Last April, we took a look at Marvel Premiere #3 (Jul., 1972), which featured Doctor Strange starring in his first full-length solo adventure since the cancellation of his title back in 1969. In this issue, artist Barry Windsor-Smith and scripter Stan Lee introduced a mysterious new adversary for the Master of the Mystic Arts — a menace who was powerful enough to suborn one of the Doc’s oldest and most formidable foes, Nightmare, but who remained yet nameless and unseen at the episode’s conclusion.
More clues were forthcoming in the following bi-monthly issue, which we covered here last June. This one was drawn by Windsor-Smith in collaboration with relative newcomer Frank Brunner, while Archie Goodwin scripted from a plot by Roy Thomas; it saw the storyline take a turn towards cosmic horror, as Dr. Strange journeyed to the New England village of Starkesboro, whose half-human, half-reptilian inhabitants secretly worshiped the demonic entity Sligguth. However, Sligguth himself was no more than another servant of the same dark threat that our hero had first learned of in MP #3 — a threat that still remained nameless in this installment, though we at least learned a bit more about him — mostly courtesy of Doc’s mentor, the venerable Ancient One, who warned of the imminent return of “a cosmic obscenity that slumbers”. The issue ended on a cliffhanger, with Strange shackled to a stone altar, about to be sacrificed to Sligguth by the demon’s scaly celebrants: Read More
According to the account given by Marvel editor-in-chief Roy Thomas on the letters page of Amazing Adventures #18, the new feature that made its debut in that issue had been gestating for some time. (“Two long and not always enjoyable years,” to quote the man himself.) It had all started in 1971, when Marvel was looking to expand its market share in a big way, and Stan Lee (himself still editor-in-chief at that time) asked Thomas to submit a list of ideas for new comics for consideration by Lee and Marvel’s publisher, Martin Goodman. Among those ideas was a series concept based on H.G. Wells’ classic late-Victorian science fiction novel, The War of the Worlds.
More specifically, Thomas imagined “a vast, hopefully unending sequel to the Wells classic. A storyline which would pit earthmen in a kind of guerrilla warfare against the Martians, who had returned approximately 100 years after their initial invasion attempt… and who this time had come, seen, and conquered.” Read More
In February, 1973, Marvel Comics published 42 individual comic books — a 75% percent increase in production from the previous year, when the second month of 1972 had seen the company release a mere 24 new issues. And notwithstanding such a prodigious expansion in production, the company (which had recently surpassed arch-rival DC Comics in sales numbers for the first time ever) wasn’t nearly done. But Marvel’s next major phase of growth — which in fact began in that very month of February, 1973 — was to be in a different area than the full-color comics line in which it had made its mark. Read More
In March, 1972, Marvel Comics published the first issue of Hero for Hire. The new comic’s titular star, Luke Cage, wasn’t Marvel’s first Black superhero (that distinction belonged to the Black Panther, who debuted in 1966), or even its first Black American superhero (that would be the Falcon, whose first appearance came in 1969). But he was the first Black superhero to star in his very own comics title — not just from Marvel, but from any major American company — and that made the release of Hero for Hire #1 a milestone.
According to Roy Thomas, the initiative to create Luke Cage came from Stan Lee, who was then on the verge of ascending from his longtime role as Marvel’s editor-in-chief to become its publisher — and who was determined to diversify Marvel’s line on a number of levels, one of which was race. Taking obvious inspiration from the “blaxpoitation” trend in early 1970s American cinema, Lee and Thomas worked with writer Archie Goodwin and artist John Romita to conceptualize and design the new hero, before bringing two more artists on board — George Tuska and Billy Graham. (the latter being the only Black person among this assortment of talents) — to craft the first issue’s story with Goodwin. Read More
In February, 1973, the 26th issue of Conan the Barbarian brought to a close the most ambitious and expansive story arc yet to appear in Marvel Comics’ flagship sword-and-sorcery title. Since its inauguration in Conan the Barbarian #19, that arc — the epic saga of the Hyrkanian War (or, if you prefer, the War of the Tarim) — had spanned eight months, seven chapters, three Robert E. Howard story adaptations, and one unscheduled reprint issue, while featuring the contributions of nine interior artists, five cover artists, two editors… and one single scripter: Roy Thomas. Read More
As I’ve written in previous posts, I bought both the first and second issues of Swamp Thing upon their release back in 1972, and enjoyed them both very much. Somehow, though, I managed to miss the third issue when it came out in December of that year. And so, I had some catching up to do when I first picked up the subject of today’s post, back in February of 1973.
When I’d last seen the tragically transformed Dr. Alec Holland at the end of Swamp Thing #2, he’d just managed to defeat the evil genius Anton Arcane. Arcane had brought Holland all the way from the southern United States to an unnamed Balkan country, solely for the purpose of appropriating the latter’s mucky body (which he then planned to use to wreak vengeance on his perceived enemies, naturally). That adventure had ended with Arcane (apparently) dead, and Holland alive and free (as well as still mucky) — but nevertheless stranded somewhere in the Balkans… and on top of a mountain, to boot. Read More
Back in January of last year, in a post about Monsters on the Prowl #16, we discussed Marvel Comics’ late-’60s -to-early-’70s attempts to break into the “mystery” (i.e., Comics Code-approved horror) anthology market that seemed to be doing so well at the time for their primary rival, DC Comics. As we covered in that piece, in 1969 Marvel launched two titles, Tower of Shadows and Chamber of Darkness, that were virtual clones of such DC fare as House of Mystery and The Witching Hour. These titles started off quite well, with original stories by Marvel’s top talent (Neal Adams, John Buscema, Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Jim Steranko, etc.), as well as by several EC Comics pre-Code horror veterans (Johnny Craig and Wally Wood) not to mention at least one young artist poached (albeit only briefly) from DC (Bernie Wrightson). Soon, however, the new material began to be supplemented by reprints from the publisher’s late-’50s-to-early-’60s “Atlas” era; and before either title had seen as many as ten issues, Tower of Shadows had morphed into Creatures on the Loose, while Chamber of Darkness became Monsters on the Prowl. By mid-1972, one could easily be forgiven for not seeing much if any difference between those titles and the all-reprint “monster” comics that Marvel had initiated around the same time as their “mystery” books, e.g. Where Monsters Dwell. Read More
In September, 1965 — the month your humble blogger first started buying Justice League of America — DC Comics made an adjustment to the publication frequency of that title, adding a ninth issue — an all-reprint “80 pg. Giant” — to the eight-times-a-year schedule the book had been on since 1962. My eight-year-old self didn’t manage to pick up the first of those giant-sized issues, which came out not only a couple of weeks before my own initial JLA purchase (issue #40), but also a mere four weeks after the first comic book I remember ever buying for myself — but I faithfully bought each one thereafter, at least for the next three years. And why wouldn’t I? For one penny more than it would cost you to buy two regular issues, you got three full-length Justice League adventures, by the same writer (Gardner Fox) and artist (Mike Sekowsky) who were producing the series’ current stories (up through issue #63, anyway). Read More