Saturday, 6 July 2019

Marvel Years 09.01 - January 1969

I've been asked why I list the comics in different orders each month. Why can't I just put them in alphabetical order? Here's a brief explanation of my ordering. It's all very logical, to me at least.

1. I copy the order from the previous month.
2. If a comic is printed bi-monthly, I move it to the bottom (if it isn't there already).
3. If a comic is special for any reason, I push it to the top.
4. If one comic takes place before another, I move it to just above the other comic.

I carry out the re-ordering in steps 2 to 4 in that order, so to take an example, a bi-monthly comic is the last comic in the list. But if it's a special story, I put it in first place. But if another comic takes place before it, that comic goes to the top, pushing the bi-monthly comic into second place.

This month I needed to shift the order because of all the guests appearing in Avengers #60. X-Men #52 takes place first, so I moved it to before Avengers #60. Fantastic Four #82 and Amazing Spider-Man #68 take place after Avengers #60, so I moved them into this place. Iron Man #9 also takes place after Avengers #60, but it was already after it in last month's order, so I left it where it was.

My new order is now the default for next month, so Thor will remain at the top.

If I ever deviate from these rules, I've just made a mistake. It happens.

Thor #160

Title: And now, Galactus!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Galactus

Regulars: Odin, Sif

Guests: Recorder, Tana Nile, Ego

Tana Nile, who we last saw in Thor #134, comes to Earth to ask Thor for help. Her planet Rigel-3 is in danger, because Galactus is approaching.

After arriving on Rigel-3, Thor is given a spaceship to search for Galactus. He's accompanied by the Recorder.

First Galactus finds Ego, who isn't an easy victim. They fight one another, and the explosions destroy Thor's spaceship.

What do you think of Jack Kirby's photo-realistic art? In principle I like it, but I don't like the way it's combined with the normal artwork used to portray Galactus' ship. The styles clash.

The Incredible Hulk #111

Title: Shanghaied in Space!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Herb Trimpe

Villain: Galaxy Master

Regulars: General Ross, Major Talbot, Rick Jones, Betty Ross

Guests: Ka-Zar

In the last issue Bruce Banner destroyed a machine hidden in a cave on Earth. The aliens who created the machine realise this has happened, and they want to investigate. They kidnap Bruce Banner, who is lying almost dead, to take him back to their planet. They revive him, but he's of no interest, so they eject him into space. He turns into the Hulk and attacks the space ship. He falls from space onto the alien planet, where he's challenged by the Galaxy Master.

Sub-Mariner #9

Title: The Spell of the Serpent!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Marie Severin

Villain: Naga, Tiger Shark

Regulars: Dorma, Vashti, Seth

Namor returns to Atlantis with the Helmet of Power. He recognises that it has an evil influence, so he forbids Dorma to put it on.

Namor and Warlord Seth travel into the Abyss of Doom to find a cure for Tiger Shark's homicidal madness. The mission fails. When Namor returns to Atlantis he's treated as an enemy. Lady Dorma has put on the helmet, and she's been possessed by the spirit of Naga, a serpent God. She now rules Atlantis. Tiger Shark has broken free and is waiting for Namor to return.

Namor rips the helmet off Dorma's head, but she's still possessed. He swims away to a quiet place where he can examine the helmet. He drops it, and before he can pick it up someone else grabs it.

X-Men #52

Title: Twilight of the Mutants!

Writer: Arnold Drake
Artist: Werner Roth

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

Villain: Mesmero, Demi-Men, Magneto, Erik the Red

Regulars: Lorna Dane

Erik the Red defeats Mesmero and the Demi-Men. Then he says he wants to serve Magneto as his second-in-command. Magneto, who seems to have lost his powers, grudgingly agrees.

The X-Men (Beast, Angel and Marvel Girl) attack the compound. Erik the Red reveals that he's Cyclops in disguise. Lorna Dane wants to protect her father, until Iceman returns. He's found proof that Magneto isn't really her father. It was just a hoax to persuade her to serve him. Lorna uses her magnetic powers to defeat Mesmero and the Demi-Men.

Lorna returns to the school with the X-Men.

Title: The Crimes of the Conquistadors!

Writer: Arnold Drake
Artist: Werner Roth

X-Men: Professor X, Cyclops, Angel, Iceman, Beast

Hank McCoy steals a miniature nuclear reactor for the Conquistador. He expects his parents to be freed, but the Conquistador refuses, because Hank must still do jobs for him.

Professor X is trying to find Hank, but Cerebro is still in its early stages and only offers limited assistance.

The Avengers #60

Title: Till Death Us Do Part!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: John Buscema

Avengers: Captain America, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Goliath, Wasp, Black Panther, Vision

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

Regulars: Jarvis

Wedding Guests:
        Fantastic Four (Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Johnny Storm, Crystal), Susan Richards
        X-Men (Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman, Marvel Girl)
        Black Knight, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Doctor Strange, Nick Fury

It's the biggest event of the year, the wedding of Janet Van Dyne and Yellowjacket. Janet's fellow Avengers are suspicious, because she hardly knows him, but they've promised to respect her wishes.

Just look who was there. The only guests missing from this picture are Crystal and Susan Richards, who were helping Janet get dressed. I wonder who was babysitting for Susan. Probably Willie Lumpkin, who can make any baby laugh by wiggling his ears.

No Marvel wedding is complete without gatecrashers. The Circus of Crime, that we last saw in Thor #147, breaks into the Avengers Mansion, disguised as the caterers. They intend to attack Thor, but he isn't at the wedding because he's on Rigel-3. (Stan's note says that he's fighting the Silver Surfer, but that's unlikely).

In the middle of the fight with the Circus of Crime Yellowjacket reveals that he's really Hank Pym aka Goliath. An accident in his laboratory has caused him schizophrenia, and his alternate personality is the exact opposite of his usual personality. In particular, as Hank Pym he puts his work first, but as Yellowjacket he puts his romance first. Janet Van Dyne didn't want to miss the opportunity, so she married him fast before he returned to normal.

It's easy to work out when most of the super-heroes had time to attend the wedding. The only problem is Doctor Strange, because his series is slightly out of sync. The wedding probably takes place before last month's Doctor Strange #175.

Fantastic Four #82

Title: The Mark of the Madman!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

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

Villain: Maximus

Guests: Black Bolt, Medusa, Gorgon, Karnak, Triton, Lockjaw

Last month Crystal became a new member of the Fantastic Four to replace Susan Storm. Now she says she must return to her family to ask permission. Shouldn't she have asked first? Before she can leave, Lockjaw arrives with a group of Alpha Primitives, who grab her and teleport back to the Inhumans' Grand Refuge. The Fantastic Four follow them in one of their snazzy rocket ships.

Maximus has usurped the throne yet again. He has imprisoned the Royal Family, and he's preparing to conquer the whole Earth. The Fantastic Four try to stop him, but they're defeated by his giant Kirbyesque robot called Zorr.

The Thing gets a chance to yell his battle cry when fighting the Alpha Primitives: It's clobbering time! He forgot to say it when he was fighting Zorr.

Amazing Spider-Man #68

Title: To Squash a Spider!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jim Mooney

Villain: Kingpin

Regulars: Aunt May, Anna Watson, Gwen Stacy, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe Robertson, Randy Robertson

The Kingpin, who we last saw in Amazing Spider-Man #61, wants to steal an ancient clay tablet. It's believed that the inscription holds the secret to great power. The tablet is currently on display at Empire State University, where Peter Parker is studying.

Poor Peter is suffering from a lack of money. He thinks there should be a minimum living wage for super-heroes. He's right, but it shouldn't just be for super-heroes, everyone deserves a minimum wage.

The students are demonstrating for affordable accommodation. That's also a just cause. They want to occupy the room where the tablet is being kept. The Kingpin uses the confusion to steal the tablet.

The story ends with Spider-Man pursuing the Kingpin's getaway vehicle.

Captain America #109

Title: The hero that was!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Nazis

Regulars: Nick Fury, Bucky

This is an expanded retelling of the origin of Captain America from Tales Of Suspense #63, which was in turn a retelling of Captain America Comics #1 from 1940.

Daredevil #48

Title: Farewell to Foggy!

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Gene Colan

Villain: Stilt-Man

Regulars: Foggy Nelson, Karen Page, Debbie Harris

The vote for district attorney is imminent. Stilt-Man, who we last saw in Daredevil Annual #1, is hired to kill Foggy Nelson, because the underworld expects him to be tough on crime.

Daredevil defeats Stilt-Man and then changes back into his civilian clothes to go to the victory party. Foggy Nelson has won the election and become the new district attorney. This means that the law firm Murdock and Nelson must close.

Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #8

Title: Hours of Madness, Day of Death

Writer: Ernie Hart
Artist: Herb Trimpe

Villain: Supremus

Regulars: Dum Dum Dugan, Gabe Jones, Jimmy Woo

Guests: Tony Stark

A villain called Supremus wants to conquer the world by using a hypnotic gas to make everyone obey him. He's created reptilian creatures as servants.

He has big plans, but he lacks the strength to pull them off. Nick Fury easily defeats him.

Doctor Strange #176

Title: O Grave, where is thy Victory!

Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Gene Colan

Villain: Asmodeus, Sons of Satannish

Regulars: Clea, Wong

Doctor Strange attacks the Sons of Satannish, hoping to get information about Clea's whereabouts. They overpower him and encase him in a trap, from which he later escapes. He returns home to study ways to defeat Satannish and his servants. Later Clea returns, but she's been mesmerised, and she tries to kill him.

Clea steals the Book of Vishanti and takes it to the lair of the Sons of Satannish in a nearby cemetery. Doctor Strange doesn't stop her, because he wants to find them. They overcome him with weapons called the Crystals of Conquest, and then banish him to another world with a spell from the Book of Vishanti.

Iron Man #9

Title: There lives a Green Goliath

Writer: Archie Goodwin
Artist: George Tuska

Villain: Mandarin, Hulk (robot)

Regulars: Janice Cord

Are you wondering how the Hulk can be fighting Iron Man when he's on another planet? It's not the real Hulk, it's a robot, built by the Mandarin, who we last saw in Hulk #108. The Mandarin is using it to confirm his suspicions that Iron Man is Tony Stark.

Captain Marvel #9

Title: Between Hammer and Anvil!

Writer: Arnold Drake
Artist: Don Heck

Villain: Aakons, Cyberex (giant robot)

Regulars: Yon-Rogg, Una, Carol Danvers

The Aakons are still trying to kill Captain Marvel. He flees from them to return to his hotel room. Before he arrives Carol Lawson is already there, searching for clues about Dr. Walt Lawson. The giant robot, which now calls itself Cyberex, thinks she is a friend of Dr. Lawson and kidnaps her as bait.

Captain Marvel attacks Cyberex, but their battle is interrupted by the arrival of the Aakons. (Is this getting complicated yet?) Captain Marvel carries Carol Danvers away, while Cyberex fights with the Aakons. The Aakons win the battle, then pursue Captain Marvel again. While they are fighting him, Cyberex attacks them from behind and forces them to flee. Captain Marvel attacks Cyberex and finally destroys the robot.

Other comics published this month:

Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (Arnold Drake, Gene Colan)

Millie the Model #166 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #62 (Gary Friedrich, Dick Ayers)
Captain Savage and his Battlefield Raiders #10 (Gary Friedrich, Dick Ayers)

I've designated Marvel Super-Heroes #18 non-canon, even though it might create problems in future issues of the Defenders. 30 years later, when it became customary to number alternate universes, Marvel apologists also saw a problem, and they solved it by calling it Earth-691.

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