Classics Illustrated: The War of The Worlds (1954)

After seeing a post in a FB group a while back, I started to wonder- which is my oldest comic? Well, it took some investigating, but I can now say that it’s this issue of Classics Illustrated that is my oldest comic book (1954). It’s not in the greatest shape, but I’m pretty sure I only paid a buck or two for it at a local show. The film is of course iconic, but when I saw this comics, it called to me.

Honestly, I’m not familiar with the creators of this adaptation at all but after doing some research, I’ve found that the artist (cover and interiors) Lou Cameron is nothing short of a superstar. As far as the writer of this adaptation, I found absolutely nothing about Harry G. Miller. Not sure if that’s because he’s just been forgotten or his work load was minimal. Either way, he did a fine job on this one.

 

 

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Captain America – Top 5 Creative Teams

The character Captain America is not only the greatest superhero to ever don the red, white, and blue, but also the only hero from the Golden Age strictly born out of patriotism that survives today. That alone says something about the strength of the character, and in a small way about patriotism in general. That being said, Captain America has had some very thought-provoking story lines over the years, and a select few men have been responsible! Here are my choices for the five best of all time!

 

 

5. Joe Simon (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)

There are two reasons I have these gentleman on this list (and where). First, I don’t believe you can have a list like this without the creators of the character. Not having read very much material from the Golden Age is why this team isn’t higher on the list. The fact that these men created one of the most iconic characters ever, but that they had him punching the ultimate personification of evil (Adolph Hitler) in the face is absolutely fantastic.

 

4. Stan Lee (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)

In his second run with Cap, Kirby really cranked up the visual feasts. He took Cap to new heights that haven’t been reached again and probably never will be. The stories in this era (Silver Age in Tales of Suspense, and then his own title) had more intrigue and spy material than straight up war angles, and that fit perfectly with the Cold War going on at the time.

 

 

3. Roger Stern (writer) and John Byrne (artist)

If you sit back and think how great this run was and that it only encompassed nine issues, that alone tells you how great it truly was to read. Any creative team that can produce a serious story about Cap considering running for the presidency and you believe it, has to be near the top of any list. And just the creepy Baron Blood issues alone are incredibly good!

 

2. Ed Brubaker (writer) and Steve Epting (artist)

To say that Captain America (and a lot of the Marvel Universe) needed updating after the turn of the century is an understatement. The shot in the arm was delivered by this awesome team. And yes, this is a list of Cap creative teams, but this team bringing back Bucky, and turning him into Steve’s worst nightmare was pure genius. No one has come close to this level of writing since.

 

1. Steve Englehart (writer) and Sal Buscema (artist)

From issue #153-181 (with almost no interruptions), Steve and Sal gave the readers everything they could possibly want. The political intrigue, racial bigotry, disturbing truths about a government he trusted, etc. The best part though, was Cap’s friendship with the Falcon. He and Sam Wilson grew to be best of friends, and an awesome crime fighting team! The villains were a big part of this run as well- Dr. Faustus, the 1950s Cap and Bucky (click here for details), Red Skull, Yellow Claw, Serpent Squad, Baron Zemo, Moonstone, and more! All the while having guest stars like the X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Panther, Iron Man, you name it. This creative team pulled out all the stops (even Cap quitting!), and that is why they are number one!

 

 

Honorable mentions; first, to the team of Jack Kirby (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)! His return to Marvel in the mid-1970s ushered in some incredible trippy stories starring Cap, and even if the stories don’t grab you, the mind-numbing artwork will! Also, Stan Lee (writer) and Gene Colan (artist). Awesome run with more action than you can ever want, and a signature art style that is absolutely unique!

 

Black Magic 8, 1975 “My Dolly the Devil!”

Back in the 1950s (before the Wertham crusades), Jack Kirby and Joe Simon were still chugging along with their creative partnership, and were producing comic books in their own shop. One of the companies they produced comic books for was Prize Comics (Crestwood Publications). This was the launching pad for titles like “Young Romance” (the first ever romance comic book), “Fighting American” and “Black Magic!” Before the Comics Code Authority was established, you had the awesomeness of EC Comics, and shops like Simon and Kirby’s churning out great stuff that really set the bar for horror of the time.

The book contains four stories (5, if you count a one page prose tale), that are all pretty good! Graveyards, ghosts, sinister dolls, killer dwarves, you name it, this one has it (*note- this book is a reprint of Golden Age stories, that explains all the pre-code talk!)! Credits include- Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Jerry Grandenetti (cover), Bruno Premiani, Leonard Starr, and more! Enjoy!

 

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A Tribute to the late Joe Kubert!

On his birthday, I’d like to pay homage to Mr. Kubert! His pencils and inks were some of the finest to ever grace the pages of comics, and I for one am saddened by his passing (in 2012), but rejoice in the awesome legacy he left behind not only from his work, but also his school in Dover, New Jersey! Now, I give you some of the awesome covers (that I own) that the legendary Joe Kubert drew over the years! Enjoy!

 

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Strange Adventures 232, 1971 “Hollywood in Space!”

Every once and a while, you just grab a book on a whim, and soon realize you struck gold! This book is one of those times. If this cover doesn’t grab you with its stunning display of sci-fi action, or the proclamation of “Startling Stories of Super Science-Fiction,” then you’d better check your pulse! Seeing the twenty-five cent cover also was a dead giveaway that this book is from my favorite era, the Bronze Age. It sounds as if this book is a sure winner, but being a DC noob, and no creator credits on the cover (that I saw at first glance), it was a shot in the dark, personally. Little did I know that the five stories inside would be to my liking, and quite honestly, anyone that’s a fan of the genre.

This gorgeous cover was brought to you by the man, the myth, and the legend, Joe Kubert. This guy could draw a jungle scene one minute, a fantastical world from outer space the next, and then finish off with a gritty war comic, all before lunch. And oh yeah, it would blow your mind. I’ve just scratched the surface with his work, but I already know he’s one of the greatest men to ever pick up a pencil. The interior has work from some incredible creators from days gone by, like Mort Drucker, Sid Greene, Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino, Murphy Anderson, and more! If you love sci-fi and action, this one will impress you, I guarantee it!

 

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Journey into Mystery 14, 1974 “When Wakes the Sphinx!”

Another post on the same day? Uh, yeah, because it’s Halloween (and there will be a few more, too!). Hopefully by the time this post hits the airwaves, I’ll be enjoying some great deals at WildPig Comics, in New Jersey. I’ll be looking to fill some gaps in my collection, especially in the Bronze Age era! For now, though, you’ll have to settle for this little gem! We get four stories, and each one brings a different thing to the table. The first is a tale about an alien invasion, but one with unexpected results…for the aliens that is! The second one is called “The Thing on the Moon,” and deals with a giant creature on the moon that was placed there by inhabitants of Earth. Thirdly, we see a foreign substance that can eat the flesh off of a man right down to the bone! The last story shows an attractive woman and the scores of men after her affections. She suckers one of them into giving her ten-thousand dollars, but after he sees her with another man, he’s plots his revenge!

The initial story is by Steve Ditko (art), and isn’t the best work he’s ever produced, but certainly better than most. He does a great job on the Sphinx in the story, though. The next one is by Don Heck (art), and he brings his usual talents to the table. The last two have artists who I’m not all that familiar with, in Doug Wildey and Harry Anderson. Both men do a solid job on their respective stories, and keep the book at an even pace as far as the artwork. All stories have scripts by Stan Lee. The cover, which is fantastic, is by none other than “Rampaging” Ron Wilson!

 

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Journey into Mystery 7, 1973 “The Scorpion Strikes!”

When I was a kid, I watched an episode of Jonny Quest, and it was super cool! There was a mad scientist that grew ordinary animals into behemoths! A crab, a spider, and a lizard, all grew to enormous size, and went crazy, killing on site. The lead story in this awesome book definitely has some similarities which makes me think the writers of that show were fans of comic books! A giant, mutated scorpion, a man who gets shrunken down to the size of a mouse (and subsequently terrorized by his own cat!), and an alien with a special chair! These three tales are perfect reading for the holiday or anytime!

The first two stories are just further proof that Jack “King” Kirby is a master of all genres. There’s nothing the man couldn’t do with a pencil. He did the penciling on the first two stories, with inks by Paul Reinman, and Dick Ayers, respectively (Ayers inked the cover over Kirby pencils as well). Both of those latter names were abundant during the Golden and Atom Ages (Silver Age as well), and rightly so, as they contributed heavily. The final story is by “Sturdy” Steve Ditko. His style fits perfectly for the story, and proves his mastery of weird, fantasy tales (plot/scripts credits to Stan Lee and possibly Larry Lieber as well)!

 

 

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Tomb of Darkness 22, 1976 “My Brother, This Monster!”

As Halloween is just around the corner, the hits just keep on coming! Another reprint of Atlas Era material is here, and this one doesn’t disappoint. Ghosts, ghouls, a robot, and just about anything else you can imagine! The first story is about a robot named “Grutan.”The scientist that creates him has a grudge against mankind, and wished to unleash his new robot to make them pay! The second tale involves twin brothers that are exact opposites in some ways, but ugly on the outside doesn’t always equal evil! The third story involves a ghastly figure, music, and a graveyard. The last story shows how a prison inmate makes a deal with the devil!

With all four stories credits going to Stan Lee, we are left to dive into the wonder of the artwork from some of the best of that time period. First up is Don Heck (pencils and inks on the first story). This guy was at marvel from the beginning with the rest of the giants, and somehow never gets mentioned with them. Study the man’s work, and I think you’ll find a fine craftsman. The name Mike Sekowsky might not be one of familiarity to Marvel zombies, but he was definitely someone who did a good bit of work for DC comics back in the day (credits as probable but not confirmed for the second and fourth stories). Lastly, we have Pete Morisi. He’s beat known for his work at Charlton, and was also a confidant of Don Heck! We get a great cover by the team of Mike Netzer and Pablo Marcos!

 

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Beware 1, 1973 “The Werewolf was Afraid!”

When you get the opportunity to grab comics at a steep discount, you’ve got to take advantage. When it’s a number one issue, you pounce! Granted, this comic book is a reprint title, but still, it’s a good one! Anytime you get to see some of these classics, you gotta bite, especially when it starts off with a werewolf story! Killer robots, a witch, and a final tale of madness!

The cover is absolutely fantastic, and we have the incomparable Bill Everett to thank for it. His story is a sad one, being one of the greats that died before his time. The werewolf story has work by John Romita (art)(original stories by Stan Lee). It’s quite a bit different from what most will remember his work on in titles like Amazing Spider-Man, but still very cool. The second tale is by Vic Carabotta (pencils) and Jack Abel (inks). The latter gentleman’s work I know from various titles, but Carabotta is someone I don’t know much about. The third installment is one that offers  a more familiar team, in Lee, Jack Kirby (pencils), and Dick Ayers (inks). If you’ve never seen Kirby’s horror stuff, you owe it to yourself to get out there and investigate. Finally, we have Joe Sinnott (pencils and inks). From what’s said, he’s one of the nicest guys in the industry, and one that one day soon hopefully, I’ll get the chance to meet!

 

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Vault of Evil 8, 1973 “The Vampire is My Brother!”

Another horrific comic book post to satiate your bloodthirsty minds! What lurks in the Vault of Evil! A bunch of Golden Age reprints, that’s what! I love these old stories because you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes they are straight up horror, other times a thriller. Once and a while you get one that is pre-code and has a decapitation or something cool like that in it! These reprints usually consisted of three or four stories that usually revolved around murder, vampires, werewolves, or an atomic mutation. The first one in this book was a vampire story, the second was about the dead rising from the grave. The third story is about a female ghost, and the last is about a trunk that brings bad luck to its owners!

Al Eadeh, was a guy that worked in the comic book industry for a long time. His pencils and inks definitely give off that Golden Age vibe, and the man spent time in the Simon and Kirby studio, so, that should tell you about his prowess! Another name from that era is Ed Winiarski (pencils/inks). Another artist that had a grounding in crime, sci-fi, and horror books of that age, Winiarski had a similar style that definitely reminds me of the early horror work by Kirby and Simon. Sid Greene (pencils/inks) fits the same mold but also did some romance work as well. Last, but certainly not least, is Joe Sinnott (pencils/inks). He’ll go down in history as one of the greatest inkers of all time, and rightly so, as his work with Kirby, Perez, and a host of others was outstanding. If you dig a bit deeper though, you’ll find that the guy is quite an accomplished penciler as well, and issues like this prove it. We also get the treat of a great cover by Rich Buckler and Vicente Alcazar!

 

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