Spirit World 1, 1971

If you hadn’t already heard, August has been deemed Jack Kirby Month. Who decided this, you ask? The powers that be, also known as a bunch of hooligans I know on Twitter. So, with this revelation, I decided to jump to some Kirby material for the last two weeks of the blog in August. This magazine is a more recent acquisition of mine, but it was on my radar for a long time. Honestly, pretty much everything Kirby did is on my radar, and rightly so, as the man was a genius. The awesome cover, though, is more Neal Adams than Kirby (layouts), as Neal and the DC braintrust decided to change the cover a bit (according to Mark Evanier, who was employed there at the time, and editor of the book).

The first thriller in this magazine sized book is called “The President Must Die!” This story deals with a person that has a premonition that the President will fall to some trouble on a trip! Written and pencilled by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Coletta, and letters by John Costanza.

Next up is, “The Calder House!” This is a classic haunted house tale, and the visuals are out of this world! Spirits, monsters, they’re all here! Once again written and pencilled by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, and letters by John Costanza.

There’s a three page story, and the photo art style is something to behold. Once again, the King doing something innovative (I’m assuming this is Kirby). “Children of the Flaming Wheel” is cool!

The Screaming Woman” follows, and it is another masterpiece. In this one we see a mysterious woman, reincarnation, and witch burnings! Again, the same creative team of Kirby, Colletta, and Costanza.

The last full story is “Amazing Predictions.” This is one for the ages, as we see historical figures (Nostradamus, Mao, Napoleon, and even Adolph Hitler!), make bold predictions of the future! Again, Kirby, Colletta, and Costanza!

The book ends with a humorous story by the one and only Sergio Aragonés!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mighty Marvel Western 6, 1969 “Doom in the Desert!”

I felt compelled to spotlight some Westerns for the month of July, as some Twitter friends have christened it #westerncomicsmonth! Search this hashtag out on Twitter for all the fun. Honestly, they really aren’t my thing, and I only have half a dozen issues or so, but I can’t resist joining in, as these Twitter pals know how to have a good time.

This oversized issue has four big stories, two awesome pinups (I’ll include both at the bottom, both are Kirby pencils, Ayers and Colletta inks, respectively), and cool advertisements! And check out this cool cover by Herb Trimpe!

 

First up is the story from the cover, “Doom in the Desert!” It features the Rawhide Kid, and after he wins a sharp shooting contest, he’s going to give the prize money to a widow, but after he does, he finds himself in the desert and out of water, and at the mercy of some toughs! Story by Stan Lee, art by Jack “King” Kirby and Dick Ayers!

 

Next is “The Saga of Sam Hawk, Manhunter!” Kid Colt is the star of this story, and the Manhunter is out to get him! Betrayal, Native American warriors, and a twist ending you won’t see coming! Story by Stan Lee, art by Jack Keller, and letters by Sam Rosen!

 

Now, for the third star of this book, The Two-Gun Kid, in “Trapped by Ringo’s Raiders!” No, the Beatles aren’t in this one, but we do get a bank robbery attempt, a prison break, and a whole lotta action! Written by Stan Lee, art by Dick Ayers, and letters by Sam Rosen.

 

Lastly, the Rawhide Kid stars in “Shootout with Rock Rorick!” The Kid jumps into a bar fight, but has he finally bitten off more than he can chew messing with the gang of Rock Rorick? Script by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers, and letters by Artie Simek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Machine Man 2, 1978 “House of Nightmares”

When Jack “King” Kirby returned to Marvel in the mid-1970s, not only did he spend time on an old favorite, Captain America, but he also created some new characters that were absolutely mind-blowing. One at the top of the list has to be Machine Man. An android created by a scientist, that in turn was killed trying to remove the auto-destruct mechanism from him. Machine Man was introduced in the pages of 2001: A Space Odyssey (issue 8, 1977). This was another Kirby vehicle that was initially based on the film (Stanley Kubrick) and novel (by Arthur C. Clarke). Kirby eventually took the book in his own direction though, and brought more of his Bronze Age bombast with it.

Kirby eventually left Marvel in 1978/1979 (after issue nine of this series), but the title did go on for a few more issues with Steve Ditko on art. It was interesting, but not the all out craziness and cool of Kirby (some of that was definitely the writing, too).  But we did get this awesomeness from the King for those first nine issues, and how glorious they are to behold! Written, edited, and penciled (cover as well, with possible inks by Mike Esposito) by Jack Kirby, inks and letters by Mike Royer, and colored by Petra Goldberg!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Triple Action 17, 1974 (originally Avengers 23, 1965) “Once an Avenger…”

 

Things have been quiet here at Magazines and Monsters, especially on the podcasting front. Well, there is one big reason and I shall reveal it now! I was asked recently to participate in the Super Blog Team-Up event! Some of you may know of this event, and some not, so I shall attempt to educate you on the matter. Simply put, it’s a quarterly event where bloggers (and podcasters) get together to share each other’s love of comics, through blogging about a certain subject (or story line), and share said content throughout the online community. An exercise in building up a community, and as we all know this is needed on social media. On Twitter, you can follow along by searching the hashtag #SBTU or #SuperBlogTeamUp. And these are some of the most interesting and fun blogs you can find anywhere! And needless to say, I feel honored to be among these fine people (links at the bottom to the other blogs/podcasts).

 

Now, on to the main event! The subject this time around is Immortal! For me, being a long time Marvel zealot, there is one character that pops into my brain right away when I hear that word. His name is Kang…or Immortus…or Rama-Tut if you prefer. But why the three names? Because each represents the same character but at different times in history. Kang first appeared in The Avengers 8, 1964, and announced he was from the far flung future, where he discovers the time travel technology of Dr. Doom, and uses it to travel to ancient Egypt, to rule as Rama-Tut (first appearance was in FF 19, 1963). After ruling there for a spell, he encounters the Fantastic Four (they time traveled into the past to find a cure for Alicia’s blindness :D). The FF defeat him and send him packing. In his time travel vehicle, he encounters Doctor Doom, but the two part ways without any shenanigans. Immortus, who first appeared only two issues after Kang in the pages of The Avengers. He wasn’t more than a schemer with time travel abilities initially, but he is the future version of Kang, that grew weary of battle and was eventually entrusted with being a time keeper of sorts by a “higher power” (Avengers Forever, see below).

The next time we see Kang, is in this story! After the bout with the FF, Kang is back in the future (Avengers 23, 1965), and pining for Ravonna (his love interest, and her first appearance). She’s the daughter of a king, whom Kang defeated in the 40th century. Kang let her father live and stay in power only to try and earn her hand in marriage. She rebuffs him constantly, though, and this infuriates Kang. He sees that Captain America has left the Avengers (in the previous issue), and knows this is the time to strike! He easily captures Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch, and places them in “oversized pickle jars,” to quote Hawkeye. The Scarlet Witch uses her Hex power to bust them out, but this is meaningless to Kang, because he can easily defeat these inexperienced heroes (Wanda and Pietro are very young at this point, and Hawkeye is no match for Kang). Before Kang can unleash the final blow, he’s interrupted by none other than Captain America! With Cap back as their leader, the Avengers manage to stop Kang. But, before he’ll accept defeat, he whisks them all away to his future, where his army awaits to destroy them, and the disobedient king and even his daughter!

There was one more piece of info about this story I’d like to quickly mention. When Cap quits the team, he sees an ad for a sparring partner for a boxing champ. Upon arrival, he’s rebuffed by the champ’s tough guy buddies that are apparently screening the candidates? Cap makes quick work of the meatheads after they not only insult him, but try to assault him thinking he’s a wimp. Hilarious on all levels, with classic Stan Lee banter.

Over the years, Kang hasn’t changed very much, and that’s a good thing. His raison d’être (purpose) is always to either conquer or just simply better himself. This can be by killing someone else, enslaving people, or whatever other nefarious scheme he’s plotting. I’d have to say without much hesitation, that Steve Englehart and his Celestial Madonna story from the 1970s is probably the best Kang I’ve read. The Kurt Busiek and Carlos PachecoAvengers Forever” epic and the Roger Stern, John Buscema and Tom PalmerUnder Siege” tale is awesome as well. Look those up for further readings on the Immortal villain, Kang!

Credits in this issue are as follows: Cover by Jack “King” Kirby (pencils), John Romita (inks) and Sam Rosen (letters), “Smilin” Stan Lee (script), “Dashing” Don Heck (pencils), “Jazzy” John Romita (inks), and Artie Simek (letters)!

 

 

Super Blog Team Up!


https://benjaminherman.wordpress.com/author/benjaminherman/

https://charltonhero.wordpress.com/tag/charlton-hero/

http://davescomicheroes.blogspot.com/

https://comicscomicscomics.blog/

https://www.chrisisoninfiniteearths.com/

https://chrisandreggie.podbean.com/

https://betweenthepagesblog.typepad.com/between-the-pages-blog/

http://blackwhitebronzecomics.blogspot.com/

https://theunspokendecade.com/

https://comicreviewsbywalt.wordpress.com/

http://www.dcinthe80s.com/2019/08/sbtu-immortal-forager-second-life-of-bug.html

Pop Culture Retrorama Podcast Ep. 08 – I Am Legend

TDR 459: Super-Blog Team Up: Immortal!

Where Monsters Dwell 5, 1970 “Taboo Lives Again!”

After a few weeks of superheroes, it’s time for more monsters! Not the usual Bronze Age fare (well technically not even though this is a reprint from 1970), but material from the preceding Silver or “Atlas Age” at Marvel comics. During this time, you had Stan Lee writing and editing just about everything (some work by Larry Lieber and a few others, but the overwhelming majority was Lee), and two giants of the industry penciling. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko are undoubtedly two of the most influential creators of the medium, but not for this material, as most know. But, don’t sleep on these comics, because they do offer some really good artwork, and some interesting stories as well.

The four stories in this reprint book are all very different, as one features a giant monster (The Return of Taboo, Strange Tales 77, 1960), a sorcerer (The Strange Magic of Master Khan, Strange Tales 77 as well), aliens (We Met in the Swamp, Tales to Astonish 7, 1960), and a ghost (I Lived a Ghost Story, ST 7 as well)! Credits include – Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Paul Reinman, Dick Ayers, and Artie Simek (with possible alterations by Marie Severin).

 

 

Thor 164, 1969 “Lest Mankind Fall!”

The Bronze Age will always be a huge focus for this blog, but honestly, the late Silver Age is when Marvel comics really started to turn the corner and become not only an innovator, but also super cool. The words trippy and groovy come to mind immediately when you look at their books from this period. The majority of their characters were in place, and the comic book revolution was in full swing by 1969!

This was also a sad time for Marvel, as Jack “King” Kirby was just about to leave the company for greener pastures over at DC comics. He’d have the freedom to write, pencil, and edit his books there, and who wouldn’t be excited about that (plus get paid more as well). The mighty Thor was taken to new heights by Kirby recently, as he’s been to space and met the force of nature known as Galactus, and the malevolent Ego the Living Planet!

In this issue we get a huge battle between Thor and Sif and Pluto and his hordes of the underworld! Fear not, as we’ll also see Balder the Brave, Thor, and even Zeus himself! This book is action packed, and really shows the scope of the Marvel universe as it pertains to the realms of the gods!

Written by Stan Lee, art by Jack “King” Kirby (pencils) and Vince Colletta (inks), and letters by Sam Rosen! The magnificent cover is also by Jack Kirby and Vince Coletta (with colors possibly by Marie Severin)!

 

Marvel Treasury Special – Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag (1974)

Is there anything more awesome than the over-sized comic book? Of course not, and Marvel comics lead the way in spectacular fashion in the 1970s in the form of the Treasury Edition! And not only just a Treasury Edition, but a holiday edition! Now, just for the record, only two of the stories inside actually have a Christmas theme, but hey, let’s not get picky!

The first story is probably the best “holiday” centered of the entire book. We see Spidey and the Human Torch take on the Sandman! It’s Christmas time, and the Sandman is looking to wrap up the two heroes…or is he (Roy Thomas, writer – Ross Andru, pencils – Mike Esposito, inks – and Artie Simek, letters)? Next, a classic tale from the Silver Age, as the arrogant Submariner decides to go to the surface world. Once there, he speaks with a lawyer about wanting to sue the entire human race. Too bad for him that lawyer is none other than Matt Murdoch, A.K.A. Daredevil (story by Stan Lee, art by Wally Wood, and letters by Artie Simek). The third tale is the other holiday adjacent one in the book. It’s all about the Black Widow, and her man-servant, Ivan! They’re here to help a young man that tried to commit suicide, and then see if they can get him help (written by Roy Thomas, art by Gene Colan and Bill Everett, letters by Artie Simek). The last two issues are from the Fantastic Four and a crossover with the Avengers! Not much along the lines of holiday cheer, but a cool story nonetheless (of course, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby!)!

 

 

DC comics: The Sandman (Wesley Dodds)

Being a little green yet with my DC comics and their characters, I decided to grab this trade and single issue out of pure curiosity, but make no mistake, the names Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (definitely check out the Kirby Museum for a ton of facts, pages, and excellent insight to Kirby!) had a lot to do with the purchase as well! This incredible duo didn’t create the Sandman (Gardner Fox and Bert Christman did), but not long after a revamp by Mort Weisinger and Paul Norris (Adventure Comics #69), Joe and Jack took over the reigns, and really created some fantastic adventures for this crazy character and his new sidekick (Sandy)!

The stories varied from heavy subjects like slavery and suicide, to the more usual tales of war and the mob! Mostly though, they had a strange vibe or a villain that was downright bizarre. People like NightShade (later known as Ramulus), Thor, and Noah…Barton, who has an Ark full of animals. No joke folks, it’s all right here in these pages. From Nazis to Santa Claus, anything you can think of Simon and Kirby already have, and more than likely before you or your parents were even born.

The second part of this post is to spotlight an issue of DC Comics Presents (#42, written by Mike Barr and artwork by Jose Delbo and Joe Giella), as it was the first time I’d ever read a story about the Sandman! Reading this cool story about where the character went after the Golden Age (a back up as the main story was one that featured Superman and the Unknown Soldier, which is just OK), really had me thinking about this character I’d heard of but never really knew anything about, other than he was created in the Golden Age, and was later (in name) drastically changed for a Vertigo title by Neil Gaiman (I’ve read absolutely none of those – not my thing). There was another story in JLA 113, 19974, that showed what happened to Sandy, and featured Dodds (I don’t own that one yet!).

Whether you’re a fan of Golden Age characters or haven’t really read much of them, definitely give the Sandman a try!

 

 

Weird Wonder Tales 6, 1974 “The Man Who Owned a Ghost?”

As the 1970s progressed, Marvel went full on crazy with the reprints. Some were of recent material (Spider-Man, The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, etc.), and others were from as far back as the Atom Age (post Golden Age but pre-Silver Age). Flooding the market was nothing new for them, but it is still astonishing to look back on. Not that you can blame them, after all they were under the constraints of the publisher that was their rival for many years. Once they got out from under those shackles, they went hog-wild, and who could blame them.

The book is all reprints, but don’t discount it on that accord. The first story alone is worth its weight in gold, as Bill Everett is the mastermind behind “The Man Who Owned a Ghost!” Some artists have their work deteriorate as they age, but Everett’s work got stronger, just look! The second story, “Was He Just Seeing Things?,” has art by Manny Stallman, and this is a creator that I’m not very familiar with to be honest (here’s a link to Mark Evanier’s blog from 1997, talking a bit about him). Neat little sci-fi story including dinosaurs! “Homicide” follows and brings an axe murderer! Nothing here you didn’t already see from a publisher like EC comics, but still pretty jarring. The art in that one is by Harry Anderson. Again, a relative unknown today, but I found some info here. The last installment in the book is called “The Man in the Crazy Maze.” A treat for sure, as this has art by Jack Kirby (pencils) and Dick Ayers (inks)! It’s always a treat to see some Kirby! The cover is by Larry Lieber (probably pencils/layouts) and Mike Esposito (inks).

 

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen 142, 1971 “The Man from Transilvane!”

If you would’ve told a comic book reader in the 1960s that Jack Kirby would soon be working for DC comics, and writing/drawing/editing a story about Superman vs a vampire, I’m sure there would’ve been some laughs. Well, welcome to 1971, where Kirby has again returned to DC and was given the freedom to create with very little oversight (other than DC being fools and redrawing his faces). He took over the lowly title of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, as to not bump another creator off of a good book. Yeah, that’s the kind of guy he was!

Inside we see the normal bombastic Kirby images that are larger than life, and exploding off of the page. A vampire, a werewolf (type creature), and of course the regulars from Metropolis. Clark and Jimmy need to find out why Laura Conway is acting strangely and why she has two puncture wounds on her neck! It doesn’t take long for the perpetrator to rear his sinister head, and the action is full on!

The cover has inks by Mike Royer, and his work with Kirby in this era is great (more of their work coming soon!). The interiors were inked by the oft maligned Vince Colletta, but honestly, they look fine in this issue. There are also a few pages of bonus material by the King, and a Newsboy Legion reprint with Joe Simon!