Bronze Age Beginnings

Monday, 17 May 2010

Marvel Spotlight #2

Cover date: February 1972

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artist: Mike Ploog


It’s an age old story; teenage boy has birthday, grows hair in strange places, and starts staying out all night.

With a plot assist from the Thomas’, Conway turns in a surprisingly efficient script detailing Jack Russell’s >snigger< coming of age and his subsequent curse to turn into a Werewolf by Night. The real highlight, however, is the art of Mike Ploog. Ploog certainly wasn’t suitable for the mainline Marvel Universe at this stage, but his Underground Comix styling was perfect for this strip; even if Jack did look like he’d come in Freddy (of Scooby Doo) drag at one point. If I’d bought this comic in 1972 I’d have been howling for more.

There’s also a reprint of Venus drawn by Bill Everett, which is a revelation. Who knew Venus was such a straight talking dame?

“All right, you big, fat, cop! I’ve never given you a bum-steer before, have I? now I’m off my rocker! Go on back to your overstuffed desk chair in your cozy (sic) little headquarters, and read your comic books! I’LL HANDLE THIS MY WAY!!!”

Whoa! Don’t mess with Venus, evil-doers!

Buy Marvel Spotlight #2 at My Comic Shop

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Astonishing Tales #10

Cover date: February 1972

Writer: Roy Thomas & Gerry Conway

Artist: Barry Smith and Sal Buscema


This is the scrag end of a three-part story involving some soldiers - German and English - from WWII, continuing to fight the good fight after they somehow ended up in the Savage Land; with a twist. Naturaly, Ka-Zar and faithful Zabu put an end to that.

Admittedly, I wasn’t much looking forward to reading this as I’ve never been too fond of this particular Tarzan knock-off (except for the early Eighties Bruce Jones and Brent Anderson run), but it wasn’t that bad. Conway pitched in to help Thomas out, and I’m going to hazard a guess that Smith provided lay-outs for Buscema, as the art lacks Smith’s customary detail. Of note, there is a very brief appearance by Barbara ‘Bobbi’ Morse, the future Mockingbird and Mrs Hawkeye.

Buy Astonishing Tales #10 at My Comic Shop

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Sub-Mariner #46

Cover date: February 1972

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artist: Gene Colan

Inker: Mike Esposito

Namor’s father, Captain Mackensie, has been captured by Tiger Shark and Llyra, prompting the Avenging Son’s rescue bid. Namor and Tiger Shark slug it out while Llyra pontificates on the side-lines, before both combatants are knocked out and strapped into some machine or other to leech energy from Subby to Tiger Shark. Meanwhile, Walter Newell - The Stingray - suits up to go to Namor’s aid. There’s some more fighting, Namor’s long-lost father ends up feeding the fishes, Llyra and Tiger Shark sneak off, and Namor has a bit of a mope about finding and losing his dear old dad.

Please note, contrary to Namor’s exclamation marked word balloon on the cover, Stingray didn’t do it!

Conway’s script is especially purple, none more so than when Namor laments in the last two panels, holding his father’s body before swimming away, “They? Who are they? They are but dream-like devils...of no lasting the end...of an evening rest.”
I suppose a simple “They are of no importance” wouldn’t suffice.

I have to admit, I always thought Stingray had a particularly striking costume, but Colan and Esposito don’t do it justice here– his full page costume reveal is especially shoddy. In fact, I don’t think Esposito was particularly suited to inking Colan’s pencils at all based on this issue.

Buy Sub-Mariner #46 at My Comic Shop

Friday, 14 May 2010

Captain America #146

Cover date: February 1972

Writer: Gary Friedrich

Artist: Sal Buscema

Inker: John Verpoorten

Cap and his >ahem< Femme Force break up a Hydra hijacking of a Shield airliner, while Sharon Carter lies mortally wounded; later, Hydra kidnap Sharon from the hospital she was taken in a bid to lure Cap into another trap.

I like Captain America. Honestly, I do. The Star-spangled Avenger from another era, slightly out of date with modern times and grappling with an America gone sour – but this isn’t that Cap just yet. This one just fights Hydra agents endlessly with late 60’s super-spy elements tacked on. I can’t even say Femme Force without imagining a feminine hygiene one of the gals says “KEEP ‘EM UP! Just because we’re female doesn’t mean we won’t shoot!”
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