Monday, May 11, 2015


FANTASTIC FOUR 25-26, with its Thing-Hulk battle, remains the best example of Jack Kirby cutting loose with his trademark fight-kinetics. However, despite a shorter length, the first major battle between the Hulk and the Mighty Thor-- appearing in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #112-- is nothing to sneeze at.

Rather than coming up with a new reason for the Asgardian hero to confront the Green Goliath, Lee and Kirby choose to tell an "untold story" of a previous meeting.  Thor himself narrates the story to a gaggle of young admirers, revealing that during the Avengers' sortie against the team of the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner in AVENGERS #3, Thor managed to get the Hulk alone in a room and the two of them matched muscles for roughly a minute. This, Thor tells his comics-audience (but not his listeners), is all the time the hero allows himself to defeat the Hulk, swearing not to pick up his dropped hammer until he defeats his monstrous opponent. Since in those days Thor would revert to the human Doc Blake if the hammer was out of his hands for more than 60 seconds, this sounds like a suicide impulse on Thor's part-- though it certainly fits in with his Viking macho rep.

It's a good fight, but the panels above capture a curious dichotomy in the Lee-Kirby corpus: an admiration for the brutal power of the Hulk played off against Thor's embodiment of the virtues of nobility. The THOR feature would sometimes explore these issues, resonant of class conflict, but here it's just a side-note to the Clashing of Titans.

Saturday, May 9, 2015


I selected this film for roughly the same reasons I chose CRISIS ON INFINTE EARTHS here in post #47, less for the work's quality than for its significance as a crossover.

As all fans of luchaodore cinema know, the dominant idea behind the genre was to portray established professional wrestlers as itinerant superheroes, running around fighting everything from crime bosses and spies to aliens and monsters. IMDB cites the date of the first crossover, SANTO AND BLUE DEMON AGAINST THE MONSTERS, as 1970. I haven't screened this flick as yet, but I have seen two other Santo-Blue Demon team-ups from the same period, so I have to pass on these two-wrestler team-ups to stand as the best of the genre.

If 1972's THE MUMMIES OF GUANAJUATO had nothing else going for it, at least it brought together the three wrestlers who had the longest careers as movie superheroes: Santo, the Blue Demon, and Mil Mascaras. Fortunately, the film also gave the wrestlers opponents who aren't simply retreads of Hollywood figures. These mummies were based on a group of well- preserved corpses found in Guanajuato, Mexico, which city subsequently became a major Mexican tourist attraction.

These two elements are the best aspects of the film: otherwise MUMMIES is not the equal of the more brain-fried Mex-horror films. For most of the narrative, director Federico Curiel seems content to show the heroes in a series of running battles with their super-strong, almost invulnerable enemies. More than that I can't  say, for I only watched a Spanish language version of the film. However, I honestly don't think I'm missing any great subtleties here.

The mummies are moderately imposing, if not scary, and there's lots of action. I should note, though, that Santo doesn't show up until the last fifteen minutes; it's been strongly suggested that he was a last-minute addition to the film..