Wednesday, April 6, 2011

History of the Marvel Universe: May 1966, part 2


The Wasp disappears again right after being rescued from Attuma, so Hank Pym contacts the Avengers for help. He changes his superhero name to Goliath and dons a newly designed costume (which is a big improvement over the butt-ugly one he was sporting just before his retirement). He also lets the other Avengers know that changing sizes is putting a strain on his body—any change he makes could be dangerous.

It’s not hard to find out where Janet is—the Collector radios in an admission that he has kidnapped her, hoping to lure the rest of the Avengers into a trap in order to collect a complete set.

Well, one escape-from-a-death-trap is followed by another imaginative and nicely choreographed fight. The Collector uses some weapons and magical items he’s collected through the years (including some “Jack and the Beanstalk” beans that summon up a couple of giants to go toe-to-toe with Hank), while the Beetle tries to take on Cap and Hawkeye.

Those last two Avengers are still bickering a lot, but they work together smoothly in combat. The Collector escapes via a time-travel device, but Janet is rescued. But Hank only manages to shrink down to ten feet before fainting. The issue ends with the announcement that he’s now probably stuck at that size.

That’s actually neat twist for Hank’s return to the life of a superhero. Overall, the issue is another fun one, with Don Heck providing some nifty visuals.


I continue to be impressed with Stan Lee’s ability to keep up a fast pace in his shorter serialized stories and still keep the plot fairly logical. The Sub-Mariner story here includes Namor, wounded in an encounter with army troops, breaking free of the Puppet Master’s control through sheer force of will; the revelation that the Puppet Master was working for Krang (who now wants a puppet of the monstrous Behemoth in order to control that); the Behemoth itself menacing Atlantis; Dorma fetching Namor back to Atlantis in a fast sub; and a cliffhanger in which Namor confronts the giant monster. All good stuff from start to finish, though I still don’t care for Adam Austin’s design for the Puppet Master. The rest of his art continues to be dynamic as he completes his run on the book. Gene Colon will be taking over next issue.

The Hulk, meanwhile, is getting his life force sucked away by the villainous Dr. Zaxon. But Zaxon didn’t realize that the madder Hulk gets, the stronger he gets. Hulk swats the evil scientist away, resulting in Zaxon getting his OWN life force sucked away by his own adventure.

No one witnesses this and no one knew Zaxon was a bad guy, so the Hulk (who escapes from the army base) is now wanted for murder. But the rest of this issue involves an encounter with Hercules.

There’s a nice bit of continuity—Herc is on a train heading for Hollywood, where he’d been offered a movie contract in recent issues of Thor. So it fits nicely into Hercules’ current story arc in that book.

The two go at it in a fight featuring Jack Kirby layouts that were penciled by Bill Everett (the creator of the Sub-Mariner a couple of decades earlier). It’s an indecisive fight—after a few pages of trading blows and tossing multi-ton rocks, the army shows up with a barrage of artillery shells, forcing Hulk to jump away.

Kirby and Everett prove to be a good team. Kirby’s layouts make for an exciting and well-choreographed fight, while Everett’s pencil work is strong enough to do it all justice.

That’s it for May 1966. In June, someone impersonates a member of the FF; Spider Man fights a robot and adds a very, very important new cast member; Thor helps out Hercules again; The Avengers go up against an old girlfriend of Hawkeye; Namor fights a really big monster; and Hulk finally gets to turn human again.

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