I’ll freely admit that I love origin stories. I see people on social media decry films and comics that recount them, but I just can’t help myself. One of my favorite origin stories, is that of Professor Xavier (and the X-Men). Of course, Spider-Man is the one that gets retold a lot, but I can’t recall this one being retold many times. Honestly though, does anyone not get pumped when they see names like Chris Claremont (writer), John Byrne (pencils), and Terry Austin (inks)?
This reprint book gives us a tale from the youth of Professor Charles Xavier. But first, he’s talking with Lilandra in his office. You see, the X-Men are missing and presumed dead (after an altercation in the Savage Land). He then begins to think that maybe he should never have recruited them for his cause. His mind drifts back to a trip he made to Cairo years ago. As he was walking through the city, a girl (a young Ororo Monroe, A.K.A. Storm!) stole his wallet. He chased the girl down, and retrieved his wallet, but was struck down by a mental attack. He then makes his way inside a cafe to meet the person responsible. He then comes face to face with Amahl Farouk. He is a mutant, and a very powerful telepath, just like Xavier. The difference is that he’s evil, and uses his powers for personal gain. After a quick introduction, they meet on the Astral Plane for combat. The battle is fierce, but eventually, Xavier proves to be the superior combatant!
This story isn’t one filled with action, but it does show you not only the origin of Xavier but his first encounter with another mutant. Seeing Xavier in this different light (pre-X-Men) is quite a thrill and I can only imagine how much bigger of one it was for readers back in 1979. There’s also a back up story by Claremont and John Bolton. A neat little story involving Nightcrawler! And to top it all off, we get a cover (and pinup) by Art Adams! The original cover is by Dave Cockrum (X-Men 117, the last image).
Two names that are synonymous with the Bronze Age are most certainly Chris Claremont and John Byrne (and Terry Austin). Their collaboration on the character Iron Fist was the beginning, but then the real feast came in the X-Men, of course. One lesser known partnership between the two juggernauts was in an issue of the magazine Marvel Preview (#11 to be exact). Claremont would write a few more stories after this one but not with Byrne on art. This special edition reprints that story, plus adds some framing sequences with art by Michael Golden (only posting the Byrne artwork though, as that’s how it was originally released)! And I’ll definitely include the great wrap-around (sort of…first and last images) cover by Terry Austin! Enjoy!
Ho Ho Ho! Merry Christmas! As I write this post a few days before the “big day,” I wanted to toss out a holiday themed story, and this one is great! Everybody loves Santa Claus, and nobody would want to see him hurt, but in this story, he gets mugged by some thugs, and it’s up to Daredevil to stop this senseless violence in the streets of Hells Kitchen! Some good humor in the story as well, when Heather and Debbie coerce Foggy into playing Santa Claus for some kids because the regular guy backed out! Great stuff to contrast this gritty story!
One of the most underrated guys in the biz, is without a doubt, Roger McKenzie. This guy preceded Frank Miller on Daredevil (he actually wrote some great stories before Miller was writer, and was doing pencils), and for that, he gets overshadowed, but certainly shouldn’t be! Trust me and check out those stories! The artistic team of Paul Smith and Terry Austin bring their “A” game for this story, but that’s no surprise as that team always seemed to gel. Throw in Marvel stalwart colorist Glynis Wein, and letterer Shelly Leferman, and don’t forget the always reliable editor Al Milgrom, to round out the creative team on this holiday treat! Cover by Frank Miller! Enjoy!
As the month draws closer to the end, so does my spotlight on Doctor Strange. One issue that I must talk about is this one, issue number sixty-eight. It features not only the Doc, but another one of my favorite characters, the Black Knight! Also, the lady named Victoria Bentley, and her relationship with both men. Dane Whitman (the current Black Knight and the one from this story), was just recently released from his curse that had entrapped him in stone, but he seems to now have some type of madness that is deadly for those around him! A duel between the Knight and the Sorcerer Supreme is upon us!
This story was during the fantastic run of Roger Stern. He also wrote the great story that featured the second war between Dr. Strange and Dracula! The artist, Paul Smith, had a brief run on the title, and did a solid job as well. Having a great inker like Terry Austin didn’t hurt either though, and we know all about his exploits with people like John Byrne, for example. Written by Roger Stern, pencils (and cover) by Paul Smith, inks by Terry Austin, colors by Bob Sharen, letters by Jim Novak, and edited by Carl Potts! Enjoy!
This issue holds a ton of sentimental value for me. It was the first Doctor Strange comic I bought back in the day, and it blew me away. I always thought the Fantastic Four was a good team, so when I saw them on the cover, that was enough to entice me into buying the issue. Marvel using guest appearances wasn’t new, but this story had a twist. The Doc traveled back in time to check something out, and wound up witnessing the FF battle the “Pharaoh from the Future,” Rama-Tut. Now today, we all know that Rama-Tut, Kang, and Immortus are all the same man, just at different points in his life. This character is one that I absolutely love, and for a myriad of reasons. First, he’s ruthless, and will do whatever it takes to get the job done. Secondly, he’s taken Thor’s best shots, and still keeps coming back to get what he wants. And, well, you get the picture. I’m in love with rapacious conquerors!
The title had recently taken a turn with its creative direction, and who better than to usher in something new than Roger Stern (writer), Marshall Rogers (pencils), Terry Austin (inks), Jim Novak (letters, and a hold-over from the last team), and Al Milgrom (editor)! This new group set out to do something totally different, and they sure made good on that! The first thing they did was to have Clea dump the Doc! Now, it’s time for you to enjoy some great work by the creators!
To close out the 1970’s, Chris Claremont had a short stint on this title, as it had become a bit of a merry-go-round of creative teams for the last couple of years. Claremont took his turn (as if he didn’t have enough on his plate with the then resurgent X-Men!), and didn’t disappoint. He brings a new character to the book, named Sara Wolfe. She’s an “old friend” of the Doc’s, and you can immediately see the “Betty and Veronica” approach taking a foot-hold on the book. Matched with the eerie artwork of Gene Colan, this book definitely reminds you of a horror story. Speaking of the story, Wong gets captured by an unknown foe, then the Doc must face Native American demons, for his eternal soul!
Written by “Superscribe” Chris Claremont, pencils by Gene “The Dean” Colan, inks by “Delightful” Dan Green, letters by “Terrific” Tom Orzechowski, colors by “Boisterous” Bob Sharen, and edited by “Joyful” Jo Duffy! Don’t forget the awesome cover by Bob Hall and Terry Austin! A great creative team for the greatest sorcerer in the universe! Enjoy!
After seeing some of John Byrne’s awesome work on the Fantastic Four in my earlier post, I thought it was time for some of his other work, you know, stuff off of the beaten path. His early Avengers work, the West Coast run, Silver Surfer, and a Hulk story from Marvel Fanfare that will knock your socks off will be featured in today’s post. So, get ready to be dazzled! Enjoy!
Another week, and another post that spotlights a giant in the comic book world! John Byrne has accomplished many things as an artist and a writer, but most hold him high for two specific runs in his lifetime (3 for me). First, is probably his X-Men work alongside longtime stalwart, Chris Claremont. That era of X-Men really put them on the map, and resurrected that team from the dead (HUGE thanks to Len Wein, Dave Cockrum (who’ll get his own spotlight soon!), and editor Marv Wolfman, as well). I’m going to start out with some of his work on Fantastic Four, and then move on to other titles. From action to the mundane, he could do it all. So, without further delay, get ready for some classic Byrne! Enjoy!
I don’t know if it’s possible to imagine a better comic book. Mark Gruenwald & Steven Grant (plot), David Michelinie (script), John Byrne (pencils), Dan Green (inks), Costanza (letters), and Slifer (colors). Oh, and did I forget to mention George Perez and Terry Austin on the cover? The story is one of my all time favorite Avengers stories. It digs into the past of Wanda & Pietro Maximoff (Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver), and also showcases Modred, Ch’Thon, and the High Evolutionary! Enjoy!