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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