It’s been some seven months since the blog last checked in with Captain America. As regular readers may recall, at that time we took a look at the storyline that kicked off new writer Steve Englehart’s tenure on the title — a four-issue saga in which our star-spangled Avenger (aka Steve Rogers) learned that during the post-World War II era, while he himself had been frozen in ice, he’d been replaced by another Captain America — the “Commie-busting” Cap whose adventures Atlas (aka Marvel) Comics had published for a few years in the 1950s. That iteration of the hero, along with his partner Bucky, had ultimately gone insane, becoming an avatar of bigotry — and a menace to society whom the real Captain America, along with his partner, the Falcon, and girlfriend, sometime S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, had to take down before he could permanently damage Cap’s reputation… and a whole lot else, besides. Read More
In our post last October regarding Sub-Mariner #57, we discussed how Subby’s creator Bill Everett, who’d returned to write and draw the series in 1972 with issue #50, began to have trouble keeping up with the book’s monthly schedule due to chronic health issues; this situation eventually led to occasional fill-ins by other creators, as well as to ongoing help for Everett on both the writing and artistic ends of things.
During this period, the continuing uncertainty over Everett’s status month-to-month was evidenced in the title’s letters pages, where the anonymous Marvel Bullpener(s) responsible for answering reader correspondence would be telling fans in one issue (#55) that Everett probably wouldn’t be handling every story going forward, as “getting back into the swing of a monthly deadline is harder than you might imagine”; then, a few months later (in issue #58), explaining that “due to deadline problems, Bill will now be doing final art over the layouts of Irv Wesley [i.e., Sam Kweskin, who occasionally used the Wesley pen name], while Steve Gerber, working closely with the ebullient Mr. Everett, who will continue to plot the yarns, handles the scripting chores”; and then, finally, acknowledging (in #59) that “Bouncin’ Bill Everett has, indeed, moved on to other projects for Mighty Marvel (the monthly deadline on Subby’s book, sadly, proved too much for the compulsively conscientious Mr. Everett to handle)”. Read More
The subject of today’s blog post is generally considered to be one of the most important issues in the sixty-plus-year history of Marvel Comics’ best-known hero, Spider-Man. Many fans would call it one of the most significant single comic books ever published by Marvel, period. Some (though not, I must confess, your humble blogger) would even go so far as to call this issue the precise dividing point between the Silver Age of Comics and the Bronze.
But you almost didn’t get a chance to read about Amazing Spider-Man #121 on its fiftieth anniversary — not in this venue, anyway. Why? Because your humble blogger’s then fifteen-year-old self almost didn’t purchase the book when it first arrived on stands, back in March of 1973. And why was that? Because I’d stopped buying Amazing Spider-Man two months earlier. Read More
It’s been a while — sixteen months, to be precise — since this blog checked in with Marvel Comics’ Man Without Fear. Granted, our last Daredevil-themed post was something of a marathon, seeing as how it attempted to cover writer Gerry Conway’s entire “Mister Kline” saga — a complicated (and ultimately unsuccessful) continuity that encompassed not only a whopping eight issues of DD’s own series, but also five installments of Iron Man, and even one random Sub-Mariner — in a single go. It was a long post, in other words; one in which no one could seriously claim we hadn’t given Matt Murdock and his alter ego a lot of quality time. Still — it has been a while. So, before we get on with the business of marking the milestone of ol’ Hornhead’s first hundred issues, we have some catching up to do in regards to what our Scarlet Swashbuckler been up to for the last 1 1/3 years. Read More
Last April, we took a look at Marvel Premiere #3 (Jul., 1972), which featured Doctor Strange starring in his first full-length solo adventure since the cancellation of his title back in 1969. In this issue, artist Barry Windsor-Smith and scripter Stan Lee introduced a mysterious new adversary for the Master of the Mystic Arts — a menace who was powerful enough to suborn one of the Doc’s oldest and most formidable foes, Nightmare, but who remained yet nameless and unseen at the episode’s conclusion.
More clues were forthcoming in the following bi-monthly issue, which we covered here last June. This one was drawn by Windsor-Smith in collaboration with relative newcomer Frank Brunner, while Archie Goodwin scripted from a plot by Roy Thomas; it saw the storyline take a turn towards cosmic horror, as Dr. Strange journeyed to the New England village of Starkesboro, whose half-human, half-reptilian inhabitants secretly worshiped the demonic entity Sligguth. However, Sligguth himself was no more than another servant of the same dark threat that our hero had first learned of in MP #3 — a threat that still remained nameless in this installment, though we at least learned a bit more about him — mostly courtesy of Doc’s mentor, the venerable Ancient One, who warned of the imminent return of “a cosmic obscenity that slumbers”. The issue ended on a cliffhanger, with Strange shackled to a stone altar, about to be sacrificed to Sligguth by the demon’s scaly celebrants: Read More
According to the account given by Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas on the letters page of Amazing Adventures #18, the new feature that made its debut in that issue had been gestating for some time. (“Two long and not always enjoyable years,” to quote the man himself.) It had all started in 1971, when Marvel was looking to expand its market share in a big way, and Stan Lee (himself still editor-in-chief at that time) asked Thomas to submit a list of ideas for new comics for consideration by Lee and Marvel’s publisher, Martin Goodman. Among those ideas was a series concept based on H.G. Wells’ classic late-Victorian science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds.
More specifically, Thomas imagined “a vast, hopefully unending sequel to the Wells classic. A storyline which would pit earthmen in a kind of guerrilla warfare against the Martians, who had returned approximately 100 years after their initial invasion attempt… and who this time had come, seen, and conquered.” Read More
In February, 1973, Marvel Comics published 42 individual comic books — a 75% percent increase in production from the previous year, when the second month of 1972 had seen the company release a mere 24 new issues. And notwithstanding such a prodigious expansion in production, the company (which had recently surpassed arch-rival DC Comics in sales numbers for the first time ever) wasn’t nearly done. But Marvel’s next major phase of growth — which in fact began in that very month of February, 1973 — was to be in a different area than the full-color comics line in which it had made its mark. Read More
In March, 1972, Marvel Comics published the first issue of Hero for Hire. The new comic’s titular star, Luke Cage, wasn’t Marvel’s first Black superhero (that distinction belonged to the Black Panther, who debuted in 1966), or even its first Black American superhero (that would be the Falcon, whose first appearance came in 1969). But he was the first Black superhero to star in his very own comics title — not just from Marvel, but from any major American company — and that made the release of Hero for Hire #1 a milestone.
According to Roy Thomas, the initiative to create Luke Cage came from Stan Lee, who was then on the verge of ascending from his longtime role as Marvel’s editor-in-chief to become its publisher — and who was determined to diversify Marvel’s line on a number of levels, one of which was race. Taking obvious inspiration from the “blaxpoitation” trend in early 1970s American cinema, Lee and Thomas worked with writer Archie Goodwin and artist John Romita to conceptualize and design the new hero, before bringing two more artists on board — George Tuska and Billy Graham. (the latter being the only Black person among this assortment of talents) — to craft the first issue’s story with Goodwin. Read More
In February, 1973, the 26th issue of Conan the Barbarian brought to a close the most ambitious and expansive story arc yet to appear in Marvel Comics’ flagship sword-and-sorcery title. Since its inauguration in Conan the Barbarian #19, that arc — the epic saga of the Hyrkanian War (or, if you prefer, the War of the Tarim) — had spanned eight months, seven chapters, three Robert E. Howard story adaptations, and one unscheduled reprint issue, while featuring the contributions of nine interior artists, five cover artists, two editors… and one single scripter: Roy Thomas. Read More
As I’ve written in previous posts, I bought both the first and second issues of Swamp Thing upon their release back in 1972, and enjoyed them both very much. Somehow, though, I managed to miss the third issue when it came out in December of that year. And so, I had some catching up to do when I first picked up the subject of today’s post, back in February of 1973.
When I’d last seen the tragically transformed Dr. Alec Holland at the end of Swamp Thing #2, he’d just managed to defeat the evil genius Anton Arcane. Arcane had brought Holland all the way from the southern United States to an unnamed Balkan country, solely for the purpose of appropriating the latter’s mucky body (which he then planned to use to wreak vengeance on his perceived enemies, naturally). That adventure had ended with Arcane (apparently) dead, and Holland alive and free (as well as still mucky) — but nevertheless stranded somewhere in the Balkans… and on top of a mountain, to boot. Read More