Category Archives: Superheroes

MINUTE-MAN: THE EARLY STORIES

With the 4th of July Holiday rapidly approaching, Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at one of the patriotic superheroes of the World War Two Era – in this case Minute-Man, whose nom de guerre came from the famed Revolutionary War militiamen. 

minute-man picMINUTE-MAN

Secret Identity: Private Jack Weston, U.S. Army

First Appearance: Master Comics #11 (February 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1944.

Origin: Private Jack Weston at Camp Blaine was selected by General Milton to secretly become America’s costumed operative Minute-Man, sent on missions of vital national security on a minute’s notice like the Minutemen called to action in the Revolutionary War.

Powers: Minute-Man was in peak physical condition and possessed the agility of an acrobat. He was a master of unarmed combat in addition to being well-versed in commando techniques. 

Comment: Jack Weston was later promoted to Lieutenant in order to give his secret identity more flexibility, but General Milton remained the only one privy to Minute-Man’s real name. Jack’s father Robert was killed in action during World War One.

mmSTORY 1: The Origin of Minute-Man

MASTER COMICS #11 (February 1941)

Synopsis: General Milton gives Private Jack Weston his secret assignment to be the costumed operative called Minute-Man. The hero thwarts a ring of masked spies from an unknown country (but clearly Germany) who want to discourage America from entering World War Two.

Minute-Man saves a train-load of new soldiers from plunging over a cliff, then stops the foreign spies from blowing up an entire U.S. Army training base. Continue reading

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IRON MAN CHAPTER LINKS

With Balladeer’s Blog’s look at 1970s Iron Man classics over with, here are the chapter links.

im 55ONE – While Marianne Rodgers is plagued by psychic visions, Iron Man has his first clash with the enigmatic Black Lama. The Lama’s powerful disciple Raga the Son of Fire rampages through California. Click HERE.

TWO – Iron Man gets caught between the new menace called Thanos and his foes the Eternals of Titan. The Sub-Mariner, Moon Dragon and Drax the Destroyer guest star as Tony faces the Blood Brothers and more. Click HERE.

THREE – Iron Man’s archenemy the Mandarin returns with a new plan and a new ally – Tony’s old foe the Unicorn. Click HERE. Continue reading

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IRON MAN 1970s CLASSICS: RETURN OF THE MANDARIN

robert downey jr iron manSorry about this being late. I’ve had a bit of a relapse. Balladeer’s Blog’s look at 1970s Iron Man classics comes to a close with this review of the Return of the Mandarin storyline leading up to the hero’s 100th issue anniversary. For Part One of these Iron Man 1970s classics click HERE.

im 95IRON MAN Vol 1 #95 (February 1977)

Title: Ultimo Unleashed

Villains: Ultimo and the Mandarin

NOTE: We jump ahead to issue #95 from where we left off with issue #81 and the end of the Black Lama storyline. By this point in the 1970s Marvel considered it okay for Tony Stark to go back to selling “defense systems” to the government and the military. 

Synopsis: At the Long Island headquarters of Stark International, Iron Man tests his armor’s latest upgrades against an atomic piledriver. Witnessing the test are a few Stark employees, including the blonde Krissy Longfellow, Tony’s newest executive assistant and his replacement for the departed Pepper Potts-Hogan.

The atomic piledriver is destroyed and Iron Man switches back to Tony Stark and dives into his latest office work regarding his company. Soon he winds up pondering Krissy Longfellow’s enigmatic appeal and that leads him to contemplating some of the previous women in his life, like Pepper, the late Janice Cord and Roxie Gilbert, whom he has finally given up pursuing.

His reverie is interrupted by a phone call from Senator Andrew Jackson Hawk in Washington D.C. Hawk informs Tony that he and his committee have frozen all of Stark International’s new defense contracts because of evidence that Tony is selling classified information to the Communist Chinese and the Soviet Union.

NOTE: The “evidence” has all been faked by the Mandarin for reasons that will be made known below.  Continue reading

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IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 11: FINALE OF THE BLACK LAMA STORY

For Part One of these Iron Man 1970s classics click HERE.

im 79IRON MAN Vol 1 #79 (October 1975)

Title: Midnight on Murder Mountain

Villains: Dr. Kurarkill and her Neo-Apes

NOTE: Before moving on to the conclusion of the long-running Black Lama storyline, Marvel’s editors had to apologize yet AGAIN for the next issue not being ready and a fill-in story having to be run in its place. This one is set AFTER Iron Man’s final run-in with the Black Lama, presented below.

Synopsis: On a rainy night, Tony Stark, clad in his Iron Man armor, is flying back to New York from Cleveland, where he continued refashioning his company now that he will no longer be doing munitions work. Along the way, in western Pennsylvania, he comes to the aid of a man, a woman and their pet cat whose vehicle was pinned under a falling tree. Continue reading

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IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 10 – MODOK, THE HULK AND THE BLACK LAMA

For Part One of these Iron Man 1970s classics click HERE.

im 75IRON MAN Vol 1 #75 (June 1975)

Title: Slave to the Power Imperious

Villains: Modok, the Mad Thinker, the Yellow Claw and the Black Lama

Synopsis: This issue picks up right where the previous one left off. Modok, with his squat body and enlarged head resting atop the kaiju-sized mechanical body that he wore to fight the Hulk months earlier, has burst into the Mad Thinker’s subterranean headquarters in the forests of Michigan.

mad thinkerPer the Black Lama’s ongoing War of the Supervillains, Modok plans to kill his first opponent the Mad Thinker (at right) then take on the war’s frontrunner – the Yellow Claw. Modok tosses aside the defeated and unconscious Iron Man, whom the Mad Thinker had used as a pawn against Modok and A.I.M. last time around.

Before Modok can finish off the Thinker, the latter unleashes one of his kaiju-sized androids, the green, faceless kind that are powerful enough to battle the Fantastic Four (the Mad Thinker’s usual foes). While the fight between that Android Warrior and Modok goes on, Iron Man regains consciousness, then realizes that the damage to the Mad Thinker’s laboratory has destroyed the equipment with which the villain was controlling his armor. Continue reading

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IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 9 – THE CRIMSON DYNAMO, MODOK AND THE BLACK LAMA

For Part One of these Iron Man 1970s classics click HERE.

im 73IRON MAN Vol 1 #73 (March 1975)

Title: Turnabout: A Most Foul Play

Villains: The Crimson Dynamo and Kuon Set

Synopsis: This issue picks up a week or so after the end of our previous story. Tony Stark is back in Manila at the Stark International Regional Headquarters in the Philippines. He is conferring with Pepper Potts-Hogan and her husband Happy, his Executive Assistant and his Security Chief respectively. Pepper has been informed that Tony is really Iron Man, so now both she and Happy know the secret.

Amid this relaxed setting Tony discusses Stark International’s new food processing plant in Manila, part of Tony’s ongoing reorganization of his company to leave his days as a weapons manufacturer behind him.

black lama standingThe married couple ask their boss about his recent trip to San Diego, and Tony tells them about his battle with Whiplash, the Melter and the Man-Bull as part of the Black Lama’s (at right) unfolding War of the Supervillains. Our hero also mentions returning to Stark International’s Headquarters on Long Island for a few days and his eyewitness account of seeing the Man-Thing in action.

NOTE: That refers to Tony Stark’s guest appearance as himself – NOT Iron Man – in Giant-Size Man-Thing #2.

Next, Tony shows Pepper for the first time how he dons his Iron Man armor which he carries around with him in segments in his briefcase. In a comic book coincidence, shortly after Tony becomes Iron Man an explosion rocks his Manila buildings.

Iron Man flies to the boiler room and manages to bring things under control before an even more destructive explosion can occur. Leaving Pepper and Happy to deal with the aftermath of this industrial accident, our hero tells them he is flying off to Vietnam to investigate Roxie Gilbert’s disappearance a few installments back. Continue reading

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IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 8 – THE BLACK LAMA, WHIPLASH, MELTER AND THE MAN-BULL

For Part One of these Iron Man 1970s classics click HERE.

im 72IRON MAN Vol 1 #71 (November 1974)

Title: Tooth and Yellow Claw

Villains: Black Lama and the Yellow Claw

Synopsis: This issue picks up right where the previous one left off. With Ultimo defeated, Iron Man flies toward the Mandarin’s former castle, now occupied by the Yellow Claw, who is exulting over having killed the Mandarin through trickery last time around. 

NOTE: Naturally the Mandarin is not really dead and in 1977 will return in time for Iron Man # 95-100.

robert downey jr iron manThe Yellow Claw seized the Mandarin’s castle and killed his rival supervillain as the opening battles in the War of the Supervillains which has been set in motion by Iron Man’s old foe the Black Lama. The latter villain is offering his Golden Globe of Power as the world-conquering prize to whichever Marvel supervillain wins this deadly war.   

Iron Man bursts through one of the castle walls, suprising the Yellow Claw. The Claw sics one of his biological constructs – a mutated “blob”-like creature – on our hero. After Tony defeats the cyborg creature, the Yellow Claw unleashes a swarm of his robots on Iron Man, robots which explode upon being defeated. Tony overcomes them, too, and survives a death-trap they maneuver him into. Continue reading

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IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 7 – THE MANDARIN, BLACK LAMA AND SUNFIRE

For Part One of these Iron Man 1970s classics click HERE.

im 68IRON MAN Vol 1 #68 (June 1974)

Title: Night of the Rising Sun

Villains: The Mandarin, Sunfire and Unicorn

Synopsis: We pick up months after our previous installment. Tony Stark has been spending most of his time in the Far East managing the reorganization of the Stark Regional offices there now that his company no longer handles weapons manufacturing. All of that is just the excuse to justify frequently loaning out his “bodyguard” Iron Man to Roxie Gilbert’s combined humanitarian mission and hunt for Eddie March’s M.I.A. brother Marty.

mandarin pictureAs this issue opens, Iron Man is using his repulsor rays to blast a path through the jungle for Roxie, U.N. escorts and North Vietnamese escorts plus the joint armed forces and aid workers. The communist army officer is especially hostile, making it clear he’s not fond of having Americans like Roxie Gilbert and Iron Man on hand. He also vows to retake Saigon some day.

NOTE: This story is set after the last American troops withdrew but before Saigon had fallen and been renamed Ho Chi Minh City. Marvel’s editors must have been scrambling to keep their comic book stories in synch with real-world events. Continue reading

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IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 6 – DOCTOR SPECTRUM, THOR AND THE FREAK

For Part One of these Iron Man 1970s classics click HERE.

im 65IRON MAN Vol 1 #65 (December 1973)

Title: The Cutting Edge of Death

Villain: Doctor Spectrum 

Synopsis: This issue picks up right where the last one left off: Near the wreckage of Roxie Gilbert’s health food store, caused by the destructive battle between Iron Man and Dr. Spectrum. The huge, energy-charged scimitar that the villain created via his power ring Power Prism is trying to slice through our hero’s armor to kill him.

Meanwhile, the exhausted Iron Man is barely able to use his repulsor rays to hold off the enormous energy-sword. Dr. Spectrum gets distracted by another argument with the alien intelligence inside his Power Prism AND by a blow to the face by Roxie Gilbert, who is briefly abandoning her pacifist principles to save Iron Man, who has saved HER multiple times in the recent past.

Dr. Spectrum easily smacks aside Roxie, who runs to a fellow bystander, the former boxer Eddie March. Roxie tells him Iron Man needs more help than normal human beings can provide and wants to call in the Avengers. Instead, Eddie says he has a quicker idea but we are not yet shown what that idea IS. Continue reading

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DOCTOR STRANGE: HIS EARLY STORIES FROM THE 1960s

With the movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hitting theaters I figured it was time for a look at the early stories of that Master of the Mystic Arts.

dr str treasurySTRANGE TALES Vol 1 #110 (July 1963)

Title: Doctor Strange, Master of Black Magic

Villain: Nightmare

Note: Dr. Strange was a backup feature to the Human Torch in his earliest appearances. He would eventually split Strange Tales equally with the Torch. Strange wouldn’t even be mentioned on the cover for a few issues at first.   

Synopsis: A man suffering from intense nightmares hires the famed occultist Dr. Strange to help him. Strange mystically enters the man’s dreams where he sees that the man is being tormented by the dark entity called Nightmare. After an intense battle, our hero drives off Nightmare and saves his client’s life. Continue reading

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