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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Ghost Rider 16, 1976 “Blood in the Waters”

The Bronze Age was an age of growing up for some preexisting characters, and the introduction of some new ones that were not only part of the zeitgeist  of the times, but ones that would last a very long time afterward. One of these characters is the Ghost Rider! Opinions vary on who created what exactly, but we know that Mike Ploog, Gary Friedrich, and Roy Thomas were involved. Over the decades, there have been a few different people to carry the mantle of the Ghost Rider, but honestly, none are better than the original, Johnny Blaze.

In this issue, we see Blaze and his alter-ego battle dolphin killers…and a great white shark! Yes, shortly after the frenzy that was Jaws (summer of 1975), Bill Mantlo (writer), George Tuska (pencils), Vince Colletta (inks), Janice Cohen (colors), and Karen Mantlo (letters), gave us the awesomeness of Ghost Rider fighting Jaws (edited by Marv Wolfman, cover by Bob Brown and Dave Cockrum)!

 

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Worlds Unknown 7 and 8, 1974 “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad”

Being a huge fan of Ray Harryhausen, I’m always delighted to see a comic book that was influenced by work of his. Well, there were at least books I know of that were straight up adaptations of his stop-motion work. One is Marvel Spotlight 25, and the other two are Worlds Unknown 7 & 8! Both of these comics showcase a film “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,” condensed, of course. We see Sinbad and his crew battle mythical monsters, evil sorcerers, and the like!

Len Wein (writer) is a guy who’s probably most known for being a part of resurrecting the X-Men franchise, and rightly so, but if you look at the entire body of work, he deserves much more credit. It doesn’t take a writing wizard to adapt a movie into a comic book, Ill give you that, but seeing his name in the credits of any book puts my mind at ease. The art team of George Tuska (interior pencils and cover pencils to issue 7) and Vince Colletta (inks- interiors and covers) is one that some might malign. I understand when people complain about Colletta rushing jobs and putting out substandard work. He has done some good work though, and I think issues like these two prove it. Glynis Wein (colors) and John Costanza (letters) both were always very solid and deserve kudos. On issue number eight, we get a cover by one of the masters of the comic book industry, Gil Kane!

 

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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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Marvel Chillers #4, 1976 “Night of the Huntress!”

For a time, Marvel tried to further its reading base by creating some books that had  female protagonists. One of those characters was “The Cat,” Greer Nelson. She was featured in her own short-lived series, and after became an Avenger. She eventually mutated into a tiger-woman, named Tigra! She also had a stint in Marvel Chillers, and in this issue, she battled none other than Kraven the Hunter! We all know that Kraven is a bad mamma jamma, but don’t worry, Tigra can hold her own!

The creative team on this one was unique as this was the only issue they all worked on  (writer, pencils, inks) in the series. You have X-Man supreme, “Clever” Chris Claremont (writer), “Free-Wheelin” Frank Robbins (pencils), “Valiant” Vince Colletta (inks), John Costanza (letters), and George Roussos (colors), that gave us this gem! Oh, and let us not forget editor “Marvelous” Marv Wolfman, and “Jazzy” Johnny Romita (pencils), and “Terrific” Tom Palmer (inks), with the cover!

 

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The Defenders #27, 1975 “Three Worlds to Conquer!”

My love for the Defenders is legendary, so it stands to reason, that I must love the creators as well. Most of the stories borderline on the absurd and unusual, kind of like a Twilight Zone or Outer Limits episode. Truthfully, you have to be kind of weird to like this book, but that suites me just fine. The Guardians of the Galaxy (from the future), get tangled up in a battle with the Brotherhood of the Badoon, and it’s up to the Defenders to help them defeat these nasty aliens!

The creative team supreme, of Steve “Baby” Gerber (writer) and “Our Pal” Sal Buscema (pencils), gave us this great book, and by no means do I exaggerate! Throw in the controversial “Valiant” Vince Colletta on inks, Joe Rosen on letters, Al Wenzel colorist, and “Lively” Len Wein, editing! Being that this book is a GotG tie-in, the price can be utterly insane, so, watch out, the thieves of the internet are on the prowl!

 

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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 Team-Up #36 and #37 (1975) “Bedlam in the Balkans” and “Murder Means the Man-Wolf”

October is here, and the Halloween season is upon us all, so what better way to celebrate than with horror themed comic books! The first one I’m going to spotlight is an appearance of the Frankenstein Monster in Marvel Team-Up #36 & 37! The second issue actually gives us a Man-Wolf appearance as well, so you get double the monster fun! You get some good cop/bad cop from the monster, and that’s always cool, because the monster maybe be considered a villain by most, but  honestly, he’s  just misunderstood most of the time.

With the same core team creating both books, you get a consistency that really gives the book a strong foundation. Story by Gerry Conway, pencils by Sal Buscema, and inks by Vince Colletta, are the team for both parts of this two issue scare-fest! You also get two covers from Ed Hannigan (pencils) (Mike Esposito inks on #36, John Romita on #37), and both show some awesome action between Spidey and these two perennial horror icons!  Keep your eyes open all month-long for comic books featuring iconic horror characters!

 

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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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Sub-Mariner #70, 1974 “Namor Unchained”

Imperius Rex! The Savage Sub-Mariner is punching Man-Fish in the face! What a great cover by Mr. Gil Kane (RIP)! And to make matters worse, Man-Fish is pulling on some poor bikini-clad girl’s ponytail! Man, I miss the 1970’s. Everything nowadays is so grim and gritty, with no real fun to any of the stories. When Marvel was just beginning to scratch the surface of greatness back in the 1960’s, greats like Kirby, Romita, Heck, and Ditko, were paving incredible roads for later talents to follow. What did ensue was the Bronze Age of comics books, which gave us not only more relevant stories from a social angle, but also the weird and wonderful imaginations of a new list of incredibly gifted writers and artists that took what came before and built upon it substantially.

In this specific issue, we get a script from Marv Wolfman, pencils from George Tuska, inks by Vince Colletta, Colors by Stan Goldberg, and letters by John Costanza! Don’t forget the cover by the incomparable Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia either! This book is a great example of the awesome comics coming out at the time. There would only be two more issues of Subby after this until his revival in the Thomas & Buckler series in 1988 (another good series). Subby was a mainstay in FF and the Avengers as well though for some time. In closing, remember kids, when all else fails, if you’re being attacked by sharks, just punch them in the face!

 

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