Thor 198, 1972 “And Odin Dies!”

After the departure of Jack Kirby (in 1970), Marvel comics needed someone to step in and fill the gigantic shoes of that legend. Not that anyone can do what Kirby did exactly, but to keep the titles rolling on pace, and with solid work. The Fantastic Four and Thor were books that Kirby made into gold with his style and powerful pencils, not to mention his imagination. With the source material already in place, they turned to “Big” John Buscema to take over the artistic duties.

In this issue, we see the return of the mighty Mangog! One of the few beings that has actually rivaled Thor in power, and strength (and making bold statements!). Throw in the Warriors Three, the Grand Vizier, and just about every other inhabitant of noble Asgard, and you’ve got a story to remember! A slam-bang action issue that features all the characters you know and love from this corner of the Marvel Universe!

Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by “Big” John Buscema, inks by Vince Colletta, John Costanza on letters, and edited by Stan Lee!

 

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Thor 253, 1976 “Chaos in the Kingdom of the Trolls!”

Some of my favorite comics are those of Thor, volume one. Especially the issues in the mid-200s. I really enjoy the way each story seems self-contained but also connecting to the previous and following issues in a way that wasn’t inconvenient. In this second part of a three-part story, Tor must team-up with his sworn enemy, Ulik the Troll. These two absolutely hate one another, but they must work together to defeat a dragon and then a giant! By story’s end though, Ulik and his minions are laughing at the Prince of Asgard!

I’m a big fan of “Lively” Len Wein (writer/editor). From his work as an editor (Watchmen, New Teen Titans), and vision in reviving the X-Men franchise (along with Dave Cockrum), he really should be recognized a lot more than anyone seems to give him credit. Artist “Big” John Buscema (pencils), is a master that let us too soon. His work on books like Conan, The Avengers, and Silver Surfer are the stuff of legend. Of course, as with most artists, some inkers suited his style better than others, but honestly, his pencils were strong enough that they typically would show right through. One of the inkers that did suite him quite well, was Tony DeZuniga (Jonah Hex, Black Orchid). He’s another one of those guys that rarely gets enough airtime, as an inker or penciler, and that is a travesty. Colors were by the ever-present Marie Severin. She’s someone who should definitely be on your radar simply because not only was she a great artist, but also because she was one of the few women in comics since back in the Silver Age. Letters were by Condoy (?). The cover was by Jack “King” Kirby, and even though there appears to have been some alterations, you can still see the weight that Kirby’s pencils carry.

 

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Thor #201, 1972 “Resurrection!”

After Jack Kirby left Marvel, I’m sure there were some that were very despondent, both within Marvel, and fans. One of the books he left, was Thor. Most would probably say that the Fantastic Four or Captain America are his crowning achievements, but for me, I think Thor is right up there with anything he ever gave us during his time at Marvel Comics. So, the stage is set, Kirby is gone, and who can even possibly try to fill his shoes? Enter John Buscema! The man’s work is well documented, and for all the greats of his time, he stands tall, right there among them. In this issue, we see Odin brought back to life with the help of Hela! We also get a treat, and see the god of war, Pluto, as he battles Thor!

As I’ve already pointed out, this issue is a good one, and basically, you have two elements driving that fact. First is the great creative team of Gerry Conway (writer), “Big” John Buscema (pencils), Jim Mooney (inks), Artie Simek (letters), Gil Kane (cover pencils), and Vince Colletta (cover inks)! The second is the awesome continuity that had been put into place by Lee and Kirby, up until this point in the character’s history. Throw those things together, and you get a great title!

 

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Thor #254, 1976 “The Answer at Last!” and #257, 1977 “Death, Thou Shalt Die!”

I decided to do a double-shot of Thor, and it’s no coincidence that both of these issues have work by none other than the king of comics, Jack Kirby! I love this era of Thor, and Len Wein and John Buscema (and Tony DeZuniga) have a lot to do with that fact. After posting some pic from the series “The Eternals” by Kirby, I felt compelled to spotlight some of his other work from the mid-1970’s (during his final stint at Marvel). Issue #254 is a straight reprint of Thor #159, (1968), and shows just how and why Thor became intertwined with Dr. Don Blake. The second issue (#257), is the last part of a story that showed Thor and the Warriors Three in conflict with the Atlas Age monster, Sporr! And not just for kicks, the very life of Lady Sif may be at stake! Great morality play in this issue, plus the action you get from this era!

The first issue of this double-shot gives us a great cover by “Riotus” Rich Buckler (pencils) and “Joltin” Joe Sinnott (inks)! The interiors of course, are by Jack “King” Kirby (pencils) and “Valiant” Vince Colletta (inks), with letters by “Swinging” Sammy Rosen and script by Stan “The Man” Lee. The second issue brings us an incredible cover by Kirby and Sinnott. This team has given us such wondrous work over the years, and this cover is one of them! The interiors are also very good, and we have “Big” John Buscema (pencils) and Tony DeZuniga (inks), to thank for that. Add in perennial colorist, Glynis Wein, to round out the art team. The writer of this awesome story, is none other than Len Wein! He’s had some great runs in comics, but for me, this one is the best!

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Thor #238, 1975 “Night of the Troll”

As everyone knows, one of the best comic books is the mighty Thor! In this issue, we see that Thor has battled Ulik the Troll, and lost! Well, not really, but Ulik was smart enough to capture Jane Foster, so Thor surrenders. Ulik has had some trouble down in the nether regions…of subterranean Earth, and he strong-arms Thor into fighting for his cause. Typically, Ulik is just a villain that antagonizes Thor, and then they fight, so this story was a different angle for him.

Under the keen eyes of editor, Len Wein, Gerry Conway, who would later be followed by Wein as writer, crafted a nice little run on the title. From issue #193- 238, Conway showed the readers that he wasn’t a one-trick-pony with his success on the Amazing Spider-Man, but could forge some new ground with Thor. Not to be outdone, is the man, myth, and legend, ‘Big’ John Buscema. You can just look at his work in any comic, and it screams talent, and professionalism. The man never to a minute off in his work. Inked by the incomparable, Joe Sinnott, colors by Don Warfield, and letters by John Costanza, this swan song of Conway’s is a must have for fans of Thor or the Bronze Age! Cover by the great Gil Kane, with inks by the ever dependable Al Milgrom!

 

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Maximum Security: Thor vs. Ego (2000)

I typically don’t write about books this new, but being that this is a reprint of incredible material, I figured it was OK. When you can showcase something as special as a Silver Age Thor story, you gotta do it. Marvel cosmic is a thing of beauty or it was at one time. Readers of the Silver Age know, that The Fantastic Four and Thor are the two books that started it all, and vaulted it into the farthest reaches of the universe and beyond! Originals, reprints, whatever, get some copies of early issues of these two titles, and dive in. This particular over-sized book has three issues  of Thor (#133, 160-161), that show his first and next encounters with the Living Planet called Ego!

Of course, the only mind that could bring us this visual feast is that of Jack ‘King’ Kirby. As if Ego wasn’t enough, Kirby then brings the mighty Galactus into the fray, and you’d better fasten your seat-belts for that collision! Scripted by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Artie Simek and Sam Rosen! A better story from the Silver Age of Marvel cannot be found!

 

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Marvel Spectacular #13, 1974 “The Scourge of the Super Skrull”

Originally presented in Thor #142 (1967), this issue features Thor, accepting a challenge from a man on a motorcycle that wishes to race against him! Well, OK, that’s not the main part of the story, but it is the funniest. The story’s best parts, involved Thor fighting against the menace of the Super Skrull. This villain that regularly gives the Fantastic Four all they can handle, sets his sights on the thunder god, with a little motivation from Loki, Thor’s devious brother! There’s also a backup story “Aftermath,” and shows more of the machinations of Loki.

You get the usual magic from Kirby in this issue, but of course, the jury is still out on whether Vince Colletta did the pencils justice or not. Personally, Colletta’s inks don’t bother me as much on Thor as compared to The Fantastic Four, but to each his own. Written by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack ‘King’ Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, and letters by Artie Simek! The glory and grandeur of the mighty Thor will always be tops thanks to the king of comics!

 

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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 Unsung Heroes! -Alan Kupperberg!

The name Alan Kupperberg wasn’t familiar to me until a while after I started reading comics. Maybe he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he didn’t have an extended run on any one title, or possibly because he was busy with other work (different divisions of Marvel and commercial work). Whatever the reason, if you take a look at his body of work, you can see the pencils of a true craftsman that is under-appreciated, to say the least.

His work on The Invaders, is especially nice, but I also own some of his work on Thor, and a couple other gems you’ll find interesting. The man wasn’t limited in his work either, doing some writing, inking, coloring, lettering, and everything else you can think of  in the industry. So, here’s to you, Alan Kupperberg, thanks for all of your contributions to the greatest form of entertainment on the planet!

 

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Marvel’s Unsung Heroes! -Don Perlin!

This is one post I’ve been looking forward to for a while now, and it’s about time I got around to spotlighting one of the creators that has always had me glued to the panels of comic books! His name is ‘Dandy’ Don Perlin, and I’ve never met him in person, but I have had contact with him on social media, and he’s nothing short of a gentleman! He has some of the most unique pencils I’ve ever seen (I can easily spot his Werewolf by Night!), and some very eerie stuff as well from early in his career (as you’ll see in the first set of images below). This artist has been a contributor in the comic book industry for over forty years! His place in the comic book community cannot be denied, and co-creating Moon Knight, is certainly proof of that fact!

Oh, and just a quick side note -Don Perlin is responsible for the best comic page in history, just to set the record straight (5th image down from the top). Whether it was Joe Sinnott, Pablo Marcos, or Vince Colletta inking, the consistency of his artwork is on a solid level! So, here’s to you, Don Perlin, thanks for your tireless efforts to the comic book industry over the decades!

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