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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Marvel Spectacular #15, 1975 (originally Thor #144, 1967)

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With only a few more posts left in the month of February, I really want to go out with a bang! What better way to showcase the talents of Jack Kirby, then to show some classic Thor! Lets be honest, nobody was better at drawing Thor. John Buscema did a fantastic job, and probably is the only artist to come close or equal Kirby’s greatness on this character (Pollard, Coipel, & Frenz were also quite good).

In this great issue, Thor and the rest of the Asgardians are besieged by someone called “The Living Talisman”. This entity has a tremendous amount of magical powers, so much power, that he even has the audacity to face the mighty Odin himself! In the end, we see an all out brawl between the emissaries of The Living Talisman, Thor, Odin, Balder, and every other Asgardian that can fight! A backup story starring Thor and the Warriors Three  finishes off this fantastic issue!

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Marvel Spectacular #6, 1974 (Thor #135, 1966),

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You know, it’s really not that difficult to find a book to spotlight when you have the work of masters like Jack Kirby at your fingertips. It also helps that he was responsible for creating (the visuals, of course) one of my triumvirate. Along with Doctor Strange, and Captain America, Thor is my favorite superhero, and for good reason! He’s incredibly powerful, but has a plethora of problems. First, his father can be quite overbearing at times. Of course, he’s usually acting that way to help his son become more of a ruler, but it still is a bit over-the-top most of the time. He also has a difficult love life. He has a beautiful woman that’s basically his betrothed (Lady Sif), but his heart belongs to the mortal, Jane Foster. Enter his overbearing father, Odin, once more. He thinks his son shouldn’t love a mortal, but his fellow Asgardian, Sif, instead. Yeah, it’s complicated.

With all of that said, he still manages to go to Midgard (Earth) for some action once in a while. In this issue, he faces off against the uncanny Super-Beast! This once ordinary Red Wolf, was captured by the High Evolutionary, and mutated into one of his “New Men“. Typically, the High Evolutionary isn’t trying to do something nefarious with his schemes, like destroy the planet or anything, but rather attempting to bring about a spark in evolution. This brings him into conflict with Earth’s heroes from time to time.

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Thor battles the Super-Beast (A.K.A. Man-Beast), basically to a stand still. This adversary is quite intelligent to though, and he escapes into a laboratory, and within minutes creates an army of “New Men”, that are unspeakably evil, and serve only his commands. This army leaps from the lab, and an all out brawl commences. Eventually, Thor and the High Evolutionary manage to render them unconscious, and they put them in what the Evolutionary calls his “Star Chamber” (basically a space ship), and jettisons them out into the far reaches of space. Distraught by his actions, the High Evolutionary tells Tor to leave, and then his fortress on Mount Wundagore, that’s now revealed to be a spacecraft, takes off, headed for the stars.

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Great work here, and you can really see why Kirby is considered one of the greatest of all time (if not the greatest). His structures, spaceships, monsters, heroes, villains, etc., are all a testament to his unmistakable and unparalleled style! See you next time!