ROM 33, 1982 “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory!”

Some titles never seem to get their due in the mainstream for one reason or another. ROM (Spaceknight) is one of those titles for sure. ROM is a man from another planet that volunteered to become a cyborg (along with others) to fend off an alien attack by the Dire Wraiths. The battle spilled over into other parts of the galaxy, including Earth.

In this issue, ROM is buzzing around the skies, and a young, blind woman can see him in her mind (clairvoyant?) She wonders if he might be able to help her find her parents that supposedly abandoned her years ago. We also see ROM’s old friends, Steve Jackson and Brandy Clark. They notice ROM whipping around the city, and speak of his awesomeness. ROM then gets some readings from his Analyzer, then swoops in to Cliff House, where the blind woman resides. He informs her that she’s among killers, and then the creepiness jumps into overdrive.

As most comic book fans know, this series was written entirely by Bill Mantlo. He basically took a toy (yes, ROM was a toy with no background, whatsoever), and created a universe for this character. Not even speaking about co-creating Rocket Raccoon (along with Keith Giffen), and Cloak and Dagger (along with Ed Hannigan), the man is a legend for this (and The Micronauts). The artwork is by long time Marvel artists, Sal Buscema (pencils), and Joe Sinnott (inks). Both men have long, stories careers that are the definition of professional. Ben Sean is the colorist, Rick Parker on letters, and Ann Nocenti editor! And lets us not forget the eerie cover by Al Milgrom!

 

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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 at 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” 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)!

 

Marvel Treasury Edition 21, 1979 “Behold…Galactus!”

The Treasury Edition is one of the best inventions in comic books. I mean, what could be better, than an oversized comic book? The answer is nothing. When you buy these gigantic books and open them up you get blinded by their awesomeness! Although mostly reprints, the material chosen is top-notch for sure.

Of course, the Fantastic Four are most famous because of their days during the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee era, as it should be. But honestly, if you venture past that era, you’ll find that the Bronze Age is quite good. Under the guidance of some of that era’s best creators, the team had some run-ins with a myriad of bizarre villains, but also some familiar ones like the Mole Man, the Impossible Man, and most importantly, Galactus!

In this oversized tome, the team is beset by gun-toting maniacs, a strange being from the stars with god-like powers, and then the final threat is revealed, and the team stands in awe of Galactus, Devourer of Worlds! Special appearance by the Silver Surfer!

Let it not be said that any era of the FF is greater than the original creators run on the book, but honestly, too much love is given to the John Byrne era and not because it’s bad, but because it causes people to overlook this incredibly underrated work by Stan Lee (writer), ‘Big’ John Buscema (pencils), ‘Joltin’ Joe Sinnott (inks),¬† Carl Gafford (colors), and Artie Simek, John Costanza, and Sam Rosen (letters). The cover is by Bob Budiansky and Bob McLeod, and they did a great job showing just how imposing the big G is (front and back covers!).

***note- apologies for the quality of the images. I had to use what I could find online because my scanner isn’t big enough to accommodate a Treasury comic book.

 

 

 

Marvel Treasury Edition 2, 1974 “The Fabulous Fantastic Four”

In the comic book hall of fame, there are a lot of great stories. Single issues, trades, whatever the format, dozens come across one’s mind immediately. Star-spanning adventures, tales of morality, love, tragedy, etc., take your pick. The format is one of the most underappreciated of all time, no doubt. One of the best examples of the different story types is none other than Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four! The familial aspect, love, loss, tragedy, comedy, etc., you get it all with them, especially under the creative eyes of Jack “King” Kirby and Stan “The Man” Lee!

After recently purchasing Marvel Treasury Edition 2, I finally read the epic story The Galactus Trilogy! This first encounter for Earth with a literal and figurative giant of the cosmos is so incredible, you will feel as if you’ve been through a war after reading it! And, not only do you get that incredible story, but also Dr. Doom, the Submariner, and The Impossible Man! With the back issues being extremely pricey, this is a great way to get to read these legendary stories and not break the bank! Finally, apologies for the low quality of the images (my scanner isn’t big enough to accommodate Treasury sized books). Enjoy!

 

 

 

Monsters on the Prowl 29, 1974 ” A Monster at My Window!”

Watch out, here come more monsters! Yes, another post for the holiday, that revolves around some of the monsters from the pre-Marvel days. Believe me when I say that this one is solid! A giant alien monster that is the first to come to Earth to scout out the planet…or is he? Another tale that involves a sea monster terrorizing a ship at sea! The third installment is one that presents an alien that disguises himself as a human to study them. He finds out that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Finally, we get a joker that likes to play pranks on people, and sometimes hurting more than just their feelings. He himself finds out in the end that karma comes back at you in a hard way!

These stories have an edge over others, in that they have such powerhouse art talent behind them that even if the story is mundane, the artwork carries them through. The work of Jack “King” Kirby (cover and interior pencils to story one- Dick Ayers inked the cover) has been documented by many, and I could go on all day about how great it is, but if you don’t own much of his work, you need to remedy that now. “Joltin'” Joe Sinnott is mostly known for being an outstanding inker, but in this book, you get to see him flex his muscles with pencils and inks on one story! The man named Bill Walton isn’t one that’s familiar to me, but he does do a great job on the story in this particular issue. Last but certainly not least, is Steve Ditko. His weird and creepy work is one of legend, and elevates him to a pretty high status in the sci-fi/horror category. Of course, everyone knows him from Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, but dig deeper, and enjoy the treasures that you will find!

 

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Beware 1, 1973 “The Werewolf was Afraid!”

When you get the opportunity to grab comics at a steep discount, you’ve got to take advantage. When it’s a number one issue, you pounce! Granted, this comic book is a reprint title, but still, it’s a good one! Anytime you get to see some of these classics, you gotta bite, especially when it starts off with a werewolf story! Killer robots, a witch, and a final tale of madness!

The cover is absolutely fantastic, and we have the incomparable Bill Everett to thank for it. His story is a sad one, being one of the greats that died before his time. The werewolf story has work by John Romita (art)(original stories by Stan Lee). It’s quite a bit different from what most will remember his work on in titles like Amazing Spider-Man, but still very cool. The second tale is by Vic Carabotta (pencils) and Jack Abel (inks). The latter gentleman’s work I know from various titles, but Carabotta is someone I don’t know much about. The third installment is one that offers¬† a more familiar team, in Lee, Jack Kirby (pencils), and Dick Ayers (inks). If you’ve never seen Kirby’s horror stuff, you owe it to yourself to get out there and investigate. Finally, we have Joe Sinnott (pencils and inks). From what’s said, he’s one of the nicest guys in the industry, and one that one day soon hopefully, I’ll get the chance to meet!

 

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Vault of Evil 8, 1973 “The Vampire is My Brother!”

Another horrific comic book post to satiate your bloodthirsty minds! What lurks in the Vault of Evil! A bunch of Golden Age reprints, that’s what! I love these old stories because you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes they are straight up horror, other times a thriller. Once and a while you get one that is pre-code and has a decapitation or something cool like that in it! These reprints usually consisted of three or four stories that usually revolved around murder, vampires, werewolves, or an atomic mutation. The first one in this book was a vampire story, the second was about the dead rising from the grave. The third story is about a female ghost, and the last is about a trunk that brings bad luck to its owners!

Al Eadeh, was a guy that worked in the comic book industry for a long time. His pencils and inks definitely give off that Golden Age vibe, and the man spent time in the Simon and Kirby studio, so, that should tell you about his prowess! Another name from that era is Ed Winiarski (pencils/inks). Another artist that had a grounding in crime, sci-fi, and horror books of that age, Winiarski had a similar style that definitely reminds me of the early horror work by Kirby and Simon. Sid Greene (pencils/inks) fits the same mold but also did some romance work as well. Last, but certainly not least, is Joe Sinnott (pencils/inks). He’ll go down in history as one of the greatest inkers of all time, and rightly so, as his work with Kirby, Perez, and a host of others was outstanding. If you dig a bit deeper though, you’ll find that the guy is quite an accomplished penciler as well, and issues like this prove it. We also get the treat of a great cover by Rich Buckler and Vicente Alcazar!

 

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What If? #11, 1978 “The Original Marvel Bullpen Had Become The FF?”

I’ll admit, I really don’t care for “What If?” and you can dislike me for it. They can be fun, oh yes, but it just isn’t what I’m looking for in a comic book. That said, when you get a chance to grab an issue like this one, you cannot possibly pass it up! Seeing Lee and Kirby as Reed and the Thing, is enormous fun, and throw in Sol Brodsky as the Human Torch, and “Fabulous” Flo Steinberg as the Invisible Girl, and the book has to be a good one!

To see the pencils of Jack “King” Kirby, is nothing short of fascinating, no matter what the subject-matter. As the writer, penciler, and editor, he really went all in with this book, and gave us something special. The inks were by Mike Royer, and if you’ve seen their collaboration on DC comics “The Demon,” you know what they can do together. The letters were by Bill Wray and colors by Carl Gafford. If you get the chance, grab a copy if for nothing other than the Kirby artwork, it’s astonishing!

 

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Marvel Double Feature #19, 1976 “A Time to Die–A Time to Live!”

As time marches on, back issues from the Silver Age and even the Bronze Age are creeping up in price. The scarcity of these gems is becoming a fact, and it drives the prices up. This is why I choose to go the route of reprints (the majority of the time)! Yeah, sometimes the colors are muddled with or the covers are tweaked, but I can live with that, as long as I get to read these marvelous books. In this fantastic issue, we get not only get a Captain America story, but also Iron Man! Both are classics, and have great creative teams behind them.

Speaking of creative teams, is there anyone that drew Captain America better than Jack “King” Kirby (cover and interior pencils)? Others have done fine work (Byrne, Romita, etc.), but no one seemed to really capture the essence of the character quite like the king! And who better to ink this story than “Joltin'” Joe Sinnott! Written by Stan Lee, and lettered by Artie Simek. The second story, was written by “Amiable” Archie Goodwin, the pencils by Gene “The Dean” Colan, inks by Johnny Craig (yeah, that E.C. Comics legend!), and letters once again by “Adorable” Artie Simek!

 

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Fantastic Four #140, 1973 “Annihilus Revealed!”

Although Jack Kirby created Annihilus (FF Annual #6, 1968), there have a been a couple of other creative teams that did some really great work with the character. Case in point- Fantastic Four #140! In this issue, we see more schemes from the bug-like alien from the Negative Zone, plus his awesome origin. I’m not 100% sure if it had been shown in detail like this before, as I don’t have a copy of FF Annual #6, but if not, definitely grab a copy of this book for that cool story!

In the years shortly after Kirby left Marvel, you had a solid contingency of creators that were more than willing to step up to the plate, and give it a go. One of them, writer Gerry Conway, did just that, and more, when he took over books like Spider-Man, Thor, and this title as well (he didn’t write everything after Kirby left, but definitely had the longest run until Byrne came along later). I know most don’t think of Conway when they think FF writers, but believe me, they should. And lets face it, when you have an art team like “Big” John Buscema and “Joltin” Joe Sinnott in your corner, you’re on the path to success. Add on George Roussos (colorist), and John Costanza (letters), and the team is set! The book grabs your attention right away with a cover from “Riotous” Rich Buckler and “Fearless” Frank Giacoia!

 

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