Marvel Two-In-One #24 (February 1977)
"Does Anyone Remember... the Hijacker!?"
Bill Mantlo/Jim Shooter-Sal Buscema/Pablo Marcos
Doug: What with all the love being tossed Henry Pym's way around here lately, it's high time we reminded ourselves that there was a Goliath in the 1970's -- Bill Foster! He was the third fellow to take on the growth serum, after Hank and one Clint Barton, nee' Hawkeye. We had some fun with Dr. Foster when we reviewed the "Project Pegasus" storyline earlier, so let's check in on his and Benjy's first team-up.
Doug: Our little tale opens in Los Angeles, at the Stark West laboratories. The Thing is "on loan" to Stark's researchers to participate in experiments concerning air quality and pressure in a simulation of conditions on Venus -- Bill Foster, he of past fame as Hank Pym's research assistant, is heading the team. Ben's in a quarantined area of the lab where gasses simulating Venus' atmosphere have been unleashed, as well as the air pressure of the chamber increased. In the midst of the experiment, an alarm sounds and in bursts a costumed do-badder billing himself as The Hijacker! Now there's an original moniker...
Doug: The Hijacker sets off some knock-out gas which takes out all of the lab techs. Foster hit the floor fast and was able to take a big gulp of clean air. Our hero managed to find the Hijacker through the foggy air and trip him -- to no avail. Foster succumbs to the gas. Meanwhile, the Hijacker had manipulated the airlocks holding the Thing, effectively trapping Ben in the chamber -- helplessly watching. As the Hijacker made his way out of the lab and on toward his real goals, Foster was able to pull himself up long enough to hit some buttons/switches and free the Thing.
Doug: You know how comics are just rife with silly made-up terms, especially for technology? Try this line on, from the Hijacker: "With my Vario-Blaster set for nuclear flame... not even Stark's Molybdenum Steel Vault can deny the Hijacker entrance." And, ya gotta love a guy who talks of himself in the third person. I thought I was reading some quotes from Rickey Henderson!
Doug: The Hijacker gets what he wanted -- access to Stark's prototype weapons and inventions. And then we learn that this isn't the 1st appearance of this doofus! Nope -- he was on the scene way back in Tales to Astonish #40 (February 1963), when the aforementioned Dr. Pym put him down while wearing the Ant-Man togs. I've included a panel from that story, in case you think I'm pulling your leg.
Doug: The Thing shows up to thwart our villain, but since it's only page 9, you know there's going to be a drawn-out affair. The Hijacker uses what must be his miracle gun and shoots at some docked missiles -- launching them! But as they streak past, he ducks, Ben takes the full brunt and is blown through a steel wall, but is caught by a very large yellow-gloved hand. Yep, Black Goliath's on the scene, bare belly and all! I always thought he had a really cool suit, but could never figure out why he had no middle to his costume. Ms. Marvel, at about the same time -- that I could understand (although it never jibed with her pro-women's stance). Anyway...
Doug: Black Goliath, as we'd already seen in the "Project Pegasus" stories, isn't real adept at the super-hero biz. He's rather clumsy, to be honest. He gets himself into a bit of trouble, and the Hijacker continues to use his deus ex machina gun to get out of every scrape that comes along. He activates missiles and Mars landers, and melts solid steel. And he wants to steal Stark's stuff?? Anyway, the Hijacker escapes and Ben helps Goliath out of a pickle. But then, the walls and ceiling cave in as the Hijacker returns with his "invincible Crime-Tank!" Bro-therrrr...
Doug: Long ending short -- Ben throws everything but the kitchen sink at this vehicle, of course to no avail. He gets knocked on the noggin, goes down, but is saved from the tank by Goliath. As both are about to be rolled over, Ben comes to long enough to bunch through the underbelly of the tank and yank out a bunch of wires. End of tank. Goliath rips the cockpit off and shakes the Hijacker out. The guy starts blabbing like he's being interrogated, but Ben just bonks him one with his finger, and it's lights out.
Doug: As I've been saying in the Hank Pym series we're currently running on Fridays, I've long been a fan of the giants: Hank, Black Goliath, Colossal Boy, Validus, etc. There are just great visuals when any of those guys are on the scene. But Bill Foster here -- he just seems to get the shaft plot-wise in each book we've looked at. He continually screwed up during the "Project Pegasus" story, and here he's not much more than in the way. His heart's in the right place, but c'mon -- I think any of us with these powers and the background he'd had with Hank Pym could have done better. I don't know why the guy didn't get more respect from the writers of his era. You'd have thought Marvel could have made a success out of him -- the Black Panther's series in Jungle Action was going strong at this time, as was Luke Cage's series. Did they not want to dedicate enough energy to one more Black character? Shoot -- to be honest, he's just poorly written, black, white, red or green!
Doug: And before I let you go, just a quick comment on the art. You'll see in the credits above that Sal Buscema was the penciler and Pablo Marcos inked it. I know, we've been over the whole Pablo Marcos thing a gazillion times on this blog... but I just feel that he exerted too much influence on Sal's pencils. Don't get me wrong -- the reader can still pretty clearly tell that it's a Sal Buscema book. Maybe I'm just seeing less Sal and more Pablo in some of the faces. And I don't know why I feel this way -- I don't complain about Joe Sinnott or Terry Austin (for examples). There's just something about Pablo... Anyway, for a team-up book this was OK. It probably suffered most from a lame villain (that's a pretty deep pull to find the Hijacker back from the dawn of the Marvel Age) and meatless plot. It's a simple this-is-a-stick-up story, after all. No hostages, no immediate threat to world security or environmental well-being. It's like a high-stakes gas station robbery, I guess.