As Stevecember chugs along, we get a classic horror tale from none other than my favorite Dr. Strange writer, Steve Englehart! Before his time on The Avengers and Dr. Strange, and long before his Justice League and awesome Batman (with Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin) work, he wrote some off-beat horror stories for Warren, DC, and of course, Marvel comics.
In this issue of Journey into Mystery, we get “House!” We see Jim Staton (a riff on Joe Staton?) wandering onto a certain property, as his car has broken down in the Kentucky wilderness. He shows himself inside, and it appears the home is abandoned. He notices how odd the entrance is, and that it sports a gate, as a castle would. Jim throws his coat on the floor, and gets ready to fall asleep for the night. He was all but asleep, and then his hand touches something on the floor. There is some sort of viscous material seeping from the walls and floors, and it freaks Staton out. He attempts to run out of the house, but the gate slams shut. Suddenly, the carpet begins to jump up and down like the waves in the ocean. It pulls him back, further into the house. He tries to run down the hall, but there’s a huge drop off into a bottomless pit, barring his way. As he turns around towards the living room, the opening begins to close, and Staton begins to piece together what’s happening. He believes the house is alive, and it is about to eat him!
This little horror story is very reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode. And we know that’s a good thing. Englehart is more known for writing multipart stories that can last for a few issues in a row, tying continuity together from the past and present as well. No need for that here, but that’s the point. He can write any kind of story and that’s why he’s on my Mount Rushmore of comic book writers.
Story by “Stainless” Steve Englehart, and art by Ralph Reese! Tune in next week, for the conclusion of Stevecember!
There is probably not a more iconic of a monster than the Monster of Frankenstein! The 1931 classic film (and the first sequel) is undoubtedly in the pantheon of great films because of its significance, and because it was great with excellent performance by Colin Clive and of course, Boris Karloff. Fast forward to the 1970s, and we were presented with an adaptation of sorts for the first few issues by Mike Ploog (the artwork is excellent) and Gary Friedrich (good script by Gary as usual). These two creators were perfect for the book and the time in comics. Both men have left a lasting impression on the industry for sure.
In this issue, you get some really great material, as the Monster fights knights, an angry mob of mutants, and even a giant spider! The story is one right out of a fantasy novel, and it suits the Monster perfectly. There is always that feeling of sorrow for him, but seeing him perform acts of heroism is also refreshing. At this point, he’s not just a mindless beast, but sentient. Definitely pick this series up as it’s one of a kind. John Costanza (letters), Glynis Wein (colors), and Roy Thomas (editor), round out the creative team.
There are many creators that made their mark in the Bronze Age, and some that ascended from an embryonic stage to stardom. Of course, these men and women didn’t realize it back in the day, but decades later, others like myself revel in their works, and hold them in high esteem for it! A title that most certainly gave opportunity for those willing to work on it was Dr. Strange! Think about it. Limitless worlds, characters, scenarios, etc., that was a springboard for the imaginations of its creators that had the wherewithal to use.
One of those above mentioned creators without a doubt, is P. Craig Russell (co-plotter, pencils, inks, colors)! This man’s work is nothing short of extraordinary to say the least. His run on Amazing Adventures is the stuff of legend. His inks over the pencils of Gil Kane (Marvel Fanfare) are noteworthy as well. As with many books of that era, Marv Wolfman (script and co-plot) lent his tremendous skills as a writer, and joined Russell in creating a gem. Letters by John Costanza, and a fantastic cover by none other than Dave Cockrum!
Different decades mean different things to all of us, but certain eras are definitely made more spectacular by a select few. A couple of those names for me personally (for the 1970’s) are most certainly Marv Wolfman and P. Craig Russell. Both of these gentleman became big names in the 1970’s, and rightfully so. Wolfman for his work with Marvel Comics horror titles, initially (Tomb of Dracula, and wrote/edited many black & white mags), and Russell with his work also for Marvel, on the title Amazing Adventures featuring Killraven. Of course, both did spot jobs here and there on whatever they could get their hands on, but both have a knack for creating on titles with a supernatural or mystical aspect to them.
In this wild adventure, Dr. Strange must travel to an otherworldly plane to battle for his lover, Clea. The enemy he must face is beautiful as well though, but very dangerous and powerful! Get ready, because this one’s a real head trip! Co-plotted by Russell and Wolfman, scripted by Marv Wolfman, pencils, inks, and colors by P. Craig Russell, letters by John Costanza, and cover by Dave Cockrum! Enjoy!