Your Home for Toy News and Action Figure Discussion!

Unexplored Marvel!

Welcome to a feature that looks at those corners of the Marvel Universe that haven’t gained a lot of exposure over the years. I’ll be focussing on an almost chronological series of lesser known books and series, and giving you a taste of something you may well have missed! To begin with, we go back to 1971, and the semi-anthology series Amazing Adventures!

A bi-monthly title, Amazing Adventures put the spotlight on a couple of arguably B-List characters who may not have been able to support a full title on their own. In 1971 issues #4-9 of Amazing Adventures featured the Impressive Inhumans, and the Brooding Black Widow as the back-up!

The Inhumans stories are impressive. Initially written by Lee & Kirby, with Kirby providing the art, Roy Thomas and Neal Adams jump on board with issue #5. Issue #4 is the conclusion of an arc where the Inhumans face off against Iron Man foe, the Mandarin (this was an era when Attilan, the city of the Inhumans, was located in the Himalayas). From Issue #5, Blackbolt decides that the Inhumans must learn how to interact with the Humans they share the planet with, and leaves on a quest to study and learn. Meanwhile, Karnak and Gorgon free Blackbolt’s brother, Maximus the Mad, from a stasis chamber, unwittingly unleashing the mental powers of Maximus. Struck down by an amnesia-inducing mental bolt from his brother, Black Bolt wanders the streets of San Francisco while the Royal Family frantically hunt for their missing liege. This is a great little story arc, enjoyable for the fact that the Inhumans really seem rudderless without the silent Black Bolt leading them.

Because the stories each issue are half-length, everything zips along, and Adams artwork is beautiful. With issue #9, the Inhumans take over the whole book, as their story becomes more desparate, and the plots become more complicated. Thor also makes a guest appearance, in an interesting way, and you really feel pulled into the quest Medusa takes with her two cousins to save Black Bolt. There’s also a pretty funky rendition of a new costume for Magneto to give you a bit of a chuckle, along with some decidedly ugly mutant servants!

The Black Widow back-ups are much more self-contained than the Inhumans tales, and so provide a welcome distinction between the two features. Essentially, the Widow is working just to be a hero. She is joined by her companion Ivan, a fellow Russian who speaks with the rusty dialect of the old Cagney films he loves, and imagines himself to be a modern Errol Flynn.

The writing chores rotate from Roy Thomas to Gerry Conway, and there’s nothing there to get you too excited about. However, Gene Colan’s artwork is an absolute joy, and surprisingly sexy, given the comics code of the time. It’s nice to read the Widow’s doubts and fears, particularly as we find out that the men around her seem destined to meet an early demise. The potential curse of the Black Widow is a nice touch for a character who was, until this point, seemingly defined by the company of men she kept, and gives this a bit of a twist. It’s always nice to see a little self-doubt creep into such a seemingly self-confident character!

Overall, it’s a series to check out if you can find it anywhere. After issue #10, the Beast takes over as the star of the book, in his newly furred guise…but that’s an unexplored corner for another time…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *