Today I take a first look at Strange Tales #108 and JLA #1. 3 stories for 2 issues isn’t bad and actually the stories are pretty good, particularly the JLA tale. In Strange Tales we get lots of magic with a forger who uses magic paints and a challenge to the mighty Merlin. While in JLA, we see a new group of superheroes arrive on Earth and it seems they might have positive AND negative effects on the planet.
Strange Tales #108 story A
The Human Torch meets The Painter of a Thousand Perils
This story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby pits The Painter against The Human Torch and it’s a pretty decent fight. Prior to this issue, Torch put the Painter behind bars and he’s out for revenge. He almost gets it too as he uses magical paint that he found in an ancient cave. As the story progresses, the Painter shows off his skills to a bunch of baddies and as he does, he thwarts the Torch at every step. His paintings can come to life and be controlled by his thoughts – how could he not defeat Johnny. Time and time again, the Painter takes down the Torch but he waits for a final revenge until he can paint the rest of the Fantastic Four attacking Torch. As the Painter makes Reed, Sue, and Ben attack Johnny, we learn that Torch had “borrowed” the paints and created a duplicate Torch that was destroyed by the team rather than the real Human Torch. In the end, he burns up the paints so the Painter can never cause this trouble again.
Strange Tales #108 story D
The Iron Warrior by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko is the D story in Strange Tales #108 and it revolves around Merlin and a challenge to his magical powers. Apparently in King Arthur’s court there’s a knight called Mogard who is skeptical of Merlin’s powers so he challenges the wizard. Merlin didn’t want to have anything to do with the challenge but it became a matter of his honor so he named a champion – the Black Knight to defend his honor. The Black Knight easily defeats Mogard, who had never lost before, but Mogard still dismissed Merlin’s magic. That is until Merlin revealed that the Black Knight was just an empty suit of armor enchanted by his magic. A pretty decent and quick tale but one that was hard to find since Marvel Unlimited didn’t have it for some reason. Google to the rescue!
Them! by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter starts a run that I’ve heard good things about and is one of the books scheduled for my book club reading. Things begin as Earth is being invaded by aliens and the President dispatches the Justice League to meet them. They’re peaceful or so it seems and actually, they’re super beings similar to our Justice League.
The Hyperclan, is what they call themselves, and they’ve come to save the world. Their leader Protex explains that their planet was destroyed so the super beings wander the universe for new worlds to save. So now they’ve found Earth and they’re gonna save it. First they turn the Sahara into farmland, then they start executing super criminals, then they destroy the Justice League’s satellite? Huh? I thought they were trying to help humanity – why would they attack the Justice League? Apparently they’ve been to Earth before, millenia ago, and this time they’re using some kind of mind control that only now the JLA is starting to clue into.
Will Batman convince the rest of the team that they are at war in time?