Showcase 82, 1969 “Nightmaster”

Sometimes when you buy a comic, you think you know what you’re in for. And then you read the book and get something totally different. That’s what happened when I read DC Showcase 82!

A hippie musician that gets teleported to an alternate dimension via a weird bookstore, then must pick up a sword and battle evil-doers, and save his girlfriend from them. The first few pages of this book give no indication that’s going to happen (OK, other than the splash page). This one is a fun romp that deserves your attention for sure. This book also has some of the best advertisements I’ve ever seen in a DC comic book (see 3 images below story)!

Very fun/cool story by Denny O’Neil, with artwork by Jerry Grandenetti and Dick Giordano! This one is something straight out of Dungeons and Dragons or slightly even a Tolkien story. If you see this one for a decent price, do not let it slip away. Oh, and of course it has a spectacular cover by DC’s best cover man, Joe Kubert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomahawk 103, 1966 “The Frontier Frankenstein!”

I’ll be very honest here. Until a few months ago, I’d never even heard of this title. I didn’t have a clue about it. Then I saw an auction where I was educated a bit on them. When the opportunity arose to purchase some issues, especially with the covers I saw, I had to give Tomahawk a try!

This story is nothing short of wacky, which is probably why I love it. Anytime you have a Frankenstein Monster in a book, I’m there, especially when it’s a giant sized monster. Throw in the fact that these adventures take place during the Revolutionary War, and you have a recipe for some absolute craziness. There’s also a back up story in the book called “The Super-Ranger with Nine Lives!” But, “The Frontier Frankenstein” is certainly the gem of the book!

The script (for Frontier Frankenstein) is by Ed Herron, a writer I’m not too familiar with to be perfectly honest. The artwork is by one of my favorite lesser-known artists, Bob Brown. The first time I saw his work was in Daredevil from the Bronze Age. The second story has art by Fred Ray. No credits on GCD for writer, but at DC at this time that’s not very uncommon. The cover is also by Bob Brown, who died way too young (61 yrs old, from Leukemia). Definitely give his work a look if you haven’t so far!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Classic X-Men 23, 1988 “Psi War!”

I’ll freely admit that I love origin stories. I see people on social media decry films and comics that recount them, but I just can’t help myself. One of my favorite origin stories, is that of Professor Xavier (and the X-Men). Of course, Spider-Man is the one that gets retold a lot, but I can’t recall this one being retold many times. Honestly though, does anyone not get pumped when they see names like Chris Claremont (writer), John Byrne (pencils), and Terry Austin (inks)?

This reprint book gives us a tale from the youth of Professor Charles Xavier. But first, he’s talking with Lilandra in his office. You see, the X-Men are missing and presumed dead (after an altercation in the Savage Land). He then begins to think that maybe he should never have recruited them for his cause. His mind drifts back to a trip he made to Cairo years ago. As he was walking through the city, a girl (a young Ororo Monroe, A.K.A. Storm!) stole his wallet. He chased the girl down, and retrieved his wallet, but was struck down by a mental attack. He then makes his way inside a cafe to meet the person responsible. He then comes face to face with Amahl Farouk. He is a mutant, and a very powerful telepath, just like Xavier. The difference is that he’s evil, and uses his powers for personal gain. After a quick introduction, they meet on the Astral Plane for combat. The battle is fierce, but eventually, Xavier proves to be the superior combatant!

This story isn’t one filled with action, but it does show you not only the origin of Xavier and his first encounter with another mutant. Seeing Xavier in this different light (pre-X-Men) is quite a thrill and I can only imagine how much bigger of one it was for readers back in 1979. There’s also a back up story by Claremont and John Bolton. A neat little story involving Nightcrawler! And to top it all off, we get a cover (and pinup) by Art Adams! The original cover is by Dave Cockrum (X-Men 117, the last image).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Brave and the Bold 119, 1975 “Bring Back Killer Krag”

After sitting down and thinking about what book to cover next on my blog, it seemed like quite a while since I covered a DC book. Looking back, it has been, and to be specific, it was all the way back on November 11th! Since then, I’ve acquired a few more DC books, this awesome issue of The Brave and the Bold being one of them!

The creative team on this one (and many awesome DC books from the Bronze Age) is fantastic, but we’ll get to them later. For now, I’ll just say that this crazy (or zany) story has Batman investigating a murder at an equestrian event. The murder makes the newspaper, and Dr. Kirk Langstrom sees it. He realizes a reward of one-hundred thousand dollars could benefit him quit a bit, so he ingests his formula, and the Man-Bat is back! This one has it all, a Great White Shark (remember, it’s 1975) restless natives, real bats, and a second Man-Bat…?

As usual, this book is super entertaining for me. Mostly because I enjoy Bob “Zany” Haney (writer) and Jim Aparo (interior and cover art, Tatjana Wood colors). These two creators are probably my favorite team from DC comics. The stories are always solid and borderline on the bizarre, which suits my tastes perfectly. From an artistic standpoint, I can’t get over how much Aparo reminds me of my favorite artist, Gene Colan. He’s the perfect artist for Batman, Phantom Strange, The Spectre, etc. His moody pencils create an atmosphere I don’t see consistently from any other artist from this era in DC books (not even Neal Adams).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Four 52, 1966 “The Black Panther!”

Today, in the U.S., it’s the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. I thought it fitting to spotlight a character from comics that represents a strong belief in something. We all know Reverend King certainly did, and so does T’Challa! He cares abundantly about human life (as did MLK), and the safety of his people, so much so that he’s traveled the world, fighting against evil. In this, his first appearance, we see he started out with some trickery to lure the Fantastic Four to Wakanda, in an effort to see if his skills are ready for combat outside of his kingdom.

The epic battle that was actually training, included the FF, The Black panther, and Wyatt Wingfoot! The Panther defeats the FF, but didn’t count on the young, resourceful Wingfoot. He helps the FF turn the tables on T’Challa, who then unmasks, and begins to tell the FF his incredible origin!

The character of the Black Panther was one that came in a time where we needed him most. Just one year earlier in 1965, this country saw one of the most awful, brutal acts near Selma, Alabama. For Marvel comics to put a black man in their most popular comic book was nothing short of groundbreaking. It showed exactly how Marvel (or at least those doing the day to day work) felt about the Civil Rights Movement. Thank you, Jack Kirby (pencils, cover and interior), Stan Lee (writer), Joe Sinnott (inks) and Sam Rosen (letters).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Tales 159, 1967 “Spy School”

This book has only been in my collection for a few months, but I knew it would be one that I’d spotlight sooner rather than later. Especially when you consider the talent that went into it’s creation! Just based off of the cover alone, who wouldn’t want to own this one! Two big stories with top notch creative teams means a Silver Age classic from the House of Ideas!

First up, we get Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos! They’ve transitioned from military life to working for the government (SHIELD). After a night on the town, Fury goes home, but the next day is full of training at a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. He then must face Captain America in a sparring session in front of the newest recruits!

Awesome story, as you can really see the cool story and art by an ambitious Jim Steranko (story, art, and cover). He really knows how to tell a story with Fury and his supporting cast. He also does a fine job with Cap as well. Letters by Jerry Feldmann.

The second story is another chapter in the life of Doctor Strange! The Doc returns home to find that his Sanctum Sanctorum has been leveled, by none other than Umar herself! Once he finds a counter-spell to bring his home back, he then sets out to fight a band of sorcerers that are attempting to bring back Baron Mordo! Written by Roy Thomas, art by Marie Severin and Herb Trimpe, and letters by Al Kurzrok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doc Savage 8, 1976 “The Crimson Plague!”

The black and white magazine market was absolutely booming in the 1970s. Warren Publishing had already been producing exemplary material since the late 1950s, but in 1964 is when they went full on horror with Creepy and Eerie! Both of these mags had top notch creators on them, and still stand the test of time with excellent stories and artwork by some of the giants of the industry. In typical Marvel fashion, they didn’t waste any time copying the business model of Warren (once the CCA relaxed a bit), and began manufacturing a ton of magazine content.

The content was mostly horror and Sci-fi, but Marvel had other books like Rampaging Hulk, Savage Tales, Conan, Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, Planet of the Apes, and of course, Doc Savage! In this, the final issue, you’ll see madness like never before!

The Doc and the crew head to Acapulco for a funeral, little do they know that they must then contend with a Lovecraftian creature that can completely absorb someone’s mind, turning them into a zombie! Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Renny gets beaten down by some thugs. Later, Doc and Monk come face to face with Randolph Dorn and his Brain Bank!

This insane story was scripted by Doug Moench, from a plot by John Warner and John Whitmore, art by Ernie Chan, letters by Joe Rosen (and Gaspar Saladino). The incredible cover is by the awesome artist, Ken Barr! There are also two pinups I’ve included. The first (inside cover) is from perennial horror artist of the Bronze Age, Tom Sutton, the second by Bob Layton and Dick Giordano!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Two-in-One 1, 1973 “Vengeance of the Molecule Man!”

To close out 2019, and the theme of Team-Up books, I thought I’d go out with a bang, and feature a fairly recent acquisition! A key issue from the Bronze Age, this book is one I’ve been searching for at an affordable price for a long time. The day finally came at a local comic shop (LCS) as they were having a sale that helped ease the pain of the cost. Now, it’s time for Monster vs Monster!

With a story as ridiculous as you’d expect, Ben picks up the morning paper and gets furious because there’s another person with the name “Thing.” This other (Man-)Thing is down in the Everglades and Ben Grimm decides to go down there to give him the whoopin he deserves. There’s just one problem though, the Molecule man has returned, and he’s ready to spring a trap on old Benjy! Can both of these heroes manage to take down an opponent that is off the charts powerful?

Starting with the awesome cover by Gil Kane and John Romita, this one is quirky but a lot of fun. Most of the reason why this one is so much fun, is the writing of Steve Gerber. The dialogue was great with Ben and Manny, then throw in Molecule Man and the other ancillary characters, and it’s a blast! The interior art by Gil Kane (pencils) and Joe Sinnott (inks) was fantastic. No matter if it was action scenes or conversation, they did a very nice job. Jean Izzo (letters), George Roussos (colors), and Roy Thomas (editor) round out the masterful minds behind this gem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bizarre Adventures 34, 1982 “Special Hate-The-Holidays Issue!”

In this, the final holiday post of 2019, I give to you one of the weirdest books ever! These strange stories all revolve around the holidays, but each one with a different cast of characters. The awesome cover is by Joe Jusko!

In the first odd tale (“Son of Santa“), we see a little person who convinces a total stranger to come with him on a flight to Tokyo. He agrees, but half way through the flight, the little guy hijacks the plane, and then forces the kid to jump out of the plane with him (using parachutes). They descend, and find an unusual building. It’s the HQ of none other than Santa Claus himself! The jolly old guy has been killed, frozen solid by someone called…the Anti-Claus! Written by Mark Gruenwald and art by Alan Kupperberg.

The second story is a bit of a parody of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Howard the Duck (“Howard the Duck’s Christmas“)! As usual, it’s a crazy story, but not the best of the book for sure. Written by Steven Grant, art by Paul Smith.

Next is “Dr. Deth, Not to Mention Kip and Morty.” This one is by Larry Hama (script and layouts) and Bob Camp (pencils and inks). This one is very weird, and really not about Christmas except in a  very ancillary way.

In “Slay Bells,” we see what looks like a deranged, small man, acting like a boy to get close to Santa Claus’s around town so he can kill them! This one is super crazy, and violent. Story and art by Mike Carlin.

The next to last story is called “Santa Bites the Big Apple!” Santa arrives to give out presents in Manhattan, but finds out it isn’t easy doing anything in NYC! He gets thrown in the slammer, then must improvise on how to distribute his presents. Writing and art by Al Milgrom.

Lastly, we get a chapter in the life of Bucky Bizarre! An alien character that appeared in previous issues. He’s a humorous character comes upon a girl selling matches on a street corner. The story takes place in the times of Charles Dickens, but this girl is not what you’d think! Written by Steve Skeates, art by Steve Smallwood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Two-in-One 74, 1981 “A Christmas Peril!”

Merry Christmas to everyone out there! This week I’ll keep with the theme of anthology books, but with a holiday story! One of Marvel’s most beloved characters is definitely Ben Grimm. His kind heart and love for his friends is one of legend, his fights with Johnny notwithstanding! This story opens up with a gorgeous splash page that really sets the holiday mood. This wild tale involves the Puppet Master, Ben, and Alicia. You see, the Puppet Master is fresh out of prison, and the shenanigans must ensue. He convinces Alicia that he’s no longer evil, and then the two of them, plus The Thing head to his homeland (Transia) as a Christmas present from the FF. It doesn’t take long for the trio to get into trouble, as Bova and Modred the Mystic join the cast in this crazy holiday issue!

Written by Mark Gruenwald, art by Frank Springer (pencils and cover) and Chic Stone (inks), colors by George Roussos, letters by Michael Higgins, and edited by Jim Salicrup! This is a very wacky issue, but so much fun. The holiday backdrop is perfect for this story and for today’s post! Merry Christmas!