Spirit World 1, 1971

If you hadn’t already heard, August has been deemed Jack Kirby Month. Who decided this, you ask? The powers that be, also known as a bunch of hooligans I know on Twitter. So, with this revelation, I decided to jump to some Kirby material for the last two weeks of the blog in August. This magazine is a more recent acquisition of mine, but it was on my radar for a long time. Honestly, pretty much everything Kirby did is on my radar, and rightly so, as the man was a genius. The awesome cover, though, is more Neal Adams than Kirby (layouts), as Neal and the DC braintrust decided to change the cover a bit (according to Mark Evanier, who was employed there at the time, and editor of the book).

The first thriller in this magazine sized book is called “The President Must Die!” This story deals with a person that has a premonition that the President will fall to some trouble on a trip! Written and pencilled by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Coletta, and letters by John Costanza.

Next up is, “The Calder House!” This is a classic haunted house tale, and the visuals are out of this world! Spirits, monsters, they’re all here! Once again written and pencilled by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, and letters by John Costanza.

There’s a three page story, and the photo art style is something to behold. Once again, the King doing something innovative (I’m assuming this is Kirby). “Children of the Flaming Wheel” is cool!

The Screaming Woman” follows, and it is another masterpiece. In this one we see a mysterious woman, reincarnation, and witch burnings! Again, the same creative team of Kirby, Colletta, and Costanza.

The last full story is “Amazing Predictions.” This is one for the ages, as we see historical figures (Nostradamus, Mao, Napoleon, and even Adolph Hitler!), make bold predictions of the future! Again, Kirby, Colletta, and Costanza!

The book ends with a humorous story by the one and only Sergio Aragonés!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Action Comics 500, 1979 “The Life Story of Superman”

Continuing my look at Superman, this  specific comic is a newer acquisition for me, and one I’ve just finally got around to reading. Not only was I impressed with the artwork, but the story was fun as well. A landmark issue, and a whole lot of fun. Now that’s what an anniversary should be about, right? This book has a fantastic cover by Ross Andru (pencils), Dick Giordano (inks), and Tatjana Wood (colors).

Our story begins with Superman arriving at the ceremony to open up the Superman Pavilion at the Metropolis World’s Fair. All of Superman’s supporting characters are here- Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Steve Lombard, Lana Lang, and of course, Lois Lane. Mayor Harkness introduces the Man of Steel, and then he cuts the ribbon (a piece of steel he melts with his heat vision), then we’re introduced to the man who owns the pavilion, Robert Arngrim. We can see Superman gets a strange feeling about him.

Once everyone is inside, the memorabilia is receiving oohs and ahhhs from the crowd. Arngrim then asks Superman about his super memory, and he reveals that because of repeated exposure to Kryptonite, he’s having trouble recalling information from his past. Arngrim then points out that the pavilion has his mind prober ray machine, and asks Superman to give a demonstration. He acquiesces, although a bit reluctantly. We then see behind the scenes that there is another man, working in conjunction with Arngrim, to use this device to destroy Superman!

I’m sure ninety nine percent of the people that read my blog know this story and the villains behind this one, but just in case, I’ll leave that out of my post.

This is a really good story by Marty Pasko (writer). He really “gets” Superman and his personality down quite well. The artwork…what can I say other than it’s amazing. Curt Swan (pencils) is my favorite Superman artist of all time. I really enjoy his work with this character, and wish I owned more of it. Frank Chiaramonte (inks) does a fine job adding his touch as well. Adrienne Roy (colors) and Gaspar Saladino (letters) round out the creative team on this must have book!

Strange Adventures 226, 1970 “Who Will Trigger World War 3?”

After a recent podcast recording (with Jennifer DeRoss, check out my podcast), I was invigorated to cover more DC sci-fi comics! This issue is more of a recent purchase, as the cover (by legendary artist, Joe Kubert) drew me in immediately. Not only the cover art, but the word “Gigantic” at the top was another selling point for sure. Two of the stories spotlight a DC comics perrenial sci-fi favorite, Adam Strange!

 

Speaking of Adam Strange, first up is “The Mechanical Masters of Rann.” An excellent story that is still relevant today, in which upon returning to Rann, Adam finds out that aliens have taken over, but also brought peace. But, peace at a price of certain freedoms. Writer, Gardner Fox, art by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson.

Up next, “Glory Ride to Pluto,” is a feel good story about a pilot on his last voyage, and his son comes along and ends up falling in love. Written by John Broome, with art by Sid Greene.

The Counterfeit Earth” is the third installment in the book. Who knew that the Great Wall of China would one day save the Earth? Story by Otto Binder, with art by Joe Kubert!

The fourth story, “A Letter from the Future,” involves robots, time vortexes, and letters from the year 2157! Story by Sid Gerson, and art by Frank Giacoia.

Next up in this Giant issue, we get “Earth’s Unlucky Day!” A quick little 4 page story about an alien invasion and a twister! Written by John Broome, with art by Seymour Barry.

The following story is the only one that is not a reprint. “The Magic-Maker of Rann,” is referred to as a “picture story.” It’s basically a prose story with spot illustrations. The best part being Adam Strange vs a fire-breathing dragon! Story by Gardner Fox, and art by Murphy Anderson.

Finally, The Atomic Knights bring us “When the Earth Blacked Out!” The premise of this team is absolutely ludicrous, but definitely interesting! A group dedicated to solving mysteries and stopping criminals, in post-apocalyptic…1992. Written by John Broome, art by Murphy Anderson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction Giant Size Special 1, 1976

Well, it’s finally here. This is the last issue of the series. It has been all sorts of fun going through them, and I hope you all have enjoyed it as well. This issue sports a fantastic cover by Don Newton, then a frontispiece by Rick Bryant, followed by a text piece by Roy Thomas with an illustration by Mike Kaluta!

The first story is “A Martian Odyssey” which is an adaptation of a story by Stanley Weinbaum. He was a science fiction writer that was revolutionary for his time (1930s-1940s). A mission to Mars turns deadly in this story! An awesome story indeed! Script by Don Glut, art by Ruben Yandoc!

Next up is an interview with none other than Theodore Sturgeon (IT!, Killdozer)! A wonderful interview conducted by Alan Brennert.

After that, we get “Journey’s End.” This story is set in the future, and spotlights something called cerebral imagery in the year 2036! Written by Bruce Jones, with art by Alex Niño!

The Forest for the Trees” follows that one, and we get two of my favorite things- laser guns and dinosaurs! Very cool story by Bruce Jones and equally as cool art by Vicente Alcazar!

The beginning of a great installment of Fantastic Worlds by Don and Maggie Thompson discusses some very good anthology recommendations!

Another offering from Bruce Jones (writer and artist) is called “Clete.” The visuals are very “Gorn” from Star Trek, but this one is based on Earth, and an apocalyptic version at that!

Preservation of the Species” is another offering from Bruce Jones, but only the story, with art by Ruben Yandoc (miscredited to Redondo). Another futuristic tale involving mankind, and mutations! This one is interesting to say the least.

After the warning by Roy Thomas in the previous issue, I’m surprised we didn’t get one on this story. “Sinner” by Archie Goodwin (writer/art) takes a pretty good jab at religion in this one.

Speaking of the Gorn/Star Trek, “Arena” adapts a story by Frederic Brown. And, well, it pits a man against a lizard-like creature! Yes, this was the inspiration for the television episode from 1967.

Finally, the story “Threads” closes out the issue and series. Two children using a toy laser gun are playing together. They get called in for dinner. The television tells the viewers there are atmospheric disturbances occurring, and things get darker from there. Written by Mat Warrick, with art by Adrian Gonzales!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you need these magazines for your sci-fi collection. They’re such an incredible snapshot of the time, and really chocked full of great material.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 6, 1975

The last regular issue of this series is upon us. Only one more issue to go after this one (Giant Size Special 1), and it does make me a a little sad, as I’ve been enjoying blogging about them immensely. That being said, let us traverse this issue, which has a brilliant cover by Frank Brunner, and the inside cover has a very awesome piece by Pat Broderick!

The issue begins with a foreword by Roy Thomas, instructing any readers of a religious persuasion to please not bombard the office with hate mail, especially after reading a certain story in the issue. I find it fascinating that he felt it necessary to include the mild warning, but I guess in 1975 it was something he felt was needed. With a crucifixion on the cover, it’s definitely a polarizing book.

The issue begins with another edition of “Slow Glass” as all have before. We get an interesting scene that is brought to us by Roy Thomas, Gene Colan, and Dan Adkins.

The first story, “Behold the Man,” is an interesting one to say the least (and the one Thomas warned about in the foreword). A time machine slings a man into the distant past (biblical times), but we also get flashbacks to present day. The story has accurate biblical passages, but does its own thing as well. Script by Doug Moench, art by Alex Niño (original story by Michael Moorcock).

After this, we get a four page look into the life of Slow Glass creator, Bob Shaw. Sort of a bio piece, but definitely worth reading.

Old Soldier” is the next story, and is certainly deserving of being in a title about unknown worlds and sci-fi! Written and drawn by Bruce Jones!

Up next, is “Mind Games.” Even though the Vietnam War was over by now, creators (and society) were still very much engrossed with it, and its repercussions. Both of these stories reflect that in one way or another. Written and illustrated by John Allison.

What would a good magazine be without a witch burning by the Puritans? But, this story has something else…Spacemen! “Visitation” is written by Don Glut with art by Ruben Yandoc!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 5, 1975

As I wind down the last three issues of this series, beginning with the fifth installment, you’ll see a few different names in this one, previously unseen. With an anthology title, that’s usually the method most publishers roll with, and it can be very exciting. I think it can be slightly problematic when a certain creator did a fantastic job in a previous issue (or is just a fan favorite). There are a couple of familiar names, but lets not get ahead of things. The cover is by an artist that isn’t one I’ve heard before. Boada Puigdomènech (cover), an artist with only this one credit for Marvel, and a few for Skywald Publishing, does a fair job, but it’s definitely a step back from the previous four issues. A frontispiece by Howard Chaykin (more on him later) leads us into the action!

First up we get…Slow Glass, revisited! I know last time I said that was the end, but it was a ruse (by myself and Marvel)! We thought we saw the last of this story (and Mister Tyme), but not so. We see something very creepy from Roy Thomas and the art team of Gene Colan and Frank Chiaramonte!

Up first is “Paradise Found.” We see a space traveler arrive on a planet named Terra 2. He’s greeted by another guy that treats the aliens there horribly, but don’t worry, he gets his in the end. Written by Bruce Jones, with art by Gray Morrow!

The next few pages bring an interview with Larry Niven (conducted by Alan Brennert)! There are some super cool illustrations by Eliot R. Brown and Rick Bryant.

Next up is “All the Myriad Ways,” an adaptation of a Larry Niven story. A police detective investigating a murder, parallel universes, time travel, it’s all here! And, brought to you by Howard Chaykin (script, art)!

Don and Maggie Thompson bring us another great edition of “Fantastic Worlds” next! In it they discuss the Hugo and Nebula awards, rumors of a Star Trek movie, and some sci-fi conventions!

Addict” is the next story in the book, and it is a wild one! We see a junkie in an alleyway beat his own dealer for some drugs. Well, not conventional drugs, that is. We also see some bureaucrats talking their usual disturbing rhetoric about needing to keep the populace under control (hmmm…nothing to see here, move along). Really good stuff here by Don Glut (story) and Virgil Redondo (art)!

The final story in this magazine, “Half Life,” is another solid entry. We see a monster-sized spaceship called The USS Agamemnon, that at first seems like a pleasure cruise. But, things don’t always work out the way they should, do they? Story and art by John Allison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 4, 1975

Back once again to keep plowing forward through this great sci-fi magazine run from Marvel Comics. Names on the cover are a big thing with these mags, as they wanted to pull in not only comic book readers, but the science fiction crowd as well. A spectacular cover by Frank Brunner certainly raises the chances of people buying this one as well!

In this issue, we get an awesome interview with A.E. Van Vogt! The interview was conducted by none other than future Batman scribe, Alan Brennert! This is followed by a short one-pager (by David Anthony Kraft) talking about Otis Adelbert Kline, and his stories set on Venus (see the link about his feud with ERB). Lastly, there is a column titled “Fantastic Worlds” by Don and Maggie Thompson, that talks about all elements of sci-fi (books, shows, etc.). Now onto the stories!

First up is the final entry in the “Slow Glass” story that has been the bookends for the magazine so far. In this one, the final chapter does not disappoint, as Mr. Tyme must answer to a board of aliens as to where and how he obtained slow glass!  Tony Isabella script, Don Heck and Frank Chiaramonte on art duties.

The A.E. van Vogt adaptation is up next, and “The Enchanted Village” is probably the best story of the book. The script is by Don and Maggie Thompson, with art by Dick Giordano!

A Vision of Venus” brings a tale of space travelers that have been captured by aliens! As mentioned above, the source material is from Otis Adelbert Kline, the script and art by Tim Conrad.

The following tale is not intended to be humorous (I think), but “Good News from the Vatican” comes off that way to me. It’s a story about a robot Pope (somewhere, my friend Herman is laughing)! Written by Gerry Conway, art by Adrian Gonzales.

The penultimate tales is “Encounter at War.” There is a bit of a forward on the previous page stating that this one is the conclusion to a story that was started in an underground comic. It’s a good one but not anything that hasn’t been seen before. A little bit of aliens, and a little bit of treachery! Written by Jan Strnad, with art by Richard Corben!

Finally, “Kick the Can” brings us to a close. The story revolves around a guy that is desperately trying to get off an alien planet, and back home. Some really neat flashback scenes and a giant Tarantula to boot!  Written and drawn by Bruce Jones!

A solid issue overall, but I can’t escape the feeling that it took a slight dip versus the previous three. Not sure why, but it could possibly be the Slow Glass story didn’t end that great or the art wasn’t as good as the previous installments (Gene Colan). Which of course, might just be my bias.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 3, 1975

After a brief hiatus from the norm (click here for last week’s Super-Blog Team-Up entry), I’m diving back into the awesome, albeit grief run of Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction magazines! As I’ve said in the past, these are a really good snapshot of the times, and of the sci-fi genre as a whole up to this point in history. They pay a lovely homage to the creators that had made sci-fi what it was and still is to this day, through interviews, articles, and of course the adaptations! Everything inside is first presented by this awesome cover by Mike Whelan!

After a gorgeous frontispiece by the incredible artist, Gray Morrow (see below), we get a contents page that will blow your mind. Not only will you see an issue chocked full of content such as stories of science fiction with illustrations unparalleled, you also get an interview with Frank Herbert (Dune), and a look at the SFWA (by Don Thompson)! And not to be outdone, a super cool editorial by Rascally Roy Thomas!

The bookends in this magazine, once again, are entries featuring the Bob Shaw concept, Slow Glass. These stories don’t involve everyday people and their experience with the substance. Oh no, in this issue an actual alien approaches Mr. Tyme, and requests some of the material! Written by Tony Isabella, with art by Gene Colan!

The first full length story is “Occupation Force.” We see a man get abducted by an alien spaceship, but alas, no probing. The aliens eventually leave their ship, but what we see is definitely not what one would expect! Written by Gerry Conway, with art by George Pérez and Klaus Janson!

The next story (and my personal favorite) is titled “…Not Long Before The End.” This one features a classic story of a barbarian versus a sorcerer! A story akin to something you’d find in a Robert E. Howard story, but with a slight twist. Written by Doug Moench and art by Vicente Alcazar!

Gestation” is up next, and this one is about a space-faring team that touches down on a planet with a vast variety of vegetation. They eventually come upon a giant web resembling that of a spider! What happens next is truly bizarre! Written and illustrated by Bruce Jones!

The final story is from sci-fi legend, Harlan Ellison! Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman, is an interesting story, in that it is not straightforward in its delivery. It is however a dystopian future plot, which back in 1965 wasn’t the overwrought concept it is now. Adapted by Roy Thomas (script) and Alex Niño (art)!

Even with issue three, this magazine is still going very strong, and hasn’t missed a beat. It will slow a good bit near the end, but for now, take a look at these fantastic pages (editors included- Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, and art director John Romita).

Marvel’s Unsung Heroes: David Anthony Kraft

Writing about creators that I never interacted with, and/or that have been gone from this Earth a long time, is never a difficult thing for me to do. It is however, the complete opposite feeling when someone passes away I’ve had time with talking about this medium I love. David Anthony Kraft, or more appropriately, DAK!, has been a creator I interacted with online now for a few years. He was extremely cordial to the unknown people on the other end of a fiber optic cable, so much so that I thought he was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met online.

I’d seen this name (DAK) in comic books from my favorite era, the Bronze Age, quite often as a fill-in writer, or as an editor. Getting to know him though, he shed a good bit of light on quite a few times where he did work, but didn’t receive credit (not for some nefarious reason, just because those were the times). Even doing some layouts/sketch ideas for covers and splash pages. This really made me look at his work in a very different way. It also made me go back and read some of these examples he recounted. He was always answering questions from fans, and almost always tagging people that he loved, especially Don McGregor (another great guy).

His window in the comics biz wasn’t decades long, and he’s probably most known for his comics magazine, Comics Interview (click here for an interview he did with Comic Book Historians). Here are a few off-beat selections from the Bronze Age. Godspeed, DAK!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown World’s of Science Fiction 2, 1975 “All-New! War Toy”

In this second week of my blog’s revival, I wanted to continue looking at this incredible sci-fi magazine series by Marvel Comics. Like the previous issue, this one has bookends featuring “Slow Glass” and it has an excellent lead story, along with more chapters of Day of the Triffids! Two very good articles are also included in this one, so strap yourself in, as this rocket ship is blasting off!

Another introduction to Slow Glass leads off, and this one is very intriguing. We see Mr Tyme heading into a lavish apartment complex (a deluxe apartment in the sky, you might even say). Once inside, he meets up with a rich man named Mr. Wilder. the two did some business in the past, but the consequences of that visit, are about to come home to roost! Written by Tony Isabella, with art by Frank Brunner and Klaus Janson!

After a peek into the Slow Glass, we see “War Toy!” A group of scientists/doctors are gathered around an operating table, but there patient isn’t a man, but a robot! He’s trained to be the perfect soldier, but what happens when the war is over? Written by Tony Isabella, art by George Pérez and Rico Rival!

An interview with author Alfred Bester (Demolished Man) is up next, and was conducted by Denny O’Neil! It’s accompanied by two illustrations by Rick Bryant, and a sample page from an Australian comic strip adaptation of The Stars my Destination (by Bester). The adaptation is by Steve Harper and Stanley Pitt.

The third installment is a story called “Adam…and No Eve.” An adaptation from Bester, this revolves around a man that creates a rocket fuel to get to space, but the mathematician he’s hired informs him that the fuel is deadly, and if even a single drop hits the Earth, it will kill billions. Written by Denny O’Neil, with art by Frank Robbins and Jim Mooney!

The Hunter and the Hunted” is up next, and the story and art are by Mike Kaluta (he created the awesome cover for this issue as well!). Full disclosure, I have no idea what he was going for here. Very minimalist story/art, but fascinating anyway.

The following addition shows an article by Don Thompson about the Hugo awards. There are photos and mentions of sci-fi stalwarts like Harlan Ellison, Frank Kelly Freas, and so forth.

Writer/artist Bruce Jones then gives us a tale called “Specimen.” This is a cool story that has a twist ending I definitely didn’t see coming! Kudos to Jones for this one, as it’s probably my favorite story of his I’ve ever read.

Two more chapters finish off “The Day of the Triffids” adaptation, and it was really a fun ride. Gerry Conway (John Wyndham novel) and Rico Rival do an excellent job!

The magazine is finished off by two more pages of the Slow Glass story by Isabella, Brunner, and Janson. Again, great work by these creators on this premise by Bob Shaw.