Tag Archives: superheroes

SPIDER-MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 8 – THE TARANTULA AND THE PUNISHER

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

spider man 135SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #134 (July 1974)

Title: Danger is a Man Called Tarantula

Villain: Tarantula (first appearance)  

Synopsis: As Spider-Man, Peter Parker swings along, hurrying to catch a Hudson River cruise ship that he, Mary Jane Watson, Flash Thompson and the newly returned Liz Allen are taking for a few hours of fun. As he switches back into Peter Parker he notes that he’s down to his last current cartridge of web fluid in his web shooters and makes a mental note to pick up more the next time he’s at the apartment he shares with Harry Osborn.

tarantulaAs the ship sails along it is hijacked and held for $1,000,000.00 ransom (equivalent to $5,581,387.00 today). The hijackers are the brand new Hispanic villain Tarantula and his two costumed sidekicks. While the villain and his aides rob the passengers of all their valuables, Peter grabs the first chance he gets to become Spider-Man and saves a sailor knocked overboard in a scuffle with one of Tarantula’s men. Continue reading

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MARVEL’S SIMON GARTH ZOMBIE: MOST HALLOWEENISH COVERS

As Halloween Month continues to unfold, Balladeer’s Blog takes a one-week break from the ongoing review of 1970s Spider-Man stories to do something more seasonal – a look at the Simon Garth zombie covers from Marvel Comics. 

tales of zombie 1TALES OF THE ZOMBIE Vol 1 #1 (July 1973)

Title: Altar of the Damned

Comment: The first Silver Age appearance of the Marvel Comics horror character Simon Garth, a brutal coffee plantation owner who was killed and brought back to life as a zombie by his Haitian workers.

Garth was not your typical mindless zombie wanting to feed on human beings all the time. His stories provided insight into the still-functioning mind of the man trapped in this horrific fate as he battled assorted supernatural menaces, some drawn from VooDoo lore, others created by Marvel.

Simon Garth could be used against his will at times by people in possession of the Amulet of Damballah which controlled him. Continue reading

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THE COFFIN (2000) – HALLOWEEN SUPERHERO

Balladeer’s Blog’s 31 Days of Halloween continues with this neglected horror hero.

CoffinTHE COFFIN (2000) – Written by Phil Hester and drawn by Mike Huddleston, The Coffin was originally a four-part serial before being collected into graphic novel format. I’ll provide details below but right up front let me point out that the horrific but intriguing premise is that the Coffin is a dead scientist whose soul is trapped within a polymer techno-suit of his own creation.

Dr Ashar Ahmad, the brilliant scientist in question, is employed by Heller Technologies, whose eponymous owner is a vile and amoral tycoon. Heller himself is a figure straight out of a horror film.

He’s incredibly old and his withered, wrinkled body is still functioning only because of all of the legal and illegal organ transplants he has had. His body is a battleground of scars from all that surgery. Obviously immortality is what our power-mad plutocrat longs for.

Coffin bAnd so Heller Technologies recruited Dr Ahmad to devise strong, lightweight polymers for medical purposes. To that end Ashar has developed polymers that can be used to form an artificial membrane that is perfectly impermeable and incredibly durable.

Extensions of that technology result in masses of polymers – literally thousands of layers – some of them only a few molecules thick. Dr Ahmad has managed to make it so that these polymers react to electronic pulses like the kind from a human brain to its body’s muscles, making the polymer “skin” or membrane expand or contract in response to those electronic pulses. Continue reading

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SPIDER-MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 7 – MORBIUS, MAN-WOLF AND DR STRANGE

Here’s Part Seven of Spider-Man 1970s Classics. For Part One click HERE. By sheer coincidence this weekend’s installment fits the Halloween Month theme.

giant size superheroes 1GIANT-SIZE SUPERHEROES Vol 1 #1 (June 1974)

Title: Man-Wolf at Midnight

Villains: Morbius the Living Vampire and the Man-Wolf

NOTE: The Giant-Size comic books were quarterly publications that Marvel Comics briefly experimented with in the 1970s. They came out in addition to the monthly installments of their other titles.

Synopsis: Spider-Man is swinging his way around New York City, reflecting on Liz Allen’s recent return to the lives of Peter Parker and his friends. He also contemplates the Jackal, who is still at large after trying to kill Spider-Man twice – once through an alliance with the Punisher and a second time by maneuvering our hero into the middle of another clash between Dr Octopus and Hammerhead.

On the streets below is former astronaut John Jameson, the son of J Jonah Jameson, owner and publisher of the Daily Bugle newspaper. John has been out at a restaurant with his fiancee Kristine Saunders and the sight of Spider-Man swinging along high above calls to mind John’s previous nocturnal transformations into a scientifically based werewolf called the Man-Wolf.

Those transformations were caused by the moon rock which John had been wearing around his neck as a souvenir and which was a dangerous object that rooted itself into John’s neck and throat to prevent him from removing it. Continue reading

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SPIDER-MAN: 1970s CLASSICS PART SIX

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

spider man 132SPIDER-MAN Vol 1 #132 (May 1974)

Title: The Master Plan of the Molten Man

Villain: The Molten Man

Synopsis: With Peter Parker’s Aunt May finally out of the clutches of Doctor Octopus and being taken care of by her new roommate Anna Watson (Mary Jane’s aunt), Peter as Spider-Man is swinging his way around New York City one night a few weeks later.  He comes across a few cops investigating a strange break-in at the Metropolitan Museum.

Clinging to the ceiling and staying out of the way of the investigating officers, Spider-Man goes unnoticed as the investigation reveals that the break-in was committed by a supervillain who could burst through walls as well as melt locks and leave burned-in footprints in the floor. The thief stole meteor fragments from one of the displays then left.

Just as Spider-Man realizes this must have been the work of his old foe Molten Man, whom he fought two times previously, the cops notice him and open fire. At this time our hero is still wanted in regard to a pair of murders – of Captain John Stacy and Norman Osborn. (He won’t be cleared for years.) Continue reading

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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 aunt 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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