House of Mystery 155, 1965 “The Nightmare Express!”

Ridin’ that train, high on cocaine, Casey Jones you better watch your speed,” The Grateful Dead famously said in a song. Maybe they were talking about the Nightmare Express? If so, drugs might be a good scapegoat for this one (just kidding). Anyway, there are three cool stories in this one and all of them are completely crazy. Translation- it’s an a awesome book!

The first story is about J’onn J’onzz, the Manhunter from Mars! Now don’t get too excited, as he’s fighting the “Giant Genie of Gensu”…yeah. So that story isn’t the greatest, but it has really cool artwork with some hilarious shenanigans (Jack Schiff, writer, art by Sheldon Moldoff, letters by Ira Schnapp). Next up is a tale called “The Human Hurricane!” Mitch Anderson is a guinea pig for scientist and ends up becoming, you guessed it, a human hurricane (story by Jack Miller, art by Joe Certa, and letters by Stan Starkman). Lastly, we climb aboard “The Midnight Express!” But don’t expect to see John Hurt or Randy Quaid, as this one has Detective John Sutter, on his way home from work, and he gets a ride on a train that he’ll never forget. Or was it even real (written by Jack Miller, art by Bernard Baily, letters by Stan Starkman). This very groovy cover is by Jack Sparling!

 

 

Happy Birthday, Batman!

Let us all say Happy Birthday to the Batman on his 80th anniversary! I scanned a few issues from my collection that are standouts! From the Silver Age to the Modern Age, you get some classics! Enjoy!

 

 

Adventure Comics 459, 1978 “6 All-New Super-Star Features”

The never-ending search for more awesome comics from the Bronze and Silver Ages continues! With a bigger focus on DC for now, let us focus on this issue of Adventure Comics! With sixty-eight big pages and no ads, features six stories with the likes of the Justice League, Elongated Man, and the New Gods! This book is a recent acquisition, but has already climbed the ladder to one of my favorite DC comics. The cool cover is by DC stalwart, Jim Aparo!

 

The first story features The Flash, and the name alone is incredible…”The Crimson Comets of Fallville High.” Barry (Allen) saves a pilot from a deathly crash, then sprints to a class reunion! There’s more than the usual tripe at this gathering though! Writer Cary Bates, art by Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin, letters by Gaspar Saladino, and colors by Gene D’Angelo.

 

Murder Haunts the Midway” is the second story, and involves a somber Deadman, as he recounts some of his past, then also must feel what it’s like to be inside the body of a suicidal man! Oh and there are Commies, too. Writer Len Wein, art by Jim Aparo, and colors by Glynis Wein.

 

The third installment brings everybody’s favorite green guardian, Hal Jordan! “The Call of the Cosmos” brings a hot, alien chick that needs Hal’s help. He flies around in space and blows stuff up like only Green Lantern can. Just a little action-packed story, nothing too heavy. Writer Cary Burkett, art by Joe Staton, letters by Ben Oda, and colors by Adrienne Roy.

 

We next see “Orion of the New Gods.” A story involving all your usual suspects – Desaad, Forager, Metron, Lightray, and Jimmy Carter…? Neat story, and cool artwork, but it’s just pale in comparison to Jack ‘King’ Kirby’s work with these characters. Writer Gerry Conway, art by Don Newton and Augie Scotto, letters by Ben Oda, and colors by Jerry Serpe.

 

The Elongated Man is the star of “The Case of the Fortune Cookie Fortune” and this is the most absurd tale in the entire book. Not that it isn’t a fun romp, but it just doesn’t really feel like it fits with the rest of the stories. A fortune cookie has a one-thousand dollar bill inside of it instead of a fortune, and it’s up to Ralph to figure out what’s going on. Written by Len Wein, Paul Levitz, Mike Gold, Ann Delary-Gold, and Steve Mitchell (not quite sure why they needed a small army to write this one), art by George Ruppert and Bruce Patterson, letters by Clem Robins, and colors by Glynis Wein.

 

Lastly, we have Princess Diana of Themiscyra, Wonder Woman, battling the Shark! This is one is very bizarre as well, but keeps with the action theme nonetheless. Diana fights the Shark, is defeated by him, then isn’t, then uses her magic lasso to turn him back into a shark. Yeah, um, this one is wild to say the least, including Hippolyte speaking Spanish. Writer Jack C. Harris, art by Jack Abel and Frank Giacoia, letters by Shelly Leferman, and colors by Gene D’Angelo.

 

The Brave and the Bold 115, 1974 “Batman and The Atom!”

The DC 100 page comics from the Bronze Age are nothing short of gems. These multi-storied books bring a variety like no other to a reader, and they do it by simply providing extraordinary content. With one original story and four reprints, this book is an excellent representation of what made DC comics a great company.

A new Batman story, straight from the mean streets of Gotham! We see Batman down for the count, as he’s nearly killed by some hoods! It’s up to the Atom and Commissioner Gordon to save the Dark Knight! Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, with art by Jim Aparo!

Next up is a reprint of Challengers of the Unknown (issue 12) with “Three Clues to Sorcery.” You get it all in this one – a gorilla, a gigantic squid, a mysterious gem, and more! Written by Ed Herron (most likely), with art by Bob Brown.

In the following reprint, we get a good one (and a personal favorite of mine)! “Solomon Grundy Goes on a Rampage!”, features just that, Grundy going ape and kicking the crap out of Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, and Hourman! Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Murphy Anderson.

in the fourth installment, a legend in the comic book industry brings us one of his best illustrations with the “Origin of the Viking Prince!Joe Kubert is the artist, and he delivers the goods. Script by Bob Haney.

Lastly, we get another titan of the comic book industry (well three really), as Ray Palmer, A.K.A. The Atom, is brought to us in “The Case of the Innocent Thief!” – by Gardner Fox (story), Gil Kane (pencils) and Murphy Anderson (inks)!

The cover features illustrations by Jim Aparo (Batman), Murphy Anderson (Grundy), and Bob Brown (Challengers).

 

 

 

Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane 85, 1968 “When Lois was more Super than Superman!”

All I needed to see was Lois Lane gets super powers, the bottle city of Kandor, and a mutant breed of toy-size ponies! Yes that’s all it takes. It’s the simple, crazy things in life that are amusing, and never lose their humor. Silver Age comics (especially DC), are a wonderland of humorous tales that is never-ending. Superman is probably the best example of this trend. It took quite a long time for DC to turn towards some more serious stories, but the material presented here might not be Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, but it’s a ton of fun.

And, as if the main story wasn’t ludicrous enough, we get a back up story about Lois as a toddler, getting into shenanigans. Yes, chasing a snake, “driving” a car, etc., you get the drift. A book with two insane tales, and lots of laughter. The dialogue in the first story is especially entertaining. The book is Silver Age DC comics personified.

The cover is by Neal Adams, who was very prevalent at DC in the late Silver and Bronze Ages. Moving inside, we get both parts of the Super-Lois story from Leo Dorfman, who also wrote for Dell, Gold Key, and Fawcett. The guy wrote a ton of Superman stories during this era. The artwork is by Irv Novick (pencils) and Mike Esposito (inks). Both men give us a quality job for sure (as you’ll see) in both parts. Lastly, we see the back up story created by two giants in Jerry Siegel (writer) and Kurt Schaffenberger (art)!

 

 

DC comics: The Sandman (Wesley Dodds)

Being a little green yet with my DC comics and their characters, I decided to grab this trade and single issue out of pure curiosity, but make no mistake, the names Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (definitely check out the Kirby Museum for a ton of facts, pages, and excellent insight to Kirby!) had a lot to do with the purchase as well! This incredible duo didn’t create the Sandman (Gardner Fox and Bert Christman did), but not long after a revamp by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris (Adventure Comics #69), Joe and Jack took over the reigns, and really created some fantastic adventures for this crazy character and his new sidekick (Sandy)!

The stories varied from heavy subjects like slavery and suicide, to the more usual tales of war and the mob! Mostly though, they had a strange vibe or a villain that was downright bizarre. People like NightShade (later known as Ramulus), Thor, and Noah…Barton, who has an Ark full of animals. No joke folks, it’s all right here in these pages. From Nazis to Santa Claus, anything you can think of Simon and Kirby already have, and more than likely before you or your parents were even born.

The second part of this post is to spotlight an issue of DC Comics Presents (#42, written by Mike Barr and artwork by Jose Delbo and Joe Giella), as it was the first time I’d ever read a story about the Sandman! Reading this cool story about where the character went after the Golden Age (a back up as the main story was one that featured Superman and the Unknown Soldier, which is just OK), really had me thinking about this character I’d heard of but never really knew anything about, other than he was created in the Golden Age, and was later (in name) drastically changed for a Vertigo title by Neil Gaiman (I’ve read absolutely none of those – not my thing). There was another story in JLA 113, 19974, that showed what happened to Sandy, and featured Dodds (I don’t own that one yet!).

Whether you’re a fan of Golden Age characters or haven’t really read much of them, definitely give the Sandman a try!

 

 

Action Comics 440, 1974 “The Man Who Betrayed Krypton!”

As December rolls around, the holidays are upon us, and what better superhero to spotlight in the first week than the man of steel himself, Superman! The cover on this one really stands out, and we have long time DC artist Nick Cardy (colors by Tatjana Wood) to thank for it (although it looks very different from his typical work).

Inside we are treated to a very interesting story that involves a gentleman in a cape named Michael J. Coram, as he attempts to recruit two boys for some mysterious means. As Superman is taking care of some villains, we see a flashback of this Coram, as he approaches a man named Woodrow, about to join the Army. The man is a brilliant scientist, and Corman knows he can use this man’s intelligence for nefarious means! What are those means? Why to destroy Superman of course!

If you’ve ever the read the Superman story “For the Man Who has Everything”, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, this story will make you think of that one immediately. Not because they’re exactly the same, but they do have a bit of a parallel theme between them. At least as far as the villain and his method for antagonizing Superman is similar. I won’t spoil it but attacking someone who has an invulnerable physique isn’t easy. Writer Elliot S! Maggin does a great job at giving the Man of Steel a moment of real weakness in this book. The art team of Curt Swan (pencils) and Bob Oksner (inks) deliver a solid visual story for sure!

Nestled in the last few pages, is a really cool back-up story starring the emerald archer himself, Green Arrow! This strange story shows us a cute little dog named Krypto, a bunch of skeevy smugglers, and if that wasn’t enough, we see an out of control Black Canary karate chop Krypto on the neck! Elliot S! Maggin again scripting, and Mike Grell on art is a real treat!

 

 

All-Out War 3, 1980 “The Viking Commando”

Admittedly, the Viking Commando character is very new to me. You can’t say no to a comic book with sixty-eight pages for a buck! These dollar comics that DC produced are absolute gold, from front cover to back. The extra content, the advertisements, and of course, the cover, makes this one an absolute gem. You get six stories in this comic book, and they are all quality selections. Kudos to editor Joe Orlando!

The first story is “A Hunger for Heroes” and stars the Viking Commando! A 12th Century warrior that was transported to the 20th Century and must fight the enemy in WWII! Story by (and created by) Robert Kanigher, art by George Evans, colors by Bob LeRose, and letters by Gaspar Saladino! Next up is “Bullet for a Bully,” gives us a story of an American soldier and an Italian resistance fighter, as they battle with more than just the enemy. Written by Davis Allikas, and art by Bill Payne. The third story (my personal favorite), gives us the character Black Eagle! This man was the leader of an all black squadron of pilots in WWII! Excellent story (Robert Kanigher) and art (Dick Ayers – pencils, Romeo Tanghal – inks, Ben Oda – letters, and Jerry Serpe colors). “Last Ace for a Gunner” is an interesting story, and is pretty self-explanatory. A card playing gunner plays his last hand. Story by Murray Boltinoff, and art by¬† Mar Amongo. As we begin to wind down, “No Glory for Cooky” is an action-packed tale created by “Zany” Bob Haney (writer), E.R. Cruz (art), Jerry Serpe (colors), and Gaspar Saladino (letters). Finally, “The Dominoes of Death” shows some aquatic action, with a super cool submarine! Written by Robert Kanigher, art by Jerry Grandenetti, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Gaspar Saladino. And all of this military mayhem is kicked off by a great cover by Joe Kubert!

 

 

G.I. Combat 114, 1965 “Battle Origin of The Haunted Tank!”

Observing Veterans Day is just another great reason to post about a war/military comic! Once again, the pages turn in a DC comic, as we see the famous stories in G.I. Combat! The men and women who served this great country deserve our appreciation, and will always get mine. Now, lets talk about the awesome action in this book!

There are only two stories in this book, but between them, the advertisements, and the extras, you can’t go wrong with this book. Speaking of stories, the first one (Battle Origin of the Haunted Tank) gives us a look at The Haunted Tank! Crafted by Robert Kanigher (writer), and the legendary Russ Heath (art and cover). If you’ve never read a story with the Haunted Tank, get an issue immediately. Great, fun stuff! The second story, “My Witness–the Enemy,” is a good one as it has some aquatic action! Frogmen, boats, a submarine, pistols and planes, this one has it all! Written by Hank Chapman, with art by Jack Abel (letters by Gaspar Saladino).

 

 

Our Fighting Forces 126, 1970 “Losers in a Lost Town!”

For November, its been brought to my attention (via Twitter), that there is a hashtag (#warcomicsmonth) spotlighting military comics such as Our Fighting Forces and the entire genre! This is a genre that I didn’t really get into until the last decade, but it’s one that is chocked full of brilliant work by some of the best creators in comic book history!

In the Marvel vs. DC debate, there is a lot of room for speculation and conversation on which company is best as far as content over the years. If you look at each genre, rather than overall, you can see a pretty wide gap in a the war/military comics corner. DC comics had several great titles, and certainly the better between the two comic book giants.

This book contains three stories (plus some extras), and the first stars that lovable group, The Losers! Captain Storm, Johnny Cloud, Gunner, and Sarge, are always finding themselves in situations with seemingly no way out, but always manage to find a way to survive and get to the next mission alive! Written by Robert Kanigher, with art by Ross Andru (pencils) and Mike Esposito (inks). The second story gives us perennial war comics giant Sam Glanzman (script, pencils, inks)! If you’ve never seen one of his stories before, definitely grab some of his material. A one page story/pinup by Ken Barr (script by Raymond Marais) about Atilla the Hun, is a cool piece for sure. Another one page story, this one by John Costanza, brings some humor to the book for a slight change of pace. And lastly, Great Battles of History brings us The Fall of Constantinople! Art by Ric Estrada! All of this is hidden beneath a wonderful cover by the master himself, Joe Kubert! You’ll be seeing a lot of his covers in these war books, as he was a machine at pumping out very high quality work for DC comics for decades.