Wednesday, April 15, 2009

History of the Marvel Universe, June 1963, part 2


Thor puts a stop to a Red Chinese invasion of India. This puts the Chinese in a snit and a scientist named Chen Lu is ordered to come up with a way of destroying the Thunder God.

Chen’s plan involves using his own body to absorb huge amounts of radiation. This makes him pretty much invulnerable and he’s soon standing in the streets of New York City, threatening to “blow up like an H-bomb and take the whole city with me” if Thor doesn’t surrender to him.

Thor eventually manages to call up a whirlwind that tosses the Radioactive Man back to China before he explodes. The Radioactive Man will be back, though—yet another of the many, many reoccurring super-villains that will eventually populate the Marvel Universe.


Like Thor, Iron Man is busy catching Commies, rounding up a trio of spies on a ship in New York Harbor.

Meanwhile, yet another Communist agent—a master of disguise called the Actor—manages to steal the plans for Tony Stark’s new disintegrator ray. He also stumbles across a clue that tells him Tony Stark and Iron Man is the same person.

Iron Man pursues the Actor back to Russia to recover the plans. The story takes an ironic turn at this point, as Tony briefly impersonates the Actor and the Actor’s knowledge that Tony is Iron Man ends up working against the enemy agent. It’s more a spy story than a super hero tale, but it’s a fairly well-constructed spy story with a nice twist at the end.


A grouchy old hermit who lives near Glenville is really a sorcerer who has figured out how to re-open Pandora’s Box and gain control of all the evils inside. This lets him do stuff like release Hatred into a bank, getting everyone to fight each other while he loots the place. Then he releases Forgetfulness so that no one remembers what happened.

Johnny figures out who is behind the weird crime wave and manages to figure out a way to trick the Sorcerer and get the box away from him.

A bad guy using Pandora’s Box as a weapon is actually a pretty good idea, especially with Jack Kirby doing some typically cool designs of the various thingies that pop out of the Box. There’s even a panel towards the end that gets quite creepy—showing us two policemen in danger of laughing themselves to death after being “infected” with Foolishness. Overall, this issue shows just a little bit more cleverness and innovation than we normally expect to see in one of Johnny’s solo gigs.

That’s it for June 1963. July will be a pretty busy month as we see a bunch of villains returning to seek vengeance against several of our heroes. Doctor Doom will again menace the FF (who get a bit of help from Ant Man); Loki will again make Thor’s life difficult; Egghead will return take revenge on Ant Man; while the Wizard and Paste Pot Pete will team up to take on the Human Torch. Also, Iron Man will take a trip to an underground kingdom; Spider Man will get the snot beat out of him by a certain multi-armed arch enemy; and the Marvel Universe will gain a Sorcerer Supreme in the form of Dr. Stephen Strange.

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