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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Thor #254, 1976 “The Answer at Last!” and #257, 1977 “Death, Thou Shalt Die!”

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!

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Fantastic Four Annual #12, 1977 “The End of the Inhumans…and the Fantastic Four”

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).

 

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Fantastic Four #219, 1980 “Leviathans”

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!

 

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Pin-up by 'Joltin'  Joe Sinnott

Pin-up by ‘Joltin’ Joe Sinnott

Thor #238, 1975 “Night of the Troll”

As everyone knows, one of the best comic books is the mighty Thor! In this issue, we see that Thor has battled Ulik the Troll, and lost! Well, not really, but Ulik was smart enough to capture Jane Foster, so Thor surrenders. Ulik has had some trouble down in the nether regions…of subterranean Earth, and he strong-arms Thor into fighting for his cause. Typically, Ulik is just a villain that antagonizes Thor, and then they fight, so this story was a different angle for him.

Under the keen eyes of editor, Len Wein, Gerry Conway, who would later be followed by Wein as writer, crafted a nice little run on the title. From issue #193- 238, Conway showed the readers that he wasn’t a one-trick-pony with his success on the Amazing Spider-Man, but could forge some new ground with Thor. Not to be outdone, is the man, myth, and legend, ‘Big’ John Buscema. You can just look at his work in any comic, and it screams talent, and professionalism. The man never to a minute off in his work. Inked by the incomparable, Joe Sinnott, colors by Don Warfield, and letters by John Costanza, this swan song of Conway’s is a must have for fans of Thor or the Bronze Age! Cover by the great Gil Kane, with inks by the ever dependable Al Milgrom!

 

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Dazzler #3, 1981″Enter…Doom!”

OK, besides the fact that Dr. Doom couldn’t care less about what Dazzler would be doing, or the fact that the story is called “The Jewels of Doom (one must assume that jewels was referenced as a man’s cajonies by this time in history),” just sit back, relax, and enjoy the beautiful woman on roller skates that can kick butt! In the beginning, Alison Blaire was just a supporting character, but in the pages of the Uncanny X-Men, she became a Marvel staple. And honestly, does Doom really need a bonafide reason to attack anyone? Throw in a little fantastic Four action, and you have a winner!

This issue was brought to us by some real pros, and at that time, up-and-comers! Written by Tom Defalco, pencils by John Romita Jr. and Alan Kupperberg, inks by Armando Gil and Danny Bulanadi, colors by Bob Sharen, and letters by Sam Rosen! And let us not forget the great cover by the team of Brent Anderson and ‘Joltin’ Joe Sinnott!

 

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Marvel’s Greatest Comics #58, 1975 (originally Fantastic Four #76, 1968)

Continuing from a post from earlier this year, I wanted to push forward with part two of this awesome story. Of course, the first Galactus story is best, but this one is no pushover. You get the world devourer, Galactus, the Silver Surfer, and by issues end, a glimpse of the Psycho Man, as well! Throw in some crazy inner-space travel, and you get an adventure for the ages! If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time we see the “microverse” in the Marvel Universe. It’s a place where you must shrink down to microscopic size to enter, but once there, you can revert back to normal size. Only the mind of someone like Jack Kirby could think something up like this, and then illustrate it so well, it blows your mind.

As usual, you get the brilliant artwork from Jack ‘King’ Kirby, also the crazy captions of Stan Lee, and the awesome inks of Joe Sinnott, and don’t forget the letters by Artie Simek! Yes, the gang’s all here for the second installment of another cosmic foray for Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four! Not lost in this story, is the sky-rider of the space-ways himself, the Silver Surfer, and a deranged being called the “Murder Machine,” as well!

 

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The Invaders #31, 1978 “The Invaders Meet Frankenstein”

In keeping with the horror theme, I thought I’d throw out another issue featuring that patchwork fellow, Frankenstein’s Monster! In this issue of  The Invaders (#31), we see the machinations of the Nazis, as they’ve not only captured the monster, but brainwashed him as well! Their goal (lofty as usual) is to replicate the process by which he was made, and create an army of undead soldiers to conquer the world! They’ve not only captured Cap and Bucky, but also the Human Torch and Toro, too.

This issue (along with the previous two) was written by Don Glut, with pencils by Chic Stone, inks by Bill Black, colors by George Roussos, and letters by Tom Orzechowski! A quirky little story that just adds to the mystique of  The Invaders! Overall this series was quite entertaining, especially when under the guidance of Roy Thomas! We saw a couple of Kirby covers, as well as Gil Kane. Interior work by names like Kupperberg, Robbins, and even Don Heck! Check out that awesome cover by the incomparable Joe Sinnott!

 

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Marvel’s Greatest Comics #71, 1977 “The Madness of the Mole Man”

Switching gears for a moment away from the Marvel team books, I’d like to showcase this one adventure of the Fantastic Four. There very first adversary, and always a classic, the Mole Man, is back, and ready to finish off Marvel’s first family! The brilliance of Jack Kirby shines through, as we see a subterranean skirmish, a wonderful photo collage of outer space, and the electronic wonders of Kirby’s limitless mind. You come to expect this when you read anything Kirby, and that is the greatest testament to the man’s status as a comic book genius.

Honestly, you can never go wrong with Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four. These issues had a certain newness to them, and a charm that no other comic book has had ever, or in a very long time. Written by Stan Lee, art by Jack ‘King’ Kirby & Joe Sinnott, and letters by Sam Rosen! A marvelous splash page of the Mole Man attacking the team is just one of the gems in this issue! Enjoy!

 

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