Wednesday, July 6, 2011

History of the Marvel Universe: February 1967


A lot of this issue deals with the Inhumans. Black Bolt finally realizes that he needs to speak—which for him means setting off a really powerful sonic blast—in order to break down the force field that surrounds their city. He does this and, even though much of the city is reduced to rubble, he does break them out. The royal family decides to contact the outside world while the rest of the Inhumans rebuild, so it appears Johnny will finally get to hook up with his girlfriend again.

The main Dr. Doom storyline only advances a little in terms of plot, but Lee and Kirby manage to build up quite a bit of tension to lead into next issue’s finale. Reed is pretty desperate to figure out how to defeat an all-powerful Doom and at one point even seems to despair. There’s a great scene in which Ben eggs him on to keep trying. At the end of the issue, Reed has completed building some sort of new device.

Johnny, in the meantime, has convinced himself that he can use speed and surprise to take out Doom himself.

It’s all good stuff. Lee has these characters down pat, with their dialogue consistently ringing true to their personalities.


Despite having one arm in a sling, Spider Man continues to search for the Lizard, eventually confronting him aboard a train that’s carrying a reptile show from NYC to Philadelphia. The Lizard, of course, is planning on using the reptiles as the first “recruits” for the army he needs to wipe out mankind.

The train is a cool setting for the ensuing fight. Spidey is physically outmatched, but manages to lure the Lizard into a refrigerator car, where the cold weakens the villain. Spidey then takes him back to Curt Connors’ lab and whips up a cure.

In the meantime, Peter is beginning to realize that Mary Jane might be a bit too shallow for his tastes. It’s interesting to remember that at the time Lee and Romita were planning on Gwen being the main gal in Peter’s life. Romita was later quoted as saying they really worked to keep her at the forefront, but Mary Jane simply kept overshadowing her. The long term effect of this, of course, would be to pretty much sign Gwen’s death warrant.

But that’s still a few years in the future. This issue ends with an interesting counterpoint. Peter is at home thinking about how being Spider Man regularly messes the rest of his life up, while the Connor family is talking about how a guy as cool as Spider Man must have everything he wants in life.

THOR #137

Lee and Kirby jump right into yet another magnificent story, with a well-constructed plot supported by astounding visuals.

Thor and Sif are ambushed by trolls, who manage to kidnap Sif. Thor follows and encounters Ulik, a huge troll who seems to match the Thunder God in raw power.

In fact, it looks as if Ulik has the upper hand, but then he abruptly vanishes in a flash of light.

It’s all part of a clever plot by the king of the trolls. He’s managed to tunnel out a path directly into Asgard, but knows he can’t conquer the place as long as Thor is around. So he’s sent both an unconscious Sif and Ulik to Earth, forcing Thor to follow them there. That leaves him free to attack Asgard.

It really is a cool plan. On Fantastic Four, Lee and Kirby manage to continually mix strong characterizations into the action. On Thor, there’s just one main character rather than four (though there are plenty of fun supporting players), so the characterizations are more straightforward. But we can see how the plots are structured in such a way as to highlight Kirby’s layouts—perhaps even more so than on FF. As I’ve mentioned so many times in the past that you’re all probably sick of reading it, Kirby was at his best when he could draw bizarre and cosmic-level images. Thor has been giving him an excuse for doing this every single issue.

In the “Tales of Asgard” feature, we find out why Hogun is called the Grim. Our heroes encounter Mogul of the Mystic Mountains, who is responsible for enslaving Hogun’s people and killing his family. Ouch. When Hogun vows to finally take vengeance, Thor, Fandral and Volstagg elect to tag along.

More great visuals here, of course, especially a panel showing Mogul being carried off by his giant Jinni slave.

That’s it for February. In March, the FF continues their fight against Dr. Doom; Spider Man adds a second-string villain to his Rogue’s Gallery; and Thor returns to Earth while Asgard is invaded.

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