Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 5, 1975

As I wind down the last three issues of this series, beginning with the fifth installment, you’ll see a few different names in this one, previously unseen. With an anthology title, that’s usually the method most publishers roll with, and it can be very exciting. I think it can be slightly problematic when a certain creator did a fantastic job in a previous issue (or is just a fan favorite). There are a couple of familiar names, but lets not get ahead of things. The cover is by an artist that isn’t one I’ve heard before. Boada Puigdomènech (cover), an artist with only this one credit for Marvel, and a few for Skywald Publishing, does a fair job, but it’s definitely a step back from the previous four issues. A frontispiece by Howard Chaykin (more on him later) leads us into the action!

First up we get…Slow Glass, revisited! I know last time I said that was the end, but it was a ruse (by myself and Marvel)! We thought we saw the last of this story (and Mister Tyme), but not so. We see something very creepy from Roy Thomas and the art team of Gene Colan and Frank Chiaramonte!

Up first is “Paradise Found.” We see a space traveler arrive on a planet named Terra 2. He’s greeted by another guy that treats the aliens there horribly, but don’t worry, he gets his in the end. Written by Bruce Jones, with art by Gray Morrow!

The next few pages bring an interview with Larry Niven (conducted by Alan Brennert)! There are some super cool illustrations by Eliot R. Brown and Rick Bryant.

Next up is “All the Myriad Ways,” an adaptation of a Larry Niven story. A police detective investigating a murder, parallel universes, time travel, it’s all here! And, brought to you by Howard Chaykin (script, art)!

Don and Maggie Thompson bring us another great edition of “Fantastic Worlds” next! In it they discuss the Hugo and Nebula awards, rumors of a Star Trek movie, and some sci-fi conventions!

Addict” is the next story in the book, and it is a wild one! We see a junkie in an alleyway beat his own dealer for some drugs. Well, not conventional drugs, that is. We also see some bureaucrats talking their usual disturbing rhetoric about needing to keep the populace under control (hmmm…nothing to see here, move along). Really good stuff here by Don Glut (story) and Virgil Redondo (art)!

The final story in this magazine, “Half Life,” is another solid entry. We see a monster-sized spaceship called The USS Agamemnon, that at first seems like a pleasure cruise. But, things don’t always work out the way they should, do they? Story and art by John Allison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 4, 1975

Back once again to keep plowing forward through this great sci-fi magazine run from Marvel Comics. Names on the cover are a big thing with these mags, as they wanted to pull in not only comic book readers, but the science fiction crowd as well. A spectacular cover by Frank Brunner certainly raises the chances of people buying this one as well!

In this issue, we get an awesome interview with A.E. Van Vogt! The interview was conducted by none other than future Batman scribe, Alan Brennert! This is followed by a short one-pager (by David Anthony Kraft) talking about Otis Adelbert Kline, and his stories set on Venus (see the link about his feud with ERB). Lastly, there is a column titled “Fantastic Worlds” by Don and Maggie Thompson, that talks about all elements of sci-fi (books, shows, etc.). Now onto the stories!

First up is the final entry in the “Slow Glass” story that has been the bookends for the magazine so far. In this one, the final chapter does not disappoint, as Mr. Tyme must answer to a board of aliens as to where and how he obtained slow glass!  Tony Isabella script, Don Heck and Frank Chiaramonte on art duties.

The A.E. van Vogt adaptation is up next, and “The Enchanted Village” is probably the best story of the book. The script is by Don and Maggie Thompson, with art by Dick Giordano!

A Vision of Venus” brings a tale of space travelers that have been captured by aliens! As mentioned above, the source material is from Otis Adelbert Kline, the script and art by Tim Conrad.

The following tale is not intended to be humorous (I think), but “Good News from the Vatican” comes off that way to me. It’s a story about a robot Pope (somewhere, my friend Herman is laughing)! Written by Gerry Conway, art by Adrian Gonzales.

The penultimate tales is “Encounter at War.” There is a bit of a forward on the previous page stating that this one is the conclusion to a story that was started in an underground comic. It’s a good one but not anything that hasn’t been seen before. A little bit of aliens, and a little bit of treachery! Written by Jan Strnad, with art by Richard Corben!

Finally, “Kick the Can” brings us to a close. The story revolves around a guy that is desperately trying to get off an alien planet, and back home. Some really neat flashback scenes and a giant Tarantula to boot!  Written and drawn by Bruce Jones!

A solid issue overall, but I can’t escape the feeling that it took a slight dip versus the previous three. Not sure why, but it could possibly be the Slow Glass story didn’t end that great or the art wasn’t as good as the previous installments (Gene Colan). Which of course, might just be my bias.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 3, 1975

After a brief hiatus from the norm (click here for last week’s Super-Blog Team-Up entry), I’m diving back into the awesome, albeit grief run of Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction magazines! As I’ve said in the past, these are a really good snapshot of the times, and of the sci-fi genre as a whole up to this point in history. They pay a lovely homage to the creators that had made sci-fi what it was and still is to this day, through interviews, articles, and of course the adaptations! Everything inside is first presented by this awesome cover by Mike Whelan!

After a gorgeous frontispiece by the incredible artist, Gray Morrow (see below), we get a contents page that will blow your mind. Not only will you see an issue chocked full of content such as stories of science fiction with illustrations unparalleled, you also get an interview with Frank Herbert (Dune), and a look at the SFWA (by Don Thompson)! And not to be outdone, a super cool editorial by Rascally Roy Thomas!

The bookends in this magazine, once again, are entries featuring the Bob Shaw concept, Slow Glass. These stories don’t involve everyday people and their experience with the substance. Oh no, in this issue an actual alien approaches Mr. Tyme, and requests some of the material! Written by Tony Isabella, with art by Gene Colan!

The first full length story is “Occupation Force.” We see a man get abducted by an alien spaceship, but alas, no probing. The aliens eventually leave their ship, but what we see is definitely not what one would expect! Written by Gerry Conway, with art by George Pérez and Klaus Janson!

The next story (and my personal favorite) is titled “…Not Long Before The End.” This one features a classic story of a barbarian versus a sorcerer! A story akin to something you’d find in a Robert E. Howard story, but with a slight twist. Written by Doug Moench and art by Vicente Alcazar!

Gestation” is up next, and this one is about a space-faring team that touches down on a planet with a vast variety of vegetation. They eventually come upon a giant web resembling that of a spider! What happens next is truly bizarre! Written and illustrated by Bruce Jones!

The final story is from sci-fi legend, Harlan Ellison! Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman, is an interesting story, in that it is not straightforward in its delivery. It is however a dystopian future plot, which back in 1965 wasn’t the overwrought concept it is now. Adapted by Roy Thomas (script) and Alex Niño (art)!

Even with issue three, this magazine is still going very strong, and hasn’t missed a beat. It will slow a good bit near the end, but for now, take a look at these fantastic pages (editors included- Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, and art director John Romita).

Unknown World’s of Science Fiction 2, 1975 “All-New! War Toy”

In this second week of my blog’s revival, I wanted to continue looking at this incredible sci-fi magazine series by Marvel Comics. Like the previous issue, this one has bookends featuring “Slow Glass” and it has an excellent lead story, along with more chapters of Day of the Triffids! Two very good articles are also included in this one, so strap yourself in, as this rocket ship is blasting off!

Another introduction to Slow Glass leads off, and this one is very intriguing. We see Mr Tyme heading into a lavish apartment complex (a deluxe apartment in the sky, you might even say). Once inside, he meets up with a rich man named Mr. Wilder. the two did some business in the past, but the consequences of that visit, are about to come home to roost! Written by Tony Isabella, with art by Frank Brunner and Klaus Janson!

After a peek into the Slow Glass, we see “War Toy!” A group of scientists/doctors are gathered around an operating table, but there patient isn’t a man, but a robot! He’s trained to be the perfect soldier, but what happens when the war is over? Written by Tony Isabella, art by George Pérez and Rico Rival!

An interview with author Alfred Bester (Demolished Man) is up next, and was conducted by Denny O’Neil! It’s accompanied by two illustrations by Rick Bryant, and a sample page from an Australian comic strip adaptation of The Stars my Destination (by Bester). The adaptation is by Steve Harper and Stanley Pitt.

The third installment is a story called “Adam…and No Eve.” An adaptation from Bester, this revolves around a man that creates a rocket fuel to get to space, but the mathematician he’s hired informs him that the fuel is deadly, and if even a single drop hits the Earth, it will kill billions. Written by Denny O’Neil, with art by Frank Robbins and Jim Mooney!

The Hunter and the Hunted” is up next, and the story and art are by Mike Kaluta (he created the awesome cover for this issue as well!). Full disclosure, I have no idea what he was going for here. Very minimalist story/art, but fascinating anyway.

The following addition shows an article by Don Thompson about the Hugo awards. There are photos and mentions of sci-fi stalwarts like Harlan Ellison, Frank Kelly Freas, and so forth.

Writer/artist Bruce Jones then gives us a tale called “Specimen.” This is a cool story that has a twist ending I definitely didn’t see coming! Kudos to Jones for this one, as it’s probably my favorite story of his I’ve ever read.

Two more chapters finish off “The Day of the Triffids” adaptation, and it was really a fun ride. Gerry Conway (John Wyndham novel) and Rico Rival do an excellent job!

The magazine is finished off by two more pages of the Slow Glass story by Isabella, Brunner, and Janson. Again, great work by these creators on this premise by Bob Shaw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 1, 1974 “Day of the Triffids”

At first sight, this magazine (published in 1975) doesn’t look like anything special. Oh the cover by Kelly Freas (with alterations by John Romita), is very cool, but sci-fi hadn’t really hit it big yet in the mainstream (pre- Star Wars, and Star Trek films). What Marvel did though, was bring in stories written by some of the greatest writers of the genre, and adapt them for comic book format. When you can slap the name Ray Bradbury on your cover, it’s going to sell some books for sure.

As if the spectacular cover wasn’t enough, we get a frontispiece by Spanish master, Esteban Maroto! Most of Marvel’s magazines had these pin ups inside the front cover, and some even at the end of the issue. Using Bradbury’s name on the cover was a good idea, but in all honestly, the name Bob Shaw should’ve been on there as well. His concept “slow glass” is the subject of this book, and sort of introduces the other stories (and bookends as well), as a portmanteau film executes for its audience. Those pages are by Tony Isabella (script, adapted from the Shaw idea), and the art team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer!

The first chapter is “The Day of the Triffids!”In this story (based on the John Wyndham novel), we see a particular species of tree that not only seems to be able to think for itself, but has malice toward human being as well! Written  by Gerry Conway, with art by Ross Andru and Ernie Chan!

Next, we get a story written and drawn by Neal Adams! The story is an anti war/Vietnam piece told through the lens of sci-fi. The story is told almost like news blurbs, which is fascinating for 1975!

The third installment is a fabulous interview with Ray Bradbury. He speaks about his youth, and the formative that guided some of his writing. The interview is conducted by Sheldon Dorf.

Next up is a hilarious parody story (Smash Gordon!) by none other than Frank Brunner (story and art)! This one is not only comedic, but it is absolutely gorgeous to look at. If you’ve seen his work before, get ready, as this is on another level.

An atomic test in the New Mexico desert is the start of “Savage World!” Three of the people involved with the bomb test end up in an underground world. Are the rulers peaceful as they claim or not? Script by Wally Wood, and art by Al Williamson!

Another interview graces the pages of this magazine, and this time it’s with the cover artist (and artistic giant), Kelly Freas! They include a few images of his work on some science fiction books from yesteryear as well!

We then get another story that is pretty straightforward, but has a comedic ending. Automated cities of the future are now the only place you’ll find human beings. A plane crash strands a few people out in a wasteland, and as you can imagine, it doesn’t end well. Story and art by Mike Kaluta!

Finally, another chapter of Slow Glass, and this one is seven pages long! We watch as a couple who has traveled off the beaten path attempts to purchase some slow glass from an elderly man. But this man has a secret, and it’s one he doesn’t want people to know. Script by Tony Isabella, with art by Gene Colan and Mike Esposito!

As of this blog post being published, these magazines can still be had for reasonable prices on places like Ebay. Any interested parties should think about getting these sooner rather than later, as they probably won’t be reprinted any time soon (Marvel wqould probably need to get the rights to publish it again as the source material belongs to the book publisher or the estates).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!