Kull and the Barbarians 3, 1975 “Kull, Red Sonja, and Solomon Kane!”

It’s time for a return trip, back to black and white comic goodness! While these magazines are getting more expensive by the day it seems, but, when a bargain can be found I pull the trigger! A recent show netted me twenty mags for $20! Only a few Marvels, but a bunch of Warren mags (I’ll get to them down the road, no worries). OK, on to the main attraction!

In this issue, there are three comic stories, one prose story (with a couple of illustrations), a pin up of the landscape of the times of Kull, and one awesome pin up of Red Sonja (by Howard Chaykin!). All of this is kicked off with a good painted cover by Michael Whelan!

The first story is straight out of a Ray Harryhausen flick, as Kull is fighting a group of skeleton warriors, and upon returning to his homeland is in shock at how things look. He also must face his ultimate enemy, in Thulsa Doom! Written by Doug Moench, art by Vicente Alcazar!

The following story is a Solomon Kane bio written by Fred Blosser. It’s actually pretty good on its own, but there are some cool illustrations by Bob Budiansky (Duffy Vohland inks) and Gene Day!

“The Day of the Sword,” is next, and features everybody’s favorite ginger, Red Sonja! Who doesn’t want tot see her riding around and taking a broadsword to those that need it? Plot by Roy Thomas, script by Doug Moench, art by Howard Chaykin (some excellent work by Chaykin in this one).

Finally, a story by Robert E. Howard, adapted by Roy Thomas, and illustrated by Alan Weiss and Pablo Marcos! An adventure with my favorite Puritan in Africa! Very interesting story, and almost a love interest for Solomon? Definitely a good finisher to this great magazine!

 

 

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!

 

 

ROM 23, 1981 “The Thing From Outer Space!”

For anyone that’s never read a ROM comic before, you’re in for a treat. Imagine if you will (sorry, I couldn’t help myself), a cyborg, leaving his home planet to pursue an ancient, malevolent race, that is bent on conquest at any cost. These “Dire Wraiths” are a vicious lot, and not only kill without provocation, they can assume the form of anyone. In this specific issue, we learn that they mimicked the Fantastic Four previously, and also we’ve seen in the past that they’ve replicated many humans, including politicians, and police!

ROM has recently learned that (allegedly) the Wraiths have destroyed much of Galador (ROM’s home planet), and ROM feels he must return to see if this is true and to help rebuild. Along the way, he meets up with two Good Samaritans (Power Man and Iron Fist) that agree to help him get to the Baxter Building to seek the help of the FF in getting him back to his home. There’s only one problem…the media has created an absolute frenzy by reporting that an alien is running amok in the city, so, the National Guard was brought in to contain the matter. And when I say the media, I mean J. Jonah Jameson! It’s up to Luke and Danny to get ROM to the Baxter building, and the only thing standing in their way is a concrete jungle full of police, military, and other assorted crackpots! There’s also a brief cameo by the new superhero on the block, The Torpedo!

Written by “Boisterous” Bill Mantlo, art by “Our Pal” Sal Buscema (pencils) and “Joltin” Joe Sinnott (inks), with colors by Ben Sean, and letters by Rosen and Zalme! The cover is by “Amiable” Al Milgrom!

 

 

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.

 

 

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!

 

 

Kull the Destroyer 11, 1973 “King Kull Must Die!”

Certain names in the comic book industry invoke thoughts of titles. Any classic comic book reader will tell you this is true. A character like Kull will always make me think of Robert E. Howard. This man had a very short time on Earth, but the impact he left is still being felt today. But I digress…King Kull is a pre-Conan era (or Pre-cataclysmic Age) character that ruled the kingdom of Valusia. He’s sort of like Conan in the fact that he loves battle, but he’s also more intelligent about when there is a need for battle and how to strategize for it as well. He also has a confidant named Brule. Brule is a member of the Pict society, and a fierce warrior that will do anything for his friends. In this issue, Kull is about to be attacked by his own people, who are under the influence of an ages old foe…Thulsa Doom!

Mike Ploog is one of those creators that has done such incredible work during the Bronze Age, that his name will carry on for decades. Of course, Werewolf by Night, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Ghost Rider are the big names, but don’t sleep on his other work for Marvel comics. A short run on this title is all the proof you need to realize there is more out there! Writer/editor Roy Thomas (original story by REH), art by Mike Ploog, colors by Linda Lessman, and letters by Artie Simek!

 

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.

 

 

Marvel Fanfare 6, 1983 “Switch Witch”

It’s once again time to talk a walk on theĀ  Strange side of Marvel Comics! The title Marvel Fanfare was one that not only featured some up and coming creators, but also characters that didn’t get a ton of airplay or were displaced from a title, with no home. The first story (“Switch Witch”, by Mike Barr – plot/script, Sandy Plunkett – pencils/plot, P. Craig Russell – inks, Jim Novak – letters, and Petra Goldberg – colors)does have Spider-Man in it, but the story also features The Scarlet Witch, and the evil sorcerer Xandu! It’s a tale where Xandu uses his sorcery to place Wanda’s soul inside the body of Melinda Morrison, in the Death Dimension. All because Melinda had previously died (but he kept her body “warm”…yes, creepy) and wants to marry her.

The second story in this issue, gives us “The Showdown!” We see a young upstart sorcerer, Ian McNee, challenge The Sorcerer Supreme himself, Dr. Strange! The young man finds out rather quickly that what you think you want isn’t necessarily something you are ready for! Roger Stern (writer), Charles Vess (art), Ron Zalme (letters), and Glynis Wein (colors) are the great creative team behind this excellent chapter in the Doc’s life.

The stories were edited by Allen Milgrom (Mr. Everything at Marvel), and the magnificent front cover is by P. Craig Russell! Not to be outdone, we get an equally awesome back cover by Charles Vess!

 

 

Super-Villain Team-Up 10, 1976 “The Sign of the Skull!”

Don’t be alarmed, but this issue is actually part four, the conclusion to a crossover with The Avengers (155, 156, along with SVTU 9). In this wild story we see everything from Dr. Doom, two of him to be exact…then the Avengers, Shroud, The Whizzer, the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime, Attuma, and of course the Red Skull!

It was only 1976, but this crossover had a a lot going on. You have Cap and Doom, first fighting, then agreeing to team up against a common foe. Then we have Subby fighting off an attack on Atlantis. And if all that wasn’t enough, you see a fake Dr. Doom (Rudolfo) and Shroud being attacked by the Red Skull and his forces who have taken over Latveria! Yeah, a lot going on, but a ton of fun!

The credits for this book are a roll call of Bronze/Copper Age awesomeness. You get Bill Mantlo (Micronauts, ROM) writing this one, and it fits his style perfectly with all the shenanigans. The art team is Bob Hall (pencils) and Don Perlin (inks), and these two guys work very well together. The rest of the team is Denise Wohl (letters), Don Warfield (colors), and Archie Goodwin (editor)! And the fabulous cover is by Gil Kane and Ernie Chan (some alterations by John Romita)!

 

Where Monsters Dwell 5, 1970 “Taboo Lives Again!”

After a few weeks of superheroes, it’s time for more monsters! Not the usual Bronze Age fare (well technically not even though this is a reprint from 1970), but material from the preceding Silver or “Atlas Age” at Marvel comics. During this time, you had Stan Lee writing and editing just about everything (some work by Larry Lieber and a few others, but the overwhelming majority was Lee), and two giants of the industry penciling. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko are undoubtedly two of the most influential creators of the medium, but not for this material, as most know. But, don’t sleep on these comics, because they do offer some really good artwork, and some interesting stories as well.

The four stories in this reprint book are all very different, as one features a giant monster (The Return of Taboo, Strange Tales 77, 1960), a sorcerer (The Strange Magic of Master Khan, Strange Tales 77 as well), aliens (We Met in the Swamp, Tales to Astonish 7, 1960), and a ghost (I Lived a Ghost Story, ST 7 as well)! Credits include – Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Paul Reinman, Dick Ayers, and Artie Simek (with possible alterations by Marie Severin).