Journey into Mystery 7, 1973 “The Scorpion Strikes!”

When I was a kid, I watched an episode of Jonny Quest, and it was super cool! There was a mad scientist that grew ordinary animals into behemoths! A crab, a spider, and a lizard, all grew to enormous size, and went crazy, killing on site. The lead story in this awesome book definitely has some similarities which makes me think the writers of that show were fans of comic books! A giant, mutated scorpion, a man who gets shrunken down to the size of a mouse (and subsequently terrorized by his own cat!), and an alien with a special chair! These three tales are perfect reading for the holiday or anytime!

The first two stories are just further proof that Jack “King” Kirby is a master of all genres. There’s nothing the man couldn’t do with a pencil. He did the penciling on the first two stories, with inks by Paul Reinman, and Dick Ayers, respectively (Ayers inked the cover over Kirby pencils as well). Both of those latter names were abundant during the Golden and Atom Ages (Silver Age as well), and rightly so, as they contributed heavily. The final story is by “Sturdy” Steve Ditko. His style fits perfectly for the story, and proves his mastery of weird, fantasy tales (plot/scripts credits to Stan Lee and possibly Larry Lieber as well)!

 

 

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Monsters on the Prowl 29, 1974 ” A Monster at My Window!”

Watch out, here come more monsters! Yes, another post for the holiday, that revolves around some of the monsters from the pre-Marvel days. Believe me when I say that this one is solid! A giant alien monster that is the first to come to Earth to scout out the planet…or is he? Another tale that involves a sea monster terrorizing a ship at sea! The third installment is one that presents an alien that disguises himself as a human to study them. He finds out that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Finally, we get a joker that likes to play pranks on people, and sometimes hurting more than just their feelings. He himself finds out in the end that karma comes back at you in a hard way!

These stories have an edge over others, in that they have such powerhouse art talent behind them that even if the story is mundane, the artwork carries them through. The work of Jack “King” Kirby (cover and interior pencils to story one- Dick Ayers inked the cover) has been documented by many, and I could go on all day about how great it is, but if you don’t own much of his work, you need to remedy that now. “Joltin'” Joe Sinnott is mostly known for being an outstanding inker, but in this book, you get to see him flex his muscles with pencils and inks on one story! The man named Bill Walton isn’t one that’s familiar to me, but he does do a great job on the story in this particular issue. Last but certainly not least, is Steve Ditko. His weird and creepy work is one of legend, and elevates him to a pretty high status in the sci-fi/horror category. Of course, everyone knows him from Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, but dig deeper, and enjoy the treasures that you will find!

 

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Beware 1, 1973 “The Werewolf was Afraid!”

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!

 

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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 Adventures #1, 1975 “The Tri-Man Lives!”

I’ll be honest, Daredevil isn’t one of my favorite characters. I don’t dislike him, but he just doesn’t get me aroused. There are a couple of aspects about his life that I do like (his terrible love life, his relationship with Foggy), but overall, I find him slightly dull. There is always one reason to check out some DD though, and that’s because of Gene Colan. He was the first consistent artist on the book, lending his pencils to over 80 issues of that title (the 1964 original run). He penciled one of the most socially significant stories of the decade in Daredevil #47, “Brother Take My Hand.” In this reprint book we see issue #22 shown again. The story centers around three villains, the Tri-Man, The Gladiator, and The Masked Marauder! Now, granted these guys aren’t the cream of the crop in the villain category, but Colan makes them look very menacing!

At this point, DD was still in his infancy, so Stan Lee was writing the book (as he was contributing to most scripts back then (1966). Initially, the book had a couple of different legendary artist (Bill Everett, Wally Wood), but it wasn’t until Gene “The Dean” Colan took over on the book that it had the great consistency it lacked. The inks in this one were provided by two men that were absolute stalwarts in the Silver and Bronze Ages. “Fearless” Frank Giacoia and “Darlin'” Dick Ayers, were both excellent inkers that are legends in the industry. The colors were provided by Stan Goldberg, and letters by Sam Rosen.

 

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SGT. Fury #98, 1972 “Dugan’s Deadly Dozen!”

With Memorial Day in the rear-view mirror just slightly, I thought it would be cool to spotlight one of Marvel’s military comics from back in the day. None was better than the always entertaining, Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos!  This rag-tag group was always either kicking butt or making with the wise comments. Never a dull moment! In this tale, Fury is laid up, so Dugan must take charge, and whip these new guys into shape! A new class of recruits that are less than desirable need to be trained and it’s up to Dum Dum Dugan to do it! Also look for a special appearance by Nick Fury and Happy Sawyer!

This title always had great creators on it. From Roy Thomas, to Jack Kirby, and more. This issue however, is presented by the incredible team of Gary Friedrich (writer), Dick Ayers (pencils), Mike Esposito (inks), Artie Simek (letters), and John Severin (cover)! These fine creators did a copious amount of work on this title, and they really made it their own for a time. Well, sit back and relax, because this one is a real treat! Just look at the fantastic work by Ayers and Esposito!

 

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Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #121, 1974

As we can still see Veterans Day (Remembrance Day also) in our rear-view mirror, I thought it would be cool to throw out a military comic, in honor of all those who have served. What better way to celebrate, than to spotlight Nick Fury and his band of brothers! If you like military comics, this is the one for you. Fury, by himself is a great character, but when you throw in the other commandos, you get a wild bunch that is very entertaining. Whether it’s Dum Dum Dugan, Pinky Pinkerton, or Gabe Jones, you get a fantastic mix of personalities in this book for sure!

In this reprint of Sgt. Fury #19 (1965), we get a solid story from Stan Lee, wonderful pencils by Dick Ayers (RIP), inks by Frank Ray (Giacoia), and letters by Sam Rosen! The original cover was by Jack ‘King’ Kirby, but this one looks to have been touched up by someone else. Dugan looks like Frank Robbins work to me personally, but take that with a grain of salt, because I’m not very good at recognizing art styles. Well, anyways, take a look at some of the finest war comics the back issue bins has to offer!

 

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A Chamber of Chills Ensemble!

After being thoroughly exhausted from a weekend trip and now work, I’m playing catch-up now! Instead of posting about a single issue, I thought I’d just post a good-sized helping of a horror title to whet your appetites, and get you in the Halloween mood! The title “Chamber of Chills,” has always been one that I thought had good content, with either new stories or reprinted material from the Atlas Era. The first few issues featured new material from names like Thomas, Brunner, Russell, and so forth, but eventually the book went with just all reprint stories. Not that it was a bad thing mind you, because then you got to see work by greats like Heck, Ayers, Ditko, and early Perlin, as well!

These men were masters, one and all, and the legacy they’ve left for toady’s creators to follow is nothing short of extraordinary. Some are still with us, sadly others are not,  but their incredible contributions live on in the pages of comic books just like the issues I’m about to showcase! Sit back, and relax, because you’re about to go on a journey into a very scary and chilling place!

 

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Where Monsters Dwell #2, 1970. “I Created Sporr, The Thing That Could Not Die”

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You know, whenever you can grab some Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers awesomeness, you need to take advantage, because gems like this aren’t stacked by the dozen everywhere. I just bought this book today at a local convention (Lehigh Valley Comic Con) for fifty cents! That’s right, half a buck for one of the best artists of all time! This is one of the fabulous reprint titles that are starting to creep up in price, so I grabbed it quick! Enjoy!