Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 6, 1975

The last regular issue of this series is upon us. Only one more issue to go after this one (Giant Size Special 1), and it does make me a a little sad, as I’ve been enjoying blogging about them immensely. That being said, let us traverse this issue, which has a brilliant cover by Frank Brunner, and the inside cover has a very awesome piece by Pat Broderick!

The issue begins with a foreword by Roy Thomas, instructing any readers of a religious persuasion to please not bombard the office with hate mail, especially after reading a certain story in the issue. I find it fascinating that he felt it necessary to include the mild warning, but I guess in 1975 it was something he felt was needed. With a crucifixion on the cover, it’s definitely a polarizing book.

The issue begins with another edition of “Slow Glass” as all have before. We get an interesting scene that is brought to us by Roy Thomas, Gene Colan, and Dan Adkins.

The first story, “Behold the Man,” is an interesting one to say the least (and the one Thomas warned about in the foreword). A time machine slings a man into the distant past (biblical times), but we also get flashbacks to present day. The story has accurate biblical passages, but does its own thing as well. Script by Doug Moench, art by Alex Niño (original story by Michael Moorcock).

After this, we get a four page look into the life of Slow Glass creator, Bob Shaw. Sort of a bio piece, but definitely worth reading.

Old Soldier” is the next story, and is certainly deserving of being in a title about unknown worlds and sci-fi! Written and drawn by Bruce Jones!

Up next, is “Mind Games.” Even though the Vietnam War was over by now, creators (and society) were still very much engrossed with it, and its repercussions. Both of these stories reflect that in one way or another. Written and illustrated by John Allison.

What would a good magazine be without a witch burning by the Puritans? But, this story has something else…Spacemen! “Visitation” is written by Don Glut with art by Ruben Yandoc!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 5, 1975

As I wind down the last three issues of this series, beginning with the fifth installment, you’ll see a few different names in this one, previously unseen. With an anthology title, that’s usually the method most publishers roll with, and it can be very exciting. I think it can be slightly problematic when a certain creator did a fantastic job in a previous issue (or is just a fan favorite). There are a couple of familiar names, but lets not get ahead of things. The cover is by an artist that isn’t one I’ve heard before. Boada Puigdomènech (cover), an artist with only this one credit for Marvel, and a few for Skywald Publishing, does a fair job, but it’s definitely a step back from the previous four issues. A frontispiece by Howard Chaykin (more on him later) leads us into the action!

First up we get…Slow Glass, revisited! I know last time I said that was the end, but it was a ruse (by myself and Marvel)! We thought we saw the last of this story (and Mister Tyme), but not so. We see something very creepy from Roy Thomas and the art team of Gene Colan and Frank Chiaramonte!

Up first is “Paradise Found.” We see a space traveler arrive on a planet named Terra 2. He’s greeted by another guy that treats the aliens there horribly, but don’t worry, he gets his in the end. Written by Bruce Jones, with art by Gray Morrow!

The next few pages bring an interview with Larry Niven (conducted by Alan Brennert)! There are some super cool illustrations by Eliot R. Brown and Rick Bryant.

Next up is “All the Myriad Ways,” an adaptation of a Larry Niven story. A police detective investigating a murder, parallel universes, time travel, it’s all here! And, brought to you by Howard Chaykin (script, art)!

Don and Maggie Thompson bring us another great edition of “Fantastic Worlds” next! In it they discuss the Hugo and Nebula awards, rumors of a Star Trek movie, and some sci-fi conventions!

Addict” is the next story in the book, and it is a wild one! We see a junkie in an alleyway beat his own dealer for some drugs. Well, not conventional drugs, that is. We also see some bureaucrats talking their usual disturbing rhetoric about needing to keep the populace under control (hmmm…nothing to see here, move along). Really good stuff here by Don Glut (story) and Virgil Redondo (art)!

The final story in this magazine, “Half Life,” is another solid entry. We see a monster-sized spaceship called The USS Agamemnon, that at first seems like a pleasure cruise. But, things don’t always work out the way they should, do they? Story and art by John Allison.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 3, 1975

After a brief hiatus from the norm (click here for last week’s Super-Blog Team-Up entry), I’m diving back into the awesome, albeit grief run of Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction magazines! As I’ve said in the past, these are a really good snapshot of the times, and of the sci-fi genre as a whole up to this point in history. They pay a lovely homage to the creators that had made sci-fi what it was and still is to this day, through interviews, articles, and of course the adaptations! Everything inside is first presented by this awesome cover by Mike Whelan!

After a gorgeous frontispiece by the incredible artist, Gray Morrow (see below), we get a contents page that will blow your mind. Not only will you see an issue chocked full of content such as stories of science fiction with illustrations unparalleled, you also get an interview with Frank Herbert (Dune), and a look at the SFWA (by Don Thompson)! And not to be outdone, a super cool editorial by Rascally Roy Thomas!

The bookends in this magazine, once again, are entries featuring the Bob Shaw concept, Slow Glass. These stories don’t involve everyday people and their experience with the substance. Oh no, in this issue an actual alien approaches Mr. Tyme, and requests some of the material! Written by Tony Isabella, with art by Gene Colan!

The first full length story is “Occupation Force.” We see a man get abducted by an alien spaceship, but alas, no probing. The aliens eventually leave their ship, but what we see is definitely not what one would expect! Written by Gerry Conway, with art by George Pérez and Klaus Janson!

The next story (and my personal favorite) is titled “…Not Long Before The End.” This one features a classic story of a barbarian versus a sorcerer! A story akin to something you’d find in a Robert E. Howard story, but with a slight twist. Written by Doug Moench and art by Vicente Alcazar!

Gestation” is up next, and this one is about a space-faring team that touches down on a planet with a vast variety of vegetation. They eventually come upon a giant web resembling that of a spider! What happens next is truly bizarre! Written and illustrated by Bruce Jones!

The final story is from sci-fi legend, Harlan Ellison! Repent, Harlequin! Said the Ticktockman, is an interesting story, in that it is not straightforward in its delivery. It is however a dystopian future plot, which back in 1965 wasn’t the overwrought concept it is now. Adapted by Roy Thomas (script) and Alex Niño (art)!

Even with issue three, this magazine is still going very strong, and hasn’t missed a beat. It will slow a good bit near the end, but for now, take a look at these fantastic pages (editors included- Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Len Wein, and art director John Romita).

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 1, 1974 “Day of the Triffids”

At first sight, this magazine (published in 1975) doesn’t look like anything special. Oh the cover by Kelly Freas (with alterations by John Romita), is very cool, but sci-fi hadn’t really hit it big yet in the mainstream (pre- Star Wars, and Star Trek films). What Marvel did though, was bring in stories written by some of the greatest writers of the genre, and adapt them for comic book format. When you can slap the name Ray Bradbury on your cover, it’s going to sell some books for sure.

As if the spectacular cover wasn’t enough, we get a frontispiece by Spanish master, Esteban Maroto! Most of Marvel’s magazines had these pin ups inside the front cover, and some even at the end of the issue. Using Bradbury’s name on the cover was a good idea, but in all honestly, the name Bob Shaw should’ve been on there as well. His concept “slow glass” is the subject of this book, and sort of introduces the other stories (and bookends as well), as a portmanteau film executes for its audience. Those pages are by Tony Isabella (script, adapted from the Shaw idea), and the art team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer!

The first chapter is “The Day of the Triffids!”In this story (based on the John Wyndham novel), we see a particular species of tree that not only seems to be able to think for itself, but has malice toward human being as well! Written  by Gerry Conway, with art by Ross Andru and Ernie Chan!

Next, we get a story written and drawn by Neal Adams! The story is an anti war/Vietnam piece told through the lens of sci-fi. The story is told almost like news blurbs, which is fascinating for 1975!

The third installment is a fabulous interview with Ray Bradbury. He speaks about his youth, and the formative that guided some of his writing. The interview is conducted by Sheldon Dorf.

Next up is a hilarious parody story (Smash Gordon!) by none other than Frank Brunner (story and art)! This one is not only comedic, but it is absolutely gorgeous to look at. If you’ve seen his work before, get ready, as this is on another level.

An atomic test in the New Mexico desert is the start of “Savage World!” Three of the people involved with the bomb test end up in an underground world. Are the rulers peaceful as they claim or not? Script by Wally Wood, and art by Al Williamson!

Another interview graces the pages of this magazine, and this time it’s with the cover artist (and artistic giant), Kelly Freas! They include a few images of his work on some science fiction books from yesteryear as well!

We then get another story that is pretty straightforward, but has a comedic ending. Automated cities of the future are now the only place you’ll find human beings. A plane crash strands a few people out in a wasteland, and as you can imagine, it doesn’t end well. Story and art by Mike Kaluta!

Finally, another chapter of Slow Glass, and this one is seven pages long! We watch as a couple who has traveled off the beaten path attempts to purchase some slow glass from an elderly man. But this man has a secret, and it’s one he doesn’t want people to know. Script by Tony Isabella, with art by Gene Colan and Mike Esposito!

As of this blog post being published, these magazines can still be had for reasonable prices on places like Ebay. Any interested parties should think about getting these sooner rather than later, as they probably won’t be reprinted any time soon (Marvel wqould probably need to get the rights to publish it again as the source material belongs to the book publisher or the estates).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comic Book’s Unsung Heroes! Steve Gerber!

 

Trapped in a world he never made, Steve Gerber was a writer that not only made his mark with his idiosyncratic style, but if you really dig deep, and explore his work, you’ll see a talent and love for the medium of comic books that was second to none. When Marvel fired Gerber after he threatened a law suit over Howard the Duck, it would’ve been easy for him to pack up and go home. Instead he kept fighting, and stayed in the business. But, most would say what he did before that time was his best work, and I would agree. Welcome to #SuperBlogTeamUp (image by @Charlton_Hero)!

 

 

When Steve Gerber came to New York in 1972, he didn’t show up with a portfolio of ideas and pitch them to Roy Thomas. All he did was take the Marvel writers test, and he was in. At first, he was just a fill in writer, but he eventually made his way to Daredevil and Submariner. He injected some wild characters and elements not seen before into those books, and this is something he’d become known for as the years went by. Alongside Gene Colan, he left his mark on DD (not the level of Frank Miller, but definitely a fun, well remembered run).

Later in 1972, Gerber scripted Adventure into Fear 11, his first shot at the character Man-Thing. This story was more akin to the Marvel horror books of the times, though, but certainly well scripted. In the next issue, we see Gerber as most remember him. Tackling the subject of racism (and for the early 1970s was nothing to over look), Gerber shows not just the evil of the subject, but an extremely good story that makes you think from a different perspective, which is always a good thing. Issue 12 really set the tone for Gerber’s work going forward, as he wrote a story about a hardcore racist and his killing of a black man (excellently rendered by Jim Starlin and Rich Buckler). Not a pleasant ending to this story, which drives his message home even more. His run on Man-Thing is my personal favorite of his works. The way he used a character that cannot speak, along with the framing characters (Richard Rory, who resembles Roy Thomas, Jenifer Kale, etc.) to tell all sorts of different stories is amazing. Oh, and he wrote two other characters that couldn’t speak (or rarely did in Simon Garth, the Zombie and The Living Mummy). This is something I can’t ever recall another writer even coming close to doing at his level.

 

 

Another story of note concerning the Man-Thing, is “Night of the Laughing Dead” (issues 5 and 6 of his own volume one series). The story is pretty deep and focuses on subjects ranging from religion to parental neglect and abuse. Again, heavy subjects, but Gerber uses a Swamp Monster, hippies, and circus performers to tell this must-read story. Steve even wrote himself into a Man-Thing story (Man-Thing 22, volume 1), and it was glorious (image below)!

 

Marvel started a team title in 1972, with a few heavy hitters. Dr. Strange, Hulk, Submariner, and the Silver Surfer adorned the pages of The Defenders. The title had a few different creative teams for the first nineteen issues, but once Gerber took the reigns (issue 20), the title emphatically took off. Over the next twenty-two issues, he’d write some superhero stories (crossover with the original Guardians of the Galaxy), another one about racism (Sons of the Serpent), and two stories that most consider quite insane (The Headmen and Nebulon and the Bozos).  Of course, insanity for one person is entertainment for the other. I fall in the category of the latter.

Most will cite Howard the Duck as Gerber’s crowning achievement, and I’m not enough of an authority to argue any different. That character is certainly the one that he had on many occasions given the impression (or said right out) was his favorite. I’m still trying to obtain everything he’s ever written but that’s going to take some time. But I’ll definitely consider it time well spent. Thanks, Steve, for all the great comic books.

 

 

Steve passed away in 2008, but his legacy and wit still lives on today, as many writers that have come since sing his praises. He was posthumously inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame, and received the Bill Finger Award. If you’ve never read any comics by Steve Gerber, do yourself a favor, and give one a try!

 

Please take a look at the other contributors to this round of Super Blog Team-Up! Check out “Creators” and “What IF.” Enjoy!

 

The Tell-Tale Mind  Arak: Son of Thunder – A Lost Adventure

The Superhero Satellite- What If Peter Parker had become Speedball instead of Spider-Man?

Dave’s Comic Heroes – Blue Devil Creation

Between the Pages – Scrooge McDuckTales Woo-oo!

Comics Comics Comics…-Sergio Aragones!

In My Not So Humble Opinion-Kurt Schaffenberger, the definitive Lois Lane artist of the Silver Age.

Source Material – What If Captain Confederacy

Comic Reviews by Walt – What if the Ultraverse Had Continued?

Pop Culture Retrorama – What If The Sinister Dr. Phibes Had Been Produced!

 

The Avengers 63, 1969 “And in this Corner…Goliath!”

A recent pick up, this Avengers book brought quite the surprise when I opened it. It has the artwork of my favorite artist! More on that later! I’ve always wanted to at least try and obtain a full run of the Avengers (Silver through Copper), and even though I can count the number of Silver Age issues I own on one hand, reading this book was pure joy even knowing it’ll never happen.

The story basically only serves one purpose, to introduce a new superhero personality for Hawkeye in the form of Goliath! The team gets a call from Nick Fury that the Black Widow is on a mission for SHIELD, but was captured by enemy forces. Black Panther tells Hawkeye he must remain behind because he’s too emotionally involved. Also, we see Pym tell the team that he’ll no longer be using his formula to be a giant, because it’s causing him to have mental problems. After the team leaves, Hawkeye gets a call from Black Widow asking for help, so in his infinite wisdom, he decides to take Pym’s growth formula and go to the rescue!

This issue is one that has so many fun aspects to it. The beginning shows the team flying in a ship that’s out of control, and going to crash, possibly killing them all. Some interesting comic book physics save the day. Later, we see Goliath (Hawkeye) fighting a giant monster, and they’re right by Coney Island. Interesting and fun back drop for sure. Roy Thomas (writer) really knows how to write a great team book. Of course, this isn’t a news flash, it just needed to be reiterated. The art team here is nothing short of phenomenal. Gene Colan (pencils) and George Klein (inks) give us panels and pages chocked full of greatness. The same combo is responsible for the great cover as well, and the letters are by Artie Simek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Tales 171, 1973 “March of the Dead!”

After recently acquiring a few of these issues, I felt compelled to write a blog post about them. Brother Voodoo, zombies, and my all time favorite artist isn’t a tough sell though. This is one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe, and I honestly can’t think of a bad story he was involved in. A voodoo based character is right up my alley, and his frequent guest appearances with the likes of Dr. Strange are cool as well.

This story picks right up with the action, as Brother Voodoo is creeping around a cemetery and gets attacked by a horde of zombies! He kicks the crap out of a few of them, but they’re too high in number to fight off. Jericho then summons the spirit of his dead brother, Daniel, to possess one of them to help. It doesn’t work, as he can’t possess the dead apparently. By the time he gets back to Jericho, they’re both too weak to stop the oncoming blitz. As the zombies are overwhelming him, he looks up to see Baron Samedi, Lord of the Dead! (a dead zombie guy). And if that wasn’t enough, we get guest stars in the form of A.I.M.!

This title is very much an unsung classic from the Bronze Age. The creators behind it are some of the best from this era, and should be lauded for their efforts. Writer Len Wein does a great job of telling this horror story. Everyone that knows his name can attest to the quality you get from him every time he put pen to paper. The art team is just as stellar, as Gene Colan (pencils) and Frank Giacoia (inks) really set the horror tone. Excellent colors by Glynis Wein and letters by Gaspar Saladino! Oh, and let us not forget the awesome cover by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain America 601, 2009 “Red, White, and Blue-Blood”

In 2009, the world was treated to one more story drawn by Gene “The Dean” Colan. This was his swan song in mainstream comics (all of comics unless I’m mistaken), and it was fittingly a war/horror story! Yes, this is #warcomicsmonth and you do get some WWII action, but you also get some bloodthirsty vampires as well! A fantastic send off for one of the industry’s greats (R.I.P. Gene). Written by Ed Brubaker, with colors by Dean White.

The story starts out in Bastogne, France in 1945, with Cap, Bucky, and their unit, as they’ve discovered some other soldiers that were killed, but there’s something different about the way in which they were killed. Cap and Bucky wait and eventually see that the soldiers rise and are now part of a vampire legion! Cap and Bucky must now battle against men that served by their side, and not only that, but townspeople as well, including children!

This book is one that holds a high place in my pantheon of comics. Gene Colan is my all time favorite artist, and there is no finer example of why than this book. You get some very good scenes with dialogue with Cap and Bucky, but the action scenes, especially the ones that involve the undead, are simply incredible. Even on his last pro job, Gene delivered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tales of Suspense 91, 1967 “The Monstrous Crusher!”

On this April Fool’s Day, there is no joking around here! My all time favorite artist is Gene “The Dean” Colan, so it’s a special occasion when I get a book with his work in it! Most think of Gene when they hear Tomb of Dracula, and rightly so, but his work on superheroes like Captain America and Iron Man was special, too. Most also probably think of Kirby when the subject of machinery and technology are discussed, but when Gene drew these types of images in Iron Man, he was excellent at it.

In this issue, it’s up to Tony Stark A.K.A. Iron Man, to stop some Cuban Commies and their newest weapon, The Crusher. A pumped up, nigh invulnerable guy that’s ready to take down the Golden Avenger! Can Iron man take down this make-shift Frankenstein Monster?

Written by Stan Lee, pencils by “Genial” Gene Colan (cover as well) inks by Frank Giacoia (cover as well), and letters by Sam Rosen!

The second tale in this book is one that features Captain America, and his old foe, The Red Skull! This trippy tale is by Lee (story), Gil Kane (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), and AL Kurzrok (letters).

 

 

Doctor Strange 43 and 44, 1980 “ShadowQueen!” and “Duel of Fire!”

As this volume of Dr. Strange rolled on, different creators were tasked with bringing a new vision to the title. From start to finish (the last few issues were a bit of a let down), this series is packed with creators that did good by the old Doc, and these issues are more proof of that fact.

In the final pages of issue 42, we saw the Doc get attacked from behind by a muscle-bound guy wielding an axe, plus a group of bad-looking dudes and a mysterious woman. Upon further review, this woman is Clea! She instructs the man to let Strange go, and then introduces him to the rebels on this world (Clea went after Wong, who got lost in a previous issue). Well, luck would have it they find Wong, and then it’s up to the rebels, and the Doc and his crew to stop the wicked witch of the…er, I mean, the sorceress Shialmar! In the second issue, we get some back story involving Wong’s family history. A nice little touch considering he didn’t get much exposure aside from being the Doc’s right hand man.

This particular run of Doctor Strange features some really good stories by Chris Claremont (writer). Of course he’s known mostly for his work on the X-Men, and rightly so, but if you’re a fan, don’t stop there because his work here (and Marvel Team-Up just to name one more) is very solid. When you add the incredible art team of Gene Colan (pencils) and Dan Green (inks), with colors by Ben Sean and Bob Sharen, and letters by Diana Albers and Jim Novak (respectively), you get great Bronze Age comics! And if that wasn’t groovy enough, the two covers are by Michael Golden!