In light of all the recent DC news (good and bad), I thought it would be appropriate to spotlight one of my favorite books. The last few years I’ve made it a point to grab some Silver and Bronze Age issues of Justice League of America. The animated television shows were such a huge part of my viewing when they came out, I always wanted to check out the comics. The books are definitely worth checking out, as the creative teams over the course of these ages do not disappoint. You do get varying degrees of quality, but they all do present something positive that one can grab on to.
In this story (part one of a multipart story), we see The Atom, as he’s struggling to remember who he is, as he tumbles through the microcosmos. The scene then switches to the Justice League Satellite orbiting the Earth, and Hawkman trying to explain to the other League members what happened. He tells them that Ray’s wife called him to ask for help, because Ray went off the deep end and had a nervous breakdown. Hawkman shows up at his lab to help, but he’s too far gone, and attacks Hawkman. He turns into the Atom, and shrinks into miniature size. He then vanished into this microcosmos (a sub-atomic world). So, Batman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Hawkman, and Red Tornado all use the machine to shrink down and go after their disturbed comrade. They do not realize though, that the trip messes with ones mind, and basically turns you into an amnesiac. So now not only do they have to find their friend, they need to figure out who they are!
This issue is just the beginning of this wild adventure. There is one thing of note in this issue and that is that it’s a first appearance of a new character. The Wanderer is a very secretive character, and you really don’t find out much about her in this issue. The story by Gerry Conway is pretty good. It definitely is good enough to get me to seek out the rest of this story-line. The interior artwork is by the team of Don Heck and Romeo Tanghal. This team does an admirable job on this one, and really excels with the action scenes. The colors are also quite good by Anthony Tollin, and the letters are by John Costanza. And let us not forget the awesome cover by Mr. George Perez! He was a staple at DC comics in this era and his work is looked back on with a lot of fondness, and rightly so.
Without going into extensive details, Adventure Comics has a long history which includes runs of Supergirl, members of the JSA, Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes, The Spectre, and Dial H for Hero! This unlikely team of heroes (the 2nd iteration), fights crime as any good hero does, and sometimes things get a bit crazy, like when Grockk (son of the devil) shows up and decides to take over the Earth! It’s up to Vicki Grant (Puma/Sulphur) and Christopher King (Enlarger Man/Brimstone) to stop him!
These new stories were written by Marv Wolfman (who’s no stranger to the macabre having written the Tomb of Dracula!). Wolfman is one of those writers who can tackle any genre, and he’s proved it over the decades continuously. The art is by none other than Silver Age stalwart, Don Heck (co-created Sunfire, Hawkeye, Black Widow, etc.)! The letters are by John Costanza. The cover is by the always awesome George Pérez!
In the July 1974 issue of Creatures on the Loose, we saw a switch from the Sword and Sandal genre, starring “Thongor, Warrior of Lost Lemuria” to the horror genre starring the Man-Wolf! After the death of Gwen Stacey (and Norman Osborn), John Jameson was brought back into the Spider-realm. Marvel put him in Marvel Premiere as well for a short story-line, but once the horror craze finally died off, so did Wolfy’s career for quite some time. In these issues, we see him battling Simon Stroud, the police, Kraven the Hunter, and his own father, J. Jonah Jameson! Covers by Gil Kane, John Romita, and Rich Buckler (inks by Klaus Janson), respectively.
After leaving Marvel (Timely/Atlas) for the second time, Jack Kirby created the Fourth World. To put it simply, he created an entire universe full of characters from the vast, galactic brain of his that had already spawned the likes of Captain America (with Joe Simon), the Romance genre, the Boy Commandos, Challengers of the Unknown, The Sky Masters of the Space Force, and…well, you get it. Oh and he also co-engineered (if not engineered) much of the Marvel Silver Age.
After a few short years at DC, he returned to Marvel once again, and he gave us all something very different, and very cool. Titles like Machine Man, Devil Dinosaur, 2001: A Space Odyssey, drove our imaginations to new heights. Kirby also did numerous covers for the Fantastic Four, and The Avengers! Books like this one are a comic book lovers dream. Cover by Jack “King” Kirby, story by “Stainless” Steve Englehart, pencils by “Gorgeous” George Pérez, inks by Sam Grainger, colors by Hugh Paley, and letters by “Titanic” Tom Orzechowski! This issue features one of the teams that could consistently give The Avengers a run for their money- The Squadron Supreme!
The next few issues of this great story saw a change in art, but not in tone for sure. You still get action supreme, and we really see what Ben Grim is made of as not just a superhero, but a man. We also get Bill Foster in action, Quasar showing off his abilities, and the mysterious Wundarr as well! After all is said and done, Wundarr fell a little flat, but Thundra was awesome! One thing to note about issue 56- the Thing and Thundra brawl, and as older readers know, this isn’t anything to get worked up over. In this day and age, you’ll be hard-pressed to see a brawl between a male and female characters in a mainstream book.
Props definitely need to be given to Mark Gruenwald and Ralph Macchio (writers). In only six issues, they utilize at least fifteen different characters in this setting (plus a flashback or two), and get more out of them than all their previous appearances combined! They do a great justice to Bill Foster especially. The artwork by George Pérez (pencils) and Gene Day (inks)(and one cover, 56, by John Byrne and Terry Austin), is very solid. I’m not very well versed in Day’s career, but Pérez is dynamite. Some of the pages of the issues I own, are a little muddy, and seem more like a printing issue than the artist’s not doing their job. Names like Bob Sharen and Carl Gafford (colors), Irv Watanabe and John Costanza (letters), and Jim Shooter (editor), round out the creative force behind this gem!
As the train rolls on, and Marvel Two-in-One is still at the forefront of my coconut, this issue that was a recent purchase is ready for the spotlight! Anytime you pair two superheros together, it’s a plus, but when you add several, then the odds have just increased substantially of the book catching the eye of a potential reader. Team books offer so much with all the varying personalities, potential strife, and vast array of powers, that you can’t get out of a solo book (although Doctor Strange is the best character and his ’74 series is the best of all time). In this marvelous tale, we see a few heroes gather for a night of poker, and companionship. We see Ms. Marvel, Wonder Man, The Beast, Nick Fury, Jarvis, and of course, The Thing (also a minor character named Blake Tower, a District Attorney from the pages of Daredevil). Good action issue, but honestly, it’s all about the personal interactions between the heroes during some “down time.”
Peter Gillis is a name I know from the pages of Doctor Strange. He wrote a few stories in that mag, and did a fine job. In this book, he does an excellent job of weaving the action in with the quiet moments of the book. Also adding some great banter between the heroes as they spring into action! The art team of Frank Miller (pencils) and Bob McLeod (inks), really bring their “A” game on this book! One page in particular shows the heroes in shadow, in a smoke-filled room playing cards that is outstanding. No Bronze Age book would be complete without the letters of Tom Orzechowski and colors of Glynis Wein! And if that wasn’t enough, you get the legendary Roger Stern (another great name who has also written some very good Doc Strange stories!) as editor! And, last but not least, you get a bonus as George Pérez and Joe Sinnott give us this fabulous cover!
I’ve been on a Fantastic Four kick lately with my buying/reading habits. Either through “Marvel’s Greatest Comics” or the volume one series itself, Marvel’s First Family has me hooked! Unlike a lot of FF fans, I love the post-Kirby/ pre-Byrne era of the team (even more so than the Byrne run…I know, heresy!). Yeah, you didn’t get much in the overarching plot department, but you did get some very cool and quirky stories from people like Marv Wolfman, or in this case, Len Wein (writer), George Perez (pencils), and Joe Sinnott (inks).
Speaking of the latter of those gentlemen, after looking at several different artist’s work, I think I’m convinced that Sinnott is my favorite inker of all time. His inks are very consistent, and concise, and have worked great with some of the best artists in the industry. Well, without too much prattling, this story gives a look at some of the back-matter of the newly installed and mysterious nanny of Franklin Richards, Agatha Harkness! Her origins were very ambiguous but this issue introduced the Salem Seven, and we were able to pull back the veil and see some of her beginnings!
You know, I seldom buy a comic book that I don’t intend to eventually collect the entire series. First off, I’m a completest, and secondly, in the grand scheme of things, what’s the point if you don’t intend on reading the entire story? Well, recently I bought Batman #442, which falls into that category, and there were a couple of reasons, but mostly because of the George Perez cover. Yes, it’s the first appearance of Tim Drake as Robin, as well, and actually seems to be a good story too.
Plotters, Marv Wolfman and George Perez, pencils by Jim Aparo (one of the best Batman artists of all time in my humble opinion), inker, Mike DeCarlo, letter, John Costanza, and colorist Adrienne Roy (editor Denny O’Neil), bring this great story with the villain, Two-Face! Tim makes the decision to don the mantle of Robin, as he attempts to save Batman and Nightwing from certain death! Enjoy!
In this, the finale of my George Perez spotlights, we will see his early Avengers work. Most long time fans will recognize it immediately, some newer comic book fans may not. Either way, get ready for a real treat, because what you are about to see is magic! With inkers such as Mike Esposito, Ernie Chan, and Pablo Marcos (just to name a few), you can’t go wrong! Perez was really the first guy post-Kirby to really elevate his style, and become an absolute rock star with his fantastic talent, and genuine personality. Let us now take the journey through some of the earliest work by this legend! Enjoy!
In my first post about George Perez, I showed some of his brilliant covers. This time around, I’ll be posting some great interior work from this titan of comics! His work on The Avengers is definitely something coming soon on my blog, but for now, I’ll be showing some of his crazy good work on the Fantastic Four! His pencils on this book rank right up there with the John Byrne run, in my humble opinion (it might even exceed it!). Along with inker Joe Sinnott, and writer/editor Len Wein, Perez had some extremely memorable issues, and I now present a few of them to you. Enjoy!