Wednesday, November 25, 2009

History of theMarvel Universe: June 1964, part 3


The Plantman--the villain able to endow plants with intelligence and then control their actions--returns for another crime spree and, incidentally, to take revenge on Johnny for defeating him back in Strange Tales #113.

Johnny spends a lot of time in this issue getting dunked in water or soaked with enough dew to put out his flames, but he manages to get the upper hand in the end and the Plantman is hauled off to the hoosegow.

This is a pretty average tale that doesn't generate a lot of comment. There is one really cool panel that deserves mention, though. The image of a small tree sneaking into Johnny's bedroom carrying a bucket of water is alone worth the price of admission.

Dr. Strange, in the meantime, is tricked into assuming his ectoplasmic form and leaving his body behind to answer a faked call for help. This allows Mordo to steal and hide Strange's physical form. Strange has only a short time to find the body again and reoccupy it before he fades into nothingness.

It's a neat idea and Ditko's art work--including scenes of an ectoplasmic Dr. Strange battling weird beasties and a final confrontation with Mordo in a wax musuem--make this another strong entry in the series.


Well, Daredevil (unlike Spider Man) seems to be in no particular hurry to get his own Rogue's Gallery. In this issue, he borrows one of Spidey's many sparring partners.

This issue also pretty shamelessly plugs other Marvel titles--but does so in ways that make story sense, so it's all perfectly acceptable. The Fantastic Four hire Matt Murdock to read over the new lease at the Baxter Building. So when the FF leaves for a trip to Washington and Electro breaks into their HQ to steal a scientific secret or two, Matt is on hand to battle the villain.

The fight is pretty heavy in the use of thought balloons, allowing Stan Lee to detail how Daredevil uses his super-senses to stay on top of the fight. ("Sounds of... "flickering lights... tickets being torn and changing hands... Electro is racing into a movie theater!") This does the job of effectively letting us know how the hero operates, but it does slow the action down a little. Later issues will find a better balance to the action scenes.

That's it for June. July 1964 will find the Fantastic Four meeting the X-Men; Spider Man adding a very important villain to his Rogue's Gallery, then paying a visit to Tales to Astonish to encounter Giant Man; Thor and Iron Man finishing their respective two-parters; the Human Torch encountering some obscure villains left over from an FF story; Dr. Strange having a rematch with Nightmare; the Avengers battling a supervillain group for the first time; and the X-Men tussling with the Sub-Mariner.

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