Marvel Spotlight – The Scarecrow (A.K.A. the Straw Man)!

After recently obtaining the last appearance that I needed of this character from the Bronze Age, I felt compelled to spotlight this crazy character. He’s definitely right up there with my other oddball favorites (The Tatterdemalion, The Orb, etc.). After a few years in dormancy, the character’s name was changed to avoid confusion with another Scarecrow, so he was then called The Straw Man in the late 1980s. No matter what you call him, he’s a ridiculous character that makes absolutely no sense, and that’s probably why I love him so much.

His first in a comic was in Dead of Night 11, 1975. A year later, he was in two more, but then took some time off for a while. He reappeared in Doctor Strange Sorcerer Supreme where he was relabeled. He wasn’t given much panel time in that series but by then the other Scarecrow was in full swing in the Marvel Universe. It seems there was only room for one. Ah well, we still have the few Bronze Age books to look back on with nostalgia.

 

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DC comics: The Witching Hour!

Back so soon? And for more fright I see…well, lets see if some DC comics can do the trick! Their horror titles in the 1970’s were awesome, and anthologies like The Witching Hour! were right at the topOut of all the DC horror titles I own, this is the one that I own the most issues of, and that is a good thing. Top to bottom the series had the standard fair of the times, but always slanted towards the side of death. Whether it was supernatural (as it was most of the time), or just your garden variety psychopath, the book delivered. Oh, and skulls are a major cover theme!

One of the things that made this title a winner was the huge names that graced the credits early on, but let us not pass over the great group of artists from foreign countries that made a huge breakthrough in this decade. The most prominent cover artist of this title in the books you’ll see here, is Luis Dominguez.  You do get a couple from the always awesome Nick Cardy as well, and even one by Ernie Chan. The interiors were a mixed bag for the most part but were always solid. You get names like Ruben Yandoc, Rico Rival, E. R. Cruz, Ricardo Villamonte, Nestor and Frank Redondo, Dick Ayers, Chic Stone, Gerry Talaoc, Alfredo Alcala, Curt Swan, and more!

 

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Monsters Unleashed #11, 1975

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This gem is my first foray into the magazine market of Marvel Comics. I was really shocked at how fantastic the interiors were in this one (not to mention that fabulous cover by Frank Brunner)! Not only does it contain three really good stories, but the very inside cover brings an illustration by the late, great, Dave Cockrum (below)! And not just any illustration, but one of my favorite Universal Monster movies, Creature From The Black Lagoon! It has a short prose piece underneath the artwork, and with just one small paragraph, you get the chills thinking about that great film!

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Next, we get a very scary story, starring Gabriel, Devil Hunter! In this one, we see Gabriel, as he must exorcise a very powerful demon from an old man. This demon isn’t going quietly though, and it will take every trick in the book to put this one down! Great tale by Doug Moench & Sonny Trinidad!

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“The Empire”, is a story by Gerry Conway & Rico Rival, and it tells of corporate viciousness, and all that it leads to in the end. This one might not have the guts, blood, or demons, but it really makes you wonder about things that are quite sinister in the corporate world on a daily basis, I’m sure!

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Last, but not least, we see a story that Don McGregor & Billy Graham really use to send the issue out with a bang! Literally! This one reminds me of a Jonny Quest episode, where a mad scientist is experimenting with genetics in the reptile family. A once small lizard, grows out of control and terrorizes the city. The ending is reminiscent of the Ray Harryhausen movie, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms!

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As you can see, the stories and artwork in this magazine are excellent. Editor-in-chief, Marv Wolfman, along with Don McGregor (editor/writer), David Anthony Kraft (associate editor), and John Romita (art director), were the driving force behind the editing and art direction of these fine publications, and Marvel had a ton of them during this decade (Vampire Tales, Savage Tales, Tales of the Zombie, etc.)!