Admittedly, Captain America probably isn’t the best comic book to spotlight in the month of October amidst the ghosts and goblins running amok, but this story (and a few others) is a bit of an exception. Set in northern England, Cap returns to a place that he and his old partner Bucky fought against the Germans many years ago in WWII. This little excursion is taking place on the heels of Cap having a hair-raising experience with his old foe, Baron Blood (Roger Stern and John Byrne). Now he must face an old castle full of memories, and ghoulish threats!
This one is written by Bill Mantlo (Incredible Hulk, ROM, The Micronauts), and he has a group of fans (including me) that just adore his work. ROM and The Hulk specifically are very good works of his to read, and they can usually be found at fair prices anywhere. The artwork features the always ready to produce, Gene Colan (pencils). Overall the book is pretty even but there were three inkers on this issue (late on the deadline?), so things do get noticeably different in spots. Dave Simons, Al Milgrom, and Frank Giacoia shared the duties. Letters by Jim Novak, colors by Bob Sharen, and edited by Jim Salicrup! The best is for last, as this marvelous, excellent cover is by none other than Marie Severin!
To say that EC comics was the fore-bearer of just about everything in horror comics that came after them, would not be too hyperbolic. Back in 1949/1950, Bill Gaines decided to take the company in a new direction. That direction was horror, crime, suspense, etc. All new material with an edge to it that had never been seen before in comics. EC blazed a trail that made it possible for any other publisher to push boundaries like never before seen in the industry. Not only that, the content was amazing. They just didn’t go for blood and guts with no substance, they had good stories, and excellent artwork by some of the greatest horror artist (and artists in general) of all time. “Ghastly” Graham Ingals, Johnny Craig, Jack Davis, Wally Wood, Reed Crandall, Jack Kamen, Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, John Severin, Basil Wolverton, and more!
In this reprint, we see two issues chocked full of horror goodness. Vault of Horror 23, 1952, and Haunt of Fear 13, 1952. In both issues not only do you get the iconic horror hosts that helped make EC famous, but the pages are full of stories that will blow your mind when taken in the context of the year they were produced. Think about it, The Adventures of Superman, Ozzie and Harriet, and Roy Rogers were on television that year, so just imagine comic books featuring strong, mature content. It was a huge risk, but also ended up being a huge success and put EC comics into orbit.
Some of my favorite comics are those of Thor, volume one. Especially the issues in the mid-200s. I really enjoy the way each story seems self-contained but also connecting to the previous and following issues in a way that wasn’t inconvenient. In this second part of a three-part story, Tor must team-up with his sworn enemy, Ulik the Troll. These two absolutely hate one another, but they must work together to defeat a dragon and then a giant! By story’s end though, Ulik and his minions are laughing at the Prince of Asgard!
I’m a big fan of “Lively” Len Wein (writer/editor). From his work as an editor (Watchmen, New Teen Titans), and vision in reviving the X-Men franchise (along with Dave Cockrum), he really should be recognized a lot more than anyone seems to give him credit. Artist “Big” John Buscema (pencils), is a master that let us too soon. His work on books like Conan, The Avengers, and Silver Surfer are the stuff of legend. Of course, as with most artists, some inkers suited his style better than others, but honestly, his pencils were strong enough that they typically would show right through. One of the inkers that did suite him quite well, was Tony DeZuniga (Jonah Hex, Black Orchid). He’s another one of those guys that rarely gets enough airtime, as an inker or penciler, and that is a travesty. Colors were by the ever-present Marie Severin. She’s someone who should definitely be on your radar simply because not only was she a great artist, but also because she was one of the few women in comics since back in the Silver Age. Letters were by Condoy (?). The cover was by Jack “King” Kirby, and even though there appears to have been some alterations, you can still see the weight that Kirby’s pencils carry.
As the Silver Age drew to a close, the X-Men went the way of the Do-Do bird. A few scatter-shot appearances (like a good one in Marvel Team-Up #4), and, reprints! The numbering continued from the original series with nothing but reprints for quite a few years before the Wein-Cockrum-Claremont team took over. One of those books was basically an Annual, or King Size Special, in this case. The Annual reprints two issues (#22 & #23), that are a two=parter featuring Count Nefaria! And Nefaria has recruited five villains to help him in his quest to destroy the X-Men!
Following the Lee/Kirby beginning, Roy Thomas (writer) took the reigns, and with a few different artists (until his collaboration with Neal Adams) kept the train rolling for a while. Artist Werner Roth (under the pseudonym Jay Gavin), started out penciling over Kirby layouts, then moved on to taking on the job himself. The incomparable Dick Ayers was the inker, and Sam Rosen on letters! A solid cover by Marie Severin (pencils) and John Romita (inks), put the finishing touches on the book! Some great action in this issue, and even a cool scene in the Danger Room!
It’s nice to see that in this day and age, women are making great strides in the comic book industry (Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, Laura Allred, Fiona Staples, Rachel Dodson, Marjorie Liu, Jill Thompson, Jo Chen, Sara Pichelli, Siya Oum, etc.), and it’s about time. These ladies add a unique perspective to the industry that is a breath of fresh air. Back in the day though, comics were even more dominated by men, so the women of that earlier era need to be given praise for their groundbreaking work. One of those ladies was Marie Severin. Her vast body of work (Dr. Strange, Submariner, Hulk) that includes a ton of pencils, inks, and colors, cannot be overlooked, and in today’s post, you’ll get to see some of her work that I own and cherish. So, here’s to you Marie, thanks for all of your hard work not only creating art, but also paving the way for the ladies of tomorrow!
It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Robert E. Howard. And my favorite creations of his is Kull! Not only does Kull predate Conan, but he’s more of a thinker, a better leader, and he has a cool dude named Brule, that has his back in a scrap! In this issue, Kull must face the serpent cult, and their leader, Thulsa Doom! You see, this wizard is a man now, but later on, he would become more of a demon of sorts, defying death for centuries! He would live long enough to plague Conan a few times as well.
In this, his first appearance (Thulsa Doom), we see him befriend Kull, and even after Brule’s warning, Kull says that they will allow Doom to go with them to their destination. Of course, we the reader can see the devil in Doom’s eyes, but Kull seemingly cannot. A bout with a giant Plesiosaur, the serpent cult gone wild, and a betrayal on the horizon! An action packed issue from the awesome mind of the best fantasy writer of his time or any other! All hail Robert E. Howard!
The artwork by Marie & John Severin shows off what a great team they were indeed. The pencils, inks, and colors are all perfect for this genre. You really get a sense that they enjoyed working on a book like this, and I’m glad they did it! See you in three days for more comic book goodness, and don’t forget to check out my movie review (Cinema Sunday), too!
Today’s cover is one that initially appeared back in 1968 (Tales to Astonish #101), but in this reprint, it was in the mid 70’s. Story by Stan Lee, and pencils by Marie Severin! The inks by Frank Giacoia, and letters by Artie Simek. One story features the Hulk, as he travels across Bifrost (the rainbow bridge to Asgard), tossing Heimdall off in the process! The second tale about Prince Namor of Atlantis, was brought to us by Archie Goodwin, Gene Colan, and Dan Adkins! Imperious Rex! Cover by Jack ‘King’ Kirby! Enjoy!