From Beyond the Unknown 20, 1972 “Fishermen from the Sea!”

I’m on a bit of a DC kick lately, so I’ll let the train keep rolling. The sci-fi stories they produced in the Silver Age are a blast (off). The talent they had was perfect for the genre, and seeing is believing. Most associate DC with superheroes, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but don’t just stop there, because these books (the originals, and reprints like this one) are great fun! You get three big stories in this issue, and a cool cover by Nick Cardy!

The first adventure (“Fishermen from the Sea!“) shows an alien invasion. These fish-like creatures want to take over the Earth by flooding the planet, thereby killing all humans. Not sure where Aquaman was, but it’s up to “Dave” and “Helen” to save the day. OK, they do get a small assist from the U.S. government testing atomic bombs. Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Mike Sekowsky and Joe Giella!

The second story is one of my all time favorite wacky, sci-fi stories! “The Interplanetary Restaurant!”  A new restaurant is opening and everyone is buzzing. Why? Because the owner claims the food is from outer space! Is it really? Or is it a ruse, as many people believe? You must read this bonkers story and find out! Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Gil Kane and Joe Giella!

Lastly, we have “When Did Earth Vanish?” This is a story starring the Star Rovers (click here for another story of theirs I covered). To try and describe this story would not only be near impossible to do in less that a thousand words, but might not even be possible. This story is all over the place and kooky to say the least. Story by Gardner Fox, with art by Sid Greene.

Yes, your eyes do not deceive you, this is an all Gardner Fox penned issue. Really dig deep into his history in comics (click here for a recommendation), especially his sci-fi work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challengers of the Unknown 39, 1964 “Rocky, the Genius Challenger”

In 1957, we have the brilliant Jack “King” Kirby, creating more heroes from his pantheon of work. The Challengers of the Unknown, although not nearly as popular as let’s say the Fantastic Four, predate them by four years. The Challengers were a group of guys that all survived a plane crash and vowed to help humanity because they’re on “borrowed time,” so Ace, Red, Rocky and Prof, ban together for the benefit of all mankind…or something like that.

In this issue, we see two stories that are both equally ludicrous, but fun! In the lead off, we have “The Phantom of the Fair!” In this adventure, the Challengers get Madame Zaddum (a medium) to look into her crystal ball at the future, to see what their kids are up to. They see how a crook named “Stokie Johnson” is being let out of prison, and is plotting a revenge scheme on the Challengers. This one is part mad scientist, part revenge plot. Art by Bob Brown (cover as well) and possible scripting by Ed Herron.

The next story is (from the cover), “Rocky, the Genius Challenger.” In this one, Wizard Welles builds a machine that can transfer information from a computer into the mid of a human being. Before he can do it to himself, though, Rocky knocks him out of the way, and takes the brain boost himself. His cranium then grows to twice the normal size, and his brain power is now beyond any person on earth. Shenanigans with the team and the Wizard ensue. The awesome art is again by Bob Brown (an unsung hero of comics to be sure). The writing credits are possibly by Arnold Drake (Deadman, Doom Patrol).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest 26, 1982 “The Brave and the Bold”

Thanks to a podcast (Digestcast on Fire and Water), I discovered this wonderful series of books. I’d never heard of them before, but when I was trolling eBay recently, I saw them at a good price. I snagged this super cool edition of The Brave and the Bold! Other than a slight tear of the cover, the book is on fantastic shape, too! This series was an anthology reprint (most of the time) book that brings some of the best DC had to offer from the Silver Age! Six big stories (part six having three chapters) are encased in this powerful, pint-sized book, and it’s all led off with a great cover by Jim Aparo (framing sequences as well)!

After some framing material, the first tale is from issue 86, 1969. “You can’t Hide from a Deadman!”, brings some incredible action from the Dynamic Duo, as they’re busting up an extortion racket and run into Deadman! Written by Bob “Zany” Haney, and art by Neal Adams!

Next, is “Three Arrows Against Doom!” This fantastic Robin Hood story is from issue 9, 1956/57. In this story, we see how Robin escapes from the sheriff’s men yet again, but this time with only three arrows at his disposal! Written by Bob Haney, with art by Russ Heath!

The third tale is called “Menace of the Mirage People!” It’s from issue number 38 (1961), and involves the Suicide Squad (no, not the lame movie characters from 2016)! Colonel Rick Flag, Jess Bright, Dr. Hugh Evans, and Karin Grace must fight against illusions that seem like reality! Written by Robert Kanigher, and art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. For further reading on this team, click here and here!

The following story, “Threat of the Ice King (issue 18, 1958)” is a tale of the Viking Prince! These ongoing stories were great and not only because they gave you epic fantasy tales, but because they had names like Bob Kanigher (writer) and Joe Kubert (art) behind them!

In the days of Camelot, knights and warriors ruled the day (story from issue 21, 1958/59)! And in “The Sword in the Lake,” we get to see some great action involving the Silent Knight! He’s tricked into the service of Morgan Le Fey, and must retrieve some incredible artifacts for her! Written by Robert Kanigher, with art by Irv Novick!

Lastly, we have some wild adventures of Cave Carson! In three separate chapters, we learn “The Secret Beneath the Earth!” These chapters from issue 31 (1960), show us some crazy adventures involving dinosaurs, lava men, and other shenanigans. Written by Ed Herron, art by Bruno Premiani. For more on Cave Carson, click those links above in the Suicide Squad section!

Do yourself a favor and grab some of these as they are a great way to get some fantastic material from the Silver Age at an affordable price!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Adventures 234, 1972 “The Human Icicle!”

It’s been quite a long time (4 1/2 years!) since I spotlighted an issue from this series, and I’m not sure why. This is definitely one of my favorite Bronze Age (and Silver) titles from DC comics. These quirky sci-fi stories are a lot of fun. You either get something that mirrors the time period (scientifically), or a story that’s so far out there, you can laugh about it. The book held a few memorable runs in its day, including Deadman (some stories illustrated and written by Neal Adams), Animal Man, and Adam Strange.  This issue is all reprints, but they pack a punch!

There are four big stories in this issue, and the first one is something really out of this world. “The Human Icicle” is featured on the cover (a spectacular cover by Joe Kubert), and showcases a man with amnesia, and a power that turns everything he touches to ice! The writer does a fantastic job of keeping the man’s “secret” until the perfect time in the story. Written by Otto Binder, with art by Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs.

The second story is a Star Rovers tale called “Where is the Paradise of Space?” This trio is a a non-team that comes together to figure out certain anomalies. Homer (no, not that Homer), Karel, and Rick are up to their eyeballs in mayhem in this one, as they are on a floating island in space that’s full of the wonderful and the weird! Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Sid Greene.

Next we have “The World that Vanished!” There’s an alien invasion coming, and it looks like the only thing that may be able to stop it is a cosmic ray weapon! Written by John Broome, and art by Sy Barry.

The last chapter in this book stars Adam Strange! This space faring superhero has a jetpack and a laser pistol and he knows how to use them! What happens when a man must face himself? Do not miss “The Spaceman Who Fought Himself!” Written by Gardner Fox, with art by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tomahawk 103, 1966 “The Frontier Frankenstein!”

I’ll be very honest here. Until a few months ago, I’d never even heard of this title. I didn’t have a clue about it. Then I saw an auction where I was educated a bit on them. When the opportunity arose to purchase some issues, especially with the covers I saw, I had to give Tomahawk a try!

This story is nothing short of wacky, which is probably why I love it. Anytime you have a Frankenstein Monster in a book, I’m there, especially when it’s a giant sized monster. Throw in the fact that these adventures take place during the Revolutionary War, and you have a recipe for some absolute craziness. There’s also a back up story in the book called “The Super-Ranger with Nine Lives!” But, “The Frontier Frankenstein” is certainly the gem of the book!

The script (for Frontier Frankenstein) is by Ed Herron, a writer I’m not too familiar with to be perfectly honest. The artwork is by one of my favorite lesser-known artists, Bob Brown. The first time I saw his work was in Daredevil from the Bronze Age. The second story has art by Fred Ray. No credits on GCD for writer, but at DC at this time that’s not very uncommon. The cover is also by Bob Brown, who died way too young (61 yrs old, from Leukemia). Definitely give his work a look if you haven’t so far!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doc Savage 8, 1976 “The Crimson Plague!”

The black and white magazine market was absolutely booming in the 1970s. Warren Publishing had already been producing exemplary material since the late 1950s, but in 1964 is when they went full on horror with Creepy and Eerie! Both of these mags had top notch creators on them, and still stand the test of time with excellent stories and artwork by some of the giants of the industry. In typical Marvel fashion, they didn’t waste any time copying the business model of Warren (once the CCA relaxed a bit), and began manufacturing a ton of magazine content.

The content was mostly horror and Sci-fi, but Marvel had other books like Rampaging Hulk, Savage Tales, Conan, Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu, Planet of the Apes, and of course, Doc Savage! In this, the final issue, you’ll see madness like never before!

The Doc and the crew head to Acapulco for a funeral, little do they know that they must then contend with a Lovecraftian creature that can completely absorb someone’s mind, turning them into a zombie! Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Renny gets beaten down by some thugs. Later, Doc and Monk come face to face with Randolph Dorn and his Brain Bank!

This insane story was scripted by Doug Moench, from a plot by John Warner and John Whitmore, art by Ernie Chan, letters by Joe Rosen (and Gaspar Saladino). The incredible cover is by the awesome artist, Ken Barr! There are also two pinups I’ve included. The first (inside cover) is from perennial horror artist of the Bronze Age, Tom Sutton, the second by Bob Layton and Dick Giordano!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Machine Man 2, 1978 “House of Nightmares”

When Jack “King” Kirby returned to Marvel in the mid-1970s, not only did he spend time on an old favorite, Captain America, but he also created some new characters that were absolutely mind-blowing. One at the top of the list has to be Machine Man. An android created by a scientist, that in turn was killed trying to remove the auto-destruct mechanism from him. Machine Man was introduced in the pages of 2001: A Space Odyssey (issue 8, 1977). This was another Kirby vehicle that was initially based on the film (Stanley Kubrick) and novel (by Arthur C. Clarke). Kirby eventually took the book in his own direction though, and brought more of his Bronze Age bombast with it.

Kirby eventually left Marvel in 1978/1979 (after issue nine of this series), but the title did go on for a few more issues with Steve Ditko on art. It was interesting, but not the all out craziness and cool of Kirby (some of that was definitely the writing, too).  But we did get this awesomeness from the King for those first nine issues, and how glorious they are to behold! Written, edited, and penciled (cover as well, with possible inks by Mike Esposito) by Jack Kirby, inks and letters by Mike Royer, and colored by Petra Goldberg!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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).

 

 

DC comics: The Sandman (Wesley Dodds)

Being a little green yet with my DC comics and their characters, I decided to grab this trade and single issue out of pure curiosity, but make no mistake, the names Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (definitely check out the Kirby Museum for a ton of facts, pages, and excellent insight to Kirby!) had a lot to do with the purchase as well! This incredible duo didn’t create the Sandman (Gardner Fox and Bert Christman did), but not long after a revamp by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris (Adventure Comics #69), Joe and Jack took over the reigns, and really created some fantastic adventures for this crazy character and his new sidekick (Sandy)!

The stories varied from heavy subjects like slavery and suicide, to the more usual tales of war and the mob! Mostly though, they had a strange vibe or a villain that was downright bizarre. People like NightShade (later known as Ramulus), Thor, and Noah…Barton, who has an Ark full of animals. No joke folks, it’s all right here in these pages. From Nazis to Santa Claus, anything you can think of Simon and Kirby already have, and more than likely before you or your parents were even born.

The second part of this post is to spotlight an issue of DC Comics Presents (#42, written by Mike Barr and artwork by Jose Delbo and Joe Giella), as it was the first time I’d ever read a story about the Sandman! Reading this cool story about where the character went after the Golden Age (a back up as the main story was one that featured Superman and the Unknown Soldier, which is just OK), really had me thinking about this character I’d heard of but never really knew anything about, other than he was created in the Golden Age, and was later (in name) drastically changed for a Vertigo title by Neil Gaiman (I’ve read absolutely none of those – not my thing). There was another story in JLA 113, 19974, that showed what happened to Sandy, and featured Dodds (I don’t own that one yet!).

Whether you’re a fan of Golden Age characters or haven’t really read much of them, definitely give the Sandman a try!