Some people buy books for the writer, artist, characters, or all three. There even times (like this one), where I’ll buy a comic just for the cover artist not even knowing what the interior story or art looks like. When you see a cover by the legendary Joe Kubert, pick it up. Even if the interior content is mediocre, you’ll be in possession of a thing of beauty. The war comics occupy most of my personal Kubert comics, but when I saw this particular cover at a good price, it was a no-brainer.
If you get the chance to buy this book, don’t pass up it up. The interiors are a wealth of gorgeous artwork from Joe Kubert and Russ Heath! The Viking Prince stories are written by Robert Kanigher, Bill Finger, and Bob Haney (Kanigher also wrote a ton of war comics, Finger needs no introduction because he’s the true creator of Batman, and “Zaney” Bob Haney wrote some insane Batman stories). The back up stories were written by these gentlemen as well as Ed Herron. A better collection of Viking Prince, and related stories cannot be found in a single issue! These artists have given us all a gift with this book.
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!
I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for classic Manny! No matter what the content, there’s just something about the character that draws me in, and really keeps me hooked through the entire issue. Not many other books/characters do that for me over and over. The fact that a character that can’t speak “speaks” to me abundantly, is quite telling about the brevity that the writers of this book had during the Bronze Age. Add in an element such as racism, and you get something very ambitious, and a very succinct reflection of the times.
As stated earlier, this character was written by people who had their finger on the pulse of the everyday joe. No one did this better than Steve Gerber (writer). No one wrote socially significant stories with a weird or macabre tone better than Steve Gerber. It’s not opinion, it’s fact. He had an innate ability to write these kinds of stories for many years without recycling them. The man was a genius. And as if that wasn’t enough to sell this book, you get art by the team of Jim Starlin (pencils- interiors and cover) and Rich Buckler (inks)! Both men have had long careers, and are still active today. Letters by John Costanza, and edited by Roy Thomas! Great cover by Starlin and the late, great Herb Trimpe, as well. Also, there’s a cool little reprint in the back that features art by none other than Russ Heath!
In the early 1970’s, Marvel dove head-first into the black and white magazine market. Of course, that medium was already publishing fantastic stories thanks to the creators at Warren Publishing. Some of those creators would leave and join Marvel Comics, and help them ascend and to produce some of the best mags of the decade. One of the best being Savage Tales! Issue one was released in 1971, but it didn’t exactly fly off the stands. The next issue wasn’t released for two years, but when it hit, the market was in a different place, and it sold well. The floodgates were opened, and Marvel reaped the benefits.
Savage Tales was a good mix of action, adventure, sword and sorcery, and even horror. This specific issue gives us a Ka-Zar story (“Requiem for a Haunted Man”), and the creative team on that one is utterly fantastic. Gerry Conway (writer) and Russ Heath (pencils) are joined by the studio known as the Crusty Bunkers (inks), to give us the lord of the Savage Land, Zabu, and an unfamiliar face, as they fight savages, crocodiles, and more! A prose story (The Running of Ladyhound) by none other than sci-fi scribe, John Jakes (with a couple of images) and then a tale starring Shanna the She-Devil! This tale was scripted by Carla Conway (first wife of Gerry Conway), and the art team is Ross Andru and Vince Colleta! Not too bad, eh? Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, we get a cover by Boris Vallejo, as well!