When we last checked in with the Inhumans feature in Amazing Adventures, back in December, the new creative team of writer Roy Thomas and artist Neal Adams had just launched a new multi-part storyline. The beginning of this new arc found the Inhumans’ monarch, Black Bolt, traveling to the United States — more specifically, to San Francisco — to begin the process of developing better relations between his people and the outside world. (Exactly how he expected to accomplish this by skulking around an urban waterfront at night, especially given his self-enforced muteness, was unrevealed.) BB got off to a somewhat rocky start, getting involved in an altercation with some petty criminals as he came to the defense of a boy named Joey, the nephew of the hoods’ leader, Roscoe. Meanwhile, back in the Great Refuge, the king’s mad brother Maximus lay in what appeared to be a state of suspended animation — something Black Bolt had set up prior to his departure, without explaining his reasons to the other members of the Inhumans’ royal family. A suspicious Gorgon and Karnak elected to wake Maximus up, which turned out to be a bad move, since the previously non-super Max had recently developed immense mental powers. Maximus promptly unleashed a brain blast that traveled halfway around the world before striking down Black Bolt, simultaneously robbing him of his memory. This ten-page installment ended with young Joey, having just managed to rouse his mysterious new friend, trying to get him to say something — unaware that if the Inhumans’ incognito ruler uttered but a mere whisper, the power of his voice would unleash terrible destruction. Yipes!
The story continued two months later in Amazing Adventures #6, as Gorgon and Karnak were joined by Black Bolt’s consort Medusa in attempting to resist Maximus. Unfortunately, Maximus not only had the power to control the minds of the royal family members one at a time, which he used to set them fighting one another, but was also able to control the minds of all the non-royal Inhumans en masse. Max promptly proceeded to turn the whole population of Attilan into an angry mob bent on the destruction of his three cousins — a fate they ultimately escaped only due to the intervention of the late-arriving Triton, who scooped them all up in a sky-sled and then flew away, just in the nick of time.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Joey finally convinced Black Bolt to give his jaw a little exercise — although, perhaps operating on some subconscious apprehension, the amnesiac Inhuman turned away from the boy and the rest of the heavily populated city, and then walked to the front of a dock before breathing the single word “I”…
…which did enough damage as it was, tossing around manned ships hundreds of yards from shore (though apparently not sinking any), as well as wrecking this one “deserted juggernaut.” Fortunately, there was only one witness to BB’s involvement besides Joey — unfortunately, it was Joey’s unscrupulous and opportunistic uncle Roscoe, whom we’d already seen snatching the Inhuman’s abandoned costume up off the street (which, as will likely come as no surprise, will later turn out to be a rather important plot point).
This chapter concluded with another double-barrelled cliffhanger. First, the sky-sled carrying the fugitive royal Inhumans managed to clear the Himalayan peaks surrounding Attilan, but then, borne down by the weight of its exceeded occupancy, crashed on a sandy ocean beach…
The story continued into Amazing Adventures #7, for its only chapter not scripted by Roy Thomas. (For the record, Gerry Conway did the honors; one assumes Thomas must have had at least some input into the plotting, but there’s no official credit stating so.) In this episode’s opening pages, the downed royals — all of whom came through the crash pretty much unscathed — were forced to fight a brief skirmish with representatives of the Chinese army (something which seemed to happen to them a lot in those days), before accessing a submersible rocketship cleverly concealed in the cliff-side fronting the beach. (You really had to hand it to the Inhumans for how thoroughly they planned in advance.) By means of this conveyance, they speedily crossed the Pacific Ocean, ultimately making landfall on a beach in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Unfortunately, this particular stretch of seashore — evidently the Bay Area’s equivalent of Santa Monica’s Muscle Beach — was presently inhabited by a group of bodybuilders who weren’t keen on having their private playground “invaded — by a bunch of costumed crazies“, and who therefore decided to pick a fight with our heroes…
Triton led the bodybuilders away from his cousins — and straight out of the storyline, at least for the time being. The aquatic Inhuman wouldn’t be seen again by Marvel readers until he popped up out of a manhole on the grounds of Avengers Mansion in New York City, in the final panel of Avengers #94 (Dec., 1971). But — more about that a little later. For now, let’s check in on our story’s other front…
Yes, they called him… Mister Dibbs. You wouldn’t expect Roy Thomas to pass up a pop culture reference like that one, would you?
Back at the beach, Medusa, Karnak, and Gorgon helped themselves to some less conspicuous clothing, and then hoofed it to the nearest major road. Having previously been informed by their ship’s monitoring equipment that Black Bolt was in San Francisco, the trio hailed a taxi to drive them into the city; when the cabbie asked for a specific location, Medusa, having overheard a news report about a disturbance in the Johnson Street area, played a hunch and asked him to take her and her companions there.
And with that, we’re ready to move into the serial’s final chapter in AA #8:
At the beginning of this storyline in AA #5, Neal Adams’ pencils were inked by Tom Palmer, who’d pulled the same duty on the Thomas-Adams run of X-Men. Beginning with issue #6, however, and continuing on through #8, John Verpoorten has been providing the finishes.
While I’ve read comments by some fans who fault Verpoorten’s inks over Adams, I’ve never had a problem with them, especially in comparison to those of some of the other inkers the artist had at Marvel. The Adams-Verpoorten pairing’s take on the mighty Thor is, for me, a case in point; to my eye, Verpoorten’s rougher line is more appropriate to Adams’ style than the smooth, clean finish the undeniably great Joe Sinnott gave the art in the two issues of Thor drawn by Adams about a year prior to this. That’s just my opinion, of course. (And for the record, I’d have preferred to keep Tom Palmer for the whole run — but you can’t have everything, y’know?)
Dibbs proceeds to fire a smoke bomb at the authorities, and the Inhumans take the opportunity to change back into their “full regalia“, as Gorgon puts it, before making a charge of their own. The hope here is that the unexpected sight of his cousins will shock Black Bolt back to his senses, but…
Anyone want to take a guess who Joey’s just found? If not, don’t worry — we’ve only got a little more than 4 pages left to go in this story, so all will soon be revealed.
Back at the battle, Gorgon has no idea why Thor is so desperate to retrieve his hammer, but figures it’s a good idea to keep him from getting it back, and so knocks him off his feet with a swift kick. Meanwhile, Lionel Dibbs decides to take a “hand” in his own defense…
The revelation of Thor’s connection to Lionel Dibbs through his mortal identity of Dr. Donald Blake is dramatically effective, and the insight it offers into the Thunder God’s humanity — and also his humility, when he acknowledges his inherent inability to fully understand Dibb’s perspective as a Black man in America — has stuck in this particular Thor fan’s memory better than the details of many of the hero’s solo adventures of this same era. On the other hand, this scene can’t help but pull focus further away from the Inhumans in a story that already seems to be becoming less and less about them.
And that’s that — not just for “An Hour for Thunder!”, or even for the Lionel Dibbs storyline, but for the entire Roy Thomas-Neal Adams run on the Inhumans strip in Amazing Adventures. To be frank, this last page is an abrupt, inconclusive, and not entirely satisfying conclusion to all three.
Questions abound regarding Roscoe’s wearing of Black Bolt’s costume, and what he accomplishes while in it — as well as what happens to him as a result. As an Inhuman, Black Bolt’s powers are inherent in his own body — the costume has been presented as a way for him to control and focus that power (as the top tier of panels on page 10 even suggests), so why should wearing it convey any abilities on Roscoe at all? Is the lightning strike that ultimately kills Roscoe precipitated by his attempt to “speak” for the second time, or is that timing entirely random? How did Roscoe and Dibbs meet up in the first place? It doesn’t seem very likely that they’d travel in the same social circles.
For that matter, Lionel Dibbs himself remains an undeveloped character. His motivations are clear enough, but besides his being a “business leader” with a lot of money, what are his resources? How, for example, did he get Tony Stark to build him a freaking gun-hand (a weapon that, incidentally, seems entirely superfluous to the story, Neal Adams’ cool design notwithstanding)? Where’d he get the tanks, and where’s he been keeping them? What exactly was his plan before Roscoe brought him Black Bolt’s costume? Finally, the last panel tries to suggest that Dibbs has had the last laugh, since hes going to die of cancer before his case comes to trial. But that seems like it should be a very small consolation for such a driven man whose grand hopes and plans have ultimately come to naught — unless, that is, San Francisco’s mayor is going to take down the Johnson Street tenements, after all. And perhaps that’s happening; but if so, Thomas’ script makes no mention of it.
Was this storyline originally intended to run for another 10-page installment? It certainly seems possible; and even if this tale did conclude as planned, it seems almost certain that Thomas and Adams meant to continue, and ultimately resolve, the larger story arc of Maximus’ takeover of the Great Refuge within the pages of Amazing Adventures. Instead, both creators left the Inhumans series following this issue.
What was the reason for the run’s termination? Perhaps it stemmed from Adams’ professed unhappiness at Gerry Conway having been brought in to script the Inhumans installment in AA #7, when he’d expected to work exclusively with Thomas for the duration of the project.* In any event, the artist made it a condition of his next project for Marvel — The Avengers — that Thomas would script every issue of the run. And indeed,a mere two months later, Adams would join Thomas on that title, just in time to help chronicle the second half of the epic “Kree-Skrull War” storyline (well, most of it, anyway) — making the one-and-a-half page appearance of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in AA #8 something of an accidental teaser.
What my younger self didn’t see coming then, however — nor, I suspect, did many other fans — was that, just a couple of issues into that run, Thomas and Adams would pick up on the plot threads from their abandoned Inhumans collaboration, weaving them into their Avengers storyline as though that had been the plan all along.
That development was especially surprising since, in the interim, the new Amazing Adventures creative team of Gerry Conway and Mike Sekowsky had also continued the Inhumans’ saga, presenting an account of what-happened-next that didn’t really square up very well with Thomas and Adams’ version. But that, as you might expect, is a tale for another post, another day.
For now, however, we still have the second half of Amazing Adventures #8 to consider, as the Black Widow’s solo series comes to an end. With issue #9, the Inhumans would inherit the whole book — and though their run would itself last only one more issue, the “double feature” format that had thus far allowed two strips to share one title was over and done with as of AA #8.
The “Astrologer” storyline that had begun in AA #5 had wrapped up in the previous issue, so Natasha Romanoff’s final outing in these pages was a done-in-one. Don Heck, who’d come on as penciller with issue #6, continued in that role here, while Bill Everett contributed inks. Roy Thomas handled the scripting, working from a plot by Gerry Conway, who’d scripted the last installment, after inheriting the job from Thomas, who’d written the Widow in issues #5 and #6. (If you’re thinking that Thomas and Conway sure did an awful lot of handing stuff off from one to another and back again during this era, well, you’re spot on.)
Natasha is leaving NYC and heading to someplace called “Carlyle Hunting Lodge”, on the basis of a tape recording she’s received of her chauffeur/aide/friend Ivan intoning that one phrase, over and over. When she arrives at the location, she finds it apparently deserted, but then…
These two costumed thugs aren’t really a match for the Widow (or shouldn’t be, at least), but they manage to keep her occupied until their boss shows up, and then…
Per that last caption, Natasha may not be able to believe her own senses, but we readers have little choice but to accept what we’re shown next — which is this self-styled Watchlord using his powers to pry up the floorboards she’s lying on and transform them into a straitjacket.
The Watchlord next proceeds to display his other captive — Ivan, of course — who’s hanging suspended from the ceiling, held in some clamp-like device.
In time-honored tradition, the villain goes on to relate his origin story, which, briefly summarized, goes like this: He was orphaned as a child in Germany when, in the closing days of World War II, the Russian army rolled through his town, killing his father along the way. The future Watchlord was given shelter in a church by a kindly priest who didn’t realize that the Nazi army had earlier stored some experimental radioactive isotopes on site. Oops. Since this is a comic book story, the radiation gave him super powers, rather than a fatal cancer, and by the time he was all grown up…
Rather than just kill ‘Tash and Ivan outright, Watchlord sets the lodge ablaze, then departs with his hirelings. This gives our heroine time to wriggle one hand free of her straitjacket, which she uses to fire a blast from her “wdow’s bite” wrist doohickey. Said blast destroys the clamp holding Ivan, who drops acrobatically to the floor and frees Natasha. As their prior restraints revert to ordinary floorboards and rafters, the duo goes in pursuit of their former captors…
Ivan gets clobbered from behind, but Black Widow still manages to finish off the Watchlord’s hirelings on her own. She then resumes her hunt for their employer — unaware that he’s spotted her first. The Watchlord uses his power to animate matter against our heroine, first attempting to ensnare her with tree roots, then to crush her by means of a great boulder he dislodges mentally; but when she eludes both of these threats, he finally decides “screw this”, and resorts to his gun. His first shot grazes Natasha’s temple, sending her sprawling…
“Is it ever truly over?” Well, ‘Tash, if you’re inquiring about this particular ten-page adventure, the answer is yes. The same if you’re referring to your solo series in Amazing Adventures; stick a fork in it, it’s done.
And in my own humble opinion, “How Shall I Kill Thee? Let Me Count the Ways!” sends the series out with more of a whimper than a bang. Don Heck’s art for the story is serviceable, but not much more; Bill Everett’s inks, so effective on Gene Colan’s pencils a few issues earlier, can only accomplish so much here. As an adversary, the Watchlord is eminently forgettable (and, indeed, seems to be one of the rare Marvel supervillains who was completely forgotten, having never appeared in a story again, ever… um, as of this writing, anyway). About the most memorable thing in the tale is the anti-Russian angle, one of the few times that the Widow’s national origins ever played into the series’ storylines in any significant way. As I’ve remarked previously on this blog, Natasha Romanoff’s past as a Russian super-spy has become so central to her identity as a character in recent decades that it’s a little startling to read her adventures from a period when it wasn’t nearly as big a deal.
But to return to Natasha’s final-panel query… something that wasn’t quite over with this issue (regrettably, in my view) was the notion of the “curse” of the Black Widow: the concept, first introduced by Roy Thomas in AA #6 and then taken forward by Gerry Conway, that any man who crosses Natasha’s path becomes more likely to lose his life in an untimely fashion. While it’s easy to understand how the idea suggested itself, playing as it does on the cultural associations of the phrase “black widow”, in the stories themselves it never seemed more than a contrivance, and a strained one. But although Conway would continue to work this angle for some months to come in the series that became the Widow’s new home, thankfully it did give up the ghost, eventually.
The Widow’s new home? Yes, it’s true, Natasha Romanoff would not be long without a place to hang her catsuit. The letters column of Amazing Adventures #8, after breaking the bad news of the demise of the heroine’s solo feature in a response to a missive from a female fan, hastened to reassure that fan, as well as the Widow’s other partisans, that she would not be out of action for long:
But, of course, the revelation of just where that “least likely spot” would prove to be — as well as a discussion of whether the Black Widow’s “liberated-woman status” would remain “in first-class shape” (or, indeed, whether it had ever been so in the first place) are matters that must be set aside for now, to be taken up in another post, some months hence. (Yes, just like the future of the Inhumans.) But stick around, and we’ll be there before you know it.
*In 1998, Adams told Comic Book Artist interviewer Arlen Schumer that this wasn’t a reflection of his opinion of Conway’s skills; rather, “I just didn’t like the idea that another writer entered into this without my agreement.”
I never read these two-in-one books back in the day, mainly because I thought they were all re-print books, but also because the stories were too short and felt rushed even when they were spread out over several issues. In this particular case, you also have to add in the fact that the Inhumans were one of my least favorite Marvel teams at the time and if I saw this one on the stands, their presence alone would have made me pass it by. . I was really getting geared up to wade into this one, Alan, to tear apart the story inconsistencies and leaps in logic and then you did it for me (thanks?). Thomas is a great comics writer, but I agree with you that this story seems to be truncated, somehow, as if it were supposed to be longer and then Thomas found out he was leaving the book and brought it all to a premature conclusion in whatever way he could. Adams art is fantastic as always and at age 13, I wouldn’t have noticed the change in inkers at all. Looking back with fifty years of hindsight, I don’t think this story does any favors for the civil rights movement with it’s heavy-handed use of the “black man must be the bad guy” trope, but maybe Thomas had something more complex and subtle in mind and wasn’t allowed to let it breathe as it should. As for the Black Widow story, while I would have been able to stomach the badly told plot in the Inhumans tale because Adams art is so pretty, the BW story has no such cushion. Don Heck is one of the least effective super-hero artists Marvel ever employed and not even Bill Everett’s inks could save him. This story feels like Thomas knew the series was being cancelled and just did what he could to fill in ten pages and let it go. He even had to use a caption to let us know that Watchlord’s own actions caused the avalanche that killed him. I dunno. Am I being too harsh? Maybe, but except for Adams always exceptional art, this book feels like a waste of the efforts of everyone involved. I’m sure that’s not the way they saw it at the time, but it’s certainly the way it turned out.
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Agree with you about Heck, one of the worst pencillers of all time. However, I must take issue with you about the Inhumans. While rarely portrayed well in their various outings, as a concept they were one of Lee and Kirby’s best. I didn’t care for the split books because unlike Astonish, Suspense, they chose to go with the split covers, which were sloppy, thrown together messes by Buscema. At least in the last few issues hey wisely went with Adams as the cover artist.
Verpoorton was a horrible choice for inker. He made the last 3 Neal Adams’ installments of AA an unappealing mess. What started out in the glory of the always great Thomas/Adams/Palmer team quickly degenerated into disappointing mediocrity. I don’t know why Palmer (the greatest inker of all time, despite how everyone falls all over themselves for the overrated Joe Sinnott) dropped out after one installment, but supposedly he tired of having to pull all fighters to make up for the deadline challenged Mr A. Fortunately, they would reunite for the magnificent Avengers # 93 – 96 , with 93 being the greatest comic of all time (that Antman in the Vision sequence being the best example of pictorial narrative ever).
It’s my understanding that Thomas and Adams had intended to explore what it means to be “an Avenger” in subsequent installments, as they crossed over into the Avengers storyline, with a follow up to the death of Roscoe. It was implied that he was fried by a lightning bolt, and Thor is the God of Thunder, who summoned the storm…so it follows that the authorities were about to try him for murder…and the question of just how much freedom do the Avengers have, AND whether a God has to answer to human law were all going to be explored. But it didn’t happen. Instead, the Inhumans got pulled into the Kree-Skrull conflict. and the rest is history.
That’s interesting, Kirk G. Do you recall where you read or heard that? I’d like to learn more.
Ironic now that Adams specifically asked for Thomas as a Kree-Skrull war collaborator, given their recent internet bust-up over creative credit for that epic series!
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Hey, that must be one of the earlier appearances of a retractable weapon hand–such things seem to have become popular around, maybe, the century mark.
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I understand the Don Heck isn’t liked but he did do good work on Iron Man and early Avengers issues. By this time, his work wasn’t quite the same. He was never comfortable with superheroes and was better on War, Western and Horror comics. Often in his early days he sought out Jack Kirby’s help and with Kirby in CA, his work was never the same.
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Don Heck drew well, but had a very scratchy, unappealing surface. However, he was pencilling Wonder Woman around the time Jeff Jones drew two spectacular covers in 1972, and Dick Giordano’s inks provide the desired surface textures over Heck’s pencils. Don’s basic skillset was fine, but he was not flashy.
I’m behind in comments and I’m going to catch up out of order. Alan, I agree with practically all of your comments on “The Inhumans” section of the book. I don’t remember this book from 50 years ago, although I know I read it. Re-reading it recently, I was quite puzzled about why Thor was injected into the story and his motivations, but when all was revealed, I was very impressed with Rascally Roy’s idea of having Tibbs be a terminal patient of Donald Blake. It isn’t easy to get me (especially now) surprised with how a book turns but Thomas did it here.
On the other hand, I have the same criticism that you have about Roscoe dressing up as Black Bolt and then being killed from the costume. First of all, it makes absolutely no sense. Why would Roscoe dress up as Black Bolt when he has no powers? The real Black Bolt, being an amnesiac, certainly could have been convinced to do what Roscoe was doing. Moreover, as you point out, Black Bolt himself has the power, the costume just helps in channelling the power as did Havok’s in the beginning. It makes no sense that Black Bolt’s costume has anything to do with it or else why wouldn’t others just steal the costume? Why would Black Bolt wear a costume that made it so it would be catastrophic to speak?. And if it isn’t the costume, how could Roscoe do anything damaging? I realize that it is more predictable if the Inhumans’ appearance shocked Black Bolt’s memory back or maybe Medusa could have shut his mouth with her hair or something, but that would have made more sense that what Thomas presented.
However, I really want to talk about the Black Widow. I always wondered why I vividly remembered the Black Widow story in Amazing Adventures #1 after all these years (apart from the shower scene which is obviously memorable) and did not remember any of the other issues at all. The answer is that everything went steadily downhill after Issue No. 1. Leaving aside the art and inking issues down the line which you pointed out Alan, the story and characterization fizzled out. Granted I was critical of the logic presented over the Widow’s character in issue No.1. How did a defecting Russian spy become a wealthy jet setter, with a big apartment, hired help and hanging out with the most famous celebrities in the world? Obviously, the Widow was meant to be redefined as a fully liberated, completely independent and resourceful woman. Still, although an illogical change, it was intriguing.
However, what did we wind up getting? Some unimaginitive overly-long stories (although maybe they weren’t really overly long at 10 pages an issue). A half-hearted attempt to create a love interest with a reporter. Finally, the last story in this issue which is a half-thought out, half-hearted attempt which doesn’t even show everything (like Ivan being knocked out of commission).
One thing that I take issue with a bit Alan is the notion of having the Widow think that she has a curse on her. While I understand that it appears to be a take on the curse of the black widow insect, I look at it more as a generic character musing that in this time period seemed to be required of every Marvel character as much as a costume. You could take Natasha’s thoughts about her bringing misfortune to her loved ones and reinsert them in the “Amazing Spider Man” with Peter Parker or “The Invincible Iron Man” with Tony Stark or (in a sexist sense) Captain America regarding Sharon Carter. Hey, if he weren’t so selfishly self-absorbed, the Sub-Mariner would be saying the same thing in his book in this era. Is it annoying? Well, it could be and obviously was for you. 🙂 It did not bother me. In any event, I obviously was greatly disappointed in how the Black Widow series deteriorated to the point where all characterization completely vanished.
I guess you are expecting me to throw my obligatory darts at Gerry Conway (aka “The Man Who Killed Gwen Stacey”) at this point, but I have a surprise. If Conway had anything to do with the Black Widow’s next destination (I don’t remember but I suspect that he did), I loved those stories perhaps more than any other Marvel series at that point. However, I will respect your desire not to discuss that until later.
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“About the most memorable thing in the tale is the anti-Russian angle, one of the few times that the Widow’s national origins ever played into the series’ storylines in any significant way. As I’ve remarked previously on this blog, Natasha Romanoff’s past as a Russian super-spy has become so central to her identity as a character in recent decades that it’s a little startling to read her adventures from a period when it wasn’t nearly as big a deal.”
Marvel Comics during the 1961 to 1970 period played on the theme of America’s Cold War against Communism in many series. The enemies could be either the Chinese Communists or Soviet Communists. Off-hand I can remember several stories in The Mighty Thor, Captain America and especially Iron Man that drew on the Cold War and anti-communism as their basis. Iron Man during the 1960’s was a comic book series that originated in the Cold War and was dominated by it more that any comic book series I can think of. The “Reds” were recurring villains that Tony Stark (a thinly disguised Howard Hughes) as Iron Man was constantly fighting. The Black Widow was originally a Russian Communist Agent sent to kill Tony Stark and destroy Iron Man. The Black Widow story in Amazing Adventures #8 was a variation on the original anti-communist theme and reflected the changing attitude in the United States, particularly with American youth at the time with regards to the “Reds”, primarily caused by opposition to the Vietnam War. It is interesting that otherwise the Black Widow solo series in Amazing Adventures otherwise completely avoided the Cold War. Also, none of the Black Widow’s Superhero friends, boyfriends and ex’s ever made an appearance in the series. A very strange short series for the Black Widow that in retrospect had nothing going for it and would be doomed to failure.
It should be noted that the creator (or at least co-creator) of the Black Widow was none other than the much maligned Don Heck. The Black Widow made her first appearances in Iron Man during Don Heck’s run on the series and then reappeared in The Avengers series, during Don Heck’s run on that series, making the Black Widow a permanent member of the Marvel Universe. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Don Heck would be doing a few of the stories during the Black Widow’s solo run in Amazing Adventures.
Regarding how a defecting Russian spy become a wealthy jet setter, with a big apartment, hired help and hanging out with the most famous celebrities in the world… One of her numerous suitors, boyfriends or ex-boyfriends (and/or ex-husbands) happens to be billionaire munitions designer, manufacturer and playboy Tony Stark. A true minion of the American Military Industrial Complex. A big penthouse apartment and an extravagant life style for the Black Widow is not an unreasonable perk from Mr. Stark. However, some things need to be assumed and surmised in a Comics Code comic book and cannot be explicitly stated or shown…
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Another book I remember from the dawn of my own comics collecting, AMAZING ADVENTURES 8 sticks more in my mind as an oddity than anything else. This was probably my introduction to the Inhumans, but the splash with the Avengers resonated with me much more than any scenes with the nominal stars of the feature. Wonderful art, though! Similarly, this may have been my first encounter with the Black Widow, but the only thing that stuck with me was the boards into a straitjacket scene, probably because it was confusing. So both stories misfired for me, but the format with two headliners fascinated me, and I couldn’t forget how cool the Avengers looked.
I think Don Heck is underappreciated, but I would guess the writers thought of the BW strip as a throwaway. That meant he really didn’t have much exciting to draw. That said, I greatly prefer her as a celebrity adventurer much more than the later insistence that she’s both a well-known Avenger and an active undercover agent. But I’m not particularly interested in actual espionage stories in superhero comics. SHIELD is the law enforcement division, not the covert operations divison, after all. But I really enjoyed the partnership she was about to enter into shortly.
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