Marvel Rumbles Into March Doldrums

(March of 1970; I’m not implying anything about current events)

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Well, this is a pretty rough month to chew through on Marvel Unlimited. There just aren’t a lot of exciting things happening, and title after title falls into the “20 pages of pointless combat” mold. This is an excellent month to consider skipping in its entirety, but let’s see if we can’t pick out a few bright spots worth considering.

The full month’s roster appears after the jump.

So, in my personal and subjective opinion, this is how March of 1970’s offerings rank:

  • Iron Man #23: Fallout from Janice Cord’s death leads to the death of Tony Stark (but not really, of course)!
  • Uncanny X-Men #66: The Hulk & Bruce Banner show up in a “quest for a cure” plotline.
  • Silver Surfer #14: An absurd and enjoyable meeting between the Surfer and Spider-Man.
  • Incredible Hulk #125: The Hulk fights the Absorbing Man.
  • Avengers #74: Black Panther’s fight with the Sons of the Serpent ends with a whimper.
  • Amazing Spider-Man #82: Spidey vs. Electro.
  • Daredevil #62: Daredevil fights Nighthawk.
  • Fantastic Four #96: The Mad Thinker is back.
  • Thor #174: Thor beats a generic robot called the Crypto-Man.
  • Captain America #123: Cap has a staggeringly dumb run-in with Suprema the lady hypnotist.

I discussed the brilliance of Iron Man’s current story arc in my last post, so it doesn’t feel right to head straight back to that well. Make no mistake, though – IM #23 is by miles the best thing available on MU for this month.

Our runner up is X-Men #66. It’s an enjoyable little story about healing Professor Xavier with a gamma-ray assist from Dr. Bruce Banner. What’s really notable is that this is the start of a multi-year gap in MU’s coverage of this title; the X-Men are going to be absent until 1975 and the dawn of the Claremont era. Let’s take a little time to say goodbye.

The majority of this month’s titles – from the Surfer down to the Fantastic Four – use the generic one-shot beat-a-villain plot. The exception would be Avengers #74, which is an actively frustrating wrap-up of the promising racial tension story launched last month. The Black Panther plays the damsel in distress while his whiter teammates save the day. Boo to that!

Speaking of frustration, there are heaping helpings of it waiting in Thor #174 and Cap #123. These are genuinely bad comics. Thor foils a mad scientist who’s using his robot to show them, show them all, and Cap fights a hypnotist whose feminine wiles nearly allow her take over all of SHIELD. These comics could be enjoyed in a Mystery Science Theater “so bad it’s good” sense, but I’d prefer to talk about the best rather than the worst here. Unless you have a burning need to see Stan Lee writing at his laziest, give those two a miss. (To drop a kind word, the artists – Gene Colan on Cap and especially Jack Kirby on Thor – are still giving it their all this month.)

Let’s close out with Thor feeling “most unseemly duped,” the same way unwary kiddies who wasted their hard-earned 15 cents on Thor #174 likely felt:

Unwary Thor feels most unseemly duped
This is just after a scientist used a gizmo to steal half of Thor’s strength. Again.

 

Author: CMMIV

Reader of comic books. Semi-professional writer.