Marvel Team-Up 68, 1978 “The Measure of a Man!”

It has been too long since the Man-Thing was spotlighted on this blog! Not to mention the awesome title Marvel Team-Up and Spidey! Of course the overwhelming majority of issues featured the web-slinger (some had the Human Torch), and he was the franchise at that point without a doubt. The creatives behind this one, were names that are synonymous with Bronze Age comics, but specifically the X-Men, and the greatest run that title has ever known (let’s be honest, will ever know).

But back to Manny and Spidey- in this issue, we see these two heroes that couldn’t be more different, working together to achieve a greater good. These two must put an end to the fearful villain known as D’Spayre, and to vanquish him, is to conquer your own fears. This is obviously a very challenging thing to do for anyone, even a superhero. We know that Man-Thing can sense and exploit fear, but what happens when he must face an adversary that can instill fear in his opponent? And we all know Spidey has doubts and fears even without any prodding, so an easy fight this will not be!

Now, onto this great creative team! We all know Chris Claremont (writer) is “Mr. X-Men” and rightfully so, as he crafted so many of the personalities we love(d) for a very long time. He also created a few new characters that have stood the test of time. His frequent collaborator, was John Byrne (pencils, cover and interiors). His pencils and creativity helped the duo raise the bar for all the titles at Marvel, but specifically the X-Men. But, don’t sleep on this material, because both men were at the top of their game on this run of Marvel Team-Up as well! Inks by Bob Wiacek (cover inks by Josef Rubinstein), colors by Phil Rachelson, letters by Bruce Patterson, and edited by Archie Goodwin!

 

 

Tower of Shadows 1, 1969 “At the Stroke of Midnight!”

After searching far and wide for an affordable copy of this book, I found it at a small show for a few bucks. The guy I bought it from actually gave me a deal on multiple books, so the price was definitely right. I already knew some of the contents, and was pumped to read it. When the first story of the book has work by a legendary creator, you know it’s gonna be a good time. Honestly, the entire book is filled with giants of the industry. The cover is by “Jazzy” John Romita!

Right out of the gate, you get “At the Stroke of Midnight.” This one has been reprinted a couple of times, and once you check it out, you can see why. A creepy tale about a haunted castle, brought to us solely by Jim Steranko! He wrote, drew, and colored this amazing story! As usual, Steranko sets a mood immediately, and this is one of his calling cards when creating a comic book. He knew exactly what he wanted to convey to the reader, and executed it flawlessly.

The second tale in this nightmarish book (“From Beyond the Brink!“) is one by a classic horror artist that worked for the best in the biz at the genre. Johnny Craig was a mainstay at E.C. comics during their heyday (pre-Wertham, and the Senate hearings of the 1950s). What’s astonishing is that not only was he the artist, but also the writer of this one. A story that involves a man that attempts to expose mediums for the fakes they are, but a twist ending is chilling!

Lastly, Digger introduces us to “A Time to Die!” This one brought to you by Stan Lee (script) and “Big” John Buscema (art), and involves an old scientist that wants to find an elixir that will allow him to live forever. The scientist has an assistant that also has eyes on the elixir! No matter what the genre, John Buscema always looks like a pro. His skills are unparalleled in the Bronze Age.

 

 

Tom Sutton- The Charlton years!

There are certain creators that invoke a feeling of excitement for me. One of those names for sure, is Tom Sutton! Of course he’s one of those guys that mainstream comic book fans might not recognize, but the old school/hardcore fans know it well. His work in the horror genre is legendary, and rightly so, but he’s also drawn superheroes, war, westerns, etc., but horror is his forte. At Marvel comics, you saw his excellent version of Ghost Rider, all sorts of horrific scenes in the black and white magazines, and more. The same over at DC, as he did solid work on House of Mystery (I, Vampire) and other titles.

The focus of this week’s post will be not on the work Sutton did for the big two, but for Charlton comics. Some may not recognize the work when compared to what he did at Marvel, but they kept a house style and smooth lines for their artwork. The work is fantastic (see episode 9 of Into the Weird for some thoughts of mine and The Longbox of Darkness), but again, isn’t his developed style. Once he started working at Charlton though, he really brought his own unique work to the horror genre. These images are just a small sample of what Sutton did there, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them!

 

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

Tom Sutton

 

Journey Into Mystery 5, 1973 “The Shadow from the Steeple!”

It’s been a little while since I had a blog post showing how much fun the resurgence of horror material was in the Bronze Age for Marvel Comics. Anthology titles were all over the place, but were where a lot of good material can be found for either reprint material or all new stories. Some of the books had incredible stories with big time writers getting credit. Case in point, some of the issues have names such as Robert Bloch (Psycho, The Skull, Asylum), H.P. Lovecraft (The Call of Cthulhu, At the Mountains of Madness, The Shadow Over Innsmouth), and Robert E. Howard (Conan, Red Sonja, Kull). The men scripting these stories/adaptations were no slouches either, but we’ll get to them in a minute.

The first tale in this issue is called “The Shadow from the Steeple!,” and this story has elements from stories by Bloch, and Lovecraft (there were three stories that were parts made by Bloch and Lovecraft). A grimoire, a cult, a mysterious, ancient jewel, and even more ancient evil, named Nyarlathotep! Ron Goulart (script), Rich Buckler and Frank Giacoia (art), George Roussos (colors) and Denise Wohl (letters).

The next story is one that’s been done before, as a young man marries a wealthy nut older woman in hopes of inheriting a large sum of money. There is one room in the home that the help won’t allow the husband access. The husband thinks that the money/jewels etc., is in this room. One day he decides to suffocate his wife, and use a mallet to gain entry to the locked room. What he finds inside isn’t wealth, but his doom. Apparently, there is a curse on the family that the woman will grow old unless she procures a sacrifice for the evil within! Written by Kevin Frost, art by Win Mortimer and Ernie Chan, and letters by Denise Wohl.

The last story is quite a treat, as a mad scientist that has been experimenting with transplants wants to be left alone. We see that he has a pack of mad dogs patrolling his estate, to keep out unwanted visitors. The first thing our eyes see is the pack of dogs kill an insurance salesman that was just trying to do his job. The scientist’s wife is shocked at far gone his sense of right and wrong has gone, so she picks up the phone to dial the police. He hits her over the head with a shovel, knocking her out. After some thought, he removes her brain, and replaces it with a dogs brain! Let’s just say in the end, the mad scientist ends up dog-meat! Story/script by John Albano and Marv Wolfman, art by Paul Reinman (pencils) with Mike Esposito and George Roussos (inks), and Artie Simek (on letters).

Overall a very good book with a great cover by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia!

 

 

The Occult Files of Dr. Spektor 21, 1976 “A Lurker Stalks the Swamp”

Sometimes you just have to take a look at something off the beaten path. Even if it’s in an ancillary way, like in this case. Anyone that’s a fan of this blog knows how I feel about swamp monsters. I prefer the Marvel version but also like the DC counterpart. One other version is The Lurker of the Swamp! In his Gold Key issue of Dr. Spektor, we see not only a crazy swamp monster, but a meteorite that can hypnotize people, and of course a fight between said monster and an alligator. Few know this comic book fact, but every time a swamp monster crosses paths with an alligator, they must fight.

In 1976, Swamp Thing and Man-Thing were both already a big deal. So, it was a no-brainer for other companies to try to create a knock-off. The visuals of this beast are certainly different enough than the other two, and Jesse Santos (art, interiors and cover) is the reason why. A cross between the two more popular creatures, this one has a little bit of a difference not only stylistically, but also in the way it behaves as well. The other characters in this story seem kind of bland, but there definitely enough action and intrigue thanks to Don Glut (writer). Definitely grab this book if you see at a decent cost, even if for nothing more than the awesome cover!

 

Man-Thing 1, 1979 “Regeneration…and Rebirth!”

Once again, I feel forced to spotlight my favorite swamp monster, Man-Thing! Swamp Thing, The Heap, and IT!, are all pretty cool, heck, I even like the Atlas Comics Bog Beast (more on these others, plus more Manny in the future). It’s true that all of these monsters owe their basics to Theodore Sturgeon, as he wrote a prose story (IT!), back in 1940. Personally, the mute Man-Thing stands tall above the others, though, and a man named Steve Gerber is the reason. But back to this comic!

In this first issue of the second series, a scientist is on the verge of discovering the secret to the work Ted Sallis was doing before the accident. Next, we still get a story that has some familiar tropes (Manny gator wrasslin’, super science, and an origin flashback). Throw in a secret base, seedy individuals, and the FBI, and you get another great story revolving around the premiere muck monster on the planet!

Cover by Bob Wiacek, written by Michael Fleisher, art by Jim Mooney (pencils) and Bob Wiacek (inks), colors by Carl Gafford, and letters by John Costanza! Definitely check out this series, as it’s pretty solid and fun.

 

 

Teen Titans 43, 1973 “Inherit the Howling Night!”

A Teen Titans lover I am not, but when I see a cover with demons beating up on superheroes, It’s mine. This bizarre story is the stuff of legend, as the team must help an old man and his grandson as they’re plagued by a horde of demons. It’s going tot take the entire team and some extra help from Lilith Clay, to get to the bottom of this creepy caper!

If there is one name from the DC past that I love as much as any name at Marvel during the same period, it’s “Zany” Bob Haney (writer). His work reminds me more of the Marvel Bronze Age than anything going on at DC ever. His writing reminds me a little of Steve Gerber. He can write stories that have plot holes or just don’t seem to make a lot of sense, but they’re extremely entertaining, and so strange anyone that has whatever disease it is I have, gets instantly memorized. The art team of Art Saaf (pencils) and Nick Cardy (inks) does the story complete justice. The demons are freaky looking and fit in perfectly with the early 1970s craziness. All of the Titans look great as well, and everything in the backgrounds is on point. The letters are by Ben Oda, and although most don’t really give this job much credit, his story name on the splash page is excellent! The cover is of course by long time DC stalwart, Nick Cardy. People probably mostly recognize his name for his superhero work, but don’t sleep on his horror efforts, because they are great!

 

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!

 

 

Doctor Strange 43 and 44, 1980 “ShadowQueen!” and “Duel of Fire!”

As this volume of Dr. Strange rolled on, different creators were tasked with bringing a new vision to the title. From start to finish (the last few issues were a bit of a let down), this series is packed with creators that did good by the old Doc, and these issues are more proof of that fact.

In the final pages of issue 42, we saw the Doc get attacked from behind by a muscle-bound guy wielding an axe, plus a group of bad-looking dudes and a mysterious woman. Upon further review, this woman is Clea! She instructs the man to let Strange go, and then introduces him to the rebels on this world (Clea went after Wong, who got lost in a previous issue). Well, luck would have it they find Wong, and then it’s up to the rebels, and the Doc and his crew to stop the wicked witch of the…er, I mean, the sorceress Shialmar! In the second issue, we get some back story involving Wong’s family history. A nice little touch considering he didn’t get much exposure aside from being the Doc’s right hand man.

This particular run of Doctor Strange features some really good stories by Chris Claremont (writer). Of course he’s known mostly for his work on the X-Men, and rightly so, but if you’re a fan, don’t stop there because his work here (and Marvel Team-Up just to name one more) is very solid. When you add the incredible art team of Gene Colan (pencils) and Dan Green (inks), with colors by Ben Sean and Bob Sharen, and letters by Diana Albers and Jim Novak (respectively), you get great Bronze Age comics! And if that wasn’t groovy enough, the two covers are by Michael Golden!

 

 

Marvel Presents: Bloodstone!

There’s a lot of talk online about what is or should be coming next in the Marvel MCU. For me, one of those characters must be Ulysses Bloodstone! One specific angle was brought up in two different places (Twitter and Monster Kid Radio), about the failed Universal Studios attempt at revitalizing classic horror characters in relation to Marvel’s success in film and in their comic books from the Bronze Age (and beyond) with the same characters. Imagine if you will, a Marvel Studios film about Dracula, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein’s Monster. Now my take would be slightly different, as it would include not only the team of vampire hunters led by Quincy Harker (Blade, Frank Drake, Taj, and Rachel Van Helsing), but also the monster hunter himself, Bloodstone!

The character was very short-lived in comics, and has never made any appearances outside of comics either. Seems to be a missed opportunity, but who knows where things will go in the future for Marvel. One thing is for sure, if you check out these books and his black and white magazine appearances (Rampaging Hulk).

Anyone seeking out Marvel oddities, needs to grab these issues. With names like Gil Kane, Frank Giacoia, John Warner, Mike Vosburg, Bob McLeod, Pat Boyette, Rich Buckler, Sonny Trinidad, George Roussos, and more, you can’t go wrong!