Bronze Age Beginnings

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Avengers #97

Cover date: March 1972

Writer: Roy Thomas

Artist: John Buscema

Inker: Tom Palmer

I love this cover!

This is the final part of the Kree/Skrull war, and Rick Jones has been hurled into the Negative Zone to be menaced by Annihilus. One quick, unexpected, mind-blast from Rick and Annihilius is beaten, before Rick is transported back to the Supreme Intelligence for an explanation of where the mind-blast came from. It appears Rick is exhibiting the ultimate expression of the evolutionary capacity of the human race – handy that, because he then whips up the Golden Age heroes that appear on the cover, to fight of some Kree soldiers and Ronan the Accuser!

Rick then puts an end to the war by immobilising all the Kree and Skrull troops, before collapsing. Never fear, Captain Mar-Vell is on hand to merge with Rick and restore him to good health.

The Avengers return home, minus one. Clint ‘Goliath’ Barton is missing, presumed dead!

A satisfying conclusion to the first real Marvel epic, spoiled only slightly by some questions regarding just what is going to happen once all those Kree and Skrull come around– the Skrull Armada is still floating around out there in space!

It’s a pity that Neal Adams wasn’t able to complete the story, but Buscema inked by Tom Palmer is more than palatable.

Buy The Avengers #97 at My Comic Shop

Saturday, 19 June 2010

The Mighty Thor #197

Cover date: March 1972

Writer: Gerry Conway

Artist: John Buscema

Inker: Vince Colletta

Thor and his Warrior’s Three have reached the Well at the Edge of the World, so it’s time for a fight with “yon craggy giant”. Kartag (for that is his name) and Thor take a head dive into the Well, which shows Thor various visions, including the low down on why Odin sent Thor on this sorry arse quest in the first place. So it’s back to Asgard for Thor and the Warrior’s Three (accompanied by Kartag).

Sif and Hildegarde are still on that other planet, where everything appears to be not quite right; a steam boat shows up and Sif and Hildegarde are met by one Silas Grant.

Back on the Rainbow Bridge, Thor and his companions discover that Asgard is no longer in situ, but with some water from the Well - and Mighty Mjolnir – that’s not a problem. Once they locate Asgard, it’s time to fight Mangog!

This is really hard work, basically because Thor has the personality of a turnip. How did he ever get both Jane Foster and Sif interested?

I can only recommend this comic for the art of Buscema - despite the thin, scratchy, inks of Colletta.

Buy Thor #197 at My Comic Shop

Monday, 7 June 2010

The Amazing Spider-Man #106

Cover date: March 1972

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: John Romita

Inker: Frank Giacoia

So, Spidey has been unmasked by Professor Smyth, or rather he’s seen Spidey without his mask on via one of the many spy-lens devices Smyth controls around New York. Spidey swings off to Doc Conner’s to borrow his lab, and whips up a ‘life-like’ Peter Parker mask to fool Smyth into believing Spider-Man was aware of the spy-lens, and was wearing a Peter Parker (or some nobody, as the gathering of top New York gang leaders rightly puts it) mask to confuse all that?

Peter then goes on a date with Gwen; they visit Flash (who seems out of sorts), and then go on to the flicks and a bite to eat.
After the date, Peter changes back into Spider-Man to make his way back to Flash’s pad, thinking that Flash may open up to him without Gwen around. Cue Smyth and his Spider Slayer.....

The super-heroics are decidedly ho-hum, but Stan seems much more involved when scripting Peter Parker’s personal life. Luckily, John Romita is perfectly suited to soap-opera, enough to sufficiently pique my interest in Harry’s unrequited love for Mary Jane and Flash’s problems....more so than Smyth and his bloody Spider Slayer.

Buy The Amazing Spider-Man #106 at My Comic Shop

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Incredible Hulk #149

Cover date: March 1972

Writer: Archie Goodwin

Artist: Herb Trimpe

Inker: John Severin

The Hulk is under sedation at Project Greenskin following last issue, giving Betty an excuse to mope (as she does), and while wandering outside the base, wishes upon a ‘falling star’ for things to be different for Bruce and her. The ‘falling star’, however, is a spaceship crashing to Earth, from which emerges The Inheritor.

Unfortunately, the cover doesn’t show how completely ridiculous this Inheritor guy actually looks....

After dispatching a couple of poachers (because he hates humans, and he is the rightful inheritor of Earth, hence his sobriquet) , The Inheritor comes across a truck transporting that ol’ radioactive material that was always being driven across America during the Seventies, and as The Inheritor bathes in the radioactive material he remembers....

Meanwhile, after escaping his restraints and trying to escape the bunker, Hulk is downed by some tranquiliser gas and reverts to Bruce Banner. He is then convinced to help out with finding a cure for his condition, and has a bit of a think about his feelings for both Betty and Jarella (who went home to her atom last issue).

Anyway, The Inheritor has made his way to Project Greenskin in search of some more radioactive stuff, and tears up the joint resulting in Bruce being pinned beneath some heavy machinery. Cue the Hulk!

Some fighting ensues, The Inheritor gets his radiation fix, and he remembers exactly how he came to be. It seems the High Evolutionary mutated a low order of life into one of his New-Men, but after this New-Man expressed his lack of subservience to humans, the High Evolutionary had him banished from Earth, no doubt chalking it up to a bad day at work.
Have you guessed yet which low order of life The Inheritor was before the High Evolutionary switched on his genetic accelerator?

The Hulk and The Inheritor end up falling into the underground base through the retractable roof, and The Inheritor is hit by the radiation siphoning experiment Bruce was working on when he was so rudely interrupted earlier.

Yep, he devolves into a.....cockroach, which the Hulk flicks away while looking for The Inheritor.
I actually quite enjoyed this, despite the ending being broadcast very early on; and the art of Trimpe and Severin is top class, except when drawing The Inheritor that is.

Buy The Incredible Hulk #149 at My Comic Shop

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Fantastic Four #120

Cover date: March 1972

Writer: Stan Lee

Artist: John Buscema

Inker: Joe Sinnott

A very well executed cover by John Buscema.

A random group of terrorists attack the Baxter building, get defeated, the landlord shows up and shouts a lot, and then Agatha Harkness’s mystical projection shows up to warn the FF that a major threat to Earth has arrived. Gabriel, the Air-Walker appears, provoking a fight with the FF.

Wow! Stan Lee returns to ‘writing’ the Fantastic Four and proves he never really had much input beyond offering a brief plot synopsis for the artist to work from. As good as Buscema’s art is, he doesn’t have the imagination of Jack Kirby, and Lee just seems to be writing random captions and dialogue to fill the panels. I have no idea what the opening scene with the terrorists was about – they’re not even named or given a reason for being; and Sue is given some truly bizarre dialogue while showcasing her particular talents (that would be being totally ineffectual in combat, then).

Worst of all was this particular piece of dialogue after Reed gets bashed;

“Be careful, BEN! Anyone who could fell Reed so easily...”

That would be Mr Fantastic, the human rubber band.

Anyway, whatever happend to Reed's cure for Crystal he was working on last issue?

Buy Fantastic Four #120 at My Comic Shop
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