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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
I decided to do a double-shot of Thor, and it’s no coincidence that both of these issues have work by none other than the king of comics, Jack Kirby! I love this era of Thor, and Len Wein and John Buscema (and Tony DeZuniga) have a lot to do with that fact. After posting some pic from the series “The Eternals” by Kirby, I felt compelled to spotlight some of his other work from the mid-1970’s (during his final stint at Marvel). Issue #254 is a straight reprint of Thor #159, (1968), and shows just how and why Thor became intertwined with Dr. Don Blake. The second issue (#257), is the last part of a story that showed Thor and the Warriors Three in conflict with the Atlas Age monster, Sporr! And not just for kicks, the very life of Lady Sif may be at stake! Great morality play in this issue, plus the action you get from this era!
The first issue of this double-shot gives us a great cover by “Riotus” Rich Buckler (pencils) and “Joltin” Joe Sinnott (inks)! The interiors of course, are by Jack “King” Kirby (pencils) and “Valiant” Vince Colletta (inks), with letters by “Swinging” Sammy Rosen and script by Stan “The Man” Lee. The second issue brings us an incredible cover by Kirby and Sinnott. This team has given us such wondrous work over the years, and this cover is one of them! The interiors are also very good, and we have “Big” John Buscema (pencils) and Tony DeZuniga (inks), to thank for that. Add in perennial colorist, Glynis Wein, to round out the art team. The writer of this awesome story, is none other than Len Wein! He’s had some great runs in comics, but for me, this one is the best!
They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I agree, and in the case of this issue of the Fantastic Four, you can definitely see that the entire thing is an homage to Jack Kirby. The Fantastic Four are awesome enough, but throw in the Inhumans, and Thraxon the Schemer, and you get a Bronze Age winner! Alright, the big draw isn’t Thraxon the Schemer, but a throw-down between the Sphinx and Black Bolt! Yes, these two heavyweights go toe to toe, and this is one brawl you can’t miss!
When the epic adventure starts with an incredible cover by “Big” John Buscema (pencils) and “Joltin” Joe Sinnott (inks), you know you’re in for a great visual story. The FF at this time was under the guidance of “Marvelous” Marv Wolfman (writer & editor) and he really crafted some cool cosmic tales during his tenure. The interior work was also very good, and we have Bob Hall (pencils, first half), Keith Pollard (pencils, second half), and Bob Wiacek (inks) to thank for that! Rounding out the team is Glynis Wein (colors) and John Costanza (letters).
The reason I chose this issue, aside from it being the Fantastic Four, is the story, and the creative team. The latter, I’ll get to in a minute, but first, let’s get acquainted with the story. In it, we see Namor, as his underwater kingdom is attacked by some foreign army of underwater creatures. On the surface, Reed is growing more and more apart from the rest of the team. Snapping at them for something miniscule, he storms off in a huff. Can the team unite and help Namor fight off a multitude of attackers, one of which has attained a relic from Atlantis that can make him unbeatable?
Now, on to the creative team. At this point, the book was in a slight bit of flux, in that the Kirby/Lee legendary run was well over, and a couple of the other, lesser known (but still kicked butt!) runs were also over (Wein/Perez, Conway/Buckler, etc.). The other big run, that of John Byrne had yet to begin, leaving room for a strange but incredible great story like this one to be presented by Doug Moench (writer), Bill Sienkiewicz (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), Jim Novak (letters), colors by George Roussos, and edited by Jim Salicrup! Enjoy this great issue by this awesome team of creators!