Another “wacky villain” post here, and this guy probably isn’t considered wacky by most, but only because he’s a little more mainstream than the others I’ve typically spotlighted in my blog. Just on appearance alone though, you’ve got to admit that M.O.D.O.K. is weird. Now, throw in the Hulk Ka-Zar, and a boat-load of Dinosaurs, and you’ve got magic! You even get to see Ka-Zar take down a T-Rex*!
With all that’s going on in this book, it’s kind of a “can’t miss” for me personally. The Savage Land is a great setting for a comic book story, and Roger McKenzie (writer) delivers a good one. He completely understands how to articulate the way the Hulk and Ka-Zar communicate, fight, etc. Ka-Zar referring to the Dinosaurs as “thunder lizards” and the Hulk calling MODOK “big head,” are just two examples. Although Jerry Bingham (pencils) isn’t a well recognized name, he does a fine job in this book, and especially with MODOK. Mike Esposito (inks) is a Marvel stalwart from the Silver and Bronze Ages, as he kept books looking consistent and clean. Diana Albers (letters) and Christie Scheele (colors), round out the creative team on the interiors! The cover is by none other than Mr. Al Milgrom, and his rendition of the dinosaurs is awesome (edited by Denny O’Neil)!
(*note from the editor: no dinosaurs were hurt during the making of this comic book)
In the early 1970’s, Marvel dove head-first into the black and white magazine market. Of course, that medium was already publishing fantastic stories thanks to the creators at Warren Publishing. Some of those creators would leave and join Marvel Comics, and help them ascend and to produce some of the best mags of the decade. One of the best being Savage Tales! Issue one was released in 1971, but it didn’t exactly fly off the stands. The next issue wasn’t released for two years, but when it hit, the market was in a different place, and it sold well. The floodgates were opened, and Marvel reaped the benefits.
Savage Tales was a good mix of action, adventure, sword and sorcery, and even horror. This specific issue gives us a Ka-Zar story (“Requiem for a Haunted Man”), and the creative team on that one is utterly fantastic. Gerry Conway (writer) and Russ Heath (pencils) are joined by the studio known as the Crusty Bunkers (inks), to give us the lord of the Savage Land, Zabu, and an unfamiliar face, as they fight savages, crocodiles, and more! A prose story (The Running of Ladyhound) by none other than sci-fi scribe, John Jakes (with a couple of images) and then a tale starring Shanna the She-Devil! This tale was scripted by Carla Conway (first wife of Gerry Conway), and the art team is Ross Andru and Vince Colleta! Not too bad, eh? Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, we get a cover by Boris Vallejo, as well!
You know, I don’t remember being a huge dinosaur enthusiast as a youth, but my son definitely is/was. He knows more facts about them than I’ll ever know or understand, and his love and knowledge of dinosaurs is something that not only fascinates me, but is utterly endearing as well. In this especially awesome issue of MTU (Marvel Team-Up #19), Spidey must journey to the Savage Land, and of course almost immediately meets up with the Lord of the Hidden Jungle, Ka-Zar! The trip ends up being a bit more complicated than Spidey wanted (of course, that Parker luck!), and we are introduced to a new villain, Stegron the Dinosaur Man!
A story that has two parts (continuing in the next ish of MTU), was brought to us by Marvel super-scribe, “Lively” Len Wein! Everyone that is a fan of Marvel Comics in the Bronze Age knows of Len’s legendary contributions, and they would continue for a long time after that as well. If you’re going to have a story like this one, you need top-notch talent on the artwork, for sure. One of the all-time masters, Gil “Sugar” Kane penciled this one, and the inks of “Fearless” Frank Giacoia match up perfectly with Kane’s work. Not to be left out, are colorist Glynis Wein, and letter Dave Hunt! Sprinkle in the editorial wits of “Rascally” Roy Thomas, and you have a Bronze Age classic! Enjoy!
The title “Astonishing Tales”, is one of my favorites from the 1970’s! It started out with some awesome Dr. Doom stories, plus Ka-Zar too! Eventually, it became a vehicle for the gritty Deathlok! And believe me, we’ll take a look at that character real soon! This issue (as well as a few others) focuses on Ka-Zar, and his trip to the “big city”, also known as New York City. He isn’t there very long though, and he must face some gang members, and believe me, he’s in for some wild action!
When you have names like Mike Friedrich (writer), Gil Kane (pencils), Tom Sutton (inks), John Costanza (letters), and Roy Thomas (editor), you know you are getting a grade “A” comic book! To make things even better, you get a surprise appearance by Bobbi Morse, as well! She and Ka-Zar share some kind of unique bond, and actually seem to have an affection for one another. This adds a cool angle to the book that you don’t often get in the comics of this era. Do yourself a favor, and grab these issues if you can find them in the discount bins at a con. They’re well worth a couple of bucks in good condition!
If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a HUGE fan of Dr. Strange, and of course, love most of the artists that have drawn him over the years. One of the guys that has drawn him once in a while, but never seems to get any mention, is Dan Adkins (RIP). This guy did a lot of inking work in comics, but not a ton of work for Marvel specifically. That said, I believe he deserves to be applauded for his work in the Marvel Universe!
Dan passed away in 2013 unfortunately, but his great pencils and inks live on in the back issue bins! So get ready, and strap on your seat belt, because it’s going to be a trippy ride! From Dr. Strange to Ka-Zar, the next few images will blow your mind!
To finish off my week-long tribute to ‘Big’ John Buscema, I’m going to go with three great covers, and then some more crazy good interiors by the legend himself! So, sit back, relax, grab a cold one, and get ready to be dazzled by a man who will always be on my Mount Rushmore of artists (Colan, Kirby, Buscema, Romita)! This first cover, is one that’s been on my want list for a while, and I recently acquired it and absolutely love this one! Enjoy!
Ka-Zar vs. Man-Thing! A cover a day for the month of December! All this will lead to 2014, and my new comic book and movie review blog! Be ready! In the meantime, enjoy this great cover by Rich Buckler!