Ghost Rider 42, 1980 “The Lonesome Death of Johnny Blaze”

I’ve read a couple of good chunks of Ghost Rider (volume one), and a scant few issues of the other series throughout the years. Nothing resonates with me except the earlier stuff with Johnny Blaze. Why? I don’t know, but I can tell you that the earlier work not only dealt with the horror genre but also the biker gang phase of culture in the 1970’s as well. It may be the mystery that was so exhilarating, coupled with the horror angle, but whatever it was, it sticks with you. The very early work was tied in with Daimon Hellstrom (the Son of Satan), which also added a really cool vibe to the character. This issue (I showcased the previous one here) has Johnny still an amnesiac, and fawning over a girl named Gina. There usually was a girl who would pop up now and again, to try the romance angle, but most of them were flat compared to Roxanne Simpson.

The name Michael Fleisher (writer) isn’t one that is tossed around everyday. He had a pretty good run on this title ( as well as Conan, House of Mystery, and House of Secrets), but mostly fill-ins and such. Don Perlin (pencils and inks) is a man who I admire. Another name that’s usually lost among the titans, but one that everyone should know. Anyone that frequents my blog knows him name though! Diana Albers (letters) and Ben Sean (colors), round out the creative team. Not to be forgotten are the two Bob’s! Bob Budiansky (pencils) and Bob Wiacek (inks) gave us this cool cover!

 

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Werewolf by Night #17, 1974 “The Behemoth!”

Everyone likes certain comics for a specific reason. The story, the artwork, the characters, and so on. Sometimes it’s as simple as a splash page, as is the case for me and this issue. I enjoy this title from beginning to end, no matter who the creative team happens to be on any particular issue. The work by Mike Ploog is obviously incredible, but by this time, he’d bowed out, and others took the reigns. Speaking of the reigns, in this particular issue, we see Jack and his handler/friend/lover, Topaz, as they’ve bitten off a bit more than they can chew with Baron Thunder! Not only is he the head of the secret group known only as “The Committee,” but he has a new ally on his side and completely under his command—The Behemoth!

Of course people have their favorites when it comes to creators, but I love a few characters so much, I can enjoy them almost all the time, no matter who is behind the steering wheel. It was only four issues long, but “Mischievous” Mike Friedrich (writer) kept the book moving forward. He’s one of those guys that gets lost among the giants of the era, but he certainly did a fine job. The artwork was by veteran “Dapper” Don Perlin (pencils and inks). I’ve always admired his work and when I look deep, I see a man who gave everything he had to an industry that didn’t always treat its creators fairly. Two more of my favorite creators in “Titanic” Tom Orzechowski (letters) and “Genuine” George Roussos (colors) round out the solid team that gave us this eerie read! A book needs a cover, and if you’re going to do it right, get Gil “Sugar” Kane and “Fearless” Frank Giacoia for the job!

 

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Marvel Premiere #5, 1972 “The Lurker in the Labyrinth”

Continuing with more of the Doctor Strange run in Marvel Premiere, this story is a continuation from the last, and shows the Doc fighting for his life against some crazy cult that has people looking like the Sleestak’s from Land of the Lost! These worshipers of evil also can apparently summon an unseen force to stop people, and even severely weaken the Sorcerer Supreme himself. So, in short, the Doc must overcome a lizard-like entity, his hundreds of hypnotized followers, and restore the town to its peaceful regularity, and oh yeah, all without hurting/killing any of the people who are enthralled! Yeesh!

This magnificent story, like the last issue, is loosely based off of a story by the legend himself, Robert E. Howard. The book’s creative team is nothing short of groovy as well! Writer extraordinaire, Gardner Fox, did very little work for Marvel Comics, but his overall contributions to the comic book industry are nothing short of Herculean. The pencils for this issue are by a man I’m not too familiar with (I’ve seen a couple of pages of his works in reprints of Golden/Silver Age horror/sci-fi stuff), but Irv Wesley (Sam Kweskin) did a fine job. One of the reasons I feel the artwork looks as good as it does, is from the inks of Don Perlin! I’m a big fan of his work, and you should be too! Rounding out the creative team is letter Sam Rosen, and editor Roy Thomas! Oh, and let us not forget the unbelievable cover by the one and only Mike Ploog!

 

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Ghost Rider #41, 1979 “The Freight Train to Oblivion”

I love Johnny Blaze! No, not the “Nicholas Cage I’m doing my Elvis impersonation” guy, but the stunt biker with an attitude that laughs in the face of danger! Listen, if all you know about Ghost Rider is from that craptastic movie, then get out and grab some old issues or Essentials of old flame-head! His early stuff is definitely solid material and when you have good creators like this title typically did, you get good results! In this story, we see Johnny get knocked out, lose his memory, and fall for a hot little lady that drives a race-car!

The writer, Michael Fleisher, had a decent run on this title. he had the pleasure to work with great artists like Don Perlin (pencils & inks). These two guys had a solid run, and really took the character in some interesting directions. Add letterer Clement Robins, colorist Ben Sean, and editor Roger Stern, and you have a great combination! Don’t forget the cool cover by Bob Budiansky and Bob Wiacek! And if all that wasn’t enough, you get a guest appearance by Laurel and Hardy!

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Man-Thing #4, 1980 “Death-Knell”

My love for Manny is documented, and of course, as most people agree, the first volume was better than the second. Mostly because of Steve Gerber and Mike Ploog, and obviously those two gentlemen had an incredible grasp on the character that was difficult to follow. I will admit though, that Chris Claremont and Don Perlin also seemed to be able to relay the silent emotions of the character quite well. In this story, Doc Strange travels to the swamps of Florida, and runs into Manny. For some unknown reason, his magicks are not working on the muck monster, and this spells trouble for Steven!

I know there is a lot of love out there for Swamp Thing, especially the Alan Moore stuff, and rightly so, but definitely give Manny a chance. The Gerber stuff is outstanding, and this second volume is very underrated, and deserves a shot! Written by Mister X-Men himself, Chris Claremont, pencils by Dandy Don Perlin, inks by Bob Wiacek, colors by Ben Sean, letters by John Costanza, and edited by Denny O’Neil (cover by Bob Wiacek)!

 

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Werewolf by Night #36, 1975 “Images of Death”

It’s time once again, to bark at the moon! Another tale in the twisted life of Jack Russell is upon us, and this time, we’ll see a beheading, a hanging, skeletons, rats, and a squad of ghost cops! Well, and just to be clear, we’ll see a werewolf as well! I love necromancer type characters, and virtually all magic practitioners in comic books. Why this is, I have no idea, but the sorcerer supreme, Doctor Strange is my all-time favorite. The villain in this story, is a man named Belaric Marcosa. The dude wasn’t around very long, but he was a great villain for Werewolf by Night. And besides, the dude was so cool, he had two rubies imbedded in his two front teeth!

The awesome villain was created by Doug Moench, and Don Perlin. These two guys (especially Perlin) get very little credit for their work on this title, but if you really take a long look at their run, it’s chocked full of weirdo characters that made this book so good. Don’t just forsake everything past the early issues, because if you do, you will be doing a disservice to yourself! Written by Doug Moench, art by Don Perlin, colors by George Roussos, letters by Debra James, and edited by Marv Wolfman! Enjoy!

 

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War is Hell #12, 1975 “My Love Must Die”

Truthfully, I’ve only read two issues of this series (War is Hell), but both were excellent. I don’t fully understand what the book and character are all about, but I do know that John Kowalski was a member of the U.S. Army, and was killed in action. He then becomes sort of a ghost that can possess people, and cause all sorts of havoc. I also read an issue of Man-Thing #10 (vol. 2), where he seemed to be alive again, but have other mysterious powers. I need to investigate this book/character more, so I guess it’s to the back issue bins for me!

Honestly, when you see the credits for this book, it’s not difficult to just grab it, knowing it will be at least OK, if not good. The story is by Chris Claremont, and he can write just about any kind of genre. The pencils are by Don Perlin, the inks by Dave Hunt (both are criminally underrated), with colors by Janice Cohen, and letters by Joe Rosen (edited by Len Wein). With a team like that, you know the work will be solid, and this issue certainly is a good one! Enjoy!

 

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Werewolf by Night #12, 1973 “Cry Monster”

It’s time for some werewolf action! There are very few books that can hang with Werewolf by Night (vol. 1) in the all-time greats of horror comics from the 1970’s (The Tomb of Dracula being the best). This title started out with some fantastic creators on it. The names Ploog, Conway, Wolfman, Kane, and others, brought this character to life and gave him a world to play in, and share with other great characters from the Marvel Universe, as well.  Later (issue #20 or so), you had a different creative team take the reins, and put a spin on the book that was unexpected, but was a ton of fun! That team was Doug Moench and Don Perlin! This issue was a battle between the Werewolf by Night, Jack Russell, and a strange nemesis called “The Hangman.” This kooky guy is all sorts of crazy, and believe it or not, he’s crazy enough to keep the werewolf at bay for a while!

The creative team on this one was nothing short of spectacular. You get ‘Marvelous’ Marv Wolfman writing, Pencils by the great Gil Kane (RIP), inks by the underrated Don Perlin, Mr. Tom Orzechowski lettering, and Linda Lessmann on colors! Of course, we have Roy ‘The Boy’ Thomas editing, as was the norm in the early 1970’s. Sometimes I wonder how some of these creators from that era had time to sleep! Check out this incredible cover by John Romita! Well, without further interruption, let’s take a look at some Werewolf by Night! (Insert crazy howl here)! Enjoy!

 

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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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Marvel Team-Up #93, 1980 “Rags to Riches”

You can try to contain him, but you cannot even hope to stop the Tatterdemalion! Sorry for giving away the villain…as if the cover already didn’t! There were many goofy or one-off villains from the Silver and Bronze Ages, but there’s no doubt that one of my favorites is this guy! Created by the artistic genius of Tom Sutton (RIP), and Gerry Conway, this quirky character didn’t make many appearances, but when he did, it was hilarious! You cannot help but laugh, when a character’s profile page has statements like this in it…”He is an expert tap dancer, and a highly proficient bottle-cap collector” or my favorite…”He wears a long scarf, which is tipped with lead weights, as a weapon” or the coup de grâce…”Due to his lack of proper hygiene habits, the Tatterdemalion emits a harsh offensive odor at all times.” Folks, when you have abilities/powers like that, everyone fears you.

The story was written by Steven Grant, and although I don’t own many stories written by him, I do know that he’s a capable writer that also wrote some good Avengers stories back in the 1970’s/80’s. The pencils are by the exceptional Tom Sutton and the late, great Carmine Infantino, and I love Sutton’s pencils on Dr. Strange from the Bronze Age, as well as his inks on many other books. Speaking of inks, the incomparable Jim Mooney (RIP), inked this issue, and you get the consistency he always brought to the game! Colors by Ben Sean, letters by Rick Parker, and edited by Denny O’Neil! The awesome cover is by Don Perlin and Al Milgrom! Spider-Man, Werewolf by Night, “Cat’s Jazz Club”, and the Tatterdemalion…what else could be asked for in a comic book?

 

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