Marvel Tales 59 and 60 (ASM 78 and 79, 1969) “The Prowler!”

For some reason I had an itch to spotlight my favorite childhood superhero, Spider-Man. Reruns of the 1968 cartoon, plus the live action show (starring Nicholas Hammond), fueled my love for superheroes (along with Wonder Woman and The Hulk TV shows). Once 1981 rolled around, another cartoon hit the airwaves, and I was fully immersed in wanting to be Spider-Man when I grew up! It’s true. Not an astronaut, doctor, or lawyer, I wanted to be a superhero and Spidey was my favorite among them all.

Peter Parker (and Spidey) has gone through some very tumultuous times, and some mundane ones as well. My favorite era is definitely the late Silver and Bronze Ages, and in particular the the period of Stan Lee writing, then handing off to Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway. The likes of “Big” John Buscema, John Romita, and Gil Kane penciling. These creators took Spidey to new heights, and new lows (personally), and he would never be the same again. These stories are nothing short of fantastic, and the new characters brought in were a big part of the book’s success.

In these two issues, we see the introduction of a new villain called The Prowler. At first, the story seems to just be about a kid with problems that just can’t find any answers in life. But honestly, the two issues are more about Peter and his relationships and insecurities when it comes to the women in his life. He sees Gwen in a restaurant talking to Flash Thompson, and immediately assumes she’s stepping out on him. She’s actually trying to find out what’s been bothering Peter lately, and knows that Flash has known Peter longer than her, so he might be able to give her some insight. Some really good moments in these two issues of not only action, but humor, and real pathos!

I know a lot of people decry Stan Lee‘s (writer) writing, but honestly, he knew how to write Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Throw in the brilliant pencils of “Big” John Buscema and the inks of Jim “Madman” Mooney, and you can’t deny the power of this title during this period (post Ditko). Letters by Sam Rosen, and two amazing covers by “Jazzy” John Romita!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strange Tales 159, 1967 “Spy School”

This book has only been in my collection for a few months, but I knew it would be one that I’d spotlight sooner rather than later. Especially when you consider the talent that went into it’s creation! Just based off of the cover alone, who wouldn’t want to own this one! Two big stories with top notch creative teams means a Silver Age classic from the House of Ideas!

First up, we get Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos! They’ve transitioned from military life to working for the government (SHIELD). After a night on the town, Fury goes home, but the next day is full of training at a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility. He then must face Captain America in a sparring session in front of the newest recruits!

Awesome story, as you can really see the cool story and art by an ambitious Jim Steranko (story, art, and cover). He really knows how to tell a story with Fury and his supporting cast. He also does a fine job with Cap as well. Letters by Jerry Feldmann.

The second story is another chapter in the life of Doctor Strange! The Doc returns home to find that his Sanctum Sanctorum has been leveled, by none other than Umar herself! Once he finds a counter-spell to bring his home back, he then sets out to fight a band of sorcerers that are attempting to bring back Baron Mordo! Written by Roy Thomas, art by Marie Severin and Herb Trimpe, and letters by Al Kurzrok.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Triple Action 17, 1974 (originally Avengers 23, 1965) “Once an Avenger…”

 

Things have been quiet here at Magazines and Monsters, especially on the podcasting front. Well, there is one big reason and I shall reveal it now! I was asked recently to participate in the Super Blog Team-Up event! Some of you may know of this event, and some not, so I shall attempt to educate you on the matter. Simply put, it’s a quarterly event where bloggers (and podcasters) get together to share each other’s love of comics, through blogging about a certain subject (or story line), and share said content throughout the online community. An exercise in building up a community, and as we all know this is needed on social media. On Twitter, you can follow along by searching the hashtag #SBTU or #SuperBlogTeamUp. And these are some of the most interesting and fun blogs you can find anywhere! And needless to say, I feel honored to be among these fine people (links at the bottom to the other blogs/podcasts).

 

Now, on to the main event! The subject this time around is Immortal! For me, being a long time Marvel zealot, there is one character that pops into my brain right away when I hear that word. His name is Kang…or Immortus…or Rama-Tut if you prefer. But why the three names? Because each represents the same character but at different times in history. Kang first appeared in The Avengers 8, 1964, and announced he was from the far flung future, where he discovers the time travel technology of Dr. Doom, and uses it to travel to ancient Egypt, to rule as Rama-Tut (first appearance was in FF 19, 1963). After ruling there for a spell, he encounters the Fantastic Four (they time traveled into the past to find a cure for Alicia’s blindness :D). The FF defeat him and send him packing. In his time travel vehicle, he encounters Doctor Doom, but the two part ways without any shenanigans. Immortus, who first appeared only two issues after Kang in the pages of The Avengers. He wasn’t more than a schemer with time travel abilities initially, but he is the future version of Kang, that grew weary of battle and was eventually entrusted with being a time keeper of sorts by a “higher power” (Avengers Forever, see below).

The next time we see Kang, is in this story! After the bout with the FF, Kang is back in the future (Avengers 23, 1965), and pining for Ravonna (his love interest, and her first appearance). She’s the daughter of a king, whom Kang defeated in the 40th century. Kang let her father live and stay in power only to try and earn her hand in marriage. She rebuffs him constantly, though, and this infuriates Kang. He sees that Captain America has left the Avengers (in the previous issue), and knows this is the time to strike! He easily captures Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch, and places them in “oversized pickle jars,” to quote Hawkeye. The Scarlet Witch uses her Hex power to bust them out, but this is meaningless to Kang, because he can easily defeat these inexperienced heroes (Wanda and Pietro are very young at this point, and Hawkeye is no match for Kang). Before Kang can unleash the final blow, he’s interrupted by none other than Captain America! With Cap back as their leader, the Avengers manage to stop Kang. But, before he’ll accept defeat, he whisks them all away to his future, where his army awaits to destroy them, and the disobedient king and even his daughter!

There was one more piece of info about this story I’d like to quickly mention. When Cap quits the team, he sees an ad for a sparring partner for a boxing champ. Upon arrival, he’s rebuffed by the champ’s tough guy buddies that are apparently screening the candidates? Cap makes quick work of the meatheads after they not only insult him, but try to assault him thinking he’s a wimp. Hilarious on all levels, with classic Stan Lee banter.

Over the years, Kang hasn’t changed very much, and that’s a good thing. His raison d’être (purpose) is always to either conquer or just simply better himself. This can be by killing someone else, enslaving people, or whatever other nefarious scheme he’s plotting. I’d have to say without much hesitation, that Steve Englehart and his Celestial Madonna story from the 1970s is probably the best Kang I’ve read. The Kurt Busiek and Carlos PachecoAvengers Forever” epic and the Roger Stern, John Buscema and Tom PalmerUnder Siege” tale is awesome as well. Look those up for further readings on the Immortal villain, Kang!

Credits in this issue are as follows: Cover by Jack “King” Kirby (pencils), John Romita (inks) and Sam Rosen (letters), “Smilin” Stan Lee (script), “Dashing” Don Heck (pencils), “Jazzy” John Romita (inks), and Artie Simek (letters)!

 

 

Super Blog Team Up!


https://benjaminherman.wordpress.com/author/benjaminherman/

https://charltonhero.wordpress.com/tag/charlton-hero/

http://davescomicheroes.blogspot.com/

https://comicscomicscomics.blog/

https://www.chrisisoninfiniteearths.com/

https://chrisandreggie.podbean.com/

https://betweenthepagesblog.typepad.com/between-the-pages-blog/

http://blackwhitebronzecomics.blogspot.com/

https://theunspokendecade.com/

https://comicreviewsbywalt.wordpress.com/

http://www.dcinthe80s.com/2019/08/sbtu-immortal-forager-second-life-of-bug.html

Pop Culture Retrorama Podcast Ep. 08 – I Am Legend

TDR 459: Super-Blog Team Up: Immortal!

Tower of Shadows 1, 1969 “At the Stroke of Midnight!”

After searching far and wide for an affordable copy of this book, I found it at a small show for a few bucks. The guy I bought it from actually gave me a deal on multiple books, so the price was definitely right. I already knew some of the contents, and was pumped to read it. When the first story of the book has work by a legendary creator, you know it’s gonna be a good time. Honestly, the entire book is filled with giants of the industry. The cover is by “Jazzy” John Romita!

Right out of the gate, you get “At the Stroke of Midnight.” This one has been reprinted a couple of times, and once you check it out, you can see why. A creepy tale about a haunted castle, brought to us solely by Jim Steranko! He wrote, drew, and colored this amazing story! As usual, Steranko sets a mood immediately, and this is one of his calling cards when creating a comic book. He knew exactly what he wanted to convey to the reader, and executed it flawlessly.

The second tale in this nightmarish book (“From Beyond the Brink!“) is one by a classic horror artist that worked for the best in the biz at the genre. Johnny Craig was a mainstay at E.C. comics during their heyday (pre-Wertham, and the Senate hearings of the 1950s). What’s astonishing is that not only was he the artist, but also the writer of this one. A story that involves a man that attempts to expose mediums for the fakes they are, but a twist ending is chilling!

Lastly, Digger introduces us to “A Time to Die!” This one brought to you by Stan Lee (script) and “Big” John Buscema (art), and involves an old scientist that wants to find an elixir that will allow him to live forever. The scientist has an assistant that also has eyes on the elixir! No matter what the genre, John Buscema always looks like a pro. His skills are unparalleled in the Bronze Age.

 

 

Where Monsters Dwell 5, 1970 “Taboo Lives Again!”

After a few weeks of superheroes, it’s time for more monsters! Not the usual Bronze Age fare (well technically not even though this is a reprint from 1970), but material from the preceding Silver or “Atlas Age” at Marvel comics. During this time, you had Stan Lee writing and editing just about everything (some work by Larry Lieber and a few others, but the overwhelming majority was Lee), and two giants of the industry penciling. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko are undoubtedly two of the most influential creators of the medium, but not for this material, as most know. But, don’t sleep on these comics, because they do offer some really good artwork, and some interesting stories as well.

The four stories in this reprint book are all very different, as one features a giant monster (The Return of Taboo, Strange Tales 77, 1960), a sorcerer (The Strange Magic of Master Khan, Strange Tales 77 as well), aliens (We Met in the Swamp, Tales to Astonish 7, 1960), and a ghost (I Lived a Ghost Story, ST 7 as well)! Credits include – Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Paul Reinman, Dick Ayers, and Artie Simek (with possible alterations by Marie Severin).

 

 

Tales of Suspense 91, 1967 “The Monstrous Crusher!”

On this April Fool’s Day, there is no joking around here! My all time favorite artist is Gene “The Dean” Colan, so it’s a special occasion when I get a book with his work in it! Most think of Gene when they hear Tomb of Dracula, and rightly so, but his work on superheroes like Captain America and Iron Man was special, too. Most also probably think of Kirby when the subject of machinery and technology are discussed, but when Gene drew these types of images in Iron Man, he was excellent at it.

In this issue, it’s up to Tony Stark A.K.A. Iron Man, to stop some Cuban Commies and their newest weapon, The Crusher. A pumped up, nigh invulnerable guy that’s ready to take down the Golden Avenger! Can Iron man take down this make-shift Frankenstein Monster?

Written by Stan Lee, pencils by “Genial” Gene Colan (cover as well) inks by Frank Giacoia (cover as well), and letters by Sam Rosen!

The second tale in this book is one that features Captain America, and his old foe, The Red Skull! This trippy tale is by Lee (story), Gil Kane (pencils), Joe Sinnott (inks), and AL Kurzrok (letters).

 

 

Thor 164, 1969 “Lest Mankind Fall!”

The Bronze Age will always be a huge focus for this blog, but honestly, the late Silver Age is when Marvel comics really started to turn the corner and become not only an innovator, but also super cool. The words trippy and groovy come to mind immediately when you look at their books from this period. The majority of their characters were in place, and the comic book revolution was in full swing by 1969!

This was also a sad time for Marvel, as Jack “King” Kirby was just about to leave the company for greener pastures over at DC comics. He’d have the freedom to write, pencil, and edit his books there, and who wouldn’t be excited about that (plus get paid more as well). The mighty Thor was taken to new heights by Kirby recently, as he’s been to space and met the force of nature known as Galactus, and the malevolent Ego the Living Planet!

In this issue we get a huge battle between Thor and Sif and Pluto and his hordes of the underworld! Fear not, as we’ll also see Balder the Brave, Thor, and even Zeus himself! This book is action packed, and really shows the scope of the Marvel universe as it pertains to the realms of the gods!

Written by Stan Lee, art by Jack “King” Kirby (pencils) and Vince Colletta (inks), and letters by Sam Rosen! The magnificent cover is also by Jack Kirby and Vince Coletta (with colors possibly by Marie Severin)!

 

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!)!

 

 

Weird Wonder Tales 6, 1974 “The Man Who Owned a Ghost?”

As the 1970s progressed, Marvel went full on crazy with the reprints. Some were of recent material (Spider-Man, The Avengers, the Fantastic Four, etc.), and others were from as far back as the Atom Age (post Golden Age but pre-Silver Age). Flooding the market was nothing new for them, but it is still astonishing to look back on. Not that you can blame them, after all they were under the constraints of the publisher that was their rival for many years. Once they got out from under those shackles, they went hog-wild, and who could blame them.

The book is all reprints, but don’t discount it on that accord. The first story alone is worth its weight in gold, as Bill Everett is the mastermind behind “The Man Who Owned a Ghost!” Some artists have their work deteriorate as they age, but Everett’s work got stronger, just look! The second story, “Was He Just Seeing Things?,” has art by Manny Stallman, and this is a creator that I’m not very familiar with to be honest (here’s a link to Mark Evanier’s blog from 1997, talking a bit about him). Neat little sci-fi story including dinosaurs! “Homicide” follows and brings an axe murderer! Nothing here you didn’t already see from a publisher like EC comics, but still pretty jarring. The art in that one is by Harry Anderson. Again, a relative unknown today, but I found some info here. The last installment in the book is called “The Man in the Crazy Maze.” A treat for sure, as this has art by Jack Kirby (pencils) and Dick Ayers (inks)! It’s always a treat to see some Kirby! The cover is by Larry Lieber (probably pencils/layouts) and Mike Esposito (inks).

 

Marvel Treasury Edition 21, 1979 “Behold…Galactus!”

The Treasury Edition is one of the best inventions in comic books. I mean, what could be better, than an oversized comic book? The answer is nothing. When you buy these gigantic books and open them up you get blinded by their awesomeness! Although mostly reprints, the material chosen is top-notch for sure.

Of course, the Fantastic Four are most famous because of their days during the Jack Kirby/Stan Lee era, as it should be. But honestly, if you venture past that era, you’ll find that the Bronze Age is quite good. Under the guidance of some of that era’s best creators, the team had some run-ins with a myriad of bizarre villains, but also some familiar ones like the Mole Man, the Impossible Man, and most importantly, Galactus!

In this oversized tome, the team is beset by gun-toting maniacs, a strange being from the stars with god-like powers, and then the final threat is revealed, and the team stands in awe of Galactus, Devourer of Worlds! Special appearance by the Silver Surfer!

Let it not be said that any era of the FF is greater than the original creators run on the book, but honestly, too much love is given to the John Byrne era and not because it’s bad, but because it causes people to overlook this incredibly underrated work by Stan Lee (writer), ‘Big’ John Buscema (pencils), ‘Joltin’ Joe Sinnott (inks),  Carl Gafford (colors), and Artie Simek, John Costanza, and Sam Rosen (letters). The cover is by Bob Budiansky and Bob McLeod, and they did a great job showing just how imposing the big G is (front and back covers!).

***note- apologies for the quality of the images. I had to use what I could find online because my scanner isn’t big enough to accommodate a Treasury comic book.