Conan the Barbarian 102 and 103, 1979 “The Men Who Drink Blood!”

The character Conan, created by Robert E. Howard, is one that some feel can be a little one note, but Howard and those that followed did a great job in changing the surroundings, supporting cast, and opponents for the Cimmerian brawler. Case in point, these two issues where Conan must fight a vampire and his clan of razor-toothed warriors!

At this point, Conan has lost his love, Bêlit (she died in issue #100), and he has taken up residence with the Bamula Tribe (and become their chieftain), who is at war with the Kungado Tribe. Conan and his mates are viciously attacked by another tribe, called the Drelliks. These men are, in appearance at least, vampires! It’s going to take every ounce of strength and cunning for Conan to defeat these monsters!

One of the best reasons you can find to read these stories is of course, the creative team. Roy Thomas (writer), was the man at Marvel responsible for them acquiring the rights to print these incredible stories. Marvel then made the great decision to have first Barry Windsor-Smith, then ‘Big’ John Buscema create the visuals for these incredible books. His command of anatomy, ability to convey feelings through body language, and settings. His skills as a penciller are right at the top of the all time greats. Inking this legendary man, is Ernie Chan, who was the perfect fit for Buscema’s pencils, and the work shows it. Add George Roussos on colors, and Joe Rosen on letters, and the perfect comic book series is complete! The covers are both penciled by John Buscema, with the first inked by Al Milgrom, and the second by Bob McLeod.

 

Marvel Two-in-One 51, 1979 “Full House–Dragons High!”

As the train rolls on, and Marvel Two-in-One is still at the forefront of my coconut, this issue that was a recent purchase is ready for the spotlight! Anytime you pair two superheros together, it’s a plus, but when you add several, then the odds have just increased substantially of the book catching the eye of a potential reader. Team books offer so much with all the varying personalities, potential strife, and vast array of powers, that you can’t get out of a solo book (although Doctor Strange is the best character and his ’74 series is the best of all time). In this marvelous tale, we see a few heroes gather for a night of poker, and companionship. We see Ms. Marvel, Wonder Man, The Beast, Nick Fury, Jarvis, and of course, The Thing (also a minor character named Blake Tower, a District Attorney from the pages of Daredevil). Good action issue, but honestly, it’s all about the personal interactions between the heroes during some “down time.”

Peter Gillis is a name I know from the pages of Doctor Strange. He wrote a few stories in that mag, and did a fine job. In this book, he does an excellent job of weaving the action in with the quiet moments of the book. Also adding some great banter between the heroes as they spring into action! The art team of Frank Miller (pencils) and Bob McLeod (inks), really bring their “A” game on this book! One page in particular shows the heroes in shadow, in a smoke-filled room playing cards that is outstanding. No Bronze Age book would be complete without the letters of Tom Orzechowski and colors of Glynis Wein! And if that wasn’t enough, you get the legendary Roger Stern (another great name who has also written some very good Doc Strange stories!) as editor! And, last  but not least, you get a bonus as George Pérez and Joe Sinnott give us this fabulous cover!

 

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Spider-Woman #10, 1979 “Where Flies the Gypsy Moth”

I knew I’d get to this sooner or later. My one and only issue of the series “Spider-Woman.” I wasn’t a big fan of hers years ago, but when Brian M. Bendis brought her back into the spotlight, I was invigorated to find out more about this great character! In this issue, we see Jessica and her boyfriend, Jerry Hunt, spending some alone time on a beach. Suddenly, Jessica sees a woman in costume flying overhead! She investigates, and initially thinks she found a kindred spirit.

Characters are great, but a solid creative team can take a terrible one and turn in a masterpiece when all’s said and done. The first thing that jumps out at you is the awesome cover, by Carmine Infantino and Bob McLeod! Great perspective, and I love the face on the blond-haired guy to the right side of the cover!  As if those two great creators weren’t enough, you get a story by “Masterful” Mark Gruenwald, the interior pencils are also by Carmine Infantino, with inks by Al Gordon. Colors by F. Mouly, letters by Irv Watanabe, and edited by Roger Stern! When you see a roll call like that, you know you must read this book!

 

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The Avengers #197 & 198, 1980.

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After listening to a podcast (Comic Geek Speak), I was inspired to use The Avengers, for today’s post! Just not any story though, but one that I recently acquired online, and it’s a great one! We have issue #197, which is basically, a day in the life of The Avengers. This book shows the team getting stuck in their own elevator, Beast and Wonder Man on a blind date, and then Jarvis with a really bad dilemma…the percolator is broken! Seriously though, we also see Wanda, as she’s left the team, and her husband (Vision), because she needs some time to process the life they are going to have together, and the possibility of raising a family. She’s walking on the beach, and then, suddenly, Ms. Marvel pops up for a visit. Wanda and Ms. Marvel have a nice chat, but then Ms. Marvel faints right on the beach! Wanda takes her to the nearest hospital, and the both get some alarming news. Ms. Marvel is three months pregnant!

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The following issue shows Wanda and Ms. Marvel at the hospital, trying to cope with this untimely news. Back in New York City, the team is throwing everything it can at the super robot, Red Ronin. The giant mechanical samurai is terrorizing the city, but really, wants to head out to Russia, to start world war three! But why? Well, you see, the person responsible for its reconstruction (Dr. Cowan), has gone off the deep end, and is hell-bent on stopping world fear, but simply killing the “enemy”.  Finally, after hours of fighting, The Avengers and SHIELD finally figure out a way to stop the giant robot, or so they think!

This story concludes in the next issue (Red Ronin), but the terrible fate of Ms. Marvel isn’t revealed until issue two hundred. I wont even try to explain that debacle, but believe me, it’s insane. These two issues are great though, as you get George Perez on covers, and the interiors (below is a good splash page of Beast and Wonder Man, half in the bag) of the second issue. David Michelinie does a great job with the different plot lines going at the same time as well. Ms. Marvel actually revels her secret identity to Wanda, we find out what Hawkeye has been up to, and all of this leads into the crazy anniversary issue. If you don’t know about it, just do a quick Google search, you can find it easily.

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That’s all for now, but be ready for another post on Monday, and hopefully another movie review on Cinema Sunday! The idea is for me to post every three days with a comic book spotlight, and once a week (Sunday) for a movie review. Honestly, I can’t say it’ll happen every week like clockwork, but I’m going to do my best! I’m already brainstorming about February, as I think I’ll be going with a weekly theme for my posts, so be ready! Sayonara!

Marvel Fanfare #3, 1982. “Into the Land of Death”

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There are lots of names that pop into my head when I think of this title, but the first arc (4 issues), definitely stands out in my head. Why? Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum, that’s why! Just look at this awesome cover, and the interior art is just as incredible. The story by Claremont is also one for the ages, but don’t take my word for it, get out there and either buy the single issues or the trade paperback! The X-Men, Spider-Man, Ka-Zar, and Sauron, all fighting it out in the Savage Land! Enjoy!