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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eerie 51, 1973 “Special Issue, Best Stories Ever!”

In this, the final installment of my  Warren Publishing Halloween spectacular, we get an all-out “best stories” issue! The issue brings some interesting stories for sure, but some similarities to comics/characters that would come later down the road from other publishers (I’m looking at you, Marvel). But when they say it’s a best of issue, they weren’t kidding. And, as a bonus, you get seven big stories in this issue rather than the usual six! All started off with a beautiful painted cover by Sanjulian!

The first story is one that shocked me quite a bit. Not really because of the content, but one of the characters has a strong resemblance to Gamora of the Guardians of the Galaxy. And just so it’s clear, this came out two years previous to Gamora’s first appearance. OK, back to the story. “A Stranger in Hell” is a mysterious one that shows a man that cannot remember his name, and is lured deeper into a realm that closely resembles Hades itself! Written by T. Casey Brennan, and art by Esteban Maroto!

The following story is entitled “Pity the Grave Digger!” It shows a gruesome tale of a graveyard full of vampires! And if that wasn’t enough, we also get something else insidious that will gnaw on you! Story by Buddy Saunders, and art by Auraleon.

The third selection is an absolutely terrifying yarn! “The Caterpillars,” is about a secret government lab, and something called Project X-3. Something rises from a grave, and later an autopsy reveals a worm was inside a skull, eating away at the victims brain! Written by Fred Ott, artwork by Luis Garcia!

Evil Spirits” gives us not only two iconic creators I’ll mention in a second, but first there’s a woman that has disturbing dreams. By the end of it, she’s swinging an axe, but at whom? Story by Archie Goodwin, art by EC legend, Johnny Craig!

In “Head Shop,” a man takes an interest in an odd dummy head. The head seems to change it’s facial expressions, and become almost psychotic! In fact, if the man keeps obsessing he might end up losing his head over it. Written by Don Glut, art by Jose Bea.

The next story is another treat because of the creative team. “Vision of Evil” is quite a yarn. This one shows us an artist that has a flare for the dramatic with his horrific paintings. There’s only one problem…they’re a bit too life-like! Written by Archie Goodwin, with art by Alex Toth!

Finally, “The Curse of Kali!” This tale involves British soldiers and a bizarre adventure in India. By stories’ end, most of the soldiers don’t make it out alive to tell the tale! Story by Archie Goodwin, with art by Angelo Torres!

This issue is a must have for any Warren mag, horror, or fan of Archie Goodwin and these fantastic artists!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spectacular Spider-Man 7 and 8, 1977 “Menace is the Man Called Morbius!”

Two enemies, that have seemingly forever been locked in combat. One, a science geek barely out of high school, that was endowed with spider-like powers due to the bite of a radioactive spider. The other is a scientist that was a victim of his own experiments, and through them turned into a vampire like creature that feeds on human blood. Spider-Man and Morbius. Both men with their own problems, and no solutions other than to do what they must. In these two issues, you get to see a fierce battle between these two, but also some interesting moments with MJ and Aunt May.

I’m not a big fan of the surprise “villain” or the deus ex machina in this one. That being said, I am a big fan of Archie Goodwin (writer/editor), and all the work he’s done over the decades. Whether it was his work for Warren Publishing, DC, or Marvel, he was always a reliable scripter. Next we have penciler Sal Buscema. Most people probably think of his run on Spectacular Spider-Man (with J.M. DeMatteis, and rightly so), but definitely seek out his work on The Defenders. His style fit that strange book perfectly. Inkers Jim Mooney (7), and Mike Esposito (8), are both a good fit for Sal’s pencils as neither takes away from them but adds their own touch. Letters on both issues were by John Costanza, and colors by Don Warfield (7) and Marie Severin (8), all add their usual talents to the books. The covers are both very good, as number seven has Dave Cockrum and Al Milgrom show the absolute ferocity of Morbius. The next issue has a young artist you should recognize in Paul Gulacy. He’s mostly heralded for his Master of Kung Fu work.

 

Devil Dinosaur #2, 1978 “Devil’s War!”

In the mid 1970’s, Marvel comics had a lot going good. The horror genre was pumping out books like crazy, the reprint era was in full swing, and the return of Jack Kirby cemented the company as the best in the business. The main man at Marvel for weird/wacky stories was undoubtedly Steve Gerber (and rightfully so, as no one can write those kind of great stories like he could), but Kirby gave him a run for his money during this era for sure! Anyway, is it even possible to not like a giant red T-Rex with a ape-like boy riding around on his back? Of course not! In this tale, Moonboy and DD run into a pack of humanoids that want to kill them, and if they don’t, the giant spider might!

Written, drawn, and edited by the king of comics, Jack Kirby! His contributions were already nothing short of legendary, but this era added some spice to the Kirby lore, and it will never be forgotten. A helping hand on inks was delivered by Mike Royer, colors by Petra Goldberg, and some editing assistance from Archie Goodwin!

 

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Black Goliath #5, 1976 “Survival!”

The 1970’s had such an eclectic selection of comic books, that looking back, you can’t deny the place it has in history. It’s understood that without the Golden Age, and Silver Age, things wouldn’t have turned out that way, but that fact doesn’t diminish the greatness of the Bronze Age! Take for instance, the title, Black Goliath. In only five issues, it gave us a superhero of color, and one that was definitely a strong character. If you look back, that was something in short supply. The scientist, Bill Foster, was an employee of Stark Industries, and later became the scientific partner of Hank Pym. In this, the final issue of the series, Foster must do battle with a giant alien savage named Mortag! And also protect two others with no superpowers!

The story is pretty good, and with someone like Chris Claremont writing, you kind of expect it after all he’s done. The artist is the terribly underrated Keith Pollard (a guy I’ve spotlighted before on my blog). He had a good run on the Fantastic Four, and Thor, and if you check out those issues, you’ll be impressed. The colorist is Bonnie Wilford, and the letterer, Irv Watanabe. The short-lived editor, but always reliable writer, Archie Goodwin rounds out the team! Oh, and let us not forget the action packed cover by the master, Gil Kane (pencils) and another Marvel stalwart of the era, Al Milgrom (inks)!

 

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Marvel Premiere #4, 1972 “The Spawn of Sligguth!”

Anyone that’s read any of my work knows I frequently salivate over certain creators, characters, and books. One of these things being Dr. Strange. Not just anything that the Doc has been in, but specifically his solo series from 1974, and his appearances in Marvel Premiere (1972). In issue #4, we see some material taken from the mind of Robert E. Howard (Conan, Kull, Red Sonja, etc.). In this adventure, the Doc has just survived a grave encounter with Nightmare, and now faces an even more vile thereat. An old friend has come calling about a problem in the New England area, and once there, Dr. Strange will meet his doom!

The creative team on this one is certainly top-notch. The story was written by “Amiable” Archie Goodwin, with the plot and editing by “Rascally” Roy Thomas. The pencils by none other than “Bashful” Barry Windsor-Smith, inks by “Far Out” Frank Brunner! Letters by John Costanza, and cover by BWS and Tom Palmer! Enjoy this classic tale from the past of Dr. Strange!

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Super-Villain Team-Up #8, 1976 “Escape!”

In my first ever purchase of this title, I’ve found that not only do I love it because of its hilarious action, but also that it has Dr. Doom, and who doesn’t love Doom? I mean, he’s the quintessential villain in the Marvel Universe. Everyone must face him at one time or another, even Squirrel Girl and Power Man had  bouts with him! Doom also had another run in a certain anthology style book from Marvel in the 1970’s, and I’ll get to that in a couple of posts or so.

For now though, marvel at the work of Steve Englehart, Keith Giffen, Owen McCarron, Irv Watanabe, and others! You’ll see the quality of work this team did, and it will leave you wanting more! Some brilliant colors in this one as well, and we have Phil Rache to thank for that. Don’t miss my favorite page, where Namor beats up an elephant! Enjoy!

 

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Captain America #203, 1976 “Alamo II”

Another day, another post! And another great one from the ‘King’! No matter how many times I see an image of Captain America drawn by Jack Kirby, it still gets me pumped up about the star-spangled Avenger! It’s true, and in this adventure, Cap is searching for Falcon and Leila Taylor. He finds them, but they don’t recognize him. We then get a brawl between Cap and Falcon, and the following pages are some more Kirby magic! One splash page in particular sticks in my head, never to leave! It shows a scene of enthralled people (including Leila and Falcon), some of them sitting on a stone wall. Just the atmosphere alone is incredible!

Throw in a cowboy (Texas Jack), a fire-breathing rock monster, and the machinations of the Inquisitor, top it all off with some Kirby crackle,  and you get more awesomeness from Kirby! This second coming for him on this title was quite refreshing, and it seems as though Kirby was really letting his creative freedoms flow right out on to the pages. Just look at these pages/panels, and I doubt you’ll disagree!

 

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Marvel Super Heroes #55, 1976. “Where Walk The Immortals”

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Today’s cover is one that initially appeared back in 1968 (Tales to Astonish #101), but in this reprint, it was in the mid 70’s. Story by Stan Lee, and pencils by Marie Severin! The inks by Frank Giacoia, and letters by Artie Simek. One story features the Hulk, as he travels across Bifrost (the rainbow bridge to Asgard), tossing Heimdall off in the process! The second tale about Prince Namor of Atlantis, was brought to us by Archie Goodwin, Gene Colan, and Dan Adkins! Imperious Rex! Cover by Jack ‘King’ Kirby! Enjoy!