Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Classics - Strange Tales #135

    This issue was a real shock when I picked it up at the local newsstand.

   Gone was the Human Torch, who had been starring in Strange Tales for three year - and in his place was a modern-day Nick Fury!

   Keep in mind, this was 1965, and the idea of a super-spy was red-hot, thanks to the popularity of James Bond. Anagrams were also popular, thanks to the TV version of Bond, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

   Always quick to jump on a trend, Marvel decided to create its own spy series.

   Fury was a natural leader (he had recently appeared in an issue of Fantastic Four for a modern-day check-in), so they gave him an eyepatch (presumably to differentiate him from his World War II persona appearing in Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos) and made him the head of the newly-created S.H.I.E.L.D.

   And what an amazing first appearance! In a short 12 pages, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (with Dick Ayers inks) introduce S.H.I.E.L.D., Life Model Decoys, Hydra, flying cars and the Heli-Carrier! (And throws in a guest appearance by Tony Stark, too!)

   It's a crackling start to the new series, with concepts that continue to be a big part of the Marvel Universe and Marvel Films!

   And that's just the first half of the issue!

   This issue also includes a terrific Doctor Strange story, as Lee and Steve Ditko embark on a quest story for Strange. He's being pursued (like the TV series The Fugitive) by a powered-up Baron Mordo, who is backed by Dormammu.

    Strange is trying to find a source of power that can save him - but can he find the secret of Eternity?

   In this 10-page gem, Strange must make use of all his skills and weapons to stay one step ahead of Mordo and the powerful allies at his disposal.

   The art is stunning - dark, mysterious and bursting with imagination. Ditko was building an amazing body of work on this series - sad that he would only stick around for another year.

   Next week, we'll look at his amazing final issue.

Grade: A+



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