Posts Tagged ‘Don Heck’

The Avengers #34

July 5, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
November 1966
**
An uninspired tale w/ lower stakes than usual. A new supervillain has a laser schtick, but his real gimmick is an obsession with the Wasp. Unfortunately, the issue focuses on her guy instead. Since his return, Pym has become this mag’s central character as well as  the focal point of every cover.
[last issue: The Avengers #33]
[next issue: The Avengers #35]

The Avengers #33

July 4, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
October 1966
**
The Avs, led by Pym, face off against a secret society of super-bigots, the KKK by way of 007. It’s similar to the FF‘s classic “Hatemonger” ish but not as tight. Heck inks his own art, displaying his pro skills (akin to Sekowsky on JLA, coince) in the best light, but he muffs crucial plot points.
[last issue: The Avengers #32]
[next issue: The Avengers #34]

The Avengers #32

July 3, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
September 1966
***
A few months after FF debuted the Black Panther, The Avs tackles bigotry in a superhero paradigm. Cap & the gang rally to denounce & then confront a super-conspiracy of nativists who beat up blacks & Latinos! Unfortch, the new guy, a black biochemist, is more of a plot device than a 3D character.
[last issue: The Avengers #31]
[next issue: The Avengers #33]

The Avengers #31

July 2, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
August 1966
The team stumbles into a lost Incan tribe’s civil war over an eternal flame (actually a naturally-occurring nuclear pile!). Heck’s no Kirby—who is?—but he’s adopted enough Kirby-isms to give this pulp adventure a headlong momentum. The only human moment has the mutant sibs convalesce back in Europe.
[last issue: The Avengers #30]
[next issue: The Avengers #32]

The Avengers #30

July 1, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
July 1966
***
Heck does a passable Kirby impression by packing more plot into one ish than it can comfortably hold. He even equips a Haggard-like lost race w/ colorful sci-fi Incan headgear! Then he gets real comic book emo out of Hawkeye, now more chummy w/ Cap as he defeats his original mentor, the Swordsman.
[last issue: The Avengers #29]
[next issue: The Avengers #13]

The Avengers #29

June 30, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
June 1966
**
Before Romita would jolt Marvel into a more soap-operatic mode, Heck sets the prototype. Goliath mopes over his gigantism while g’friend Wasp frets; Hawkeye moons over his lost love, the Black Widow (poor wallflower Witch!). But this is supercomics, so BW has enlisted muscle to attack the team.
[last issue: The Avengers #28]
[next issue: The Avengers #30]

The Avengers #28

June 29, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
May 1966
***
The insectoid Avengers, now B-listers w/o their own series, return to this mag. Lee has revised Doc Pym in the Marvel style, w/ a period-perfect costume from Heck. Giant-Man, AKA Goliath, is anxious cuz his growing power taxes his body, maybe fatally! Van Dyne, OTOH, is cast as a damsel-in-distress.
[last issue: The Avengers #27]
[next issue: The Avengers #29]

The Avengers #27

June 28, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
April 1966
***
The mag’s on an upswing. As Lee supplies dialogue w/ his usual brio, Heck finally delivers a plot to match. It’s an undersea adventure, complete w/ giant octopus, crashing subs, & plenty of swashbuckling. #27 isn’t revolutionary, but its scope & stakes feel worthy of Avengers, even this b-grade cast.
[last issue: The Avengers #26]
[next issue: The Avengers #28]

The Avengers #26

June 27, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
March 1966
**
The Avs lose the first bout against an undersea warlord (an enemy of Namor’s, natch) w/ a supervillainous plan to flood the world. Heck, as usual, seems more jazzed by the internal squabbling than the adventures, since it allows for more emotion. But nice to see the Wasp perform a bit of solo heroism!
[last issue: The Avengers #25]
[next issue: The Avengers #27]

The Avengers #25

June 26, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
February 1966
***
Lee sets up a match w/ the inestimable Dr. Doom; too bad Heck draws a mediocre plot. His Avengers don’t win so much as get trapped & then escape as Doom unholsters ray-guns. Still, the creators remind us of the mutant sibs’ coded origin as Holocaust survivors, & sideline the FF via diplomacy.
[last issue: The Avengers #24]
[next issue: The Avengers #26]

The Avengers #24

June 25, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
January 1966
****
Compare #24 to last ish: Ayers does skillful work but his inks lack the lush texture of Romita’s. Still, it’s a great story, the sort of epic that a superteam deserves. In the fifth millennium AD, Kang faces down a coup w/ the Av’s help! But in a sentimental twist, he’s too late to save his beloved!
[last issue: The Avengers #23]
[next issue: The Avengers #25]

The Avengers #23

June 24, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
December 1965
****
Kang, despot of the timelines, shunts the Avs into the future to impress a space princess. Romita’s inks turn this adventure into a space opera in Raymond’s Flash Gordon style! His sensuous approach, honed in romance comics, adds conviction to the villain’s motivations & Kirby-like deco backgrounds.
[last issue: The Avengers #22]
[next issue:  The Avengers #24]

The Avengers #22

June 23, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
November 1965
***
Trying to clear their name after last issue’s frame-up, our heroes face Ditko’s Circus of Crime (a silly ’60s concept) & Power Man, a juggernaut of muscle. But the better part of the ish involves the set-up, with the team moping around & such. Plus, Wood’s inks smooth & add weight to Heck’s art.
[last issue: The Avengers #21]
[next issue: The Avengers #23]

The Avengers #21

June 22, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
September 1965
**
One of Lee’s favorite plots: the heroes falsely accused. This time, they’ve been framed by the Enchantress & her new stooge, a merc empowered by the Wonder Man treatment. Wally Wood, inking since last ish, adds a lovely sheen that makes Heck’s style resemble Plast & Swan’s contempo work on Superman.
[last issue: The Avengers #20]
[next issue: The Avengers #22]

The Avengers #20

June 21, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
September 1965
**
Echoes of issue #9, as Avengers applicant the Swordsman acts as catspaw for a greater villain till his conscience kicks in. His boss is the Mandarin, a Fu Manchu type who has no prior beef w/ the team. Heck balances the scenes of teamwork w/ clashes of personality—but oy, his costume designs!
[last issue: The Avengers #19]
[next issue: The Avengers #21]

The Avengers #19

June 20, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
August 1965
**
When folks talk about the insane plots of Silver Age comics, they don’t mean this arc. Part 1 of 2 sees the new Avengers face a chappie w/ a sword, a lowlife ex-carny (Hawkeye’s onetime mentor) who wants to join the team. A molasses-slow multi-issue plot has Cap petitioning for SHIELD membership.
[last issue: The Avengers #18]
[next issue: The Avengers #20]

The Avengers #18

June 19, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
July 1965
***
The heroes jet off to Indochina to overthrow a Communist goliath. Formulaic plot & racist art gets lifted by giving damsel-in-distress Scarlet W the win. Also strong: character dynamics. Hawkeye exhibits an anti-authoritarian streak while the mutant sibs voice doubts about their mission’s politics.
[last issue: The Avengers #17]
[next issue: The Avengers #19]

The Avengers #17

June 18, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
June 1965
***
A hunt for charter Avenger the Hulk turns up blank, while a face-off w/ that subterranean tyrant, the Mole Man, & his monsters ends in a draw. The new roster, however, shows more teamwork & demos more character than the square heroes they’ve replaced. Hawkeye is aiming to replace Cap as team leader!
[last issue: The Avengers #16]
[next issue: The Avengers #18]

The Avengers #16

June 17, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & Don Heck
May 1965
****
Recognizing the need to shake up this formulaic mag, editor Lee revises its mission by changing its cast. Cap excepted, the square-jawed heroes step aside for reformed criminals from other mags, antiheroes w/o titles of their own. The combat’s perfunctory; this ish aims for drama, not action.
[last issue: The Avengers #15]
[next issue: The Avengers #17]

The Avengers #15

June 16, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & Don Heck
April 1965
**
Staging a battle royale btw the superteam & their evil reflection, the Masters of Evil, on the streets of NYC, this conventional ish acts as climax for the original lineup. The shake-up will help, since the all-star cast has been straightlaced, even square, ever since Cap replaced the wild-card Hulk.
[last issue: The Avengers #14]
[next issue: The Avengers #16]

The Avengers #14

June 15, 2012

Stan Lee, Paul Laiken, & Larry Lieber // Jack Kirby & Don Heck
March 1965
***
Lots of hands work on #14, but it’s Kirby’s imagination that directs them. So a twisty plot links a critically wounded Wasp, a hunt for a lung specialist, the secret Arctic citadel of pale blue aliens, & finally, an interstellar war! It’s worth lingering over the King’s strange city & war machines.
[last issue: The Avengers #13]
[next issue: The Avengers #15]

The Avengers #13

June 14, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
February 1965
***
An aristo runs a criminal syndicate, so he engineers a war btw the Avengers & the US military! Under the Marvel Method, the conventional plot is Heck’s. But Lee’s hand is seen in the Innocent Accused trope as well as the cute twist on the Mob’s popular nickname (the “Maggia”, one letter off).
[last issue: The Avengers #12]
[next issue: The Avengers #14]

The Avengers #12

June 13, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
January 1965
**
A standard superteam adventure, as the Avengers take on a megalomaniac & his doomsday device. The villain’s not even new, he’s on loan from the Fantastic Four: a subterranean tyrant & his pale yellow horde. The underground setting, at least, allows Ant-Man to prove he’s not the team’s fifth wheel.
[last issue: The Avengers #11]
[next issue: The Avengers #13]

The Avengers #11

June 12, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
December 1964
***
Once again the mag’s supervillain targets the team, as the futuristic Kang sends a Spider-Man robot to the Amazon jungles. It nearly bests the Avs till it’s stopped by the real deal. Heck’s Spidey lacks Ditko’s acrobatics; he focuses on the webbing. But his art improves as he adopts more Kirby-isms.
[last issue: The Avengers #10]
[next issue: The Avengers #12]

The Avengers #10

June 11, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
November 1964
***
The latest ally of the Masters of Evil is a sort of time-wizard, able to yank figures out of history to pit against the heroes. Compared to Kirby’s spacesuited Kang, Heck’s design—long robes, black goatee—reflects a more conservative aesthetic. His plotting too is clumsy, his fights w/o finesse.
[last issue: The Avengers #9]
[next issue: The Avengers #11]

The Avengers #9

June 10, 2012

Stan Lee // Don Heck
October 1964
****
Heck picks the mag up, replacing Kirby’s kineticism w/ a richer emotional palate. Take Cap, who’s now obsessed w/ Nazi hunting. Or see the issue’s antihero, a Superman stand-in. Initially he’s ready to trap the Avengers as corporate payback upon Tony Stark, but his conscience turns at the 11th hour.
[last issue: The Avengers #8]
[next issue: The Avengers #10]

Journey into Mystery #100: Thor

October 9, 2011

A-story: Stan Lee // Don Heck
B-story: Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
January 1964
A-story: ***
B-story: ****
JiM hits issue #100 for Thor’s inaugural two-parter. Plot threads stay loose, offsetting a brawl w/ a gentleman brute aboard a Polaris sub & a romantic tangle w/ Nurse Foster. In the flashback backup, teens Thor & Loki steal golden apples from giants. Valor, it seems, will earn Thor his hammer!
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #99]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #101]

Journey into Mystery #99: Thor

October 8, 2011

A-story: Stan Lee // Don Heck
B-story: Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
December 1963
A-story: ****
B-story: *****
Thor’s 1st two-parter sees him facing a powerhouse inspired by RL Stevenson’s Hyde. But more crucially, the god hopes that his dad will grant his g’friend immortality. The backup is classic Kirby, a saga for the Space Age! Odin’s battle w/ craggy trolls & a titanic fire demon sets the Earth spinning!
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #98]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #100]

Journey into Mystery #98: Thor

October 7, 2011

A-story: Stan Lee // Don Heck
B-story: Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
November 1963
A-story: ***
B-story: ****
Heck’s lean, angular style & individual panels gives Thor a moddish look. The adventure—a face-off w/ a scientist bitten by a radioactive cobra—seems almost a parody of Ditko’s Spidey. Kirby’s B-story, which follows Odin’s epic battle w/ ice giants, has a rugged thrill unlike anything in Marvel.
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #97]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #99]

Journey into Mystery #97: Thor

October 6, 2011

A-story: Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & Don Heck
B-story: Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
October 1963
A-story: ***
B-story: *****
Lee & Kirby take the mag & mint a fantastic new creation mythos for Marvel in the new backup, “Tales of Asgard”, echoing Prince Valiant by eschewing dialogue. Kirby mainly provides layouts on the superhero A-story. But even that’s more keen, as Nurse Foster walks out on Dr. B after he flees a lava man!
[last issue: Journey into Mystery #96]
[next issue: Journey into Mystery #98]

Tales of Suspense #50: Iron Man

May 12, 2010

Stan Lee // Don Heck
February 1964
A-story: *
Why does Lee swap Heck for Ditko just as he’s rolling out a major arch-enemy? The art suffers, esp. a romantic subplot w/ Potts & Hap. Then there’s the Mandarin, a Chinese warlord whose power rings belie his origin in 007 foes (& Dr. Doom, natch). Worst of all: the bucktoothed Asian caricatures.
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #49]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #51]

Tales of Suspense #46: Iron Man

May 7, 2010

Stan Lee & Robert Bernstein // Don Heck
October 1963
A-story: ****
Iron Man finally finds its voice in this taut parable of anti-Soviet propaganda pitting Stark against his Commie counterpart, the Crimson Dynamo. Their face-off ends not in violent victory but in epiphany, as the Soviet scientist defects to join Stark’s team. Plus, his stocky red armor is a treat.
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #45]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #47]

Tales of Suspense #45: Iron Man

May 6, 2010

Stan Lee & Robert Bernstein // Don Heck
September 1963
A-story: ***
To support Stark’s adventuring, Lee & co. add a freckled admin asst. (“Pepper” Potts) & an ex-pug dogsbody w/ Beatrice/Benedick chemistry. Heck’s creative juices are beginning to flow, & his work is more energetic & confident: a spiky ice-villain trumps Kirby’s frosty Iceman, debuting the same month.
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #44]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #46]

Tales of Suspense #44: Iron Man

May 5, 2010

Stan Lee & Robert Bernstein // Don Heck
August 1963
A-story: *
An inane story out of the execrable Gardner Fox playbook hurls the hero back to Cleopatra’s Egypt via magic, a plot device that plays against the book’s techno theme. Iron Man defends the queen’s throne from a sorcerer, pitting transistorized gadgets against an army of chariots. Disappointingly chaste.
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #43]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #45]

Tales of Suspense #42: Iron Man

May 3, 2010

Stan Lee & Robert Bernstein // Don Heck
June 1963
A-story: **
Heck gives Iron Man a mature feel that’s closer to Infantino’s cool than to Kirby’s dynamism. He adds tension to this thriller, tho’ he doesn’t energize a formulaic story. Stark busts up a spy ring & out-maneuvers a Red master-of-disguise to keep his latest weapons tech out of Soviet hands.
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #41]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #43]

Tales of Suspense #39: Iron Man

April 29, 2010

Stan Lee & Larry Lieber // Don Heck
March 1963
A-story: ****
Iron Man’s concept fits w/ Marvel’s hard-luck heroism: playboy technocrat Tony Stark must remain in his iron mask to survive a war wound. The plot—Stark lays low a stereotypical Red warlord in Vietnam—has Kennedy-era currency, while Heck’s snazzy art & Kirby’s armor design add to the hi-fi realism.
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #40]