Category Archives: Superheroes

SPIDER-MAN: 1970s CLASSICS PART FIVE

Here’s Part Five of Spider-Man 1970s Classics, in which readers finally learn what lies behind the whole Dr Octopus/ Aunt May/ Canada storyline. For Part One click HERE.

spider man number 129SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #129 (February 1974)

Title: The Punisher Strikes Twice

Villains: The Punisher and the Jackal

NOTE: I skipped over the less than classic Spider-Man #s 127 and 128, which featured a rushed, poorly written story about our hero fighting a scientist who accidentally mutated himself into a copy of Spidey’s frequent foe the Vulture.

              In issue 127 some subplots moved along, so here’s a recap – Spider-Man and his friend the Human Torch (Johnny Storm) of the Fantastic Four continued working on the Spider-Mobile that our hero will get paid for since Corona Motors’ new pollution free engine will be running it.

              Meanwhile, Peter Parker and his roommate Harry Osborn had an ugly argument about their strained relationship since Harry’s father died. Peter does not yet know that Harry is the one who removed Norman Osborn’s Green Goblin costume from his dead body before the police arrived. Thanks to the documents that Norman had on his person, Harry now knows that Peter is really Spider-Man and – in his drug-addicted mind – thinks Peter intentionally killed his father.

              Lastly, Professor Miles Warren, Peter Parker’s bio-chemistry instructor and academic advisor at Empire State University, had a terse talk with Peter about how he has let his grief over Gwen Stacy’s death seriously jeopardize his grades. Now, on with issue 129.

jackal and punisher splash pageSynopsis: In a laboratory hideout are two costumed men, the Jackal and the Punisher, BOTH making their first ever appearances. The Punisher, the now-legendary vigilante who got multiple movies long before the Marvel Cinematic Universe was launched, is blowing apart statues of Spider-Man with high-tech, specially designed rifles and machine-guns paid for by the Jackal.

Though the Punisher usually works alone, the Jackal has talked him into an alliance against Spider-Man, whom the Jackal wants dead for as yet unknown reasons. The Punisher wants Spider-Man dead because this was when our hero was wanted in regard to two murders – Captain John Stacy and Norman Osborn.

Elsewhere that night, Spider-Man defeats four armed robbers hijacking a truck, while having Peter Parker’s camera set to automatically snap photos of the action. The next morning, as Peter, he shows up at the Daily Bugle with the pics. Continue reading

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SPIDER-MAN : 1970s CLASSICS PART FOUR

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

daredevil 103DAREDEVIL & THE BLACK WIDOW Vol 1 #103 (September 1973)

Title: Then Came Ramrod

Villain: Ramrod

Synopsis: In a rare moment of kindness, Daily Bugle publisher J Jonah Jameson has sent Peter Parker to San Francisco to photograph and interview Daredevil and the Black Widow, who were at the time operating as crime-fighting partners like Captain America and the Falcon back in New York City. The Black Widow was also romantically involved with Daredevil in his secret identity of blind lawyer Matt Murdock.

NOTE: The Black Widow and Matt Murdock were currently a major San Francisco power couple (this was back before San Francisco was filled with human waste matter and drug needles). Because this is a comic book nobody figured out that Natasha’s man Matt Murdock was also her superhero partner Daredevil, who conveniently moved to the West Coast at the same time Murdock did.

In his Spider-Man costume, Peter Parker photographs the BW & DD swinging back into Natasha’s San Fran mansion. Daredevil was swinging on his billy club cable line and the Black Widow was swinging on the slender black weblines that her wristlets shot out.

NOTE: Natasha’s wristlets also shot powerful rays called her Widow’s Sting, too, and her costume let her cling to buildings and ceilings like Spider-Man did but none of those cool attributes of her costume were ever used in the Marvel Comics movies. Instead, she just shot guns. Lame.   

dd bw and smBack to the story, Spidey switches to Peter Parker and enters the mansion’s grounds. He shows his press pass to get past Ivan Petrovich, Natasha’s chauffer back then. (Natasha was still rich through her inheritance from White Russian family members.)

Spider-Man and Daredevil by this point knew each other’s secret identities, but Black Widow does NOT know that Peter is really Spider-Man. Peter is still mourning Gwen Stacy and feels sorrow over the way Daredevil has a woman who can share in his superhero life the way the non-powered Gwen could never have shared in his.

DD and the Black Widow give Peter a tour of the mansion as he snaps photos along the way. After awhile, Peter feels his Spider-Sense tingling but before he can do anything, a supervillain calling himself Ramrod bursts through the mansion’s walls. He is there to steal secret documents from Matt Murdock’s safe, papers he is holding for his client Rolling Stone Magazine. Continue reading

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SPIDER-MAN: 1970s CLASSICS PART THREE

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

spidey 123SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #123 (August 1973)

Title: Just A Man Called Cage

Villain: Luke Cage, Hero for Hire

NOTE: Luke Cage was still going by Hero for Hire at this time, not Power Man.

Synopsis: This issue opens up with the police plus J Jonah Jameson and his City Editor Joseph “Robbie” Robertson at the crime scene where Norman Osborn has been found murdered. Jameson is, of course, insisting that Osborn, an old friend and major advertiser at the Daily Bugle, must have been killed by Spider-Man. The webslinger had been searching for Osborn through Robertson’s contacts at the Bugle earlier in the evening.

spider man 123 splash pageRobbie and the police at the scene tell Jameson they aren’t so sure Spider-Man was the killer. There are fragments of the Green Goblin’s exploding pumpkin-bombs in the battle scarred area there on the New York City streets. PLUS, someone obviously moved Osborn’s body a bit before the cops arrived on the scene. At length Jonah refuses to listen any further and rides off angrily in his limo. 

From a nearby rooftop the mysterious man in the shadows from the end of last issue reflects that HE is the one who moved Osborn’s dead body when he was removing his Green Goblin costume and bat-shaped flier. He knew that if the world learned that Norman Osborn was really the supervillain the Green Goblin they wouldn’t care about his death.

The mystery man further reflects that millionaire industrialist Norman Osborn, with his secret identity preserved, is still looked on as a pillar of the community and therefore he will be widely mourned and the police will be pressured to bring in Spider-Man for questioning.

NOTE: It’s no spoiler this many decades later to mention that this shadowy figure turns out to be Harry Osborn, Norman’s son, who witnessed the final battle between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin and will become the new Goblin months down the road. 

Meanwhile J Jonah Jameson decides to hire the new superhero Luke Cage to do what the police can’t do and capture or kill Spider-Man.    Continue reading

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SPIDER-MAN: 1970s CLASSICS PART TWO – GWEN STACY’S DEATH

Here’s Part Two of Spider-Man 1970s Classics, from yet another clash with the Hulk to Gwen Stacy’s death, a scene ripped off in TWO movies and a Spider-Man cartoon show. For Part One click HERE.

spidey 119SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #119 (April 1973)

Title: The Gentleman’s Name is Hulk

Villain: The Incredible Hulk

NOTE: I skipped over 3 issues which were not classics as Spider-Man simply had typical adventures in those tales against supervillains like the Smasher and the Disruptor, the latter of which turned out to be a crooked New York City politician whose misdeeds Spidey covered up so that the city would continue to think he was an inspirational hero. (Decades before The Dark Knight Batman movie’s “hero Gotham needs/ deserves” business.)

Synopsis: This story dives back into the subplots left unexplored for 3 issues. As Spider-Man, Peter Parker travels to Westchester to visit his Aunt May, who, as we left her last time, is serving as the housekeeper at Doctor Octopus’ mansion while Ock is in prison. Our hero switches into college student Peter Parker and goes in to visit with his aunt.

May is still naively oblivious to Otto Octavius’ true nature as an organized crime leader and tells Peter she is perfectly happy at the mansion, taking care of things and being protected by Ock’s “bodyguards” (really his army of thugs).

Luckily, before Peter gives Aunt May a telegram that arrived for her, he manages to overhear Dr Octopus’ men talking about how they still haven’t received the telegram in question, which obviously went to May’s old residence by mistake. Mary Jane Watson’s mother Anna – Aunt May’s friend – passed it on to Peter to give May.

Peter shrewdly refrains from mentioning the telegram and keeps it in his pocket during his visit. He hadn’t opened it but now suspects it may hold clues about exactly why Ock is pretending to be infatuated with Aunt May. After an hour long visit Peter leaves, becomes Spider-Man again and heads for the apartment he shares with Harry Osborn back in Manhattan. Continue reading

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SPIDER-MAN: 1970s CLASSICS

Marvel’s dominance of pop culture continues, so here’s a look at some classic covers and stories from the 1970s Spider-Man series.  

spidey 113SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #113 (October 1972)

Title: They Call the Doctor … Octopus

Villain: Doctor Octopus

Synopsis: With the Kingpin, overlord of organized crime in New York City, having been arrested in Las Vegas over in the Captain America & the Falcon comic book series months earlier, a gang war has erupted in New York to fill the power vacuum.  Among the main contenders for the vacant top spot is Doctor Octopus, who employs thugs PLUS scientific advancements to run his criminal empire.  

Meanwhile, as Spider-Man, college student Peter Parker continues his quest to find his missing Aunt May, who ran away after Peter’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy argued with her about May’s refusal to accept that Peter was a grown man now and didn’t need constant mothering. 

Reluctantly, Spider-Man was drawn into the raging Mob War by his archenemy Doctor Octopus. Doing his best to bring down Doc Ock as quickly as possible so he can resume his quest to locate Aunt May, our hero had just used some of Octopus’ own technology against him to defeat him and some of his gangsters. Suddenly, he was attacked by the other top contender in the raging gang warfare – the new crime boss called Hammerhead. Continue reading

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FAQ: SHANG-CHI

james ryan resembles shang chiWith the movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings trickling out, assorted readers have been asking me if I’ll do a blog post about the character. I did one back in June, but the release of the movie wound up getting delayed. Below is the link to that blog post in which I examined the first twelve Shang-Chi stories in the 1970s.

For that post click HERE. For my blog post featuring Shang-Chi stories in which he fights alongside Iron Fist click HERE.

 

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12 BEST “WHAT IF?” STORIES (1977-1984)

Readers want more Marvel more of the time! With their What If? cartoon series off to a widely-panned start (I didn’t watch it) let’s take a look at some of the best What If? stories from its original run.

what if 1WHAT IF? Vol 1 #1 (February 1977)

Title: WHAT IF SPIDER-MAN HAD JOINED THE FANTASTIC FOUR?

Pivotal Event: In Spider-Man #1 the web-slinger tried to join the Fantastic Four but was turned down. But what if they had let him join the team?

Synopsis: Uatu the Watcher, from his headquarters in the ancient city in the Blue Area of Earth’s moon, ponders the multitude of alternate time-lines which branched off from the main (Earth 616) Marvel Universe.

With Spider-Man a member of the popular Fantastic Four/ Five, he never becomes an enemy of J Jonah Jameson and is therefore never deceptively painted as a villain to the public at large.

Having a powerful and capable new member like Spider-Man on the team makes Reed Richards (Mr Fantastic) comfortable enough to act on his overly-protective attitude toward Sue Storm (Invisible Girl). In their next mission (Fantastic 4 #13), against the Soviet supervillains the Red Ghost and his Super-Apes on the moon, Reed makes Sue stay behind on the Earth to “monitor” the group’s lunar expedition.

In this divergent reality, since Invisible Girl did not go to the moon with her teammates, she is lured away from the Baxter Building by the Sub-Mariner, whom she was infatuated with after the team’s first few battles with him. In the original reality, this could not happen until the Fantastic 4 got back from the moon. Here it happens earlier since she is by herself and is resentful that Mr Fantastic made her stay behind. Continue reading

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THE WINGED MAN (1913) AND BATSOWL (1918): BRITISH HEROES

winged manTHE WINGED MAN – From Great Britain’s renowned story papers came the Winged Man. British story papers, like Dime Novels and Pulp Magazines, were text stories peppered with a few illustrations. The Wonder, an Amalgamated Press publication, debuted in 1913 and among its offerings was the tragic tale of the Winged Man, whose first story was titled Twixt Midnight and Dawn (the hero’s favorite time to dispense vigilante justice).

This figure was an interesting blend of Platinum Age heroes like the Man in the Black Cloak and the later Phantom of the Opera, the villain who had made his first appearance in Gaston Leroux’s novel a few years earlier.

masc graveyard smallerThe mysterious Winged Man was “a strange genius” whose real name was never revealed. He possessed such inventive brilliance that he created a suit complete with working wings which allowed him to fly.

The Winged Man took to the skies to deal out justice to the modern world’s villains. He operated out of a mysterious underground lair on “the bleak Yorkshire coast.” There he was served by his dwarf butler Ghat. Continue reading

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY: THE ORIGINAL TEAM

Last weekend Balladeer’s Blog took a look at the 1970s and 1980s stories of Star-Lord. This time around let’s go even further back and examine Marvel Comics’ original Guardians of the Galaxy.

g of g picMARVEL SUPER-HEROES #18 (January 1969)

Title: Earth Shall Overcome

Synopsis: In the year 3007 A.D. the aggressive humanoid lizard race called the Brotherhood of Badoon invaded our solar system with their fleet of starships. They attacked Earth as well as the Earth’s extensive colonies on Mercury, Jupiter and Pluto, where millions of genetically engineered humans lived, bred to thrive in each planet’s unique environments.

In addition, Earth had reached the Alpha Centauri star system and on Centauri IV had formed a peaceful government with the native Alpha Centaurans. The Badoon also struck there, wiping out all of the humans and Alpha Centaurans.

defenders 26The Badoon killed every Alpha Centauran because they considered them and their control of the living metal Yaka to be a threat. Similarly, the lizard-like aliens committed genocide on Pluto, Jupiter and Mercury as well, because they felt threatened by large numbers of foemen possessed of the enhanced abilities of those genetically engineered humans.

On Earth itself, the Badoon allowed roughly fifty-three million humans to remain alive as slave labor, since baseline humans did not have any extraordinary abilities which might pose a threat to them. But the Brotherhood of Badoon had not killed off every single member of the Earth colonies like they thought they had. Four figures survived to oppose them in a war to free humanity, four figures who called themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy. Continue reading

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STAR-LORD: HIS EARLY ADVENTURES

Marvel Mania is relentless! Already I’ve been hearing it from regular readers who have come to look forward to these harmless, escapist looks at superheroes on weekends. Here’s one for this weekend, a bit later than I usually get them posted. 

starlord 1MARVEL PREVIEW Vol 1 #4 (January 1976)

Title: STAR-LORD – FIRST HOUSE: EARTH

Villains: Ariguans

Comment: This tale presented a Peter Quill quite different from the way he would be retconned by the time the character joined Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy decades later. This Peter Quill grew up feeling tormented by his secret half-alien parentage after his mother was killed in an attack by aliens called Ariguans.

Peter trained to become an astronaut and ultimately wound up serving on a space station, where an entity called the Master of the Sun granted Quill his powers, weapons and sentient vessel called Ship to become an intergalactic adventurer called Star-Lord. The figure let Star-Lord avenge himself on his mother’s killers so he could start his duties unencumbered by a personal vendetta.    Continue reading

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