Ghost Rider 8, 1974 “The Devil’s Disciple!”

Back in the Bronze Age, the Ghost Rider was packed full of devilish ideas, and it was certainly a sign of the times. Many books featured cults, devils, and all sorts of satanic shenanigans. From the beginning of Ghost Rider’s days in comics, he was wrapped in these themes, and for the most part still is now. There have been different iterations but in the end, the character can’t get away from that aspect of his origin.

This particular issue features not only the flame-headed, motorcycle riding man/ghost himself, Johnny Blaze, but a new villain named Inferno, and the coup de grâce, Satan himself! For a very long time there was an unwritten rule at Marvel that God and Satan (post Comics Code Authority) were off-limits to comic books. On a few different occasions, Marvel tried to explain away any appearances by Satan, in saying it wasn’t really “Satan” but some other lesser demon masquerading as the infernal devil. Why they felt the need to back-peddle or avoid the situation totally, I can’t be certain (because nothing makes sense since we’re talking about fictitious characters in comic books, but again, probably the Code), but certainly in years to come things would change. There is a story that the writer (Tony Isabella) tells about how he wanted to eventually name a character he created in this series as being God/Jesus, but an editor changed the story before it was printed. Not the first time we’ve heard of this going on, and I’m sure not the last.

The story was written by Tony Isabella, who went on to create characters like Black Goliath, and Black Lightning (for DC comics). The art team consisted of Jim Mooney (pencils), and Sal Trapani (inks), both of whom were seasoned artists by this time period. Since the Golden Age, Mooney and Trapani worked steadily in comics. Mooney most notably for DC comics on Supergirl, and Trapani for his inking during this very time period (plus his work for Dell comics earlier). Phil Rachelson was the colorist, and John Costanza the letterer. Again , two names most know from their consistent work in this time period. The book was edited by Roy Thomas. The magnificent cover is by the legendary Gil Kane (pencils) and (long time inker/artist) Dan Adkins!

 

 

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Tales of the Zombie 9, 1974 “Simon Garth Lives Again!”

What is this…? Back to back posts about Simon Garth, A.K.A. The Zombie? YES! Yes it is! And another look at Simon Garth is definitely in order during the month of October! The covers, the content, the amazement, these mags are wondrous. Even the advertisements are special (and I’ll post some pics along with my usual story images).

In this particular book, Marvel gives us three chapters of a story about the zombie, and one extra story without him tucked in at the end (plus a little one-pager by Isabella and Win Mortimer). The three-part story about the Zombie has with one exception a different creative team on every chapter. There is one constant, as Tony Isabella (writer/plotter), is there throughout. We do get one chapter scripted by Chris Claremont, but Isabella plots that one and writes the others. This story has a very interesting angle in that we get to see Simon Garth in human form once again! No spoilers other than that from me though!

The artists in these chapters include – Virgilio Redondo, Alfredo Alcala, Yong Montano, Ron Wilson, Pablo Marcos, and that last little story I mentioned (“Herbie the Liar said it wouldn’t Hurt“) is written by Doug Moench! Lastly, the incredible painted cover is by the late, great Earl Norem! Check out his work online as he did some fantastic covers just like this one, plus interiors too!

 

 

Tales of the Zombie 5, 1974 “The Palace of Black Magic!”

Another day, and another look at a classic horror comic during October! There are a few more black and white mags to look at, and those are a favorite of mine and quite a few other fans of the medium. These mags are an excellent example of something from the past that will never be duplicated. Right place right time scenario. All the key words are visible- “voodoo”, “magic”, “walking dead”, etc. A more Bronze Age book cannot be found, just look at the cover and the clothes the girl is wearing! The stories in this one are fantastic, and all are about zombies!

The first story is a continuation (as far as the creative team) from the previous issue. “Palace of Black Magic” by Steve Gerber (writer), and Pablo Marcos (art), is another installment of beauty from this series. Both of these men have had great careers in comics, but these issues have to be considered to be right up there with their best. The next story (“Who Walks with a Zombie?”) is a reprint from the Atom Age, and stars the incredibly talented Russ Heath on art (not sure of the credits for writer on this one). Then there is “Voodoo War” by Tony Isabella (writer), Syd Shores, Dick Ayers, and Mike Esposito (inks) on art! Two men using voodoo against each other in an old west tale of terror. Finally, “Death’s Bleak Birth” shows a dead man rise from his grave, and after that the killing spree begins! Doug Moench (writer), and Frank Springer (art), are on point with this one for sure.

There are a couple of other tidbits in this one as well. A three pager by Doug Moench (writer) describing Brother Voodoo and his lore (illustrations look like they are from a story with Gene Colan art). Also by Moench, we get a look into the excellent film White Zombie (Bela Lugosi). Lastly, there is a prose story by Chris Claremont, continuing from the previous issue. And this is all kicked off with a great cover by Earl Norem!

 

Monsters Unleashed Annual 1, 1975 “Super Annual Issue”

Annuals can be tough as far as finding good material. A lot of the time they’re just reprints, so if you own the content in another form, it’s kind of a waste of money. This mag gives you no new content, but does have a cool cover and a couple of new stories to make it worth the dough. And of course, if you’re a completest, you must buy it anyway!

Of course you get all top-notch creators from Marvel at the time in this one. Seeing some of these creators that aren’t known for their horror work turn out such great material is just more proof that this was an incredible time for comics. Each one brings their own personality to the stories, and even though some might say these quick little stories are an afterthought, they are very good and stand the test of time.

The cover is absolutely fantastic, and artist Ken Bald really brought his best to this one. He’s a guy that had worked since the Golden Age, and some of his covers are absolutely gorgeous (look them up!). The first full story (The Cold of the Uncaring Moon) is by Steve Skeates (writer), George Tuska (pencils) and Klaus Janson (inks). There’s nothing like a good werewolf story to get the mag started! Next, we get World of Warlocks! This one is brought to us by Roy Thomas and Gardner Fox (story/writers), and Gene ‘The Dean’ Colan (artist)! This incredible tale of fantasy is a great one! “Lifeboat” follows, and Spidey-scribe Gerry Conway (writer), and Jesus Blasco (art) shows us what terror really is! The writer of the next story, Don McGregor, is one of my favorites, and doesn’t really get credit for much other than his Black Panther work. The guy wrote some really good horror stories, and “Demon of Slaughter Mansion” with art by Juan Boix is no exception! “Birthright,” has a giant serpent-type creature terrorizing a jungle that inhabits most;y peaceful people. Roy Thomas (writer), Gil Kane (pencils) and The Crusty Bunkers (inks) bring us this tale of fantasy! What does Jack the Ripper and a werewolf have in common? Chris Claremont (writer) and Don Perlin (art) know, and they weave a tale to show us. Finally (almost), we see the notorious muck monster, Man-Thing, and he must face not only vicious alligators, but vampire bats as well! Story by Tony Isabella and art by Vicente Alcalzar. There are also three one-pagers “Thunderbird” “They Might be Monsters”  and “Monsters from the Sea” by Tony Isabella and Ernie Chan (Pablo Marcos) on art for the They Might be Monsters story)!

 

 

 

Supernatural Thrillers Featuring The Living Mummy!

As I sit here watching The Mummy’s Shroud (1967, Hammer Studios), The Living Mummy (N’Kantu) seemed like a good subject to present during my month-long look at horror comics. As the title Supernatural Thrillers switched from new characters every in issue to an ongoing monster of its own in the mummy.

In the first few issues, we see N’Kantu being disoriented, then fighting thieves and hoodlums. Later though, he would be pitted up against other supernatural beings, and that was a spectacle. It’s a natural progression of course, and sufficed to say it gave the readers some good entertainment. These “Elementals” (Hydron, Magnum, Hellfire) showed some real persistence and continually attacked N’Kantu and his friends (once the mummy became more lucid, he became a hero).

From a standpoint of creativity, these books had some of Marvel’s best talents during this era at the helm (and I’ll list them all below). You had some that had been around for a few years and some that were early in their careers (especially with Marvel). This mix led to so much excellent content not only in horror stories but every genre. It’s also worth to note that N’Kantu is the second supernatural character of color in Marvel (he predates Brother Voodoo by a month, but Blade was the month just before his first appearance). This was all part of a change in the business to include more characters and creators that were minorities.

Make no mistake, this title was Val Mayerik’s coming out party. Not only did he provide pencils (and inks for some issues), for most of these issues, but also plot assists for a few as well! He’ already had great success with Howard the Duck, and Man-Thing, but this really solidified him as an all around creator.

 

Issue 5 – cover by Rich Buckler and Frank Giacoia; written by Steve Gerber, art by Rich Buckler and Frank Chiaramonte, colors by Petra Goldberg, and letters by Jean Izzo.

 

Issue 7 – cover by Ron Wilson and John Romita; written by Steve Gerber, art by Val Mayerik, colors by Linda Lessman, letters by John Costanza.

 

Issue 8 – cover by Larry Lieber and Tom Palmer; written by Tony Isabella, art by Val Mayerik, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Tom Orzechowski.

 

Issue 9 – cover by Gil Kane and Al Milgrom; written by Tony Isabella, art by Val Mayerik and Dan Adkins, colors by Linda Lessman, letters by Tom Orzechowski.

 

Issue 10 – cover by Gil Kane and Al Milgrom; scripted by Len Wein (plot by Isabella and Mayerik), art by Val Mayerik and Dan Adkins, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Artie Simek.

 

Issue 11 – cover by Frank Brunner; written by Tony Isabella, art by Val Mayerik (plot assist as well), colors by Bill Mantlo, and letters by Alan Kupperberg.

 

Issue 12 – cover by Gil Kane and Klaus Janson; written by Tony Isabella, art by Val Mayerik (plot assist as well), and Klaus Janson, colors by Bill Mantlo, letters by Karen Mantlo.

 

Issue 13 – cover by Gil Kane and Mike Esposito; written by Tony Isabella, art by Val Mayerik (plot assist as well) and Dan Green, colors by Janice Cohen, letters by Karen Mantlo.

 

Issue 14 – cover by Gil Kane and Tom Palmer; written by John Warner, art by Val Mayerik (plot as well) and Al McWilliams, colors by Phil Rachelson, and letters by John Costanza.

 

Issue 15 – cover by Gil Kane and Tom Palmer; written by John Warner, art by Tom Sutton, colors by Phil Rachelson, and letters by John Costanza.

 

 

 

Monsters Unleashed 4, 1973

Slowly but surely I’m making the effort to collect all of Marvel’s magazines from the 1970s. They’re getting steep in price overall, but if you look closely, you can usually find them here or there in decent shape for a bargain. When I saw the chance to pick up this issue for a reasonable price, I grabbed it immediately. A cover with a werewolf, and advertising the Frankenstein Monster is awesome, and high on my buy list for sure.

In this awesome mag, you get a great little one page story inside the front cover by Tony “The Tiger” Isabella and Pablo Marcos! Next we switch gears and see the ongoing story (chapter two) of a tale involving the Frankenstein Monster, by “Groovy” Gary Friedrich and “Big” John Buscema! The story and artwork are absolutely incredible in that one! Next, the book provides a reprint of a story called “The Hands (Adventures into Terror 14, 1951).” The writer is unknown, but the artwork is by Gene “The Dean” Colan!  An interesting little 4 page story that has a twist ending. A prose story called “Our Martian Heritage” by Chris (Mr. X-Men) Claremont that has some photos accompanying it (most notably from Invasion of the Saucer Men- 1957). A new tale about Gullivar Jones Warrior of Mars (continuing from the pages of Creatures on the Loose), is nothing short of short of awesome. Brought to you by Tony Isabella and  “Dynamic” Dave Cockrum! A zombified story by Steve “Baby” Gerber and Pablo Marcos keeps the book rolling, and then we get another Atlas Age reprint (The Killers- Adventures into Weird Worlds 10, 1952), artist unknown and art by Bernie Krigstein! And finally, we see a gorgeous story by “Dapper” Don Perlin and Chris Claremont! A werewolf story that is one of the most (if not the most) beautifully penciled stories by Perlin I’ve ever seen! Cover by Albert Pujolar!

 

Creatures On The Loose 31, 32, 33 “Man-Wolf”

In the July 1974 issue of Creatures on the Loose, we saw a switch from the Sword and Sandal genre, starring “Thongor, Warrior of Lost Lemuria” to the horror genre starring the Man-Wolf! After the death of Gwen Stacey (and Norman Osborn), John Jameson was brought back into the Spider-realm. Marvel put him in Marvel Premiere as well for a short story-line, but once the horror craze finally died off, so did Wolfy’s career for quite some time. In these issues, we see him battling Simon Stroud, the police, Kraven the Hunter, and his own father, J. Jonah Jameson! Covers by Gil Kane, John Romita, and Rich Buckler (inks by Klaus Janson), respectively.

 

Doc Savage 8, 1973 “Werewolf’s Lair!”

Just for the record, I know virtually nothing about Doc Savage. That said, anytime you throw a classic monster in a comic book, I’m in! This wacky story reminds me of an episode of Johnny Quest (Werewolf of the Timberland) for several reasons. I wont get into them because it would spoil the issue, but you do get some good action, and some werewolf face-time as well. It’s part two of a story, so the circumstances leading up to this is lost on me, but that aside, it’s still very enjoyable. As the last issue in the series, you get the distinct impression it was cancelled abruptly because there’s no reference to cancellation at all.

As a whole, I like the work of Tony “The Tiger” Isabella (writer). He did some really cool horror stuff back in the early Bronze Age that’s worth looking up. The art team, led by “Riotous” Rich Buckler (cover pencils and interior layouts), are very solid. You get finishes and inks by “Terrific” Tom Palmer (Tomb of Dracula, The Avengers) and Jack Abel (GI Combat, Our Army at War) . Both men have had extensive careers in the industry, and proven themselves to be top-notch at their craft. Once again, the duo of “Titanic” Tom Orzechowski (letters) and “Genuine” George Roussos (colors), complete this list of comic book legends!

 

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Tales of the Zombie #3, 1973 “When The Gods Crave Flesh!”

I have a new passion for a certain comic book that wont stop gnawing at me. The black and white horror magazines from the 1970s are very hypnotizing; from the fantastic artwork, the wild stories, and the overall more mature tone are really exceptional. I’ve already talked about the first issue of these that bought a while back (Monsters Unleashed #11), and that one really hooked me into the genre. I was already a fan of most of the creators that worked in this era, and saw some work from creators I’d never seen before (Billy Graham, being one). In this great issue, we start out with a story starring the one and only, Simon Garth (the Zombie)! There are four other stories (one reprint maybe?) in the issue, but this first one definitely stands out the most, as you will see!

Legendary writer, Steve “Baby” Gerber wrote the Zombie story, and with artwork by “Prolific” Pablo Marcos, you really get the best of what these magazines had to offer. Throw in more artwork by long time artists Tony Dipreta, and Bill Walton (both Golden Age alumni), and more stories written from talents like “Devil-May-Care” Doug Moench and Tony “The Tiger” Isabella, and you get an incredible book! Let’s be honest though, you’ll fall in love with this one just from the Boris Vallejo cover alone (a definite shout out to magazine editor, “Marvelous” Marv Wolfman, as well!)!

 

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Marvel Two-in-One #19, 1976 “Claws of the Cougar”

My love for Marvel’s comic books of the 1970’s is legendary, and especially their anthology books. The top series being Marvel Two-in-One, but also Marvel Team-Up, is a close second. The latter was good, but the first offered more obscure stories and team-ups, and that is right up my alley. In this crazy story, we start the tale with some mild sexual tension, at least for Tigra, anyway. Ben Grimm doesn’t reciprocate the feelings, but that doesn’t stop her from hitting on him repeatedly. The two must fight together, and defeat a foe that admits he’s mad, and will stop at nothing to increase his power! Let’s start with the cover for once. Typically I give that person(s) credit at the end, but when Jack ‘King’ Kirby is involved, you must lead off with him! The work was inked by ‘Fearless’ Frank Giacoia (with alterations by John Romita), but the Kirby pencils still are very powerful. Not to be overshadowed, is the interior artwork by ‘Our Pal’ Sal Buscema (pencils), and ‘Dashing’ Don Heck (inks) are fantastic in their own right. The plot is from Tony ‘The Tiger’ Isabella, but the script was by ‘Boisterous’ Bill Mantlo! Letters provided by ‘Karefree’ Karen Mantlo, and colors by Petra Goldberg! Definitely give this series a shot, you won’t be disappointed!   Image (8) Image (9) Image (10) Image (11) Image (12) Image (13)