Wednesday, October 27, 2010

History of the Marvel Universe: October 1965, part 2


Thor and the Absorbing Man fight a running battle through the streets of New York. Both are invulnerable and both are evenly matched in power (since Crusher can absorb Thor’s power every time the Thunder God clocks him one). But when Thor has to turn his back to protect an innocent bystander, the villain clocks HIM a good one and apparently knocks him out.

The fight is yet another example of Jack Kirby’ superb ability to choreograph an exciting action sequence. A full-page panel in which we see Absorbing Man grow to gigantic size while Thor flies in to attack is by itself worth the price of admission.

Sandwiched into the fight scene is a reminder that Jane is being held prisoner by a guy in a mask (though the guy claims he’s just protecting her). Also, we get a couple of glimpses at Loki back in Asgard, who is making sure no one realizes he’s up to mischief again while he watches the Thor/Absorbing Man battle via a crystal ball.

The Tales of Asgard feature has Thor’s giant ship sailing into a maelstrom, while some of the crew grow panicky and Loki plots to foment mutiny. It ends with Balder climbing to the top of the huge ship’s figurehead to carry out some sort of plan to save them all. This back-up feature continues to be a real showcase for Kirby’ powerful and imaginative art.


More cool fight scenes as Iron Man and Titanium Man continue to duke it out. And there’s a nice bit of characterization mixed in as well, when Happy risks his life (and seems to get killed) getting a piece of equipment to Iron Man in the nick of time. What makes it an even better moment is that Happy has realized Iron Man and Tony are the same guy—the guy he sees has coming between him and Pepper—but he sacrifices himself to save Tony just the same. As annoying as the whole Tony—Happy—Pepper thing has been most of the time, Stan Lee manages to pull a really cool moment out of it.

Anyway, the issue ends with the battle between the two armored man still unresolved while Happy lays unconscious and possibly dead nearby.

Back in World War II, Cap flies the captured Nazi bomber to the castle where Bucky is held prisoner. He’s warned by the mad scientist’s innocent sister that it’s a trap. This allows him to put up a good fight against Nazis wearing medieval armor and a bunch of stormtroopers laying a barrage of submachine gun fire down on him. But he’s finally taken down with some knockout gas.

The mad scientist then finds out that working for Nazis is never a good idea. As punishment for her helping Cap, the sister will be shoved inside a V-2 rocket before its fired at 10 Downing Street to blow up Churchill.

We also get a reminder that Steve Rogers’ Ranger platoon, still on its raid into France, is surrounded by a German armored column. It’s all done very well, with the exposition never getting in the way of the action (or visa versa). Stan Lee continues to demonstrate his skill at pacing a multi-chapter serial.

We’ll leave Thor, Cap and Iron Man all in big trouble for the moment. Next week, we’ll visit with Hulk, Namor, the Avengers and Daredevil.

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