As we march forward to another season of Marvel movies (Black Panther is here, and The Avengers in May, followed by Ant-Man and Wasp), it’s a good time to put the spotlight on my favorite sorcerer, Dr. Strange! It seems he’ll be quite a big part of The Avengers film (and hopefully others!), and you never know what time period of the comics the creative team will pluck ideas from to insert in the films. One thing is for sure, in the late 1960s, Marvel released volume one of the good Doctor’s stand-alone series (after Strange Tales concluded), and it was fantastic!
Roy Thomas (writer) had already been at Marvel for a couple of years, and proved himself on the X-Men, The Avengers, and so on. His work here is just as powerful as it was on those titles. Artistically, the first few issues were drawn by Dan Adkins. Not a household name for those on the outside looking in at comics, but for those on the inside, he’s known as an excellent artist. He was then followed by Gene “The Dean” Colan (pencils) and Tom Palmer (inks)! These two gentlemen would go on to do many great issues together on several different titles (most notably The Tomb of Dracula).
After a short break from posting (due to that absurdity called “work”), I’m back with a look at one of my favorite books of all time! Yes, and even though it’s a reprint, it still holds a huge place in my reading trophy case because it shows the formation of my second favorite team, The Defenders! To help pump up readers for the new series that came out that year (2012), Marvel reissued some of the classics that showed what an awesome team The Defenders were! The story shows how Dr. Strange faced an almost impossible situation, and called upon Namor and The Hulk to help him combat it (he actually peered in on the Silver Surfer, but he was knocked unconscious).
From the mind of Roy Thomas (writer), we get the beginnings of a most unusual, but also incredible teams in Marvel comics. Once the tam got their own title, and Steve Gerber began writing, it really went to another level. For now though, Thomas delivered the goods, as he just about always did in his career. The penciling chores were handled by two masters, in Ross Andru and Don Heck (Heck did the backup story in issue 1 of Marvel Feature, showing us the return of Dr. Strange, Andru penciled the rest). As if those two giants weren’t enough, you get inks by Bill Everett, Frank Giacoia, and Sal Buscema! Letters by Sam Rosen and Artie Simek, and edited of course, by Stan Lee (cover by Neal Adams).
When you get the opportunity to grab comics at a steep discount, you’ve got to take advantage. When it’s a number one issue, you pounce! Granted, this comic book is a reprint title, but still, it’s a good one! Anytime you get to see some of these classics, you gotta bite, especially when it starts off with a werewolf story! Killer robots, a witch, and a final tale of madness!
The cover is absolutely fantastic, and we have the incomparable Bill Everett to thank for it. His story is a sad one, being one of the greats that died before his time. The werewolf story has work by John Romita (art)(original stories by Stan Lee). It’s quite a bit different from what most will remember his work on in titles like Amazing Spider-Man, but still very cool. The second tale is by Vic Carabotta (pencils) and Jack Abel (inks). The latter gentleman’s work I know from various titles, but Carabotta is someone I don’t know much about. The third installment is one that offers a more familiar team, in Lee, Jack Kirby (pencils), and Dick Ayers (inks). If you’ve never seen Kirby’s horror stuff, you owe it to yourself to get out there and investigate. Finally, we have Joe Sinnott (pencils and inks). From what’s said, he’s one of the nicest guys in the industry, and one that one day soon hopefully, I’ll get the chance to meet!
After just purchasing this book recently (Baltimore Comic Con 2014), I felt compelled to spotlight this great book! These types of books have always caught my eye, and will always get my money, as well. When you have great characters like Namor and Dr. Doom in a book, it’s difficult to not have a good story, or at least enough crazy action and declarative statements on every other panel! Let’s face it, Doom and Namor have enough hot air between the two of them to float a balloon across the planet. But, that’s why we love them, isn’t it?
As if dealing with Doom isn’t bad enough, Namor must contend with his perennial foes Attuma and Tiger Shark as well! There’s also a third person to contend with too, as Dr. Dorcas is in the mix…wow, what a name for a villain. The story is broken into two “chapters”, with a different set of artists on the second half, but you can’t go wrong with either team to be honest. Written by Tony Isabella, pencils (chapter one) by George Tuska & Bill Everett, inks by Fed Kida, colors by I. Vartanoff, and letters by I. Watanabe. The second chapter was penciled by George Evans, and inked by Frank Springer, and the rest of the same crew from the first chapter to round out the rest of the team! There are some fantastic splash pages in this book, so get ready to be aroused!
Prince Namor of Atlantis was never a character that was one of my favorites. Oh, I like the character more than I dislike him, but he just never impressed me unless he was part of a team (like the Avengers). I recently grabbed a couple of back issues of Subby, and really enjoyed them. Now, granted, the writer is the awesome Steve Gerber (RIP), with art by Don Heck (RIP) (pencils), and Don Perlin (inks), so that really raised the level of the content in my opinion. You also get perennial favorites Glynis Wein on colors, and Artie Simek providing letters (and Roy Thomas editing). Again, characters are great, but the creative force behind them is what really matters.
A story involving Subby fighting racial inequality (basically), is the plot, with undersea friends and foes galore. Heck and Perlin make a great team, and you’ll agree when you see the pages below. Namor is his royal, condescending self, while the ocean backgrounds look fabulous. A quick cameo by Namorita, Namor in chains, and at the mercy of a WOMAN, nonetheless! There is also a back-up story from Gerber featuring artwork by Howard Chaykin and Joe Sinnott! And what a fantastic cover by the team of Rich Buckler and Bill Everett (RIP)!
On the very first page of this book, we get to see a quote from H.P. Lovecraft, and also, some spectacular work from Gene Colan there and throughout the entire book. Back in the late 1960’s, Colan and Thomas had something very special brewing together with this title, and that would lead to a regular series that lasted for over eighty issues, starring Dr. Strange! Check out this final issue of that amazing series (Thomas & Colan) from those two great creators! Cover by Gene Colan and Bill Everett! Enjoy!