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.

 

 

 

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Marvel Treasury Edition 2, 1974 “The Fabulous Fantastic Four”

In the comic book hall of fame, there are a lot of great stories. Single issues, trades, whatever the format, dozens come across one’s mind immediately. Star-spanning adventures, tales of morality, love, tragedy, etc., take your pick. The format is one of the most underappreciated of all time, no doubt. One of the best examples of the different story types is none other than Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four! The familial aspect, love, loss, tragedy, comedy, etc., you get it all with them, especially under the creative eyes of Jack “King” Kirby and Stan “The Man” Lee!

After recently purchasing Marvel Treasury Edition 2, I finally read the epic story The Galactus Trilogy! This first encounter for Earth with a literal and figurative giant of the cosmos is so incredible, you will feel as if you’ve been through a war after reading it! And, not only do you get that incredible story, but also Dr. Doom, the Submariner, and The Impossible Man! With the back issues being extremely pricey, this is a great way to get to read these legendary stories and not break the bank! Finally, apologies for the low quality of the images (my scanner isn’t big enough to accommodate Treasury sized books). Enjoy!

 

 

 

Marvel Triple Action 17, 1974 “Once an Avenger”

Let’s face it, villains are much cooler than heroes. Their ability to make us think, to challenge the hero, to explore boundaries, etc., is way beyond that of their counterparts. Take Kang the Conqueror for instance. He’s without a doubt a top-tier villain in any universe, and has proved that since 1964 (Avengers 8). This mag is a reprint of The Avengers 23, 1965, and the fourth appearance of the character in under two years! For any era, that’s pretty good, and shows what kind of staying power Kang would have for years to come!

In this issue, we see Cap leaves the team after some turmoil (he was a bit temperamental back then!), and attempts to take a job as a sparring partner for a boxing champion. That lasts about two seconds, and he returns to the team afterward. Just in time, as the rest of the team has been subdued by Kang! And immediately after taking down Earth’s Mightiest Heroes…Kang attempts to take Ravonna out on a date but her dad says no (panel below). No joke!

This epic tale was brought to you by Dashing Don Heck (pencils), Jazzy John Romita (cover and interior inks), Stan “the man” Lee (writer), Artie Simek (letters), and Jack “King” Kirby (cover pencils)!

 

 

Marvel Collectors Item Classics 6 and 11, 1966/67

The Silver Age is when it all turned around for Marvel comics. The company went from vanilla books starring monsters, western heroes, and cheesy romance characters, to exciting titles like the Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man, etc. After just a few short years, Marvel had bona-fide hits on their hands, so they began to issue reprints of these stories (just 4 years after they were first printed!). These books are great, and you get four stories in each one! Classics starring the Fantastic Four, Iron Man (Tales of Suspense), The Incredible Hulk, and Dr. Strange (Strange Tales)! You get the best from Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Stan Lee, and more! Rather than droning on about how great these books are, I’ll just let the images do the talking for me!

 

Captain America – Top 5 Creative Teams

The character Captain America is not only the greatest superhero to ever don the red, white, and blue, but also the only hero from the Golden Age strictly born out of patriotism that survives today. That alone says something about the strength of the character, and in a small way about patriotism in general. That being said, Captain America has had some very thought-provoking story lines over the years, and a select few men have been responsible! Here are my choices for the five best of all time!

 

 

5. Joe Simon (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)

There are two reasons I have these gentleman on this list (and where). First, I don’t believe you can have a list like this without the creators of the character. Not having read very much material from the Golden Age is why this team isn’t higher on the list. The fact that these men created one of the most iconic characters ever, but that they had him punching the ultimate personification of evil (Adolph Hitler) in the face is absolutely fantastic.

 

4. Stan Lee (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)

In his second run with Cap, Kirby really cranked up the visual feasts. He took Cap to new heights that haven’t been reached again and probably never will be. The stories in this era (Silver Age in Tales of Suspense, and then his own title) had more intrigue and spy material than straight up war angles, and that fit perfectly with the Cold War going on at the time.

 

 

3. Roger Stern (writer) and John Byrne (artist)

If you sit back and think how great this run was and that it only encompassed nine issues, that alone tells you how great it truly was to read. Any creative team that can produce a serious story about Cap considering running for the presidency and you believe it, has to be near the top of any list. And just the creepy Baron Blood issues alone are incredibly good!

 

2. Ed Brubaker (writer) and Steve Epting (artist)

To say that Captain America (and a lot of the Marvel Universe) needed updating after the turn of the century is an understatement. The shot in the arm was delivered by this awesome team. And yes, this is a list of Cap creative teams, but this team bringing back Bucky, and turning him into Steve’s worst nightmare was pure genius. No one has come close to this level of writing since.

 

1. Steve Englehart (writer) and Sal Buscema (artist)

From issue #153-181 (with almost no interruptions), Steve and Sal gave the readers everything they could possibly want. The political intrigue, racial bigotry, disturbing truths about a government he trusted, etc. The best part though, was Cap’s friendship with the Falcon. He and Sam Wilson grew to be best of friends, and an awesome crime fighting team! The villains were a big part of this run as well- Dr. Faustus, the 1950s Cap and Bucky (click here for details), Red Skull, Yellow Claw, Serpent Squad, Baron Zemo, Moonstone, and more! All the while having guest stars like the X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D., Black Panther, Iron Man, you name it. This creative team pulled out all the stops (even Cap quitting!), and that is why they are number one!

 

 

Honorable mentions; first, to the team of Jack Kirby (writer) and Jack Kirby (artist)! His return to Marvel in the mid-1970s ushered in some incredible trippy stories starring Cap, and even if the stories don’t grab you, the mind-numbing artwork will! Also, Stan Lee (writer) and Gene Colan (artist). Awesome run with more action than you can ever want, and a signature art style that is absolutely unique!

 

X-Men Classics 1, 1983 “The Sentinels Live!”

Back in the Silver Age, the X-Men weren’t a big deal. The book just never seemed to be able to find an audience. The early issues were a bit tough to get through reading, but the Kirby artwork obviously helped. That said, after issue 66, it went into reprints. That’s the part that baffles me, since leading up to that last issue of new material (the title was cancelled and went into reprints for over four years, until 1975), the book was producing the strongest material to date by a long shot!

This fantastic reprint book shows us issues 57-59, with that incredible story with the return of the Sentinels! Of course that means Trask as well, but we also see the dangerous Mesmero too (and Magneto…sort of)! The interpersonal relationships between the team members is on full display in these issues for sure.

Roy Thomas (writer) was certainly a gifted writer and that was clear on any kind of book, but his keen sense on writing team books was certainly felt by the readers of the X-Men. He knew how to weave the personal nature of the X-Men and the real world applications together seamlessly. The team of Neal Adams (pencils) and Tom Palmer (inks) put on quite a show in these issues as they did in pretty much everything else they touched as creators during their storied careers. The colors were courtesy of Daina Graziunas. Throw in a great wraparound cover by Mike Zeck (and Palmer on inks again), and throw in some extra art by Adams as well, and you get to see a visual feast!

 

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The Human Torch 8, 1974 “The Painter of a Thousand Perils!”

Alright, so, Torch got his own series in the 1970’s…sort of…yes, it’s reprints, BUT the cover is brand new, and the reprints are good stuff! When you have villains as sinister as The Painter (Wilhelm Van Vile), and “Scar” Tobin, you know that your chances of survival are minimal! OK, maybe not, but these two evil-doers are definitely near the top of the cornball list, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s an awesome list.

When I look down at the credits box, and see Jack “King” Kirby (pencils), I understand that there will be a quality to this book that few others can even think of attaining. Frequent inker of the Silver Age (but also a good penciler and overall artist since the Golden Age) “Darlin” Dick Ayers, is a name most will remember from his inking in the early Marvel Age. He also did some great stuff in the military and western genres as well. The scripter, Robert Bernstein, is an enigma to me. I believe I’ve only heard his name once or twice before, and to my recollection, this is the only comic I own with his work in it. The cover is by one of my favorite unsung heroes of the Marvel Bronze Age, “Rampaging” Ron Wilson! A plot by Stan Lee and letters by Terry Szenics rounds out the creative team! Oh, and don’t miss the advert at the bottom! 

 

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Journey into Mystery 14, 1974 “When Wakes the Sphinx!”

Another post on the same day? Uh, yeah, because it’s Halloween (and there will be a few more, too!). Hopefully by the time this post hits the airwaves, I’ll be enjoying some great deals at WildPig Comics, in New Jersey. I’ll be looking to fill some gaps in my collection, especially in the Bronze Age era! For now, though, you’ll have to settle for this little gem! We get four stories, and each one brings a different thing to the table. The first is a tale about an alien invasion, but one with unexpected results…for the aliens that is! The second one is called “The Thing on the Moon,” and deals with a giant creature on the moon that was placed there by inhabitants of Earth. Thirdly, we see a foreign substance that can eat the flesh off of a man right down to the bone! The last story shows an attractive woman and the scores of men after her affections. She suckers one of them into giving her ten-thousand dollars, but after he sees her with another man, he’s plots his revenge!

The initial story is by Steve Ditko (art), and isn’t the best work he’s ever produced, but certainly better than most. He does a great job on the Sphinx in the story, though. The next one is by Don Heck (art), and he brings his usual talents to the table. The last two have artists who I’m not all that familiar with, in Doug Wildey and Harry Anderson. Both men do a solid job on their respective stories, and keep the book at an even pace as far as the artwork. All stories have scripts by Stan Lee. The cover, which is fantastic, is by none other than “Rampaging” Ron Wilson!

 

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Journey into Mystery 7, 1973 “The Scorpion Strikes!”

When I was a kid, I watched an episode of Jonny Quest, and it was super cool! There was a mad scientist that grew ordinary animals into behemoths! A crab, a spider, and a lizard, all grew to enormous size, and went crazy, killing on site. The lead story in this awesome book definitely has some similarities which makes me think the writers of that show were fans of comic books! A giant, mutated scorpion, a man who gets shrunken down to the size of a mouse (and subsequently terrorized by his own cat!), and an alien with a special chair! These three tales are perfect reading for the holiday or anytime!

The first two stories are just further proof that Jack “King” Kirby is a master of all genres. There’s nothing the man couldn’t do with a pencil. He did the penciling on the first two stories, with inks by Paul Reinman, and Dick Ayers, respectively (Ayers inked the cover over Kirby pencils as well). Both of those latter names were abundant during the Golden and Atom Ages (Silver Age as well), and rightly so, as they contributed heavily. The final story is by “Sturdy” Steve Ditko. His style fits perfectly for the story, and proves his mastery of weird, fantasy tales (plot/scripts credits to Stan Lee and possibly Larry Lieber as well)!

 

 

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Monsters on the Prowl 29, 1974 ” A Monster at My Window!”

Watch out, here come more monsters! Yes, another post for the holiday, that revolves around some of the monsters from the pre-Marvel days. Believe me when I say that this one is solid! A giant alien monster that is the first to come to Earth to scout out the planet…or is he? Another tale that involves a sea monster terrorizing a ship at sea! The third installment is one that presents an alien that disguises himself as a human to study them. He finds out that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Finally, we get a joker that likes to play pranks on people, and sometimes hurting more than just their feelings. He himself finds out in the end that karma comes back at you in a hard way!

These stories have an edge over others, in that they have such powerhouse art talent behind them that even if the story is mundane, the artwork carries them through. The work of Jack “King” Kirby (cover and interior pencils to story one- Dick Ayers inked the cover) has been documented by many, and I could go on all day about how great it is, but if you don’t own much of his work, you need to remedy that now. “Joltin'” Joe Sinnott is mostly known for being an outstanding inker, but in this book, you get to see him flex his muscles with pencils and inks on one story! The man named Bill Walton isn’t one that’s familiar to me, but he does do a great job on the story in this particular issue. Last but certainly not least, is Steve Ditko. His weird and creepy work is one of legend, and elevates him to a pretty high status in the sci-fi/horror category. Of course, everyone knows him from Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, but dig deeper, and enjoy the treasures that you will find!

 

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