The Spectre 9, 1969 “Journal of Judgement!”

In the late 1960s, DC comics decided to give The Spectre his own series. To say that this series was weird is an understatement. It’s not quite on the level of the Fleisher/Aparo stories (in Adventure Comics), but those are top of the food chain for Bronze Age comics. This title had a few different creative teams on it even though it was only a ten issue run. Some huge names involved and the stories are all over the place (in a good way).

In this issue (the main story), we see The Spectre as he’s chained to a “Journal of Judgement” for his failings in the eyes of the creator. We get to go back in time, as Jim Corrigan and his partner try to bust up a crime ring. The Sargent gets shot and killed and then another crook tries to shoot Jim in the back. The Spectre rises up and kills the man. Corrigan then confronts The Spectre, and the two fight. It appears as though he kills Corrigan, and that’s when he’s forced back to the spirit realm, and gets punished.

This story is pretty wild, but very consistent with the others from this run (and the subsequent Adventure Comics run). We see that the Spectre has no problem killing people, no matter what the cause! Written by Mike Friedrich, art by Jerry Grandenetti and Bill Draut. Another incredibly awesome fact about this issue is that it has a back up story (told by The Spectre) about a magician that runs afoul of the devil! Oh, and did I mention this story was written by Denny O’Neil and illustrated by Bernie Wrightson? There’s also a third story (Shadow Show, writer- Mark Hanerfeld, art by Jack Sparling), where The Spectre terrorizes a thief! All of this is kicked off by a great cover by Nick Cardy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showcase 82, 1969 “Nightmaster”

Sometimes when you buy a comic, you think you know what you’re in for. And then you read the book and get something totally different. That’s what happened when I read DC Showcase 82!

A hippie musician that gets teleported to an alternate dimension via a weird bookstore, then must pick up a sword and battle evil-doers, and save his girlfriend from them. The first few pages of this book give no indication that’s going to happen (OK, other than the splash page). This one is a fun romp that deserves your attention for sure. This book also has some of the best advertisements I’ve ever seen in a DC comic book (see 3 images below story)!

Very fun/cool story by Denny O’Neil, with artwork by Jerry Grandenetti and Dick Giordano! This one is something straight out of Dungeons and Dragons or slightly even a Tolkien story. If you see this one for a decent price, do not let it slip away. Oh, and of course it has a spectacular cover by DC’s best cover man, Joe Kubert!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Tales 159, 1967 “Spy School”

This book has only been in my collection for a few months, but I knew it would be one that I’d spotlight sooner rather than later. Especially when you consider the talent that went into it’s creation! Just based off of the cover alone, who wouldn’t want to own this one! Two big stories with top notch creative teams means a Silver Age classic from the House of Ideas!

First up, we get Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos! They’ve transitioned from military life to working for the government (SHIELD). After a night on the town, Fury goes home, but the next day is full of training at a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. He then must face Captain America in a sparring session in front of the newest recruits!

Awesome story, as you can really see the cool story and art by an ambitious Jim Steranko (story, art, and cover). He really knows how to tell a story with Fury and his supporting cast. He also does a fine job with Cap as well. Letters by Jerry Feldmann.

The second story is another chapter in the life of Doctor Strange! The Doc returns home to find that his Sanctum Sanctorum has been leveled, by none other than Umar herself! Once he finds a counter-spell to bring his home back, he then sets out to fight a band of sorcerers that are attempting to bring back Baron Mordo! Written by Roy Thomas, art by Marie Severin and Herb Trimpe, and letters by Al Kurzrok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane 43, 1963 “Lois Lane – Volunteer Nurse!”

It’s no secret to anyone that reads this blog, that I really love crazy DC Silver Age stories. Well, this one is one of the hammiest stories I’ve read in a while. The stories are basically all imaginary that don’t count towards continuity (even before Crisis came along in the 1980s), but they’re still a lot of fun!

The first story shows a “death of Superman,” but not “the” death…oh wait, that was bogus too. So this story (“The Girl who Mourned for Superman“) isn’t any different than the blockbuster from the speculatory period in the 1990s. Back to 1963, and Lois, as she’s wandering around and sees some kids trying to recreate the Ben Franklin kite and key experiment. After a minute of peer pressure, Lois agrees to help them. Just as a lightning bolt strikes the kite, Superman swoops in to save the day, and to chastise Lois for this “hair-brained stunt.” Then Lois heads into the Daily Planet, and gets an assignment from Perry. As she attempts to leave in the helicopter, the vehicle is sucked up into a plastic sphere, directed by none other than Lex Author himself! It’s all a ruse to get his most hated enemy, Superman, to try and save Lois, and fall into a trap! Script by Leo Dorfman, art by Kurt Schaffenberger (cover by Schaffenberger as well).

The second story, and coincidentally, the one that mirrors the cover image, shows Lois as a volunteer nurse at the local hospital. Perry ends up there after tripping over a ball and chain that Jimmy was using as a prop. A general then enters Perry’s room, to ask him to keep an eye on a soldier that’s in the hospital. Immediately the soldier falls for Lois. But, there is quite a plot twist in this one, that I’ll keep a secret! Writer, Leo Dorfman, art by Kurt Schaffenberger.

Lastly, we get “The Girl Who Deserted Superman!” Yes, I know, a lot of “girls” in these books. In this one, Lana gets hurt water skiing, as she falls off her skis, and somehow falls in the water, floats to the bottom, and hits her head hard enough to get a concussion. Lois and Superman decide they knows better than the doctor, and can snap her out of her coma by whispering to her about some fantasy’s they think she has about Superman. Absolutely ridiculous and absolutely hilarious. Welcome to Silver Age DC comics. Again, Dorfman and Schaffenberger as the creative team.

Check out the last image, as it’s a fantastic advertisement from the back cover of this book! Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

Uncanny Tales 2, 1973 “Out of the Swamp…”

It has been too long since I last blogged about a horror comic! Last week’s awesome post aside (click here for my contribution to Super Blog Team Up), lately I’ve been all over the spectrum on my posts, as in, whatever hits me as worthy at that very moment. Some would say they’re ridiculous and not top tier like certain books that have beloved runs even 40+ years or more later. But I feel like all comics have worth, obviously some more than others, and there’s nothing wrong with liking or not liking any comic. So even when I blog about some lesser known comic, rest assured its got at least some redeeming value. Now, let the horror commence!

This week’s post is solid, and has some really good material from the Golden Age. Some pre-code even! Five stories of madness are inside this one, and solid creators are behind them. The first story (“The Graves that Moved“) starts out in a graveyard as we see caskets popping out of the ground and killing an old guy! Very eerie and sets a good tone for the rest of the book. Art by Jim Mooney (no other credits given).

The second story is called “Out of the Swamps!” This one has a scientist, gangsters, and talking Lemurs…yep. A very bizarre story indeed, but with very good art by Dick Ayers!

Next, we get “Dead End” and we see a man telling the readers that he’s killed himself and doesn’t really exist anymore. It seems like they were going for a real nutty vibe in this one as well, and they achieved that with flying colors. script by Burt Frohman, Art by Tom Gill.

The fourth tale is called “Last Seen Climbing a Ladder!” The story revolves around a scientist that thinks he can build a ladder from Earth to an asteroid. Yes, you read that correctly. He actually succeeds but has plans of his own afterward! Art by Vic Carrabotta.

Last but not least, we get “Superstition.” It shows a penal colony on Guiana, and how the prisoners have escaped. They were helped by some of the natives, but when the prisoners demand to be taken off of the island, things get dicey. You see, the natives have a superstition and don’t want to leave the island. They have a good reason, and the prisoners find out why, but it’s too late! Art by Syd Shores!

All of these stories are kicked off by a cover by none other than Golden Age artist, Carl Burgos (you may have heard of him), but with heavy alterations by John Romita.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen 98, 1966 “The Bride of Jungle Jimmy!”

I felt it was long overdue for a blog post nothing short of ridiculous. Jimmy Olsen marrying a gorilla seemed quite apropos. This story isn’t actually the first one in the book believe it or not. That honor belongs to “The Four Clocks of Doom!” in which Jimmy and Superman must deal with Tempus, and his Doom Clock! Yeah, it’s not that scary, but it is a lot of fun. Jimmy gets a tour of Tempus’s home and it’s hilarious. But lets get back to Jungle Jimmy! Of course the cover doesn’t exactly match the interior story, but Jimmy, Clark, and Lucy Lane find themselves in the jungle while a sleazy movie producer/director (von Spitz) takes advantage of the indigenous peoples naivety. No, Superman doesn’t marry Jimmy and the ape, and in the end, he actually saves him from her (as she’s making advances on him).

The Jungle Jimmy story was written by long time Supes scribe, Leo Dorfman. He wrote a ton of stories during the Silver Age about the boy scout. The artwork is by Pete Costanza, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d ever heard his name before. Looking into his past, he started out at Fawcett, and became an assistant to C.C. Beck. Remarkably, he taught himself to paint left-handed after losing the use of his right arm from a stroke. The Tempus story was written by Otto Binder art by Costanza again. The crazy cover is by Curt Swan and George Klein!

 

 

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!