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!

 

 

Action Comics 440, 1974 “The Man Who Betrayed Krypton!”

As December rolls around, the holidays are upon us, and what better superhero to spotlight in the first week than the man of steel himself, Superman! The cover on this one really stands out, and we have long time DC artist Nick Cardy (colors by Tatjana Wood) to thank for it (although it looks very different from his typical work).

Inside we are treated to a very interesting story that involves a gentleman in a cape named Michael J. Coram, as he attempts to recruit two boys for some mysterious means. As Superman is taking care of some villains, we see a flashback of this Coram, as he approaches a man named Woodrow, about to join the Army. The man is a brilliant scientist, and Corman knows he can use this man’s intelligence for nefarious means! What are those means? Why to destroy Superman of course!

If you’ve ever the read the Superman story “For the Man Who has Everything”, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, this story will make you think of that one immediately. Not because they’re exactly the same, but they do have a bit of a parallel theme between them. At least as far as the villain and his method for antagonizing Superman is similar. I won’t spoil it but attacking someone who has an invulnerable physique isn’t easy. Writer Elliot S! Maggin does a great job at giving the Man of Steel a moment of real weakness in this book. The art team of Curt Swan (pencils) and Bob Oksner (inks) deliver a solid visual story for sure!

Nestled in the last few pages, is a really cool back-up story starring the emerald archer himself, Green Arrow! This strange story shows us a cute little dog named Krypto, a bunch of skeevy smugglers, and if that wasn’t enough, we see an out of control Black Canary karate chop Krypto on the neck! Elliot S! Maggin again scripting, and Mike Grell on art is a real treat!

 

 

All-Out War 3, 1980 “The Viking Commando”

Admittedly, the Viking Commando character is very new to me. You can’t say no to a comic book with sixty-eight pages for a buck! These dollar comics that DC produced are absolute gold, from front cover to back. The extra content, the advertisements, and of course, the cover, makes this one an absolute gem. You get six stories in this comic book, and they are all quality selections. Kudos to editor Joe Orlando!

The first story is “A Hunger for Heroes” and stars the Viking Commando! A 12th Century warrior that was transported to the 20th Century and must fight the enemy in WWII! Story by (and created by) Robert Kanigher, art by George Evans, colors by Bob LeRose, and letters by Gaspar Saladino! Next up is “Bullet for a Bully,” gives us a story of an American soldier and an Italian resistance fighter, as they battle with more than just the enemy. Written by Davis Allikas, and art by Bill Payne. The third story (my personal favorite), gives us the character Black Eagle! This man was the leader of an all black squadron of pilots in WWII! Excellent story (Robert Kanigher) and art (Dick Ayers – pencils, Romeo Tanghal – inks, Ben Oda – letters, and Jerry Serpe colors). “Last Ace for a Gunner” is an interesting story, and is pretty self-explanatory. A card playing gunner plays his last hand. Story by Murray Boltinoff, and art by  Mar Amongo. As we begin to wind down, “No Glory for Cooky” is an action-packed tale created by “Zany” Bob Haney (writer), E.R. Cruz (art), Jerry Serpe (colors), and Gaspar Saladino (letters). Finally, “The Dominoes of Death” shows some aquatic action, with a super cool submarine! Written by Robert Kanigher, art by Jerry Grandenetti, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Gaspar Saladino. And all of this military mayhem is kicked off by a great cover by Joe Kubert!

 

 

Weird War Tales 55, 1977 “The Abominable Weapon!”

As a child, I was fascinated by cryptids. You know, mythical monsters that haven’t been proved to exist…yet! The top creature was definitely the Bigfoot/Yeti, and just the thought of those beasts running around was scary! This book is one of those that caught my eye right away in the back issue bins. So, here it is in all its glory!

Starting off with a glorious cover by the legendary Joe Kubert, is always a welcomed sight when grabbing back issues! The opening page shows “Death” as he’s taking inventory of his weapons vault. From the dawn of time, and into the future, we see spears to ray guns, and everything in-between. This fantastic piece is by Romeo Tanghal, and if you’re not familiar with that name, definitely look for his work. He’s a Filipino artist that did a ton of work for DC comics in the 1970s-1980s. Very underappreciated guy.

The first story (title from the cover), shows a squad of Japanese soldiers from WWII, as they intend to cut off a pathway through the Himalayas for the Allies. There’s only one problem, the frozen peaks are inhabited by a Yeti! Story by Arnold Drake (long time writer from the Golden/Atom Age that co-created the Doom Patrol and Deadman) , with art by Bill Draut (another golden oldie that worked for Marvel, DC, Archie, etc.). Super cool story with a great twist ending! The second story, “A Rebel Shall Rise from the Grave,” is about a dead soldier coming back to life to wreak havoc! Story by George Kashdan, with art by Alex Niño!

Definitely grab these war comics, as they are a great snapshot of the times (both the 1970s and the war years). The creative teams are always on point and you typically get an incredible cover from Joe Kubert!