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Flashback: Review of Silver Surfer 6 (Volume 1, June 1969) September 22, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, Flashback.
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Ever since reading an adaptation of The Time Machine by H.G. Wells in elementary school, I’ve been a fan of apocalyptic future tales. There’ve been a lot of great ones, and a lot of, well, not-so-great ones, but this issue most definitely ranks with the former, and serves as some of the best Silver Age material that Stan Lee has to offer.

The story begins with Norrin, once again, lamenting his exile on Earth and missing Shalla-Bal (they do seem to enjoy using this a lot). He has an epiphany and realizes that if he travels far enough into the future, he may find a time when Galactus’ barrier no longer exists. When he does so, he finds a devastating sight: Earth is completely barren. Saddened at the loss of his adopted home, he returns to his true home only to discover that Zenn-La has experienced a similar fate.

Eventually he learns that nearly all life in the universe has been obliterated by a being known as the Overlord. As the two meet, we get another philosophical tale from Stan Lee as he examines the importance of life. Eventually, the Silver Surfer is able to escape the Overlord and change time, but not before once again appreciating all the universe has to offer. I’m trying not to give too much of the story away, but suffice to say, this should definitely go on your list of old comics to look up.

Next week: Uncanny X-Men 128

-LOTRKing

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Flashback: Review of Avengers 51 (April 1968) July 7, 2008

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In Flashback, LOTRKing reviews a random back issue (in most instances, one he hasn’t read before) and attempts to make sense of both the story and its place in Marvel history.

Once again we dip into some Silver Age Marvel, but luckily this one is one of the better selections from that period. Sure, it wasn’t the best comic ever published, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the last look into the Silver Age. This particular issue features the roster of Thor, Iron Man, Goliath (Pym), Wasp, and Hawkeye and begins as Pym is attempting to regain his powers. His first test fails (quite painfully), and the story soon progresses as we are introduced to the mysterious Collector. If my memory serves me right, The Collector belongs to a fraternity of beings called The Elders. I don’t remember what they do as a group, but I do know that they once tried to destroy Galactus and the universe, so that they could be the new “Galacti” of a reborn universe, and Silver Surfer had to stop them (or something like that). Anyway, that story didn’t come about until way after this, and I’m not even sure if The Elders had made an appearance yet. In this issue all we learn is that The Collector is an ancient alien being that likes to, well, collect stuff. (Why didn’t they just name him Pack-Rat-Man? 😉 ) And, having come to Earth, he decides to collect the Avengers one by one.

The first Avenger he “collects” is Thor, though this isn’t revealed until later, and he has tricked him into drinking an “obedience potion” made with Asgardian herbs (yes, I know, one of those quirky Silver Age gimmicks, but at least it makes sense in the context of the story). He then uses Thor to help him capture Goliath, Wasp, and Hawkeye, and later restores Goliath’s failing powers because he does not want a “defective” Avenger (bad idea buddy). As The Collector sends Thor out to retrieve Iron Man (which results in a pretty cool battle sequence), Wasp, Goliath, and Hawkeye are able to escape. This results in yet another battle, and, much to the Collector’s dismay, the destruction of many of his artifacts. When the battle causes one of his collected machines to go haywire, he is forced to use a temporal dislocator to teleport to another time (why simple teleportation wouldn’t have worked better is beyond me). With these three Avengers in a hovering ship being fast consumed by flames, all looks lost. Luckily, The Collector’s disappearance nulls the effect of the obedience potion on Thor, who has knocked Iron Man unconscious and left his armor barely functioning. Thor returns to the ship to rescue his fellow teammates, and we are left with what looks to be a happy ending.

Of course, the reader always needs to get pulled back, so we still have the vanished Collector drifting around, who we already know will pop back up. Likewise, the very end of the issue introduces a new hero called The Panther (I’m assuming this is T’Challa, the Black Panther), who will join the roster next time. So all-in-all, a fun read, but nothing you have to go hunting through back issues for. If you ever come across it, you may as well take a look at it, otherwise, nothing major missed.

Next week: Uncanny X-Men 40

-LOTRKing

Flashback: Review of Fantastic Four 124 (July 1972) June 23, 2008

Posted by lotrking in Comic Book Reviews, Flashback.
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In Flashback, LOTRKing reviews a random back issue (in most instances, one he hasn’t read before) and attempts to make sense of both the story and its place in Marvel history.

Finally, for the first time in Flashback, I can say that I fully enjoyed this issue! (Perhaps the fact that Stan Lee wrote it has something to do with that. 😉 ) It wastes no time setting up the story as the very first panel shows Reed fainting and falling out of the Fantasti-Car. The next few pages show the FF trying to saving Reed and themselves (they’ve lost control of the Fantasti-Car) before they finally succeed and take Reed to the hospital. Upon entering the plot thickens as we hear a nurse raving about how she saw a monster break into the medical supplies room. The other nurses try to tell her that she must have been sleeping and dreaming, but we later find out, since this is a comic book after all, that it actually happened.

After we get an obligatory humorous scene involving the Thing (a necessary piece of an FF issue, right?), we see him step into the supply room in question, before being knocked down by an escaping shadowy figure. The mysterious creature then kidnaps Sue, using chloroform to make her unconscious. This quickly leads to a chase as Johnny flies after them, but the monster eventually makes it to a lake, and distracts Johnny by throwing a full grown tree at several nearby pedestrians. By this time, the monster has disappeared (into the lake unbeknownst to Johnny). As the doctors discover that Reed’s condition is a result of extreme exhaustion, Johnny and Ben regroup and decide to save Sue. Meanwhile, Sue turns herself invisible and the monster, thinking she has escaped, goes to recover her. Finding herself in a deserted cavern, Sue uses a stick to nudge a large boulder out of the way in attempts to escape, only to discover that said boulder was blocking a large surge of water from entering the underwater cave. As the doctors discuss what they should tell Reed about his wife, he wakes up in time to hear about her situation, and tries desperately to escape to save her, while Sue is drowning and laments that she will never see her husband or son again.

For being an over thirty-five year-old story, I was intrigued the whole time. We all know that Stan Lee is a genius, but I think we sometimes fail to forget that even his “non-groundbreaking” stories can still be a great read. Not to mention that John Buscema’s art, while a little dated, is still spectacular. Never once did anything look goofy or cheesy, as can often happen in these old-time comics. Heck, this is the first time doing a Flashback where the ending actually made me care enough to read the next issue to see what happens (and the ending was just as strong as this issue!) So if any of you guys (or gals) are looking for an entertaining old-school Stan Lee Fantastic Four tale, you may as well pick this up! (Along with the next issue, assuming you want to see why Sue doesn’t die, and the story behind the mysterious monster.)

Next week: Amazing Spider-Man 228

-LOTRKing