Category Archives: Superheroes


Readers reminded me that I did not post an easy-reference post containing the links to each chapter of my reviews of 1970s Spider-Man classics, so here it is, belatedly!

spidey 114ONE: While searching for the missing Aunt May, Spider-Man gets caught up in the ongoing gang war between Dr Octopus and Hammerhead to see who will succeed the arrested Kingpin as crime boss of New York. Click HERE.

TWO: Spider-Man investigates what Dr Octopus is keeping from Aunt May, battles the Hulk in Canada and fails to save Gwen Stacy from the returned Green Goblin. Click HERE.

THREE: J Jonah Jameson hires Luke Cage, Power Man, to bring in Spider-Man for Norman Osborn’s death. Meanwhile, Jameson’s astronaut son John is transformed into a were-creature by a rock he brought back from the moon. Click HERE. Continue reading


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For Part One of this series click HERE.

ca f 163CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON Vol 1 #163 (July 1973)

Title: Beware of Serpents

Villains: The Serpent Squad

Synopsis: We pick up long after the end of our previous installment. Peggy Carter’s psychological recovery has been proceeding apace as Captain America alternates between the Carter Family’s Connecticut home and New York City where he and the Avengers have had a few recent missions. Cap’s secret identity – Steve Rogers – has officially resigned from the New York City Police Department.

NOTE: The writers apparently felt they had milked as much as they could out of Cap/ Steve’s double life as a cop and decided to put that chapter of his tales behind them. 



At the Paranormal Criminal Detention Wing of Sing Sing Prison, Thor’s old foe the Cobra has paid off corrupt prison guards to sneak their costumes and weaponry into the cells of the imprisoned Eel and his brother the Viper. Donning their gear, Eel and Viper, old foes of Cap and Falc, break out, killing at least four guards as they do. Cobra picks them up in a waiting vehicle and christens their new gang of three the Serpent Squad as they drive off to Cobra’s hideout.   

A few days later, Captain America, the Falcon, Sharon Carter, her much older sister Peggy Carter and their parents arrive at the mansion estate of the Carter Family in northern Virginia. Peggy’s new psychiatrists have declared her to have made sufficient progress that she can move to that home and try reestablishing her life.

Peggy is still fairly vulnerable, however, so Cap and Sharon have still not told her about their romance, which started during the years she was gone. Not helping the situation is the way that news reporters have smoked out enough of the facts of Cap and Peggy’s reunion to make a big story about the “miracle reunion of two lovers separated for decades” angle. Continue reading


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For Part One of this series click HERE.

ca f 160CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON Vol 1 #160 (April 1973)

Title: Enter: Solarr (The internal titles often differed from Marvel Comics’ titles on the cover.)

Villain: Solarr

Synopsis: We pick up an unknown number of nights after our previous installment. Captain America and the Falcon are still mopping up the scattered leftover criminals from the Cowled Commander’s organization called Crime Wave.

This is the final group of several masked men armed with machine guns and bazookas who were trying to pull off a robbery. The crooks remark out loud about how much stronger Cap is now, giving him and the Falcon the opportunity to explain to them (and to readers who missed the past few issues) how he now has Spider-Man level strength. It’s thanks to the way the Viper’s custom venom interacted with the super-soldier serum in his metabolism.

NOTE: This much higher level of super strength for Cap will last until Captain America & The Falcon #218 (February 1978).

After Cap and Falc defeat all but two of the masked men, that final duo try to escape by driving off in their gang’s armored vehicle. Our hero’s new strength makes him able to stop the vehicle, tear off the thick steel door and then easily knock out the final two Crime Wave operatives. Continue reading

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Hunterwali in action

hunterwaliFor several years here at Balladeer’s Blog I have been trying to track down, watch and review all of the film versions of Hunterwali (Whip-wielding Woman), Bollywood Cinema’s butt-kicking masked female heroine. Often glibly dismissed as a female Zorro, there is much more cultural context to the Hunterwali figure – contextual significance that goes beyond the particular time period of each film version.

hunterwali picThus far I have been able to watch the 1935 original, which starred the actress billed as “Fearless Nadia” in India, and the 1988 Hunterwali. I have had no luck tracking down the 1959, 1972, 1977 and 2017 movie versions. Nor have I been able to buy the 1943 film, Hunterwali Ki Beti (Hunterwali’s Daughter), the very first sequel movie in Indian entertainment history.

Hunterwali upper handThe basics of the Hunterwali story involve Princess Madhuri adopting a masked, whip-wielding and stunt-riding identity to combat the many injustices inflicted on the kingdom by her father’s evil Vazier Ranamal. That villain even imprisons the king and lusts after Madhuri, little realizing she is really the swashbuckling “protector of the poor and punisher of evildoers” called Hunterwali. Continue reading


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For Part One of this series click HERE.

ca f 157CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON Vol 1 #157 (January 1973)

Title: Veni, Vidi, Vici … Viper

Villain: The Viper

Synopsis: We pick up an unknown number of days after Captain America has returned to New York City from Miami with the Falcon and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sharon Carter. The Police Commissioner, who is aware that uniformed cop Steve Rogers is really Cap, relayed a message to Steve to meet him in costume at the 13th Police Precinct building in Hell’s Kitchen. 

On his way there, our hero gets ambushed by a trio of armed punks who say that someone called the Cowled Commander ordered them to prevent Cap from reaching his destination. Naturally Cap defeats all three of them.

In a private room at the 13th Precinct the Commissioner informs Captain America that the Cowled Commander is leading a secret group of criminals and crooked cops in an unknown plan. The Commish wants Cap to find out which cops really have gone bad and to clear innocent ones, like Steve Rogers’ antagonistic Sgt Brian Muldoon, who has been suspended pending investigation.

No sooner have the two men worked out their plans than the Commissioner leaves and a bomb explodes, leaving the precinct building a fiery ruin with no sign of Cap. Cut to the office of social worker Sam Wilson, who is secretly the Falcon. Sam and Leila Taylor are having another of their duels of insults, as Leila tries to get a rise out of Sam by implying she finds the Falcon more attractive because he’s a fighter, unlike Sam. Continue reading

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Superhero-hungry readers have been letting me know they want more Marvel Comics blog posts. With my look at 1970s classics for the Avengers and Spider-Man completed this post starts a look at 70s classics for Captain America & the Falcon. 

ca f 153CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON Vol 1 #153 (September 1972)

Title: Captain America – Hero or Hoax?

Villains: The Captain America of the 1950s (William Burnside, one of the men whom the U.S. government had assume the role of Captain America while the real Cap was M.I.A. and presumed dead for decades.) and the Bucky of the 1950s (Jack Monroe, one of the young men the government assigned the “Bucky” identity during that same period.)

Synopsis: Captain America and the Falcon, in their secret identities of Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson, are with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter at the airport. Sam is seeing off Steve and Sharon as they fly to the Bahamas for a long vacation together (By this time Sharon knows that Captain America is really Steve Rogers.)

When the two lovebirds’ plane flies off, Sam Wilson returns to his life as a social worker in Harlem while also fighting crime there in his costumed identity of the Falcon. Because this is before the Falcon got his high-tech wings (that story is coming, too) back then he got around by the way his falconing glove shot a wire like Daredevil’s billy club did, too, so Falcon could swing around the city like DD and Spider-Man. Continue reading

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iron man picBecause December 21st is the shortest day of the year, Balladeer’s Blog always runs articles about short films, short presidential administrations (Yes, William Henry Harrison) and similar topics. This year I’m pandering to the insatiable superhero audience with this look at a Marvel Comics title that was INTENTIONALLY published as a one-shot item, making it the shortest series run imaginable.

sub-mariner picPrevious articles here have dealt with the way that, for part of the 1960s, Marvel was limiting how many titles it had hitting newsstands. That meant publishing some of their heroes in one monthly publication, with each character getting a story covering half the issue. Iron Man and Captain America shared Tales of Suspense, Sub-Mariner and the Hulk shared Tales to Astonish.

Tales of Suspense underwent a title change to Captain America beginning with the 100th issue, while Iron Man was going to move to his own title. Tales to Astonish changed to The Incredible Hulk with its 102nd issue while Sub-Mariner moved to his own namesake monthly.

robert downey jr iron manThe trouble was, both Iron Man and Sub-Mariner had one more half-issue length story left and ready to be printed, but there were no more split comic book titles to accommodate them. So, Marvel Comics published one lone issue of a comic book titled Iron Man and Sub-Mariner

Here is my review of the two stories in that “special once-in-a-lifetime issue” – Continue reading


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Here’s the sixteenth and final part of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE.

sm 149SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #149 (October 1975)

Title: Even if I Live, I Die

Villain: The Jackal

NOTE: Of these two final installments of the lengthy Jackal/ Gwen Stacy saga, this first one wraps up the main storyline and the second one (below) provides a necessary epilogue to tuck away a major loose end.

Synopsis: We pick up right where we left off, on the rooftop where Spider-Man just defeated Tarantula, the Jackal’s latest cat’s paw against our hero. With the Gwen Stacy clone and the ear-plugged & blind-folded Ned Leeds nearby, Spider-Man is lapsing into unconsciousness from the slash he received on the back of his head from the drugged talons of the Jackal.

splas 149At last revealing why he has always been undetectable by Spider-Man’s spider sense, the villain removed his mask to reveal that he is really Professor Miles Warren, Peter Parker’s fatherly mentor and academic advisor for years at Empire State University. (Professor Warren had been a supporting character in Spider-Man stories since 1965.)

Peter finally succumbs to unconsciousness, and when he comes to, he is in the basement of an abandoned tenement building in lower Manhattan. He is bound to a table by specially-constructed straps and is alone with the Jackal, who is sitting on a nearby stool. Continue reading


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Here’s Part Fifteen of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE.

sm 147SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #147 (August 1975)

Title: The Tarantula is a Very Deadly Beast

Villains: The Jackal and the Tarantula

Synopsis: We pick up a few days after the end of our previous installment. Spider-Man swings his way to the Daily Bugle building, where he switches to Peter Parker and walks into the offices. After standard hostile byplay with J Jonah Jameson, Peter is called over to the desk of crime reporter Ned Leeds.

Ned is still investigating the Gwen Stacy clone and who might have made it. (Peter has not told anyone that he fears the Jackal made the clone since that villain has apparently figured out Spider-Man’s secret identity.)

splash page 147Leeds gives Peter copies of the long line of medical tests that the new Gwen has undergone in the past few days. Somehow the cloning process was accelerated, meaning she was created mere months ago, even though she is an adult as much as the real Gwen was when she was killed.

Meanwhile, the enigmatic villain the Jackal strikes again, busting Spider-Man’s old foe the Tarantula out of prison to use him as his latest operative against our hero as his plans approach fruition. Continue reading


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Here’s Part Fourteen of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE.

sm 145SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #145 (June 1975)

Title: Gwen Stacy is Alive and Well?

Villains: The Jackal and the Scorpion

Synopsis: We pick up right where we left off in last issue’s cliffhanger: a woman who looks exactly like the late Gwen Stacy has shown up, causing Peter Parker’s Aunt May to have a heart attack and wind up in intensive care at the hospital.

145 splash pagePeter himself is in a state of shock, while the “new” Gwen, whose memories are months out of date, cries and pleads with him to help her understand what is going on. When Gwen tries to embrace him, Peter loses it, recoiling from her and screaming at her that she must be an impersonater.

He angrily tells her he’s not buying the con job and storms downstairs and out of his apartment building in Chelsea, telling Mary Jane’s Aunt Anna that this new Gwen has to be a fake. He says whoever’s behind it has a sick sense of humor and goes off to the hospital where Aunt May is.

Once out of sight of Anna Watson, he switches to Spider-Man and swings over to the hospital. Changing back into Peter Parker, he inquires about his aunt and then sits in the ICU waiting room to sweat out developments while his mind tries to deal with Aunt May possibly dying AND what may be up with this Gwen Stacy situation. Continue reading


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