Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction Giant Size Special 1, 1976

Well, it’s finally here. This is the last issue of the series. It has been all sorts of fun going through them, and I hope you all have enjoyed it as well. This issue sports a fantastic cover by Don Newton, then a frontispiece by Rick Bryant, followed by a text piece by Roy Thomas with an illustration by Mike Kaluta!

The first story is “A Martian Odyssey” which is an adaptation of a story by Stanley Weinbaum. He was a science fiction writer that was revolutionary for his time (1930s-1940s). A mission to Mars turns deadly in this story! An awesome story indeed! Script by Don Glut, art by Ruben Yandoc!

Next up is an interview with none other than Theodore Sturgeon (IT!, Killdozer)! A wonderful interview conducted by Alan Brennert.

After that, we get “Journey’s End.” This story is set in the future, and spotlights something called cerebral imagery in the year 2036! Written by Bruce Jones, with art by Alex Niño!

The Forest for the Trees” follows that one, and we get two of my favorite things- laser guns and dinosaurs! Very cool story by Bruce Jones and equally as cool art by Vicente Alcazar!

The beginning of a great installment of Fantastic Worlds by Don and Maggie Thompson discusses some very good anthology recommendations!

Another offering from Bruce Jones (writer and artist) is called “Clete.” The visuals are very “Gorn” from Star Trek, but this one is based on Earth, and an apocalyptic version at that!

Preservation of the Species” is another offering from Bruce Jones, but only the story, with art by Ruben Yandoc (miscredited to Redondo). Another futuristic tale involving mankind, and mutations! This one is interesting to say the least.

After the warning by Roy Thomas in the previous issue, I’m surprised we didn’t get one on this story. “Sinner” by Archie Goodwin (writer/art) takes a pretty good jab at religion in this one.

Speaking of the Gorn/Star Trek, “Arena” adapts a story by Frederic Brown. And, well, it pits a man against a lizard-like creature! Yes, this was the inspiration for the television episode from 1967.

Finally, the story “Threads” closes out the issue and series. Two children using a toy laser gun are playing together. They get called in for dinner. The television tells the viewers there are atmospheric disturbances occurring, and things get darker from there. Written by Mat Warrick, with art by Adrian Gonzales!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, you need these magazines for your sci-fi collection. They’re such an incredible snapshot of the time, and really chocked full of great material.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown World’s of Science Fiction 2, 1975 “All-New! War Toy”

In this second week of my blog’s revival, I wanted to continue looking at this incredible sci-fi magazine series by Marvel Comics. Like the previous issue, this one has bookends featuring “Slow Glass” and it has an excellent lead story, along with more chapters of Day of the Triffids! Two very good articles are also included in this one, so strap yourself in, as this rocket ship is blasting off!

Another introduction to Slow Glass leads off, and this one is very intriguing. We see Mr Tyme heading into a lavish apartment complex (a deluxe apartment in the sky, you might even say). Once inside, he meets up with a rich man named Mr. Wilder. the two did some business in the past, but the consequences of that visit, are about to come home to roost! Written by Tony Isabella, with art by Frank Brunner and Klaus Janson!

After a peek into the Slow Glass, we see “War Toy!” A group of scientists/doctors are gathered around an operating table, but there patient isn’t a man, but a robot! He’s trained to be the perfect soldier, but what happens when the war is over? Written by Tony Isabella, art by George Pérez and Rico Rival!

An interview with author Alfred Bester (Demolished Man) is up next, and was conducted by Denny O’Neil! It’s accompanied by two illustrations by Rick Bryant, and a sample page from an Australian comic strip adaptation of The Stars my Destination (by Bester). The adaptation is by Steve Harper and Stanley Pitt.

The third installment is a story called “Adam…and No Eve.” An adaptation from Bester, this revolves around a man that creates a rocket fuel to get to space, but the mathematician he’s hired informs him that the fuel is deadly, and if even a single drop hits the Earth, it will kill billions. Written by Denny O’Neil, with art by Frank Robbins and Jim Mooney!

The Hunter and the Hunted” is up next, and the story and art are by Mike Kaluta (he created the awesome cover for this issue as well!). Full disclosure, I have no idea what he was going for here. Very minimalist story/art, but fascinating anyway.

The following addition shows an article by Don Thompson about the Hugo awards. There are photos and mentions of sci-fi stalwarts like Harlan Ellison, Frank Kelly Freas, and so forth.

Writer/artist Bruce Jones then gives us a tale called “Specimen.” This is a cool story that has a twist ending I definitely didn’t see coming! Kudos to Jones for this one, as it’s probably my favorite story of his I’ve ever read.

Two more chapters finish off “The Day of the Triffids” adaptation, and it was really a fun ride. Gerry Conway (John Wyndham novel) and Rico Rival do an excellent job!

The magazine is finished off by two more pages of the Slow Glass story by Isabella, Brunner, and Janson. Again, great work by these creators on this premise by Bob Shaw.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction 1, 1974 “Day of the Triffids”

At first sight, this magazine (published in 1975) doesn’t look like anything special. Oh the cover by Kelly Freas (with alterations by John Romita), is very cool, but sci-fi hadn’t really hit it big yet in the mainstream (pre- Star Wars, and Star Trek films). What Marvel did though, was bring in stories written by some of the greatest writers of the genre, and adapt them for comic book format. When you can slap the name Ray Bradbury on your cover, it’s going to sell some books for sure.

As if the spectacular cover wasn’t enough, we get a frontispiece by Spanish master, Esteban Maroto! Most of Marvel’s magazines had these pin ups inside the front cover, and some even at the end of the issue. Using Bradbury’s name on the cover was a good idea, but in all honestly, the name Bob Shaw should’ve been on there as well. His concept “slow glass” is the subject of this book, and sort of introduces the other stories (and bookends as well), as a portmanteau film executes for its audience. Those pages are by Tony Isabella (script, adapted from the Shaw idea), and the art team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer!

The first chapter is “The Day of the Triffids!”In this story (based on the John Wyndham novel), we see a particular species of tree that not only seems to be able to think for itself, but has malice toward human being as well! Written  by Gerry Conway, with art by Ross Andru and Ernie Chan!

Next, we get a story written and drawn by Neal Adams! The story is an anti war/Vietnam piece told through the lens of sci-fi. The story is told almost like news blurbs, which is fascinating for 1975!

The third installment is a fabulous interview with Ray Bradbury. He speaks about his youth, and the formative that guided some of his writing. The interview is conducted by Sheldon Dorf.

Next up is a hilarious parody story (Smash Gordon!) by none other than Frank Brunner (story and art)! This one is not only comedic, but it is absolutely gorgeous to look at. If you’ve seen his work before, get ready, as this is on another level.

An atomic test in the New Mexico desert is the start of “Savage World!” Three of the people involved with the bomb test end up in an underground world. Are the rulers peaceful as they claim or not? Script by Wally Wood, and art by Al Williamson!

Another interview graces the pages of this magazine, and this time it’s with the cover artist (and artistic giant), Kelly Freas! They include a few images of his work on some science fiction books from yesteryear as well!

We then get another story that is pretty straightforward, but has a comedic ending. Automated cities of the future are now the only place you’ll find human beings. A plane crash strands a few people out in a wasteland, and as you can imagine, it doesn’t end well. Story and art by Mike Kaluta!

Finally, another chapter of Slow Glass, and this one is seven pages long! We watch as a couple who has traveled off the beaten path attempts to purchase some slow glass from an elderly man. But this man has a secret, and it’s one he doesn’t want people to know. Script by Tony Isabella, with art by Gene Colan and Mike Esposito!

As of this blog post being published, these magazines can still be had for reasonable prices on places like Ebay. Any interested parties should think about getting these sooner rather than later, as they probably won’t be reprinted any time soon (Marvel wqould probably need to get the rights to publish it again as the source material belongs to the book publisher or the estates).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Phantom Stranger 23, 1973 “Panic in the Night!”

In this second week of October fun, it will be my last week spotlighting the Phantom Stranger, sadly. No worries though, as I’m sure he’ll make more appearances down the road. This is my last issue from this run, though. but the other issues that feature a different creative team are still pretty good. The character is awesome but for me, these two creators took him to heights no one else had before or since. Alright, onto the story…

The setting is Paris, France, and the police find a prowler in a cathedral. He’s ringing the bells and laughing at his behavior at the same time. The villain looks like the Gentleman Ghost, but the police refer to him as Quasimodo. A plane lands at the airport, and the Phantom Stranger and Cassandra Craft exit the aircraft, and she tells the Stranger that her powers of perception are telling her this is the place of a disturbance. The Stranger then begins to question some locals about an organization that calls itself the Dark Circle. Later that very same night, a crowd is horrified to see the same ghostly figure from the cathedral sawing through the chain of a huge chandelier. If it falls, it will surely kill a few dozen people at the least. The Stranger jumps in at the last moment to save the day. But he still must contend with the Dark Circle, and they have abducted Cassandra! Awesome story by Len Wein in this issue. He really gets this character perfectly, and I feel it’s one of his best jobs in comics. Jim Aparo (interior and cover art) has done more than a serviceable job on many characters/books, but this one for me is right up there with his best (The Spectre, The Brave and the Bold). What a great team.

The back up story in this book is something to be celebrated as well. Marv Wolfman and Mike Kaluta (via Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley) bring us “The Spawn of Frankenstein!” Two men digging in the Arctic find the remains of the Monster and are hell-bent on reanimating this abomination. A welcomed switch from Dr. 13. for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justice League of America 154, 1978 “I’ll Kill You in Your Dreams!”

My first encounter with the JLA, was in the form of television and the Superfriends. The stories weren’t anything heavy, but they were fun to watch and kept me entertained. I didn’t buy my first JLA comic though until just a few years ago. This wasn’t the first issue I bought, but it’s a good one! A story is only as good as its villain (just my two cents). Back to animation for a minute…The Justice League television show from the early 2000s was  a fantastic show, and the episode with Doctor Destiny was incredible (they haven’t yet reached that specific episode, but the JLUcast is a great podcast about that show)!

Back to this book. Like the TV show, we see Dr. Destiny control the dreams of the League, in an attempt to kill them (it’s obvious the show lifted its premise from here), but of course, good guys beat bad guy. Not that it’s boring mind you, the villain really makes the heroes look pretty pathetic for a while. We also get to see the heroes as their civilian alter egos, and normal everyday stuff. It was quit refreshing.

As expected, the names in the credits are absolute staples of the Bronze Age. Writer Gerry Conway does a fine job with the script/story, and does insert some of his personal beliefs/social commentary in the issue as well. He, along with a lot of the other writers of the time were very good at sending messages without being overt or preachy about it (kudos).  The artistic chores fell on the shoulders of another pair of names synonymous with the age. Dick Dillin (pencils) and Frank McLaughlin (inks) were both on point here and did a fine job with a lot going on in this issue. Two more names in Jerry Serpe (colors) and Ben Oda (letters) round out the interior art team. The cover is by Mike Kaluta and Al Milgrom, and although it is pretty good, it’s also not quite what you’d expect. Not sure if it’s the team up of these two guys or just not the greatest layout or composition.

 

 

Time Warp 1, 1979 “Doomsday Tales and Other Things”

In the late 1970s, DC cut back on their titles, and laid off a ton of employees. The comics just weren’t selling, and they needed to regroup. The early 1980s would bring some new hope in the form of All-Star Squadron, and New Teen Titans, but there were also some additions that are very obscure, but noteworthy for the comic book aficionados out there!

A short series of only five issues, this weird book gave us some rather interesting material. Mostly sci-fi (with a little horror), this first issue is chocked full of creators with a long list of credits, and quite frankly, legends in the business. From aliens to spider-men, you’ll be whisked away to fantasy worlds that will take you back to a time when comics were great!

Cover by Mike Kaluta, interiors stories by Denny O’Neil, Michael Fleischer, George Kashdan, Mike Barr, Jack Harris, Bob Rozakis, and Paul Levitz. The art teams are nothing short of spectacular and include the late, great Rich Buckler, Dick Giordano, Steve Ditko, Tom Sutton, Jerry Grandenetti, Don Newton, Dan Adkins, and Jim Aparo!