Strange Tales 146, “The End at Last!”

All good things must come to an end…and so did the reign of a certain creator on this title! In this awesome story, we see Dormammu battling not only his nemesis Dr. Strange and then none other than Eternity! Dormammu laid a trap for Eternity and the Doc, but things fall apart rather quickly in this issue for the fiery-headed fiend! Before that though, we do see just how powerful Dormammu is, when he confronts Eternity, and manages to hold his own for a while!

The glorious artwork by “Sturdy” Steve Ditko in this, his last issue of Strange Tales, is absolutely marvelous. There are three full splash pages that are nothing short of brilliant, and Spider-Man aside, show his best work in a superhero book. Most know of Ditko’s abrupt departure from Marvel Comics, and how he’s the biggest recluse in comic book history (to my knowledge). I’d love for him to do just one interview to set some things straight, and not listen to all the pundits speculate about certain matters. Either way, he’s one of the best creators of the industry has ever seen, and should be lauded as such. The story is scripted by “Dandy” Denny O’Neil, colors by Stan Goldberg, and letters by Artie Simek!

The other story in the book (“When the Unliving Strike!”) features Nick Fury. The story by Stan Lee, and layouts by Jack “King” Kirby, pencils by “Dashing” Don Heck, inks by “Mirthful” Mick Demeo, and letters by Sam Rosen.

 

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X-Men King Size Special #2, 1971 “Divided We Fall!”

As the Silver Age drew to a close, the X-Men went the way of the Do-Do bird. A few scatter-shot appearances (like a good one in Marvel Team-Up #4), and, reprints! The numbering continued from the original series with nothing but reprints for quite a few years before the Wein-Cockrum-Claremont team took over. One of those books was basically an Annual, or King Size Special, in this case. The Annual reprints two issues (#22 & #23), that are a two=parter featuring Count Nefaria! And Nefaria has recruited five villains to help him in his quest to destroy the X-Men!

Following the Lee/Kirby beginning, Roy Thomas (writer) took the reigns, and with a few different artists (until his collaboration with Neal Adams) kept the train rolling for a while. Artist Werner Roth (under the pseudonym Jay Gavin), started out penciling over Kirby layouts, then moved on to taking on the job himself. The incomparable Dick Ayers was the inker, and Sam Rosen on letters! A solid cover by Marie Severin (pencils) and John Romita (inks), put the finishing touches on the book! Some great action in this issue, and even a cool scene in the Danger Room!

 

 

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Marvel Super Action #3, 1977 “The Sleeper Strikes!”

Any chance I get to grab some of Jack Kirby’s work, I don’t hesitate. I know some people are sticklers for original stuff, but I’m just fine with grabbing a fifty-cent copy of a reprint title like this one. Yeah, sometimes there are slight alterations to the covers, but typically, the interiors are the same. So, instead of trying to save up my pennies and buy a copy of Captain America #102 (1968), I’ll just look at my copy of this book (Marvel Super Action #3, 1977), and enjoy reading about the exploits of Captain America, and his fight against the Nazi weapon, the Sleeper! A guest appearance by Colonel Nick Fury, the love of Steve’s life, Sharon Carter, and the machinations of the Red Skull!

Of course, the story was scripted by Stan Lee, but the wondrous work of Jack ‘King’ Kirby is the draw. His style is perfect for a villain like the Red Skull, and the way he draws the Sleeper, is very frightening. Of course, you get the usual, brilliance with Kirby drawing Cap and the beautiful Sharon Carter (A.K.A. Agent 13), and the standard that Kirby set for that character will always be remembered! The inks are by Syd Shores, and letters by ‘Adorable’ Artie Simek.

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The Monster of Frankenstein #5, 1973 “The Monster Walks Among Us”

When I hear the name Mike Ploog, I immediately gravitate to Marvel horror from the 1970’s, as most probably do, but that is to be expected. His work in that genre is unparalleled, and most lovers of that genre might curse me for saying this, but I think he ranks right up there with the all-time greats (Wrightson, Frazetta, etc.). His run on these titles wasn’t incredibly extensive, but the impact certainly cannot be denied.

Let us take a look at the fifth issue of The Monster of Frankenstein, shall we? Just look at that cover! The Monster, a beautiful woman, the fire, boat, and roaring sea. Just an incredible piece of artwork. The splash page is almost as cool, and really shows great perspective by Ploog. His rendition of the Monster can look menacing or sorrowful, and even both at the same time. So, enjoy this peek at one of Ploog’s best issues! Written by Mike Friedrich, pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by ‘Jumbo’ John Verpoorten, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Artie Simek, and edited by Roy Thomas!

 

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Marvel Spectacular #13, 1974 “The Scourge of the Super Skrull”

Originally presented in Thor #142 (1967), this issue features Thor, accepting a challenge from a man on a motorcycle that wishes to race against him! Well, OK, that’s not the main part of the story, but it is the funniest. The story’s best parts, involved Thor fighting against the menace of the Super Skrull. This villain that regularly gives the Fantastic Four all they can handle, sets his sights on the thunder god, with a little motivation from Loki, Thor’s devious brother! There’s also a backup story “Aftermath,” and shows more of the machinations of Loki.

You get the usual magic from Kirby in this issue, but of course, the jury is still out on whether Vince Colletta did the pencils justice or not. Personally, Colletta’s inks don’t bother me as much on Thor as compared to The Fantastic Four, but to each his own. Written by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack ‘King’ Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, and letters by Artie Simek! The glory and grandeur of the mighty Thor will always be tops thanks to the king of comics!

 

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The Monster of Frankenstein #4, 1973 “Death of the Monster!”

Recently, on Mike Ploog’s Facebook page, he noted that this issue was probably his favorite. So, yeah, that’s inspiration enough for this guy to write something down, and post some scans of the awesome artwork that is Mike Ploog. In this issue, we see the Monster kill a deer, by tossing a spear at it, he also fights a native people (I think), then after making friends with them, fights alongside them against a warring local tribe. Intense fight scenes, dog-sled action, clubs, axes, spears, you name it, this one has it. In the end though, the Monster just wants to find something, and he gets a tip on where to look for a descendant of his creator!

Written by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by ‘Jumbo’ John Verpoorten, letters by Artie Simek, colors by Glynis Wein, and edited by Roy ‘the boy’ Thomas! Even if you can’t afford the singles, you can still grab the Marvel Essentials at shows and some websites. The artwork holds up great in black and white!

 

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Marvel’s Greatest Comics #49, 1974

You know, the early days of the Fantastic Four, showed that readers were yearning for a comic book with a familial aspect to it, as opposed to the regular superhero books. The great reprint series, “Marvel’s Greatest Comics“, is an incredible way to check out these classic stories individually, and not in trade. This specific issue, is a build up of sorts for the wackiness to really get into high gear in #50.

In this issue (#49, but originally presented in FF #66)) we get to see the cabal of scientists known as “The Enclave’, and we find out that they’ve kidnapped (sort of), Alicia Masters. The conversation between the characters in this issue is outrageous to say the least. Ben “clobbering” Reed, and knocking him unconscious over basically nothing other than Ben’s wallowing in self-pity…again. Sue still being treated like a second class citizen, and so on, is really crazy, and makes this book a funny read.

The artwork of course, was from Jack Kirby. And along for the ride was his trusted confidant, Joe Sinnott, the artwork just absolutely pops off of the pages. That’s why they call him the ‘King’ of comics! OK, let’s get down to business and enjoy some comic panels. Enjoy!

 

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Marvel’s Greatest Comics #64, 1976 (originally FF #82, 1969 )

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So, here’s more greatness from the mind of Jack Kirby, Joe Sinnott, and Stan Lee. You can never get enough stories about the mighty Inhumans! In this crazy tale, Maximus the Mad, has gone off the deep end again, and he captures the Inhumans, and it’s up to the Fantastic Four to stop him, and rescue the Inhumans! These issues are really excellent, and Kirby does some of his best work in them! The inks of Joe Sinnott are good as well, and he definitely should get some love for his work on the FF as well! Take a look at some of the awesome pages! Enjoy!

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As you can see, the characters are looking great as usual, but look at Lockjaw, and the prison holding the Inhumans! Only ‘King’ Kirby could make something mundane like a cage look so fantastic and incredible. Of course, you can say that about almost everything he did, but for me, the Fantastic Four issues really stand out above everything else. The Eternals are a close second, but his Fourth World, and The Demon (Etrigan) are also quite good. Not to mention his X-Men, Avengers, monsters, Captain America…oh, you get the point!

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