Time Warp 1, 1979 “Doomsday Tales and Other Things”

In the late 1970s, DC cut back on their titles, and laid off a ton of employees. The comics just weren’t selling, and they needed to regroup. The early 1980s would bring some new hope in the form of All-Star Squadron, and New Teen Titans, but there were also some additions that are very obscure, but noteworthy for the comic book aficionados out there!

A short series of only five issues, this weird book gave us some rather interesting material. Mostly sci-fi (with a little horror), this first issue is chocked full of creators with a long list of credits, and quite frankly, legends in the business. From aliens to spider-men, you’ll be whisked away to fantasy worlds that will take you back to a time when comics were great!

Cover by Mike Kaluta, interiors stories by Denny O’Neil, Michael Fleischer, George Kashdan, Mike Barr, Jack Harris, Bob Rozakis, and Paul Levitz. The art teams are nothing short of spectacular and include the late, great Rich Buckler, Dick Giordano, Steve Ditko, Tom Sutton, Jerry Grandenetti, Don Newton, Dan Adkins, and Jim Aparo!

 

 

1 vs 1 Which comic is Best?

I was thinking about boxing matches the other day, and how two big-time fighters entering a boxing ring to duke it out used to be a bigger deal than what it is today. In the vein of that time-honored tradition, let us take a look at two “number ones” and see how they stack up against each another! The first round will feature two books from DC comics, and they are good ones! Batman and the Outsiders #1 (1983) vs All-Star Squadron #1 (1981), are the two participants so get ready for a throw down of epic proportions!

Batman, Metamorpho, Black Lightning, Katana, Halo, Geo-Force, and Looker. This team, mostly composed of new characters was a good mix, and that favored the book’s appeal. Not only that, but it didn’t hurt that Mike Barr (writer) and Jim Aparo (art) were the creators. A jam-packed first issue featuring the sinister Baron Bedlam!

 

Secondly, we have All-Star Squadron! A period piece starring some of the Golden and Silver Age heroes that were a part of the JSA (Justice Society of America). Hawkman, Atom, and Dr. Mid-Nite are joined by Plastic Man, Robotman, Liberty Belle, and Johnny Quick, as they meet the POTUS, FDR, as he helps them create a new super team, to fight against the Axis powers in WWII! But, before that they need to find some missing members of the JSA as well! The creative team is one of legend, as Roy Thomas (writer), Rich Buckler (pencils), and Jerry Ordway (inks) brought a fantastic new comic book to the shelves!

 

Time to break these two books down: first the covers…

Cover – All-Star Squadron (+1)

While the B&TO has tighter pencils and inks, I think All-Star Squadron is better overall. The different array of characters in the pictures is pretty cool. I do love two of the faces on the other cover though, as Superman and Metamorpho are the best reactions to Batman’s dialogue. Speaking of that dialogue, it seems a bit forced and doesn’t match the interior page, so that is definitely taking points away. Buckler and Ordway are on point with this cover for sure. Definitely in the “iconic” category.

 

Interior art – Batman and the Outsiders (+1)

This is a close one, but Aparo definitely pulls slightly ahead of Buckler and Ordway if for nothing else than his rendering of Batman. That aside, both books have some very strong work, but again, Aparo is just a bit cleaner with his style. Colors and letters are both on the same level.

 

Story – All-Star Squadron (+1)

This one isn’t even close. A good WWII story with a myriad of characters that come together to fight Nazis, plus save other heroes from Solomon Grundy, Professor Zodiak, Sky Pirate, Degaton, and Wotan! Don’t get me wrong, Barr tells a good story in the other title, but it’s just not on par with this one by Roy “the boy” Thomas. Oh, and FDR (image below) is in this comic, so that seals it!

 

So, by a score of 2-1, All-Star Squadron #1 is the winner!

 

Weird Adventure Comics 435, 1974 “The Man Who Stalked the Specter!”

Yeah, I’m a Marvel Zombie, but sometimes, a comic is so cool, no matter who the publisher is I must buy it. That’s the case with this one! The character “The Specter,” is one that is creepy and heroic at the same time. His run-ins with Deadman are pretty cool too, so check those out. Characters that are ghosts have always intrigued me (Gentleman Ghost, Deadman, etc.). Most of the time they’re always in the middle of a story that has a supernatural aspect, and that’s most of the allure for me. There is also a good Aquaman back-up story (Steve Skeates writer, Mike Grell art) in this issue as well!

The name Michael Fleisher (writer), is one that most avid comic book readers should know. I know his work from the Ghost Rider stories he did back in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. The artwork (cover, interior pencils and inks), was by a man who I’m growing ever fond of, and it seems that Jim Aparo never disappoints me. The editor was another solid name in the biz, Joe Orlando!

 

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DC Comics – Batman #442 (1989)

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!

 

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Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger vol. 2

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In this second volume of greatness, we get to see more of the same from legends like Len Wein, Dick Giordano, Jim Aparo, Arnold Drake, Neal Adams, and Nick Cardy. Appearances by Deadman, Batman & Robin, Cassandra Craft, Tala, Queen of Evil, Black Orchid, and so on. There are a couple of absolute gems in this trade, and the first couple being stories by Paul Levitz (script) in the latter part of this book. A mummy story that is absolutely insane, and then a couple of tales involving everybody’s favorite spirit, Deadman! Those issues have the Phantom Stranger, fighting for the soul of Boston Brand, and all sorts of craziness! The very last issue in the book has the special House of Secrets #150, starring the Phantom Stranger. In this fantastic issue, we see the Phantom Stranger, as he looks into the past, and witnesses a witches coven, a demon possessed man, and his master…a computer?

The other gems I spoke of earlier, are the back up stories “Spawn of Frankenstein”, by Marv Wolfman & Mike Kaluta. In these, you get a great story (derived from Mary Shelly’s works), and of course, great artwork. The last two I’ll speak of, is The Brave and the Bold #89 & 98. This story involving Batman & Robin is truly spooky, full of ghosts, and a must read! The second Brave & Bold (also by Haney & Aparo), shows Batman, as once again he must be aided by the power of the Phantom Stranger, as he’s plagued by demons and devils!

Instead of being repetitive, I’ll just tell you to get out and grab these trades if you’re a Marvel fan that wants to read something new, but don’t know where to start. These first two volumes are cheap, and give you a great look into the DC side of the magic and the macabre! See you next time!

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Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger vol. 1

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A new year is upon us, and it will bring my new blog! Comic books are a big part of my life, so, obviously, they’ll be a huge focus. Twice a week, I’ll post my thoughts on a certain story, book, graphic novel, etc. Once or twice a month, I’ll post my thoughts on a classic movie, and that will most certainly be of theĀ  horror or sci-fi genre! Well, that’s it for now, so lets get started!

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I’ve decided to go with one of the more recent titles I picked up with Phantom Stranger vol. 1! Being a huge fan of Dr. Strange, and all things magic/supernatural, it was only fitting that this title gets the inaugural spot in my new blog. I can honestly make a case for this being one of the top ten titles of the 1970’s, and the talent on it backs me up. Names like John Broome, Carmine Infantino, Jim Aparo, Len Wein, Mike Friedrich, and Neal Adams (covers), are just a few of the creators that made this title an incredible book to read.

The first few stories are your typical ghost stories or cult activity tale, but eventually, more macabre stories followed. A great nemesis, in Tala, Queen of Evil, was an on again, off again villain, that often tempted him with her beauty. She popped in and out for quite a while, always using her powers to cause strife, and threatening innocents. Another cool thing about these issues are the stories involving Dr. Thirteen. The doctor is a parapsychologist that is usually seen trying to debunkĀ  paranormal activity. In some cases, he works side by side with the Phantom Stranger, even though he doesn’t always believe what he sees.

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In one particular issue that stood out, the Phantom Stranger came face to face with an Ice Giant, atop of the world itself. Denny O’Neil, Jim Aparo, and Joe Orlando, brought this chilling tale of intrigue, and a monstrosity that towers over everyone! Once again, Tala is involved, and this adds even a crazier dimension to this awesome story. A tale of voodoo, by Mike Sekowsky, and Jim Aparo follows next, and the villain in this one was super creepy, complete with voodoo dolls, drums, and the whole get up!

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A duel with Tannarak, the sorcerer, the Army of Evil, a swamp creature, the Iron Messiah, a waxworks nightmare, ghosts, and the list goes on and on. When you have creators of this magnitude, honestly, it’s a can’t miss. Anyone out there that knows these names, understands how great a book like this is going to be, and if you’re looking for something being new to comics, give it a try. You wont regret it! See you next time!

 

 

 

The Brave and the Bold #117, 1975. Batman & Sgt. Rock!

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My DC books are quite few in numbers (being a Marvel zombie for almost 20 years), but I’ve managed to acquire a couple of their books that are absolutely fascinating. This gem being one of them. Jim Aparo is one of those artists that make me immediately think of Batman when I see or hear his name (Garcia-Lopez, too). He’s the cover artist on this beauty, but the inside brings the talents of Joe Kubert, Bob Haney, Frank Springer, and more! Enjoy!