Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Marvel Years 10.02 - February 1970

I don't usually go into any detail about Marvel's horror anthology comics, apart from listing them in the "other comics" section, but this month I'll make an exception because of a landmark event. This month's Chamber Of Darkness contains a seven-page story by Gerry Conway, who was 16 at the time. He was still at school, so he was writing stories on a free-lance basis. He didn't become a full time employee until four years later. At Marvel he became one of the company's most prolific writers.

Gerry Conway was a controversial figure. Some fans considered him to be Marvel's best writer in the mid-1970's. Others didn't like him at all. I personally lean towards the second group. He wrote some good stories for Amazing Spider-Man, but I found his stories in Fantastic Four and The Avengers bland. Overall, his stories were action adventures with little emotional depth, the opposite of what I admired in the stories of Stan Lee and Roy Thomas.

That's the opinion I had when I read his comics 40 years ago, and I haven't read them since. When I get round to re-reading them for my Marvel Years posts I'll keep an open mind and try to judge his comics as if I've never read them before.

X-Men #65

Title: Before I'd be a slave...

Writer: Dennis O'Neil
Artist: Neal Adams

X-Men: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast, Iceman

Villain: Z'Nox (aliens)

Regulars: Professor X, Alex Summers, Lorna Dane

Cameos: Fantastic Four (Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, Crystal)

Alex Summers and Lorna Dane summon the X-Men to deal with an approaching crisis. A highly evolved race, the Z'Nox, intend to attack the Earth by steering their planet close to the Earth and destroying it with their magnetic pull. The X-Men are reluctant to believe so far-fetched a story, but then Alex reveals that he's been told all this by Professor X. Didn't he die in X-Men #42? So it seemed, but here comes the deus ex machina. It wasn't Professor X who died, it was the Changeling, one of the leaders of Factor Three. Professor X pretended to be dead so that he could plan a defence against the approaching Z'Nox in secret.

Professor X defeats the Z'Nox by absorbing the positive energy of the Earth's good people, then channelling it through an optic beam blast fired by Cyclops at their planet.

For me this is a very dissatisfying story that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Professor X's return seems highly artificial, but even worse is the way Cyclops can fire goodness with his optic beam. The story is an embarrassment for Marvel. Dennis O'Neil should never have been allowed to touch the X-Men.

Fantastic Four #95

Title: Tomorrow, World War Three!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Fantastic Four: Reed Richards, Susan Richards, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm

Villain: Monocle

Regulars: Crystal

Guests: Medusa

A man called Monocle intends to kill speakers at a UN meeting, in order to start World War Three. He attacks the Fantastic Four first with a Neutrak Ray (TM) disguised as a camera.

Medusa tells Crystal that Black Bolt has ordered her to return to the Inhumans. She leaves despite Johnny Storm's protests.

The line-up of the Fantastic Four isn't officially changed in this issue, but Crystal is gone and Susan Richards is wearing her costume, so I assume that Crystal's temporary membership, which began in Fantastic Four #81, is now over.

Amazing Spider-Man #81

Title: The Coming of the Kangaroo!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Buscema

Villain: Kangaroo

Guests: Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson

An Australian calling himself the Kangaroo has illegally entered America. Before he can be deported he escapes by leaping away. He grew up with kangaroos and learned how to imitate them.

When the Kangaroo sees a high security transport he assumes it's money, so he steals the bag. Inside the bag is a vial containing a deadly bacteria. The Kangaroo doesn't realise it's dangerous and keeps it.

Spider-Man hears about the bacteria on the news, so he hunts for the Kangaroo to retrieve it.

Thor #173

Title: Ulik Unleashed!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Loki, Ulik, Circus of Crime (Ringmaster, Princess Python, Clown, Cannonball, Great Gambinos)

No, Dr. Donald isn't a split personality healing himself. He's giving medical treatment to a strongman called Mike – nice name! – who dresses up as Thor in a circus troupe. But as we know, there's only one circus in the Marvel universe, and that's the circus that belongs to the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime. I hope he won't ever get a long term prison sentence, because American children would be crying their eyes out in a world without circuses.

Loki has requested Ulik the Troll to attack Thor, so he sends him to Thor's location, the circus. The Ringmaster hypnotises Ulik, but when Thor attacks Ulik the hypnosis is broken and they fight. After lengthy battles in the past, Thor defeats Ulik in less than four pages. There are three possibilities.

(1) Thor has grown stronger.
(2) Ulik has grown weaker.
(3) The battle had to be cut short to finish the story within a single issue.

Sadly, I believe that the third possibility is true.

Thor exposes that there is stolen computer equipment hidden in the circus.

Ulik last battled Thor in Thor #152, but we saw him briefly in an underground cavern in Thor #153 and Thor #154.

The Circus of Crime last fought with Thor in Thor #147. They wanted to attack Thor at the wedding of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne in Avengers #60, but Thor was absent due to a battle with the Silver Surfer.

At the same time, Loki is summoning his allies to fight against Thor. I think that Stan Lee must have had an off day. Usually is prose is spotless, even Shakespearean, but this time his old English is faulty. Let me describe it simply.

"Thou" is the singular form, "Ye" is the plural.

And yet Loki addresses the malcontents (plural) as thou (singular).

On the next page Loki addresses Ulik (singular) as ye (plural). The first two speech bubbles are correct, but Stan Lee still slips up in the third.

There's another type of mistake made in Thor's speech at the end of the comic.

"Thou" is the subject of a verb, "Thee" is the object.

Thor should have said "'Tis thou who have done the unpardonable".

The easy way out would be to blame Artie Simek for everything, but that would be so 1960's.

Silver Surfer #13

Title: The Dawn of the Doomsday Man!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Buscema

Villain: Doomsday Man (robot)

The world is panicking because of a giant robot that the press calls the Doomsday Man. An emergency meeting of the United Nations has been convened.

After the first Moon landing it was decided that a robot should be built to assist in the exploration of other planets. (Yes, I know the Moon isn't a planet, but I couldn't think of any other way to concisely formulate that sentence). When the robot was complete it was thought to be too dangerous, so the government wanted to destroy it, but it was too tough to destroy. Try a screwdriver? It was put in a heavily fortified prison on a remote island. Now it's attempting to break out.

The Silver Surfer visits the United Nations and offers to deal with the robot.

The Avengers #73

Title: The Sting of the Serpent

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Frank Giacoia

Avengers: Black Panther, Goliath, Vision, Yellowjacket, Wasp, Captain America (flashback)

Villain: Sons of the Serpent

Guests: Bill Foster (flashback)

The Sons of the Serpent are active in America again, after apparently being crushed in Avengers #33. Racism never dies. Do you notice the absolute stupidity of American racism in the splash page? The Supreme Serpent is saying that they will drive from the land the foreign-born. That would include the white race of European origin.

The Black Panther claims for himself the right to tackle the Sons of the Serpent alone. It's a matter close to his heart, for obvious reasons. Interestingly, the American public has never guessed until now that he's a black man beneath his mask.

At the end of the story he's captured by the Sons of the Serpent.

This isn't the place for me to make a social commentary on racism, but I'll say a few words. Racism is stupid. Always. It doesn't matter what the colour of a person's skin is, all that matters is what he thinks, what he says and what he does.

Captain America #122

Title: The Sting of the Scorpion!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Gene Colan

Villain: Scorpion

Regulars: Sharon Carter

This comic begins with pages of introspection by Captain America. He's questioning whether his lifelong service of his country has been worth it. This topic will be followed up in future comics. It's an important topic, and not just for super-heroes. It's a topic worth thinking about today. Patriotism is a good thing, whether you're American, British, Chinese or any other nationality. But what do you do when you think your country is on a wrong path? Do you try to alter the system, or do you rebel against the system and try to smash it? Listen to Captain America's thoughts.

A gang has hired the Scorpion, last seen in Amazing Spider-Man #29, to kill Sharon Carter. Captain America runs into the Scorpion by chance and defeats him in combat. He breaks up the gang and hands them over to SHIELD, not realising that Sharon is tied and gagged in another room.

Daredevil #61

Title: Trapped by the Trio of Doom!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Gene Colan

Villain: Jester, Cobra, Mister Hyde

Regulars: Foggy Nelson, Karen Page

Matt Murdock is plucking up his courage to ask Karen Page to marry him. Wait! Didn't he already propose to her in Daredevil #58?

Yes he did, and she accepted. There's the proof! I can only assume that she retroactively made her acceptance conditional on the promise he made to give up being Daredevil.

The Cobra and Mister Hyde (last seen in Daredevil #32) have teamed up with the Jester (last seen in Daredevil #46) to get revenge on Daredevil.  They lure him to a fairground where the rides have been booby-trapped. After the previous long, hard battles, Daredevil manages to defeat their combined forces within a mere six pages. This is yet another casualty of the disastrous new single issue story policy.

The Incredible Hulk #124

Title: The Rhino says No!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Herb Trimpe

Villain: Leader, Rhino

Regulars: General Ross, Major Talbot, Betty Ross

We've had super-hero weddings before. Reed Richards and Susan Storm got married in Fantastic Four Annual #3. Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne got married in Avengers #60. By now people should know that super-hero weddings are never peaceful occasions. There are always super-villains waiting to strike. This time the villains are the Leader and the Rhino.

The Rhino was seemingly killed after fighting the Hulk in Incredible Hulk #104, but he survived, and he's been lying in a coma ever since. The Leader revives him and makes him stronger. He want's Rhino's assistance for the second half of his plan. First the Leader will fire a Gamma Gun (TM) at Bruce Banner to trigger his transformation during the wedding ceremony and make him kill everyone around him. Then the Rhino will attack and defeat the Hulk.

The Rhino's impatience spoils the plan. Bruce Banner becomes the Hulk, but the Rhino attacks him too soon, before he can do any damage. The Leader and the Rhino turn on one another while the Hulk looks on.

The Hulk has now lost Bruce Banner's intelligence and the ability to change forms whenever he wants to. The wedding is off.

Sub-Mariner #22

Title: The Monarch and the Mystic!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Marie Severin

Villain: Undying Ones, Nameless One

Regulars: Dorma, Vashti

Guests: Doctor Strange

This comic is a continuation of the story of the Undying Ones, which began in Doctor Strange #183, the final issue in the series. I can't help wondering whether the story would have developed in a different way if the Doctor Strange comic hadn't been abruptly cancelled.

Prince Namor is brought to Atlantis for an operation to restore the functionality of his gills. While asleep, Doctor Strange talks to him in a dream and tells him about the Undying Ones. They are a race of beings that lived on Earth before humans. It's possible to make contact with them through magic rituals. On waking up, Namor goes to the house of Kenneth Ward in Boston to look for the mystic idol. He finds it buried beneath a statue in the cemetery outside the house. Doctor Strange and the Sub-Mariner fight against the Nameless One, the leader of the Undying Ones. Namor wants to continue the fight, but Doctor Strange says he will fight alone.

Iron Man #22

Title: From this conflict, death!

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: George Tuska

Villain: Crimson Dynamo (Alex Niven), Titanium Man

Regulars: Janice Cord, Eddie March

Iron Man rushes to rescue Eddie March, the man who replaced him as Iron Man last issue. He was too weak to fight the new Crimson Dynamo because of the blood clot in his brain.

Tony Stark swears he will never let anyone else replace him as Iron Man. Let's see how long he keeps that up.

The Titanium Man, last seen in Tales Of Suspense #94, attacks the Crimson Dynamo, because Alex Niven is a Russian defector. The Crimson Dynamo flies away with Janice Cord. Iron Man thinks he is trying to harm Janice and attacks him. Iron Man finally wins a confused three-way battle.

The question is how Iron Man manages to defeat the Titanium Man in three pages when their previous battle lasted three comics. Once more, the answer is that there's a new single issue story policy at Marvel.

Other comics published this month:

Millie the Model #179 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
Mad About Millie #9 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
Chili #10 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
Our Love Story #3 (Stan Lee, Gene Colan)
Rawhide Kid #74 (Larry Lieber, Larry Lieber)
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #75 (Gary Friedrich, Dick Ayers)
Chamber of Darkness #3 (Gerry Conway, Barry Smith)

Monday, 14 October 2019

Marvel Years 10.01 - January 1970

Fantastic Four #94

Title: The Return of the Frightful Four!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Fantastic Four: Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, Crystal

Villain: Frightful Four (Wizard, Sandman, Trapster, Medusa

Regulars: Susan Richards, Franklin Richards, Agatha Harkness

At long last the Richards have named their son. It took them 14 months to pick the name. They've decided to name him Franklin Benjamin Richards, after Susan's father and Reed's best friend. That's not quite as good as Victor, but it makes the Thing happy.

Reed doesn't want Franklin to be endangered by their enemies, so he's chosen a child minder in Upstate New York, Agatha Harkness.What the Fantastic Four don't know is that the Frightful Four have come back together in their original line up and are following them to the address.

We last saw the Wizard in Fantastic Four #81.

We last saw the Trapster in Marvel Super-Heroes #15.

We last saw Sandman in Incredible Hulk #114.

We last saw Medusa in Fantastic Four #83.

The Frightful Four launch a surprise attack in the middle of the night. The Wizard overcomes the Thing with his anti-gravity discs. Sandman smothers the Human Torch. The Trapster glues Mr. Fantastic's arm tight and traps the Invisible Girl in her room. When the Wizard says he'll kill them all, Medusa rebels. She was only pretending to be loyal to the group.

I knew this would happen. Did the Wizard really think that Medusa would turn against the Fantastic Four when her sister is a member?

The other three members of the Frightful Four overwhelm Medusa. Then they're surprised by Agatha Harkness, who defeats them with her powers of witchcraft.

The Fantastic Four free themselves and are surprised to find the Frightful Four unconscious. Agatha Harkness is sitting in her rocking chair knitting.

Amazing Spider-Man #80

Title: To prowl no more!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Buscema

Villain: Chameleon

Guests: Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, Flash Thompson, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe Robertson

Flash Thompson visits Peter Parker to explain why he was with Gwen Stacy. He's turning into a swell guy as he gets older.

Valuable paintings are stolen from an art gallery, and Captain Stacy seems to be the thief. Only Peter Parker suspects that it was the master of disguise, the Chameleon.

It's been so long that Peter has almost forgotten him. It's also been so long that Stan Lee has forgotten what issue it was. It was in Amazing Spider-Man #1, to be exact. He also appeared briefly in Tales To Astonish #66.

Spider-Man asks Joe Robertson to publicise a big handover of bonds in order to attract the Chameleon. On the occasion he's waiting and his spider sense is tingling, but he doesn't know which person is the Chameleon, and he challenges the wrong person. After the people leave the room the Chameleon changes identity again, and he makes the mistake of disguising himself as Peter Parker, so Spider-Man can easily capture him.

Thor #172

Title: The Immortal and the Mind-Slave!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Kronin Krask, Loki, Karnilla

Regulars: Jane Foster, Odin, Balder

Thor sees someone arriving to speak to Donald Blake, so he quickly changes back to his mortal identity.

The visitor is Dr. Jim North, who Dr. Blake recognises as the doctor who his previous nurse Jane Foster went to work for after leaving him. But is that true?

In this scene from Thor #136 Jane Foster went to work for Dr. Kincaid, a blond-haired doctor with an uncanny resemblance to Dr. Blake.

Jane has become Dr. North's lover, but in this panel from Thor #146 she's dating another man. Maybe she's changed jobs and changed lovers a few times since leaving Dr. Blake.

Jane Foster is being held hostage by Kronin Krask. He has a machine to swap bodies. Before he dies, he wants his mind put into Thor's body, so that he can live forever.

Thor's mind is too strong to be controlled by Krask's machine. He resists the transferral, and Krask dies. Supposedly.

The story's title is illogical. Krask isn't a Mind-Slave, he's a Mind-Enslaver.

Silver Surfer #12

Title: Gather, ye witches!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: John Buscema

Villain: Abomination, Warlock Prime (Nigel Carruthers)

Guests: Hulk (flashback), Stranger (flashback)

After a futile attempt to break through Galactus' barrier around the Earth, the Silver Surfer falls to Earth, not far from Stonehenge. Nigel Carruthers, an evil man practising the rites of the ancient druids, wants to kill him, just to prove how powerful he is. He attempts to conjure a demon, and he draws the Abomination back from the Stranger's world, where he's been trapped since Tales To Astonish #91.

The Silver Surfer defeats the Abomination, then takes him back to the druids to return him to the place where they drew him from. Whether they succeed or not isn't shown.

The Avengers #72

Title: Did you hear the one about Scorpio?

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Sal Buscema

Avengers: Captain America, Goliath, Vision, Yellowjacket, Wasp

Villain: Zodiac (Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces, Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra)

Guests: Rick Jones, Captain Marvel, Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, Gabriel Jones, Jimmy Woo

Rick Jones goes to the Avengers Mansion, where Captain America has called a special late night meeting. Only five Avengers are on active duty. In future it will be common for the exact line-up of the Avengers to change from issue to issue.

Three New York officials have been kidnapped by Scorpio, who seemingly died in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #5. We find that he's only one member of a 12-person group called Zodiac. Their leader is Aries.

Here they are. It should be easy to figure out which is which. Some are easy to name, others are less obvious, but after you've eliminated the obvious star signs there aren't many possibilities left for the rest.

The Avengers and Rick Jones are captured after being knocked out by an exploding TV screen. They've released by Yellowjacket's ants. During the battle Scorpio unmasks himself and reveals that he's Nick Fury, who we thought was killed in Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #15. Nick says that it was an LMD taking his place in Central Park.

The whole story of Scorpio is a mess. In Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #5 he was unmasked, but only Nick Fury saw his face; it wasn't revealed to the readers. I presume that Jim Steranko wanted to follow up on this storyline, but he left the comic too soon. Now Nick says that Scorpio was his brother Jake. Interesting. Scorpio was killed, so ever since that day Nick has been spending half of his time impersonating Scorpio. How did he fit that in with having two girlfriends and running SHIELD? LMD's are fantastic inventions. He could send an LMD to Countess Valentina while he was with Laura Brown, or vice versa, and they would never get jealous.

Rick Jones is keeping his connection with Captain Marvel secret.

Captain America #121

Title: The Coming of Man-Brute!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Gene Colan

Villain: Silas Cragg, Man-Brute

Regulars: Nick Fury

Guests: Jarvis, Yellowjacket, Wasp, Vision, Black Panther

Professor Silas Cragg is a former criminal who was sent to prison by Captain America. He served his sentence, and he has gone straight, but he's still full of hatred for Captain America and wants revenge. He's developed a super soldier serum similar to the one that gave Steve Rogers his strength in 1941. He finds an embittered man and promises him super strength if he will defeat Captain America. We aren't told the man's old name, but his new name is Man-Brute.

The Professor arranges for Captain America to visit an orphanage. The Man-Brute attacks Captain America, and he's much stronger, so that Captain America can only defend himself with his speed and agility. One of the small boys in the orphanage attacks the Man-Brute, causing him to run away. He returns to Professor Cragg and kills him, saying the boy was his son.

So who was Silas Cragg? Captain America had forgotten him. He searches SHIELD's old records and finds that it was someone he sent to jail "more than 15 years ago". That's a strange thing to say. It's less than six years since Captain America was revived after spending 19 years in suspended animation. If it wasn't in the last six years, it was more than 25 years ago.

X-Men #64

Title: The Coming of Sunfire!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Don Heck

X-Men: Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Angel, Beast, Iceman

Villain: Sunfire (Shiro Yoshida)

Cerebro detects a new extremely powerful mutant in New York. Marvel Girl tracks him telepathically and finds him travelling in a diplomatic vehicle, but it's not clear which of the people in the vehicle is the mutant. It's Shiro Yoshida, the son of the Japanese ambassador. He was born after his mother was poisoned by the atomic bomb at Hiroshima, and he has the power to draw energy from the Sun. Only his Uncle Tomo knows he's a mutant, so he's been training Shiro all his life to take revenge on the evil Americans.

During the battle Shiro's father calls on his son to stop, so Tomo shoots him. Grief-stricken, Shiro ceases to fight, so the X-Men let him go.

In the excitement Hank McCoy forgets the Angel's name and calls him Scottie. *add photo*

Daredevil #60

Title: Showdown at Sea!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Gene Colan

Villain: Crime-Wave, Torpedo (flashback), Stunt-Master (flashback)

Regulars: Foggy Nelson, Debbie Harris

Foggy Nelson's assistant Hollis suggests that Foggy would be more popular if we weren't dating an ex-convict. Foggy tells him to mind his own business, but Debbie agrees and breaks off her engagement.

Daredevil sneaks onto an off-shore gambling boat run by Crime-Wave. He sees Debbie Harris losing at the roulette table. Crime-Wave tries to blackmail her to spread false information about Foggy taking bribes. Daredevil bursts in. After the fight Crime-Wave is unmasked, and he's revealed to be Hollis.

The Incredible Hulk #123

Title: No more the monster!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Herb Trimpe

Villain: Leader

Regulars: General Ross, Major Talbot, Betty Ross

Guests: Fantastic Four (Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, Crystal), Susan Richards

Reed Richards' treatment of the Hulk is a success, but instead of preventing Bruce Banner becoming the Hulk, it makes it possible for him to become the Hulk whenever he wants without losing his intelligence.

Bruce proposes marriage to Betty Ross, and she accepts.

Betty's father, General Thunderbolt Ross, asks Bruce Banner to become the Hulk to protect a new invention, the Tripodal Observation Module (TM), TOM for short. General Ross isn't enough of a scientist to adequately describe it. He just says "It can go anywhere and do anything". Huh? Never mind, this is enough to persuade the Leader that he needs to steal it. We last saw the Leader in Incredible Hulk #117.

In battle the Hulk almost loses control of himself and wants to kill the Leader. He pulls himself together and lets him go. He swears he will never become the Hulk again. We'll see.

On the bullpen page it's mentioned that many readers have written complaining about Herb Trimpe's artwork. I don't understand this, I find that he's a competent artist, though not at the level of Gene Colan. What I understand even less is that this has been brought up on the bullpen page. *add photo*

Sub-Mariner #21

Title: Invasion from the Ocean Floor!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Marie Severin

Regulars: Dorma, Vashti, Seth, Diane Arliss

Guests: Ben Grimm

Prince Namor is being pursued by the police nd the army in New York. He can no longer breathe underwater or fly, he can only make giant leaps.

In Atlantis, Lady Dorma observes his plight. Last issue Triton delivered an order from Namor saying that he was not to be rescued, but Dorma recommends to the warlords of Atlantis that this order be ignored. Atlantean warships surround New York and say they will attack if they don't deliver Namor to them, which is difficult, because they don't have him.

Warlord Seth blows the Horn of Prometheus, last used by Namor himself in Fantastic Four #4, to unleash giant sea monsters on the surface world. Namor doesn't want this to happen, so he fights against the sea monsters. Seth realises his mistake and blows the horn again in the sea. The monsters rush to his location, killing him. Supposedly.

Iron Man #21

Title: The Replacement!

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: George Tuska

Villain: Crimson Dynamo (Alex Niven)

Regulars: Happy Hogan, Janice Cord, Eddie March

The above image on the splash page is imagination. A boxer called Eddie March imagines that he's Iron Man when he's in the ring. He's an old friend and sparring partner of Happy Hogan, the only man who knows that Tony Stark is Iron Man. He quits boxing after a winning streak because of a potentially life threatening brain clot.

Tony decides to quit as Iron Man, because he's too afraid of endangering his new synthetic heart. He asks Happy who could replace him in the suit. Happy immediately suggests Eddie. Tony trains him over the next few weeks.

Eddie gets into a fight with Alex Niven, who has become the new Crimson Dynamo. While they're fighting a doctor tells Tony about the blood clot, so he rushes to save him.

Other comics published this month:

Millie the Model #178 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
Mad About Millie #7 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
Chili #9 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
My Love #3 (Stan Lee, John Buscema)
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #74 (Archie Goodwin, Dick Ayers)
Captain Savage and his Battlefield Raiders #18 (Gary Friedrich, Dick Ayers)
Tower of Shadows #3 (Len Wein, Gene Colan)

Sneaking in, almost unnoticed, is Len Wein's first contribution to Marvel Comics, a seven-page anthology story in Tower Of Shadows. I don't know when he became a full time Marvel employee, but his stories became more frequent from the end of 1970 onwards. He was never one of my favourite writers, but on his best days he wrote some of Marvel's best comics. Giant-Size X-Men #1 isn't just a landmark issue, it's a brilliant story.