Haunt of Horror 1, 1974 “His Own Kind”

In the year 2020, there have been reasons to be down. But, not only do I try to always look at the positives, it was easier to do that during some tough times because of horror magazines from the Bronze Age. I managed to track down and complete a few different series. One I didn’t complete yet (the last issue is crazy expensive) but did manage to get the first issue, was The Haunt of Horror. This magazine eventually became the home for Gabriel, Devil Hunter after this issue, but for now, lets dive into this inaugural issue! (cover by Bob Larkin)

After a stunning frontispiece by Alfredo Alcala, we get “The Rats!” This tale (by Gerry Conway, writer, and Ralph Reese, artist) follows a few short years after a certain film about rats debuted (Willard, 1971). The lead character also has a striking resemblance to Roy “the boy” Thomas! A fun little yarn for sure!

The following story is a prose piece with a splash page and one other illustration. “HeartStop,” by noted science fiction writer George Alec Effinger, is quite long for a comic magazine (21 pages!), and split into three parts. The tale is about murder and madness in a small Pennsylvania town. The illustrations are by none other than Walt Simonson!

Next up is a reprint from 1953. “The Last Man,” shows a murderous streak of a man named Joe. His murdering streak comes to an end, but not because of why you’d think! Art by Russ Heath¬†(no credits given on script)!

“His Own Kind,” is another story adapted by a science fiction writer, Thomas M. Disch. This is a classic werewolf story that will not leave you wanting! Script by Roy Thomas, art by Val Mayerik (pencils)and Mike Esposito (inks).

A war story called “The Nightmare Patrol” is next. This is one that slightly mirrors the DC comics Weird War Tales, but not exactly. For 90% of the book, it’s just a straight up war story, but then things get crazy! Writer Gerry Conway, art by Ernie Chan!

Finally, we get “In the Shadows of the City!” This is one weird, bizarre story, but I expect nothing less from Steve Gerber (writer) and Vicente Alcazar (art)! A man is telling a psychologist about his compulsion to murder, and it might already have been carried out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tales to Astonish 5 and 6, 1980 “Tiger Shark!”

For obvious reasons, I don’t own a lot of first appearances of characters from the Golden and Silver Ages. But, reprints are a good way to get your hands on that material without breaking the bank. Case in point, Tales to Astonish, starring the Sub-Mariner! In these two issues we get the first appearance of one of his greatest foes, Tiger Shark!

In issue five, we catch up with Namor, as he’s trying to find his way to NYC and Reed Richards for help. He barely makes it to land, then is accosted by a robot. He destroys it, but in doing so causes it to explode, and coupled with his fatigue from fight Attuma (in the previous issue, he’s knocked unconscious. He awakens to see a beautiful woman, and then his captor reveals himself. It’s a mad scientist guy named…Dr. Dorcas (yeah, I know). He’s put a metal vest on Subby, that he can use to control him through electrocution. Next, we see his sinister plot, as we meet Todd Arliss, a once promising swimmer that had an accident. He was promised to be healed by Dr. Dorcas, but for a price. The Doctor then straps Subby into a machine, and runs wires to Todd and then a tank full of sharks! The switch is thrown, and Tiger Shark is born!

At the end of issue five, Tiger Shark got the upper hand on Subby, and not only knocked him out for a brief minute, but was also able to kidnap Lady Dorma as well (she appeared out of nowhere near the base, after Subby thought her dead in the previous issue)! Diane Arliss (Tiger Sharks sister), comes to the aid of Subby, but he initially thinks it’s Tiger Shark, and knocks her out. He swims to the surface and finds Dr. Dorcas, head bandaged and looking weary. He tells him to treat her wounds and that he’s know going after her brother. The two then have a showdown in front of all of Atlantis to see who will rule!

In 1968 (when these stories were first printed), Roy Thomas (writer) was really cementing himself as the heir apparent to Stan Lee as Marvel’s premiere writer/editor-to-be. This story has a ton of gravitas, and really pulls you into the world of Namor. Yeah, the guy can be a huge, arrogant jerk, but he does have a code of honor, and will fight for his people and justice. He obviously wasn’t written in 1968 to have the best manners towards the ladies, but I think we can all agree it wasn’t written that way with malicious intent. Issue five has art by “Big” John Buscema and Frank Giacoia (inks), and is all sorts of awesome, but in truth, the following issue has Big John penciling again, but Dan Adkins on inks, and looks a good bit superior. Letters by Sam Rosen (5), and Irv Watanabe (6) and colors by Bob Sharen (not originally but in the reprint).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Savage Sword of Conan 39, 1979 “The Legions of the Dead!”

I feel it’s been a while since my last Conan magazine post, so why not spotlight one! This issue is more of a recent grab, and part of a lot if I remember correctly. There was a bit of a surprise inside, but I’ll get to that later. In this story we see an ancient evil in Hyboria, and it’s one that Conan must destroy! Also,a super cool chapter in the life of Solomon Kane!

In “Legions of the Dead (an adaptation of a story by L. Sprague De Camp and Lin Carter),” we see Conan ans his friend, Njal, as they hunted for some supper. They eat some freshly carved venison, along with the other tribesmen, when Njal decides to divide the troops, Conan questions if that’s a good move. Njal tells him to keep quiet and the other part of the¬† tribe heads out. Hours pass, and they do not return. They set out to search for them and find something horrific. The men are inside a castle of the Hyperboreans, hanging and being sliced to ribbons! Conan decides to take matters into his own hands and take action!

This story by De Camp and Carter reads somewhat like a Howard story, and does show a cool little story from Conan’s youth. Some people are mixed on their work, as they took some liberties with the character and his history. Overall they did bring Conan back into prominence, so even if you don’t like their writing or how they adapted/re-imagined some parts of his history, you still should give them credit for helping Conan become a household name in the Bronze Age.

In the middle of this magazine, you get a real treat, as there a few pinups by Rudy Nebres! He is one of those fantastic artists you rarely hear about anymore, which is sad. He didn’t do as much work for Marvel as some, but the work he did was a lot of fun.

The second story, “Moon of Skulls,” is actually part three of a story that took place in two other issues, so I won’t go into detail on that one. Let’s just say Solomon Kane is in big trouble and is at the mercy of a vampire queen! Script by Don Glut, art by David Wenzel.

All in all a great issue. Two solid stories, pinups galore, and a great cover by Earl Norem!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Avengers 63, 1969 “And in this Corner…Goliath!”

A recent pick up, this Avengers book brought quite the surprise when I opened it. It has the artwork of my favorite artist! More on that later! I’ve always wanted to at least try and obtain a full run of the Avengers (Silver through Copper), and even though I can count the number of Silver Age issues I own on one hand, reading this book was pure joy even knowing it’ll never happen.

The story basically only serves one purpose, to introduce a new superhero personality for Hawkeye in the form of Goliath! The team gets a call from Nick Fury that the Black Widow is on a mission for SHIELD, but was captured by enemy forces. Black Panther tells Hawkeye he must remain behind because he’s too emotionally involved. Also, we see Pym tell the team that he’ll no longer be using his formula to be a giant, because it’s causing him to have mental problems. After the team leaves, Hawkeye gets a call from Black Widow asking for help, so in his infinite wisdom, he decides to take Pym’s growth formula and go to the rescue!

This issue is one that has so many fun aspects to it. The beginning shows the team flying in a ship that’s out of control, and going to crash, possibly killing them all. Some interesting comic book physics save the day. Later, we see Goliath (Hawkeye) fighting a giant monster, and they’re right by Coney Island. Interesting and fun back drop for sure. Roy Thomas (writer) really knows how to write a great team book. Of course, this isn’t a news flash, it just needed to be reiterated. The art team here is nothing short of phenomenal. Gene Colan (pencils) and George Klein (inks) give us panels and pages chocked full of greatness. The same combo is responsible for the great cover as well, and the letters are by Artie Simek.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SGT. Fury and His Howling Commandos 108, 1973 “Bury My Heart at Dresden!”

As I continue plowing through #warcomicsmonth like a Sherman tank, I thought it would be awesome to give Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos a look! For Marvel fans, this is the big dog of war comics, with only some ancillary titles in the mix (you’ve got to count Captain America in there for a lot of his publishing history). Marvel really did a great job with this team, as it not only had (eventually) distinct personalities for each character, but it was full of diverse ones as well.

In this epic tale, Fury and the Howlers are trapped in enemy territory, as the Allies begin to bomb the city of Dresden. In this real world event (like quite a few of these tales) more than twenty thousand lives were lost. This issue shows the real cost of war and how often those that are not involved get caught in the ugliness. Yes, we also see the usual awesomeness of Fury and the Howlers kicking Nazi butt, and the issues that feature only that are fun as well. But, this one is a bit more profound than most, and will definitely get you thinking. Dum Dum, Izzy, Gabe, Dino, Pinky, etc., they’re all here in this explosive issue!

Written by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Dick Ayers (cover by Ayers as well), inks by Vince Colletta, colors by Dave Hunt, letters by John Duffy, and edited by Roy Thomas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Kull and the Barbarians 3, 1975 “Kull, Red Sonja, and Solomon Kane!”

It’s time for a return trip, back to black and white comic goodness! While these magazines are getting more expensive by the day it seems, but, when a bargain can be found I pull the trigger! A recent show netted me twenty mags for $20! Only a few Marvels, but a bunch of Warren mags (I’ll get to them down the road, no worries). OK, on to the main attraction!

In this issue, there are three comic stories, one prose story (with a couple of illustrations), a pin up of the landscape of the times of Kull, and one awesome pin up of Red Sonja (by Howard Chaykin!). All of this is kicked off with a good painted cover by Michael Whelan!

The first story is straight out of a Ray Harryhausen flick, as Kull is fighting a group of skeleton warriors, and upon returning to his homeland is in shock at how things look. He also must face his ultimate enemy, in Thulsa Doom! Written by Doug Moench, art by Vicente Alcazar!

The following story is a Solomon Kane bio written by Fred Blosser. It’s actually pretty good on its own, but there are some cool illustrations by Bob Budiansky (Duffy Vohland inks) and Gene Day!

“The Day of the Sword,” is next, and features everybody’s favorite ginger, Red Sonja! Who doesn’t want tot see her riding around and taking a broadsword to those that need it? Plot by Roy Thomas, script by Doug Moench, art by Howard Chaykin (some excellent work by Chaykin in this one).

Finally, a story by Robert E. Howard, adapted by Roy Thomas, and illustrated by Alan Weiss and Pablo Marcos! An adventure with my favorite Puritan in Africa! Very interesting story, and almost a love interest for Solomon? Definitely a good finisher to this great magazine!

 

 

Kull the Destroyer 11, 1973 “King Kull Must Die!”

Certain names in the comic book industry invoke thoughts of titles. Any classic comic book reader will tell you this is true. A character like Kull will always make me think of Robert E. Howard. This man had a very short time on Earth, but the impact he left is still being felt today. But I digress…King Kull is a pre-Conan era (or Pre-cataclysmic Age) character that ruled the kingdom of Valusia. He’s sort of like Conan in the fact that he loves battle, but he’s also more intelligent about when there is a need for battle and how to strategize for it as well. He also has a confidant named Brule. Brule is a member of the Pict society, and a fierce warrior that will do anything for his friends. In this issue, Kull is about to be attacked by his own people, who are under the influence of an ages old foe…Thulsa Doom!

Mike Ploog is one of those creators that has done such incredible work during the Bronze Age, that his name will carry on for decades. Of course, Werewolf by Night, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Ghost Rider are the big names, but don’t sleep on his other work for Marvel comics. A short run on this title is all the proof you need to realize there is more out there! Writer/editor Roy Thomas (original story by REH), art by Mike Ploog, colors by Linda Lessman, and letters by Artie Simek!

 

Conan The Barbarian King Size 1, 1973 “The Tower of the Elephant!”

Conan, a character that’s been in publication since 1932…think about that for a minute. The Great Depression, angst, suicides by businessmen losing their life savings, five years before Tolkien published The Hobbit, and a lifetime before creators gave us galaxies far, far away, Robert E. Howard created an entire world. The contributions this man gave the world are still terribly underappreciated. Anyone that’s not very familiar with his work, definitely give a look at his biography here.

When Roy Thomas secured the rights to publisher Conan from the REH estate, the greatness was there immediately. With Roy Thomas writing, and Barry (Windsor) Smith (and most notably Sal Buscema inking, with others) on art, the character was off and running! What followed the great run by BWS wasn’t half bad either (some say even better), but that’s a tale for another day. You get material from the second and fourth issues of the series in this book and both are legendary stories by Howard!

 

 

Marvel Treasury Special – Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bag (1974)

Is there anything more awesome than the over-sized comic book? Of course not, and Marvel comics lead the way in spectacular fashion in the 1970s in the form of the Treasury Edition! And not only just a Treasury Edition, but a holiday edition! Now, just for the record, only two of the stories inside actually have a Christmas theme, but hey, let’s not get picky!

The first story is probably the best “holiday” centered of the entire book. We see Spidey and the Human Torch take on the Sandman! It’s Christmas time, and the Sandman is looking to wrap up the two heroes…or is he (Roy Thomas, writer – Ross Andru, pencils – Mike Esposito, inks – and Artie Simek, letters)? Next, a classic tale from the Silver Age, as the arrogant Submariner decides to go to the surface world. Once there, he speaks with a lawyer about wanting to sue the entire human race. Too bad for him that lawyer is none other than Matt Murdoch, A.K.A. Daredevil (story by Stan Lee, art by Wally Wood, and letters by Artie Simek). The third tale is the other holiday adjacent one in the book. It’s all about the Black Widow, and her man-servant, Ivan! They’re here to help a young man that tried to commit suicide, and then see if they can get him help (written by Roy Thomas, art by Gene Colan and Bill Everett, letters by Artie Simek). The last two issues are from the Fantastic Four and a crossover with the Avengers! Not much along the lines of holiday cheer, but a cool story nonetheless (of course, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby!)!