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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Giant-Size Man-Thing 2, 1974 “Of Monsters and Men!”

How is it possible that a character that cannot speak be so appealing? Well, when you take an origin story that involves a mystical swamp (near the Nexus of All Realities), a scientist, and Hydra (a later retcon not explicitly told in the origin story), and you’ve got a great way to convince me. Taking the concept from King Kong (1933), men who seek to cage something unnatural, and put it on display, are just begging for trouble. The trope of trying to contain something that is virtually uncontrollable, is one that’s been used many times over, with a varying degree of success. This time is definitely on the positive side.

When he was still alive, the mind of Steve “Baby” Gerber (writer) might have been a scary place to dive into. Hi stories about the weird and supernatural are top-notch. Why he isn’t recognized more outside of the circle of hardcore fans is a mystery to me, especially considering the praise other creators from that era and beyond seem to have for him and his work. Of Out of all the people who’ve drawn Man-Thing, I think “Big” John Buscema (pencils on interiors, and cover art) is my favorite. He certainly understood how to draw everything¬† even though he’s gone on record stating he didn’t like to draw superheroes all that much, he always did an admirable job. He is still one of the giants of the industry. “Santa” Klaus Janson (inks) is an artist that I first saw on Daredevil, and always thought he brought an extra dimension to whatever he had his hands in. John Costanza (letters) and Linda Lessmann (colors), are two very capable contributors that never failed to get it done. Let us not forget “Rascally” Roy Thomas (editor), as his work not only as a writer, but editing also is something that puts him at the top of the food chain in comic book history! You also get three bonus stories with work by great creators like Dick Ayers, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby!

 

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Doctor Strange #53, 1982 “Land of the Pharaohs”

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!

 

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Marvel’s Greatest Comics #58, 1975 (originally Fantastic Four #76, 1968)

Continuing from a post from earlier this year, I wanted to push forward with part two of this awesome story. Of course, the first Galactus story is best, but this one is no pushover. You get the world devourer, Galactus, the Silver Surfer, and by issues end, a glimpse of the Psycho Man, as well! Throw in some crazy inner-space travel, and you get an adventure for the ages! If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time we see the “microverse” in the Marvel Universe. It’s a place where you must shrink down to microscopic size to enter, but once there, you can revert back to normal size. Only the mind of someone like Jack Kirby could think something up like this, and then illustrate it so well, it blows your mind.

As usual, you get the brilliant artwork from Jack ‘King’ Kirby, also the crazy captions of Stan Lee, and the awesome inks of Joe Sinnott, and don’t forget the letters by Artie Simek! Yes, the gang’s all here for the second installment of another cosmic foray for Marvel’s first family, the Fantastic Four! Not lost in this story, is the sky-rider of the space-ways himself, the Silver Surfer, and a deranged being called the “Murder Machine,” as well!

 

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Marvel’s Greatest Comics #71, 1977 “The Madness of the Mole Man”

Switching gears for a moment away from the Marvel team books, I’d like to showcase this one adventure of the Fantastic Four. There very first adversary, and always a classic, the Mole Man, is back, and ready to finish off Marvel’s first family! The brilliance of Jack Kirby shines through, as we see a subterranean skirmish, a wonderful photo collage of outer space, and the electronic wonders of Kirby’s limitless mind. You come to expect this when you read anything Kirby, and that is the greatest testament to the man’s status as a comic book genius.

Honestly, you can never go wrong with Kirby/Lee Fantastic Four. These issues had a certain newness to them, and a charm that no other comic book has had ever, or in a very long time. Written by Stan Lee, art by Jack ‘King’ Kirby & Joe Sinnott, and letters by Sam Rosen! A marvelous splash page of the Mole Man attacking the team is just one of the gems in this issue! Enjoy!

 

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Marvel’s Unsung Heroes! – Keith Pollard!

Why the name Keith Pollard isn’t mentioned among Marvel’s elite, is beyond my comprehension. Sure, you have the likes of Jack Kirby, John Romita, and so on, but for me, Pollard belongs right in the next tier alongside Perez, Byrne, Simonson, and the rest. His work is really great, and he actually drew most of my favorite Thor story as well. I think that’s actually the first time I saw his work, and I was blown away.

Whether it was in the pages of Thor, The Fantastic Four, or any other, you’ll soon realize that he’s one of the most underrated artists of all time! I’ll actually throw in a few covers he did as well, just to show the great range he had too. With incredible inkers like Joe Sinnott, and Chic Stone, Keith’s work really stands out. His list of credits may not be as lengthy as some others, but you cannot deny his talents. So, here’s to you, Keith Pollard, thanks for your contributions to the comic book industry!

 

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Marvel’s Greatest Comics #49, 1974

You know, the early days of the Fantastic Four, showed that readers were yearning for a comic book with a familial aspect to it, as opposed to the regular superhero books. The great reprint series, “Marvel’s Greatest Comics“, is an incredible way to check out these classic stories individually, and not in trade. This specific issue, is a build up of sorts for the wackiness to really get into high gear in #50.

In this issue (#49, but originally presented in FF #66)) we get to see the cabal of scientists known as “The Enclave’, and we find out that they’ve kidnapped (sort of), Alicia Masters. The conversation between the characters in this issue is outrageous to say the least. Ben “clobbering” Reed, and knocking him unconscious over basically nothing other than Ben’s wallowing in self-pity…again. Sue still being treated like a second class citizen, and so on, is really crazy, and makes this book a funny read.

The artwork of course, was from Jack Kirby. And along for the ride was his trusted confidant, Joe Sinnott, the artwork just absolutely pops off of the pages. That’s why they call him the ‘King’ of comics! OK, let’s get down to business and enjoy some comic panels. Enjoy!

 

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John Romita Sr. Tribute! Part 1!

Well, after my tribute to Big John Buscema last week, I’m on to the next face on my Mount Rushmore of comic book artists, with Jazzy John Romita! This man is nothing short of a legend, from his early work at Timely Comics (a precursor to Marvel), then onto becoming one of the industries all-time greatest romance artists, then a return to Marvel that would see him follow the incredibly talented Steve Ditko on Spider-Man. This is where Romita would make his mark, but he also penciled Captain America, The Fantastic Four, and many other Marvel titles before being named Marvel’s art director!

Here are a few of his early pages from Menace, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, and more! Enjoy!

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