Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Spinner Rack - April 1977

Doug: By now everyone knows the drill -- you click on this link and you'll be taken to books cover-dated April 1977, courtesy of Mike's Amazing World of Comics. Click on the large date below and you'll jump over to the Comic Book Database, where you can find complete information on each issue. Little Dougie would have been almost 11 years old and fully smitten by the comics buying bug. But who among you also holds memories for this month's fare?


david_b said...

I picked up a comic here or there by this point, but was actually leaning towards DC at this juncture, probably due to my GL/GA love and 'New Adventures of Batman' on CBS.

Great Batman-Joker story in this issue.

Marvel was boring me greatly, coming off the peaks of their early Bronze Age pinnacle. The storylines and artists that really sparked and enamored my Zuvembie soul were over. I liked the Avengers storyline with Big John back (replacing Perez, Heck and Tuska..), and grabbed a few ASM issues, but DC was catching my eye more.

The Groovy Agent said...

Oh, how well do I remember January, 1977! The weather was so bad, I don't think we went to school a single day that month! Spent tons of time playing in the snow and "ratchet-jawing" on my CB Radio, and of course, bought a couple-dozen comics that month! X-Men (Magneto returns!), World's Finest (first Dollar Comic issue!), JLA (second "official" Steve Englehart issue!), Iron Fist, Black Lightning, Batman,Super-Villain Team-Up, What If...?, Logan's Run, and Marvel Premiere with 3-D Man were my faves of that month. I remember DC's being hard to find, but Marvel's not so much that month...anyone else remember that?

Edo Bosnar said...

Didn't buy many of the superhero comics shown here off of the spinner rack when they came out. This was around the beginning of my Archie and funny animal phase so I cut down on superhero comics for a while. Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure I had that Archie digest at least, plus a few of the Gold Key Disney duck books.
I definitely remember having that issue of World's Finest, however. That was when that series became a dollar comic, when a lot of the back-up stories were often better than the main Superman/Batman feature.

Oh, and by the way, this month's Richie Rich tally is 10.

david_b said...

I do recall picking up Gerber's HTD that month, along with ASM and Avengers.

That was it for Marvel-grabbing off the stands. That CA&F issue was purchased later in a 3-for-49cent grab bag at Kmart.

Also striving to keep my interest in DC's Titans mag. Mr. Heck's art was certainly workin' against me by that point.

Anonymous said...

Tend to agree with david_b about Marvel being a bit slack at this point, but at least they had Jack Kirby around again. He was totally on fire this month.

Issue 5 of 2001; A Space Odyssey astonished me as a kid, and is still one of my favourite single issues ever. Captain America 208 - the first appearance of Arnim Zola seared itself into my brain. And for an encore, an enjoyable issue of the Eternals.

The criticisms of Kirby's second coming at Marvel just baffle me; I mean, I recognized a few other covers from this month, but the contents were hard to recall, whereas all of Kirby's stuff was memorable with many of the images still crystal clear in my mind decades later.


Humanbelly\ said...

Boy, a quick count tells me that I possess about 23 of the issues shown here. Probably about half off the rack, and half acquired later on.

FF, IIRC, may have been coming out of the Ben-in-a-Thing-Suit experiment. But the stories were generally pretty engaging, and the art had maintained a nice, clean, clear standard.

I was also one of the few folks keeping up w/ the GotG feature in Marvel Presents, and the better-than-anyone-realized Inhumans title.

The Rampaging Hulk magazine was something I sort of enjoyed, except it was set in the early 60's, in that interim period between Hulk #6 and Tales to Astonish #59 (or so), when the Hulk didn't have his own title-- so it never felt "official" to me, y'know? Just this side of an imaginary "Untold Tales of the Greenskin" title. Aaaaaaand then several years later, that's what that whole incarnation of the title was declared to be-- "movies" that had been created by inter-galactic performance artist Bereet. Sheesh.

With X-Men-- was it still stuck on that glacial bi-monthly schedule at this point? The book was so good-- and yet it, like, NEVER came out!


Edo Bosnar said...

Oh, if we're talking about stuff we got later on, I did subsequently purchase (very cheaply) a bunch of comics that were coming out at this time, so I had this month's issues of:
Black Lightning
Logan's Run
Marvel Presents 10 (featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy)
Metal Men
Super-team Family (featuring the Challengers of the Unknown)

And HB, I tend to agree with you about the Inhumans. The stories weren't that bad, and it also featured some early art by George Perez and Keith Pollard.

Also, looking over the covers at Mike's Newsstand, I just remembered another one I actually bought that month: Spidey Super Stories #22.

Karen said...

I believe I picked up 17 titles this month -15 Marvel and 2 DC (the Englehart Justice League and Legion of Super-Heroes). At this point, Spidey, FF, and Thor were just books I picked up out of habit; I don't recall being enthralled with any of those titles at that time period. I was more excited by 'fringe' titles like Marvel Presents with the Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Fist, and the All-New, All-Different, Bi-Monthly X-Men! I was also still on-board with Nova and Ms. Marvel, although I would drop both books soon enough.

I had dropped Captain America at this point. Sean, I'm not one of those folks who hated everything Kirby did when he returned to Marvel -in fact, I was buying Eternals, and I really wished they had put him on the Invaders; he did a lot of the covers, and I think he would have been the perfect artist for the title as well. But coming off Englehart's run on Cap, to suddenly switch to Kirby, it was too jarring a change. He ignored everything that went before, essentially making it a different character. And his hyper-dramatic style just seemed out of touch, at least for this book. It didn't bother me at all on the Eternals though.

Re: Richie Rich -I don't care how entertaining they are, no one deserves 10 titles!

david_b said...

Agreeing with Karen and Sean, Marvel was 'underwhelming' in my eyes.., especially coming off 'Secret Empire' for Cap.

BUT.., I will agree with Sean on Armin Zola.

Whaaat a delightful and visually-stimulating villain. If he'd only been introduced a decade earlier, he'd clearly be more memorable, perhaps making the rounds in all of Jack's titles like FF, Thor, TOS, you name it.

For all the quickly-evaporating enthusiasm Jack got from the public on his return to Marvel, he certainly 'hit-it-out-of-the-park' with Mr. Zola.

Which incidentally reminds me, he's one of the few remaining Marvel Legends figures I have yet to grab. :)

Martinex1 said...

This brings back great memories. I was nine years old and this month included the first comics I ever bought (previously all my comics were supplied by a cousin). I bought one of those bagged 3 packs at the local Jewel Osco. It had the Invaders issue and the Marvel Two In One with Nick Fury along with a Spider Man cover dated May. I must have read that Two In One a hundred times and can still remember Nick and Ben sitting in the pizza place and their chairs descend taking them into the SHIELD hideout; Fixer and Mentallo intrigued me and I liked their bickering. I thought they were super high level villains. And the final page with Deathlock; wow, who is that crazy guy? I still love that cover; that is the one that made me buy the issue. I was amazed that the Thing had his own book; I only knew him from the Fantastic Four The Invaders confused me as I was young and did not really understand how Captain America could be on one team in WWII and another in the Avengers. And I really liked the Crusaders so was disappointed that they were the "bad" guys. Great memories. Still have those books. Still amazed at how much story and characterization they crammed into a single issue.

J.A. Morris said...

I picked up a few of these as back issues. The ASM was an entertaining battle, featuring Wil-O The Wisp and a Spider-Slayer robot. The (then) New X-Men vs. Magneto was good too.

Anonymous said...

I was buying 20 some-odd Marvels a month at this point. Karen, I can relate to your thought on picking up books out of habit. Also relate to what you said yesterday about up to about 1974 or so and being able to keep track of the characters. Marvel had several new titles that were still not as far issue #12 at this point - Inhumans, Invaders, Ms. Marvel, Nova, Peter Parker, Super Villain Team-Up, etc., etc. etc. I loved a lot of them but was beginning to feel overwhelmed.


Humanbelly said...

When were Marvel Comics- just as their own thing, not as part of a bigger enterprise-- at their most profitable (relatively)? Could that explain the the big surge in product? In the late 70's and early 80's the comics themselves were still a very cheap thing to physically create, yes? Old paper, old printing processes-- so maybe the profit "nut" was easy to reach with any title, which could justify just churning them out willy-nilly?

Geeze, that would surely explain the Harvey/Ritchie Rich phenomenon. . .


Garett said...

Warlord and Conan were good reads at this time. I'd love to see a Warlord Omnibus come out. I always thought Black Lightning had a pretty cool look--I like lightning designs on characters. I've never read his comic, as the art looked underwhelming, but I do remember him from the newspaper strip from around this time, The World's Greatest Superheroes.

I just read that Howard the Duck issue days ago! The legs on the cover belong to a lady on the bus who pesters Howard throughout the series. I'm up issue 20 now. It's been a fantastic series, but there are only a few Gene Colan issues left, so just about done.

Logan's Run--loved that movie. I have this comic series, and it should be a slam dunk with Perez art, but I can't remember too much about it. I'll have to dig this one out again.

Anonymous said...

I was only 5 at this time, so I don't remember much, but I definitely had Marvel Tales #78 (reprinting the first issue of the "drug trilogy"); I also had the next one (MT #79) where Spidey lost his spider-sense AND his ability to stick to walls AND ran out of he had to fight the Goblin with sheer agility! I think I missed the third part...didn't read that one till a few years later.

Mike W.

Rusty said...

I have very fond memories of that Invaders issue (second half of a two-parter.) They were fighting a team based on DC's Freedom Fighters, while in Freedom Fighters, that team was fighting knockoffs of the Invaders. Both pastiche teams were called the Crusaders. None of the guest characters was really evil, with the exception of the Captain America clone in the DC story - other than that, they were more well-meaning dupes. And, of course, the Uncle Sam clone in Invaders went on to have a permanent part in Cap history as the first man to don the mask after Steve Rogers vanished in 1945.

Humanbelly said...

@Garrett-- IIRC Logan's Run had a George Perez/Klaus Janson team, which maybe wasn't the home-run one might now expect it to be. Perez' clean lines and layout were kind of at odds w/ Janson's (at that time) very heavy shading and feathery/etchy inking style. But it was almost like the paper and coloring process themselves weren't up to conveying the visuals being attempted.


Edo Bosnar said...

HB, re: Logan's Run. Can't really agree with you about the art. I thought/think it was quite good. In fact, some years back I acquired the entire series and had it bound (since a reprint seems highly unlikely).

pfgavigan said...


In answer to Humanbelly;

According to Jim Shooter, one of the reasons for the big surge in product at this time was the number of people in the industry, the stagnant wages and the reduction in the total number of pages per book. They went from an average of twenty to seventeen over several years.

Look at it like this, Stan Lee was once the primary, almost solitary writer for Marvel. Thomas and others enter and exit, but there is always the need to make a living. Writers and artists were paid per page and at this time that wasn't all that much. More books meant more money, even if the creative teams on said books changed with each issue.

Sometimes office dynamics effected the number of books published. Gerry Conway somehow wrangled a contract that meant he had to write eight books a month. Several titles, such as the Defenders, were taken from their current writers, such as Gerber, and given to Conway and even then he was supposed to create several new books to get him to the quota.

I don't know if he ever achieve this because he, to Stan Lee's ire, shortly thereafter broke said contract and returned to DC.

That's the history as I understand it. Whether or not it's correct is debatable but I believe it to be plausible.

It would certainly explain the existence of "IT, The Living Colossus!"


William Preston said...

I had many of the Marvel titles from this month. Kirby continued to infuriate and baffle me with Cap.

Speaking of Kirby: The FF cover didn't have anything to do with the story, I think . . . ? It appears to be mostly Kirby, but that thing is somebody else's (Wilson's?), inked by Sinnott, yes?

Anonymous said...

Karen - Hadn't read much of Englehart's Captain America at the time (or since, which is a bit slack of me) but as some one who loved the Panthers Rage stuff from Jungle Action, I can see what you're getting at - Kirby's late 70s Black Panther was also a different character completely. But I enjoyed all that King Solomons Frog madness anyway, as it was really good in its own terms, just as I liked McGregor's version even though he wasn't the same character introduced in FF 52. So long as the results had their own creative integrity (admittedly, that's a very subjective judgement) that kind of inconsistency never bothered me much.

Having said that, I wouldn't want to try and make out that Kirby's Cap run is some sort of forgotten classic, seeing as I haven't read any of it since I was about twelve.
Generally, I think Kirby's 70s work holds up well, but maybe by then he was more suited to way out post-Fourth World sf than superheroes?


The Prowler said...

This month came after my twelfth Christmas, the first one I bought gifts for everyone with my own money. Little did I realize how that would impact my comic budget! Spider-Man, FF, and X-Men was it for me!

(We're simply having a wonderful Christmas time).

Anonymous said...

Humanbelly - Yeah, some cheap overheads - although they were rising - but don't forget that in the newstand market sales had to cover any returns (which could be a large part of any print run) before achieving a profit.


Humanbelly said...

Thanks for the deep-background answers, guys--much appreciated! And edo, I should probably give Logan's Run the benefit of the doubt and at least take another look at it before pronouncing critical judgment. I mean, it's been what-- 37 years since I last really looked at it? I'd do well to keep an open mind, eh?


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