Avengers Spotlight #39, 1990 – “Cry Crusader!”

One of my all-time favorite characters, is none other than the Black Knight! I think it goes back to the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode where he guest starred. It was a tale featuring the menace of Mordred! Or maybe it’s my love of Arthurian times. Either way, the Black Knight kicks butt! A flying horse, (Valinor), and the Ebony Blade, make him quite a formidable fighter, and he’s proven his worth many times over as a member of the Avengers, or just as a solo hero.

In this awesome issue, the Black Knight gets framed for murder, and he must solve the puzzle of who is committing these murders using a sword, and wearing a cape and armor! With Roy & Dann Thomas writing, Greg Capullo on pencils, Tom Dzon inking, Bob Sharen on colors, and Joe Rosen lettering. An excellent story and solid artwork from a young Capullo (cover by Steve Lightle)! Enjoy!

 
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Comics: The 1970’s Horror Explosion! Pt. 3

As I dig deeper into the horror craze of the 1970’s, we must make a stop at the best offering of the decade from Marvel. Of course, it’s the Tomb of Dracula, and the incredible creative team of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan (along with Tom Palmer on inks), wove an incredible story of love and loss, blood and sacrifice. Whether it was Dracula fighting some incredible adversary, or the Vampire Hunters, led by Quincy Harker, this title gave you everything you could want or need from a comic book. Rather than prattling on about it for a year, I’ll just let the work speak for itself. Enjoy!

 

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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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Mystic Arcana (2007)- Marvel’s Realm of Magic!

Typically, this forum is for me to spotlight something Bronze Age, but this series is something special. In 2007, I saw a book on the shelf at my local comic shop, and the cover of the Black Knight is all that was needed to suck me in. I’m a big fan of Arthurian legend, and the Black Knight has always been one of my favorite Avengers. The concept of the limited series, Mystic Arcana, (of one-shots), was to show some of the magical “highlights” of the Marvel Universe, jumping from Medieval Camelot, to ancient Egypt, and everywhere in-between. Each of the four one-shots featured one of Marvel’s magic based characters. The Black Knight, Magik, Scarlet Witch, and Sister Grimm, all have an arcane adventure in each book of the series.

In addition to those stories, there was a back-up story as well, featuring the Dr. Strange nemesis, Ian McNee. We see the young mage, as he attempts to do the bidding of Oshtur, or so he thinks. By stories end, he’s battled Morgan La Fey, Queen Llyra, Nagala, and so on. These tales were written by David Sexton, and illustrated by Eric Nguyen.

The series of one-shots was littered with talent new and old. Everyone from Roy Thomas, Walt Simonson, Jeff Parker, C.B. Cebulski, Phil Noto, and others, contributed to this great series, and everyone who’s a fan of Marvel’s magical side needs to own this one. Oh, and before I forget, check out these ridiculously awesome covers by Marko Djurdjevic, too! There was also an OHOTMU edition published later too, and it must be mentioned for any and all who covet these volumes of information!

 

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Gene Colan Tribute Part 4- Dr. Strange

As we creep closer to the end of the month, and my spotlight on Gene Colan, I would be remiss, if I didn’t get some of his fantastic work on Dr. Strange out there for the masses! The Doc is my favorite character of all time, just edging out Thor and Captain America, and Gene’s work on the Doc is a big reason! Of course, Tomb of Dracula was the ultimate influence, and that title will get its due in my last post on Saturday! Here are some of my favorite covers, title pages, and splash pages by Gene! Quick warning, there are a lot of pics! Enjoy!

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Man-Thing #12, 1974

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Although the cover is Gil Kane and John Romita Sr., we get some fabulous interiors by ‘Big’ John Buscema in this book! I know most don’t think of Man-Thing when they think Buscema, but believe me, his work on this title is second only to Ploog in my humble opinion. And that’s saying something, because Ploog is a legend in this genre, more so than Buscema.

In this story, we see a troubled writer, that seems to have a broken mind, and maybe a shattered spirit. We see over the course of a few issues, that this man, Brian Lazarus, is somehow tied to the titles shambling protagonist, Man-Thing! Are the people torturing Brian really there, or are they just figments of his imagination? Only Steve Gerber & ‘Big’ John Buscema could bring us this macabre story! Enjoy!

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The Savage Sword of Conan #1, 1974

Alright, a new month, and we say goodbye to Jack Kirby, but in his absence, we will see another titan of the comic book industry that left us way to soon, in the form of ‘Big’ John Buscema! A week-long tribute to him, then on to another comic book icon! There’s no two ways about it, you have to start out with a tribute to John Buscema with that Cimmerian warrior, Conan! In the first issue of The Savage Sword of Conan #1 (cover by Boris Vallejo), we get to see Conan, as he’s doing his usual thing (partying, and getting into trouble), but then out of nowhere, as he’s attacked by some vagabonds, he’s assisted by the beautiful but dangerous, Red Sonja! The two then go on to have an adventure that includes rescuing a girl from being sacrificed on an altar by some evildoers!

Nobody could draw Conan like John Buscema (Barry Windsor-Smith did a fine job too), and when you see other renderings, you will find it to be true! Whether it was gulping down a flagon of ale, fighting in some desert war, or riding a horse across the wilderness, ‘Big’ John Buscema was king of Conan the Barbarian! Enjoy!

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The Invaders- My Jack Kirby Finale!

Instead of the usual one issue spotlight, I’ve decided to send off February and Jack Kirby with a bang! Here are four awesome covers by the ‘King’, on one of my favorite series, The Invaders! He did some splendid covers for this book, and with Roy Thomas and Frank Robbins on story and interiors, respectively, you couldn’t ask for a better team effort! So, thank you, Jack Kirby, for your monumental contributions to the comic book industry! Enjoy!

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Monsters On The Prowl #16, 1972. “The Forbidden Swamp”

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It’s no secret I’m a big fan of Robert E. Howard. And my favorite creations of his is Kull! Not only does Kull predate Conan, but he’s more of a thinker, a better leader, and he has a cool dude named Brule, that has his back in a scrap! In this issue, Kull must face the serpent cult, and their leader, Thulsa Doom! You see, this wizard is a man now, but later on, he would become more of a demon of sorts, defying death for centuries! He would live long enough to plague Conan a few times as well.

In this, his first appearance (Thulsa Doom), we see him befriend Kull, and even after Brule’s warning, Kull says that they will allow Doom to go with them to their destination. Of course, we the reader can see the devil in Doom’s eyes, but Kull seemingly cannot. A bout with a giant Plesiosaur, the serpent cult gone wild, and a betrayal on the horizon! An action packed issue from the awesome mind of the best fantasy writer of his time or any other! All hail Robert E. Howard!

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The artwork by Marie & John Severin shows off what a great team they were indeed. The pencils, inks, and colors are all perfect for this genre. You really get a sense that they enjoyed working on a book like this, and I’m glad they did it! See you in three days for more comic book goodness, and don’t forget to check out my movie review (Cinema Sunday), too!

 

 

 

 

Fantastic Four #157, 1975. “And Now…The Endgame Cometh”

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No, your eyes do not deceive you! That is one awesome FF cover, that is signed by the artist, Rich Buckler! I had the pleasure of meeting him for a few seconds ay NYCC 2013, and he was gracious enough to sign my oldest copy of this wonderful title! Written/edited by Roy Thomas, Pencils by Rich Buckler, inks by Joe Sinnott, Colors by Petra Goldberg, and letters by Joe Rosen! Enjoy!