Marvel Fanfare 6, 1983 “Switch Witch”

It’s once again time to talk a walk on the  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).

 

 

Tales of Suspense 91, 1967 “The Monstrous Crusher!”

On this April Fool’s Day, there is no joking around here! My all time favorite artist is Gene “The Dean” Colan, so it’s a special occasion when I get a book with his work in it! Most think of Gene when they hear Tomb of Dracula, and rightly so, but his work on superheroes like Captain America and Iron Man was special, too. Most also probably think of Kirby when the subject of machinery and technology are discussed, but when Gene drew these types of images in Iron Man, he was excellent at it.

In this issue, it’s up to Tony Stark A.K.A. Iron Man, to stop some Cuban Commies and their newest weapon, The Crusher. A pumped up, nigh invulnerable guy that’s ready to take down the Golden Avenger! Can Iron man take down this make-shift Frankenstein Monster?

Written by Stan Lee, pencils by “Genial” Gene Colan (cover as well) inks by Frank Giacoia (cover as well), and letters by Sam Rosen!

The second tale in this book is one that features Captain America, and his old foe, The Red Skull! This trippy tale is by Lee (story), Gil Kane (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), and AL Kurzrok (letters).

 

 

Thor 164, 1969 “Lest Mankind Fall!”

The Bronze Age will always be a huge focus for this blog, but honestly, the late Silver Age is when Marvel comics really started to turn the corner and become not only an innovator, but also super cool. The words trippy and groovy come to mind immediately when you look at their books from this period. The majority of their characters were in place, and the comic book revolution was in full swing by 1969!

This was also a sad time for Marvel, as Jack “King” Kirby was just about to leave the company for greener pastures over at DC comics. He’d have the freedom to write, pencil, and edit his books there, and who wouldn’t be excited about that (plus get paid more as well). The mighty Thor was taken to new heights by Kirby recently, as he’s been to space and met the force of nature known as Galactus, and the malevolent Ego the Living Planet!

In this issue we get a huge battle between Thor and Sif and Pluto and his hordes of the underworld! Fear not, as we’ll also see Balder the Brave, Thor, and even Zeus himself! This book is action packed, and really shows the scope of the Marvel universe as it pertains to the realms of the gods!

Written by Stan Lee, art by Jack “King” Kirby (pencils) and Vince Colletta (inks), and letters by Sam Rosen! The magnificent cover is also by Jack Kirby and Vince Coletta (with colors possibly by Marie Severin)!

 

Bizarre Adventures 32, 1982 “Sea of Destiny”

The magazine market was in full swing in the 1970s, but as the decade ended, a lot of them went down the toilet. A few lasted into the 1980s, some changing names, like Marvel Preview changing to Bizarre Adventures! These mags were all over the place as far as content, from superheroes to science fiction, to film adaptations. This particular issue focuses on deities, and the one being spotlighted here is none other than Thor Odinson!

The story is definitely in the bizarre category (for all I know it has roots in the character’s mythology), as Thor must take a viking long ship to the sea and fight a giant horse…not kidding here. It’s not just a regular horse but one that has the lower half of an aquatic animal. Guest appearances by The Warriors Three, Odin, and Heimdall!

Written by Alan Zelenetz, with art by John Bolton, this story should’ve just been expanded to encompass the entire book. No offense to the other stories in the book, but none even come close to being as awesome as that one. The magnificent cover is by High School of Art and Design alum, Joe Jusko!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

Rampaging Hulk 1, 1977 “The Krylorian Conspiracy!” and “Trail of the StarStone!”

It’s always cool to get a good deal on a comic/magazine. It’s even better when it’s a “Pulse-Pounding First Issue!” Admittedly, this post is sort of a continuation from last week, as the back up story in this magazine is the next chapter in the comic book life of a certain monster hunter. But that’s for later, as first, we must see what’s going on in the life of the Jade Giant, The Hulk!

The firs story in this incredible mag is a tale of the Hulk and Rick Jones, as they investigate an alleged flying saucer in Spain! We actually get a re-telling of the Hulk’s origin first (in a couple of glorious pages), then the main story. We see everything you could want in this one. Betty, Thunderbolt Ross, Rick Jones, The Gargoyle, an alien and of course the Hulk (and puny Banner)! This one has a good story by Doug Moench, and incredible artwork by Walt Simonson (pencils) and Alfredo Alcala (inks)!

The second tale involves that monster hunting madman, Ulysses Bloodstone! Last week’s post familiarized you (hopefully) with the character, now see him in all his glory as he battles aliens that have come to…do…something! No, really, it’s more of a continuation of his search for answers, and then being attacked by a giant lizard creature and his old nemesis,  Ulluxy’l. Special guest appearance by Killer Shrike! Written by John Warner, art by “Big” John Buscema (breakdowns) and Rudy Nebres (finishes)! The incredible cover is by Ken Barr (one of the best painted covers of the entire series!).

 

 

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!

 

Sub-Mariner 66, 1973 “Rise, Thou Killer Whale!”

Everyone knows there isn’t a more pompous, self-aggrandizing hero than Namor, the Sub-Mariner! It’s part of his charm, apparently. Personally, his exploits on land as an Avenger are much more intriguing to me, but every so often, we get gold in an underwater adventure. As always, the story is lifted up beyond its hero by the proper villain. And Subby doesn’t have a better villain than Orka–The Human Killer Whale! And if he wasn’t enough, throw in Virago as well!

An issue that’s a straight up fight with a villain of the week, for sure, but also an entertaining one. You get Subby with his usual grandstanding, shouting, etc., also a ton of panels featuring Atlantis and it’s inhabitants. Plus, Orka is just a crazy villain (he’s definitely in my top ten), you can’t help but love this issue. There’s also a neat little back-up story (also written by Gerber) “Tales of Atlantis” with an all-star creative cast as well!

Written by Steve “Baby” Gerber, art by “Dashing” Don Heck (pencils) and “Dapper” Don Perlin, colors by Petra Goldberg, letters by Charlotte Jetter, and edited by Roy “The Boy” Thomas! And let us not forget the outstanding cover by Gil “Sugar”  Kane (pencils) and “Mirthful” Mike Esposito (inks, with some slight alterations by John Romita)!