The Incredible Hulk 197, 1976 “…And Man-Thing Makes Three!”

Since October is now upon us, my blog will feature nothing but horror comics. Although it does feature this genre often, I couldn’t wait for this month to come because I love horror comics! Honestly, I love comics period, but even when a horror character makes an appearance in a superhero book I love it! This is the case with this book, as the Incredible Hulk must fight not one but two horror characters that actually prove that not only can the Hulk be beaten, but knocked completely unconscious! And you know when the Collector is involved, things will get cosmic!

I usually don’t start talking about the creative team by mentioning the cover. Not because I’m a heel or anything, but typically, an issue overall offers more from the inside. There’s no way possible for me to not start with “Bashful” Bernie Wrightson (cover art). He didn’t do that much work for Marvel Comics, but, wow, this one is amazing! When you open this book, you’ll quickly learn why I love the writing of “Lively” Len Wein. No matter who the characters, or the setting, scenario, etc., the guy delivers a solid story/script. When you also then get an interior art team like “Our Pal” Sal Buscema (pencils) and Joe Staton (inks), it’s quite a treat. Glynis Wein (colors) and John Costanza (letters) add their talents to this great book, that was edited by “Marvelous” Marv Wolfman!

 

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The Incredible Hulk #300, 1984 “Days of Rage!”

The Hulk has had his ups and downs, as far as sales, and even in the overall quality of the work on the character over the years.  He’s an interesting character with the dual-identity, that gives authors many different angles with which to attack a story. In this anniversary issue, we see nothing but the monster, as Nightmare has forced Bruce Banner away, and nothing remains but the mindless beast! We all know that The Hulk is a bad mutha, and he gets tested by SHIELD, Power Man and Iron Fist, and even The Avengers! Thor manages to battle him to a standstill, but even he can’t put him away. The planet’s last hope is the Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange!

The visual feast that this issue is, was brought to us by “Our Pal” Sal Buscema (pencils) and Gerry Talaoc (inker). Add on the colors by Bob Sharen, and you will read this book and think…”wow, they don’t make them like this anymore!” Seeing all these heroes battling an enraged monster is quite a delight. The the writer, Bill Mantlo, certainly needs no intro. His work is nothing short of legendary! Last but not least, we have Jim Novak on letters! (Cover by Brett Blevins!)

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Captain America #154, 1972 “The Falcon Fights Alone!”

After two solid runs (one by Gary Friedrich and the other by Gerry Conway) on this title, the book was in need of another direction. The days of Cap fighting Nazis and Commies was over, and the character was basically spinning his wheels. Sure, you had some good stories in the Avengers, but his solo book was about to be redirected and there would be no going back. The issue before this one started a storyline where Cap had seemingly turned into a flaming racist, and his old partner (believed dead after this retcon story) Bucky was also back and spouting racist remarks towards the Falcon. It was an obvious imposter, but who are these two, and how do they know so much about the history of the star-spangled Avenger?

When “Stainless” Steve Englehart (writer) took over this book, most probably had no clue what was in store, and what a wild ride it was! Add into the mix “Our Pal” Sal Buscema (interior pencils and cover, inks by Frank Giacoia) and “Jumbo” John Verpoorten (inks), as the art team, John Costanza letters, and Roy Thomas editing, and you get one of the best the Bronze Age has to offer!

 

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ROM #37, 1982 “In Days of Olde, When Knights Were Bolde!”

One of the most underrated books of the 1980’s, is certainly ROM! The title was created from a deal between Marvel Comics and Parker Brothers, in 1979. It was just a toy, but was elevated to cult status in the comic book industry. Why? Because of stories like this one. Fuse together ROM and Arthurian Myth, and you have one new, hot commodity, and another that is steeped in centuries worth of mystery and folklore. The tagline of the issue is…”A Tale of Magic and Mysticism in the Mighty Marvel Manner!” This is no understatement, and you also get the great action scenes of ROM wasting some Dire Wraiths, as well!

Not nearly enough credit is ever given to Bill Mantlo (writer). The guy wrote the entire series (all 75 issues), the Micronauts (another toy turned comic book title, and he had many runs on different titles, like Spectacular Spider-Man, Strange Tales (1987), Marvel Team-Up, and more! He is without a doubt the most under-appreciated guy from this era. This title was also fortunate enough to typically have the talents of the great pencils of Sal Buscema, and along with Ian Akin and  Brian Garvey, the art was great! The letters were by Jim Novak, colors by Ben Sean (two more staples from this era), and the editor was Ann Nocenti. Great cover as well, and the duo of Ed Hannigan and Al Milgrom knocked this one out of the park!

 

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The Defenders #27, 1975 “Three Worlds to Conquer!”

My love for the Defenders is legendary, so it stands to reason, that I must love the creators as well. Most of the stories borderline on the absurd and unusual, kind of like a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode. Truthfully, you have to be kind of weird to like this book, but that suites me just fine. The Guardians of the Galaxy (from the future), get tangled up in a battle with the Brotherhood of the Badoon, and it’s up to the Defenders to help them defeat these nasty aliens!

The creative team supreme, of Steve “Baby” Gerber (writer) and “Our Pal” Sal Buscema (pencils), gave us this great book, and by no means do I exaggerate! Throw in the controversial “Valiant” Vince Colletta on inks, Joe Rosen on letters, Al Wenzel colorist, and “Lively” Len Wein, editing! Being that this book is a GotG tie-in, the price can be utterly insane, so, watch out, the thieves of the internet are on the prowl!

 

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Marvel Premiere #6, 1973 “The Shambler from the Sea”

You know, you’d be hard-pressed to convince me that there was a better age than that of the Bronze Age of comic books. The mix of personalities, both in the books, and within the ranks of the creative offices were outstanding. When you realize all of the creators from previous ages that were still around, plus add in all the new, exciting talent that was making their way into the industry, you were privileged to see an age of entertainment that hasn’t happened since, and probably never will. In this next issue of Marvel Premiere, you get to see the Doc get out of the frying pan and into the fire! Trying to fight a cult, and the entity they worship was bad, but when you have a situation like this issue presents, it just doesn’t get any crazier! The Doc has escaped the clutches of the cult of Sligguth, but now faces another being that is even a bigger challenge because it lives underwater!

The creative team is similar to the previous issue, in that Gardner Fox is still writing. But, the pencils are now by Frank Brunner! And if that wasn’t groovy enough, you get Sal Buscema on inks! Throw in Gaspar Saladino on letters, Roy Thomas editing, and another great cover by  Mike Ploog, and you a recipe for awesomeness!   Image (51) Image (52) Image (53) Image (54) Image (55) Image (56) Image (57)

The Incredible Hulk #304, 1985 “Prisoners!”

The Incredible Hulk is a character that I’ve always loved but more in the group setting, like The Defenders! But I do own a few issues where the Hulk is the main character, like this one! The Hulk fighting aliens is a great concept just on the limitless possibilities alone. Throw in the Hulk’s melancholy, and you’ve got a recipe for something great! The 1980’s brought a lot more Hulk than Banner, and for some, that was a nice change of course. The Banner identity does bring a good dose of reality though, and sometimes the stories without him are slightly lacking in that department. The Hulk actually shows us that he does have a softer, more sympathetic side as well in this issue.

Written by none other than Bill Mantlo (ROM, The Micronauts), penciled by Sal Buscema (The Defenders, Spectacular Spider-Man), inks by Gerry Talaoc, letters by Ken Bruzenak, colors by Bob Sharen, and edited by Carl Potts! Check out this wacky sci-fi story that also features a cover by Mike Mignola and Kevin Nowlan! Enjoy!

 

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The Defenders #15 and 16, 1974 “Panic Beneath the Earth”

There are just a few series that really stand the test of time. You have perennial favorites like The Avengers, X-Men, and so on, but for me The Defenders is right there at the top. The book started out with the outstanding writer, Steve Englehart at the helm, but after eleven issues, he stepped aside. We all know that the greatest stories in this book were from the mind of Steve Gerber (RIP), but sandwiched in-between, are a few issues from Marvel staple, Len Wein. Marvel had a problem back in the 1970’s, of how to de-age their older characters. They found a way to do it to Professor Xavier, but Magneto was also one of those aged characters that needed to be brought back to his younger days. This story was the solution, and while it may be wacky, it was a throw-down between two awesome teams!

The two issues pit Professor Xavier and The Defenders against magneto and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. This isn’t just some wishy-washy group of villains either, because when you have Unus the Untouchable, and the Blob on the same team, you’ve got the muscle to do just about anything. Throw in Mastermind and Lorelei (from the Savage Land), and the team is extremely formidable with Magneto leading them! Len Wein – writer, Sal Buscema – pencils (Gil Kane did the cover to #16, Sal #15), Klaus Janson – inks, Glynis Wein – colorist, John Costanza – letters, and Roy Thomas – editor! Don’t blink, or else you’ll miss baby Magneto at the end of the story!

 

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Marvel Two-in-One #19, 1976 “Claws of the Cougar”

My love for Marvel’s comic books of the 1970’s is legendary, and especially their anthology books. The top series being Marvel Two-in-One, but also Marvel Team-Up, is a close second. The latter was good, but the first offered more obscure stories and team-ups, and that is right up my alley. In this crazy story, we start the tale with some mild sexual tension, at least for Tigra, anyway. Ben Grimm doesn’t reciprocate the feelings, but that doesn’t stop her from hitting on him repeatedly. The two must fight together, and defeat a foe that admits he’s mad, and will stop at nothing to increase his power! Let’s start with the cover for once. Typically I give that person(s) credit at the end, but when Jack ‘King’ Kirby is involved, you must lead off with him! The work was inked by ‘Fearless’ Frank Giacoia (with alterations by John Romita), but the Kirby pencils still are very powerful. Not to be overshadowed, is the interior artwork by ‘Our Pal’ Sal Buscema (pencils), and ‘Dashing’ Don Heck (inks) are fantastic in their own right. The plot is from Tony ‘The Tiger’ Isabella, but the script was by ‘Boisterous’ Bill Mantlo! Letters provided by ‘Karefree’ Karen Mantlo, and colors by Petra Goldberg! Definitely give this series a shot, you won’t be disappointed!   Image (8) Image (9) Image (10) Image (11) Image (12) Image (13)

Marvel Team-Up #36 and #37 (1975) “Bedlam in the Balkans” and “Murder Means the Man-Wolf”

October is here, and the Halloween season is upon us all, so what better way to celebrate than with horror themed comic books! The first one I’m going to spotlight is an appearance of the Frankenstein Monster in Marvel Team-Up #36 & 37! The second issue actually gives us a Man-Wolf appearance as well, so you get double the monster fun! You get some good cop/bad cop from the monster, and that’s always cool, because the monster maybe be considered a villain by most, but  honestly, he’s  just misunderstood most of the time.

With the same core team creating both books, you get a consistency that really gives the book a strong foundation. Story by Gerry Conway, pencils by Sal Buscema, and inks by Vince Colletta, are the team for both parts of this two issue scare-fest! You also get two covers from Ed Hannigan (pencils) (Mike Esposito inks on #36, John Romita on #37), and both show some awesome action between Spidey and these two perennial horror icons!  Keep your eyes open all month-long for comic books featuring iconic horror characters!

 

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