Friday, June 6, 2014

The Spinner Rack - February 1981

Doug: Continuing our random romp through the Bronze Age -- hey, with approximately 180 months to choose from, we could be doing this awhile!

Doug: In this "category" we'd like your reminiscences of these books, maybe something else you recall purchasing at the same time, overall recollections of a particular title or creative team, and even better -- if you can recall when and where you were when you purchased a given comic. You can click on the date below to see a listing of all books published with a cover date of February 1981.


dbutler16 said...

I was probably at the peak of my comic buying around this time.
Of the covers you’ve got pictured, I just bought that Marvel Two-in-One in a dollar bin recently. It was a pretty decent read, I though. That New Teen Titans cover just screams “buy me!”.
This was not a good month for the Fantastic Four – the brain parasites? Ugh! Another Micronauts classic, though. Obviously, a classic X-Men issue here with Days of Future Past. Plus the Legion of Super-Heroes gives us the origin of Blok, one of my favorite Legionnaires.

Anonymous said...

What if Thor (and the Avengers) fought the gods? You mean, aside from all those fights with Loki and Hercules and such...? :-)

Anonymous said...

This would have been my Freshman year of high school and it was about the end of the comic book collecting road for me. I got the FF (I had a subscription!) and X-Men, and I think that was all. I dropped Conan a few months before this, when Roy Thomas left.

Doug said...

On a side note, it's worthy of a big "thanks!" in recognition of the 200th follower on the BAB. Along with our 126 Twitter followers and the "we don't know how many" readers who follow us via next-day email, it's really gratifying that so many folks appreciate the conversation each day at this space.


Edo Bosnar said...

Like dbutler, this was right in the middle of my peak of comics reading/buying. Looking over the issues cover-dated for this month at Mike's Newsstand, I could remember having at least 17-18 titles. And like dbutler, I also had - and fondly remembered - X-men #142 and Legion of Super-heroes #272. I did not, however, have that issue of the New Teen Titans, due to the dreaded spotty spinner rack distribution. I remember that really had me p-d off at the time, because I was so totally into the new Titans.
I did, however, have that issue of Marvel Two-in-One which, like that month's issue of Marvel Team-up, had much better art on the cover than in the interior. The stories in both were pretty solid though (as far as I recall).
Also, that month Captain America #254 hit the stands: the penultimate issue of the classic Stern/Byrne/Rubinstein run, and the conclusion to that equally classic Baron Blood two-parter.

And in keeping with our tally of Richie Rich comics, there were 12 on the racks this month. And I'll ask once again: was Richie Rich really that popular? And if so, why?!

Humanbelly said...

This was one of the very brief periods in my life where I wasn't actively buying comics anymore. Sophomore year of college. . . NO income of any kind at that point. . . and had dropped the hobby by the end of my freshman year, 'cause so many other things were happily occupying my attention (classes, theater, dorm life, girls, etc, etc). I think this very same Christmas, though, was when I'd talked my Dad into giving me about six or so subscriptions as my main present, so I was only a couple of months away from getting back in the loop again. The books would come to his house, and I'd pick them all up when back in town for vacations.

I do have about 10 or 12 of the issues shown for this month, though. Geeze-- this was not really a glorious era for a lot of mainstream titles, was it? The Brain Parasites story in FF is kinda well-known as a Can-It-Get-Any-Worse? moment for that book. Avengers was a Yellow Claw fill-in, wasn't it? DEFENDERS was just starting a rather long, slow decline. MTU was not strong at all, at this point. And I have no memory at all of these Spidey, Thor, or Iron Man stories. Cap was still strong, yes? Nice cover. And of course, it was the big, beautiful finish for the Claremont/Byrne/Austin run (almost) on X-Men.

Anonymous, I KNOW I have that WHAT IF? issue, but can't for the life of me remember what the scenario was. Pretty sure it was typically apocalyptic for the that book, though. . .


Edo Bosnar said...

HB, I don't think the Yellow Claw story in Avengers was a fill-in, since it was a 2-parter. However, the only notable thing about that particular issue is that it was one of those rare instances when Don Newton did the art chores on a Marvel comic.
Otherwise, a pretty forgettable story from that really bleak period that I like to call Shooter's second (disastrous) run on the Avengers.

David Piper said...

On a side note, it's worthy of a big "thanks!" in recognition of the 200th follower on the BAB.

Hey, that's me! I've been a follower here unofficially for years but since I let my own blog become moribund I follow less via the Blogger Dashboard and more as a favorite location in my bookmarks. BAB is hands down the best discussion-oriented blog around. :)

As to the topic at hand, it looks like Feb '81 was a quiet month for me back then as I didn't buy any of those pictured. I read Star Wars vociferously but skipped issue #47 which was also out that month. I see that ish #100 of Master of Kung Fu was out then, too.

Of all the Marvels out that month, only Iron Man and X-Men were what I bought, with Shell Head's mag being quite good.

If you ever get to June 1979 I know there will be a ton of Richie Rich comics that I had as I was fixated on that rather comforting world at the time.

Doug said...

Today's comics fare would have been on sale during my hiatus (roughly fall 1980-spring 1985) from comics buying. While I'm sure I now own several books that would have been offered during this month, nothing hit my hands straight from the spinner rack.


Dr. Oyola said...

This turns out to be just a little too early for my superhero comics buying time. . . I may have had a Richie Rich or two from these, but there is no way I'd ever remember the covers.

Edo, I can't explain the appeal of Richie Rich, except they were fun adventure stories for kids.

I did have the Marvel Tales #124 and ROM #15

Edo Bosnar said...

C.K. (or is it Dexter?), as per my question above, I see you were one of those Richie Rich readers I was wondering about. Did you actually read all of those titles, or did you have a specific favorite?

David Piper said...

C.K. (or is it Dexter?), as per my question above, I see you were one of those Richie Rich readers I was wondering about. Did you actually read all of those titles, or did you have a specific favorite?

C.K. is fine. :)

I was eight when I was in my RR phase, which only lasted that summer of '79. By September I was full-tilt into Marvel and DC super-hero books.

The RR titles I read were completely arbitrary choices. Maybe I liked the cover or a story inside got my attention. I also liked RR's dog, Dollar, a whole lot and I know they shared a title in the books. I also liked those RR-Casper crossover adventures. Casper just looked like a deceased Richie Rich to me but I digress...

...what I liked most about RR is that he was completely nonplussed by his wealth and he came across as a swell kid.

By the time RR landed his own cartoon show, I was long-gone from the comics.

david_b said...

Doug's hiatus was the same period as mine, but much briefer ~ I was away from collecting from around '76 to '84...

If I was collecting, I'd definitely be checking out the NTT issues. Those first 2yrs were the best. I did pick up that JLA match-off a few years ago and it was pretty cool.

I doubt if I'd have been looking at any Marvel mags by this time, the quality was just too spotty. Other than some very good story arcs here and there, there was also a LOT of dull filler... I picked up that Yellow Claw/Avengers 2-parter last year and it seemed very, very underwhelming. My only Claw stories I knew prior to that was the Steranko/Strange Tales arc and CA&F 164-167.

Such an under-utilized villain.

Anonymous said...

I'll agree with most of the consensus opinion that this particular month wasn't all that exciting. However, I thought the Defenders issue was a prelude to a great run by JM DeMatteis!

I distinctly remember reading several of these titles while on a trip to Florida at Christmas to visit my grandma. I remember reading the Avengers, FF, Micronauts and X-Men issues in particular on that trip!

I also remember being really excited about the classic run that was starting in the Avengers Reprint title! As a fan of Nighthawk and the Invaders, I knew we were coming up on the Grandmaster storyline from my reading of huge Defenders and the Invaders!


J.A. Morris said...

I picked up the Amazing Spider-Man & Spectacular issues that month. Denny O'Neil's run as writer on ASM is one of the worst, but 213 began a nice 3-parter featuring Namor & the Frightful Four.

The Spectacular issue ended a nice Mysterio story written by Roger Stern. In my book, "Sterno" is the best Spider-Man writer since Stan Lee.

I recently picked up that issue of Crazy. It has a good Christmas edition of 'Teen Hulk'.

Garett said...

Yes, Teen Titans #4! Great issue with the Titans vs JLA, drawn by Perez. Awesome cover. Love the look Perez gave the JLA at this time. And this was just the start of that fantastic Titans run, as David said over the next couple of years.

Really liked the covers by Buckler/Giordano and Andru/Giordano in this era. There are a number of sweet ones this month, including a Flash digest I've never seen- would've snapped this one up if I'd seen it at the time- and also a couple by Giordano alone, Green Lantern and Secrets of the LSH. Giordano in this era could make anything look appealing with his inks.

Captain America was in a super period with art by Byrne, and I always liked this cover with the darker shadows. It seemed to my eyes to add some Miller darkness to Byrne's art, to good effect--and made sense with the dark story.

A couple Aparo covers here. This was my first exposure to his work, and I'd buy a book drawn by him, but it wasn't till later that I saw his early Brave and Bold art and realized what an incredible artist he could be.

Master of Kung Fu #97--art by Zeck and Day! Zeck was hot, similar to Byrne at this time, and I collected these late issues up to #100 and a few of the later Day drawn issues. Nice cover by Zeck here. Moon Knight #4! Sienkiewicz's art seemed amazing to me, and I liked the mystical nature of Moon Knight along with his supporting cast. It's a great comic, and while Sienkiewicz learned from Neal Adams and Moon Knight is similar to Batman--it's was also it's own comic. Moon Knight had a girlfriend, multiple identities-- and the art had an edgier and as it progressed fine art vibe.

I read this Conan in later years, and while the title was starting a downward slide, John Buscema was producing some beautiful covers and still would for the next few Conan-years. Best period for Iron Man ever, with Micheline/Layton/Romita Jr. I recently picked up the Omnibus with their work, and thoroughly enjoyed it (except a few issues with non-Romita Jr art).

Savage Sword of Conan #61--starting to get to the end of the great Buscema era with Alacala and DeZuniga inking. This one though is a rare treat with Buscema inking himself.

I picked up a few Wonder Woman comics at this time for the Huntress backup feature--Joe Staton I'm pretty sure. Warlord #42--Mike Grell was getting better and better with his covers, and I believe drew the title until #50. I've always liked Grell's characters/writing/art, and admire guys like him and Starlin for creating the whole package.

I read that Brave and Bold 171 in later years. Nice Garcia Lopez art inside, and a time travel story with Batman and Scalphunter.

GREAT month for comics! : )

Murray said...

A wistful sad time for me. Looking at the comic covers, this was roughly when I ceased being a "completist". For the previous 100+ issues, thru thick and thin, crap and gold, I had bought every Avengers and Thor. They had both hit slumps (especially the Thunder God) I could no longer defend or tolerate. From this time forward, I became a "cherry-picker", having a close look at author and artist before my wallet was opened.

This month I bought X-Men, Power Man & Iron Fist, and Teen Titans. I may have been tempted mightily by The Rook. The first tales of that character really intrigued me, but I believe the original creator(s) left by the time he had his own mag and the quality was spotty.

Anonymous said...

Ah, now we're getting into my comic reading years...I was almost nine at this point. Unfortunately, I don't remember too many of these comics offhand; I probably had the Spideys (Amazing and Spectacular) and I'm sure I had the Marvel Tales (which reprinted Amazing #147).

I'm pretty sure I had that Detective issue with Blockbuster (I think it was the second half of a two-parter) and that Batman cover sure looks familiar, but I'd have to read it again to be sure.

There may have been others I had, but I can't remember that far back. I DO still have that issue of Crazy magazine, although the cover disappeared a long time ago.

Mike W.

Anonymous said...

A: When I come hear to read the postings, it's a posting like Garrett's that really grabs hold of the topic, chews it up and spits it out. Job done well, dude! For those about to rock, we salute you!!!

Secondly: I had just turned 16 and by perusing the covers at Mike's Amazing, I bought X-Men this month. Yes, it was that magical time of just getting your license, but we, and by we I mean my Mom, owned a 1972 Buick 225 Electra. That car was in the 8-9 mpg range. Going from our driveway to the end of the street was $5! And in 81, money still meant something.

The Prowler (flip flop and fly, I don't car if I die).

PS: HB? Girls was fourth? Right before etc etc?

Garett said...

Why thanks, Prowler! : )

Humanbelly said...

Oh, you craftily called me out, Prowl. And you've nailed my inconsistency. Let me re-order that list by priority, as I can VERY easily recall the way my youthfully malfunctioning brain was operating then:

Girls (I was hopeless. I mean, TRULY hopeless. Bordering on being a human cartoon.)
Dorm Life

Happy times in their way. Relish the memories. But have NO longing whatsoever to re-live or recapture that time. I very much prefer my life now at 53.

And dude-- my Mom had only gotten rid of her 72 LTD sedan the year before. 7 miles per gallon. I tell you no lie. And there was NOWHERE to go on a date that wasn't a minimum of 25 miles away. Bru-tuhl. . .


Graham said...

I did got that Teen Titans issue, and the Avengers issue with the Don Newton art (which was the highlight for me). I missed the X-Men Days of Future Past (typical for my collecting days).

Of the ones I got that month, my favorites were the Titans issue, the Captain America/Baron Blood showdown (I think Stern/Byrne was the good captain at his very best), and I really liked this edition of Power Man/Iron Fist with Mary Jo Duffy and Kerry Gammill.

Around this period, I decided to subscribe to several of the Marvel titles that I was trying to follow on a regular basis as best I could (I lived 30 miles from the closest comic book store), and I loved the creative teams on each of them. Naturally, about a few issues into my subscription, the creative teams changed on nearly all of them.

Nathan Irwin said...

I wasn't really collecting comics yet -- I'd occasionally con my parents into letting me get one at the supermarket. But by the summer of 1981, I was actively trying to score new comics on a weekly/monthly basis.

Within a few months, I'd gotten my hands on this month's Green Lantern (it was this specific issue that made me a GL fan). I definitely had DC Comics Presents, Marvel Super Action, World's Finest and What If?

My biggest regret is not getting on board the Claremont/Byrne X-Men run when I had a chance. To this day, I don't own Uncanny # 142. I probably never will, though I've read it in reprint.

Sean Budde said...

This is a few months after i got into buying comics every month in 1980. At age 10, in 1979, my mom made me give away all my comics except a handful of favorites. So, i went from 4 or 5, big stacks of comics in my closet, to one stack of comics. So, i started collecting every month from 1980 up. I was fortunate to start collecting X-Men at issue #138 (missed #137, though). So, i got issue #142 off a wall rack at 7-Eleven in Foster City, Ca. back in 1981. Death was still new in comics. I had seen Adam Warlock die in Incredible Hulk #178 and Warlock #9 in the 70's, and i knew about Phoenix dying, but the death of a superhero was a very rare thing back then. This issue of X-Men was the first time a bunch of superheroes had been killed in a storyline. It was an alternate timeline, but it was still something new. This was 4 years before Crisis on Infinite Earths and before the death of Elektra, who had just appeared a month before the Feb. 1981 issue date. After all these years, i still have my X-Men #142. It's stored in a mylite and still in nice shape. Only 50 cents for a comic back then, even though the price went up a lot during the 70's. From 20 cents in 1973 when i got my very first comics, to 50 cents by 1981.

1981 was when i discovered comic book bags through mail order from Empire (remember the Empire ad in the comics?). I remember, they were 3 mill. thick and had a 1 inch flap. The bag itself extended above the comic, so the flap locked in the air if you folded it over at the top of the comic. Still cool to see a comic book bag for the first time. I didn't start buying at comic shops until 1982.

Sean Budde said...

p.s. Correction: I got my X-Men #142 in Nov-Dec. 1980, since the comics were cover dated a few months in advance.

Redartz said...

By this time I too had ceased buying every issue of my chosen titles. Exceptions were Spidey and the F F, both of which were pretty unremarkable at that point. Did however love that issue of Spectacular Spiderman! J.A. is quite right regarding the merits of Roger Stern ( and what a great cover: Spiderman, Mysterio, Deb Whitman and Space!)

Of course,X-Men still remained a must read. They held a place of honor on my college apartment shelf, next to the gumball machine...

Karen said...

Chiming in late here -but still before Mike from T & T - but this was a slow period in comics for me. I got the Cap, Elfquest, Iron Man, Legion,Titans, X-Men, and What-If issues. That's it. No Spidey, no FF, no Avengers. Times were changing.

I really enjoyed Elfquest for a time, and not long after I started reading that, I began buying books like Nexus and Love and Rockets. Those were my first steps away from the mainstream and it was exciting to try out new books -particularly those without super-heroes in them.

Edo Bosnar said...

A few comments here really brought back some memories: Sean, I discovered the magic of mail ordering back issues as well, albeit a year earlier, and I did my ordering from Lone Star Comics (still around, they run the website).
And Karen, it was also in 1980 that I discovered my first comic book shop (in Salem, Oregon), and thus discovered direct sale books. In particular, I really got into a bunch of the books being published by Pacific Comics.

And Redartz, yeah, FF was in the midst of that odd, not-very-good Moench/Sienkiewicz run at this point and I had completely stopped reading it. We were still a few months away from #232 and the beginning of the Byrne run, after which it became (for me, anyway) a must-read title for the next 2-3 years.

Eric C said...

Since I am a little younger than some of the people here, my weekly buying of comics began in July 1981. What this means is that from 1977 to 1981, my purchases were random spinner rack finds. I did however purchase that gorgeous Spider Woman issue. I have always liked the fluid art of Steve Leialoha. I did however obtain some of these books later as back issues. The Legion and X-Men fall into that category.


Dr. Oyola said...

Karen, I didn't know you were into Love & Rockets. Did you know the first chapter of my dissertation is all about Los Bros?

Karen said...

No I didn't Osvaldo, but I do now! Is it posted anywhere?

Fred W. Hill said...

I got about 20 comics from this month, the standouts IMO being the Captain America and X-Men issues with some of Byrne's best art work, not to mention great stories. Master of Kung Fu remained one of the most consistently good titles of the entire Bronze Age, and I generally liked the Micronauts, despite that it was based on toys and was too reminiscent of Star Wars, but I actually preferred it to the Star Wars' comics. Moon Knight was another relatively new favorite for me. Many of my older favorites I was collecting more out of habit than genuine enjoyment. Moench & Sienkewicz were a great team on Moon Knight, but I can't even remember much about their brief run on the FF -- I'd have to dig them out of their box to re-peruse them. I'm not one of those who feel that the entire period between Kirby's departure and Byrne's tenure on the FF was a wasteland because there were several stories from that period that were pretty good, IMO. But of course, Byrne came to the FF as a superstar artist after his famed X-Men run and to my remembrance it would be his first turn as a writer on a Marvel series.

Dr. Oyola said...

Karen, No. I will be getting an article out of it soon - but it will also be part of the book - when book time comes.

Garett said...

Love and Rockets was good. I liked Gilbert's stories the most. I still haven't read Elfquest, despite hearing about it so much. Some other alternative '80s comics I remember liking:
Reid Fleming, world's toughest milkman
Flaming Carrot
Puma Blues
Mister X

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