Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen 125, 1969 “Superman’s Saddest Day!”

Alright, look, I’m gonna be straight with you. I might just turn this blog into a crazy Superman blog. OK, I’m not going to do that, but insane Superman stories have become my new obsession. While Marvel was publishing stories about social inequality and Charlton had cool stories of Science Fiction, war, and the Warren magazines were top of the food chain with their edgy, horror stories, then you had DC, on the cusp of a completely new universe thanks to Jack “King” Kirby and his Fourth World (among other ideas), but then still putting out crazy books like this one. Oh don’t get me wrong, I love this type of comic book now (2020), but as a kid, I would’ve thought it was the dumbest book on the rack. Most probably thought so too, as the numbers show people had flocked to Marvel. But, looking back, these silly adventures are a lot of fun and definitely will entertain you!

In the lead story, Jimmy is up to his old shenanigans. He’s on vacation in the Caribbean, and how he can afford a vacation like that nobody knows. He’s scuba diving, and gets caught in some kind of whirlpool that drags him into the depths of the ocean. He sees a sunken ship and a book laying inside it. It’s a book written by Nostradamus, but since its been underwater for so long, almost all of the predictions are faded. He can read one though, and it exclaims that if you can obtain tears from a clown, a king, a criminal, and wait for it…a Kryptonian, you can get an unknown power! So, Jimmy sets out to achieve this goal! An absolutely crazy tale by Leo Dorfman (writer) and Pete Costanza (art)!

The second story “The Spendthrift and the Miser,” shows an out of control Jimmy, spending money like crazy during the day, but then acting like he’s broke at night. At one point, he walks out into the street to pick up a penny and almost gets run over by a car! Superman intervenes and eventually finds out that some crooks have Jimmy hypnotized into doing these insane things. Written by Otto Binder, with art by Curt Swan and Ray Burnley.

Get out there and find a copy of this book (and any of these Silver Age Superman comics), because even if it’s a reader copy, it’ll be worth your time for sure! Cover  by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daredevil 61, 1969 “Trapped by the Trio of Doom!”

I feel like its been quite a long time since I spotlighted a Daredevil book. I grabbed this one recently, and of course it features art by a certain favorite artist of mine! Not only that, but the villain in this issue are off the chain! The cool cover is by none other than Marie Severin and Joe Sinnott!

The story begins with Cobra and Hyde as they’re committing a robbery at the Guggenheim Museum! They mention a partner that is also doing the same on the other side of town. The scene switches to Daredevil, as he’s calling it a night from superheroing, to spend some time with his lady, Karen. The two go out to a club, but Karen isn’t having a good time, as she’s recently learned about Matt’s secret alter-ego, and can’t deal with it. The waiter tells them about the excitement at the museum, so Matt tells Karen it’s time for the date to end. He swings into action, and quickly tracks down the thieving duo. He’s caught off guard though, as their partner, The Jester is there as well!

The story by Roy Thomas isn’t the deepest one he’s ever written, but it is a good bit of fun, and the pathos is there as well with the scene between Karen and Matt. The relationship that exists with Cobra and Hyde is an interesting one. Early on, it seems as though Hyde is the boss, but later on Cobra takes the lead as Hyde’s intelligence seems to waver. Either way they make a good villainous pair. Throw in a crazy character like the Jester, and you’ve got a very fun Silver Age book. The art team is one that most don’t talk about, but was an awesome combination. Gene Colan (pencils) and Syd Shores (inks), were paired together a few times, and probably because of Shores’ ability to ink the pencils of Colan. Toss in the lettering of reliable Sam Rosen, and the book is complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giant Superman Annual 3, 1961 “The Strange Lives of Superman!”

If you haven’t figured it out by now, crazy comics bring me quite a bit of joy. Mostly Bronze Age comics that were written with a bit of intent as far as the craziness is concerned, but also insane Silver Age stories that were intended to entertain children, but by some stroke of luck or mild intent, they also amuse me to no end. One of the characters at the top of the Silver Age list is definitely Superman. Long before Christopher Reeve donned the cape and tights, and made us believe a man could fly, writers and artists were creating stories and worlds for this character that were very wild and went in every direction. This annual is just one example of the insanity.

 

There are seven magnificent stories in this book, along with several illustrations. The best of these is a schematic of the Fortress of Solitude!

The first story, “The Super-Prisoner of Amazon Island,” doesn’t (unfortunately) feature Wonder Woman, but it does show an island full of Amazon women that have captured the Man of Steel, and are intent on auctioning him off to the highest bidder. Story by Otto Binder, art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.

 

Next up is “Superman’s New Face.” We see a scientist with an experiment gone awry. Superman interjects, and saves the man, but the ensuing accident scars Superman’s face badly (the explosion created tiny particles of Kryptonite). Of course he’s too embarrassed to show Lois, but she needs to find out how bad it is! Written by Edmond Hamilton, with art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.

 

The third installment gives us a real gem in “The Ugly Superman!” This story is a real winner for Lois, as she befriends a wrestler that dresses like Superman, but then he falls completely in love with her. He even lays a beating on Clark Kent! Written by Robert Bernstein, art by Kurt Schaffenberger.

 

The Lady and the Lion,” is up next, and this might be the gem of the book. And by gem I mean the highest concentration of insanity. In this one, Superman is duped by Circe into drinking a formula that will turn him into a lion if he doesn’t return and agree to be her mate! Written by Otto Binder, art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.

 

The following story is, “The Superman of the Future!” This story revolves around Superman helping a local scientist test a time machine. The machine of course has interesting side effects, and Superman growing an enormous brain (maybe) are just part of the shenanigans. Written by Otto Binder, with art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.

 

The Oldest Man in Metropolis” is the penultimate story in this crazy book. In this story, Superman refers to himself as “an old duffer who can hardly stand up!” We see Clark Kent doing an interview with an acclaimed scientist. The scientist tells Clark that he’s perfected a formula that will extend human life. The doctor tells him that he intends to try it himself before asking for any volunteers. Clark thinks it would be better if he takes it, because it won’t hurt Superman! He takes it and leaves, then the doctor finds the guinea pigs that he tested it on earlier, and they’ve grown old! Story by Robert Bernstein and art by Al Plastino.

 

 

Finally, we get “The Two Faces of Superman!” In this one, Lois has a blind date with a guy, but wants to chase Superman instead, so she makes herself look less than desirable, so the blind date will take her home early. He does, then the date with Superman commences, but he saw her actions with the blind date and teaches her a lesson! Written by Jerry Coleman and art by Kurt Schaffenberger.

 

 

And check out this back cover! Classic Superman for sure!

 

 

 

 

World’s Finest 237, 1976 “Intruder from a Dead World”

To those on the east coast, good morning! Magazines and Monsters proudly presents another entry into the Zany Haney Hall of Fame! It’s only been two weeks since I spotlighted a story by him, but you can’t get enough of the Haney-verse in your life. When you have Batman and Superman acting crazy, then throw in giant locusts, you’re bound to have a good time.

The story starts out with Batman in Gotham Park, as he witnesses something resembling an earthquake, but then a metallic objects pushes up through the ground, smashing the stage. Batman, who’s the world’s greatest detective calls Superman for help (for real). The pair of heroes investigate the bizarre structure, but cannot figure it out. Superman remarks that if his strength and X-Ray vision can’t affect this object, that it might be from Krypton! The pair of heroes are in for an even bigger shock, because the creature that resides inside this monolith is near unstoppable!

As usual, any story by Bob “Zany” Haney (writer) finds itself very high on my to be read list. Traditionally, his stories are crazy and so is the dialogue. This is why I adore his work, and yes I realize what that says about me personally. The art in this issue is by Lee Elias and John Calnan. It’s solid for sure, but not quite on the level of Swan or Dillin that did most of the issues from this era. The letters are by Ben Oda, and as usual they’re very good. The crazy cover is by Ernie Chan and John Calnan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Avengers 63, 1969 “And in this Corner…Goliath!”

A recent pick up, this Avengers book brought quite the surprise when I opened it. It has the artwork of my favorite artist! More on that later! I’ve always wanted to at least try and obtain a full run of the Avengers (Silver through Copper), and even though I can count the number of Silver Age issues I own on one hand, reading this book was pure joy even knowing it’ll never happen.

The story basically only serves one purpose, to introduce a new superhero personality for Hawkeye in the form of Goliath! The team gets a call from Nick Fury that the Black Widow is on a mission for SHIELD, but was captured by enemy forces. Black Panther tells Hawkeye he must remain behind because he’s too emotionally involved. Also, we see Pym tell the team that he’ll no longer be using his formula to be a giant, because it’s causing him to have mental problems. After the team leaves, Hawkeye gets a call from Black Widow asking for help, so in his infinite wisdom, he decides to take Pym’s growth formula and go to the rescue!

This issue is one that has so many fun aspects to it. The beginning shows the team flying in a ship that’s out of control, and going to crash, possibly killing them all. Some interesting comic book physics save the day. Later, we see Goliath (Hawkeye) fighting a giant monster, and they’re right by Coney Island. Interesting and fun back drop for sure. Roy Thomas (writer) really knows how to write a great team book. Of course, this isn’t a news flash, it just needed to be reiterated. The art team here is nothing short of phenomenal. Gene Colan (pencils) and George Klein (inks) give us panels and pages chocked full of greatness. The same combo is responsible for the great cover as well, and the letters are by Artie Simek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unknown Soldier 261, 1982 “Hour of the Beast!”

After two weeks of marvel, I decided to swing back to the other side and roll with a weird DC book. Although, this one has me with mixed emotions. For one, it’s really cool, and has everything you could want in a bizarre war story. On the other hand, it drives me crazy when the cover gives away the story (but there is a twist to that statement). Yes, those editors that allow that should be let go. Anyways, on to the book!

The first story, starring The Unknown Soldier, is absolutely nuts. Lady Jade has been captured by the Nazis, and being tortured, and the Unknown Soldier is not happy about it. He then finds out that he’s indirectly responsible for the betrayal that lead to her capture. She’s being held in a castle…in France…by Japanese soldiers (not sure how many Japanese soldiers were in France, but let’s not parse hairs here). His superiors tell him his orders are to stay put, but he knocks out the two MP’s taking him outside, and makes a b-line for Jade. He decides that this time, he must not just use a disguise, but it must be “a complete metamorphosis.” He then disguises himself as a hunchbacked SS torture expert, and heads to the castle. As he attempts to rescue her, his disguise is  removed, and the chase is on. Now, this is where the story gets really crazy. As the pair are running down a hallway, Jade is possessed by a spirit that also changes her appearance. After introducing herself she tells him he must don a suit that’s hanging in the hallway of a demon (resembling a Satanic figure). He puts it on, and they both kill all of the Nazis in brutal fashion. Then they walk away arm in arm, while inside the castle, the woman/ghost that possessed  Jade remarks to the demon that they might be needed again someday.

Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, art by Dick Ayers and Gerry Talaoc, colors by Bob LeRose, and letters by Esphidy Mahilum.

The second story is a very hardcore story about racism. It shows a brutal killing right on the splash page of a racist soldier killing another during the Civil War. I gotta admit, although the story is about revenge against the racist guy, it was still a bit jarring to read in 2020. Written by Bob Haney, art by Ric Estrada (no, not from C.H.I.P.’s), colors by Bob LeRose, and letters by Pierre Bernard Jr.

The final story stars Enemy Ace! Anyone that knows this character knows that a quality story and art always accompanied Enemy Ace! This was a solid story involving an imposter that Von Hammer must deal with in a dogfight! Written by Robert Kanigher with art by John Severin!

Overall a fun issue that is most certainly worth seeking out! Oh and always an incredible cover by Joe Kubert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Rider 48, 1980 “Wind of the Undead!”

Searching through my boxes, I came upon my Ghost Rider books. This volume had quite a few different creative teams during its eighty-one issue run (volume 1), but there was always a consistency there for me. The quality of the writing and art never went into a direction that soured me on the title. A lot of title of this length start out like a ball of fire, but then fade away (some rather quickly). Whether it was Roger McKenzie, Jim Shooter, or Roger Stern, the stories were at least serviceable if not very good. Art-wise, you had Jack Sparling, Jim Starlin, and Jim Shooter, graced the pages, and with covers by the likes of Gil Kane! So, yeah, good creators!

In this specific issue, we see Johnny Blaze, tearing down a road in the desert. As he looks skyward, he notices five large bats swooping down in his direction. Just as they’re about to attack him, he transforms into the Ghost Rider! He is more than up to the challenge and fights them off. He eventually makes his way to a farmhouse close by, and gets taken in by a woman that is aware of the bat problem. We then see the bats return to their home. They live in a cave, but another fact about them is quite disturbing. You see, they have a master of sorts or a leader that command them, and this creep has his sights set on annihilating the Ghost Rider!

I’m not sure who would be on my side or not, but Michael Fleisher is the best writer for this character. He really gets Blaze and his fiery-headed alter-ego. The artist, Don Perlin is also the guy I immediately think of when I hear Ghost Rider. Perlin really portrays Blaze as tough but sympathetic as well. No nonsense with this art creative team! The colorist, Rob Carosella does a fine job on this issue as well as the letterer, Jim Novak! And this wild cover is by Bob Budiansky (pencils) and Bob McLeod (inks)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Tales 171, 1973 “March of the Dead!”

After recently acquiring a few of these issues, I felt compelled to write a blog post about them. Brother Voodoo, zombies, and my all time favorite artist isn’t a tough sell though. This is one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe, and I honestly can’t think of a bad story he was involved in. A voodoo based character is right up my alley, and his frequent guest appearances with the likes of Dr. Strange are cool as well.

This story picks right up with the action, as Brother Voodoo is creeping around a cemetery and gets attacked by a horde of zombies! He kicks the crap out of a few of them, but they’re too high in number to fight off. Jericho then summons the spirit of his dead brother, Daniel, to possess one of them to help. It doesn’t work, as he can’t possess the dead apparently. By the time he gets back to Jericho, they’re both too weak to stop the oncoming blitz. As the zombies are overwhelming him, he looks up to see Baron Samedi, Lord of the Dead! (a dead zombie guy). And if that wasn’t enough, we get guest stars in the form of A.I.M.!

This title is very much an unsung classic from the Bronze Age. The creators behind it are some of the best from this era, and should be lauded for their efforts. Writer Len Wein does a great job of telling this horror story. Everyone that knows his name can attest to the quality you get from him every time he put pen to paper. The art team is just as stellar, as Gene Colan (pencils) and Frank Giacoia (inks) really set the horror tone. Excellent colors by Glynis Wein and letters by Gaspar Saladino! Oh, and let us not forget the awesome cover by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Beyond the Unknown 23, 1973 “The Secret of the Man-Ape!”

Sometimes when I see a cover, I know it is going to be absolutely crazy. Honestly, in the last few years, that’s mostly what I’m looking for in a new (to me) comic. A comic with a gorilla holding a librarian at gunpoint? There’s a name for that- pure gold. Three reprint stories from the Silver Age are entombed inside, so let’s get cracking!

The first (and best) tale, is the cover story. We see a scientist using a machine to try and turn a gorilla into a human. The captions and images show us that years ago, a civilization of gorillas dominated the Earth, and that aliens were watching this and wanting to conquer Earth, sent a spy, but not in their more humanoid forms, but as a gorilla. After some miscalculations aboard the spaceship, the “gorilla” alien guy winds up in modern times where man rules, and not gorillas.

Pretty much shenanigans ensue for the rest of the story, but the highlight is or sure the gorilla-alien guy using his telepathy to tell a librarian to give him some classic novels (not at gunpoint as the cover shows). A little bit of a bait and switch there, but still, the story is comical, and extremely strange. Story/script by Otto Binder, art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

The next two stories are from the mind of Gardner Fox. First, “Language-Master of Space” is a story that still makes my head explode just trying to figure out what the point was, but it also left me laughingly entertained. The art by Sid Greene helped, as his renditions of the different aliens was great.The second story, “World of Doomed Spacemen” is another crazy one. It’s one that shows life in the 25th century, and a time of giants! Art by Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs. The magnificent cover is by none other than Nick Cardy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hawkman 9, 1965 “Master Trap of the Matter Master!”

After searching through my boxes for source material, I came upon this issue of Hawkman! A recent acquisition, as I’ve made it a point to read more DC comics from the Silver and Bronze Ages in recent years, this one fits the bill perfectly for my weird tastes. A villain called the Matter Master, Hawkman and Hawkgirl trapped in a diamond, with the Atom in the corner with a pink burst of energy behind him, all show exactly why this appeals to me!

The story begins with Matter Master (Mark Mandrill) in prison. He’s slowly finding elements in the prison yard to try and construct a smaller version of his wand (it was taken from him by the Justice League, and resides in their trophy room). He succeeds, but the smaller wand isn’t powerful enough to do his bidding. He then asserts that it might be able to draw his original wand to him though, and it works! He then busts out of prison and heads straight for his abode. He immediately hatches a plan to get revenge of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and hopefully the Justice League as well!

This story by Gardner Fox, is a lot of fun. Just a superhero versus villain tale that doesn’t have much depth. It is however entertaining and of course with great characters like Hawkman and Hawkgirl, and a crazy villain like this, you can’t help but have fun. I’ll always give Fox credit for that fact. The art is very good, and we have Murphy Anderson (cover as well) to thank for that. He draws a very sinister looking villain here, and even though he’s not the most threatening guy ever, he still poses a real threat to society. The letters are by another standout, Gaspar Saladino! His lettering is legendary, check out his credits!