Captain America #164 (August, 1973)

Fifty years ago, John Romita’s cover for the topic of today’s blog post promised a certain degree of novelty; not only did it nod to the then-hot horror genre via presenting the superheroic Falcon as a werewolf, but it also heralded the debut of a new supervillain — and a Black female one at that.  (Nightshade may not have been the first such character to appear in American comics, but her particular race-gender combo made her stand out in this era, nevertheless… actually, as far as your humble blogger can tell, it still does.)

But we readers of May, 1973 couldn’t guess the full scope of the novelty awaiting us until we turned to this issue’s first page: 

What was different?  Well, for one, artist Sal Buscema — who’d drawn every issue of Captain America since #146 (Feb., 1972) was being spelled here on pencils by Alan Weiss, who also provided the inks.  For another, the coloring was being handled by Jim Starlin — a creator whose name was becoming more and more familiar to the Marvel fans of 1973, but not someone you’d necessarily expect to find working as a colorist.

As writer Steve Englehart would later explain in his 2015 introduction to Marvel Masterworks — Captain America, Vol. 8:

[With issue] #164 — [it was] Time to start a new epic. But at the same time, I’d been wanting to do something with my good friend Alan Weiss.  So we gave Sal Buscema, who was doing both this book and The Defenders with me, a break, and Alan helped kick off the new arc.

 

Alan, Jim Starlin (who colored the issue), and I were three musketeers in those days. Alan had things he liked to draw, definitely including girls and weird monsters, so we started from there and worked our way outward.

Actually, however, according to a 2000 interview with Alan Weiss,* what the artist originally wanted to draw wasn’t “weird monsters”, but pirates:

Englehart and I always wanted to work together on something or other, that was one of the main times we got to do it…  I had this idea: I’d love to do Captain America fighting pirates…  Wouldn’t it be fun if Cap was fighting modern-day pirates… but they were still dressed Long John Silver-style, because their base was an off-shore gambling ship that, as its cover, was a replica of a pirate ship?  I just had this visual of Captain America swinging around the rigging, like Errol Flynn or Burt Lancaster.  So we thought, “Great, we can do this, this’ll be easy, it’ll be terrific, and we haven’t seen Captain America do this before,” and we took it into [editor-in-chief] Roy [Thomas].  He said, “Nope! Pirates don’t sell.”  BLAM!  That’s that.  “Well, okay, what’s selling these days?”  “Well, monsters seem to be hot.”  So I look at Englehart, he looks at me.  I said, “Steve, werewolves?” He said, “Okay.” [laughter]

As regular readers of this blog will surely recall, Captain America and the Falcon had left New York City a few issues back in search of Cap’s missing girlfriend, Sharon Carter.  Following Sharon’s trail to a mental hospital in New England, they’d found not only Sharon, but her older sister Peggy — who turned out to be Cap’s lost love from World War II.  Having suffered from severe mental illness for most of the last three decades, Peggy was being “treated” by the villainous Doctor Faustus in an effort to destroy Cap — but In issue #162, Cap, Falc, and Sharon defeated Faustus and rescued Peggy — who, ironically, had been restored to sanity by the villain’s treatments.

The following issue saw Peggy recuperating at the Carter family’s ancestral mansion in Virginia, where Cap and the Falcon hung around long enough to be attacked by the Serpent Squad — a new alliance of supervillains consisting of the Cobra, the Viper, and the Eel.  (Yeah, I know that an eel is a fish, not a serpent; tell it to Steve Englehart, OK?)  Our heroes were once again triumphant, though not before Cap had his hands badly burned by the Eel’s electric current.

But everything’s OK now, and Cap and Falc are heading back to the Big Apple — or, rather, they would be, if they hadn’t been diverted to Maryland by the letter the Falcon has received from his childhood friend, Mel.  As Falc explains to his partner, “He lived eight blocks from me when I was a kid — back when blocks weren’t barriers.”  (This curiously specific geographical detail will make more sense once we learn that Mel is white.)  Falc goes on to tell Cap how one day, he talked Mel into stealing some apples from a neighborhood deli…

Cap move stealthily around to the back of the prison, where he’s surprised to find an unguarded open door.  Cautiously, he enters, to find himself moving past dark and apparently empty cells.  Approximately fifteen minutes have passed since he left the Falcon, when…

Sure, it would have been nice to see Captain America go up against a bunch of ahoy-matey typed who, if nothing else, would surely have sported footwear complementary to that of our red-white-and-blue Avenger.  But, Cap versus werewolves is still pretty cool.

In 2000, Alan Weiss told Comic Book Artist what had happened following the decision to go with werewolves over pirates:

Then I said, “Well, if I’m going to do this prison full of werewolves, I’m going to try to make them all look different.”  Great idea, and then the more you think about it, the more of a pain in the ass it is to actually do.

Nevertheless, the artist persevered — and was remarkably successful, at least to my eye.

It may not seem like much now, but in 1973, to depict Captain America unambiguously responding to the sexual attractiveness of a Black woman was actually fairly daring.

In regards to Nightshade’s provocative attire (what there is of it, har har), Alan Weiss noted in his 2000 CBA interview:

I remember Roy said, “All right, I’ll let it go through this time, but after this, take it easy on the leather ladies.”  Now having said that fast-forward 15 or so years later when everybody was wearing stuff like that.

Captain America’s offhand reference to kung fu may be considered an early harbinger of the martial arts trend that would soon be coming to American comics — a trend that would be spearheaded by Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin’s “Master of Kung Fu”, due to arrive in Special Marvel Edition #15 just four months after this story’s publication.  (Englehart and Alan Weiss would later collaborate on a Shang-Chi story as well, for Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #2 [Jun., 1974].)

While Nightshade and her favorite werewolf, Sparky, watch on a viewscreen, Cap manages to hold the transformed Falcon off long enough for him to get back to the locked door…

The Yellow Claw, a creation of Al Feldstein and Joe Maneely, had debuted in the first issue of his own self-titled comic book in June, 1956, back in the era when Marvel Comics had been known as Atlas.  His appearance here in CA #164 was the first time he’d been seen since Yellow Claw #4 (Apr., 1957) — sort of.  The clearly Fu Manchu-inspired villain seemed to have made a comeback some six years before this, in the Nick Fury story in Strange Tales #161 (Oct., 1967).  But as readers who’d followed artist-writer Jim Steranko’s storyline all the way through to ST #166 ultimately learned, that Yellow Claw turned out to be a robot programmed by Doctor Doom.  So you could say that with our current tale, Marvel fans who’d been around since 1967 (but not 1957) were meeting the Yellow Claw again for the first time.

Say, what’s up with Nick Fury’s look, here?  What with the tunic and the boots and the baldric and the sword belt, you might almost take our favorite eyepatch-wearer for a… ohh, I get it.  Can I get a yo-ho-ho for our very clever Mr. Weiss, my hearties?

But before Cap can even catch a breath, the other werewolves are coming at him again… or maybe not.  Instead of attacking the hero, they run right past him, “eyes locked straight ahead!

With the next issue of Captain America, Sal Buscema would be back on the job as artist — and Nick Fury would be back in his standard dark blue bodysuit, despite the action in #165 picking up immediately from the last page of #164.  (As noted by Steve Englehart in his Marvel Masterworks intro, “He [Buscema] could draw anything I imagined, no matter what.  He could not, however, imagine that Nick Fury would be wearing furs at the end of Alan’s issue because he started drawing his issue before Alan finished his.”)

The Yellow Claw storyline would continue through Captain America #167; since I don’t expect that the blog will be checking in with Cap and Falc again until sometime after that, let me just assure you that our heroes managed to beat the bad guy in that one… and that he didn’t turn out to be a robot this time.

Panel from Captain America #190 (Oct., 1975). Text by Tony Isabella; art by Frank Robbins and Vince Colletta.

While we’re looking ahead, I’ll also note that Nightshade somehow survived that flying leap she took from the top of Grimrock Prison, all appearances to the contrary; she’d return in the closing pages of issue #189, revealing in the following issue that while in free fall, she’d used a device in her headband to open an underwater escape route.  Ever since then, she’s been a more or less consistent presence in the Marvel Universe, returning to her werewolf-making ways on at least one occasion,** and eventually reforming from her villainous career altogether; a swerve which would ultimately lead to her becoming one of the many Marvel characters who’ve gone by the name Nighthawk.  (That’s something I had no idea had happened before I began research for this post; this blogging thing continues to be quite educational, let me tell you.)  Nightshade has even gone on to inspire not one, but two different Marvel Cinematic Universe characters.  All in all, it hasn’t been a bad track record for an enterprising young woman originally described by Captain America as being “like a little girl — posing, playing grown-up“.  Not that the Living Legend of World War II was necessarily wrong in making that characterization back in 1973; but people can grow and change over the course of fifty years.  Even (especially?) fictional ones.

 

*See Jon B. Cooke, “‘That Kid from Out West!'”, published in Comic Book Artist Collection, Vol. 1, and in Comic Book Artist Special Edition #2.

Cover to Captain America #405 (Aug., 1992). Art by Rik Levins and Danny Bulandi.

**Nightshade’s second major foray into chemically-induced lycanthropy came in 1992’s six-part “Man and Wolf” story arc — a storyline that your humble blogger missed completely back in the day, but that is fondly remembered by many, generally less ancient, fans — including my friend Ben Herman, who has entertainingly blogged about it here.  As Ben relates, this time it was Steve “Captain America” Rogers who went all furry and fangy, rather than Sam “Falcon” Wilson.

Cover to Captain America: Sam Wilson #3 (Jan., 2016). Art by Daniel Acuña.

Interestingly, however, when Marvel brought the “Capwolf” trope for another go-around in 2015, it was Sam Wilson who got the lupine makeover, rather than Steve Rogers — which brought the whole thing back around to where it had all begun, in Captain America #164.  I’m honestly not sure just what it is about “Captain America/the Falcon becomes a werewolf” that has so captivated Marvel’s creators ever since Roy Thomas first shot down Alan Weiss’ pirates pitch in 1973 — but I wouldn’t take a bet that we’ve seen the last such shaggy wolf story.

36 comments

  1. B Smith · 19 Days Ago

    I’m seeing a lot of Romita work on Cap’s face throughout, which I wouldn’t have been clued-in enough to notice back then, but like the man said, people can grow and change over the course of fifty years.

    It was only the second time I’d seen Alan Weiss’s work – the first was back in Daredevil #83, where he was inked by Bill Everett. He had a very idiosyncratic style in terms of posing the human figure; most times it was good, other times just looked a little odd.

    Sorry to see you won’t be covering further CA&F issue for a while; can I recommend to anyone else wanting to peruse some interesting opinions on them (and many other titles from the same era) to check out the Marvel University folk (http://marveluniversity.blogspot.com/) or the team at Bronze Age Babies (http://bronzeagebabies.blogspot.com/) – both sites have ceased activities, but what’s been left up makes for a passable time’s reading.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Chris A. · 19 Days Ago

      Yes, Romita Sr. definitely pasted on a number of Cap heads, just like Curt Swan Superman heads were pasted onto Kirby heads in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. An art director’s prerogative, I suppose, if the character doesn’t appear (in his eyes) to be “on model.” I was most shocked to see a Curt Swan Superman head pasted onto an Alex Toth figure on the front cover of DC’s Superfriends Limited Collectors Edition. After all, Toth storyboard the cartoon, and I’ve seen the original cover art—his Supes head was fine to begin with. But even Steranko had a Marie Severin Hulk head pasted onto his classic annual cover. Alas…

      Liked by 2 people

    • Alan Stewart · 19 Days Ago

      Thanks for the recs, B! I’ve dipped into Bronze Age Babies in the past, but wasn’t familiar with Marvel University before this. I’ll check it out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. frasersherman · 19 Days Ago

    Nightshade was indeed striking to see back in my early teens. I think she’s more fun in her second story which emphasizes she’s more playing at supervillain than hard core. And confirms she’s around 18 so Cap’s assessment of her isn’t far off. Didn’t know about her Nighthawk.
    Capwolf appeals to a lot of people — one of my writer friends cosplayed in the role for one Halloween a few years ago. I don’t get it myself, but each to their own.
    The Yellow Claw story was one I missed originally. Reading it in the Essentials it was way too Yellow Peril Stereotype for me to enjoy it.
    The explosion of Kung Fu into American awareness after years of judo/jui jitsu/karate (plus savate as The Martial Art That Isn’t Any Of Those) is a fascinating thing. By this point of course, Kwai Chang Caine was a hit on TV’s Kung Fu so everyone was aware of it.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Steve McBeezlebub · 19 Days Ago

    This was a hugely important comic to me. I turned twelve in August of 1973 and this would have been one of the first times I realized I just might be gay. The way Cap reacted to Tilda? That was me to almost every male figure as Weiss drew it. Sure, Frank Robbins’ art had a similar effect on me before but it was this issue that opened my eyes to such reactions. This issue as well as everything Robbins and Craig Russell drew from this point on were very important to me subsequently. There would be years of struggling thanks to growing up in an evangelical household (born again version of an exorcism at about twenty was the low point) but I still can’t look at panels from this story without remembering the self-discovery it started.

    I’d also have to reread the issues in question with the Yellow Claw but my memory says the problematic aspects of the Yellow Claw, at least in Englehart’s run, were all down to the art. If the coloring had used a skin tone that reflected actual human beings and the character been drawn as how human beings actually looked, I can’t recall too much yellow peril tropes. Story wise he was a Doctor Doom type with offensive stereotyping the first thing you noticed about him.

    Liked by 3 people

    • frasersherman · 18 Days Ago

      It’s true he’s mostly a Doctor Doom clone but IIRC it came off very differently. Sort of like if Cornelius Van Lunt had been an international Jewish banker. But yeah, the coloring is a big part of it.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Chris A. · 19 Days Ago

    Al Weiss was certainly an up and coming talent in U.S. comics in the ’70s. I always thought of him as being on the periphery of The Studio artists (Wrightson, Jones, Kaluta, & Windsor-Smith) and Continuity Associates, especially since he was often part of the Crusty Bunkers in those days. But unlike Howard Chaykin, he never forged a singular voice via creator-owned concepts (like Cody Starbuck or American Flagg), and that early promise never seemed to progress beyond journeyman status. He is still with us, and still active, but I have had to look hard to find his work of the past decade.

    This Cap issue shows a lot of energy and vitality in Weiss’ work of his early career. He really should have become a superstar.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. DontheArtistformerlyknownasfrodo628 · 19 Days Ago

    I don’t really remember how familiar I was with Alan Weiss’ work back in the day, but what I’m seeing here is actually quite good. If “monsters and pretty girls” is what he likes to draw, then he is really good at both, especially the pretty girls. Nightshade is a knockout and I don’t begrudge Cap his “wow” one bit. Englehart’s story, on the other hand, sits on pretty shaky ground as we have no idea how a mere slip of a girl took over a whole prison or what the Yellow Claw’s role in all this is supposed to be. I’m also disappointed that Sam’s buddy Mel was killed before we had a chance to see them reunite. That could have been an interesting opportunity for some Sam backstory, but I guess Steve didn’t see it that way.

    I’m not really a big fan of the super-hero/monster mash-up. Not the recent zombie trend or the vampire thing going on over at DC in the last couple of years and while I can understand the enjoyment of writing and drawing a “Capwolf” story, I can’t imagine I’d enjoy reading it very much. Still, this was an interesting detour for Cap and a fun read. I know Starlin only colored this and didn’t do any of the pictures, but am I the only one who thinks some of Nightshade’s “babies” look remarkably like Pip the Troll? Just a thought. Thanks, Alan!

    Liked by 3 people

    • frasersherman · 18 Days Ago

      We know from her second story she has the power to charm men, separate from her werewolf abilities. That probably explains her seizing control of the prison. I agree it’s not clear here but the story was fun enough I was okay with not getting the nuts and bolts.

      Liked by 3 people

  6. Chris A. · 19 Days Ago

    Actually, Alan, though the Yellow Claw can be ultimately traced back to Fu Manchu, there is a more immediate influence in comic book villains: the Yellow Claw, created in 1939 by Jack Cole (of Plastic Man fame) who first appeared in Silver Streak Comics #1 and subsequently fought against Dare-Devil (the Lev Gleason character of the 1940s):

    https://fourcolorglasses.wordpress.com/2012/09/21/villains-the-claw-silver-streak-comics-1-dec-1939/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chris A. · 19 Days Ago

      Correction: the Claw. Timely/Atlas/Marvel added the “yellow.”

      Liked by 2 people

      • frednotfaith2 · 19 Days Ago

        Cole’s Claw looked more like a creature borne of nightmares than an actual human-being. Alas, that tended to be the norm for depicting Asian villains in comics at the time, even before World War II, given the example of the cover of Detective Comics #1 from 1937 (but even that looked more human than the Claw).
        Also curious that the skin tones on the Asian characters on the cover of Yellow Claw #1 from 1957, looked more realistic than those used 16 years later. Of course, the Yellow Claw’s physiological features, with the pointed ears, and claw-like fingers are still stereotypical, but not nearly as excessive as those of the Claw or other Asian villains of the 1930s and ’40s.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Alan Stewart · 19 Days Ago

          I noticed that about the Yellow Claw’s skin tone on the cover of issue #1 as well, fred. Alas, the coloring for Asians within that comic is the same inhuman pale yellow we see in this issue of Captain America (and so many other comics as well, of course). I don’t know if that reflects a somewhat better printing process (and thus more color choices) used for covers than for interiors in the 1950s, or something else… but it’s certainly interesting.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. frednotfaith2 · 19 Days Ago

    I missed this issue when it was new but got the next two issues featuring the Yellow Claw. I did plug in the holes of CA&TF 164 & 167 a decade later. Admittedly, when I first read 164, Weiss’ art seemed too “off model” to what I was used to, but looking at it again, I love it, although those instances wherein Romita put in his touches to keep Cap’s face “on-model” do stand out, although my 10 year old self probably wouldn’t have noticed it. I wasn’t previously aware of the backstory behind this issue. I wonder what the basis was of Thomas’ assessment that “pirates don’t sell” as I’m not aware of any pirate-themed comics Marvel had done previously, aside from Fantastic Four #5 from 11 years before, featuring the debut of Dr. Doom and Ben Grimm taking up the guise of Black Beard. While chockfull of typical early Silver Age goofiness, I had the impression that issue had done pretty well, although Stan & Jack declined the opportunity to spin off Ben into a new series featuring his exploits as a pirate in days of yore! Just about a couple of years later, Gerber did get to do a pirate tale in Man-Thing, but I’m fairly sure Thomas had already handed off his editorial duties by then.
    Another aspect of this particular tale was that it was part of a mini-explosion of werewolf tales at Marvel during this period 50 years ago — aside from the Werewolf by Night series, the Man-Wolf mad his debut the next month in Amazing Spider-Man and Jack Russell’s hairy alter-ego guest-starred with Spidey in this month’s Marvel Team-Up, so Spidey got hit with a double-whammy of wolfmen in the spring of 1973.
    Fifty years ago, my pre-teen self wouldn’t have seen anything problematic with characters such as Yellow Claw or Fu Manchu, although now aspects of them make me cringe, most especially the pale yellow skin used for most east Asian characters at the time. Even given the limitations of comics colors at the time, it should have occurred to the producers of comics by this point in the 1970s that actual Asians do not have pale yellow skin, but various shades including those indistinguishable from “white” skin to other shades of brown. Curiously, with characters deemed of mixed Occidental-Oriental ethnicity, such as Mandarin, they used the standard “white” coloring, or a sort of orange-brown coloring for Shang-Chi. It’d be as if they used actual white for the color of white characters, or black for black characters. Funny that from centuries of culture, we’ve become accustomed to using terms to apply to different peoples based on “pure” colors that have never reflected the actual skin tones of the vast majority of people.
    Back to the story itself, Nightshade is a rather fascinating character. Clearly meant to be immature but also haughty, murderously evil, and at least a genius enough to create a serum that could transform people into werewolves. I also got a sense that Weiss was at least a bit influenced by Steranko’s Madame Hydra in his creating Nightshade. And both seemed clearly intended to have gone out with a bang at the end of their initial stories, but unsurprisingly considered too good and unique as baddies to have been truly killed off.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Chris A. · 19 Days Ago

      I suspect that Roy Thomas’ “pirates don’t sell” statement came down from Stan Lee. There was a backup feature in various National Periodical Publications (DC Comics) titles from 1939 to 1948 called the Black Pirate, but the character never took off enough to star in a book of his own:
      https://www.toonopedia.com/blpirate.htm

      In 1954-55 E.C. Comics tried to survive the comics code by replacing its horror and crime titles with “New Trend” books, one of which was Piracy. It only last five issues.

      Stan Lee was working at Timely and Atlas in those years, and was probably aware of those rival publishers’ efforts.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. John Minehan · 19 Days Ago

    I always womdered why COL Fury was so far out of uniform in this issue, Now, I understand. I always had the impression that Weiss (like Brunner) should have gotten a lot further and been cult artists.

    Weiss was one of the best inkers for Starlin, as demonstrated on many Warlock colors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • John Minehan · 4 Days Ago

      Weiss did some interesting work,

      I liked his work on Superteam Family # 11 and Shazam # 34 with Joe Rubenstein inking over at DC and his0cover snd story for Submariner # 55. His cover for CA # 160 had been great just before this. His work on Pelucidar at DC was sort of hit or miss, unless it had “Crusty Bunker” inks.

      The odd thing is that he had already been used as a model for one of Dick Greyson’s classmated in “Night of the Reaoer,” in Batman #237.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. John Hogger · 17 Days Ago

    One of my favourite stand alone Cap issues from this era, totally incongruous to what was going on in the regular storyline line’s.
    I was blown away by Alan’s art, especially his depiction of Nightshade and could only echo Caps “Wow” on seeing her.
    I always kept an eye out for Alan’s art and I remember a short story he did with Namor and an encounter with a mermaid which was equally well drawn and delineated.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Stuart Fischer · 15 Days Ago

    I didn’t know who Alan Weiss was when this issue originally came out (I only paid attention to the really famous artists) but I do know that I hated the artwork because it was so “off model” to other stories. Also, at the time I was irritated with classic horror monsters taking over Marvel books and how the issue interrupted what I considered to be a string of great issues in Cap. As a result, this was a rare issue that I did not actually read at the time it came out, but just skimmed quickly to see if anything long-lasting momentous happened to the characters. Of course, I actually had no clue either that this was the same Alan Weiss who (as a comic book character) figured so prominently in the excellent “Night of the Reaper” story in Batman #237 that Alan blogged about a couple of years back.

    I did like Nightshade starting with her second appearance and I also really liked the “Cap-Wolf” storyline which I first read a couple of years ago online at Marvel Unlimited. For those of you that haven’t read it and wonder what the big deal is, my take on it is that when Cap becomes a werewolf, he fights off the serum enough so that he eventually is able to think like human Cap and leads the other werewolves in revolt. Another interesting twist in this tale is that in addition to created werewolves, Nightshade is able to attract pre-existing wolf-like characters in the Marvel Universe such as Man Wolf (John Jameson), the mutant Wolfsbane, Werewolf by Night and even Wolverine (of course, Wolverine had to be in everything in those days).

    Regarding the Yellow Claw, Alan, your blog post was a revelation to me as I thought back then (and even up until now) that the character was one of the top super villains in the Marvel canon at the time rather than someone that had rarely been shown (either real or fake). In 1973, I wasn’t experienced, worldly or enlightened enough to be offended at the stereotype. However, seeing that Englehart worked on these issues, I find it interesting that his concurrent Mantis stories in the “Avengers” had Mantis (who was Vietnamese) colored white and with realistic Asian features. Of course, “Avengers” had an entirely different artistic team on it and I guess that if Engelhart had issues with how the Yellow Claw was colored he might have decided not to raise the point because at the time he was still a relatively new employee.

    Finally, forgive me but I can’t resist: I see that Nightshade survived a long fall from a great height. Too bad Gerry Conway didn’t realize that you could.

    Liked by 2 people

    • frasersherman · 15 Days Ago

      “I thought back then (and even up until now) that the character was one of the top super villains in the Marvel canon”
      My first Avengers story (first Marvel of any sort) was the clash between Cap’s Kookie Quartet and the Commissar. I knew there’d been a previous team but I would have been astonished to learn Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye and Quicksilver weren’t as big and famous as their predecessors.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Stuart Fischer · 14 Days Ago

        I forgot to ask this before. Regarding the popularity or non-popularity of pirates in Marvel comic books, I remember reading in a few comic history books about how a noted Marvel artist was a big fan of “Terry and the Pirates” creator Milton Caniff and tried to sneak his style in on some famous Marvel story in the 1970s or 1980s. Obviously, my mind is fuzzy on the details. Can someone help jog my memory?

        I was trying to think of other 1960s or 1970s era Marvel pirate stories. The Flying Dutchman from the Silver Surfer series (I think in 1969) looked like a pirate, although I don’t think that he was one.

        Liked by 2 people

        • frasersherman · 14 Days Ago

          No, he’s just a sea captain. The standard story is that he refused to turn back from a storm, got his crew and himself killed and was damned to sail eternally, with no rest until X. In the Surfer’s case, that one person weep for him.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Stuart Fischer · 14 Days Ago

    The comment I just left that wound up responding to frasersherman was actually meant for everyone (although if frasersherman knows the answer to my question, never mind :))

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alan Stewart · 14 Days Ago

      Stuart, you may be thinking about John Romita, who said he was trying to channel Caniff in the “Vietnam” storyline in Amazing Spider-Man #108-109. I wrote about this in a post last year: https://50yearoldcomics.com/2022/03/16/amazing-spider-man-109-june-1972/

      Of course, the pirates in “Terry” are the 20th century China Seas variety, rather than the Jolly Roger type people usually mean when they say “pirate stories”.

      Like

  12. Bill B · 3 Days Ago

    I was ten when I bought this book and I was blown away by the art! The story was great, too. It was not to be topped, until Jim Starlin’s Captain Marvel Saga in the fall of that year. Alan Weiss’ art is outstanding! But, he never capitalized on that great style. Did he do anything else like this? I have no doubt that he drew that issue, but did Starlin ink it without credit? Did Weiss influence Starlin or did Starlin influence Weiss? It’s very similar and it ushers in the 70’s Cosmic Wave!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · 3 Days Ago

      I’m not sure just what you mean by “anything else like this”, Bill, but we’ve got a very nice “Solomon Kane vs. Dracula” piece by Weiss coming up on the blog in just a couple of weeks! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Bill B · 3 Days Ago

    I look forward to that. Alan Weiss’ art in this comic is eerily similar to Jim Starlin’s later work, and I love the possible connection to Starlin’s later opus. I’m searching for Alan Weiss’ work and looking to buy some comics he drew.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Bill B · 2 Days Ago

    I read all your posts, Alan. And I’m grateful that this endeavor of yours is out there for us to enjoy. Sometimes it takes me a while to get caught up because I’m not into mystery/horror, which you seem to have been into at fifteen more than superhero books. This jumped out at me because it’s a book I bought at the time and, later, would have sworn was drawn by Starlin. Sparky is a lot like Pip. Cap is weirdly drawn when he’s getting happy about fighting werewolves. Great drawing, but his lower legs are three feet long! A rookie mistake of not drawing through the figure before drawing the costume. Nightshade is gorgeous and has “normal” size breasts. Not that these are traits of Jim Starlin’s work, but it was just much more realistic and cool (see any of the cool Cap winding up for a punch drawings) than what Sal Buscema was drawing at the time. I don’t want to hate on Sal, but he wasn’t my favorite artist. And then, next issue, Sal. It was like, Clapton Clapton Clapton VAN HALEN Clapton.

    I looked again at the posts and whether Alan Weiss or Dick Giordano (who I think is a great inker) inked the work, I really like Weiss’ art, but there’s something Starlin about this CA/F book besides the colors. And the colors also go a long way to separate the characters. I like Weiss’ making each werewolf different, short or tall, skinny or fat. Anyway, no doubt Weiss is responsible for this beauty and I wish he’d done more or was recognized more for his work.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · 2 Days Ago

      “…mystery/horror, which you seem to have been into at fifteen more than superhero books…”

      Bill, I absolutely get why it seems that way, based on what I choose to post about here, but I’m not sure it’s actually true. I generally end up writing about only a fraction of the comics I bought in any given month (I bought a *lot*), and if there’s been more horror-type stuff lately, I think it’s partly because in 1973 there was so *much* of it around, and partly that in this particular period what was going on in those books was measurably more interesting (to me, at least) than what was happening in your average issue of Thor or Daredevil.

      Anyway, I think you may see the balance swinging a bit more in the superhero direction in the months to come, reflective of a number of factors — not least of which is my younger self’s *finally* getting on board the Starlin Captain Marvel train in August, 1973! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Steve McBeezlebub · 2 Days Ago

        I know I read Steelgrip Starkey but the name is all I remember!

        Liked by 1 person

  15. Jim Kosmicki · 2 Days Ago

    I guess I’m the only one who read and enjoyed Weiss’ Steelgrip Starkey from Epic. That’s honestly the first thing I think of when I see his name. It wasn’t a concept that was going to be a long-lived book, but I certainly remember enjoying the short series we got.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Alan Stewart · 2 Days Ago

      Jim, just the other day I was wondering to myself why I passed on Steelgrip Starkey when it came out, considering how much I’d liked Weiss’ earlier work. Thanks for the reminder that I still need to check it out!

      Like

    • Steve McBeezlebub · 2 Days Ago

      Here’s hoping I’m responding to the right post since I went through my email and hit reply twice without stopping to fill the boxes! Anyways, you saying you have many more you read than you can post about (a truism for probably most who follow you) so I had the notion it might be interesting if on rare occasions when you’re indecisive if you poll us on which one to write about.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alan Stewart · 2 Days Ago

        That’s an interesting idea, Steve — I don’t think there’s been an instance yet where I’ve had a bona fide toss-up (if I really want to write about something, I usually find a way), but I’ll keep it in mind for the future!

        Liked by 1 person

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