Sunday, 4 October 2009

70 Years of Marvel - 1973

1973 saw the Black Panther, after guest-starring in pretty much every title out there, finally get a shot at his own book. This was the start of "Panther's Rage", a 13-parter which, these days, is recognised as ground-breaking in terms of being a very early example of a graphic novel. "Panther's Rage" was written by Don McGregor, in virtually his first work for Marvel, and, like a lot of Panther books, was able to push the creative envelope, safe in the knowledge that most people wouldn't be reading it anyway.

Elsewhere in 1973, the Titan priestess-turned-hero, Moondragon, was making her presence felt, although for reason best know to herself, was dubbing herself Madame MacEvil at this point. Meanwhile, her father, Drax the Destroyer, was also turning up, as another new writer, Jim Starlin, began introducing more and more cosmic elements to Marvel's books. Vampire-slayer, Blade, began hunting down Dracula, and martial-artist Mantis, Celestial Madonna-to-be, debuted in the pages of the Avengers. In the newly-revived Strange Tales, Len Wein and Gene Colan were introducing Brother Voodoo, a young man with a big future, whilst in the pages of Adventure In Fear, a book starring the monstrous Man-Thing, a duck named Howard was making his debut. The Son of Satan was making his first appearance, in the pages of Ghost Rider. Another famous son, this time, Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, and son of Fu Manchu, was making his first appearance. And Marvel was bringing one of its first big crossovers, as Steve Englehart brought us the Avengers-Defenders War! Yoinks!

In the real world, 1973 saw Nixon, in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, "I am not a crook." Meanwhile, his VP, Spiro Agnew, was being convicted of tax evasion. Happy days.

On the tv, Last of the Summer Wine started, bringing the hilarious exploits of three ancient Yorkshiremen to anyone too lazy to change channels. We were also treated to the almost equally hilarious exploits of the cast of Are You Being Served, while over in America, the Six-Million Dollar Man was making his debut. Meanwhile, at the pictures, The Exorcist was terrifying witless teenagers, and Yul Brynner was a psychotic android in Westworld.

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