I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again, Mama!

The first order ever placed for my comics was for the Topper at Simpsons’ general store in my home village of Chapelton. It changed to accommodate the “Junior TV Times” Look-In  in the early 70s. Subsequently, most of Marvel UK’s burgeoning output  was added when the Cringan family took over the shop: MWOM, Spider-Man, the Avengers, POTA, the Titans and Captain Britain.

Strathaven: 2000 AD. Craig’s is the cream building, background left.

However, I also had an order at Craig’s newsagent in Strathaven, beginning with Cor! and Whizzer and Chips. That one branched out into the weekly Savage Sword of Conan and the Super Heroes; Doctor Who Weekly ; Star Wars Weekly; Rampage and Complete Fantastic Four. (I would in fact have DWM on order until about 1987). My brother ostensibly had the order for Planet of the Apes, Star Wars and Rampage.

The manageress of Craig’s cannily suggested I might like this Treasury in the autumn of 1974:

That marketing ploy was my first encounter with these collector’s items and I still have my copy to this day, yellow and dog-eared. I had read half the contents already in MWOM but the Galactus Trilogy was  fresh to me.

On the cover, Sue is unflatteringly muscular; inside, Stan the Man recalls his “What If ” approach to plotting. In a couple of years, Roy the Boy will use this technique as a springboard for one of the enduring Marvel concepts of the decade.

Captives of the Deadly Duo: Coming to this again in middle age, I was knocked out by its energy and scope. It’s the first appearance of a master stroke: the teaming of super-menace Sub-Mariner with the diabolical Dr. Doom. This pair of malcontent monarchs are an excellent match. We also get a taste of the early FF’s squabbling and conflict. Kirby’s pencils make Namor the most dynamic and fascinating character in the story, although Doom is a sinister manipulator. Kirby also draws a witty and exotic undersea villa for Sub-Mariner complete with sponge footstool and starfish coffee table. Subby displays some far-out powers and Doomsy traps the FF in the ionosphere. Dig it!

The Impossible Man: the début of the whimsical green pest, a shape changing comic relief character in the vein of Mr. Mxyzptlk. In a couple of years time, Impy would return as regular supporting cast member. He was also a surprising favourite of melodramatic mutant maven Chris Claremont.

A Visit with the Fantastic Four: a charming short where the FF break the fourth wall to reveal some of their back story and retell their origin. I think it’s the first time we learn that their adventures are printed in comics ( whereas DC’s Earth-2 heroes appear as Earth-1 comic book characters).

FF Family Portrait:  a 2-page spread by John Buscema depicts the foursome with Franklin, Alicia, Agatha Harkness, Medusa and Thundra. This Treasury was published about half-way through the Inhuman’s Bronze Age stint as Sue’s replacement.

The Coming of Galactus: the first chapter of the trilogy is truncated: all the material about the fall of Maximus and  the sealing -off of Attilan is cut. However, the Surfer’s first dazzling appearance and the atmospheric phenomena are only a prelude to a Kirby Kollage and the entrance of the bizarre armoured giant Galactus.

If This Be Doomsday:  we learn that Galactus intends to feast on the energy sources of the Earth- from the oceans to the molten core. There’s an early example of the Lee/Kirby disconnect: in the previous episode we are told the Surfer fell off the Baxter Building because he chose to but he seems pretty dazed when he literally drops in on Alicia. This encounter awakens some compassion in the Sentinel of the Spaceways. The FF are trounced by the Punisher, a diminutive cybernetic watchdog. Johnny is dispatched by the Watcher to the home planet of Galactus: an infinity symbol-shaped space station that dwarfs a solar system! Far freakin’ out.

The Startling Saga of the Silver Surfer: Johnny returns with the Ultimate Nullifier, a doomsday weapon. Galactus retreats but exiles the Surfer to Earth after cosmic battle. Later city-wide  duels in the New Gods will echo these scenes. The material that sees Johnny enrol in college and meet Wyatt Wingfoot is cut.

Of course, the Silver Surfer graphic novel, Lee and Kirby’s final collaboration for Marvel in 1978, re-imagines the entire conflict without the participation of the FF.

Inside the Baxter Building: a b/w  schematic of the FF’s hq reprinted from from FF Annual 3.

This is a highly enjoyable collection, even nearly forty years later. The scope and imagery of the Galactus Trilogy is momentous although the pace is breakneck, compared to the early stories.

My next Treasury purchase was a Christmas edition- but we’ll deal with that during the festive season itself.

Coming soon: The Mystery Men of October

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners

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One comment on “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again, Mama!

  1. Kid Robson says:

    The Silver Surfer graphic novel is interesting, but it can’t really match the original version in the F.F.’s own mag. I wonder if Stan and Jack viewed the book as a movie pitch, hence the foursome’s omission?

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