Monsters Unleashed 4, 1973

Slowly but surely I’m making the effort to collect all of Marvel’s magazines from the 1970s. They’re getting steep in price overall, but if you look closely, you can usually find them here or there in decent shape for a bargain. When I saw the chance to pick up this issue for a reasonable price, I grabbed it immediately. A cover with a werewolf, and advertising the Frankenstein Monster is awesome, and high on my buy list for sure.

In this awesome mag, you get a great little one page story inside the front cover by Tony “The Tiger” Isabella and Pablo Marcos! Next we switch gears and see the ongoing story (chapter two) of a tale involving the Frankenstein Monster, by “Groovy” Gary Friedrich and “Big” John Buscema! The story and artwork are absolutely incredible in that one! Next, the book provides a reprint of a story called “The Hands (Adventures into Terror 14, 1951).” The writer is unknown, but the artwork is by Gene “The Dean” Colan!  An interesting little 4 page story that has a twist ending. A prose story called “Our Martian Heritage” by Chris (Mr. X-Men) Claremont that has some photos accompanying it (most notably from Invasion of the Saucer Men- 1957). A new tale about Gullivar Jones Warrior of Mars (continuing from the pages of Creatures on the Loose), is nothing short of short of awesome. Brought to you by Tony Isabella and  “Dynamic” Dave Cockrum! A zombified story by Steve “Baby” Gerber and Pablo Marcos keeps the book rolling, and then we get another Atlas Age reprint (The Killers- Adventures into Weird Worlds 10, 1952), artist unknown and art by Bernie Krigstein! And finally, we see a gorgeous story by “Dapper” Don Perlin and Chris Claremont! A werewolf story that is one of the most (if not the most) beautifully penciled stories by Perlin I’ve ever seen! Cover by Albert Pujolar!

 

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Marvel Spotlight 7, 1972 “Die, Die My Daughter!”

In the 1970s, there wasn’t a better time for comic book readers. You had Golden and Silver Age creators still pumping out material, but you also had younger writers and artists that had been inspired by those giants, and were determined to leave their own mark on the industry. There’s also another aspect to consider as far as the content, and that is what was in the zeitgeist of the times. One of those things was most certainly the occult. Marvel then decided to re-purpose a character from a western comic that was all but forgotten. His name was the Ghost Rider (later Phantom Rider), and this time around, he wasn’t going to be lassoing people or shooting at them with a six-shooter!

In Marvel Spotlight 5 (a lot of the newer characters started off in books like this one and once they proved themselves, were transitioned to their own book), we see the tragic story of Johnny Blaze. A young kid working at a carnival, and watching his father doing motorcycle stunts. His father ends up getting killed in an accident, and the carnival owners (The Simpsons…no, not Homer and Marge) adopt him. The show becomes a huge success but then his step-mother is killed, but right before she dies, she makes Johnny promise he won’t ride in the show anymore. He doesn’t ride but the show still gets even bigger than it was before. Johnny still practices privately, and becomes an excellent rider. One day, Crash Simpson gets a phone call and he’s made the big time, as his show will be at Madison Square Garden! He seems less than excited and then tells Johnny and Roxanne that he has “the disease” and the doctor told him he only has one month to live.

After thinking about this for thirty seconds, Johnny decides as any normal teenage in the 1970s would, he uses a book to summon “Satan” to grant him a wish to heal Crash Simpson (Satan is in quotes because Marvel would later retcon it wasn’t actually Satan himself, but a demon). Yes, he really did that…so, then “Satan” obliges him and tells him that he’ll be back to collect a fee in the future. We all know that means he’s in big trouble, but Johnny apparently doesn’t care because of dealing with the grief of his own father and step-mother dying. Of course, Crash dies not from cancer, but a motorcycle accident.  Then Johnny makes the jump, but is later confronted by “Satan” and his soul is bonded to a demon, which in-turn is why he changes into the new Ghost Rider!

In this issue, we see Johnny after a man named Curly, but we eventually see it’s actually a reanimated Crash Simpson! Curly is trying to sacrifice Roxanne to his master (again “Satan”), but Johnny will not allow the love of his life to perish! He fights off some occultists, then has a showdown with Crash himself!

The creative team on this issue is the same since the first appearance. Gary Friedrich (writer), Mike Ploog (art), Frank Chiaramonte (inks), Herb Cooper (letters), and Roy Thomas (editor). A few years back, there was a little controversy over who actually created most of the character of Ghost Rider. Friedrich claimed he did, and sued Marvel for creators rights. He lost of course, simply because everything was work for hire back then, and any attempts to seize control of a character simply fell short. Sadly, a lot of these creators have fallen on hard times, and could really use a helping hand from the companies that they helped become so financially robust. There is a great organization called The Hero Initiative, that can help creators in need. Definitely swing by and donate if you can at the next convention you visit.

 

 

 

SGT Fury and His Howling Commandos 166, 1981 “Play it Alone, Sam!”

Every once in a while, I feel the urge to spotlight a war/military comic. One of my favorites is Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos! I’ve always loved the concept of a rough and tumble team that could handle anything. The mixture of personalities, and different ethnic backgrounds was pretty cool. There were down times with humor and fun, but when it was time for action, they were ready! This issue in particular was good because not only was the regular cast there but also their CO (Commanding Officer), Happy Sawyer! In this story (a bit of a Casablanca rip off), we see Sawyer remembering a mission that saw him fighting everyone from Arabs, French, and Nazis!

Although sometimes war/military books can get redundant, this one (along with War is Hell) were always pretty good. This issue had Gary Friedrich (with changes by Allyn Brodsky) scripting, and we all know that Gary wrote some fantastic stuff back in the Bronze Age (Ghost Rider, Frankenstein). The interior pencils are by Dick Ayers, and inks by John Severin. Both of these gentlemen don’t get mentioned anywhere near as much as they should, so definitely check out there work and give them their due! Colors by Bob Sharen, and letters by Jean Izzo. The cover was by John Severin (originally Sgt Fury 72, 1969)!

 

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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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Frankenstein #10, 1974 “”The Last Frankenstein”

After a short (but glorious) run, Mike Ploog handed over the reigns to the Frankenstein title. ‘Big’ John Buscema  was the man drafted to do the job (pencils), and did he ever impress! He didn’t do a ton of horror throughout his career, but when he did, it was impressive. I loved it when this title went off the reservation with its stories, because the sky was the limit. There could be a flashback story or one in present-day! This story involved an ancestor of the original Baron Frankenstein, and he wants to capture the Monster for a sinister reason that only he knows!

No matter who your favorite creative team is on this title, you have to love this issue! Gary Friedrich was the writer, and does a great job, as usual. His work on titles like this and Ghost Rider, are very solid. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when you have an illustrating team like ‘Big’ John Buscema and inkers Frank Giacoia & Mike Esposito, either. The colorist was Petra Goldberg, the letters by John Costanza. Carefully edited by ‘Rascally’ Roy Thomas, and cover by Mr. Gil Kane (inks by Romita)!

 

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The Monster of Frankenstein #4, 1973 “Death of the Monster!”

Recently, on Mike Ploog’s Facebook page, he noted that this issue was probably his favorite. So, yeah, that’s inspiration enough for this guy to write something down, and post some scans of the awesome artwork that is Mike Ploog. In this issue, we see the Monster kill a deer, by tossing a spear at it, he also fights a native people (I think), then after making friends with them, fights alongside them against a warring local tribe. Intense fight scenes, dog-sled action, clubs, axes, spears, you name it, this one has it. In the end though, the Monster just wants to find something, and he gets a tip on where to look for a descendant of his creator!

Written by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by ‘Jumbo’ John Verpoorten, letters by Artie Simek, colors by Glynis Wein, and edited by Roy ‘the boy’ Thomas! Even if you can’t afford the singles, you can still grab the Marvel Essentials at shows and some websites. The artwork holds up great in black and white!

 

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Chamber of Darkness #1, 1969. “Tales of Maddening Magic”

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Lets be honest for a moment…who doesn’t love Jazzy John Romita?!? Of course, that was rhetorical! Just look at this offering from 1969. The credits on the interiors are just as impressive too! Stan Lee, John Buscema, John Verpoorten, Denny O’Neil, Tom Sutton, Gary Friedrich, Don Heck, and Frank Giacoia! I chose this one for not only the awesome Romita cover, but also because it’s Big John Buscema’s birthday today, too! Enjoy!