Batman 236, 1971 “Wail of the Ghost Bride!”

Happy Halloween! I’ve been spotlighting the wonderful additions to my collection from Warren Publishing (Creepy, Eerie) over the last several weeks, and I hope you enjoyed them. Now though, it’s time for some holiday spookiness from the caped crusader himself, Batman! In this issue, we get three stories, but the one I’m going to be focused on is “Wail of the Ghost Bride!” Written by Frank Robbins, with art by Irv Novick (pencils) and Dick Giordano (inks).

The opening splash page shows Batman attacking a man with his back to the audience, and with a ghostly apparition of a woman egging him on to kill her murderer. We then flashback to a time before, and Bruce Wayne is on a flight back to Gotham City. He’s reading a book on unsolved mysteries (cue Robert Stack), and wonders about the death of a woman named Corrine, the heiress to Hellbane Manor. He falls asleep and begins to dream. He wakes up though, and lurches back in terror, as this same woman he read about, Corrine, is outside the window, calling to him to avenger her death. From here, the story follows Batman, as he attempts to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of the young woman.

The story is a good one, but the overall brilliance is the art by Novick and Giordano. The two make a great paring for a character like Batman, and really showed me that they belong right up there with the other great Batman creative teams. And of course, you can’t go wrong with a fabulous cover by Neal Adams!

I’ll just briefly mention the two back up stories. First is “Rain Fire” written by Mike Friedrich and again Novick and Giordano on art. It’s just ok, and not really my cup of tea (a political/social commentary story). The second one is a reprint from Batman 30, 1945. “While the City Sleep,” is a fun little romp by Bill Finger (writer, and the true creator of Batman with the various ghost artists), with art by Dick Sprang!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fear 20, 1973 “Morbius the Living Vampire!”

The title “Fear,” was one that started out as a reprint vehicle for the giant monsters of the Atlas Age Comics. These stories featured work from some giants of the industry- Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Russ Heath, Gene Colan, and more. The book eventually morphed into one that contained all new material, starting with issue ten, and the Man-Thing, the book took a turn. We now saw new material, and material with an edge that had previously been unseen in the title (and most mainstream comics). In this story, Morbius is in the midst of a blood-lust, and attacks a woman. He then recounts his last few adventures (against the X-Men and a solo story), then meets two holy men. He seems to be calmed by their presence, but we soon find out why, and that one of these two men is not quite what he seems!

He doesn’t get much credit, but Mike Friedrich (writer) has made a few very nice contributions to the comic book industry over the years, and deserves a high-five for them!  I’m not sure, but this has to be one of the first works of Paul Gulacy (pencils) in the biz. He’s one of those guys that’s done a wide variety of work on both sides of the street. Jack Abel (inks) is a name I know from his contributions on Tomb of Dracula. He was active in the 1950’s and didn’t let up until the 1990’s. Marvel staples Tom Orzechowski (letters) and George Roussos (colors) are two more reasons that most of what Marvel published during the Bronze Age was incredibly consistent (plus Roy Thomas – editor). King of the covers, Gil Kane (pencils), and his oft collaborator, Frank Giacoia (inks), bring this fabulous cover to life!

 

img759

img760

img761

img762

img763

img758

Werewolf by Night #17, 1974 “The Behemoth!”

Everyone likes certain comics for a specific reason. The story, the artwork, the characters, and so on. Sometimes it’s as simple as a splash page, as is the case for me and this issue. I enjoy this title from beginning to end, no matter who the creative team happens to be on any particular issue. The work by Mike Ploog is obviously incredible, but by this time, he’d bowed out, and others took the reigns. Speaking of the reigns, in this particular issue, we see Jack and his handler/friend/lover, Topaz, as they’ve bitten off a bit more than they can chew with Baron Thunder! Not only is he the head of the secret group known only as “The Committee,” but he has a new ally on his side and completely under his command—The Behemoth!

Of course people have their favorites when it comes to creators, but I love a few characters so much, I can enjoy them almost all the time, no matter who is behind the steering wheel. It was only four issues long, but “Mischievous” Mike Friedrich (writer) kept the book moving forward. He’s one of those guys that gets lost among the giants of the era, but he certainly did a fine job. The artwork was by veteran “Dapper” Don Perlin (pencils and inks). I’ve always admired his work and when I look deep, I see a man who gave everything he had to an industry that didn’t always treat its creators fairly. Two more of my favorite creators in “Titanic” Tom Orzechowski (letters) and “Genuine” George Roussos (colors) round out the solid team that gave us this eerie read! A book needs a cover, and if you’re going to do it right, get Gil “Sugar” Kane and “Fearless” Frank Giacoia for the job!

 

img578

img579

img580

img581

img582

img583

img585

 

Marvel Premiere #12, 1973 “Portal to the Past”

Some of you may be wondering why I skipped issue #11. Easy answer is because it basically just reprints the origin of Dr. Strange, by Ditko and Lee. Not that the material isn’t great, but that’s not what this is about. There was a little bridging material, where the Doc went to the former dwelling of the Ancient One, and told his followers that the master is dead. In this issue, the Doc runs into a bunch of gypsies, and a huge Gargoyle! The run of Doc Strange in this title was coming to an end soon, but Englehart and Brunner sure didn’t slow down with the excitement!

For reasons unknown to me, Mike Friedrich scripted some of this issue, and he’s obviously a capable writer, and left a good imprint wherever he traveled. We know that Englehart and Brunner were just getting started with the good Doctor, and they would bring him to new heights, never before seen. No disrespect to Ditko/Lee or Thomas/Colan, but this team set the tone for decades to come, and along with John Costanza lettering, and the Crusty Bunkers inks, this issue is another gem of the run!

 

Image (39)

Image (40)

Image (41)

Image (67)

Image (68)

Image (69)

 

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!

 

Image (10)

Image (11)

Image (12)

Image (13)

Image (14)

Image (15)

Image (16)

Image (17)

 

The Life of Captain Marvel #1, 1985

With the recent release of the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, the name Jim Starlin is being brought back to prominence, and with good reason. He single-handedly revolutionized Marvel’s cosmic scene with his trippy space odysseys, and thought-provoking story lines.  Of course there were others that did justice to the cosmic stories back in the day (Neal Adams & Roy Thomas come to mind with their epic Kree/Skrull War story), but Starlin could write, pencil, color, and ink a story by himself, and it wasn’t schlock. One character in particular that he brought out of the darkness so to speak, was Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell). In Iron Man #55 (1973), Starlin gave us the dreaded Mad Titan, Thanos, and what he gift he was for the cosmic universe. We also see the Blood Brothers, and of course, Iron Man.

In 1985, Marvel released this book of three issues that were reprints of Iron Man #55, Captain Marvel #25 & 26 (1973). All three issues have Starlin’s imprint on them, and that cannot be denied. Mike Friedrich scripted the Captain Marvel issues, with Jim Starlin plotting (and coloring all three issues possibly as well?) where we see intrigue with the Skrulls, Thanos, and Captain Marvel punch out Ben Grimm! Take my word for it, and grab this reprint series (5 issues total), and catch up on some of Marvel’s greatest cosmic stories! Other credits include- Mike Esposito (inks- Iron Man #55), John Costanza (letters- Iron Man #55 & Capt. Marvel #26), Chic Stone (inks- Capt. Marvel #25), John Duffy (letters- Capt. Marvel #25), Dave Cockrum (inks- Capt. Marvel #26), and Roy Thomas (editor)!

 

Image (27)

Image (28)

Image (29)

Image (30)

Image (31)

Image (32)

Image (33)

Image (113)

Image (114)

Image (115)

Image (116)

Astonishing Tales #15, 1972 “And Who Will Call Him Savage?”

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!

 

Image (4)

Image (5)

Image (6)

Image (7)

Image (10)

Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger vol. 1

PhantomStrangervol1

A new year is upon us, and it will bring my new blog! Comic books are a big part of my life, so, obviously, they’ll be a huge focus. Twice a week, I’ll post my thoughts on a certain story, book, graphic novel, etc. Once or twice a month, I’ll post my thoughts on a classic movie, and that will most certainly be of the  horror or sci-fi genre! Well, that’s it for now, so lets get started!

Showcase#80

I’ve decided to go with one of the more recent titles I picked up with Phantom Stranger vol. 1! Being a huge fan of Dr. Strange, and all things magic/supernatural, it was only fitting that this title gets the inaugural spot in my new blog. I can honestly make a case for this being one of the top ten titles of the 1970’s, and the talent on it backs me up. Names like John Broome, Carmine Infantino, Jim Aparo, Len Wein, Mike Friedrich, and Neal Adams (covers), are just a few of the creators that made this title an incredible book to read.

The first few stories are your typical ghost stories or cult activity tale, but eventually, more macabre stories followed. A great nemesis, in Tala, Queen of Evil, was an on again, off again villain, that often tempted him with her beauty. She popped in and out for quite a while, always using her powers to cause strife, and threatening innocents. Another cool thing about these issues are the stories involving Dr. Thirteen. The doctor is a parapsychologist that is usually seen trying to debunk  paranormal activity. In some cases, he works side by side with the Phantom Stranger, even though he doesn’t always believe what he sees.

PhantomStranger#4

In one particular issue that stood out, the Phantom Stranger came face to face with an Ice Giant, atop of the world itself. Denny O’Neil, Jim Aparo, and Joe Orlando, brought this chilling tale of intrigue, and a monstrosity that towers over everyone! Once again, Tala is involved, and this adds even a crazier dimension to this awesome story. A tale of voodoo, by Mike Sekowsky, and Jim Aparo follows next, and the villain in this one was super creepy, complete with voodoo dolls, drums, and the whole get up!

PhantomStranger#14

A duel with Tannarak, the sorcerer, the Army of Evil, a swamp creature, the Iron Messiah, a waxworks nightmare, ghosts, and the list goes on and on. When you have creators of this magnitude, honestly, it’s a can’t miss. Anyone out there that knows these names, understands how great a book like this is going to be, and if you’re looking for something being new to comics, give it a try. You wont regret it! See you next time!