The Mighty Marvel Western 6, 1969 “Doom in the Desert!”

I felt compelled to spotlight some Westerns for the month of July, as some Twitter friends have christened it #westerncomicsmonth! Search this hashtag out on Twitter for all the fun. Honestly, they really aren’t my thing, and I only have half a dozen issues or so, but I can’t resist joining in, as these Twitter pals know how to have a good time.

This oversized issue has four big stories, two awesome pinups (I’ll include both at the bottom, both are Kirby pencils, Ayers and Colletta inks, respectively), and cool advertisements! And check out this cool cover by Herb Trimpe!

 

First up is the story from the cover, “Doom in the Desert!” It features the Rawhide Kid, and after he wins a sharp shooting contest, he’s going to give the prize money to a widow, but after he does, he finds himself in the desert and out of water, and at the mercy of some toughs! Story by Stan Lee, art by Jack “King” Kirby and Dick Ayers!

 

Next is “The Saga of Sam Hawk, Manhunter!” Kid Colt is the star of this story, and the Manhunter is out to get him! Betrayal, Native American warriors, and a twist ending you won’t see coming! Story by Stan Lee, art by Jack Keller, and letters by Sam Rosen!

 

Now, for the third star of this book, The Two-Gun Kid, in “Trapped by Ringo’s Raiders!” No, the Beatles aren’t in this one, but we do get a bank robbery attempt, a prison break, and a whole lotta action! Written by Stan Lee, art by Dick Ayers, and letters by Sam Rosen.

 

Lastly, the Rawhide Kid stars in “Shootout with Rock Rorick!” The Kid jumps into a bar fight, but has he finally bitten off more than he can chew messing with the gang of Rock Rorick? Script by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers, and letters by Artie Simek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super-Blog Team-Up: Doctor Voodoo Avenger of the Supernatural!

 

SBTU is back and better than ever! “The Doctor is in!,” is a great concept, as the amount of doctors in comics/pop culture is plentiful. Of course, those who know me would expect me to roll with my Twitter namesake, Doc Strange, but, not so fast! A little swerve was in order, and the first thing that popped into my brain was this awesome mini series (I think it was initially supposed to be an ongoing) by Rick Remender (writer) and artist Jefte Palo! The awesome painted covers were by Marko Djurdjevic!

Paging Doctor Voodoo, Doctor Strange, Doctor Doom. Oh yes, all three of these doctors are a huge part of this story. And let us not forget doctor Hellstrom…well, OK, Daimon Hellstrom, isn’t actually a doctor, but he’s super cool and in this story as well!

To quickly catch up, Doctor Strange made a boo boo, and relinquished the powers of the sorcerer supreme. The Eye of Agamotto sought out a new champion, and Brother Voodoo was chosen! The series doesn’t waste any time getting frenetic, as Doctor Voodoo immediately taxes his powers and abilities too much (after being warned not to by Dr. Strange), and winds up getting a beat down by Dr. Doom. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his staff is broken so he gets stuck in an alternate dimension for a time as well. Enter Daimon Hellstrom. We all know he can be a wild card, but Doctor Voodoo trusts him, but immediately regrets it. You see, Hellstrom is under the influence of Nightmare, and while in this other dimension, Nightmare is wreaking havoc on Earth!

This five issue series (I believe it was supposed to be an ongoing but was cancelled) is a lot of fun, and it really brought Brother Voodoo out of the shadows and into a big spotlight. For an old school horror/Bronze Age fan like me, it was long overdue. During the series, we were also given a neat issue, as Marvel released a one-shot “The Origin of Jericho Drumm!” In this book, we get a framing sequence by none other than Rascally Roy Thomas, with art by Alex Massacci, colors by Chris Sotomayor, and letters by Dave Lanphear. The issue then gave us Strange Tales 169 and 170 (Brother Voodoo’s first appearance), plus a story from the excellent black and white horror magazine, Tales of the Zombie (6)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out the other awesome participants in this round of Super Blog Team Up!

Between The Pages Blog – The World’s Most Popular Football Holder & Psychiatrist – Lucy van Pelt

Daves Comics Blog – Dr. Fate!

SuperHero Satellite-  The 1970s Incredible Hulk Television Series: The Lonely and Tragic Life Of Doctor David Banner

Comics Comics Comics – Dr. Who!

Pop Culture Retrorama-  Dr. Terrence the Ghost Breaker

Asterisk51- Doctor Bong: For Whom the Bell Tolls

Radulich Broadcasting Network – Dr. Doolittle

Radulich Broadcasting Network – Metal hammer of Doom

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 1, 1974 “Day of the Triffids”

At first sight, this magazine (published in 1975) doesn’t look like anything special. Oh the cover by Kelly Freas (with alterations by John Romita), is very cool, but sci-fi hadn’t really hit it big yet in the mainstream (pre- Star Wars, and Star Trek films). What Marvel did though, was bring in stories written by some of the greatest writers of the genre, and adapt them for comic book format. When you can slap the name Ray Bradbury on your cover, it’s going to sell some books for sure.

As if the spectacular cover wasn’t enough, we get a frontispiece by Spanish master, Esteban Maroto! Most of Marvel’s magazines had these pin ups inside the front cover, and some even at the end of the issue. Using Bradbury’s name on the cover was a good idea, but in all honestly, the name Bob Shaw should’ve been on there as well. His concept “slow glass” is the subject of this book, and sort of introduces the other stories (and bookends as well), as a portmanteau film executes for its audience. Those pages are by Tony Isabella (script, adapted from the Shaw idea), and the art team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer!

The first chapter is “The Day of the Triffids!”In this story (based on the John Wyndham novel), we see a particular species of tree that not only seems to be able to think for itself, but has malice toward human being as well! Written  by Gerry Conway, with art by Ross Andru and Ernie Chan!

Next, we get a story written and drawn by Neal Adams! The story is an anti war/Vietnam piece told through the lens of sci-fi. The story is told almost like news blurbs, which is fascinating for 1975!

The third installment is a fabulous interview with Ray Bradbury. He speaks about his youth, and the formative that guided some of his writing. The interview is conducted by Sheldon Dorf.

Next up is a hilarious parody story (Smash Gordon!) by none other than Frank Brunner (story and art)! This one is not only comedic, but it is absolutely gorgeous to look at. If you’ve seen his work before, get ready, as this is on another level.

An atomic test in the New Mexico desert is the start of “Savage World!” Three of the people involved with the bomb test end up in an underground world. Are the rulers peaceful as they claim or not? Script by Wally Wood, and art by Al Williamson!

Another interview graces the pages of this magazine, and this time it’s with the cover artist (and artistic giant), Kelly Freas! They include a few images of his work on some science fiction books from yesteryear as well!

We then get another story that is pretty straightforward, but has a comedic ending. Automated cities of the future are now the only place you’ll find human beings. A plane crash strands a few people out in a wasteland, and as you can imagine, it doesn’t end well. Story and art by Mike Kaluta!

Finally, another chapter of Slow Glass, and this one is seven pages long! We watch as a couple who has traveled off the beaten path attempts to purchase some slow glass from an elderly man. But this man has a secret, and it’s one he doesn’t want people to know. Script by Tony Isabella, with art by Gene Colan and Mike Esposito!

As of this blog post being published, these magazines can still be had for reasonable prices on places like Ebay. Any interested parties should think about getting these sooner rather than later, as they probably won’t be reprinted any time soon (Marvel wqould probably need to get the rights to publish it again as the source material belongs to the book publisher or the estates).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Detective Comics 38, 1940 “Robin the Boy Wonder!”

In an effort to support local business, I stopped by an LCS (local comic shop) around the holidays to see what they had. The store has no back issues (sad face), but they do have a great deal of trades and new comics (along with gaming supplies and tournaments). I picked up a trade that will more than likely be spotlighted at some point here if not talked about on a podcast, but for now, I’ll be focusing on a reprint edition they had in stock! I’ve always wanted to read some stories from the Golden Age of comics of importance, and while most are available in some form or another, I couldn’t pass this one up. This book has nine stories in it (plus one prose tale), but I’m only focusing in on the Batman story.

The story is one that many already know, but just in case you don’t…We see a young Dick Grayson, as he’s eavesdropping outside the office of the circus owner (he and his parents work at a circus as trapeze artists). He hears some gangsters threaten the circus, and then they leave after the owner tells them to get lost. That night at the show, not only does the young boy see his parents plummet to their deaths, he then sees the goons return to threaten the owner again, and confess to the killing. Dick runs out to call the police but before he can, he’s stopped by The Batman! He explains to Dick that he can help him bring the killers to justice, but it will require training like he’s never had before. At this moment he decides to become a lifelong crime fighter, trained by the best. Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder then set out to find and catch Boss Zucco, the man responsible for most of the crime in Gotham City!

This issue is one that everybody who’s a fan of Robin, or basically Batman and his corner of the DC universe needs to have. Look for this reprint or a trade that has it, as it’s a lot of fun. Just the grittiness of this story alone is a lot of fun, then throw in the origin of Robin and it’s just overall a great one. The other stories aren’t bad either, and definitely reflect the times (Depression era). Written by Bill Finger, art by Jerry Robinson and (maybe) Bob Kane.