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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Rider/Captain America: Fear, 1992

Well, this is it, day 31, and Halloween is here! So, the book I’ll be spotlighting is a good one, and a personal favorite for this time of year. A lot of people (especially my age and older) would say that the 1990s was a pretty dark time for comics, as far as the production value, strength of stories, and artwork. It’s hard to argue when you look back at all the mediocrity. One thing that’s for sure though, if you sift through all that, you can still find some excellent work from some very talented creators. Case in point, this book!

The story revolves around the character of the Scarecrow, and his latest psychotic episode. Up until now (1992 at this point), he’d been up and down after being in the Marvel Universe since the 1960s (ToS #51). Whether it’s the X-Men, Iron Man, or Ghost Rider, The Scarecrow won’t back down from anybody. We see him completely lose his mind in this story, and it takes everything the police, Ghost Rider, and Captain America have to stop his murderous rampage!

Howard Mackie (writer) is probably most known for his contributions to the Spider-Man books, and rightly so, as he spent a lot of time writing and editing those books. He really does a great job writing the dialogue, especially for the police and the insane Scarecrow. The artwork is by the always up to the task, Lee Weeks (pencils), and the legendary Al Williamson (inks). Weeks has been all over the industry with extensive work in Marvel and DC. Williamson (passed away in 2010), working since the 1950s, worked for many companies, and in every genre you can imagine. The man’s work is exceptional. The colorist was Gregory Wright, and the letters by Michael Heisler.

 

Daredevil 270, 1989 “BlackHeart!”

The character Daredevil is one that has so many extreme ups and downs since his creation in 1964. The last of the big names to come out of Marvel Comics Silver Age, Matt Murdoch has been all over the place. Hell’s Kitchen is his normal stomping grounds, but he spent a bit of time in San Francisco as well.

In this issue, a new villain is produced, and it’s one that’s even had a prominent role in a film! The spawn of Mephisto, Blackheart, is possibly even more vile than his father. Callously killing anyone that he wants, you get the feeling that if DD and Spider-Man can’t stop him, mankind is in big trouble!

The creative team on this one consists of Ann Nocenti (writer), John Romita jr. (pencils), AL Williamson (inks), Joe Rosen (letters), Christie ‘Max’ Scheele (colors), and Ralph Macchio (editor). That’s a pretty solid line-up with Marvel teetering on the edge of the dark times, and they deliver a solid issue. Nothing spectacular, but a good issue with a team up and first appearance. You’ll notice that Romita jr. hasn’t quite yet developed his now signature style quite yet. There are still some pages/panels that remind you of his father’s work, plus the inker makes a difference in the product as well.