Doc Savage 8, 1976 “The Crimson Plague!”

The black and white magazine market was absolutely booming in the 1970s. Warren Publishing had already been producing exemplary material since the late 1950s, but in 1964 is when they went full on horror with Creepy and Eerie! Both of these mags had top notch creators on them, and still stand the test of time with excellent stories and artwork by some of the giants of the industry. In typical Marvel fashion, they didn’t waste any time copying the business model of Warren (once the CCA relaxed a bit), and began manufacturing a ton of magazine content.

The content was mostly horror and Sci-fi, but Marvel had other books like Rampaging Hulk, Savage Tales, Conan, Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, Planet of the Apes, and of course, Doc Savage! In this, the final issue, you’ll see madness like never before!

The Doc and the crew head to Acapulco for a funeral, little do they know that they must then contend with a Lovecraftian creature that can completely absorb someone’s mind, turning them into a zombie! Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Renny gets beaten down by some thugs. Later, Doc and Monk come face to face with Randolph Dorn and his Brain Bank!

This insane story was scripted by Doug Moench, from a plot by John Warner and John Whitmore, art by Ernie Chan, letters by Joe Rosen (and Gaspar Saladino). The incredible cover is by the awesome artist, Ken Barr! There are also two pinups I’ve included. The first (inside cover) is from perennial horror artist of the Bronze Age, Tom Sutton, the second by Bob Layton and Dick Giordano!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bizarre Adventures 34, 1982 “Special Hate-The-Holidays Issue!”

In this, the final holiday post of 2019, I give to you one of the weirdest books ever! These strange stories all revolve around the holidays, but each one with a different cast of characters. The awesome cover is by Joe Jusko!

In the first odd tale (“Son of Santa“), we see a little person who convinces a total stranger to come with him on a flight to Tokyo. He agrees, but half way through the flight, the little guy hijacks the plane, and then forces the kid to jump out of the plane with him (using parachutes). They descend, and find an unusual building. It’s the HQ of none other than Santa Claus himself! The jolly old guy has been killed, frozen solid by someone called…the Anti-Claus! Written by Mark Gruenwald and art by Alan Kupperberg.

The second story is a bit of a parody of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Howard the Duck (“Howard the Duck’s Christmas“)! As usual, it’s a crazy story, but not the best of the book for sure. Written by Steven Grant, art by Paul Smith.

Next is “Dr. Deth, Not to Mention Kip and Morty.” This one is by Larry Hama (script and layouts) and Bob Camp (pencils and inks). This one is very weird, and really not about Christmas except in a  very ancillary way.

In “Slay Bells,” we see what looks like a deranged, small man, acting like a boy to get close to Santa Claus’s around town so he can kill them! This one is super crazy, and violent. Story and art by Mike Carlin.

The next to last story is called “Santa Bites the Big Apple!” Santa arrives to give out presents in Manhattan, but finds out it isn’t easy doing anything in NYC! He gets thrown in the slammer, then must improvise on how to distribute his presents. Writing and art by Al Milgrom.

Lastly, we get a chapter in the life of Bucky Bizarre! An alien character that appeared in previous issues. He’s a humorous character comes upon a girl selling matches on a street corner. The story takes place in the times of Charles Dickens, but this girl is not what you’d think! Written by Steve Skeates, art by Steve Smallwood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Two-in-One 74, 1981 “A Christmas Peril!”

Merry Christmas to everyone out there! This week I’ll keep with the theme of anthology books, but with a holiday story! One of Marvel’s most beloved characters is definitely Ben Grimm. His kind heart and love for his friends is one of legend, his fights with Johnny notwithstanding! This story opens up with a gorgeous splash page that really sets the holiday mood. This wild tale involves the Puppet Master, Ben, and Alicia. You see, the Puppet Master is fresh out of prison, and the shenanigans must ensue. He convinces Alicia that he’s no longer evil, and then the two of them, plus The Thing head to his homeland (Transia) as a Christmas present from the FF. It doesn’t take long for the trio to get into trouble, as Bova and Modred the Mystic join the cast in this crazy holiday issue!

Written by Mark Gruenwald, art by Frank Springer (pencils and cover) and Chic Stone (inks), colors by George Roussos, letters by Michael Higgins, and edited by Jim Salicrup! This is a very wacky issue, but so much fun. The holiday backdrop is perfect for this story and for today’s post! Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Team-Up 91, 1980 “Carnival of Souls!”

As December rolls on, I wanted to spotlight more team up books. This one is very kooky, and features one of the weirdest villains from the pages of Marvel Team-Up! Moondark is very bizarre, and in his first appearance (MTU 12), he was shown controlling Jack Russell, in an attempt to murder Spidey! In this issue, he’s using his vast magical powers to control the Ghost Rider! And for a time he does, and makes him part of a sideshow attraction!

The issue starts out with Peter and Glory Grant on a date at the carnival It’s here that he sees the Ghost Rider. He then comes back later at night to investigate and then the real action begins! We get to see some Spidey vs Ghost Rider action, plus both of them against Moondark!

The story was written by Steven Grant, with art by Pat Broderick (pencils) and Bruce D. Patterson (inks). The letters by Jim Novak, colors by George Roussous, and edited by Denny O’Neil! The cover is by Rich Buckler (pencils) and Al Milgrom (inks)! Definitely a fun little one issue story that fits perfectly in the Bronze Age of goodness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Team-Up 71, 1978 “DeathGarden”

It feels like it has been forever since the blog covered a marvel anthology title (superheroes). After sifting through some boxes, I decided to spotlight this one! How can you not get drawn in by this cover? Cap slowly dying, Spidey and the Falcon swooping in to try and save him, the always loved Marvel hyperbole…”when dies a legend!”

The story isn’t too deep, but it’s mostly about the action, drama, and the two heroes getting together to save a mutual friend in Captain America. You do get a lot in this issue though, as A.I.M., Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, Redwing, and the Plantman all make appearances! A fun issue and you always get that with Marvel Team-Up!

Written by Bill Kunkel, pencils by David Wenzel, inks by Dan Green, letters by Rick Parker, colors by Francoise Mouly, and edited by Jim Shooter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Machine Man 2, 1978 “House of Nightmares”

When Jack “King” Kirby returned to Marvel in the mid-1970s, not only did he spend time on an old favorite, Captain America, but he also created some new characters that were absolutely mind-blowing. One at the top of the list has to be Machine Man. An android created by a scientist, that in turn was killed trying to remove the auto-destruct mechanism from him. Machine Man was introduced in the pages of 2001: A Space Odyssey (issue 8, 1977). This was another Kirby vehicle that was initially based on the film (Stanley Kubrick) and novel (by Arthur C. Clarke). Kirby eventually took the book in his own direction though, and brought more of his Bronze Age bombast with it.

Kirby eventually left Marvel in 1978/1979 (after issue nine of this series), but the title did go on for a few more issues with Steve Ditko on art. It was interesting, but not the all out craziness and cool of Kirby (some of that was definitely the writing, too).  But we did get this awesomeness from the King for those first nine issues, and how glorious they are to behold! Written, edited, and penciled (cover as well, with possible inks by Mike Esposito) by Jack Kirby, inks and letters by Mike Royer, and colored by Petra Goldberg!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SGT. Fury and His Howling Commandos 108, 1973 “Bury My Heart at Dresden!”

As I continue plowing through #warcomicsmonth like a Sherman tank, I thought it would be awesome to give Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos a look! For Marvel fans, this is the big dog of war comics, with only some ancillary titles in the mix (you’ve got to count Captain America in there for a lot of his publishing history). Marvel really did a great job with this team, as it not only had (eventually) distinct personalities for each character, but it was full of diverse ones as well.

In this epic tale, Fury and the Howlers are trapped in enemy territory, as the Allies begin to bomb the city of Dresden. In this real world event (like quite a few of these tales) more than twenty thousand lives were lost. This issue shows the real cost of war and how often those that are not involved get caught in the ugliness. Yes, we also see the usual awesomeness of Fury and the Howlers kicking Nazi butt, and the issues that feature only that are fun as well. But, this one is a bit more profound than most, and will definitely get you thinking. Dum Dum, Izzy, Gabe, Dino, Pinky, etc., they’re all here in this explosive issue!

Written by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Dick Ayers (cover by Ayers as well), inks by Vince Colletta, colors by Dave Hunt, letters by John Duffy, and edited by Roy Thomas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

G.I. Combat 271, 1984 “The Haunted Tank”

As you should know by now, November is “War Comics Month.” Use this hashtag on Twitter to find all the love for these comics. Honestly, it seems like these old books are getting forgotten more and more every year. I’m not sure why that is, but definitely give these books a chance. They hold historical value, even if it’s only in an ancillary way. So many of them also have the awesome talents of Joe Kubert on the cover, and rightly so, as he’s one of the staples from the industry during his tenure. With five awesome stories, and more than forty pages, this book rocks!

The first story (possibly my favorite) involves one of DC’s best war concepts, in The Haunted Tank! “A Birthday Gift from the Enemy,” shows us the horrors of war right from the on-set. No sugar coating here, as some of the men almost get killed. Sgt. Craig fights back admirably, and those that are still alive regroup, but a grenade lands right on top of the tank where Craig is, and he’s in bad shape. It’s up to Lieutenant Stuart and the Haunted Tank to get him to a hospital alive! Created and written by Robert Kanigher, art by Sam Glanzman, letters by Gaspar, colors by Jerry Serpe, and edited by Murray Boltinoff.

“The Last Charge,” is about a bugle, that has been used from the Civil War all the way up to WWII! A very bleak story though, and until the very end, you get a full dose of the horrors of war. Written by George Kashdan, art by Gerry Talaoc, and letters by Esphid Mahilum.

Next is “Dead Man’s Bluff.” This story is one of the most disturbing I’ve ever read. We see some American soldiers in an underground maze of sorts, and up against some Japanese soldiers. The ending is quite shocking, especially for a two page story. Written by George Kashdan, with art by Jose Matucenio, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Esphid Mahilum.

In “Son of a Gunner,” a group of soldiers parachute out of a plane into hostile territory, and are immediately accosted by the enemy. A much more positive end to this one for sure. Writer Arnold Drake, artist Alfredo Falugi, colors by Jerry Serpe, letters by Hector Formento.

Lastly, The Mercenaries (Soldiers of Fortune), star in “Timetable for Terrorists.” The story revolves around some mercs as they take on some terrorists in the Middle East. Story by Robert Kanigher, art by Vic Catan, with letters by Andy Ang.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Batman 236, 1971 “Wail of the Ghost Bride!”

Happy Halloween! I’ve been spotlighting the wonderful additions to my collection from Warren Publishing (Creepy, Eerie) over the last several weeks, and I hope you enjoyed them. Now though, it’s time for some holiday spookiness from the caped crusader himself, Batman! In this issue, we get three stories, but the one I’m going to be focused on is “Wail of the Ghost Bride!” Written by Frank Robbins, with art by Irv Novick (pencils) and Dick Giordano (inks).

The opening splash page shows Batman attacking a man with his back to the audience, and with a ghostly apparition of a woman egging him on to kill her murderer. We then flashback to a time before, and Bruce Wayne is on a flight back to Gotham City. He’s reading a book on unsolved mysteries (cue Robert Stack), and wonders about the death of a woman named Corrine, the heiress to Hellbane Manor. He falls asleep and begins to dream. He wakes up though, and lurches back in terror, as this same woman he read about, Corrine, is outside the window, calling to him to avenger her death. From here, the story follows Batman, as he attempts to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of the young woman.

The story is a good one, but the overall brilliance is the art by Novick and Giordano. The two make a great paring for a character like Batman, and really showed me that they belong right up there with the other great Batman creative teams. And of course, you can’t go wrong with a fabulous cover by Neal Adams!

I’ll just briefly mention the two back up stories. First is “Rain Fire” written by Mike Friedrich and again Novick and Giordano on art. It’s just ok, and not really my cup of tea (a political/social commentary story). The second one is a reprint from Batman 30, 1945. “While the City Sleep,” is a fun little romp by Bill Finger (writer, and the true creator of Batman with the various ghost artists), with art by Dick Sprang!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eerie 51, 1973 “Special Issue, Best Stories Ever!”

In this, the final installment of my  Warren Publishing Halloween spectacular, we get an all-out “best stories” issue! The issue brings some interesting stories for sure, but some similarities to comics/characters that would come later down the road from other publishers (I’m looking at you, Marvel). But when they say it’s a best of issue, they weren’t kidding. And, as a bonus, you get seven big stories in this issue rather than the usual six! All started off with a beautiful painted cover by Sanjulian!

The first story is one that shocked me quite a bit. Not really because of the content, but one of the characters has a strong resemblance to Gamora of the Guardians of the Galaxy. And just so it’s clear, this came out two years previous to Gamora’s first appearance. OK, back to the story. “A Stranger in Hell” is a mysterious one that shows a man that cannot remember his name, and is lured deeper into a realm that closely resembles Hades itself! Written by T. Casey Brennan, and art by Esteban Maroto!

The following story is entitled “Pity the Grave Digger!” It shows a gruesome tale of a graveyard full of vampires! And if that wasn’t enough, we also get something else insidious that will gnaw on you! Story by Buddy Saunders, and art by Auraleon.

The third selection is an absolutely terrifying yarn! “The Caterpillars,” is about a secret government lab, and something called Project X-3. Something rises from a grave, and later an autopsy reveals a worm was inside a skull, eating away at the victims brain! Written by Fred Ott, artwork by Luis Garcia!

Evil Spirits” gives us not only two iconic creators I’ll mention in a second, but first there’s a woman that has disturbing dreams. By the end of it, she’s swinging an axe, but at whom? Story by Archie Goodwin, art by EC legend, Johnny Craig!

In “Head Shop,” a man takes an interest in an odd dummy head. The head seems to change it’s facial expressions, and become almost psychotic! In fact, if the man keeps obsessing he might end up losing his head over it. Written by Don Glut, art by Jose Bea.

The next story is another treat because of the creative team. “Vision of Evil” is quite a yarn. This one shows us an artist that has a flare for the dramatic with his horrific paintings. There’s only one problem…they’re a bit too life-like! Written by Archie Goodwin, with art by Alex Toth!

Finally, “The Curse of Kali!” This tale involves British soldiers and a bizarre adventure in India. By stories’ end, most of the soldiers don’t make it out alive to tell the tale! Story by Archie Goodwin, with art by Angelo Torres!

This issue is a must have for any Warren mag, horror, or fan of Archie Goodwin and these fantastic artists!