Posts Tagged ‘Stan Lee’

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]

The Avengers #8

June 9, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
September 1964
****
A UFO brings a boastful despot to Earth, but he’s not an alien, he’s a time traveller! Curiously, Marvelites have seen this guy Kang before—in ancient Egypt, v. the FF! Still, this issue’s plot is generic, and aside from a crazy uniform, so’s the artwork (graded on a Kirby curve, anyway).
[last issue: The Avengers #7]
[next issue: The Avengers #9]

The Avengers #7

June 8, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
August 1964
*****
Nearing its anniversary, The Avengers becomes a monthly mag—so Lee & Kirby stage a helluva fight! A siren of Asgard hypnotizes Thor into fighting his teammates. And Captain America faces Zemo, the Nazi who killed his sidekick in WW2. Cap, a true war vet, burns w/ neurotic guilt at the kid’s death!
[last issue: The Avengers #6]
[next issue: The Avengers #8]

The Avengers #6

June 7, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
July 1964
****
W/ the Hulk gone, the mag finds a new center in Captain America. He leads the heroes against a superteam of their enemies, enlisted by a Nazi foe who’d hid in South America! Kirby brings his gadgets, a gang of kids, and a ranting megalomaniac; Lee adds his editorial passion for a shared universe.
[last issue: The Avengers #5]
[next issue: The Avengers #7]

The Avengers #5

June 6, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
May 1964
****
The return of the Lava Men, whom Thor faced last fall. But aside from one of Lee’s typical warmongering advisors, these classic Kirby monsters aren’t villains. Incidentally, this ish acts as a coda to the Hulk’s career with the Avengers, after breaking w/ them finally in The Fantastic Four.
[continued from The Fantastic Four #26]
[last issue: The Avengers #4]
[next issue: The Avengers #6]

The Avengers #4

June 5, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
March 1964
*****
Kirby & Lee resurrect Captain America, carefully retailoring him to superb effect. A disastrous WW2 mission cost Cap his sidekick Bucky & put him on ice. Reawakened, he broods mightily but fits perfectly w/ the superteam, who help an oddball (but not evil) alien while facing a resurgent Namor.
[continued in The Fantastic Four #25]
[last issue: The Avengers #3]
[next issue: The Avengers #5]

The Avengers #3

June 4, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
January 1964
*****
In a Marvel irony, the teams’ foe in #3 used to be a teammate. The Hulk’s antisocial demeanor earns him attn from the original antihero, Namor—who defeats the surly monster in an underwater wrestling match! But the duo can’t cooperate when they challenge the Avengers to a battle royale under Gibraltar.
[see also Journey into Mystery #112]
[last issue: The Avengers #2]
[next issue: The Avengers #4]

The Avengers #2

June 3, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
November 1963
****
Kirby & Lee apply the shapeshifter trope (a fave of theirs) to JLA‘s alien invasion plot. But it’s their best iteration, as the conflict reflects the book’s engine of distrust among teammates. Hulk just can’t mesh w/ the more idealistic heroes, & so, in an encore of FF 3, he stomps out on them!
[last issue: The Avengers #1]
[next issue: The Avengers #3]

The Avengers #1

June 2, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
September 1963
*****
Stan & Jack add a Marvel twist to superteam conventions. Loki, a trickster god, dupes a handful of Earth’s mightiest heroes into fighting that monstrous antihero, the Hulk! Despite the formulas, this premiere issue is incredible, mostly cuz Kirby, inked by Ayers, offers such vigorous dynamism.
[next issue: The Avengers #2]

Tales of Suspense #81: Captain America

January 26, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
September 1966
B-story: ****
This climax to the last 4 issues—like the arc as a whole—is frantic, almost out of control. Maybe that’s because the gadget at its core is too abstract: an energy cube that can power the Red Skull’s victory over mind & matter. Faced w/ the Red Skull Triumphant, Cap fakes submission & sucker punches him.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #80]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #82]

Tales of Suspense #80: Captain America

January 25, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
August 1966
B-story: ***
ToS #80 ties a few plot threads together in a loose knot, but the rocketing momentum compensates for that. Meanwhile, Heck’s thin-lined inking isn’t ideal for Kirby’s chunky style. The Red Skull betrays his terrorist allies & steals their invention: a “cosmic cube” that turns will into reality!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #79]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #81]

Tales of Suspense #79: Captain America

January 24, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
July 1966
B-story: ****
Once again, the story’s driven by the futuristic, transistor-like designs of Kirbytech. A teutonic helmet broadcasts a hypno-ray that renders its wearer invisible! Its inventors, the yellow-clad sci-terrorists codenamed AIM, have also, ominously, resuscitated Cap’s diabolical archenemy, the Red Skull!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #78]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #80]

Tales of Suspense #78: Captain America

January 23, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
June 1966
B-story: ****
With his mad, nearly abstract technology & breakneck pacing, Kirby takes creative control of Cap. Out of nowhere, a cyborg w/ chemical weaponry (built by science terrorists in yellow hazmat suits) surprises Cap & fellow war vet Nick Fury. So the Avenger joins Fury’s clandestine spy agency, SHIELD.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #77]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #79]

Tales of Suspense #77: Captain America

January 22, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & John Romita
May 1966
B-story: *****
Cap’s first essential tale since his revival, this mini-drama must be exactly how the supersoldier spent WW2. Flashback to the Liberation of Paris, when Cap loses his g’friend, a liaison with the Resistance. Marvel’s best romance artist, Romita, ghosts his passionate faces over Kirby’s layouts.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #76]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #78]

Tales of Suspense #76: Captain America

January 21, 2012

Stan Lee // John Romita
April 1966
B-story: ****
The rippling forms & sure rhythms of recent hire Romita match this mag’s heroic tone perfectly. And his chemistry w/ Lee renders memorable the swinging ’60s villain, a French bounder named Batroc (Batroque?). He’s been hired by a 007-style super-crime ring to steal an explosive isotope from SHIELD.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #75]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #77]

Tales of Suspense #75: Captain America

January 20, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
March 1966
B-story: ***
Ayers isn’t a good partner for Kirby: his pencils lift Jack’s shadows & strip the faces of emotion. Too bad, since a Fifth Ave shopper reminds moody Cap of his wartime romance—but she’s really a US superspy! Even better: a morally ambiguous merc w/ mad combat skills & an outrageous French accent!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #74]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #76]

Tales of Suspense #74: Captain America

January 19, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & George Tuska
February 1966
B-story: ****
Former Nazis activate a contingency failsafe 20 years after Germany’s loss: a superweapon that may blow up the Earth! Its payload is a steel head modeled after the Red Skull’s kopf. Cap parachutes aboard to disable it using only an acetylene torch! Even Stan seems impressed at what Jack comes up with.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #73]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #75]

Tales of Suspense #73: Captain America

January 18, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & George Tuska
January 1966
B-story: ****
Like the thrilled reader, Cap can only watch as a giant robot links w/ a huge electro-kite to wreck the German countryside. The tech, like CA himself, is plausibly WW2 era—in a pulp way. Tuska’s professional pencils point to a synthesis of Kirby’s unique style w/ a more conventional look.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #72]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #74]

Tales of Suspense #72: Captain America

January 17, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & George Tuska
December 1965
B-story: *****
Cap shifts to the modern era, w/ Steve Rogers as the man out of time, suffering survivor’s guilt as vets do. But the past lives on, as a Nazi sleeper cell activates an old plan by that diabolical super-SS agent, the Red Skull. Awesomely, it involves giant robots out of a ’40s Fleischer cartoon!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #71]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #73]

Tales of Suspense #71: Captain America

January 16, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & George Tuska
November 1965
B-story: ***
Part 3 of a story that sounds like a plausible WW2 Cap/Bucky mission and avoids both Golden Age & Silver Age formulas. Instead, the creative team delivers a rollicking adventure involving an English rocket scientist/Quisling who avenges his sister by rerouting a V-2 to hit a Nazi battalion in France.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #70]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #72]

Tales of Suspense #70: Captain America

January 15, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & George Tuska
October 1965
B-story: ***
CA now alternates the mag’s cover w/ Iron Man rather than sharing it. Inside, Kirby’s obviously the creative drive behind Cap’s strip, even if he’s just providing breakdowns: so much action & momentum, plot threads get frayed! Our super-soldier gets pinned down by a Nazi squad in an English castle.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #69]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #71]

Tales of Suspense #69: Captain America

January 14, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
September 1965
B-story: ***
Bucky plays the perennial role of Boy Hostage when he’s kidnapped by a mad scientist. But the highlight of this backup is a gutsy firefight in Occupied France, tipping the ish towards the war genre. Working off Kirby’s breakdowns, Ayers has fine linework that suggests ’40s comics, esp. in the faces.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #68]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #70]

Tales of Suspense #68: Captain America

January 13, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
August 1965
B-story: ***
Cap breaks the Red Skull’s mind control—whew! Back on duty, he outsmarts a Nazi agent who’s stolen an experimental disintegrator. Kirby’s found a solid formula for this backup: ’60s superaction in a ’40s setting. Lee, however, doesn’t add his trademark exuberance or interior psychic tension.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #67]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #69]

Tales of Suspense #67: Captain America

January 12, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
July 1965
B-story: ****
Hitting the height of his creativity, Kirby creates the sort of WW2 Cap stories w/ Lee that you wish he’d done w/ Simon. All of ’41 Europe is his theater, from Hitler’s Berlin to blitzed London. Sidekick Bucky Barnes escapes a POW camp to rescue CA, who’s now the Red Skull’s Manchurian Candidate.
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #66]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #68]

Tales of Suspense #66: Captain America

January 11, 2012

Stan Lee // Jack Kirby
June 1965
B-story: *****
Lee & Kirby quit recounting 1940s tales to create original missions. The Red Skull brainwashes Cap, but not before he reveals his past. Hitler himself oversaw the training of a bitter German teen (an everyman, like Rogers was), but now the Fuhrer worries that his protege has amassed too much power!
[A-story: Iron Man]
[last issue: Tales of Suspense #65]
[next issue: Tales of Suspense #67]