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Eternals Annual #1

Eternals Annual #1

The (ahem) eternal war between Man and Deviant continues! Zakka The Tool-Master is unleashing horrors out of time on the streets of 1977, so the all-wise Zuras dispatches Karkas, Thena, and The Reject to put things right. Of course, given that Thena relies on a man-monster and a monstrous man to complete her mission, hilarity ensues. Reject rumbles with Jack the Ripper, while Karkas takes on Attila the Hun, wrecking a hotel and in the process panicking the people he was trying to protect. Jack Kirby was always strong at wringing pathos out of his monstrous, misunderstood heroes, and had this series not died in the womb I expect Karkas might have come to be regarded right alongside Ben Grimm in this regard.

With his mortal pawns getting slapped around, Zakka summons the dread Mutate Tutinax, the Mountain Mover (a big momo I don’t think we’ve seen before, or since), and gets his own ass kicked for his temerity. Tutinax runs amok for a few pages, but just when it is getting good — when Tutinax is holding a building over his head, and shouting, “Let this be both your gave and monument! Die!!” — it just kind of … ends. Tutinax pops back to his own era and the adventure is over, like Jack was creating so fast that he didn’t notice he was running out of pages. Thena and the boys walk into the sunset, her spinning a tale about how Karkas and Reject have learned a lesson about true comradeship, but they aren’t having any of it (and neither are we).

  • Script & Pencils: Jack Kirby
  • Inks: Mike Royer

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Howard The Duck #8

Howard the Duck #1

Howard’s Presidential campaign is in full-swing, and dealing with it has become a full-time job, with Howard and Bev dodging campaign fixers and an army of assassins determined to silence them.

These books were so wonderfully serviced by first-rate art. I think it was Stan Lee who said that Gene Colon could get tension out of drawing a guy turning a doorknob … and I’m not sure what that means … but man, I love seeing Colan on Howard the Duck (and anything else). It certainly elevates the script, which is only so-so here, as Howard lays out his campaign platform, including one of those patented Steve Gerber text pages. Mostly Howard’s political positions are just common sense, though they were satire in their day. Now it is we who are trapped in a world we never made.

  • Script: Steve Gerber
  • Pencils: Gene Colan
  • Inks: Steve Leialoha

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Invaders #12

Invaders #12

The Invaders stage a rescue mission from the Warsaw Ghetto … which is pretty damn grim. Why rescue just one guy? It’s a fine line they walk, in these World War 2 comics, especially if the book itself cites the existence of concentration camps. I expect there is an in-continuity reason why the superheroes don’t put paid to Hitler straight-away. Over in All-Star Squadron I seem to remember something about the Spear of Destiny seizing control of any hero who came too close to it. But still.

This issue also introduces Spitfire, the daughter of Union Jack, who gained her super-speed powers by a transfusion of the Human Torch’s blood. The Torch is sweet on her, but Spitfire only has eyes for Captain America. It is ever thus. Bonus points for a Holy Hannah.

  • Script: Roy Thomas
  • Pencils: Frank Robbins
  • Inks: Frank Springer

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Incredible Hulk #207

Incredible Hulk #207

When they say Hulk meets the Defenders, they mean it. This reads just like a Defenders of the era — Sal Buscema art, Hulk calling Nighthawk “Bird-Nose,” Doctor Strange as an old man in a flying bathrobe, Valkyrie hitting everything with the flat of her blade … the works! Hey, even Red Guardian is here, throwing her belt buckle at the Hulk. (Like that’s going to help). Hulk is on a rampage because Jarella is dead and he has some notion that Doctor Strange can fix it.

He can’t. For whatever reason, this is one death that Marvel can’t reverse. (This time). Hulk takes the news hard and wrecks a freeway. But buried beneath all the “Hulk Smash” is some genuine pathos from writer Len Wein. The Hulk has lost his love; he’s grieving, and coming to terms. Poor guy. The end of the issue promises a bold new direction for the Hulk in the month to come but I recall it was the same creators doing pretty much the same stuff, so not sure what to make of that. The boring predictability of mid-to-late Seventies Hulk was half the charm of this series. Don’t mess with a bad thing!

  • Script: Len Wein
  • Pencils: Sal Buscema
  • Inks: Joe Staton

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Fantastic Four #178

Fantastic Four #178

A goofy and wonderful tangle of story from Roy Thomas, with spectacular art by George Perez, pretty much at the top of his game for Marvel. It’s all wrapped up in the bizarre continuity of counter-earth, where there is a Reed Richards who doesn’t stretch and who is a maniac — and also The Brute! (Jonathan Hickman was only five when this came out, so you can’t blame him). The Fantasic Four have been captured by the Frightful Four, and they’re all strapped to a crazy-looking windmill while the bad guys — led by Reed Richards’ double, who is in his underwear and smoking a pipe — decide what to do with them! Smash ‘em? Hold ‘em for ransom? Hey, why not both?

Cool action in the back half of the book, when the FF inevitably break loose and kick butt. Thundra and Tigra are here, too, because why not? The “Four” in Fantastic Four was always advisory, not a hard and fast rule. The good guys win and the evil Reed is ejected into the Negative Zone, but our good Reed can never stretch again. BUT WAIT, IT IS ALL A PLOY … it is the GOOD Reed that got shot into another dimension, while the evil version has pulled the wool over everyone’s eyes. Why wasn’t I reading this book in 1977? It’s a gas!

  • Script: Roy Thomas
  • Pencils: George Perez
  • Inks: Dave Hunt

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