Tower of Shadows 8, 1970 “They Lurk Within the Tomb!”

Rolling into week three of my Halloween coverage, this book is an interesting one. First and foremost because the lead story isn’t even (really) horror. But that’s getting ahead of things. The first five issues of this series were all new material, but then it changed to a mixed bag including reprints after that until the last issue (9). This specific issue has only one new story, but it’s a good one! And the reprints are nothing to scoff at either. The creators in this book are outstanding, real storytellers that have a track record for awesome output. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that the cover is by a master like Bernie Wrightson either!

The first story is called “Sanctuary.” It’s about a warrior king named Hamand, who has just conquered a mystical land known as Cybernia (an REH reference?). He seems to have overtaken all the foreign forces, but there is one thing he didn’t count on, and that is sorcery! This crazy sword and sorcery yarn was written, penciled and inked by Wally Wood! He does an excellent job with this quasi-Arthurian tale, and I feel as though the story and art jump off of the page and right into my mind. This is definitely one of my favorite stories by Wood. Letters by Artie Simek.

The next story is one of those quirky stories from the Atlas Age (pre-Marvel Age, 1961). In “Behold! I Am the Master of Time!,” a antique shop owner decides to use an ancient book of black magic to build an occult time machine! He’s going to try and steal antiquities from centuries past to keep his business afloat, but he didn’t count on his machine running on electricity, which doesn’t exist in the 18th century! Art by Steve Ditko (no writer credits found).

Next up is “I Found the Hidden World!” A man awakens from a nightmare, then thinks to himself about a horrible day he had recently when he discovered a portal to another world that’s inhabited by monstrous looking creatures! Written by Stan Lee (or Larry Lieber) with art by Don Heck!

Lastly we get “My Touch Means Doom!” A young man needs to scare up some cash quickly for an operation for his wife. He devises a plan to rob a bank. He evades the police but crashes near a radioactive test site. He begins to glow and anything he touches immediately dies! Can he escape the authorities and get the money to the hospital? Or does he even need to? Written by Stan Lee (or possibly Larry Lieber), with art by Don Heck!

Well, there you have it! A super cool sword and sorcery story by the legend himself, Woody, a strange tale by Sturdy Steve, and a double dose of Dashing Don Heck (at his best as far as creepiness)! Another week and another horror comic! Stay tuned as next week there shall be even more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daredevil 61, 1969 “Trapped by the Trio of Doom!”

I feel like its been quite a long time since I spotlighted a Daredevil book. I grabbed this one recently, and of course it features art by a certain favorite artist of mine! Not only that, but the villain in this issue are off the chain! The cool cover is by none other than Marie Severin and Joe Sinnott!

The story begins with Cobra and Hyde as they’re committing a robbery at the Guggenheim Museum! They mention a partner that is also doing the same on the other side of town. The scene switches to Daredevil, as he’s calling it a night from superheroing, to spend some time with his lady, Karen. The two go out to a club, but Karen isn’t having a good time, as she’s recently learned about Matt’s secret alter-ego, and can’t deal with it. The waiter tells them about the excitement at the museum, so Matt tells Karen it’s time for the date to end. He swings into action, and quickly tracks down the thieving duo. He’s caught off guard though, as their partner, The Jester is there as well!

The story by Roy Thomas isn’t the deepest one he’s ever written, but it is a good bit of fun, and the pathos is there as well with the scene between Karen and Matt. The relationship that exists with Cobra and Hyde is an interesting one. Early on, it seems as though Hyde is the boss, but later on Cobra takes the lead as Hyde’s intelligence seems to waver. Either way they make a good villainous pair. Throw in a crazy character like the Jester, and you’ve got a very fun Silver Age book. The art team is one that most don’t talk about, but was an awesome combination. Gene Colan (pencils) and Syd Shores (inks), were paired together a few times, and probably because of Shores’ ability to ink the pencils of Colan. Toss in the lettering of reliable Sam Rosen, and the book is complete.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Giant Superman Annual 3, 1961 “The Strange Lives of Superman!”

If you haven’t figured it out by now, crazy comics bring me quite a bit of joy. Mostly Bronze Age comics that were written with a bit of intent as far as the craziness is concerned, but also insane Silver Age stories that were intended to entertain children, but by some stroke of luck or mild intent, they also amuse me to no end. One of the characters at the top of the Silver Age list is definitely Superman. Long before Christopher Reeve donned the cape and tights, and made us believe a man could fly, writers and artists were creating stories and worlds for this character that were very wild and went in every direction. This annual is just one example of the insanity.

 

There are seven magnificent stories in this book, along with several illustrations. The best of these is a schematic of the Fortress of Solitude!

The first story, “The Super-Prisoner of Amazon Island,” doesn’t (unfortunately) feature Wonder Woman, but it does show an island full of Amazon women that have captured the Man of Steel, and are intent on auctioning him off to the highest bidder. Story by Otto Binder, art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.

 

Next up is “Superman’s New Face.” We see a scientist with an experiment gone awry. Superman interjects, and saves the man, but the ensuing accident scars Superman’s face badly (the explosion created tiny particles of Kryptonite). Of course he’s too embarrassed to show Lois, but she needs to find out how bad it is! Written by Edmond Hamilton, with art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.

 

The third installment gives us a real gem in “The Ugly Superman!” This story is a real winner for Lois, as she befriends a wrestler that dresses like Superman, but then he falls completely in love with her. He even lays a beating on Clark Kent! Written by Robert Bernstein, art by Kurt Schaffenberger.

 

The Lady and the Lion,” is up next, and this might be the gem of the book. And by gem I mean the highest concentration of insanity. In this one, Superman is duped by Circe into drinking a formula that will turn him into a lion if he doesn’t return and agree to be her mate! Written by Otto Binder, art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.

 

The following story is, “The Superman of the Future!” This story revolves around Superman helping a local scientist test a time machine. The machine of course has interesting side effects, and Superman growing an enormous brain (maybe) are just part of the shenanigans. Written by Otto Binder, with art by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.

 

The Oldest Man in Metropolis” is the penultimate story in this crazy book. In this story, Superman refers to himself as “an old duffer who can hardly stand up!” We see Clark Kent doing an interview with an acclaimed scientist. The scientist tells Clark that he’s perfected a formula that will extend human life. The doctor tells him that he intends to try it himself before asking for any volunteers. Clark thinks it would be better if he takes it, because it won’t hurt Superman! He takes it and leaves, then the doctor finds the guinea pigs that he tested it on earlier, and they’ve grown old! Story by Robert Bernstein and art by Al Plastino.

 

 

Finally, we get “The Two Faces of Superman!” In this one, Lois has a blind date with a guy, but wants to chase Superman instead, so she makes herself look less than desirable, so the blind date will take her home early. He does, then the date with Superman commences, but he saw her actions with the blind date and teaches her a lesson! Written by Jerry Coleman and art by Kurt Schaffenberger.

 

 

And check out this back cover! Classic Superman for sure!

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Four 52, 1966 “The Black Panther!”

Today, in the U.S., it’s the observance of Martin Luther King Jr. I thought it fitting to spotlight a character from comics that represents a strong belief in something. We all know Reverend King certainly did, and so does T’Challa! He cares abundantly about human life (as did MLK), and the safety of his people, so much so that he’s traveled the world, fighting against evil. In this, his first appearance, we see he started out with some trickery to lure the Fantastic Four to Wakanda, in an effort to see if his skills are ready for combat outside of his kingdom.

The epic battle that was actually training, included the FF, The Black panther, and Wyatt Wingfoot! The Panther defeats the FF, but didn’t count on the young, resourceful Wingfoot. He helps the FF turn the tables on T’Challa, who then unmasks, and begins to tell the FF his incredible origin!

The character of the Black Panther was one that came in a time where we needed him most. Just one year earlier in 1965, this country saw one of the most awful, brutal acts near Selma, Alabama. For Marvel comics to put a black man in their most popular comic book was nothing short of groundbreaking. It showed exactly how Marvel (or at least those doing the day to day work) felt about the Civil Rights Movement. Thank you, Jack Kirby (pencils, cover and interior), Stan Lee (writer), Joe Sinnott (inks) and Sam Rosen (letters).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Two-in-One 1, 1973 “Vengeance of the Molecule Man!”

To close out 2019, and the theme of Team-Up books, I thought I’d go out with a bang, and feature a fairly recent acquisition! A key issue from the Bronze Age, this book is one I’ve been searching for at an affordable price for a long time. The day finally came at a local comic shop (LCS) as they were having a sale that helped ease the pain of the cost. Now, it’s time for Monster vs Monster!

With a story as ridiculous as you’d expect, Ben picks up the morning paper and gets furious because there’s another person with the name “Thing.” This other (Man-)Thing is down in the Everglades and Ben Grimm decides to go down there to give him the whoopin’ he deserves. There’s just one problem though, the Molecule Man has returned, and he’s ready to spring a trap on old Benjy! Can both of these heroes manage to take down an opponent that is off the charts powerful?

Starting with the awesome cover by Gil Kane and John Romita, this one is quirky but a lot of fun. Most of the reason why this one is so much fun, is the writing of Steve Gerber. The dialogue was great with Ben and Manny, then throw in Molecule Man and the other ancillary characters, and it’s a blast! The interior art by Gil Kane (pencils) and Joe Sinnott (inks) was fantastic. No matter if it was action scenes or conversation, they did a very nice job. Jean Izzo (letters), George Roussos (colors), and Roy Thomas (editor) round out the masterful minds behind this gem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blitzkrieg 3, 1976 “The Execution”

When I first heard of this title, I wasn’t aware of the premise. Once I learned of its angle though, I was a bit concerned how they would pull it off without being a bit intrusive. Somehow DC managed to show WWII through the eyes of German soldiers without being offensive. It sounds impossible, but they did a good job, with a very good creative team. In this issue (the only one I own), we see real action, and death. The very horrors of war. A good book, but a realistic one as well that really makes you think about how awful war really is.

The issue is kicked off by an awesome Joe Kubert cover. His monumental work at DC is something I don’t know if anyone will ever truly be able to fully appreciate (myself included). The amount of covers, interiors, and influence for other artists that followed is incredible.

Inside there are two stories, and both have the same creative team. Robert Kanigher (writer) and Ric Estrada (art), provide riveting stories in both and really set a grim mood for what you see. They pull no punches, even showing children ending up on the wrong side of violence (“The Partisans“). The first tale (“The Execution“) is also quite brutal, showing some Allied soldiers getting killed in an ambush. Again, a very interesting book that shows more than likely an accurate portrayal of the Big One. Don’t shy away from this title, get it if you can. To everyone out there, have a blessed Veterans Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas with the Superheroes 1, 1988

In a continuing effort to purchase more DC comics, as well as holiday themed books as well, I recently bought this one. Shortly after buying it, i discovered an episode from a podcast (click here for the episode > Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill) spotlighting this very issue. This book is a compilation of reprints, ranging in years from 1968 to 1984! There is only one thing that doesn’t resonate with me about this entire book, but that’s for later!

There are six stories in this book, and four out of the six feature a lot of Batman and/or Superman. As well they should, with both being the breadwinners of DC comics since the late 1930s! That’s what’s called “staying power” and they aren’t going away. Both are still hugely successful in pop culture today.

 

The two Batman stories have some real star power behind their creation. In “Wanted: Santa Claus- Dead or Alive!”, Denny O’Neil (writer), Frank Miller (pencils) and Steve Mitchell (inks), Glenn Whitmore (colors) and Ben Oda (letters), round out the creative team. They give us a wild tale that sees Old St. Nick get shot!

 

Next, the entire JLA is brought in to find out the identity of “The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus!” Oh, one caveat o that statement. Hal Jordan doesn’t make it to the team because…he slipped on a bar of soap and hits head, knocking him unconscious (yep, for real). Len Wein (writer), Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano (artists), and Glenn Whitmore (colors).

 

In a parody of the Charles Dickens story, the Teen Titans give us “The TT’s Swingin’ Christmas Carol!” Written by Bob (Zany) Haney, art by Nick Cardy, and colors by Helen Vesik.

 

The fourth story (the weakest of the bunch) is called “Star Light, Star Bright…Farthest Star I see Tonight!”, is one that features the Legion of Super-Heroes. Nothing spectacular here but a decent story by Paul Levitz (writer), Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano (art), Ben Oda (letters), and Jerry Serpe (colors).

 

The following story (‘Twas the Fright Before Christmas!) about Superman, Santa Claus, and a wild kid that has some toys that are unique in nature because they were made by the Toyman! Written by Len Wein (plot assist by E. Nelson Bridwell), art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, colors by Jerry Serpe, and letters by Ben Oda.

 

Lastly, another tale starring the Dark Knight of Gotham is here! This one is more of a fun story with Bats and Commissioner Gordon hanging out together on Christmas Eve. Story by Mike Friedrich, art by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, and colors by Jerry Serpe. And let us not forget the incredible wrap-around cover by John Byrne!

 

 

Weird War Tales 55, 1977 “The Abominable Weapon!”

As a child, I was fascinated by cryptids. You know, mythical monsters that haven’t been proved to exist…yet! The top creature was definitely the Bigfoot/Yeti, and just the thought of those beasts running around was scary! This book is one of those that caught my eye right away in the back issue bins. So, here it is in all its glory!

Starting off with a glorious cover by the legendary Joe Kubert, is always a welcomed sight when grabbing back issues! The opening page shows “Death” as he’s taking inventory of his weapons vault. From the dawn of time, and into the future, we see spears to ray guns, and everything in-between. This fantastic piece is by Romeo Tanghal, and if you’re not familiar with that name, definitely look for his work. He’s a Filipino artist that did a ton of work for DC comics in the 1970s-1980s. Very underappreciated guy.

The first story (title from the cover), shows a squad of Japanese soldiers from WWII, as they intend to cut off a pathway through the Himalayas for the Allies. There’s only one problem, the frozen peaks are inhabited by a Yeti! Story by Arnold Drake (long time writer from the Golden/Atom Age that co-created the Doom Patrol and Deadman) , with art by Bill Draut (another golden oldie that worked for Marvel, DC, Archie, etc.). Super cool story with a great twist ending! The second story, “A Rebel Shall Rise from the Grave,” is about a dead soldier coming back to life to wreak havoc! Story by George Kashdan, with art by Alex NiƱo!

Definitely grab these war comics, as they are a great snapshot of the times (both the 1970s and the war years). The creative teams are always on point and you typically get an incredible cover from Joe Kubert!

 

 

Ghost Rider 21, 1976 “DEATHPLAY!”

I don’t know if you can find a better comic than this one from the Bronze Age. The character, the creators (especially), the insane villains, everything. In this issue, you get not one, but two lame villains fighting a guy that can use hellfire to melt things into a liquid state, super strength, and a motorcycle that can be mentally summoned to run people over. His opponents can shock you like a taser, or use wrist blades to cut you…yeah. BUT, they’re so lame they are cool. By story’s end, GR smacks the Gladiator with a lamp post, knocking him unconscious.

When you get creators like Gil Kane (interior pencils) and Jack Kirby (cover pencils) to make a comic book, you’re pretty much set. Throw in an established guy like Gerry Conway (writer/editor), and the book is guaranteed to be a bonafide winner. An unsung hero if I’ve ever seen one, is Sam Grainger (interior inks). I’ve always enjoyed his contributions and thought he was a solid craftsman. Add names like Al Milgrom (cover inks), Irv Watanabe (letters), Roger Slifer (colors), and Jim Shooter (colors), and the book is an easy sell!

 

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Marvel Premiere #14, 1973 “Sise-Neg/Genesis”

To close out my look at the Doctor Strange issues of this title, we get to see a seemingly omnipotent being that is hell-bent on rewriting all that is/was. How will it do this? By traveling back to the beginning of time, and using its immense power, this being will in fact, attempt to usurp the creator of all life! As this being, Mordo, and Strange, continue through the vast halls of time, we see things such as knights, dragons, and even dinosaurs! There’s a bit of a morality play in this story as well, definitely more thought-provoking than the usual fair of that time period.

After this run ends, both Englehart and Brunner transitioned the Doc into his own series (1974), and to say that it was good would be an incredible understatement. That series (overall) is one of my favorites of all time and really exemplifies the entire decade/age of comic books. Dick Giordano inking was an added delight, and he would also travel to the new title with Englehart and Brunner to go on to new heights. Rounding out the team on this issue was Glynis Wein (colors), and John Costanza (letters), both of whom any fan of the Bronze Age will easily recognize for their contributions! Roy Thomas was the editor, and would even be Editor-In-Chief for a time, but he stepped down to get back to his love for writing.

 

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