Justice League of America 213, 1983 “Into the Microcosmos!”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Werewolf by Night 9, 1973 “Terror Beneath the Earth!”

Well, the day finally came. The day that I finally bought the first appearance of my favorite wacky Bronze Age villain! As some of you know, there was a podcast episode where my partner and I discussed our Top 5 Wacky Bronze Age Villains! If you haven’t listened to that one yet, please do, and I’ll only say that this guy is my number one, but I won’t reveal the others! The Tatterdemalion is  by far the craziest villain for me and he really is an oddity.

In this first appearance, he’s more of a sinister villain that’s on a mission for a “higher power.” The higher power is called Sarnak, and for some insidious reason, he wants the Werewolf! The first attempt to kidnap Jack doesn’t go well, but after a night in jail, Jack gets accosted a second time by the Tatterdemalion, and some other hellish goons!

This crazy tale was written by Gerry Conway, a guy more known for writing drama like “The Death of Gwen Stacy.” He can write any genre though, and this horror story is proof. The artwork is a huge part of why this one is awesome though, and we have Tom Sutton to thank for that (and the letters, and cover along with Frank Giacoia inking)! Some very vibrant colors by George Roussos, and editor Roy Thomas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Adventures 18, 1973 “War of the Worlds!”

You may be wondering why there are back to back days of posts on my blog this week. Well, in short, it’s an anniversary for me (and a few others), and I wanted to send out an extra awesome blog post in celebration. You see, it was ten years ago (Sept. 11, 2009), that my very first column was published (click here). It wasn’t the best, but it was from the heart, as that story is my all time favorite Thor story, and one of my favorites no matter which character or universe we’re talking about. If anyone would’ve told me I’d still be writing about comics ten years later, I’m not sure I would believe it.

Many thanks go out to ComicAttack for giving me my start on this journey. As with everything in life, there are people to thank, and here is my list (if I forget anyone, apologies!)- Andy Liegl, the guy that started ComicAttack.net! I met him and several other great people on the message boards of ComicCollectorlive.com. Gid Freeman (@InfiniteSpeech), was a heavy contributor to the site from day one, and has been one of my favorite people since I met him. Kristin Bomba was a great editor, and put up with my shenanigans for a long time. Imagine if you will, a guy that waits until the night before or even the morning of a column is due to post to submit said article to the editor for proofreading…yeah, I was that guy. She was always very kind and gracious to me, and I’ll never forget it. Another huge influence and help to me was Decapitated Dan Royer (@DecapitatedDan). He was always there for advice, making banners, and encouraging me whenever I needed it. He was also the first guy to get me on a podcast (IIRC). Kudos to those four people, and all the other peeps at CA!

My next stop on the internet was ComicRelated.com (now defunct). My stay there was short, but Chuck Moore and the gang made me feel welcome. Another nod to Decapitated Dan, as he was already writing for them and friends with Chuck. He introduced us at C2E2 in 2013. Later that year, after talking with a couple of friends, I decided to branch out and start my own blog. In all honesty it was the best decision I ever made, as the blog has given me so much freedom and fun times, meeting new people, and getting even more into social media (especially Twitter). And here we are, in 2019. I must also give a shout out to @Charlton_hero and the crew at Super Blog Team Up, as they were a blast to collaborate with this past August. Now, onto this week’s post!

It took a while, but I finally secured a copy of this incredible book! The story-line involving Killraven begins here, (and really gets rolling when Don McGregor begins writing with issue 21) and is not only one of wonder and excitement, but also one that carries many messages within its pages. A concept by Roy Thomas, this story which takes some elements from the H.G. Wells story, and of course, added some other aspects as well.

We see the attack from the aliens, similar to the one in the film (this attack is in 1901), but the aliens return after there first defeat, and they are better prepared this time. The second invasion brings the defeat of mankind, and youths are taken from their homes to be trained for fighting for entertainment purposes. One of these youths is Killraven. He trains and becomes the most lethal killer of all, but never forgets how his mother and brother were callously murdered by a henchman of the aliens, named Dr. Raker.

The talent that went into this book is astonishing. Roy Thomas (plot), Gerry Conway (script), Neal Adams and Howard Chaykin (art), Petra Goldberg (colors), John Costanza (letters), and John Romita Sr. (cover)! As I stated earlier, this book would grow even bigger and better as it went on (McGregor, P. Craig Russell, Gene Colan, etc) with more contributors with excellent creative abilities. Do yourself a favor and grab the issues or the Marvel Masterworks of this title.

 

Justice League of America 154, 1978 “I’ll Kill You in Your Dreams!”

My first encounter with the JLA, was in the form of television and the Superfriends. The stories weren’t anything heavy, but they were fun to watch and kept me entertained. I didn’t buy my first JLA comic though until just a few years ago. This wasn’t the first issue I bought, but it’s a good one! A story is only as good as its villain (just my two cents). Back to animation for a minute…The Justice League television show from the early 2000s was  a fantastic show, and the episode with Doctor Destiny was incredible (they haven’t yet reached that specific episode, but the JLUcast is a great podcast about that show)!

Back to this book. Like the TV show, we see Dr. Destiny control the dreams of the League, in an attempt to kill them (it’s obvious the show lifted its premise from here), but of course, good guys beat bad guy. Not that it’s boring mind you, the villain really makes the heroes look pretty pathetic for a while. We also get to see the heroes as their civilian alter egos, and normal everyday stuff. It was quit refreshing.

As expected, the names in the credits are absolute staples of the Bronze Age. Writer Gerry Conway does a fine job with the script/story, and does insert some of his personal beliefs/social commentary in the issue as well. He, along with a lot of the other writers of the time were very good at sending messages without being overt or preachy about it (kudos).  The artistic chores fell on the shoulders of another pair of names synonymous with the age. Dick Dillin (pencils) and Frank McLaughlin (inks) were both on point here and did a fine job with a lot going on in this issue. Two more names in Jerry Serpe (colors) and Ben Oda (letters) round out the interior art team. The cover is by Mike Kaluta and Al Milgrom, and although it is pretty good, it’s also not quite what you’d expect. Not sure if it’s the team up of these two guys or just not the greatest layout or composition.

 

 

Adventure Comics 459, 1978 “6 All-New Super-Star Features”

The never-ending search for more awesome comics from the Bronze and Silver Ages continues! With a bigger focus on DC for now, let us focus on this issue of Adventure Comics! With sixty-eight big pages and no ads, features six stories with the likes of the Justice League, Elongated Man, and the New Gods! This book is a recent acquisition, but has already climbed the ladder to one of my favorite DC comics. The cool cover is by DC stalwart, Jim Aparo!

 

The first story features The Flash, and the name alone is incredible…”The Crimson Comets of Fallville High.” Barry (Allen) saves a pilot from a deathly crash, then sprints to a class reunion! There’s more than the usual tripe at this gathering though! Writer Cary Bates, art by Irv Novick and Frank McLaughlin, letters by Gaspar Saladino, and colors by Gene D’Angelo.

 

Murder Haunts the Midway” is the second story, and involves a somber Deadman, as he recounts some of his past, then also must feel what it’s like to be inside the body of a suicidal man! Oh and there are Commies, too. Writer Len Wein, art by Jim Aparo, and colors by Glynis Wein.

 

The third installment brings everybody’s favorite green guardian, Hal Jordan! “The Call of the Cosmos” brings a hot, alien chick that needs Hal’s help. He flies around in space and blows stuff up like only Green Lantern can. Just a little action-packed story, nothing too heavy. Writer Cary Burkett, art by Joe Staton, letters by Ben Oda, and colors by Adrienne Roy.

 

We next see “Orion of the New Gods.” A story involving all your usual suspects – Desaad, Forager, Metron, Lightray, and Jimmy Carter…? Neat story, and cool artwork, but it’s just pale in comparison to Jack ‘King’ Kirby’s work with these characters. Writer Gerry Conway, art by Don Newton and Augie Scotto, letters by Ben Oda, and colors by Jerry Serpe.

 

The Elongated Man is the star of “The Case of the Fortune Cookie Fortune” and this is the most absurd tale in the entire book. Not that it isn’t a fun romp, but it just doesn’t really feel like it fits with the rest of the stories. A fortune cookie has a one-thousand dollar bill inside of it instead of a fortune, and it’s up to Ralph to figure out what’s going on. Written by Len Wein, Paul Levitz, Mike Gold, Ann Delary-Gold, and Steve Mitchell (not quite sure why they needed a small army to write this one), art by George Ruppert and Bruce Patterson, letters by Clem Robins, and colors by Glynis Wein.

 

Lastly, we have Princess Diana of Themiscyra, Wonder Woman, battling the Shark! This is one is very bizarre as well, but keeps with the action theme nonetheless. Diana fights the Shark, is defeated by him, then isn’t, then uses her magic lasso to turn him back into a shark. Yeah, um, this one is wild to say the least, including Hippolyte speaking Spanish. Writer Jack C. Harris, art by Jack Abel and Frank Giacoia, letters by Shelly Leferman, and colors by Gene D’Angelo.

 

Creatures on the Loose 18, 1972 “The Fury of Phra!”

The titles of horror comics Marvel produced in the late Silver and early Bronze Age (and everyone else mainstream) were pretty tame, thanks (no thanks really) to the Comics Code Authority. Some good material for sure, just nothing cutting edge until the CCA was toned down. One of those titles was Tower of Shadows, but that was later changed to Creatures on the Loose. At first it served as just another vehicle to reprint older stories, but in issue sixteen, we saw a character called Gullivar Jones Warrior of Mars take over. The run of stories for this character didn’t last long, but they were pretty cool. Basically a clone of John Carter, Jones fought on other worlds against fantastical beasts and despots, often with no real agenda. Alas, the stories aren’t Earth-shattering, but the visuals definitely make them worth checking out.

Written by George Alec Effinger and Gerry Conway, with art by Ross Andru (pencils) and Sam Grainger (inks), and letters by Jean Izzo. There are also two back up stories in this issue, and both are reprints and quite good. The first one is “Under the Knife” and has art by Tony DiPreta, while the second “What Lurks in the Mountain” is a Steve Ditko and Stan Lee production! And the cover to this one is by the artistic machine of Gil Kane (pencils) and Joe Sinnott (inks)!

 

Dracula Lives! 3, 1973 “Prince of Darkness, City of Light!

Is there a more iconic horror figure than Dracula? Probably not, and after acquiring another issue of this spooky mag, it’s time to dive into it! October is here, and the horror mags from the Bronze Age are a great way to celebrate the season. Vampires, witches, a gargoyle, and Solomon Kane! A great issue for sure that brings a solid spotlight on Dracula not only in the Marvel universe, but also in contemporary fiction and film.

The Dracula story is one that dives into the history of the character in reference to the actual continuity of the Marvel Universe (written by Marv Wolfman, and art by ‘Big’ John Buscema and Syd Shores). A battle with another vampire, Nimrod, to be specific, who was the previous lord of the undead. The second story is a reprint from the 1950s. It involves a vampire and a slasher, à la Jack the Ripper (art by Larry Woromay). This story is followed by a great puff piece about Bela Lugosi with some fantastic photos from his films (written by Doug Moench).

Next we have what is probably the best piece of the book. A story about a chance encounter between Dracula and the sword wielding Puritan, Solomon Kane (written by Roy Thomas, with art by Alan Weiss and the Crusty Bunkers)! Another reprint from the Atlas era follows with an interesting take on the Shakespeare story Macbeth (art by C. A. Winter).  Finally, we get a super story about Dracula in Paris, and this time he must do battle with a stone gargoyle (written by Gerry Conway, and art by Alfonso Font)! There is also a neat story by Chris Claremont that features some love for Hammer studios! All of this is kicked off by a wonderful painted cover by Neal Adams!

 

Marvel Spotlight 4, 1972 “Island of the Damned!”

During the 1970s, there were a few different things that were hot commodities. In comics, one of them for sure was horror. Vampires, monsters, demons, mummies, witches, and of course, werewolves! In 1972, Marvel decided to create their own werewolf character that would be not only a creature of destruction, but one of tragedy as well. Jack Russell would turn twenty-one years old, and turn into a werewolf under a full moon from here on out.

Early on, the book centered around Jack trying to figure out why this happened to him. He very quickly realized that a certain book was involved, and that unless he finds The Darkhold, he may never get any answers. In what’s basically a werewolf dropped in the middle of the Island of Dr. Moreau, Jack is confronted by a strange island full of surprises, and by the end of the issue, he’ll be between a rock and a hard place.

In this early second age of horror for Marvel comics, Gerry Conway (writer) is one of the men that was tasked with writing these titles off and on (between his epic Spider-Man run and other superhero titles as well). Not to belittle Conway’s efforts, but Mike Ploog (cover and interior art) was outstanding during this period with his horror work. He had runs on this title/character, Monster of Frankenstein, Man-Thing, and Ghost Rider, and they were all exquisite. The creative team is rounded out by veteran Sam Rosen (letters).

*Note- there was also a lot of input on the early issues of the horror books by Writer/Editor Roy Thomas, and he definitely deserves credit as well.

 

 

The House of Mystery 224, 1974 “Sheer Fear!” 100 page Spectacular!

Do You Dare Enter the House of Mystery? Yes, I do! Sounds like a marriage proposal. This issue was one of those finds that would make any reader/collector get ecstatic. A good comic isn’t that difficult to find, but a great one that you can find at a bargain is getting more and more difficult as the years pass by.

Continuing a look at one of Dc comics’ best horror titles, this one is probably packed with the most talent of any book from that era. This exquisite horror anthology tells tales of a gym rat (Night Stalker in Slim City), a haunted house with an old hag (The House of Endless Years), a western werewolf (The Deadman’s Lucky Scarf), a boy sorcerer (The Reluctant Sorcerer), a magician that meets the Specter and the devil (Abraca-Doom), a problem with the mail (The One and Only Fully Guaranteed Super-Permanent 100%), a time travel tale with unintended consequences (The Gift that Wiped Out Time), a woman who has nightmares (Sheer Fear), A werewolf in Uncle Sam’s army (The Claws of Death), The Phantom Stranger has trouble with some elves (Mystery in Miniature), and finally a story that is picture perfect (Photo Finish).

The credits in this book are a murderers row of creators that are top-notch! Writing credits include- Dave Michelinie, Gerry Conway, Michael Fleisher, Howard Purcell, Denny O’Neil, Marv Wolfman, Sheldon Mayer, George Kashdan, John Broome, and Steve Skeates.

Artists include- Joe Orlando, Frank Robbins, Bill Draut, Alfredo Alcala, Howard Purcell, Berni Wrightson, Dick Dillin (w/Neal Adams inks), Mort Meskin (w/ George Roussos inks), Gerry Talaoc, Alex Niño, Frank Giacoia, and Mike Sekowsky.

 

 

 

 

Super-Team Family 12, 1977 “The Eternity Pursuit!”

There are certain tropes that can get me to be any comic. One at the top being an adventure in space! This tale stars Hawkman (Katar Hol), Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), and The Atom (Ray Palmer)! The three heroes have traversed the stars in search of the love of Ray’s life, Jean Loring. She disappeared after a situation with Supergirl, and Iris Allen, as they were abducted by T.O. Morrow and a living planet! She was flung across the galaxy, and her whereabouts are unknown. Luckily, The Atom is a genius and has invented a device to track her down. Aliens, spaceships, sword fights, and an underwater battle as well! This one issue has it all!

This awesome cover by Al Milgrom and Jack Abel is enough to get any Bronze Age collector to buy it. Action packed, full of heroes, and even though it’s possibly a bit too busy, the action is great! Inside the art team is composed of the terribly underrated Arvell Jones (pencils), inks by Bill Draut, Ben Oda (letters), and Jerry Serpe (colors)! Excellent splash pages, panels full of excitement and solid dialogue. Definitely pick this one up if you don’t already have it in your collection!