Wednesday, December 15, 2010
History of the Marvel Universe: December 1965, part 2
STRANGE TALES #139
With the help of Hydra Leader’s estranged daughter and a shirt with high explosives woven into the fabric, Nick blasts out of the cell he’s locked in. He and the girl, both now armed with submachine guns taken from downed guards, begin blasting it out with Hydra troopers.
In the meantime, Tony Stark is putting the finishing touches on his Braino-saur, which turns out to be a rocket-equipped computer able to disarm the Hydra bomb currently in orbit around the Earth.
While all this is going on, Gabe and Dum Dum figure out where the Hydra base is and lead a strike force to attack. But will they arrive in time to save Nick and the girl?
The 12-page tale does a very good job of jumping back and forth between multiple points-of-view without losing track of the story. And we get to see more Kirby-designed gadgetry, though the “mechanical hunter” that Hydra sends after Nick isn’t as cool looking as most of Jack’s visuals usually are. Not that it’s bad. It just manages to leave the impression that maybe Jack wasn’t spending as much time on this book as he is on FF or Thor. Most Kirby machines rate a 9 or 10 on the Bogart/Karloff Pure Coolness Scale™. This one was maybe a 7.
James Bond influences remain apparent. Hydra Leader keeps a panther on a leash next to him pretty much all the time—that’s a touch that would fit the average Bond villain to a tee. And we got a Q-inspired scene a few issues back, in which Nick is shown how his explosive clothing works, that pays off this issue.
Dr. Strange’s story is a particularly good one—the first of several issues that will feature non-stop magical battling. In this one, Strange and Mordo duel. Mordo’s power is still being amped up by Dormammu, but Strange out-fights him, playing off first Mordo’s overconfidence and then his innate cowardice. Finally, Dormammu gets disgusted with Mordo and—as the issue ends—decides to finally take a personal hand in the battle
Ditko’s art is still perfect for the story—presenting bizarre and fascinating visuals to represent the magic spells the two combatants toss at each other. This issue and the next two (which concludes this long story arc) are, in my opinion, the best in Dr. Strange’s canon.
The uninteresting story of the Organizer and his attempt to gain political control of New York City is wrapped up as Daredevil exposes the scheme. There is a nicely choreographed fight scene between DD and the Organizer’s minions, but overall the story was awkwardly constructed and predictable.
The issue ends with Matt taking a leave of absence from the law firm. He’s convinced that Foggy and Karen are in love and doesn’t want to come between them. Ah, whatever. It will take Matt on a cruise ship and into a really cool two-part story arc.
This is pretty much an all-action issue, though we do get some information via flashback about Hank McCoy’s early life (made fun of because of his appearance, excelling at school academically and athletically, recruited by Professor X).
The X-Men assault the Sentinel HQ. Beast and Iceman are captured in the first attack, but Cyclops, Jean and Angel blast their way in during a second try. Iceman is busted out of his prison while Beast is being mind-probed. The heroes manage to trash a couple of Sentinels, but all are captured (or re-captured, as the case may be). Master Mold, the prototype Sentinel, then tells Dr. Trask to build an army of Sentinels so they can “serve mankind” by conquering it. Boy, is Trask’s face red as he realizes how badly he’s screwed up, but he’s got no choice but to obey Master Mold.
Good solid action that works well as the middle chapter in the Sentinel trilogy.
That’s it for now. We’ll finish December next week with looks at Thor, Hulk, Sub Mariner, Iron Man and Captain America.