My first Avengers story was Marvel Triple Action #22 (N'74) which reprinted Avengers #28 which was the return/debut of Henry Pym as Goliath. I commented on this at Mister Silver Age's forum. In a nutshell, Pym can only stay giant-size for fifteen minutes, didn't include a timer with his new outfit and became stuck at ten feet tall! The next part from MTA #23/Avengers #29 by Stan Lee, Don Heck and Frank Giacoia was just as memorable and a personal favorite.

  • Don Heck was in top form in this period (#26-39) giving the book stability and dynamics. And the Scarlet Witch, the Wasp and the Black Widow never looked lovelier.
  • Goliath becomes your basic tragic Marvel hero here as he cannot shrink to normal size under threat of death! He was doomed to stay 10' tall "for the rest of his life" or issue #35!
  • The Black Widow has been brainwashed by the Chinese into being a total Commie again.
  • She quickly recruits the Swordsman and the first Power Man (who would later become the criminal Goliath III) as an effective strike-force against the Avengers. Of course, during this time, the Looter, the Matador and Batroc Ze Leapair would have made an effective strike-force.
  • Hawkeye goes rushing into the arms of his lost love, the Black Widow, only to be captured.
  • Luckily Captain America (who warned him) sent the Wasp to watch his back.
  • Then we see the Wasp's epic battle with a white-throated sparrow. Apparently she (and Stan) were bird-watchers!
  • Captain America gets defeated at Avengers Mansion after being double-teamed by the Swordsman and Power Man, both of whom were never as dangerous as here!
  • Cap summons Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch to rescue him, only to have them caught in a few panels!
  • With the four current Avengers prisoners, the Triple Threaters think that they've won until Goliath smashes through the front door!
  • Now he may be 10' tall but is he really that strong to battle Power Man? Or stop the Swordsman from cutting him down? I never got the idea of someone that tall being a super-hero. Joining the NBA or WWE, maybe but stopping super-villains, I don't know!
  • With the help of the Wasp and the freed Avengers, the villains escape as the Widow uses Hawkeye's love for her to stop him from shooting his arrow.
  • Goliath wanders away in a *ahem* giant funk!

Another wonderful Avengers tale with all the characters, good and bad, getting a chance to shine. It's standard Stan Lee melodrama but it does broaden both Hawkeye and Goliath's personalities. Hawkeye is forced to mature a bit and Goliath gets to chew the scenery in a couple of spots.

A great issue in an amazing run of my favorite Marvel title!

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Really old CT, but what the hey.  Henry J. said:

"First, Roy Thomas turned Jan from an intelligent-but-flighty girl (in their own series, more than once Hank insisted he KNEW she was smarter than she acted), into a genine idiot who hired a chauffer without checking credentials, despite her status as an AVENGER (and all the government security that went with it), then, had Hank suffer a nervous breakdown after working on a robot (something COMPLETELY outside his field-- what was he DOING it for, anyway??) which went insane and became a mass-murderer. I suspect a LOT of fans give Roy far too much leeway for some of the things he pulled over the years."

I agree that up to that point Henry Pym had no experience in the field of robotics.  However, in those days all the Marvel super-scientists routinely dabbled in every discipline, as the plot demanded.  Reed Richards' "specialty" would seem to be physics, as per his opening up the Neg Zone, but he too experimented with creating new biological life in a lab.  It seems to me that Roy had conceived an arc that included both the invention of Ultron and Ultron's creation of the Vision.  Possibly he even had some loose intention of having Vision be a retrofitted Original Human Torch.  IMO Roy's deviation from Pym's specialty resulted in a better than average storyline, so I like it on that basis, though I concede the break in continuity. 

House of Secrets #105, 1972, by Steve Skeates and Jim Aparo. It's a pretty good story. The overweight guy, Hank, has a crush on the girl but is too shy to say anything. Later it's shown that Bernard has somehow gotten a magic spell that would bring a demon into this world and has incorporated it into one of his poems, which he recites at the club. The demon appears, Hank somehow defeats it and rescues the girl, who immediately gushes over the handsome guy who came up with the spell in the first place. Hank walks away, unappreciated by the girl and the other people he saved because of his looks. If this had been in a Marvel comic, Hank could have been The Beast with little change. It's possible this was a rejected plot from the short time Steve was on staff at Marvel (my conjecture with no proof).

Hoy

Kirk G said:

Hey Hoy, which issue is this from?  Was anything made of it...any comment or recognition anywhere?  Is this just the set up, and do the characters continue in the story?

Hoy Murphy said:

Bernard made one of the first inter-company crossovers, as you can see from these panels I scanned from a story in SP House of Secrets a few years ago.

Hoy

 

How many pages does it run, Hoy?  Any chance it could be scanned?  Or should I track it down on ebay for a premium price?

(Thanks for calling it to our attention, and all your hard work!)

If Stan had already brought Captain America back before Avengers#1 he could have just had him listening to the same radio station the others had been listening to. To bring him back in Avengers#1, he would have had to explain why he was missing for ten years, and that would have meant cutting at least a couple of pages out of the issue to make room for Cap's back story. Like shortening Thor's trip to Asgard and finding the Silent Ones, or Iron Man musing he'd always wondered if there really was a Hulk and if he could beat him, despite the fact he should have already known the Hulk really existed since the army was hunting him and Stark had all those contracts with the army, or even the Hulk juggling elephants while dressed as a clown, and we wouldn't want to lose that last one. 

Seriously there's a lot of padding in Avengers#1. It wouldn't have been too difficult to free up two or three pages. They could have chased the Hulk into a cave and found Cap frozen in there, like Larry Talbot found the Frankenstein monster frozen in Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman.

The problem with his discovery in #4 is they would have had to have been chasing Namor, and why would they be doing that when we see in Fantastic Four that they're chasing the Hulk? Probably would have made more sense if the Hulk had found Cap and tossed him into the water. 
 
Commander Benson said:

The problem with that line of thought is:  if Stan Lee intended for Captain America to be a member of the group from the beginning, why didn't he write the origin story that way?  The concept of the Avengers, along with the plot, the dialogue, and the denouement of that first story were all under his control. 

 

It's not like Stan was sitting there at his typewriter, churning out the Avengers' origin, and he thinks, "Hmmmmm, I'm up to page fourteen . . . it's time to add Captain America to the story," and then someone came along and yanked the script away from him.

 

A disembodied voice didn't echo down and intone:  "Stan, though shalt NOT include Captain America in your first Avengers story!  I have spoken!"

 

A cocoanut didn't drop on Stan's head, giving him temporary amnesia . . . "Drat it, wasn't I going to put another super-hero in this story?  I can't remember.  Oh, well, it probably wasn't that important . . . ."

 

No, Smilin' Stan had complete and total control over the events of that story---and Captain America wasn't there.  Now, he might have liked the idea of Captain America being in that first story, and then discovered he had run out of page-count.  But, if making Cap a charter member was something he really, really wanted to do, he would have re-written the story.

 

And I'll grant you---adding Cap to the line-up was something that Stan probably had percolating in the back of his mind, and was going to do that as soon as he could set himself up with an opening to do so.  But it didn't happen in that first story; the Avengers were created without Cap, under circumstances that were completely under Stan's control.

 

Ergo, no matter what semantic contortion some later writer came up with, Captain America was not a charter member of the Avengers.

It's my feeling that Stan & Jack fully intended to reintroduce Captain America in Avengers #4 as they were producing Avengers #1. The new version of the Human Torch was a success in both Fantastic Four and Strange Tales and the Sub-Mariner ushered in the "hero/villain" concept. In fact, I think that they were intending to use the Hulk in the same role as either an ally or antagonist or a frenemy if you will depending on the story.

With the Hulk leaving in #2, battling them in #3 with Namor, getting replaced in #4 by Cap, trying to get revenge in FF #25-26 and wandering into #5, it appeared like Ol' Greenskin wouldn't be actually leaving the book, only the team. Unfortunately, Stan & Jack became enamored with the drama and pathos of Captain America and left the Hulk alone until he reappeared in Tales To Astonish.

Perhaps Stan wasn't quite sure at first if he wanted the Hulk gone for good. They go after him in the FF, then he shows up in #5 and actually saves the day. While he's not in #6 he does appear (for the last time) in the corner box, as if he's still on the team, and Stan hasn't completely written him out yet. Possibly #4 was such a hit in sales Stan decided he didn't need Hulk now that he had Captain America. When the original team left in #16 they said get the Hulk to rejoin them. They didn't of course, but maybe Stan briefly considered it when he tossed the original team out, or at least suggested it to Martin Goodman if sales plummetted on Cap's Kooky Quartet, or Hulk's Tales to Astonish series didn't work out.

Ron M. said:

Perhaps Stan wasn't quite sure at first if he wanted the Hulk gone for good.

Stan never wanted the Hulk to be gone, which is why he added him to the Avengers and promoted him with appearances in the FF and Spidey books.

When circumstances forced Martin Goodman to use Independent News (owned by his competitor National Periodical Publications) as his distributor, he was being forced to limit his comics to no more than 12 a month.

According to Newsstand Time Machine (dcindexes.com):

In January 1963 Marvel distributed these titles: Fantastic Four #13, Gunsmoke Western #75, Incredible Hulk #6, Journey into Mystery #90, Love Romances #104, Patsy and Hedy #87, Rawhide Kid #33, Strange Tales #107, Tales of Suspense #40 and Tales to Astonish #42.

In February 1963 Marvel distributed these titles: Amazing Spider-Man #2, Fantastic Four #14, Journey into Mystery #91, Kathy #22, Kid Colt Outlaw #110, Millie the Model #114, Modeling with Millie #22, Patsy Walker #106, Strange Tales #108, Tales of Suspense #41, Tales to Astonish #43 and Two-Gun Kid #63.

In March 1963 Marvel distributed these titles: Fantastic Four #15, Gunsmoke Western #76, Journey into Mystery #92, Love Romances #105, Patsy and Hedy #88, Rawhide Kid #34, Sgt. Fury #1, Strange Tales #109, Tales of Suspense #42 and Tales to Astonish #44.

You'll note that the only difference between January and March is that Sgt. Fury replaced Incredible Hulk. I'm not sure if sales figures led to the cancellation or if Goodman had no faith in the book, or some combination of these. In Marvel Comics the Untold Story, page 46, Sean Howe includes the following:

"Early fandom had unkind words for the Hulk. 'It stinks. A comic-book-length rendition of one of their hack monster stories with a continuing character modeled more or less on The Thing,' wrote Don and Maggie Thompson in Comic Art #3."

Sorry, I meant gone for good in the Avengers, since he kept coming up long after he'd officially left the group. It did seem like poor timing to follow his first superhero title (which had a monster in it) with a monster superhero. Until Thor, Spider-Man, and Ant-Man appeared, fans probably thought Stan was going to fill Marvel full of monster heroes. But then two of those were bugs, one previously appearing in a horror story, and Thor fought what looked like relatives of the Thing in his first appearance. Makes you wonder if the Comics Code hadn't been so powerful at the time if Stan might have introduced even more monsters. I've read the Hulk was originally supposed to be Frankenstein's monster.

Incredible Hulk#4 and #5 were pretty bad. Don't know how long it takes for sales to come in, but those two probably sold very poorly, possibly prompting Steve Ditko in #6.

It seems odd now, considering how few comics Marvel could publish, that so many of them were romance, humor, or Westerns. Two Millie series going while the Hulk is suddenly made homeless. If he hadn't been dropped into the Avengers, even as little as he was, he might not have gotten a second chance. Look what happened to Dr. Droom.  

I'm pretty sure I saw Hulk #1 on the stands and passed it up. The cover didn't present him as a superhero. It did harken back to the books they had been publishing before Fantastic Four. Even FF #1 had two monsters on the cover. I think they were trying to capture superhero fans while keeping their monster-story fans. The only monster-story book I had bought when I could find it was the Lee/Ditko Amazing Adult Fantasy, which was more in the vein of the Twilight Zone.

As for the western titles and the Millie/Patsy/romance books, they obviously sold or they would have been replaced. I used to buy the western books before they published superheroes. They were probably my first exposure to Jack Kirby.

Fantastic Four#2 also had a monster cover. An orange monster fighting green monsters. The Thing's face looked smashed in for some reason. Interestingly the Thing doesn't look exactly the same in any two panels in the first two issues. There's a panel in #1 where it looks like Ben is wearing sunglasses, just before he saves Sue from a monster. One could see the Hulk appearing so soon after the FF was taking something away from the Thing. Here we had a man who was a monster, but at least he was the strongest being in the world, and just a few months later, another, even stronger man monster appears. Almost as if Stan wasn't completely happy with the Thing and decided to try again.

It's funny though how quickly the tide turns and Millie and Patsy disappear, Patsy when they tried turning them into soap operas, while Millie briefly by trying to be Betty and Veronica.

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