The Savage Sword of Conan 39, 1979 “The Legions of the Dead!”

I feel it’s been a while since my last Conan magazine post, so why not spotlight one! This issue is more of a recent grab, and part of a lot if I remember correctly. There was a bit of a surprise inside, but I’ll get to that later. In this story we see an ancient evil in Hyboria, and it’s one that Conan must destroy! Also,a super cool chapter in the life of Solomon Kane!

In “Legions of the Dead (an adaptation of a story by L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter),” we see Conan ans his friend, Njal, as they hunted for some supper. They eat some freshly carved venison, along with the other tribesmen, when Njal decides to divide the troops, Conan questions if that’s a good move. Njal tells him to keep quiet and the other part of the  tribe heads out. Hours pass, and they do not return. They set out to search for them and find something horrific. The men are inside a castle of the Hyperboreans, hanging and being sliced to ribbons! Conan decides to take matters into his own hands and take action!

This story by De Camp and Carter reads somewhat like a Howard story, and does show a cool little story from Conan’s youth. Some people are mixed on their work, as they took some liberties with the character and his history. Overall they did bring Conan back into prominence, so even if you don’t like their writing or how they adapted/re-imagined some parts of his history, you still should give them credit for helping Conan become a household name in the Bronze Age.

In the middle of this magazine, you get a real treat, as there a few pinups by Rudy Nebres! He is one of those fantastic artists you rarely hear about anymore, which is sad. He didn’t do as much work for Marvel as some, but the work he did was a lot of fun.

The second story, “Moon of Skulls,” is actually part three of a story that took place in two other issues, so I won’t go into detail on that one. Let’s just say Solomon Kane is in big trouble and is at the mercy of a vampire queen! Script by Don Glut, art by David Wenzel.

All in all a great issue. Two solid stories, pinups galore, and a great cover by Earl Norem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Avengers 63, 1969 “And in this Corner…Goliath!”

A recent pick up, this Avengers book brought quite the surprise when I opened it. It has the artwork of my favorite artist! More on that later! I’ve always wanted to at least try and obtain a full run of the Avengers (Silver through Copper), and even though I can count the number of Silver Age issues I own on one hand, reading this book was pure joy even knowing it’ll never happen.

The story basically only serves one purpose, to introduce a new superhero personality for Hawkeye in the form of Goliath! The team gets a call from Nick Fury that the Black Widow is on a mission for SHIELD, but was captured by enemy forces. Black Panther tells Hawkeye he must remain behind because he’s too emotionally involved. Also, we see Pym tell the team that he’ll no longer be using his formula to be a giant, because it’s causing him to have mental problems. After the team leaves, Hawkeye gets a call from Black Widow asking for help, so in his infinite wisdom, he decides to take Pym’s growth formula and go to the rescue!

This issue is one that has so many fun aspects to it. The beginning shows the team flying in a ship that’s out of control, and going to crash, possibly killing them all. Some interesting comic book physics save the day. Later, we see Goliath (Hawkeye) fighting a giant monster, and they’re right by Coney Island. Interesting and fun back drop for sure. Roy Thomas (writer) really knows how to write a great team book. Of course, this isn’t a news flash, it just needed to be reiterated. The art team here is nothing short of phenomenal. Gene Colan (pencils) and George Klein (inks) give us panels and pages chocked full of greatness. The same combo is responsible for the great cover as well, and the letters are by Artie Simek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Rider 48, 1980 “Wind of the Undead!”

Searching through my boxes, I came upon my Ghost Rider books. This volume had quite a few different creative teams during its eighty-one issue run (volume 1), but there was always a consistency there for me. The quality of the writing and art never went into a direction that soured me on the title. A lot of title of this length start out like a ball of fire, but then fade away (some rather quickly). Whether it was Roger McKenzie, Jim Shooter, or Roger Stern, the stories were at least serviceable if not very good. Art-wise, you had Jack Sparling, Jim Starlin, and Jim Shooter, graced the pages, and with covers by the likes of Gil Kane! So, yeah, good creators!

In this specific issue, we see Johnny Blaze, tearing down a road in the desert. As he looks skyward, he notices five large bats swooping down in his direction. Just as they’re about to attack him, he transforms into the Ghost Rider! He is more than up to the challenge and fights them off. He eventually makes his way to a farmhouse close by, and gets taken in by a woman that is aware of the bat problem. We then see the bats return to their home. They live in a cave, but another fact about them is quite disturbing. You see, they have a master of sorts or a leader that command them, and this creep has his sights set on annihilating the Ghost Rider!

I’m not sure who would be on my side or not, but Michael Fleisher is the best writer for this character. He really gets Blaze and his fiery-headed alter-ego. The artist, Don Perlin is also the guy I immediately think of when I hear Ghost Rider. Perlin really portrays Blaze as tough but sympathetic as well. No nonsense with this art creative team! The colorist, Rob Carosella does a fine job on this issue as well as the letterer, Jim Novak! And this wild cover is by Bob Budiansky (pencils) and Bob McLeod (inks)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Tales 171, 1973 “March of the Dead!”

After recently acquiring a few of these issues, I felt compelled to write a blog post about them. Brother Voodoo, zombies, and my all time favorite artist isn’t a tough sell though. This is one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe, and I honestly can’t think of a bad story he was involved in. A voodoo based character is right up my alley, and his frequent guest appearances with the likes of Dr. Strange are cool as well.

This story picks right up with the action, as Brother Voodoo is creeping around a cemetery and gets attacked by a horde of zombies! He kicks the crap out of a few of them, but they’re too high in number to fight off. Jericho then summons the spirit of his dead brother, Daniel, to possess one of them to help. It doesn’t work, as he can’t possess the dead apparently. By the time he gets back to Jericho, they’re both too weak to stop the oncoming blitz. As the zombies are overwhelming him, he looks up to see Baron Samedi, Lord of the Dead! (a dead zombie guy). And if that wasn’t enough, we get guest stars in the form of A.I.M.!

This title is very much an unsung classic from the Bronze Age. The creators behind it are some of the best from this era, and should be lauded for their efforts. Writer Len Wein does a great job of telling this horror story. Everyone that knows his name can attest to the quality you get from him every time he put pen to paper. The art team is just as stellar, as Gene Colan (pencils) and Frank Giacoia (inks) really set the horror tone. Excellent colors by Glynis Wein and letters by Gaspar Saladino! Oh, and let us not forget the awesome cover by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Fanfare 8, 1983 “The Light That Never Was!”

Being a huge Doctor Strange fan, I’m always reading his material, especially from the Bronze Age (and Copper Age, too). The title Marvel Fanfare seems to get mixed reviews from most people. It’s an enjoyable book for the most part, but like any other, it has it’s ups and downs. The issues with Doctor Strange, the Black Knight, The Hulk, and the X-Men really stand out for me. Captain America, Daredevil, you name the character, they’re all in this run.

This little tale shows an man (James Mandarin, he also appeared in Doctor Strange 15, 1976) that has a fascination with the occult. The man’s girlfriend is an artist, and has a fascination with Dr. Strange! The two seem to live a rather normal life, until one night, James Mandarin uses a tome he found to summon a demon (using a spell calling on Dormammu). Before he can do anything, he’s attacked, and pulled into another dimension. His girlfriend runs to the nearest magical source, Dr. Strange himself! The Doc immediately knows he’s dealing with an old adversary know as the Slitherer in Shadow!

This series typically featured two stories. A main story, then a back up. Sometimes they’d also have some pin ups as well (bottom image), and this one has a few from Bill Sienkiewicz! I’m only going to include the Doctor Strange image, as this post is all about him! The story is written by Peter Gillis, with art by Carmine Infantino (interior and cover pencils, inks by Terry Austin on cover) and P. Craig Russell (interior inks). The colors by are by Ben Sean, letters by ” Many Hands,” and edited by Al Milgrom!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iron Man Annual 3, 1976 “More or Less…The Return of the Molecule Man!”

After more than a month of nothing but DC comics, I figured it was time to give a Marvel book some love. This one came into my possession not too long ago, and of course it had to eventually, being a Man-Thing appearance! Of course, by this time Manny’s first solo book had been cancelled, but maybe his fans were screaming for more! And look at this cover by Rich Buckler and Frank Giacoia!

As with any story written by Steve Gerber, it starts out bizarre, then settles in and stays that way until its completion. Most people might not enjoy that, and argue that his storytelling wasn’t coherent or anything more than nonsensical. But, if you dig deeper, you’ll see his feelings, thoughts, and emotions on paper, along with his opinions on social issues. When he wrote Man-Thing, it seemed easy for him to write this non-speaking character. Of course other characters did the heavy lifting with the dialogue, but Gerber still maintained having the Man-Thing be either the focus or at least a very relevant part of the story.

In this story, we get to see not only the macabre Man-Thing, but the playboy Tony Stark, and the villainous Molecule Man! Without going into a heavy amount of detail about this insane story, Tony Stark is in the Everglades to possibly finance a project (the rebuilding of Omegaville). We then see some kids playing in the swamp, and one them falls victim to the essence of the Molecule Man! A battle between Iron Man and Man-Thing breaks out, then one with all three characters ensues. Cameos by Reed Richards, the Vision, Richard Rory, and an animated skeleton all await inside this glorious book!

Some might like me to stop singing the praises of Steve Gerber (writer), but I can’t. The man had a knack for writing bizarre stories that were very good (if not excellent). The interior art by Sal Buscema (pencils) and Jack Abel (inks), is superb. Irv Watanabe on letters, Janice Cohen colors, and Marv Wolfman editing, round out the creative team in this fun annual.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Werewolf by Night 9, 1973 “Terror Beneath the Earth!”

Well, the day finally came. The day that I finally bought the first appearance of my favorite wacky Bronze Age villain! As some of you know, there was a podcast episode where my partner and I discussed our Top 5 Wacky Bronze Age Villains! If you haven’t listened to that one yet, please do, and I’ll only say that this guy is my number one, but I won’t reveal the others! The Tatterdemalion is  by far the craziest villain for me and he really is an oddity.

In this first appearance, he’s more of a sinister villain that’s on a mission for a “higher power.” The higher power is called Sarnak, and for some insidious reason, he wants the Werewolf! The first attempt to kidnap Jack doesn’t go well, but after a night in jail, Jack gets accosted a second time by the Tatterdemalion, and some other hellish goons!

This crazy tale was written by Gerry Conway, a guy more known for writing drama like “The Death of Gwen Stacy.” He can write any genre though, and this horror story is proof. The artwork is a huge part of why this one is awesome though, and we have Tom Sutton to thank for that (and the letters, and cover along with Frank Giacoia inking)! Some very vibrant colors by George Roussos, and editor Roy Thomas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haunt of Horror 3, 1974 “Featuring Gabriel Devil Hunter!”

After recently acquiring this magnificent magazine, I thought it was only fitting to spotlight here on my blog! For anyone that’s been thinking about grabbing some of these black and white marvels, do not wait, as they do nothing but climb in price (seemingly by the day!). In this awesome issue, we get four original stories, and one reprint. This title had an ongoing feature of a little known character called Gabriel Devil Hunter. This was in the height of the Exorcist craze, so Marvel had no shame in creating their own guy to jump on the bandwagon.

The first story, “House of Brimstone” is another chapter starring Gabriel and his lady friend, Desadia. You see they’ve received a phone call about a possession, and that is Gabriel’s specialty! In this one though, he’ll be faced with not only a powerful demon, but a no win situation. Script by Doug Moench, with art by Billy Graham, Pablo Marcos, Frank Giacoia, and Mike Esposito!

Next up is “The Restless Coffin!” Sounds like a vampire story, right? But it is not! It is a short story (only 3 pages) that shows the rise and fall of a Canadian that wanted to become an actor, but a gypsy warned him about his future, and that he would die soon after becoming a success! Written by Doug Moench, art by Pat Broderick and Al Milgrom.

The third story is called “The Swamp Stalkers!” and it’s got a murder, a hanging, and the undead! A story of revenge if there ever was one. Written by Larry Lieber and art by Win Mortimer.

We then get a reprint from 1956, in “They Wait Below.” It’s about the classic creatures called Sirens (click here for info), and their enchanting ways! Art by Bernie Krigstein (the story has no writer credits readily available).

Finally we get to see a match-up between Satan and Death, in “Last Descent to Hell.” This is one bizarre story that shows a confrontation between the two supernatural beings. Written by Doug Moench, and art by Frank Springer!

There are several super cool ads in this one, and I’ll include them below! The cover is by Jose Antonio Domingo (JAD), and the back cover by Pablo Marcos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moon Knight 2, 1980 “The Slasher”

It has been almost two years since I spotlighted a Moon Knight comic! This cannot stand! I know my podcasting partner on Into the Weird is a huge fan of this character, and rightly so. For anybody that’s looking for a title to start collecting, if you’re into thrillers, horror, action, etc., this is the title for you.

In this specific issue, we see a serial killer loose in the city, and he’s murdering homeless people. But this is no ordinary case, and Moon Knight quickly gets on the killer’s trail. After using his disguise as a cab driver (Lockley) to get some info, he then proceeds to go home and make a gameplan. Meanwhile, a friend of his (a transient) named Crawley gets attacked but not killed. These killings aren’t random, and Moon Knight and Crawley are about to find out why!

Even in this early stage of the title, you can see the beginnings of brilliance from Doug Moench (writer), and Bill Sienkiewicz (interior pencils and cover). Their collaboration on the title lasted quite a long time, and only gets better as you go! With inks by Frank Springer, Carl Gafford colors, Annette Kawecki on letters, and edited by Denny O’Neil!

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Tales 59 and 60 (ASM 78 and 79, 1969) “The Prowler!”

For some reason I had an itch to spotlight my favorite childhood superhero, Spider-Man. Reruns of the 1968 cartoon, plus the live action show (starring Nicholas Hammond), fueled my love for superheroes (along with Wonder Woman and The Hulk TV shows). Once 1981 rolled around, another cartoon hit the airwaves, and I was fully immersed in wanting to be Spider-Man when I grew up! It’s true. Not an astronaut, doctor, or lawyer, I wanted to be a superhero and Spidey was my favorite among them all.

Peter Parker (and Spidey) has gone through some very tumultuous times, and some mundane ones as well. My favorite era is definitely the late Silver and Bronze Ages, and in particular the the period of Stan Lee writing, then handing off to Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway. The likes of “Big” John Buscema, John Romita, and Gil Kane penciling. These creators took Spidey to new heights, and new lows (personally), and he would never be the same again. These stories are nothing short of fantastic, and the new characters brought in were a big part of the book’s success.

In these two issues, we see the introduction of a new villain called The Prowler. At first, the story seems to just be about a kid with problems that just can’t find any answers in life. But honestly, the two issues are more about Peter and his relationships and insecurities when it comes to the women in his life. He sees Gwen in a restaurant talking to Flash Thompson, and immediately assumes she’s stepping out on him. She’s actually trying to find out what’s been bothering Peter lately, and knows that Flash has known Peter longer than her, so he might be able to give her some insight. Some really good moments in these two issues of not only action, but humor, and real pathos!

I know a lot of people decry Stan Lee‘s (writer) writing, but honestly, he knew how to write Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Throw in the brilliant pencils of “Big” John Buscema and the inks of Jim “Madman” Mooney, and you can’t deny the power of this title during this period (post Ditko). Letters by Sam Rosen, and two amazing covers by “Jazzy” John Romita!”