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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bizarre Adventures 34, 1982 “Special Hate-The-Holidays Issue!”

In this, the final holiday post of 2019, I give to you one of the weirdest books ever! These strange stories all revolve around the holidays, but each one with a different cast of characters. The awesome cover is by Joe Jusko!

In the first odd tale (“Son of Santa“), we see a little person who convinces a total stranger to come with him on a flight to Tokyo. He agrees, but half way through the flight, the little guy hijacks the plane, and then forces the kid to jump out of the plane with him (using parachutes). They descend, and find an unusual building. It’s the HQ of none other than Santa Claus himself! The jolly old guy has been killed, frozen solid by someone called…the Anti-Claus! Written by Mark Gruenwald and art by Alan Kupperberg.

The second story is a bit of a parody of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” starring Howard the Duck (“Howard the Duck’s Christmas“)! As usual, it’s a crazy story, but not the best of the book for sure. Written by Steven Grant, art by Paul Smith.

Next is “Dr. Deth, Not to Mention Kip and Morty.” This one is by Larry Hama (script and layouts) and Bob Camp (pencils and inks). This one is very weird, and really not about Christmas except in a  very ancillary way.

In “Slay Bells,” we see what looks like a deranged, small man, acting like a boy to get close to Santa Claus’s around town so he can kill them! This one is super crazy, and violent. Story and art by Mike Carlin.

The next to last story is called “Santa Bites the Big Apple!” Santa arrives to give out presents in Manhattan, but finds out it isn’t easy doing anything in NYC! He gets thrown in the slammer, then must improvise on how to distribute his presents. Writing and art by Al Milgrom.

Lastly, we get a chapter in the life of Bucky Bizarre! An alien character that appeared in previous issues. He’s a humorous character that stumbles upon a girl selling matches on a street corner. The story takes place in the times of Charles Dickens, but this girl is not what you’d think! Written by Steve Skeates, art by Steve Smallwood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Two-in-One 74, 1981 “A Christmas Peril!”

Merry Christmas to everyone out there! This week I’ll keep with the theme of anthology books, but with a holiday story! One of Marvel’s most beloved characters is definitely Ben Grimm. His kind heart and love for his friends is one of legend, his fights with Johnny notwithstanding! This story opens up with a gorgeous splash page that really sets the holiday mood. This wild tale involves the Puppet Master, Ben, and Alicia. You see, the Puppet Master is fresh out of prison, and the shenanigans must ensue. He convinces Alicia that he’s no longer evil, and then the two of them, plus The Thing head to his homeland (Transia) as a Christmas present from the FF. It doesn’t take long for the trio to get into trouble, as Bova and Modred the Mystic join the cast in this crazy holiday issue!

Written by Mark Gruenwald, art by Frank Springer (pencils and cover) and Chic Stone (inks), colors by George Roussos, letters by Michael Higgins, and edited by Jim Salicrup! This is a very wacky issue, but so much fun. The holiday backdrop is perfect for this story and for today’s post! Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Team-Up 91, 1980 “Carnival of Souls!”

As December rolls on, I wanted to spotlight more team up books. This one is very kooky, and features one of the weirdest villains from the pages of Marvel Team-Up! Moondark is very bizarre, and in his first appearance (MTU 12), he was shown controlling Jack Russell, in an attempt to murder Spidey! In this issue, he’s using his vast magical powers to control the Ghost Rider! And for a time he does, and makes him part of a sideshow attraction!

The issue starts out with Peter and Glory Grant on a date at the carnival It’s here that he sees the Ghost Rider. He then comes back later at night to investigate and then the real action begins! We get to see some Spidey vs Ghost Rider action, plus both of them against Moondark!

The story was written by Steven Grant, with art by Pat Broderick (pencils) and Bruce D. Patterson (inks). The letters by Jim Novak, colors by George Roussous, and edited by Denny O’Neil! The cover is by Rich Buckler (pencils) and Al Milgrom (inks)! Definitely a fun little one issue story that fits perfectly in the Bronze Age of goodness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Team-Up 71, 1978 “DeathGarden”

It feels like it has been forever since the blog covered a Marvel anthology title (superheroes). After sifting through some boxes, I decided to spotlight this one! How can you not get drawn in by this cover? Cap slowly dying, Spidey and the Falcon swooping in to try and save him, the always loved Marvel hyperbole…”when dies a legend!”

The story isn’t too deep, but it’s mostly about the action, drama, and two heroes getting together to save a mutual friend in Captain America. You do get a lot in this issue though, as A.I.M., Nick Fury, Dum Dum Dugan, Redwing, and the Plantman all make appearances! A fun issue and you always get that with Marvel Team-Up!

Written by Bill Kunkel, pencils by David Wenzel, inks by Dan Green, letters by Rick Parker, colors by Francoise Mouly, and edited by Jim Shooter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain America 601, 2009 “Red, White, and Blue-Blood”

In 2009, the world was treated to one more story drawn by Gene “The Dean” Colan. This was his swan song in mainstream comics (all of comics unless I’m mistaken), and it was fittingly a war/horror story! Yes, this is #warcomicsmonth and you do get some WWII action, but you also get some bloodthirsty vampires as well! A fantastic send off for one of the industry’s greats (R.I.P. Gene). Written by Ed Brubaker, with colors by Dean White.

The story starts out in Bastogne, France in 1945, with Cap, Bucky, and their unit, as they’ve discovered some other soldiers that were killed, but there’s something different about the way in which they were killed. Cap and Bucky wait and eventually see that the soldiers rise and are now part of a vampire legion! Cap and Bucky must now battle against men that served by their side, and not only that, but townspeople as well, including children!

This book is one that holds a high place in my pantheon of comics. Gene Colan is my all time favorite artist, and there is no finer example of why than this book. You get some very good scenes with dialogue with Cap and Bucky, but the action scenes, especially the ones that involve the undead, are simply incredible. Even on his last pro job, Gene delivered.