My buddies and I have “Avengers” fever. We can barely wait to see “Avengers: Infinity War,” which opens tonight, and answer some burning questions. I myself want to know how the relatively humble Captain America can deflect a blow from Thanos’ omnipotence-granting Infinity Gauntlet (as depicted in the trailer). Meanwhile, a pal of mine insists it’s possible that some iteration of the Venom alien symbiote will make an appearance — even though that character is owned separately by Sony Pictures. (I’m inclined to think that this is wishful thinking.)
I was actually around for the 1991 debut of “The Infinity Gauntlet” — the six-issue 1991 crossover series upon which this movie is based. (“The Infinity War” was actually a sequel comic crossover that Marvel released a year later.) An upperclassman upstairs in my sophomore dorm lent it to me, and it pretty much blew my mind. I had only recently discovered that the characters owned by the “big two” comic book companies inhabited shared universes. (DC Comics has released its own universe-wide crossover series at about the same time — “Armageddon 2001,” a series I still love, despite other fans’ contempt for it.) I had read a lot of comic books growing up, but they were usually war comics or horror comics; superheroes had always seemed lame to me when I was a kid.
“The Infinity Gauntlet” was thick stuff, as comics went. The sheer number of characters involved (and an abundance of cosmic characters) made it a little hard to follow for a reader new to Marvel. (DC’s major characters were fewer, more familiar and easier to understand.)
But it was still a load of fun. I still think it’s messed up what Thanos did to poor goddam Wolverine, who’d skillfully gotten the drop on him at first.
Does anyone else remember Wacky WallWalkers? They were arguably the coolest toy you could find at the bottom of a box of cereal. You threw them against a wall or window any they would “walk” down it by virtue of that weird lightweight plasticy material that they were made of. If they got dirty, you just washed them in soapy water, and they were good to go again.
They occasionally left filmy leg-marks on white walls; if you were a smart kid, you did not tell your Mom about that.
DC Comics’ “Sgt. Rock” was far harder stuff than the “G.I Joe” comics and toys that are more often associated with the 1980’s. They were the darkest and most violent comic books I read when I was a young kid, except maybe for the various “Conan” books. Hasbro relaunched “G.I. Joe” in 1982 concurrently with its toy line, and it was a famously kid-safe (and lucrative) franchise. “Sgt. Rock,” in contrast, consisted of brutal stories that focused on the horrors of war — it was really more of a cultural holdover from the comics of the prior two decades. (The title began as “Our Army at War” in 1959.)
I loved these comics — especially the larger “annuals” with lengthier stories. Nothing was better than “Sgt. Rock” and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. What occasionally puzzled me as a second-grader was that none of the other boys I knew seemed to be reading them — although a lot of other kids certainly hopped on the “G. I. Joe” bandwagon.
The last one pictured below, from 1981, was my favorite. If memory serves, it was the first one I ever owned.
Young kids snapped up “Pac-Man” stickers in the early 1980’s, even if (as far as we knew) the video game was virtually meaningless. Did anyone even know the backstory for “Pac-Man?” Was there even a backstory? I myself rarely played the game — I didn’t live near an arcade, and this wasn’t one that my family owned for its Atari 2600.
Still, anything depicting the character was a hot commodity.
No, I wasn’t around in 1965, but I absolutely remember this song from when I was a tot in the late 1970’s. My parents played it quite a bit; they had a few Frank Sinatra albums among their stacks of 8-track tapes in the living room entertainment center. I wasn’t supposed to touch them, but I did. (Hey, they were right at the bottom level, where I could fiddle with them. And, as a kid, would read anything — even album titles.)
Anyway, this Internet thingamajig tells me that the song was written in 1961 by Ervine Drake for the Kingston Trio. Sinatra won a Grammy in 1966 for his rendition of it, as did Gordon Jenkins for his accompanying instrumental work.
Rodney Dangerfield actually was pretty damn funny, even if I was too young to appreciate his humor when I was a kid. Not everything he touched turned to gold … I seem to remember a cheesy movie or two. But this 1983 single was great. It’s catchy, and its humor still holds up today.
There are a couple of 80’s-tastic cameos in the video, too. One is Pat Benatar as the leather-clad prison executioner. (Totally not my thing.) The other Saturday Night Live’s chain smoking priest, “Father Guido Sarducci” (Don Novello).
The Mr. Peanut Peanut Butter Maker was an unusual late 1970’s toy; although it first appeared in 1967, I had some variation of it around 1977 or 1978, when I was in kindergarten or the first grade. I loved it beyond reason. (I was bizarrely fixated with peanut butter at that age.)
As a few toy collectors have pointed out online, what’s interesting about this product is that it was both a child-safe toy and a marginally functional appliance — you could indeed make peanut butter with it, albeit very slowly. You just poured the peanuts in and cranked away. I honestly can still remember how it tasted, without the added oil and sugar of store-bought peanut butter. It wasn’t as smooth, but it was damned good.