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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Adventures 18, 1973 “War of the Worlds!”

You may be wondering why there are back to back days of posts on my blog this week. Well, in short, it’s an anniversary for me (and a few others), and I wanted to send out an extra awesome blog post in celebration. You see, it was ten years ago (Sept. 11, 2009), that my very first column was published (click here). It wasn’t the best, but it was from the heart, as that story is my all time favorite Thor story, and one of my favorites no matter which character or universe we’re talking about. If anyone would’ve told me I’d still be writing about comics ten years later, I’m not sure I would believe it.

Many thanks go out to ComicAttack for giving me my start on this journey. As with everything in life, there are people to thank, and here is my list (if I forget anyone, apologies!)- Andy Liegl, the guy that started ComicAttack.net! I met him and several other great people on the message boards of ComicCollectorlive.com. Gid Freeman (@InfiniteSpeech), was a heavy contributor to the site from day one, and has been one of my favorite people since I met him. Kristin Bomba was a great editor, and put up with my shenanigans for a long time. Imagine if you will, a guy that waits until the night before or even the morning of a column is due to post to submit said article to the editor for proofreading…yeah, I was that guy. She was always very kind and gracious to me, and I’ll never forget it. Another huge influence and help to me was Decapitated Dan Royer (@DecapitatedDan). He was always there for advice, making banners, and encouraging me whenever I needed it. He was also the first guy to get me on a podcast (IIRC). Kudos to those four people, and all the other peeps at CA!

My next stop on the internet was ComicRelated.com (now defunct). My stay there was short, but Chuck Moore and the gang made me feel welcome. Another nod to Decapitated Dan, as he was already writing for them and friends with Chuck. He introduced us at C2E2 in 2013. Later that year, after talking with a couple of friends, I decided to branch out and start my own blog. In all honesty it was the best decision I ever made, as the blog has given me so much freedom and fun times, meeting new people, and getting even more into social media (especially Twitter). And here we are, in 2019. I must also give a shout out to @Charlton_hero and the crew at Super Blog Team Up, as they were a blast to collaborate with this past August. Now, onto this week’s post!

It took a while, but I finally secured a copy of this incredible book! The story-line involving Killraven begins here, (and really gets rolling when Don McGregor begins writing with issue 21) and is not only one of wonder and excitement, but also one that carries many messages within its pages. A concept by Roy Thomas, this story which takes some elements from the H.G. Wells story, and of course, added some other aspects as well.

We see the attack from the aliens, similar to the one in the film (this attack is in 1901), but the aliens return after there first defeat, and they are better prepared this time. The second invasion brings the defeat of mankind, and youths are taken from their homes to be trained for fighting for entertainment purposes. One of these youths is Killraven. He trains and becomes the most lethal killer of all, but never forgets how his mother and brother were callously murdered by a henchman of the aliens, named Dr. Raker.

The talent that went into this book is astonishing. Roy Thomas (plot), Gerry Conway (script), Neal Adams and Howard Chaykin (art), Petra Goldberg (colors), John Costanza (letters), and John Romita Sr. (cover)! As I stated earlier, this book would grow even bigger and better as it went on (McGregor, P. Craig Russell, Gene Colan, etc) with more contributors with excellent creative abilities. Do yourself a favor and grab the issues or the Marvel Masterworks of this title.

 

The Brave and the Bold 95, 1971 “C.O.D. Corpse on Delivery”

The simple formula of Batman plus another hero and let them solve of mystery/beat down some villains sounds kind of dry, but wait, don’t despair, when you get a creative team like this one, it’s all good. Before we get to that though, this issue did show a female antagonist for Batman, and not Catwoman, so that was refreshing. In this her first appearance, Ruby Ryder is shown as extremely ruthless, and willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. And don’t be mistaken, as she does hire muscle but she’s also not afraid to get the job done herself!

A story this wild (and believe me, it is) could only be written by “Zany” Bob Haney. I’m quite sure no one else could’ve written this one, as it requires a touch only he could apply. The artist, Nick Cardy, was his usual reliable self in this issue. He understands completely how to relay a story visually, especially Batman. And yes, spoiler alert, the surprise guest is none other than Plastic Man! There is a great quiet moment between the two heroes at the end, and really tops off the story nicely. The awesome cover is by Neal Adams!

 

 

Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane 85, 1968 “When Lois was more Super than Superman!”

All I needed to see was Lois Lane gets super powers, the bottle city of Kandor, and a mutant breed of toy-size ponies! Yes that’s all it takes. It’s the simple, crazy things in life that are amusing, and never lose their humor. Silver Age comics (especially DC), are a wonderland of humorous tales that is never-ending. Superman is probably the best example of this trend. It took quite a long time for DC to turn towards some more serious stories, but the material presented here might not be Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, but it’s a ton of fun.

And, as if the main story wasn’t ludicrous enough, we get a back up story about Lois as a toddler, getting into shenanigans. Yes, chasing a snake, “driving” a car, etc., you get the drift. A book with two insane tales, and lots of laughter. The dialogue in the first story is especially entertaining. The book is Silver Age DC comics personified.

The cover is by Neal Adams, who was very prevalent at DC in the late Silver and Bronze Ages. Moving inside, we get both parts of the Super-Lois story from Leo Dorfman, who also wrote for Dell, Gold Key, and Fawcett. The guy wrote a ton of Superman stories during this era. The artwork is by Irv Novick (pencils) and Mike Esposito (inks). Both men give us a quality job for sure (as you’ll see) in both parts. Lastly, we see the back up story created by two giants in Jerry Siegel (writer) and Kurt Schaffenberger (art)!

 

 

DC Limited Collectors’ Edition C-23, 1973 “The House of Mystery”

As October is finally winding down, one more over-sized book must get the royal treatment! And there is not a better place to walk into than The House of Mystery! Over the years that title has had many themes (pre-code horror, superheroes, then back to horror), but it really didn’t take off until 1968, when editor Joe Orlando took over the reigns (issue 174). Within just a few issues, we saw the first professional work of the most seminal horror artist of the Bronze Age, Bernie Wrightson (issue 179). Some would argue he’s the horror artist of all time, and there’s a good argument for it, but obviously that subjective, and could be talked about for decades (and probably will be).

Looking specifically at this book, we get a Nick Cardy cover, and his contributions to the comic book world cannot be in question. His decades-long  work for DC comics is nothing short of astounding. Inside we get a frontispiece by Jack Sparling, with the familiar host, Cain, telling us we are about to be in for a surprise! The first story, “The House of Gargoyles,” is scripted by Jack Oleck, with art by the aforementioned Sparling. Next, there is an incredible story called “The Secret of the Egyptian Cat.” Written by Robert Kanigher (long time DC scribe that wrote many war stories), and although he does a fine job, the artistic prowess of Bernie Wrightson is what really makes this one memorable.

The third story (“The Widow’s Walk“) is another good one, with Howard Post scripting, and the art team of Neal Adams and Joe Orlando! Very good story top to bottom! We are then treated to a two-page splash of Cain by Wrightson (black and white version), and the image is absolutely stunning. A better, more iconic image really doesn’t exist in comics. Another story (“His Name is… Kane“) with another hall of fame artist follows, as Gil Kane (pencils) and Wally Wood (inks) bless us with an art combination for the ages. The script is by Mike Friedrich, who worked for DC and Marvel during his career. As if all of this wasn’t enough, enter Alex Toth (art) with “The Devil’s Doorway.” Another script by Jack Oleck, and once again, no offense meant, but the artwork really lifts this one up quite high. Toth is a master that did everything his way, and should be lauded for it. Lastly, we get another gem from Neal Adams, Joe Orlando, and Robert Kanigher. “Nightmare” is the perfect way to finish off this extraordinary book! The book is also filled with funny pages by Sergio Aragonés, and even features a cut out, table top diorama on the back cover!

 

 

The House of Mystery 192, 1971 “Dare You Enter?”

Eight simple words, that’s all it takes to get my blood pumping. Do you dare enter The House of Mystery? An anthology title from DC comics that started in 1951, the book went on for an amazing 321 issues! The stories were all over the place of course, as the times changed (and the comics code), so did the material. Honestly though, it wasn’t until the Bronze Age that the book had some of the best creators on it.

The cover to this book is by none other than Neal Adams (pencils and inks). He proved that no matter the genre, he can produce incredible work. The inside brings three different stories (along with some extras). The first is “The Gardener of Eden” by John Albano (writer) and the exquisite work of Jim Aparo! A doctor learns a new lesson the hard way! “Image of Darkness” brings a tale of terror when a husband and wife are having domestic problems. Written by Robert Kanigher, and art by Gray Morrow! Finally, “Nobody Loves a Lizard!” shows a boy with a pet lizard that has an incredible secret. Writer Virgil North, with art by Don Heck!

 

Dracula Lives! 3, 1973 “Prince of Darkness, City of Light!

Is there a more iconic horror figure than Dracula? Probably not, and after acquiring another issue of this spooky mag, it’s time to dive into it! October is here, and the horror mags from the Bronze Age are a great way to celebrate the season. Vampires, witches, a gargoyle, and Solomon Kane! A great issue for sure that brings a solid spotlight on Dracula not only in the Marvel universe, but also in contemporary fiction and film.

The Dracula story is one that dives into the history of the character in reference to the actual continuity of the Marvel Universe (written by Marv Wolfman, and art by ‘Big’ John Buscema and Syd Shores). A battle with another vampire, Nimrod, to be specific, who was the previous lord of the undead. The second story is a reprint from the 1950s. It involves a vampire and a slasher, à la Jack the Ripper (art by Larry Woromay). This story is followed by a great puff piece about Bela Lugosi with some fantastic photos from his films (written by Doug Moench).

Next we have what is probably the best piece of the book. A story about a chance encounter between Dracula and the sword wielding Puritan, Solomon Kane (written by Roy Thomas, with art by Alan Weiss and the Crusty Bunkers)! Another reprint from the Atlas era follows with an interesting take on the Shakespeare story Macbeth (art by C. A. Winter).  Finally, we get a super story about Dracula in Paris, and this time he must do battle with a stone gargoyle (written by Gerry Conway, and art by Alfonso Font)! There is also a neat story by Chris Claremont that features some love for Hammer studios! All of this is kicked off by a wonderful painted cover by Neal Adams!

 

Atlas/Seaboard Comics!

One might get a bit confused when they see the name “Atlas Comics.” For most, it means Marvel Comics between the Timely comics era (1930s-early 1950s) and the most notable Marvel Comics era (1961-present). But after leaving Marvel Comics in 1972, Martin Goodman soon after started a rival company called Atlas Comics in NYC. He would pay better, return artwork, and in doing so, attract some of the industry’s top talent to this upstart company. A few problems arose quickly though: first, the industry was beginning to sag and the big two were having sales problems, so imagine being the new kid on the block, trying to compete with two giants. Secondly, the staff was ill-equipped to handle the assignments in front of them (Goodman made some bad decisions that put his top two employees Larry Lieber and Jeff Rovin in a tough spot- per The Comic Book Journal and Comic Book Artists mags).

Atlas may have only been in business for a couple of years, but they did produce some interesting books. I’ve got a few horror titles they released but they also had crime, military, superheroes, etc. Wonderful work by people like Neal Adams, Russ Heath, Rich Buckler, Howard Chaykin, Steve Mitchell, Steve Ditko, Gary Friedrich, Frank Thorne, and Wally Wood! Take a look!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X-Men Classics 1, 1983 “The Sentinels Live!”

Back in the Silver Age, the X-Men weren’t a big deal. The book just never seemed to be able to find an audience. The early issues were a bit tough to get through reading, but the Kirby artwork obviously helped. That said, after issue 66, it went into reprints. That’s the part that baffles me, since leading up to that last issue of new material (the title was cancelled and went into reprints for over four years, until 1975), the book was producing the strongest material to date by a long shot!

This fantastic reprint book shows us issues 57-59, with that incredible story with the return of the Sentinels! Of course that means Trask as well, but we also see the dangerous Mesmero too (and Magneto…sort of)! The interpersonal relationships between the team members is on full display in these issues for sure.

Roy Thomas (writer) was certainly a gifted writer and that was clear on any kind of book, but his keen sense on writing team books was certainly felt by the readers of the X-Men. He knew how to weave the personal nature of the X-Men and the real world applications together seamlessly. The team of Neal Adams (pencils) and Tom Palmer (inks) put on quite a show in these issues as they did in pretty much everything else they touched as creators during their storied careers. The colors were courtesy of Daina Graziunas. Throw in a great wraparound cover by Mike Zeck (and Palmer on inks again), and throw in some extra art by Adams as well, and you get to see a visual feast!

 

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DC comics: The Unexpected!

As we creep closer to Halloween, I’d like to take time to spotlight some of the DC comics titles I’ve recently bought. One of my favorites is The Unexpected! An anthology book that never lacked cool stories, good artwork, and variety! Under the watchful eyes of editor Murry Boltinoff, the title gave us stories about madmen, murderers, ghosts, goblins, and grave robbers. An eclectic band of material, The Unexpected was one-third of DC comics’ line of anthology horror titles, and I’ll certainly be showcasing the others as well.

My earliest issue is #115, and the glorious Neal Adams cover shows you exactly what kind of quality you got with this series. Quite a few of the covers were done by perennial DC artist Nick Cardy (one of my all time DC faves), and a couple by the Argentinian artist Luis Dominguez! The interiors had no shortage of superstars, as names like Curt Swan, Werner Roth, George Tuska, Ross Andru, Mike Esposito, Jerry Grandenetti, Rico Rival, Don Perlin, Rich Buckler, and more! Do yourself (and your local comic shop) a favor, and grab something unexpected this Halloween!

 

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