Fantastic Four #186, 1977 – “Enter: Salem’s Seven”

I’ve been on a Fantastic Four kick lately with my buying/reading habits. Either through “Marvel’s Greatest Comics” or the volume one series itself, Marvel’s First Family has me hooked! Unlike a lot of FF fans, I love the post-Kirby/ pre-Byrne era of the team (even more so than the Byrne run…I know, heresy!). Yeah, you didn’t get much in the overarching plot department, but you did get some very cool and quirky stories from people like Marv Wolfman, or in this case, Len Wein (writer), George Perez (pencils), and Joe Sinnott (inks).

Speaking of the latter of those gentlemen, after looking at several different artist’s work, I think I’m convinced that Sinnott is my favorite inker of all time. His inks are very consistent, and concise, and have worked great with some of the best artists in the industry. Well, without too much prattling, this story gives a look at some of the back-matter of the newly installed and mysterious nanny of Franklin Richards, Agatha Harkness! Her origins were very ambiguous but this issue introduced the Salem Seven, and we were able to pull back the veil and see some of her beginnings!

 

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Comics: The 1970’s Horror Explosion! Pt. Deux

Alright, so far, we’ve seen the beginnings of what would become Marvel’s foray into the horror genre in the late 1960’s/ early 1970’s, so now it’s time to open the flood gates, and see some more hardcore action from this publisher! One of the earliest (and one of my personal favorites) monsters to roam the 616 Universe, is the muck monster, Man-Thing! This beast was once a scientist that was betrayed by his wife, a subversive agent of A.I.M.! Ted Sallis was working on a formula (the Super-Soldier Formula that gave Steve Rogers his extraordinary powers), but was attacked by his wife and agents of A.I.M. Sallis fought his way out of the lab, and drove his car off into the swamp. He then injected himself with the serum, and crashed into the murky depths of the swamp. Little did he know though, that the specific area where he crashed, was near the Nexus of All Realities, an area ripe with magical properties. These three elements joined to change him into the shambling monster that he is today. The vampiric Morbius followed, and the floodgates were then thrust wide open for many more macabre characters to make their way into the limelight!

Let us now take a look at some of the more memorable moments from some of these Marvel monsters! Credits include- Gray Morrow, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Howard Chaykin, Frank Robbins, Doug Moench, Bill Mantlo, Don Heck, Bernie Wrightson,and more! Enjoy!

 

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Superstar Artists- George Perez! Pt. 2

In my first post about George Perez, I showed some of his brilliant covers. This time around, I’ll be posting some great interior work from this titan of comics! His work on The Avengers is definitely something coming soon on my blog, but for now, I’ll be showing some of his crazy good work on the Fantastic Four! His pencils on this book rank right up there with the John Byrne run, in my humble opinion (it might even exceed it!). Along with inker Joe Sinnott, and writer/editor Len Wein, Perez had some extremely memorable issues, and I now present a few of them to you. Enjoy!

 

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Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger vol. 2

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In this second volume of greatness, we get to see more of the same from legends like Len Wein, Dick Giordano, Jim Aparo, Arnold Drake, Neal Adams, and Nick Cardy. Appearances by Deadman, Batman & Robin, Cassandra Craft, Tala, Queen of Evil, Black Orchid, and so on. There are a couple of absolute gems in this trade, and the first couple being stories by Paul Levitz (script) in the latter part of this book. A mummy story that is absolutely insane, and then a couple of tales involving everybody’s favorite spirit, Deadman! Those issues have the Phantom Stranger, fighting for the soul of Boston Brand, and all sorts of craziness! The very last issue in the book has the special House of Secrets #150, starring the Phantom Stranger. In this fantastic issue, we see the Phantom Stranger, as he looks into the past, and witnesses a witches coven, a demon possessed man, and his master…a computer?

The other gems I spoke of earlier, are the back up stories “Spawn of Frankenstein”, by Marv Wolfman & Mike Kaluta. In these, you get a great story (derived from Mary Shelly’s works), and of course, great artwork. The last two I’ll speak of, is The Brave and the Bold #89 & 98. This story involving Batman & Robin is truly spooky, full of ghosts, and a must read! The second Brave & Bold (also by Haney & Aparo), shows Batman, as once again he must be aided by the power of the Phantom Stranger, as he’s plagued by demons and devils!

Instead of being repetitive, I’ll just tell you to get out and grab these trades if you’re a Marvel fan that wants to read something new, but don’t know where to start. These first two volumes are cheap, and give you a great look into the DC side of the magic and the macabre! See you next time!

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Showcase Presents: The Phantom Stranger vol. 1

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A new year is upon us, and it will bring my new blog! Comic books are a big part of my life, so, obviously, they’ll be a huge focus. Twice a week, I’ll post my thoughts on a certain story, book, graphic novel, etc. Once or twice a month, I’ll post my thoughts on a classic movie, and that will most certainly be of theĀ  horror or sci-fi genre! Well, that’s it for now, so lets get started!

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I’ve decided to go with one of the more recent titles I picked up with Phantom Stranger vol. 1! Being a huge fan of Dr. Strange, and all things magic/supernatural, it was only fitting that this title gets the inaugural spot in my new blog. I can honestly make a case for this being one of the top ten titles of the 1970’s, and the talent on it backs me up. Names like John Broome, Carmine Infantino, Jim Aparo, Len Wein, Mike Friedrich, and Neal Adams (covers), are just a few of the creators that made this title an incredible book to read.

The first few stories are your typical ghost stories or cult activity tale, but eventually, more macabre stories followed. A great nemesis, in Tala, Queen of Evil, was an on again, off again villain, that often tempted him with her beauty. She popped in and out for quite a while, always using her powers to cause strife, and threatening innocents. Another cool thing about these issues are the stories involving Dr. Thirteen. The doctor is a parapsychologist that is usually seen trying to debunkĀ  paranormal activity. In some cases, he works side by side with the Phantom Stranger, even though he doesn’t always believe what he sees.

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In one particular issue that stood out, the Phantom Stranger came face to face with an Ice Giant, atop of the world itself. Denny O’Neil, Jim Aparo, and Joe Orlando, brought this chilling tale of intrigue, and a monstrosity that towers over everyone! Once again, Tala is involved, and this adds even a crazier dimension to this awesome story. A tale of voodoo, by Mike Sekowsky, and Jim Aparo follows next, and the villain in this one was super creepy, complete with voodoo dolls, drums, and the whole get up!

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A duel with Tannarak, the sorcerer, the Army of Evil, a swamp creature, the Iron Messiah, a waxworks nightmare, ghosts, and the list goes on and on. When you have creators of this magnitude, honestly, it’s a can’t miss. Anyone out there that knows these names, understands how great a book like this is going to be, and if you’re looking for something being new to comics, give it a try. You wont regret it! See you next time!

 

 

 

Thor #251, 1976. “To Hela and Back”

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OK, first things first. I have no idea who “Norman Davis” is, but he was nice enough to sign the front cover, inside cover, and the first page, in blue marker. Thank you, Norman. Alright, that is a downer, but for fifty cents, I couldn’t pass up this fantastic issue starring the Thunder god, Hela, and others. Story by Len Wein, art by “Big” John Buscema & Tony DeZuniga, and colors by Glynis Wein. Cover by Jack “King” Kirby, Joe Sinnott, and Dan Crespi! Enjoy!

Thor #262, 1977. “Even An Immortal Can Die”

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You’ll soon come to realize that Thor is one of my all time favorite characters. When I had the chance to buy this book, and get the writer/editor, Len Wein to sign it for me (at C2E2 2013), I was ecstatic. The interior pencils are by the incomparable, Walt Simonson (with inks by the late Tony DeZuniga, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Joe Rosen), and really show his great skills with a pencil from early in his career. As if that wasn’t enough, you get a cover by ‘Big’ John Buscema, Joe Sinnott, and John Costanza! Enjoy!

Strange Tales #176, 1974. “The Golem”

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I love this tagline…”The thing that walks like a man”! Created by Len Wein and Big John Buscema, this character (Golem) didn’t stick around too long, but was pretty cool when he was present in the Marvel U. His stories had a mummy feel to them, for sure. Credits include- Mike Friedrich (script), Tony DeZuniga (art), and cover by John Romita Sr.! Enjoy!