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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Beyond the Unknown 20, 1972 “Fishermen from the Sea!”

I’m on a bit of a DC kick lately, so I’ll let the train keep rolling. The sci-fi stories they produced in the Silver Age are a blast (off). The talent they had was perfect for the genre, and seeing is believing. Most associate DC with superheroes, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t just stop there, because these books (the originals, and reprints like this one) are great fun! You get three big stories in this issue, and a cool cover by Nick Cardy!

The first adventure (“Fishermen from the Sea!“) shows an alien invasion. These fish-like creatures want to take over the Earth by flooding the planet, thereby killing all humans. Not sure where Aquaman was, but it’s up to “Dave” and “Helen” to save the day. OK, they do get a small assist from the U.S. government testing atomic bombs. Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Mike Sekowsky and Joe Giella!

The second story is one of my all time favorite wacky, sci-fi stories! “The Interplanetary Restaurant!”¬† A new restaurant is opening and everyone is buzzing. Why? Because the owner claims the food is from outer space! Is it really? Or is it a ruse, as many people believe? You must read this bonkers story and find out! Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Gil Kane and Joe Giella!

Lastly, we have “When Did Earth Vanish?” This is a story starring the Star Rovers (click here for another story of theirs I covered). To try and describe this story would not only be near impossible to do in less that a thousand words, but might not even be possible. This story is all over the place and kooky to say the least. Story by Gardner Fox, with art by Sid Greene.

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, this is an all Gardner Fox penned issue. Really dig deep into his history in comics (click here for a recommendation), especially his sci-fi work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challengers of the Unknown 39, 1964 “Rocky, the Genius Challenger”

In 1957, we have the brilliant Jack “King” Kirby, creating more heroes from his pantheon of work. The Challengers of the Unknown, although not nearly as popular as let’s say the Fantastic Four, predate them by four years. The Challengers were a group of guys that all survived a plane crash and vowed to help humanity because they’re on “borrowed time,” so Ace, Red, Rocky and Prof, ban together for the benefit of all mankind…or something like that.

In this issue, we see two stories that are both equally ludicrous, but fun! In the lead off, we have “The Phantom of the Fair!” In this adventure, the Challengers get Madame Zaddum (a medium) to look into her crystal ball at the future, to see what their kids are up to. They see how a crook named “Stokie Johnson” is being let out of prison, and is plotting a revenge scheme on the Challengers. This one is part mad scientist, part revenge plot. Art by Bob Brown (cover as well) and possible scripting by Ed Herron.

The next story is (from the cover), “Rocky, the Genius Challenger.” In this one, Wizard Welles builds a machine that can transfer information from a computer into the mid of a human being. Before he can do it to himself, though, Rocky knocks him out of the way, and takes the brain boost himself. His cranium then grows to twice the normal size, and his brain power is now beyond any person on earth. Shenanigans with the team and the Wizard ensue. The awesome art is again by Bob Brown (an unsung hero of comics to be sure). The writing credits are possibly by Arnold Drake (Deadman, Doom Patrol).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spectre 9, 1969 “Journal of Judgement!”

In the late 1960s, DC comics decided to give The Spectre his own series. To say that this series was weird is an understatement. It’s not quite on the level of the Fleisher/Aparo stories (in Adventure Comics), but those are top of the food chain for Bronze Age comics. This title had a few different creative teams on it even though it was only a ten issue run. Some huge names involved and the stories are all over the place (in a good way).

In this issue (the main story), we see The Spectre as he’s chained to a “Journal of Judgement” for his failings in the eyes of the creator. We get to go back in time, as Jim Corrigan and his partner try to bust up a crime ring. The Sargent gets shot and killed and then another crook tries to shoot Jim in the back. The Spectre rises up and kills the man. Corrigan then confronts The Spectre, and the two fight. It appears as though he kills Corrigan, and that’s when he’s forced back to the spirit realm, and gets punished.

This story is pretty wild, but very consistent with the others from this run (and the subsequent Adventure Comics run). We see that the Spectre has no problem killing people, no matter what the cause! Written by Mike Friedrich, art by Jerry Grandenetti and Bill Draut. Another incredibly awesome fact about this issue is that it has a back up story (told by The Spectre) about a magician that runs afoul of the devil! Oh, and did I mention this story was written by Denny O’Neil and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson? There’s also a third story (Shadow Show, writer- Mark Hanerfeld, art by Jack Sparling), where The Spectre terrorizes a thief! All of this is kicked off by a great cover by Nick Cardy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Tales 59 and 60 (ASM 78 and 79, 1969) “The Prowler!”

For some reason I had an itch to spotlight my favorite childhood superhero, Spider-Man. Reruns of the 1968 cartoon, plus the live action show (starring Nicholas Hammond), fueled my love for superheroes (along with Wonder Woman and The Hulk TV shows). Once 1981 rolled around, another cartoon hit the airwaves, and I was fully immersed in wanting to be Spider-Man when I grew up! It’s true. Not an astronaut, doctor, or lawyer, I wanted to be a superhero and Spidey was my favorite among them all.

Peter Parker (and Spidey) has gone through some very tumultuous times, and some mundane ones as well. My favorite era is definitely the late Silver and Bronze Ages, and in particular the the period of Stan Lee writing, then handing off to Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway. The likes of “Big” John Buscema, John Romita, and Gil Kane penciling. These creators took Spidey to new heights, and new lows (personally), and he would never be the same again. These stories are nothing short of fantastic, and the new characters brought in were a big part of the book’s success.

In these two issues, we see the introduction of a new villain called The Prowler. At first, the story seems to just be about a kid with problems that just can’t find any answers in life. But honestly, the two issues are more about Peter and his relationships and insecurities when it comes to the women in his life. He sees Gwen in a restaurant talking to Flash Thompson, and immediately assumes she’s stepping out on him. She’s actually trying to find out what’s been bothering Peter lately, and knows that Flash has known Peter longer than her, so he might be able to give her some insight. Some really good moments in these two issues of not only action, but humor, and real pathos!

I know a lot of people decry Stan Lee‘s (writer) writing, but honestly, he knew how to write Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Throw in the brilliant pencils of “Big” John Buscema and the inks of Jim “Madman” Mooney, and you can’t deny the power of this title during this period (post Ditko). Letters by Sam Rosen, and two amazing covers by “Jazzy” John Romita!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showcase 82, 1969 “Nightmaster”

Sometimes when you buy a comic, you think you know what you’re in for. And then you read the book and get something totally different. That’s what happened when I read DC Showcase 82!

A hippie musician that gets teleported to an alternate dimension via a weird bookstore, then must pick up a sword and battle evil-doers, and save his girlfriend from them. The first few pages of this book give no indication that’s going to happen (OK, other than the splash page). This one is a fun romp that deserves your attention for sure. This book also has some of the best advertisements I’ve ever seen in a DC comic book (see 3 images below story)!

Very fun/cool story by Denny O’Neil, with artwork by Jerry Grandenetti and Dick Giordano! This one is something straight out of Dungeons and Dragons or slightly even a Tolkien story. If you see this one for a decent price, do not let it slip away. Oh, and of course it has a spectacular cover by DC’s best cover man, Joe Kubert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomahawk 103, 1966 “The Frontier Frankenstein!”

I’ll be very honest here. Until a few months ago, I’d never even heard of this title. I didn’t have a clue about it. Then I saw an auction where I was educated a bit on them. When the opportunity arose to purchase some issues, especially with the covers I saw, I had to give Tomahawk a try!

This story is nothing short of wacky, which is probably why I love it. Anytime you have a Frankenstein Monster in a book, I’m there, especially when it’s a giant sized monster. Throw in the fact that these adventures take place during the Revolutionary War, and you have a recipe for some absolute craziness. There’s also a back up story in the book called “The Super-Ranger with Nine Lives!” But, “The Frontier Frankenstein” is certainly the gem of the book!

The script (for Frontier Frankenstein) is by Ed Herron, a writer I’m not too familiar with to be perfectly honest. The artwork is by one of my favorite lesser-known artists, Bob Brown. The first time I saw his work was in Daredevil from the Bronze Age. The second story has art by Fred Ray. No credits on GCD for writer, but at DC at this time that’s not very uncommon. The cover is also by Bob Brown, who died way too young (61 yrs old, from Leukemia). Definitely give his work a look if you haven’t so far!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Tales 159, 1967 “Spy School”

This book has only been in my collection for a few months, but I knew it would be one that I’d spotlight sooner rather than later. Especially when you consider the talent that went into it’s creation! Just based off of the cover alone, who wouldn’t want to own this one! Two big stories with top notch creative teams means a Silver Age classic from the House of Ideas!

First up, we get Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos! They’ve transitioned from military life to working for the government (SHIELD). After a night on the town, Fury goes home, but the next day is full of training at a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. He then must face Captain America in a sparring session in front of the newest recruits!

Awesome story, as you can really see the cool story and art by an ambitious Jim Steranko (story, art, and cover). He really knows how to tell a story with Fury and his supporting cast. He also does a fine job with Cap as well. Letters by Jerry Feldmann.

The second story is another chapter in the life of Doctor Strange! The Doc returns home to find that his Sanctum Sanctorum has been leveled, by none other than Umar herself! Once he finds a counter-spell to bring his home back, he then sets out to fight a band of sorcerers that are attempting to bring back Baron Mordo! Written by Roy Thomas, art by Marie Severin and Herb Trimpe, and letters by Al Kurzrok.