So, if I continue showcasing one comic per week (or less) I will actually fall further and further behind the present day, making this blog a literally endless production. While that doesn’t sound too bad, I want to move faster.
For one thing, while the last few comics I’ve talked about here are from 1965, my semi-chronological reading has taken me all the way up to 1970. So! Let’s just skip ahead to there.
My new plan is to proceed month by month and highlight one issue to talk about. Since January 1970 is up on the block, here are our choices – everything from that month that’s available on MU right now:
- Incredible Hulk #123: A Reed Richards cure gives Bruce Banner control over the Hulk
- Fantastic Four #94: Franklin Richards is named and turned over to Agatha Harkness
- Iron Man #21: Eddie March becomes the new Iron Man
- Uncanny X-Men #64: Sunfire’s debut
- Avengers #72: Rick Jones and Nick Fury help fight the Zodiac
- Daredevil #60: DD captures Crime-Wave in a rather Scooby-Doo plot twist
- Amazing Spider-Man #80: Spidey vs. the Chameleon
- Captain America #121: Cap vs. the Man-Brute
- Silver Surfer #12: Surfer vs. the Abomination (This was published on the last day of 1969 and MU somehow lumps it into January.)
- Thor #172: A dude named Kronin Krask tries to hijack Thor’s body and Jane Foster shows up.
I’ve arranged these comics in rough order of quality, but my ranking is entirely subjective. Thor is at the bottom of the list because I found Jane Foster’s appearance to be heinously unsatisfying. She plays a role that literally any generic nurse could fill, and her already messed-up relationship with Thor and Don Blake isn’t explored at all.
The one-off slugfest comics – Cap, Surfer, and ASM – aren’t bad per se, but they are eminently forgettable.
In this month’s Daredevil the Crime-Wave saga, which has only run for three issues, wraps up with an “it was the
groundskeeper assistant DA all along” plot twist. Some sweet noirish art from Gene Colan can’t quite elevate this story (featuring villains like the Stuntmaster and the Torpedo) to greatness.
Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #15 looks awesome (it’s referenced in this month’s Avengers), but us poor MU readers don’t get access to it. For shame!
Avengers #72 is an incredibly goofy story that hooks Scorpio up with 11 co-villains, and Sal Buscema deserves credit for giving them all decent designs. But ultimately the issue is just too scattershot – besides introducing the Zodiac it also features Rick Jones’s secret identity angst and Nick Fury pulling the traditional “you thought I was dead but I ain’t” schtick that’s normally reserved for villains.
Sunfire’s debut in the X-Men is a pretty interesting story about the dangers of vengeance, and it displays some adroit writing with Japanese characters that rise (at least a little bit) above the level of stereotypes.
This month’s Iron Man starts a two-issue story about Eddie March, one of the forgotten wearers of the armor, that is enjoyable and interesting in its own right. Likewise, this month’s Fantastic Four finally gives the youngest Richards a name and introduces the wonderfully witchy Agatha Harkness – both events that rack up significant Marvel History credit.
The issue I most want to talk about is the Incredible Hulk, though. There’s an extended Fantastic Four cameo and some Reed Richards super-science gives Bruce Banner full control of his faculties even when he’s Hulkified. This is some very cool experimentation with the fundamental setup of the character, and it’s well worth exploring at length.
That’s a matter for the next post. For today let’s just close by peeking in on Ben Grimm earning all the cute points in Fantastic Four #94: