Ghost Rider 8, 1974 “The Devil’s Disciple!”

Back in the Bronze Age, the Ghost Rider was packed full of devilish ideas, and it was certainly a sign of the times. Many books featured cults, devils, and all sorts of satanic shenanigans. From the beginning of Ghost Rider’s days in comics, he was wrapped in these themes, and for the most part still is now. There have been different iterations but in the end, the character can’t get away from that aspect of his origin.

This particular issue features not only the flame-headed, motorcycle riding man/ghost himself, Johnny Blaze, but a new villain named Inferno, and the coup de grâce, Satan himself! For a very long time there was an unwritten rule at Marvel that God and Satan (post Comics Code Authority) were off-limits to comic books. On a few different occasions, Marvel tried to explain away any appearances by Satan, in saying it wasn’t really “Satan” but some other lesser demon masquerading as the infernal devil. Why they felt the need to back-peddle or avoid the situation totally, I can’t be certain (because nothing makes sense since we’re talking about fictitious characters in comic books, but again, probably the Code), but certainly in years to come things would change. There is a story that the writer (Tony Isabella) tells about how he wanted to eventually name a character he created in this series as being God/Jesus, but an editor changed the story before it was printed. Not the first time we’ve heard of this going on, and I’m sure not the last.

The story was written by Tony Isabella, who went on to create characters like Black Goliath, and Black Lightning (for DC comics). The art team consisted of Jim Mooney (pencils), and Sal Trapani (inks), both of whom were seasoned artists by this time period. Since the Golden Age, Mooney and Trapani worked steadily in comics. Mooney most notably for DC comics on Supergirl, and Trapani for his inking during this very time period (plus his work for Dell comics earlier). Phil Rachelson was the colorist, and John Costanza the letterer. Again , two names most know from their consistent work in this time period. The book was edited by Roy Thomas. The magnificent cover is by the legendary Gil Kane (pencils) and (long time inker/artist) Dan Adkins!

 

 

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Doctor Strange Master of the Mystic Arts!

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).

 

Fantasy Masterpieces #14, 1980 (originally SS #14, 1970) “The Surfer and The Spider!”

Getting two superheroes to fight is usually an interesting trope, but sometimes it does border on the ludicrous. This one lies somewhere in the middle, so fasten your seat-belt. Spidey and the Surfer haven’t had a lot of contact, so the times they do meet are kind of cool. The story really revolves around a boy that’s enthralled by comic books, and heroes such as these two. He gets a little too close to the action though, and winds up nearly being killed! Don’t worry, Spidey and the Surfer have enough time even with fighting to save the youth!

The glorious days of Marvel in the late Silver/early Bronze Age is undeniable. The work that Stan “The Man” Lee (writer) and “Big” John Buscema (pencils) put in on this title is awesome. Dan Adkins did a great job inking this story, and Sam Rosen with the letters as well.  The grandeur of the Silver Surfer was never on better display than in this series! Just an FYI: You also get an issue of Warlock (#11), that is also a fantastic read (Kudos to Jim Starlin, Steve Leialoha, and Tom Orzechowski)!

 

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Giant-Size Dr. Strange #1, 1975 “This Dream…This Doom!”

For some, reprints are of no interest. But, for those without deep pockets or a life expectancy of 175, they are a welcomed addition to a collection. One example for sure, is the work on Strange Tales by Steve Ditko. Those issues are tough to find intact at a decent price. Thanks to Marvel’s Essentials, though, I solved that problem. After Ditko left the title (and Marvel), there was a cavalcade of creators thrown on the title. Not a lack of effort or good content, just not a lot of continuity throughout. The one and only annual for the series (the 1974 series), was a bunch of reprints from the era just after Ditko left the book. You do get some cool stories of the Doc fighting monsters, a mad scientist, and his killer robot!

The issues in this annual are mostly written by Jim Lawrence (script on all but the last), a man I know very little about, to be honest. After searching his name, I saw that he did some James Bond strips, and a few things for Marvel in the 1970’s. Not bad scripts, but not up to the standard set forth by the other headliners of the times. Dan Adkins (pencils, inks on one chapter, and plots) gave us some solid pencils, and inked one issue that George Tuska filled in for him as well. The last two stories were written by Denny O’Neil, and we all know about his writing chops (Batman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Amazing Spider-Man, etc.)! As if all these names were not enough, you still get that awesome cover by none other than Gil Kane!

 

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Daredevil #132, 1976 “No Matter What Happens—BULLSEYE Rules Supreme!”

This issue is one of the oldest issues of Daredevil that I own. It’s also the second appearance of Bullseye! The first appearance showed Bullseye giving old horn-head a butt whoopin’! But, in this issue, we see Matt get some revenge, and put this crazy villain in his place! At a circus, no less! Back then, Bullseye wasn’t quite as homicidal as he’s portrayed later on by Frank Miller, and other writers, but he certainly wanted to kill Daredevil! In this issue we see everything, from Bullseye riding an elephant (yes, seriously!), and then him shooting another man out of a canon at DD! Created by Marv Wolfman (writer) and Bob Brown (pencils), Bullseye brought something new to the table, and obviously he’s been a mainstay in the Marvel Universe ever since! Inks by Klaus Janson, colors by Michele Wolfman, and letters by Joe Rosen! Great cover as well, and we have Rich Buckler and Dan Adkins for that one! On Friday the 13th, is there anything more frightening than Bullseye riding an elephant? I think not! Enjoy!   Image (30) Image (33) Image (37) Image (34) Image (35) Image (36)

Fantasy Masterpieces #10, 1980 “A World He Never Made”

This issue is my first grab of this title, and I can’t wait to get my hands on more of them! When you see the wondrous world that ‘Big’ John Buscema creates just in the first couple of pages, you’ll be awestruck. He can really make you believe that you’ve exited your body, and entered another world. His uncanny ability to capture characters, especially when they’re in an emotional distress, coupled with his great use of anatomy, is what made him so very special.

In this story, the Surfer is trying to further understand the human race, and that’s something that has proved most difficult for him since his former master, Galactus, banished him to Earth. After witnessing a cop trying to help a suicide attempt on a bridge, the Surfer dresses up like Dick Tracy to “blend in’, and assess mankind down among the people! He hangs out in South America for a while, but realizes that a militaristic group has taken control of the area, and will kill anything they deem untrustworthy. In a subplot, out in space (but nearing Earth), the beloved of the Silver Surfer, the beautiful Shalla Bal, is a passenger aboard the ship of Yarro Gort, and he means to embarrass the Surfer, and take Shalla Bal for his own!

A good story with powerful art! Buscema was such a master at anatomy, and facial expressions specifically. He really knew how to get everything out of a character in pain, or that was suffering. The back-up story is one I own in a couple of different formats, but it’s still very cool. Jim  Starlin gives us “The Terrible Trial of Adam Warlock” (Strange Tales #180, 1975), and the whole cast is here for the ride! Pip the Troll, Gamora, and the Universal Church of Truth! Other creators include – Dan Adkins (inker – SS story), Sam Rosen (letters – SS story), Stan Lee (writer – SS story), Tom Orzechowski (letters – Warlock story), Alan Weiss (inker), Len Wein (editor), and Danny Fingeroth (reprint editor)!

 

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Marvel’s Unsung Heroes! -Dan Adkins!

If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a HUGE fan of Dr. Strange, and of course, love most of the artists that have drawn him over the years. One of the guys that has drawn him once in a while, but never seems to get any mention, is Dan Adkins (RIP). This guy did a lot of inking work in comics, but not a ton of work for Marvel specifically. That said, I believe he deserves to be applauded for his work in the Marvel Universe!

Dan passed away in 2013 unfortunately, but his great pencils and inks live on in the back issue bins! So get ready, and strap on your seat belt, because it’s going to be a trippy ride! From Dr. Strange to Ka-Zar, the next few images will blow your mind!

 

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The Defenders #34, 1976. “He’s Back! Nebulon, The Celestial Man”

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Being a huge fan of Dr. Strange, this title is obviously on my radar. The issues written by the eccentric Steve Gerber, were crazy, but so good. In this particular issue, a powerful enemy, Nebulon, has returned, and it’s up to the Doc, Hulk, and Valkyrie to take him down! Written by Steve Gerber, art by Sal Buscema & Jim Mooney, and letters by Irv Watanabe, and colors by Irene Vartanoff! And what an awesome cover by Rich Buckler & Dan Adkins! Enjoy!

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!