Kull and the Barbarians 3, 1975 “Kull, Red Sonja, and Solomon Kane!”

It’s time for a return trip, back to black and white comic goodness! While these magazines are getting more expensive by the day it seems, but, when a bargain can be found I pull the trigger! A recent show netted me twenty mags for $20! Only a few Marvels, but a bunch of Warren mags (I’ll get to them down the road, no worries). OK, on to the main attraction!

In this issue, there are three comic stories, one prose story (with a couple of illustrations), a pin up of the landscape of the times of Kull, and one awesome pin up of Red Sonja (by Howard Chaykin!). All of this is kicked off with a good painted cover by Michael Whelan!

The first story is straight out of a Ray Harryhausen flick, as Kull is fighting a group of skeleton warriors, and upon returning to his homeland is in shock at how things look. He also must face his ultimate enemy, in Thulsa Doom! Written by Doug Moench, art by Vicente Alcazar!

The following story is a Solomon Kane bio written by Fred Blosser. It’s actually pretty good on its own, but there are some cool illustrations by Bob Budiansky (Duffy Vohland inks) and Gene Day!

“The Day of the Sword,” is next, and features everybody’s favorite ginger, Red Sonja! Who doesn’t want tot see her riding around and taking a broadsword to those that need it? Plot by Roy Thomas, script by Doug Moench, art by Howard Chaykin (some excellent work by Chaykin in this one).

Finally, a story by Robert E. Howard, adapted by Roy Thomas, and illustrated by Alan Weiss and Pablo Marcos! An adventure with my favorite Puritan in Africa! Very interesting story, and almost a love interest for Solomon? Definitely a good finisher to this great magazine!

 

 

Marvel Team-Up 68, 1978 “The Measure of a Man!”

It has been too long since the Man-Thing was spotlighted on this blog! Not to mention the awesome title Marvel Team-Up and Spidey! Of course the overwhelming majority of issues featured the web-slinger (some had the Human Torch), and he was the franchise at that point without a doubt. The creatives behind this one, were names that are synonymous with Bronze Age comics, but specifically the X-Men, and the greatest run that title has ever known (let’s be honest, will ever know).

But back to Manny and Spidey- in this issue, we see these two heroes that couldn’t be more different, working together to achieve a greater good. These two must put an end to the fearful villain known as D’Spayre, and to vanquish him, is to conquer your own fears. This is obviously a very challenging thing to do for anyone, even a superhero. We know that Man-Thing can sense and exploit fear, but what happens when he must face an adversary that can instill fear in his opponent? And we all know Spidey has doubts and fears even without any prodding, so an easy fight this will not be!

Now, onto this great creative team! We all know Chris Claremont (writer) is “Mr. X-Men” and rightfully so, as he crafted so many of the personalities we love(d) for a very long time. He also created a few new characters that have stood the test of time. His frequent collaborator, was John Byrne (pencils, cover and interiors). His pencils and creativity helped the duo raise the bar for all the titles at Marvel, but specifically the X-Men. But, don’t sleep on this material, because both men were at the top of their game on this run of Marvel Team-Up as well! Inks by Bob Wiacek (cover inks by Josef Rubinstein), colors by Phil Rachelson, letters by Bruce Patterson, and edited by Archie Goodwin!

 

 

Teen Titans 42, 1972 “Slaves of the Emperor Bug”

It has been way too long since my last Zany blog post! If there’s one thing everyone must do, it’s buy more books written by Bob Haney. The guy writes stories that are really out there, but the dialogue is solid, and although the stories never seem to fit into the part of the DC universe where the mainstream stories take place, you won’t get bored.

This issue revolves around a necklace, but not just any piece of jewelry. It’s a scarab that has some sort of sentience, and it calls out to Wonder Girl. It tells her that it needs to go back to where it came from, so it’s off to the Yucatan. Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, and the Guardian must face off with Crocodiles, Leopards, snakes, and all sorts of magical shenanigans to get out alive!

Writer, Bob Haney, writes some of the craziest dialogue for these characters. Of course it was him trying to be cool and with the times, but even in 2019 it’s incredibly fun. The pencils are by Art Saaf and inks by Nick Cardy! Both gentlemen were stalwarts at DC comics during the Silver and Bronze ages, and you can see why when you look at this book. The letters are by Milton Snapinn, and the awesome cover is by Nick Cardy! Don’t sleep on this run of Teen Titans, it’s groovy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROM 23, 1981 “The Thing From Outer Space!”

For anyone that’s never read a ROM comic before, you’re in for a treat. Imagine if you will (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), a cyborg, leaving his home planet to pursue an ancient, malevolent race, that is bent on conquest at any cost. These “Dire Wraiths” are a vicious lot, and not only kill without provocation, they can assume the form of anyone. In this specific issue, we learn that they mimicked the Fantastic Four previously, and also we’ve seen in the past that they’ve replicated many humans, including politicians, and police!

ROM has recently learned that (allegedly) the Wraiths have destroyed much of Galador (ROM’s home planet), and ROM feels he must return to see if this is true and to help rebuild. Along the way, he meets up with two Good Samaritans (Power Man and Iron Fist) that agree to help him get to the Baxter Building to seek the help of the FF in getting him back to his home. There’s only one problem…the media has created an absolute frenzy by reporting that an alien is running amok in the city, so, the National Guard was brought in to contain the matter. And when I say the media, I mean J. Jonah Jameson! It’s up to Luke and Danny to get ROM to the Baxter building, and the only thing standing in their way is a concrete jungle full of police, military, and other assorted crackpots! There’s also a brief cameo by the new superhero on the block, The Torpedo!

Written by “Boisterous” Bill Mantlo, art by “Our Pal” Sal Buscema (pencils) and “Joltin” Joe Sinnott (inks), with colors by Ben Sean, and letters by Rosen and Zalme! The cover is by “Amiable” Al Milgrom!

 

 

Tower of Shadows 1, 1969 “At the Stroke of Midnight!”

After searching far and wide for an affordable copy of this book, I found it at a small show for a few bucks. The guy I bought it from actually gave me a deal on multiple books, so the price was definitely right. I already knew some of the contents, and was pumped to read it. When the first story of the book has work by a legendary creator, you know it’s gonna be a good time. Honestly, the entire book is filled with giants of the industry. The cover is by “Jazzy” John Romita!

Right out of the gate, you get “At the Stroke of Midnight.” This one has been reprinted a couple of times, and once you check it out, you can see why. A creepy tale about a haunted castle, brought to us solely by Jim Steranko! He wrote, drew, and colored this amazing story! As usual, Steranko sets a mood immediately, and this is one of his calling cards when creating a comic book. He knew exactly what he wanted to convey to the reader, and executed it flawlessly.

The second tale in this nightmarish book (“From Beyond the Brink!“) is one by a classic horror artist that worked for the best in the biz at the genre. Johnny Craig was a mainstay at E.C. comics during their heyday (pre-Wertham, and the Senate hearings of the 1950s). What’s astonishing is that not only was he the artist, but also the writer of this one. A story that involves a man that attempts to expose mediums for the fakes they are, but a twist ending is chilling!

Lastly, Digger introduces us to “A Time to Die!” This one brought to you by Stan Lee (script) and “Big” John Buscema (art), and involves an old scientist that wants to find an elixir that will allow him to live forever. The scientist has an assistant that also has eyes on the elixir! No matter what the genre, John Buscema always looks like a pro. His skills are unparalleled in the Bronze Age.

 

 

Tom Sutton- The Charlton years!

There are certain creators that invoke a feeling of excitement for me. One of those names for sure, is Tom Sutton! Of course he’s one of those guys that mainstream comic book fans might not recognize, but the old school/hardcore fans know it well. His work in the horror genre is legendary, and rightly so, but he’s also drawn superheroes, war, westerns, etc., but horror is his forte. At Marvel comics, you saw his excellent version of Ghost Rider, all sorts of horrific scenes in the black and white magazines, and more. The same over at DC, as he did solid work on House of Mystery (I, Vampire) and other titles.

The focus of this week’s post will be not on the work Sutton did for the big two, but for Charlton comics. Some may not recognize the work when compared to what he did at Marvel, but they kept a house style and smooth lines for their artwork. The work is fantastic (see episode 9 of Into the Weird for some thoughts of mine and The Longbox of Darkness), but again, isn’t his developed style. Once he started working at Charlton though, he really brought his own unique work to the horror genre. These images are just a small sample of what Sutton did there, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them!

 

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

 

Journey Into Mystery 5, 1973 “The Shadow from the Steeple!”

It’s been a little while since I had a blog post showing how much fun the resurgence of horror material was in the Bronze Age for Marvel Comics. Anthology titles were all over the place, but were where a lot of good material can be found for either reprint material or all new stories. Some of the books had incredible stories with big time writers getting credit. Case in point, some of the issues have names such as Robert Bloch (Psycho, The Skull, Asylum), H.P. Lovecraft (The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow Over Innsmouth), and Robert E. Howard (Conan, Red Sonja, Kull). The men scripting these stories/adaptations were no slouches either, but we’ll get to them in a minute.

The first tale in this issue is called “The Shadow from the Steeple!,” and this story has elements from stories by Bloch, and Lovecraft (there were three stories that were parts made by Bloch and Lovecraft). A grimoire, a cult, a mysterious, ancient jewel, and even more ancient evil, named Nyarlathotep! Ron Goulart (script), Rich Buckler and Frank Giacoia (art), George Roussos (colors) and Denise Wohl (letters).

The next story is one that’s been done before, as a young man marries a wealthy nut older woman in hopes of inheriting a large sum of money. There is one room in the home that the help won’t allow the husband access. The husband thinks that the money/jewels etc., is in this room. One day he decides to suffocate his wife, and use a mallet to gain entry to the locked room. What he finds inside isn’t wealth, but his doom. Apparently, there is a curse on the family that the woman will grow old unless she procures a sacrifice for the evil within! Written by Kevin Frost, art by Win Mortimer and Ernie Chan, and letters by Denise Wohl.

The last story is quite a treat, as a mad scientist that has been experimenting with transplants wants to be left alone. We see that he has a pack of mad dogs patrolling his estate, to keep out unwanted visitors. The first thing our eyes see is the pack of dogs kill an insurance salesman that was just trying to do his job. The scientist’s wife is shocked at far gone his sense of right and wrong has gone, so she picks up the phone to dial the police. He hits her over the head with a shovel, knocking her out. After some thought, he removes her brain, and replaces it with a dogs brain! Let’s just say in the end, the mad scientist ends up dog-meat! Story/script by John Albano and Marv Wolfman, art by Paul Reinman (pencils) with Mike Esposito and George Roussos (inks), and Artie Simek (on letters).

Overall a very good book with a great cover by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia!

 

 

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen 98, 1966 “The Bride of Jungle Jimmy!”

I felt it was long overdue for a blog post nothing short of ridiculous. Jimmy Olsen marrying a gorilla seemed quite apropos. This story isn’t actually the first one in the book believe it or not. That honor belongs to “The Four Clocks of Doom!” in which Jimmy and Superman must deal with Tempus, and his Doom Clock! Yeah, it’s not that scary, but it is a lot of fun. Jimmy gets a tour of Tempus’s home and it’s hilarious. But lets get back to Jungle Jimmy! Of course the cover doesn’t exactly match the interior story, but Jimmy, Clark, and Lucy Lane find themselves in the jungle while a sleazy movie producer/director (von Spitz) takes advantage of the indigenous peoples naivety. No, Superman doesn’t marry Jimmy and the ape, and in the end, he actually saves him from her (as she’s making advances on him).

The Jungle Jimmy story was written by long time Supes scribe, Leo Dorfman. He wrote a ton of stories during the Silver Age about the boy scout. The artwork is by Pete Costanza, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d ever heard his name before. Looking into his past, he started out at Fawcett, and became an assistant to C.C. Beck. Remarkably, he taught himself to paint left-handed after losing the use of his right arm from a stroke. The Tempus story was written by Otto Binder art by Costanza again. The crazy cover is by Curt Swan and George Klein!

 

 

The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor 21, 1976 “A Lurker Stalks the Swamp”

Sometimes you just have to take a look at something off the beaten path. Even if it’s in an ancillary way, like in this case. Anyone that’s a fan of this blog knows how I feel about swamp monsters. I prefer the Marvel version but also like the DC counterpart. One other version is The Lurker of the Swamp! In his Gold Key issue of Dr. Spektor, we see not only a crazy swamp monster, but a meteorite that can hypnotize people, and of course a fight between said monster and an alligator. Few know this comic book fact, but every time a swamp monster crosses paths with an alligator, they must fight.

In 1976, Swamp Thing and Man-Thing were both already a big deal. So, it was a no-brainer for other companies to try to create a knock-off. The visuals of this beast are certainly different enough than the other two, and Jesse Santos (art, interiors and cover) is the reason why. A cross between the two more popular creatures, this one has a little bit of a difference not only stylistically, but also in the way it behaves as well. The other characters in this story seem kind of bland, but there definitely enough action and intrigue thanks to Don Glut (writer). Definitely grab this book if you see at a decent cost, even if for nothing more than the awesome cover!

 

Justice League of America 154, 1978 “I’ll Kill You in Your Dreams!”

My first encounter with the JLA, was in the form of television and the Superfriends. The stories weren’t anything heavy, but they were fun to watch and kept me entertained. I didn’t buy my first JLA comic though until just a few years ago. This wasn’t the first issue I bought, but it’s a good one! A story is only as good as its villain (just my two cents). Back to animation for a minute…The Justice League television show from the early 2000s was  a fantastic show, and the episode with Doctor Destiny was incredible (they haven’t yet reached that specific episode, but the JLUcast is a great podcast about that show)!

Back to this book. Like the TV show, we see Dr. Destiny control the dreams of the League, in an attempt to kill them (it’s obvious the show lifted its premise from here), but of course, good guys beat bad guy. Not that it’s boring mind you, the villain really makes the heroes look pretty pathetic for a while. We also get to see the heroes as their civilian alter egos, and normal everyday stuff. It was quit refreshing.

As expected, the names in the credits are absolute staples of the Bronze Age. Writer Gerry Conway does a fine job with the script/story, and does insert some of his personal beliefs/social commentary in the issue as well. He, along with a lot of the other writers of the time were very good at sending messages without being overt or preachy about it (kudos).  The artistic chores fell on the shoulders of another pair of names synonymous with the age. Dick Dillin (pencils) and Frank McLaughlin (inks) were both on point here and did a fine job with a lot going on in this issue. Two more names in Jerry Serpe (colors) and Ben Oda (letters) round out the interior art team. The cover is by Mike Kaluta and Al Milgrom, and although it is pretty good, it’s also not quite what you’d expect. Not sure if it’s the team up of these two guys or just not the greatest layout or composition.