Krang plots & schemes to find a way to get back at him and take over the throne of Atlantis. GENE COLAN supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and Vince "Get me outta here" Colletta does his final job on inking Subby-- for awhile.
     (3-9-2014)

Now we come to the 3rd episode of HULK I ever read:
"BRUCE BANNER IS THE HULK!"
After suffering thru months on end of Mike Esposito, John Romita's linework is a welcome breath of fresh air. Look how SMOOTH those lines are! DAMN, he's good!!! (The printing on the splash page leaves a bit to be desired, though-- they must have had a problem with the color plate registration here.)

I remember the first time I read this thinking this was the best-looking art of the 3-parter, and while it's very nice, looking at it now, Romita's HULK somehow seems "generic" compare to Esposito's or Kane's. Kane's, especially, had a lot more "personality". Maybe if they'd teamed Kane & Romita up... (that would come later, of course-- heehee)

As usual, the BEST part of the episode is Jack Kirby's storytelling. It's awesome to behold when The HULK just flies into a rage at the thought of being KNOCKED DOWN by anybody, let alone as Asgardian.

On page 20, Major Talbot shows more warmth and human compassion than he's EVER exhibited in the entire series up to this point. Maybe with his romantic rival believed DEAD, the sexual tension is off somewhat (not that Kirby or Lee would have focused on that). What surprises me is how much in the first panel Rick Jones resembles Robert Walker (Sr. or Jr., take yer pick), who he also resembled in the Kirby-Stone art for "The Army Of Assassins Strikes!" in SUSPENSE #60 (Dec'64). Few artists ever take the trouble to make some characters consistent in appearance. I have to figure it was Jack Kirby's doing in this case.

What a SHOCK at the bottom of the page when The HULK does a "180" and tries to save the city. I mean, what did they ever do for HIM? And sure enough, on the next page, the city dwellers, after seeing his heroics, conclude that he did it so HE could take over the city. (At least, according to Stan's dialogue.) Weren't they listening AT ALL in the previous installment when he said over and over that he just didn't care about them, and all he wanted was to get back to his own time? I'd say they didn't DESERVE to be saved.

That's another baffling thing about this episode. I wonder WHY he keeps thinking any of these characters would just happen to have time-travel equipment laying around for his convenience? (As far as I know, The Executioner did not have the power of time-travel, nor would he have any reason to use if it he did.)

The last-page revelation isn't much fo a surprise for the readers, considering the name of the story and the way it was plastered all over the front cover. But Talbot sure is surprised. But then, he never seemed that bright from the day he first showed up at Ross's missile base. You'd THINK his suddenly learning the truth about Bruce Banner might change his attitude toward the guy... but as we'll see, not really.

Like many before him, Romita didn't stick around. While continuing to work on DAREDEVIL, the month after this he moved over to TALES OF SUSPENSE to do 2 episodes of CAPTAIN AMERICA-- a character he'd first done in the early 1950's! Personally, I think he was a better fit there, and he might have stuck around a lot longer than he did, if it hadn't been for Steve Ditko's abrupt departure from the company.

It's just as well... the next issue would FINALLY bring some stability to the feature, from a surprising source.
     (12-30-2010)

"BRUCE BANNER IS THE HULK!"
Yes, folks, his secret is out, though not until the last page, when career rat Glenn Talbot manages to pressure it out of a emotionally-exhausted Rick Jones, who figures, his friend is dead, what does it matter now? But Hulk's in the far future-- fighting, surprisingly, NOT Kang The Conqueror, but The Executioner!! What's HE doing in the future, some might ask? Though NEVER explained, the answer is simple-- he's IMMORTAL. This is what happens when you have 2 writers working on the same stories, and the one doing dialogue isn't paying attention. Too bad this never crossed Gary "burnout" Friedrich's mind a couple years later when he did a sequel, and suggested-- WRONGLY--- that the Asgardian rogue had inexplicably time-travelled there as well. JACK KIRBY supplies story & layouts, ye "editor" does dialogue, and JOHN ROMITA does pencils & inks! While Romita's Hulk, when he goes solo, looks like a gorilla, working with Kirby, he's a lot more interesting-- though, looking back, I think I preferred the Kirby-Kane version of the month before.
     (3-9-2014)


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 34  /
cover by STEVE DITKO
Review  (coming soon)


TALES OF SUSPENSE 75  /
cover by Gene Colan & Jack Abel
"THE FURY OF.. THE FREAK!"
Happy Hogan, via a medical accident, has been turned into The Hulk's mute cousin... gee, I wonder if THIS is where the Bill Bixby TV show REALLY got its origin story from? IRON MAN has to do battle with one of his only real friends in the world, and try not to get either of them killed. GENE COLAN supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and JACK ABEL does some of the prettiest inks you've ever seen.

"30 MINUTES TO LIVE"
CAPTAIN AMERICA is caught in between a beautiful blonde working for SHIELD, and a fatuous Frenchman with a mania for savate working for someone called "Them", all trying to get their hands on a canister of highly DANGEROUS material that could destroy all of NYC! JACK KIRBY does story & layouts, ye "editor" does dialogue, DICK AYERS supplies the pencils while John Tartaglione does the inks (I guess the latter 2 are on loan from SGT. FURY). The debut of BATROC ze Lepair-- and, "Agent 13"!!!
     (3-9-2014)


THOR 126  /
cover by Jack Kirby & Vince Colletta
"WHOM THE GODS WOULD DESTROY!"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: Thor and Hercules fight over Jane Foster. Odin, still angry because Thor revealed his identity to Jane, removes half Thor's powers by giving 'Odin Power' to Seidring. Hercules defeats Thor."

Possibly the single most overblown, bombastic, over-the-top one-on-one knock-down drag-out in all of 60's Marvel is presented herein! Hercules beats Thor, but ONLY because Odin wanted him to. After, dejected, feeling he is not worthy of Jane's love, Thor wanders off, only for Jane, who started the whole thing by flirting with Herc because she felt she was being ignored, regrets her deeds, and, at Odin's urging, goes after her man! Sheesh.

JACK KIRBY supplies story & stupendous, eye-popping artwork; ye "editor" completely overdoes it with the dialogue, having the characters talk talk talk NON-STOP even though such should be impossible in the midst of such a heated battle; and Vince "Who's the hero again?" Colletta lays waste the rubble with an endless barrage of fine-line inking. NOT to be missed! NOT to be BELIEVED!

I first read this in MARVEL TREASURY EDITION #3 (1974).

"THE SUMMONS!"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: The Argonauts are called home to Asgard by Odin."

Thor flies to confront Queel Ula face-to-face, demanding that she set Loki free. Makes a complete farce of Loki's life-long claims that Thor NEVER stuck up for him, doesn't it? Ula reminds me an awful lot of the "Lightning Lady" from CAPTAIN VICTORY, which makes sense, if you figure in reincarnation in the cycle of the gods. Before much can happen, the entire crew of the Argo is summoned home by Odin, who apparently has found out some important information about something called... "RAGNAROK".

JACK KIRBY supplies story & art! Ye "editor" does dialogue! Vince "Geez, how many characters are in this thing?" Colletta lays down the ink lines. A CLASSIC!
     (3-8-2014)


THE AVENGERS 26  /
cover by Don Heck & Frank Giacoia
"THE VOICE OF THE WASP"
Jan contacts the team by radio to warn them of another impending invasion by ATTUMA, savage underwater barbarian leader & all-around nasty person. DON HECK supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and Frank Giacoia comes aboard on inks. I guess it helps that he's not on CAP or SGT. FURY anymore. While not as good as Wood or Romita, Giacoia on Heck is a definite step UP from Ayers on Heck. And just in time, too, as Janet Van Dyne, who no longer wears a mask, even when in her "Wasp" costumes, is just prettier than ever-- as is Wanda, The Scarlet Witch. These are 2 rare instances when characters created by Jack Kirby were drawn much better-looking by Don Heck!
     (3-9-2014)


SGT. FURY & HIS HOWLING DEATH SQUAD 28  /
cover by Dick Ayers & John Tartaglione
"NOT A MAN SHALL REMAIN ALIVE!"
DICK AYERS supplies story & art, ye "editor" does dialogue, and Italian partisan fighter on call John Tartaglione inks it all. I really should get around to reading more of these one of these years.
     (3-9-2014)


DAREDEVIL 14  /
cover by John Romita & Frank Giacoia
"IF THIS BE JUSTICE!"
A chaotic ramble as Matt Murdock helps jungle wild-man Ka-Zar reclaim his British Lord inheritance, while tackling his career criminal pirate brother "The Plunderer". Foggy & Karen are surprised to learn Matt is still alive (after being listed as "lost at sea") and following a reunion, Matt decides to rejoin the firm. JOHN ROMITA does his first "solo" issue, supplying story & art (while finishing out the story Jack Kirby and several others had a hand in getting started); ye "editor" does dialogue & Frank Giacoia comes aboard on inks. It's STILL pretty awful, but things will get better next issue. Really. Honest.
     (3-9-2014)


X-MEN 18  /
cover by Jack Kirby, Werner Roth & Sol Brodsky
"IF ICEMAN SHOULD FAIL"
Magneto has captured & trapped the team in an inescapable doom trap (as "strange Albania genius" Eivol Ekdol might call it), and only Iceman is loose to save their cabooses. JACK KIRBY supplies story & layouts, ye "editor" does dialogue, WERNER ROTH supplies pencils & the nicest guy in the business, dependable Dick Ayers, does inks. Part 2 of 2, sadly, not very memorable. Oh well.
     (3-9-2014)


(Continued in April 1966)

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

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