It took me quite a while to obtain this annual, and with the soaring prices of certain back issues, it was no small feat. Especially with the Guardians of the Galaxy craze following the release of the films. Most of this issue has nothing to do with the films of the MCU, but there is one scene that was an obvious steal from the book (I’ll include the page below).
This era for Thor doesn’t get mentioned very often (especially if you exclude me) and it’s a tragedy. The creators that worked on this title in the Bronze Age were great. Sometimes the stories were a little one-note, but sometimes they were epic in scope and took your imagination to new places. It’s widely known that the John Byrne zealots will attack if you don’t revere his FF run, but the Bronze Age is very comparable if you read it thoroughly. Tons of the Asgardian mythos, stand-alone stories, adventures with the Avengers, space travel, etc., you get it all.
This annual is very interesting as it shows Thor getting transported to the future (via an explosion at some nuclear facility…). He ends up drifting through space, and becomes like a frozen rock. He’s then picked up by a band of misfits that call themselves the Guardians of the Galaxy! Small talk ensues, then, they must face Korvac and his Minions of Menace!
The creative team on this one reads like an all-star team from comic books! Co-plotter/Editor Len Wein, co-plotter/scripter Roger Stern, Sal Buscema and Klaus Janson art, Glynis Wein colors, and Joe Rosen letters.
Back again, and this time I have another shot of Daredevil for you! The silly villain this time around is called “Copperhead.” It seems that Daredevil has competition out there in the form of a person imitating a character from a pulp book from the 1930s. This man has no regard for life (sort of like the Punisher), and lays down judgement on wrongdoers all over the city. It’s up to Mr. Murdoch to try to stop this renegade, if he can! Copperhead is no joke…OK, he is but he does have poison tipped darts that he shoots out of his gun, and a diamond hard mask to protect his identity! Plus, we get some political drama with Foggy as well in this issue!
I’m not quite sure why, but the issue is written by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman (he was the steady writer around this time, and Wein the editor). No matter though, as both guys gives us the straight forward dialogue you came to expect from this title in the Bronze Age. The artistic team is one that I’m torn over. Gene Colan (pencils) is without a doubt my favorite penciler of all time. He’s so uniquely talented, you’ve got to love the guy’s work. The inks are provided by Klaus Janson. His work with Frank Miller on Daredevil in the 1980s is fantastic, as is his solo work. He just doesn’t seem like the best match for Colan’s pencils. The colors are provided by Michele Wolfman, and the letters by Joe Rosen. We also get a great cover by the team of Gil Kane (pencils) and Frank Giacoia (inks)!
Has there ever been a better title for a story than this one? Exactly. Lame villains are what make the world go ’round, as we all know. Daredevil has seen his fill of these wacky characters, and it’s why I love this title during the Bronze Age! The book got way too serious for me once Frank Miller took over (even though, I still enjoy some of those stories). But wacky stories involving characters like the “Man-Bull,” are just too awesome to not spotlight. The man without fear versus a guy that’s part man, part bull…what’s not to like?
Seeing the name Marv Wolfman (writer/editor), at the helm always puts me at ease. Whether it was Tomb of Dracula, Batman, or Crisis on Infinite Earths, the guy gets it done. Not the most well known tandem in comics, but Bob Brown (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks), do hold their own and give us some nice visuals. Michele Wolfman (colors) and Joe Rosen (letters), round out the interior creative team! As usual, we get a cool cover, and the team of Rich Buckler (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks) are responsible!
How is it possible that a character that cannot speak be so appealing? Well, when you take an origin story that involves a mystical swamp (near the Nexus of All Realities), a scientist, and Hydra (a later retcon not explicitly told in the origin story), and you’ve got a great way to convince me. Taking the concept from King Kong (1933), men who seek to cage something unnatural, and put it on display, are just begging for trouble. The trope of trying to contain something that is virtually uncontrollable, is one that’s been used many times over, with a varying degree of success. This time is definitely on the positive side.
When he was still alive, the mind of Steve “Baby” Gerber (writer) might have been a scary place to dive into. Hi stories about the weird and supernatural are top-notch. Why he isn’t recognized more outside of the circle of hardcore fans is a mystery to me, especially considering the praise other creators from that era and beyond seem to have for him and his work. Of Out of all the people who’ve drawn Man-Thing, I think “Big” John Buscema (pencils on interiors, and cover art) is my favorite. He certainly understood how to draw everything even though he’s gone on record stating he didn’t like to draw superheroes all that much, he always did an admirable job. He is still one of the giants of the industry. “Santa” Klaus Janson (inks) is an artist that I first saw on Daredevil, and always thought he brought an extra dimension to whatever he had his hands in. John Costanza (letters) and Linda Lessmann (colors), are two very capable contributors that never failed to get it done. Let us not forget “Rascally” Roy Thomas (editor), as his work not only as a writer, but editing also is something that puts him at the top of the food chain in comic book history! You also get three bonus stories with work by great creators like Dick Ayers, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby!
The title Jungle Action, started off as a reprint book showcasing stories from the 1950’s of…well, jungle action, from the series of the same title (and others). In issue #5 however, the book became a vehicle for the Black Panther! This Jack Kirby creation was very prominent in the pages of the Fantastic Four, but after Kirby left, it seemed like the character lost his home. The character would find a home here, then transition to the Avengers, and become a regular there for a time.
The writer, ‘Dutiful’ Don McGregor, is one that had the Midas touch when it came to certain characters, and the Black Panther is definitely one of them! Teamed with penciler ‘Riotous’ Rich Buckler, the two would be a solid duo that cranked out many great books over time. Inks by ‘Santa’ Klaus Janson, letters by ‘Titanic’ Tom Orzechowski, colors by Glynis Wein, and edited by ‘Rascally’ Roy Thomas!
After just a few issues, the Englehart/Brunner team lost one of its members. The rigors of monthly comics just didn’t suit the style of Frank Brunner, so he stepped aside from that chore (still doing awesome covers like this one). It just so happened that someone else with incredible artistic talents was ready and willing to take up the job! Gene “The Dean” Colan returned to the character that he had worked on before back in the late Silver Age, along with Roy Thomas, Tom Palmer, and others. Colan has done a lot of magnificent work in his lifetime, but other than Tomb of Dracula, I think Dr. Strange was his best work. The character just seemed to fit his style perfectly, and Colan really added a more macabre feeling to the book.
In this issue, the Sorcerer Supreme and Clea are beset by the unyielding powers of Umar and of course, the Dread Dormammu! This fantastic issue was written by Steve Englehart, pencils by ‘Gentleman’ Gene Colan, inks by Mr. Klaus Janson, letters by Sir Tom Orzechowski, colors by the indomitable Petra Goldberg, and edited by ‘Lively’ Len Wein! Enjoy!
Although the cover is Gil Kane and John Romita Sr., we get some fabulous interiors by ‘Big’ John Buscema in this book! I know most don’t think of Man-Thing when they think Buscema, but believe me, his work on this title is second only to Ploog in my humble opinion. And that’s saying something, because Ploog is a legend in this genre, more so than Buscema.
In this story, we see a troubled writer, that seems to have a broken mind, and maybe a shattered spirit. We see over the course of a few issues, that this man, Brian Lazarus, is somehow tied to the titles shambling protagonist, Man-Thing! Are the people torturing Brian really there, or are they just figments of his imagination? Only Steve Gerber & ‘Big’ John Buscema could bring us this macabre story! Enjoy!