Wednesday, May 25, 2011

History of the Marvel Universe: October 1966


Most of this issue is dedicated to a fight between Ben and the Silver Surfer. It seems when the Surfer stopped by to visit Alicia, Ben (always insecure about his relationship) thought the alien was making time with HIS GIRL!!!

So they fight, though the Surfer keeps trying to get a word in edgewise and bring the unnecessary conflict to an end. Being a Kirby drawn and choreographed fight, it’s naturally a lot of fun. But its ending might even be more fun. Reed and Sue find out what’s going on; Reed confronts Ben and gives him a good, old-fashioned talking to.

It’s a wonderful moment. Reed makes it clear that he does care for Ben (“We’ve been friends for years… I’d give my life for you… and you know it!”), but he doesn’t hesitate to tell his best friend not to try to “prove you’re really as dumb as you look.” Basically, he tells Ben to stop acting like an idiot, go back to Alicia and grovel for forgiveness. Ben’s basic decency, of course, forces him to follow Reed’s advice.

Ben Grimm may very well be the most believable human of all the characters Stan Lee created or co-created. This issue could be offered as strong evidence for that.

There’s a few scenes with Johnny and Wyatt, as well. The two friends find Lockjaw, who has somehow managed to teleport himself beyond the barrier surrounding the Great Refuge. Johnny suddenly has hope that he’ll see Crystal again soon.


Speaking of really human moments:

We’ll get to the superhero stuff in a moment, but its Peter meeting with Betty when she returns to New York that I really want to make note of.

The two meet by chance and have coffee together. But to Peter’s surprise, they have little to say to each other. The spark between them has died down and Peter is perfectly content when she goes off on a date with Ned Leeds.

It’s a scene that really does ring true—a case of a mutual crush that just doesn’t pan out into anything permanent. It is a very human moment that strikes a very realistic cord.

And it opens up an opportunity for Peter to finally take an interest in Gwen, which he does a few pages later.

Anyway, back to the superhero stuff. J. Jonah Jamison’s astronaut son John is visiting his dad. But a new villain named the Rhino has been hired to kidnap him for an enemy power. (There’s also reference to John having been infected by mysterious space spores—a set up for the next issue.)

Much to J.J.J.’s annoyance, it’s Spidey who leaps in to rescue John. Discovering that Rhino is too strong to just punch out, the webslinger manages to just outlast him until he drops from exhaustion. John Romita once again provides us with a cool fight scene.

Also, Peter buys a motorcycle and thinks about getting his own apartment. And he and May get invited to have dinner at the Watson home, leaving him with no option but to meet that probably boring Mary Jane girl at last.

THOR #133

Thor fights (I’m sorry, I’ll only do it this one last time) A FREAKIN’ LIVING PLANET in a battle that is so much bizarre visual fun that I’m not going to try to describe it. Trust me, though. It’s awesome.

In the end, after fighting weird stuff both on Ego’s surface and subsurface, Thor uses his powers over the elements to basically threaten to rip the planet apart. Ego cries “uncle” and opts NOT to destroy our galaxy.

In the meantime, the High Commissioner of the Colonizers has turned off the Space Lock and told an annoyed Tana Nile that she can’t take over the Earth anymore.

But Tana’s machinations are already setting up the next story arc. Jane Foster, still mentally controlled to flee from Thor, runs into a couple of strange looking men who promise her a job working for someone called the High Evolutionary.

These last few issues of Thor are tossing fun new elements into the Marvel Universe at a fast and furious pace.

The Tales of Asgard story involves the dying barbarian Harokin being taken to Valhalla astride the creepy Black Stallion. It all works out in the end, though. Harokin discovers he gets to join in a never-ending eternal battle. For an Asgardian, that’s the best afterlife ever.

That’s it for October 1966. In November, the FF fight a rematch against Klaw; Peter Parker finally meets a certain redhead; and Thor goes looking for his elusive girl friend.

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