There are certain quirky characters and areas of the comic book universe that I feel I might be the only fan of, either because they’re so odd or maybe just not well-known. The Fear Lords are one such group! Probably the most popular member of this group is definitely the Dr. Strange nemesis, Nightmare! Another heavyweight that’s a member is D’Spayre (see Fear Lords), and he had a memorable appearance in Marvel Team-Up (during the heralded Claremont/Byrne run), and a few others as well. All that said, in these two issues of Thor, we get to see another member of that group, in the form of the Dweller-in-Darkness!
In these two issues, we see Thor, and his good buddy Hercules! The two heroes are trying to unravel a mystery about why people in New York are going absolutely crazy, with seemingly no explanation. There is murder, robberies, suicide, muggings, etc., the city is in mass hysteria. Hercules tries to help, but is assaulted by a dark, mysterious figure wearing a trench coat. Before he knows what’s going on, he’s dragged into the sewers by a horde of demons! He returns to the surface later, but the son of Zeus is visibly shaken, and in fear for his life!
The creative forces behind these two issues are incredible but in two ways. The cover of the first issue is by Ron Wilson and Mike Esposito. Both men were awesome but vastly underappreciated. Do yourself a favor, and go to one of the many database websites and check out these two creators. Again with the same theme of being underappreciated, we have Rich Buckler (interior pencils on both issues, and cover pencils on #230). After his recent passing (May 2017), I really felt terrible because I’d only met him one time, and was sorry I didn’t talk to him more often, as he seemed like a great guy. The interior inkers are an interesting contrast. In #229, we have Chic Stone, whose style is a bit cartoony over Buckler’s pencils (see the splash/first page). Not bad, but definitely not the best either. The next issue sees Joe Sinnott inking (cover and interiors), and you can clearly see the detail and high level this man brought to the industry. The Bronze Age stalwart, Gerry Conway, is the writer for both issues. He had a pretty long run on the title (#193-238), following Stan Lee. Linda Lessmann, Stan Goldberg, and John Costanza round out the creative team.
It’s cool to see you spotlight these issues. I am not especially familiar with Thor in the Bronze Age, but I know it’s the opinion of a lot of long-time readers that the series was on autopilot between the time Jack Kirby left in 1970 and Walter Simonson came onboard in 1983. However I personally hesitate to offer such a sweeping declaration regarding the entirety of that 12 year long stretch of time. Perhaps there wasn’t anything especially groundbreaking occurring in the pages of Thor during that dozen or so years, but it sounds like there were still some entertaining stories.
I have the same feelings regarding the Fantastic Four during the era between Kirby’s departure and John Byrne’s arrival, namely that if you actually take a look you will find some good, fun comic books.
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Ben, I’m right there with ya! This era had Conway, Wein, and Thomas, certainly no slackers for writing good comic book stories! Wein and Thomas were the better of the three (no offense to Conway), and had solid runs on this title. If you haven’t read it, check out Ragnarok and The Eternals Saga (Thomas writing all of it). Not only were they good stories, but you had John Buscema, Walt Simonson, Keith Pollard, Arvell Jones, and others contributing on art!
I totally agree about FF, as well! I love the Bronze Age for that title. Very quirky but a lot of fun to read. Great artists like Perez, Pollard, and so on!
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