Captain America #154, 1972 “The Falcon Fights Alone!”

After two solid runs (one by Gary Friedrich and the other by Gerry Conway) on this title, the book was in need of another direction. The days of Cap fighting Nazis and Commies was over, and the character was basically spinning his wheels. Sure, you had some good stories in the Avengers, but his solo book was about to be redirected and there would be no going back. The issue before this one started a storyline where Cap had seemingly turned into a flaming racist, and his old partner (believed dead after this retcon story) Bucky was also back and spouting racist remarks towards the Falcon. It was an obvious imposter, but who are these two, and how do they know so much about the history of the star-spangled Avenger?

When “Stainless” Steve Englehart (writer) took over this book, most probably had no clue what was in store, and what a wild ride it was! Add into the mix “Our Pal” Sal Buscema (interior pencils and cover, inks by Frank Giacoia) and “Jumbo” John Verpoorten (inks), as the art team, John Costanza letters, and Roy Thomas editing, and you get one of the best the Bronze Age has to offer!

 

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The Monster of Frankenstein #5, 1973 “The Monster Walks Among Us”

When I hear the name Mike Ploog, I immediately gravitate to Marvel horror from the 1970’s, as most probably do, but that is to be expected. His work in that genre is unparalleled, and most lovers of that genre might curse me for saying this, but I think he ranks right up there with the all-time greats (Wrightson, Frazetta, etc.). His run on these titles wasn’t incredibly extensive, but the impact certainly cannot be denied.

Let us take a look at the fifth issue of The Monster of Frankenstein, shall we? Just look at that cover! The Monster, a beautiful woman, the fire, boat, and roaring sea. Just an incredible piece of artwork. The splash page is almost as cool, and really shows great perspective by Ploog. His rendition of the Monster can look menacing or sorrowful, and even both at the same time. So, enjoy this peek at one of Ploog’s best issues! Written by Mike Friedrich, pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by ‘Jumbo’ John Verpoorten, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Artie Simek, and edited by Roy Thomas!

 

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The Monster of Frankenstein #4, 1973 “Death of the Monster!”

Recently, on Mike Ploog’s Facebook page, he noted that this issue was probably his favorite. So, yeah, that’s inspiration enough for this guy to write something down, and post some scans of the awesome artwork that is Mike Ploog. In this issue, we see the Monster kill a deer, by tossing a spear at it, he also fights a native people (I think), then after making friends with them, fights alongside them against a warring local tribe. Intense fight scenes, dog-sled action, clubs, axes, spears, you name it, this one has it. In the end though, the Monster just wants to find something, and he gets a tip on where to look for a descendant of his creator!

Written by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by ‘Jumbo’ John Verpoorten, letters by Artie Simek, colors by Glynis Wein, and edited by Roy ‘the boy’ Thomas! Even if you can’t afford the singles, you can still grab the Marvel Essentials at shows and some websites. The artwork holds up great in black and white!

 

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Comics: The 1970’s Horror Explosion! Pt. 1

After those dreadful government hearings in the 1950’s about the comic book industry, the publishers decided to create an organization (The Comics Code Authority) that would oversee and approve of everything published. This stranglehold lasted until Lee, Kane, and Romita gave us “Green Goblin Reborn”, in 1971. This fantastic arc showed us the Osborn family, and their decent into madness. It also was a request from the government to show readers the dangers of drug use that prompted this story to be published. This helped relax the Comics Code Authority’s grip on what could and could not be shown in comics (from 1954 until that point- no Vampires, Werewolves, axe-wielding maniacs, drug use, etc., were allowed in comics, but Lee and Marvel decided to print the issues without the seal of approval).

People’s opinions vary, but it seems as if the Authority was created to more or less put EC Comics out of business. Why? Because they were the dominating force in horror/sci-fi comics, and nobody else could come close to doing what they were accomplishing. I haven’t personally read much of their content, simply because it’s very expensive, but from what I have seen (and heard from many people more knowledgeable than I), they were the best.

Marvel had given up doing horror books but did do a ton of stories that revolved around giant monsters and otherworldly beings from outer-space. These stories were created by giants like Jack ‘King’ Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Don Heck. Some of them were reprinted in books like Chamber of Chills, Monsters on the Prowl, and Where Monsters Dwell, just to name a few. There was the arrival of other titles that contained some new material as well (Chamber of Darkness), and were not hardcore horror, but “sophisticated suspense”, as DC Comics would call such material.

So, without further delay, let me present some of the reprint work, along with some new material from Marvel Comics, from the late 1960’s and the 1970’s! Enjoy!

 

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The Eternals #1, 1976

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You know something, Jack Kirby’s return to Marvel yielded some comics that most think are slightly odd, but if you look closely, you’ll find a real gem in The Eternals! This fantastic book only lasted nineteen issues (plus one annual), but it really set a tone for things to come in the Marvel Universe. My favorite story of all time, is one that involves the Eternals. The story is called “Thor: The Eternals Saga”, and it’s an incredible journey through the history of not just Thor, but the Eternals, and the Asgardians as well!

In this first issue, we see Ikaris, as he’s befriended two humans. The humans are researchers that are looking through ancient ruins for proof of life beyond the stars. With the help of “Ike Harris”, they find more than they bargained for, and might not survive to tell the story!

Checkout these awesome pages drawn by Kirby (inked by John Verpoorten). You really see his unique style on full display! Enjoy!

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The Eternals #1, 1976. “When Gods Walked the Earth”

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A couple of years ago, I decided to dig deeper into the wondrous world of Jack Kirby. Being a Marvel zombie at the time, I thought I’d grab this series if I could find it in its entirety, and for a bargain. Well, I’m happy to say that for $38, I bought the full series (yes, even the Annual) for that low price! Most of the books are in good condition, and only a couple are a little worse for the wear, but still readable. This fantastic series takes a journey through ancient times, and gives the reader a glimpse at the future too! Written, drawn, and edited by the King (inks by John Verpoorten)!