Marvel Presents: Bloodstone!

There’s a lot of talk online about what is or should be coming next in the Marvel MCU. For me, one of those characters must be Ulysses Bloodstone! One specific angle was brought up in two different places (Twitter and Monster Kid Radio), about the failed Universal Studios attempt at revitalizing classic horror characters in relation to Marvel’s success in film and in their comic books from the Bronze Age (and beyond) with the same characters. Imagine if you will, a Marvel Studios film about Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s Monster. Now my take would be slightly different, as it would include not only the team of vampire hunters led by Quincy Harker (Blade, Frank Drake, Taj, and Rachel Van Helsing), but also the monster hunter himself, Bloodstone!

The character was very short-lived in comics, and has never made any appearances outside of comics either. Seems to be a missed opportunity, but who knows where things will go in the future for Marvel. One thing is for sure, if you check out these books and his black and white magazine appearances (Rampaging Hulk).

Anyone seeking out Marvel oddities, needs to grab these issues. With names like Gil Kane, Frank Giacoia, John Warner, Mike Vosburg, Bob McLeod, Pat Boyette, Rich Buckler, Sonny Trinidad, George Roussos, and more, you can’t go wrong!

 

Sub-Mariner 66, 1973 “Rise, Thou Killer Whale!”

Everyone knows there isn’t a more pompous, self-aggrandizing hero than Namor, the Sub-Mariner! It’s part of his charm, apparently. Personally, his exploits on land as an Avenger are much more intriguing to me, but every so often, we get gold in an underwater adventure. As always, the story is lifted up beyond its hero by the proper villain. And Subby doesn’t have a better villain than Orka–The Human Killer Whale! And if he wasn’t enough, throw in Virago as well!

An issue that’s a straight up fight with a villain of the week, for sure, but also an entertaining one. You get Subby with his usual grandstanding, shouting, etc., also a ton of panels featuring Atlantis and it’s inhabitants. Plus, Orka is just a crazy villain (he’s definitely in my top ten), you can’t help but love this issue. There’s also a neat little back-up story (also written by Gerber) “Tales of Atlantis” with an all-star creative cast as well!

Written by Steve “Baby” Gerber, art by “Dashing” Don Heck (pencils) and “Dapper” Don Perlin, colors by Petra Goldberg, letters by Charlotte Jetter, and edited by Roy “The Boy” Thomas! And let us not forget the outstanding cover by Gil “Sugar”  Kane (pencils) and “Mirthful” Mike Esposito (inks, with some slight alterations by John Romita)!

 

Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane 85, 1968 “When Lois was more Super than Superman!”

All I needed to see was Lois Lane gets super powers, the bottle city of Kandor, and a mutant breed of toy-size ponies! Yes that’s all it takes. It’s the simple, crazy things in life that are amusing, and never lose their humor. Silver Age comics (especially DC), are a wonderland of humorous tales that is never-ending. Superman is probably the best example of this trend. It took quite a long time for DC to turn towards some more serious stories, but the material presented here might not be Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, but it’s a ton of fun.

And, as if the main story wasn’t ludicrous enough, we get a back up story about Lois as a toddler, getting into shenanigans. Yes, chasing a snake, “driving” a car, etc., you get the drift. A book with two insane tales, and lots of laughter. The dialogue in the first story is especially entertaining. The book is Silver Age DC comics personified.

The cover is by Neal Adams, who was very prevalent at DC in the late Silver and Bronze Ages. Moving inside, we get both parts of the Super-Lois story from Leo Dorfman, who also wrote for Dell, Gold Key, and Fawcett. The guy wrote a ton of Superman stories during this era. The artwork is by Irv Novick (pencils) and Mike Esposito (inks). Both men give us a quality job for sure (as you’ll see) in both parts. Lastly, we see the back up story created by two giants in Jerry Siegel (writer) and Kurt Schaffenberger (art)!

 

 

Marvel comics DRAGONSLAYER 1, 1981

Movie adaptations can be tough, this is not new news. But over the years, there have been some good (and some times very loose) adaptations that were very good. Case in point, 2001: A Space Odyssey,  by Jack “King” Kirby, Aliens (Dark Horse comics), Creepshow (Plume/Penguin Books), and several others. The one getting spotlighted today though is when Marvel comics really started going bonkers with obtaining the rights to movies, toys, etc., and pumping out comics about them by the minute.

I can’t say whether this book is a faithful adaptation or not because I haven’t seen it (yet). But I can say that the book itself is entertaining and has some very talented people responsible for its creation. The fabulous painted cover is by the late, great Earl Norem! His covers from the magazines of the Bronze Age are incredible, and this comic is no different. The scripting is by another legend of the industry in Denny O’Neil, with art by the equally awesome Marie Severin (pencils and colors, with inks by John Tartaglione, letters by Irv Watanabe). Definitely give this one a look, you won’t regret it!

 

Conan The Barbarian King Size 1, 1973 “The Tower of the Elephant!”

Conan, a character that’s been in publication since 1932…think about that for a minute. The Great Depression, angst, suicides by businessmen losing their life savings, five years before Tolkien published The Hobbit, and a lifetime before creators gave us galaxies far, far away, Robert E. Howard created an entire world. The contributions this man gave the world are still terribly underappreciated. Anyone that’s not very familiar with his work, definitely give a look at his biography here.

When Roy Thomas secured the rights to publisher Conan from the REH estate, the greatness was there immediately. With Roy Thomas writing, and Barry (Windsor) Smith (and most notably Sal Buscema inking, with others) on art, the character was off and running! What followed the great run by BWS wasn’t half bad either (some say even better), but that’s a tale for another day. You get material from the second and fourth issues of the series in this book and both are legendary stories by Howard!

 

 

Star-Lord Special Edition 1, 1982

Two names that are synonymous with the Bronze Age are most certainly Chris Claremont and John Byrne (and Terry Austin). Their collaboration on the character Iron Fist was the beginning, but then the real feast came in the X-Men, of course. One lesser known partnership between the two juggernauts was in an issue of the magazine Marvel Preview (#11 to be exact). Claremont would write a few more stories after this one but not with Byrne on art. This special edition reprints that story, plus adds some framing sequences with art by Michael Golden (only posting the Byrne artwork though, as that’s how it was originally released)! And I’ll definitely include the great wrap-around (sort of…first and last images) cover by Terry Austin! Enjoy!

 

Marvel Preview 22, 1980 “The Quest of the King”

The recent search for Marvel black and white magazines from the Bronze Age, has brought some interesting books to the forefront on the blog. The cover, being so awesome and naming the creative team was all it took. There’s also a fascination with Arthurian lore for sure, and quite honestly, isn’t everyone a part of that enthralling genre?

An adventure story involving knights, magic, and everything else you can think of is inside this book! Most mags from this era have multiple stories in them, but not here. This one is so strong it runs fifty-five pages long, and each one is a masterpiece by the creative team.

Speaking of the creative team, the familiar names from the ages are front and center. The artwork is off the charts in this book and we have Big John Buscema (pencils), and the inking team of Tom Palmer and John Tartaglione to thank. The story is by Doug Moench (script) and John Buscema as well! Not to be left off the list, is letterer John Costanza, who does a magnificent job on this one (calligraphy).

 

 

Christmas with the Superheroes 1, 1988

In a continuing effort to purchase more DC comics, as well as holiday themed books as well, I recently bought this one. Shortly after buying it, i discovered an episode from a podcast (click here for the episode > Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill) spotlighting this very issue. This book is a compilation of reprints, ranging in years from 1968 to 1984! There is only one thing that doesn’t resonate with me about this entire book, but that’s for later!

There are six stories in this book, and four out of the six feature a lot of Batman and/or Superman. As well they should, with both being the breadwinners of DC comics since the late 1930s! That’s what’s called “staying power” and they aren’t going away. Both are still hugely successful in pop culture today.

 

The two Batman stories have some real star power behind their creation. In “Wanted: Santa Claus- Dead or Alive!”, Denny O’Neil (writer), Frank Miller (pencils) and Steve Mitchell (inks), Glenn Whitmore (colors) and Ben Oda (letters), round out the creative team. They give us a wild tale that sees Old St. Nick get shot!

 

Next, the entire JLA is brought in to find out the identity of “The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus!” Oh, one caveat o that statement. Hal Jordan doesn’t make it to the team because…he slipped on a bar of soap and hits head, knocking him unconscious (yep, for real). Len Wein (writer), Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano (artists), and Glenn Whitmore (colors).

 

In a parody of the Charles Dickens story, the Teen Titans give us “The TT’s Swingin’ Christmas Carol!” Written by Bob (Zany) Haney, art by Nick Cardy, and colors by Helen Vesik.

 

The fourth story (the weakest of the bunch) is called “Star Light, Star Bright…Farthest Star I see Tonight!”, is one that features the Legion of Super-Heroes. Nothing spectacular here but a decent story by Paul Levitz (writer), Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano (art), Ben Oda (letters), and Jerry Serpe (colors).

 

The following story (‘Twas the Fright Before Christmas!) about Superman, Santa Claus, and a wild kid that has some toys that are unique in nature because they were made by the Toyman! Written by Len Wein (plot assist by E. Nelson Bridwell), art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Ben Oda.

 

Lastly, another tale starring the Dark Knight of Gotham is here! This one is more of a fun story with Bats and Commissioner Gordon hanging out together on Christmas Eve. Story by Mike Friedrich, art by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, and colors by Jerry Serpe. And let us not forget the incredible wrap-around cover by John Byrne!

 

 

Marvel Treasury Special – Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag (1974)

Is there anything more awesome than the over-sized comic book? Of course not, and Marvel comics lead the way in spectacular fashion in the 1970s in the form of the Treasury Edition! And not only just a Treasury Edition, but a holiday edition! Now, just for the record, only two of the stories inside actually have a Christmas theme, but hey, let’s not get picky!

The first story is probably the best “holiday” centered of the entire book. We see Spidey and the Human Torch take on the Sandman! It’s Christmas time, and the Sandman is looking to wrap up the two heroes…or is he (Roy Thomas, writer – Ross Andru, pencils – Mike Esposito, inks – and Artie Simek, letters)? Next, a classic tale from the Silver Age, as the arrogant Submariner decides to go to the surface world. Once there, he speaks with a lawyer about wanting to sue the entire human race. Too bad for him that lawyer is none other than Matt Murdoch, A.K.A. Daredevil (story by Stan Lee, art by Wally Wood, and letters by Artie Simek). The third tale is the other holiday adjacent one in the book. It’s all about the Black Widow, and her man-servant, Ivan! They’re here to help a young man that tried to commit suicide, and then see if they can get him help (written by Roy Thomas, art by Gene Colan and Bill Everett, letters by Artie Simek). The last two issues are from the Fantastic Four and a crossover with the Avengers! Not much along the lines of holiday cheer, but a cool story nonetheless (of course, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby!)!

 

 

DC comics: The Sandman (Wesley Dodds)

Being a little green yet with my DC comics and their characters, I decided to grab this trade and single issue out of pure curiosity, but make no mistake, the names Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (definitely check out the Kirby Museum for a ton of facts, pages, and excellent insight to Kirby!) had a lot to do with the purchase as well! This incredible duo didn’t create the Sandman (Gardner Fox and Bert Christman did), but not long after a revamp by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris (Adventure Comics #69), Joe and Jack took over the reigns, and really created some fantastic adventures for this crazy character and his new sidekick (Sandy)!

The stories varied from heavy subjects like slavery and suicide, to the more usual tales of war and the mob! Mostly though, they had a strange vibe or a villain that was downright bizarre. People like NightShade (later known as Ramulus), Thor, and Noah…Barton, who has an Ark full of animals. No joke folks, it’s all right here in these pages. From Nazis to Santa Claus, anything you can think of Simon and Kirby already have, and more than likely before you or your parents were even born.

The second part of this post is to spotlight an issue of DC Comics Presents (#42, written by Mike Barr and artwork by Jose Delbo and Joe Giella), as it was the first time I’d ever read a story about the Sandman! Reading this cool story about where the character went after the Golden Age (a back up as the main story was one that featured Superman and the Unknown Soldier, which is just OK), really had me thinking about this character I’d heard of but never really knew anything about, other than he was created in the Golden Age, and was later (in name) drastically changed for a Vertigo title by Neil Gaiman (I’ve read absolutely none of those – not my thing). There was another story in JLA 113, 19974, that showed what happened to Sandy, and featured Dodds (I don’t own that one yet!).

Whether you’re a fan of Golden Age characters or haven’t really read much of them, definitely give the Sandman a try!