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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Vault of Evil #14, 1974 “Midnight in Haunted Manor”

 

It’s been a little while since I presented a horror comic, so I thought, “why not now!” Of course, when you make that decision, it must be a good one, so today we have Vault of Evil #14! This series presented some older material (mostly from the 1950’s), and showcased some of the greatest artists of all time! In this issue, we see some eerie stories, some of which don’t even have proper credits attached to them. We do know the artists, but not the writers. Four weird tales of horror adorned this issue, and believe me when I say, they nothing less than awesome!

The first story is rendered by Steve Ditko, and we all know that he can do “creepy” as well as anyone! The last story is one that is quite spectacular, and features artwork by none other than Gene Colan! Wedged in the middle of those two stories is one (The Albatross) by long time DC editorial stalwart, Joe Orlando. He was actually an assistant to Wally Wood early in his (Orlando’s) career! Any way you slice it, this title is one that every collector needs, provided you don’t have the originals! Cover by ‘Rampaging’ Ron Wilson and Frank Giacoia!

 

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A Chamber of Chills Ensemble!

After being thoroughly exhausted from a weekend trip and now work, I’m playing catch-up now! Instead of posting about a single issue, I thought I’d just post a good-sized helping of a horror title to whet your appetites, and get you in the Halloween mood! The title “Chamber of Chills,” has always been one that I thought had good content, with either new stories or reprinted material from the Atlas Era. The first few issues featured new material from names like Thomas, Brunner, Russell, and so forth, but eventually the book went with just all reprint stories. Not that it was a bad thing mind you, because then you got to see work by greats like Heck, Ayers, Ditko, and early Perlin, as well!

These men were masters, one and all, and the legacy they’ve left for toady’s creators to follow is nothing short of extraordinary. Some are still with us, sadly others are not,  but their incredible contributions live on in the pages of comic books just like the issues I’m about to showcase! Sit back, and relax, because you’re about to go on a journey into a very scary and chilling place!

 

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ROM SpaceKnight! The Bill Mantlo/Steve Ditko Run!

Unbeknownst to me until recently, the incomparable Steve Ditko had a nice run on ROM! His rendering of the shiny superhero from Galador is quite awesome, and with other artists the caliber of Bob Layton, Jackson Guice, P. Craig Russell,  and Tom Palmer inking his pencils, you were privileged to see  a great comic book! In the mid-1980’s, Marvel was in high gear, but also competing with DC, who was churning out epic stories like Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Legends. Marvel had Secret Wars, but also had some little gems like I’m about to show you now! So, without further delay, let’s get right to the visual show!

 

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Comics: The 1970’s Horror Explosion! Pt. 1

After those dreadful government hearings in the 1950’s about the comic book industry, the publishers decided to create an organization (The Comics Code Authority) that would oversee and approve of everything published. This stranglehold lasted until Lee, Kane, and Romita gave us “Green Goblin Reborn”, in 1971. This fantastic arc showed us the Osborn family, and their decent into madness. It also was a request from the government to show readers the dangers of drug use that prompted this story to be published. This helped relax the Comics Code Authority’s grip on what could and could not be shown in comics (from 1954 until that point- no Vampires, Werewolves, axe-wielding maniacs, drug use, etc., were allowed in comics, but Lee and Marvel decided to print the issues without the seal of approval).

People’s opinions vary, but it seems as if the Authority was created to more or less put EC Comics out of business. Why? Because they were the dominating force in horror/sci-fi comics, and nobody else could come close to doing what they were accomplishing. I haven’t personally read much of their content, simply because it’s very expensive, but from what I have seen (and heard from many people more knowledgeable than I), they were the best.

Marvel had given up doing horror books but did do a ton of stories that revolved around giant monsters and otherworldly beings from outer-space. These stories were created by giants like Jack ‘King’ Kirby, Steve Ditko, and Don Heck. Some of them were reprinted in books like Chamber of Chills, Monsters on the Prowl, and Where Monsters Dwell, just to name a few. There was the arrival of other titles that contained some new material as well (Chamber of Darkness), and were not hardcore horror, but “sophisticated suspense”, as DC Comics would call such material.

So, without further delay, let me present some of the reprint work, along with some new material from Marvel Comics, from the late 1960’s and the 1970’s! Enjoy!

 

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