Wednesday, November 17, 2010

History of the Marvel Universe: November 1965, part 1


Gee whiz, Reed’s barely married and Sue’s already making him use his world-changing intellect to FIX THE DISHWASHER!!??!!

It’s no wonder Johnny gets fed up and goes out for a drive. But he gets kidnapped by Medusa, who is on the run from someone.

That someone proves to be Gorgon, a guy who can cause earthquake-like shockwaves by stamping his feet. It sounds silly, but Jack Kirby’s visual design works perfectly and makes it seem appropriate.

Anyway, there’s too much in the way of action and exposition to explain quickly. Suffice to say that even by the end of the issue, the FF isn’t sure if they should be helping Medusa or Gorgon. The Dragon Man has gotten involved and flown off with Sue, while the other three heroes gets trapped in a condemned building knocked over by Gorgon.

This is the beginning of the story arc introducing us to the Inhumans, a fascinating addition to the Marvel Universe.


The villain in this one—a clever cat burgler known (not surprisingly) as the Cat—is pretty second string, but the story and action are handled well, with fun bit of Spidey-appropriate irony at the end. The Cat robs Jameson, causing the newspaperman to overcome his stinginess and offer a $1,000 reward. Spider Man wants to collect that reward and rub J.J.J.’s nose in it, but the cops manage to catch the Cat just ahead of him.

Meanwhile, we get some hints that Aunt May is getting sick again. Of course, getting deathly ill from time to time may actually be a super power with Aunt May, but this will lead to a classic Spider Man moment in a couple of issues.

Also, the whole Peter/Betty/Ned triangle comes to a head. I won’t describe it in detail, because it sounds too soap opera-like. But it really is handled nicely and when the various characters act unwisely and mess up their relationships, it comes across as being in character for each of them. The gist of it is that Betty wants a boyfriend who is stable and dependable and not likely to get killed. Peter, obviously, can’t fulfill these requirements, so he breaks things off with her. She’ll be around for a few more issues before disappearing from the book for quite awhile, but a certain blonde who’s doomed to one day get offed by the Green Goblin will be showing up next issue to take over as lead eye candy.


That's a cool cover, isn't it?

Anyway, Hydra has their Betatron Bomb in orbit and are demanding the entire world surrender. Tony Stark is whipping up an anti-Hydra weapon called a Braino-saur, but when an assassination squad attacks Stark’s factory, things go awry. Fury is there and puts up a tough fight (helped along by his bullet-proof suit), but he’s overwhelmed and hauled off to Hydra HQ.

Kirby designs a neat looking flying tank that Hydra uses to escape with their prisoner and it’s a lot of fun watching Fury go toe-to-toe with a couple of dozen Hydra agents. It all adds up to another chapter of solid storytelling.

Dr. Strange, in the meantime, finally meets Eternity—an uber-powerful cosmic being who can grant him the power he needs to defeat Mordo and Dormammu. But Eternity mystically scans Strange and tells him he already has the key to winning. He doesn’t explain himself any more than that. Uber-powerful cosmic beings are often cryptic. It seems to be a part of the job description.

A little miffed, Strange returns to Earth and discovers Mordo has found and captured the Ancient One. With no choice remaining, Strange finally heads off to confront his enemies.

That’s it for now. Next week, as usual, we’ll check in with Thor, Iron Man and Cap.

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