Thursday, June 3, 2021

Where Looms The Juggernaut!


In 1970, when The X-Men title finally folded its tent and ceased publication of new stories with issue #66, there followed a gap of nine months before the book began appearing on store racks once more--this time recycling itself as a reprint title, reaching back to the fall of '65 to begin its "new" run and sporting a 25¢* price tag which suggested the issue would contain more than one previously published story. That format would continue for six issues before the book's length and price fell into line with Marvel's other books being published--with the exception of its bimonthly publication schedule, which lasted for the next eight years until 1978 when by that time the next X-Men team was firmly established (and, at that point in time, battling Magneto at the heart of a volcano).

*10¢ more than standard-length 20-page comics, though 36 pages in total if you included the staggering 16 additional pages of ads (third-party and Marvel-related), letters pages, Bullpen bulletins, and of course the Marvel checklist (which technically would have to fall under "ads").

For its first issue out of the gate after its period of dormancy, X-Men featured a foe who first appeared in 1965 and would go on to become the X-Men's mortal enemy, the Juggernaut--along with a blazing guest-star whose power and abilities were sorely needed in the team's dire hour of need. And for the occasion, artists Marie Severin and Joe Sinnott were tapped to recreate Jack Kirby's original cover--bringing Sinnott, who also had inked Kirby's cover, full circle.

Kirby and Severin obviously have a different approach in presenting the threat, with Severin cutting to the chase and showing Juggernaut having advanced through the team's defensive measures and now poised to destroy the lot of them; yet as the cover also meant to grab the attention of anyone browsing comics for sale, it presents a more visual, more animated appeal than the looming threat which Kirby depicts, while also prodding any former X-Men readers who might have been hoping for the title's resurgence.

Within, however, as the original story is again presented, whatever prospects of excitement that Severin's cover might have indicated for the issue's story dim somewhat, with Kirby by then having shifted to doing layouts for the book while artist Jay Gavin (a.k.a. Werner Roth) was being groomed as the book's new regular artist. Gavin had yet to find his groove with these characters (as he would), and he was a marked improvement over Alex Toth from the prior issue where Juggernaut made his debut--but even with Sinnott, as well as the addition of the Torch, the action here comes off as stiff. (Granted, the Juggernaut himself doesn't help in that regard, as the story has him mostly threatening and steadily advancing while everyone tries to halt him.)

As for what brings the Torch to Xavier's school, he happens to catch a bit of Xavier's mental waves which have swept over New York (it's a little more convoluted than that, but you catch my mental drift)--and Xavier, with the Juggernaut at his doorstep and in no position to turn down aid, entreats him to help. And no doubt that help would more than tip the scales against this foe, were it not for a handy dandy force field which you'd think a human juggernaut by definition wouldn't need.

Finally, though, a little teamwork saves the day--nor, does it seem, is the Juggernaut's force field much use against a winged opponent when the man himself is too unfocused to invoke it. (For some reason I thought the field was always present no matter what, but what do I know.)

With the threat dealt with, Xavier wipes the Torch's memory and sends him flying back to New York none the wiser--the reason being that, during this time, Xavier still wishes to keep his association with the X-Men a secret. If memory serves (heh, get it?), that association as well as Xavier's mental abilities are known to a confidant in the F.B.I.--yet at some point, that information becomes known to super-beings and perhaps even the N.S.C. and the White House.  And despite the strange mental waves which seem to be prodding your humble host to put these thoughts aside, the PPC will be exploring that subject in the near future.

Wait... I was going  to... what's happening...



B Smith said...

In Alex Toth's defence, he was being inked by one V. Colletta...and if you think Colletta's inks on Kirby pencils were a little unsympathetic, they were positively brutal on Toth's.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Oh, I agree with you there. The inking in X-Men #11 is worse than in FF Annual #3, but for me it's FF Annual #3 that's the bigger crime - if there was one issue where Stan needed to make sure he had the best inker and told him to take his time, it was that FF Annual.

lordjim6 said...

I always thought the fact that Xavier was in touch with a government agent at the very beginning was very interesting in light of the almost underground and militant path Claremont took the entire x mythos down. Shame nobody ever really picked up that thread (except for a forgotten 90’s villain. Then again, almost every element of the mutant saga pre 1975 got the shaft by Chris and his followers...

Fantastic Four follower said...

I think that Alex Toth only drew 1 comic for Marvel and I am guessing that he could not adapt to the Marvel Method or perhaps was not happy with his payment for his trouble! I base this on Roy Thomas' story that he sent a plot suggestion to Toth for a proposed joint Avengers story between them and Toth lambasted Roy for basically not giving him enough plot and obviously the collaboration went no further. I loved Toth stories in Creepy and Eerie and would have loved to see him at Marvel, sadly not to be! Was he a grump or am I doing him a dis-service? Loved those double sized reprints that Marvel published in 1970 which was a great way to read the classics. Great topic. Keep up the great work.

Comicsfan said...

There's definitely no shortage of "nega-Colletta" sentiment here, which is certainly within anyone's right to express. Out of curiosity, was there any work of his that those of you who weren't fond of his style ended up appreciating? For instance, I wouldn't have minded seeing someone else sub for him on his many Thor issues, but to be honest his work on Kirby's pencils grew on me.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

Inking is one of those things that you only come to appreciate in later life, like bassists in rock bands.

If we're talking about allocating resources around the bullpen, Thor was probably the best strip for Vince to work on. Other inkers would have done a better job, but if the Joe Sinnots and Bill Everitts could have scored 9/10 on every strip and Coletta could have scored 7/10 on Thor and 6/10 on everything else (I'm making up these numbers) then it made sense to put him on Thor. I'm not a Coletta hater but that rushed job in FF Annual #3, that should have been a showcase and the greatest comic of the 1960s really grates.

To answer your question though, CF, I can appreciate some of his work on Thor. While others could have done better, I'm glad those inkers were employed on other strips.

Anonymous said...

Dangermash, your statement about how appreciating inkers is like appreciating bassists seems very true to me!
I guess you gotta have some level of understanding or familiarity with the medium, like comics or rock, before you can discern the more subtle stuff.
But it does get more interesting!
I'm starting to like jazz music, but I don't think I'm ever gonna get to the point where I appreciate it on the same level as others do. I don't understand it. It's like me at six years old with a Spider-Man comic. I dunno what the heck is going on.
But that's fun too, I think!


Kid said...

I like Colletta's inking on Thor. However, just imagine John Severin inking it. Wouldn't that have been something?!