Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Groove's Faves Week! Black and White Wednesday: "Temple of the Spider" by Goodwin and Simonson

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Ol' Groove is having a birthday this coming Saturday, I've got a brand new grandchild (#4!) on the way, and school has started back. Instead of struggling to keep up or (heaven forbid) getting behind, Ol' Groove is going to try something I've been toying with for a long time: re-runs! Yep, there are a lot of old posts that I'm really proud of that don't seem to have gotten the attention I'd have liked, so I'm going to run them this week. Next week, Ol' Groove'll be back with new posts, but 'til then, enjoy and comment on these Favorite Posts!

From November 5, 2008...

What's happening, Groove-ophiles? I thought after all the big events of the past several weeks (Halloween Countdown, 100th Post, and the election), it'd be nice to unwind with a flat-out great comicbook story by two of the most talented dudes to ever grace the pulpified pages of our favorite medium. I mentioned this story in my post on Thrilling Adventure Stories back in August (you can read it here), so I'm not gonna waste space repeating it all today. Suffice to say, the two issues of Thrilling Adventure Stories produced by Atlas/Seaboard back in 1975 are treasure-troves of comicbook excellence. This story by Goodwin and Simonson, who had just finished their magnificent run on Manhunter in the back of Detective Comics (issues 437-443), is one of the absolute best black and white comics ever. And because Ol' Groove loves ya, here it is!

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Groove's Fave Posts Week! "The Brain-Blasting Ballad of Iron Man's Nose!"

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Ol' Groove is having a birthday this coming Saturday, I've got a brand new grandchild (#4!) on the way, and school has started back. Instead of struggling to keep up or (heaven forbid) getting behind, Ol' Groove is going to try something I've been toying with for a long time: re-runs! Yep, there are a lot of old posts that I'm really proud of that don't seem to have gotten the attention I'd have liked, so I'm going to run them this week. Next week, Ol' Groove'll be back with new posts, but 'til then, enjoy and comment on these Favorite Posts!

From September 30, 2008...



Come and listen to my story 'bout a man named Stark,
Fightin' evil in armor and it warn't no lark,
One day whilst a-fightin' baddies under the sea,
His mask got busted an' it made it hard to breathe.

Air that is.
Ain't none.
Underwater.

Next thing you know, Stark's stokin' a fire,
Workin' on a new helmet that was gonna require,
A triangular nose pokin' outta the front,
That'd scare the bad guys he was fixin' to hunt.

The nose, that is.
Lends more expression.
Looks real scary.
Okay, Ol' Groove might not win any Grammys for that ditty, but hey--it's no sillier than the true story behind Iron Man's infamous nose (Iron Man #'s 68-85). In 1974, Roy Thomas was Marvel's Editor-In-Chief, while Publisher Stan Lee was winging his way all over the country speaking at colleges and making deals with Hollywood types. Stan had pretty much left the day-to-day grind at Marvel in Roy's capable hands. Got all'a that? Good, 'cause here's where it gets interesting. The story goes that one day, Stan bopped into the Bullpen and took a look at the art for the latest issue of Iron Man. Evidently, there was a panel or two that showed the Golden Avenger's profile, and Stan, thinking the profile looked too flat for a human face to actually fit under wondered aloud, "Where's Iron Man's nose?" Somebody heard The Man utter that fateful phrase, took it to mean that Stan wanted a nose added to Iron Man's helmet, and viola! Mike Friedrich and George Tuska whipped up a story that explained, ever so melodramatically, the addition of a nose to Iron Man's helmet.

As luck would have it, our hero wound up with a triangle sticking out of the front of his helmet just in time to pose for his first action figure from the folks from Mego.


But that's not all! Months later, Stan was back for another visit to the Bullpen. Evidently he hadn't looked at an ish of Iron Man since his last visit, and when he saw that nose, THAT NOSE sent Smiley into a tizzy. Word came down from on high that the nose had to go, so in Iron Man #85, Len Wein, Roger Slifer, Herb Trimpe, and Marie Severin concocted a tale in which Tony Stark built a new armored suit. This new suit was a quick-change rig that, at the touch of a button, would pop out transformer-like from the chestplate, gloves, and boots, sliding up, down, and across Stark's body to encase him in the familiar golden garb. However, a big triangular nose slowed down (held up?) the quick-change, so it had to go. Thank goodness.

Marvel really blew it with that nose.

(That putrid pun should make you appreciate my poetic skills a bit more, now shouldn't it?)


Monday, August 21, 2017

Groove's Fave Posts Week! I Was a Friend Of Ol' Marvel

Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Ol' Groove is having a birthday this coming Saturday, I've got a brand new grandchild (#4!) on the way, and school has started back. Instead of struggling to keep up or (heaven forbid) getting behind, Ol' Groove is going to try something I've been toying with for a long time: re-runs! Yep, there are a lot of old posts that I'm really proud of that don't seem to have gotten the attention I'd have liked, so I'm going to run them this week. Next week, Ol' Groove'll be back with new posts, but 'til then, enjoy and comment on these Favorite Posts!

From November 3, 2008...

When Ol' Groove is waxing eloquent on why being a comics fan back in the Groovy Age was such a blast, the thing my mind always goes back to is F.O.O.M. Yep, I was an original Friend Of Ol' Marvel, baby! From the moment I saw this ad......(which was actually a Bullpen Bulletins Page that had been hijacked for the ultimate hype), I knew I hadda get $2.50 in the mail to P.O. Box 1827 in New York and get those goodies! My folks were sitting at the kitchen table talking (as they usually did) when I crept stealthily up the stairs to put into action my plan to beg, borrow, or bust to get the money to join F.O.O.M. I showed 'em the ad, looked at them pleadingly...and they said, "Sure." They actually thought it was pretty cool. And man, did I think they were cool! Right away, they wrote a check, I filled out and cut out the ad from my brand new copy of Amazing Adventures #18 (February, 1973--the debut of War of the Worlds!), stuck it all in an envelope, and mailed it the next day.

Next came the hard part. Waiting. I'm sure it was only a few weeks, but it seemed like months before a big honkin' envelope with a giant Steranko Hulk face showed up (complete with address sticker in the Hulk's mouth!). I got home for school one sunny spring day, and it was lying on that fateful kitchen table waiting for me. I ripped it open...and entered comicbook heaven!

The Jim Steranko poster featuring a plethora of Marvel heroes (and the Black Widow, too) completely blew my mind. It took a few minutes to recover from that, then I signed my golden membership card, spread out the stickers and spent a few minutes figuring out where I was gonna stick 'em (all over my room, it turned out), and then I sat down and cracked open the cover of the first issue of FOOM Magazine. Smiling Stan Lee welcomed me on the cover, and then I dove in. An intro by Steranko filled me in on what FOOM was all about. There were pics and bios of several Marvel Bullpenners. An illustrated history of the Fantastic Four (I'd never seen so much as a panel of the first ish before that fateful afternoon) illuminated the dawn of the Marvel Age for me. I belonged. Officially. I'd always felt like a Marvelite anytime I read a Marvel comic, but now I had a badge to prove it.

Next day at school, I showed it off to my friends. They all "ooohed" and "ahhhhed" over it. A few even talked their folks into letting them join.

I kept my membership going for the better part of the next four years. I even renewed once and got a brand new set of stickers, poster, and envelope. For 17 glorious issues, I knew what to look forward to when I got to the spinner rack before most any of my friends. I knew to be on the lookout for a new Red Guardian in the Defenders. I knew to watch the racks for new superheroes like Nova and Ms. Marvel. I even had the heads up about the first Marvel Super-Special starring KISS before the TV news unleashed the story.


FOOM magazine actually ran for 22 quarterly issues. It was a whole lot like an extended Marvel letters page crossed with an extended Bullpen Page, each issue running 36 pages and filled with art (unused and preview), news, comics history, interviews, games, puzzles, mini-posters, ads for cool Marvel Comics memorabilia (like bronze pendants, Spider-Man record albums, and posters), and even contests, like the (in)famous "Create a Character" contest where the winning character didn't appear in a comic 'til about 30 years after the contest ended.

It was wild, wacky, fun, and frivolous, just like all Marvel Comics. But it was also a rite of passage into fandom. For those of us who lived hundreds of miles away from any comics convention, FOOM was it for us.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Making a Splash: Joe Staton and Bob Smith's Plastic Man

Hey, hey, hey, Groove-ophiles! Ya know, when the final Dollar Comics issue of Adventure Comics (#466) hit the stands, Teen Groove was rather bummed. No more cool stories featuring JSA, Aquaman, or Deadman. But it was kinda hard to stay bummed when a month later, standard-sized ish 467 came out (in October 1979) with a cool new Starman (by Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko, and Romeo Tanghal) series...splitting the book with the return of Plastic Man, written for two issues by Len Wein, who was followed by writer Martin Pasko. The stories were different and fun, but the big (and Ol' Groove means big) attraction for the Plas series was the art by penciler Joe Staton and finisher Bob Smith. If ever an artist was born to follow in the footsteps of Jack Cole, t'was Joe Staton. After all, wasn't part (the best part many might say) of Joe and Nick Cuti's E-Man inspired by Cole's Plas? And just how perfect for Plas was the art team of Staton and Smith? Just take a look for yourself, baby...












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Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!