Moments II

Moments I've Noticed Re-Reading Old Funnybooks (2 of 3)

This month's moments come from

  • Captain America #321 (September 1986)
  • The Incredible Hulk #145 (November 1971)
  • The Mighty Thor #194 (December 1971)
  • Marvel Team-Up #31 (March 1975)

In Peter Parker: Spider-Man #28 (April 2001), our friendly neighborhood wall-crawler goes to great lengths to keep from killing Mendel Stromm even though the death seems like the only way to save the world and Mendel begs our hero to euthanize him. Why? Because Spider-Man doesn't kill, hasn't killed, won't kill, never will kill. Period.

This used to be true of all Marvel heroes back before the days of Wolverine and the Punisher, right? Once upon a time, Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter decreed that Phoenix had to die as punishment for destroying a planet of asparagus people. But in the last twenty years, it seems like everyone is killing someone. Even Captain America in Volume 1 #321 of his series (September 1986) was forced to use a machine gun to kill a terrorist who was in the process of murdering a crowd gathered in a cathedral. Captain America!

But in the simpler, earlier days of Marvel, no heroes were doing any killing, were they? Well, I stumbled on The Incredible Hulk #145 (November 1971) recently in which the green goliath goes swimming in the Mediterranean and defends himself from a Russian Destroyer trying to ram him, by grabbing the ship and pulling it down to the bottom of the sea "where special munitions, hidden in the ship's hold, succumb to the unbearable pressure" and explode, presumably killing everyone on board.

So, the Hulk is a mass murderer. Still, it is a big green monster of which were talking. What about the most noble figure in the Marvel Universe; Thor the God of Thunder? Well, in The Mighty Thor #194 (December 1971) the evil god Loki has taken over Asgard (again). He has an army of trolls to defend him and only a handful of gods to oppose him. The Warriors Three sneak off to try to rouse Odin from his Odin-Sleep. Balder is prevented from fighting by a vow he gave to the Norn Queen. Only Thor is doing any battling. So, when (on page 10, panel 6) Thor walks over the bodies of trolls and declares, "Thy guards be dead, Loki.", we can have a pretty good guess as to who did the killing.

So, what does all this mean? That 1971 was a pretty vicious year? That killing Russians during the Cold War and trolls just anytime doesn't count? That Spidey stands alone as a non-killing hero? Or maybe that Spidey has done his killings as well and, like the Thor example, people don't tend to remember them? How about the time, in Marvel Team-Up #31 (March 1975) when Spider-Man and Iron Fist smashed a mirror over Drom the Backwards Man's head which caused the villain to regress into nothingness? Does that count? If not, why not? Because he was going to eventually regress anyway? Because they didn't mean to do it? (They seem pretty casual about it, all the same.) Because no one remembers the event afterwards? Anybody out there have any other examples?