Let’s start today’s post with a bit of gushing over Michael W. Kaluta’s incredible cover for its primary subject, OK?
Back around the first half of 1973, DC Comics editor Joe Orlando seemed to have settled on a preferred “house dress” for the titles in his charge that included a solid color banner that ran behind the title logo (as well as the DC emblem, price, etc.) and took up the top third of the cover area (more or less). Not every single issue of every Orlando title during this period followed this design model (see Jim Aparo’s cover for Phantom Stranger #24 [Mar.-Apr., 1973] for one conspicuous outlier)… but most did. And frankly, sometimes — maybe most times — you really wished he’d let his talented cover artists (a roster that, at the time, included Bernie Wrightson, Bob Oksner, Luis Dominguez, and Nick Cardy, in addition to Kaluta and others) have the entire area of the cover to work with, instead of limiting then to the bottom two thirds or so, Read More
Back in July, 2020, I wrote a post about the 188th issue of DC Comics’ House of Mystery, an issue notable for featuring one of the very first comic-book stories drawn by the Filipino-born artist Tony DeZuñiga to be published in the United States. As we discussed in that post, DeZuñiga‘s advent at DC in 1970 would ultimately prove highly auspicious — not only for his own individual career, but also for the direction of the whole field of American comics over the next decade or so. 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
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
Last summer, we took a look at the first two issues of The Demon — a series created by writer-artist-editor Jack Kirby as a response to DC Comics’ request for him to come up with something in the “horror hero” vein. Although this new feature hadn’t originally been intended to replace Kirby’s beloved “Fourth World” titles on his production schedule — at least, that hadn’t been Kirby’s intent — following the cancellations of both Forever People and New Gods, and the mandated retooling of Mister Miracle, that’s effectively what happened, as both Demon and Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth (another series dreamed up by Kirby at DC’s direction) had their publishing frequencies increased from bi-monthly to monthly status within their first three issues, so that by the beginning of 1973, they, along with the still bi-monthly Mister Miracle, effectively absorbed most if not all of the creator’s time and effort. Read More
In recent months, we’ve followed the Phantom Stranger’s crusade against the secret society of sinister sorcerers called the Dark Circle, as chronicled by writer Len Wein and artist Jim Aparo. That crusade finally comes to an end in the 24th issue — so after pausing just long enough to admire Aparo’s typically fine, mood-setting cover, let’s turn to the first page and get right to it, shall we? Read More
Back in July of this year, we took a look at Wonder Woman #202 — an issue which, in addition to being the penultimate issue of that title’s four-year “Diana Prince” run (which had found the Amazing Amazon battling bad guys sans her traditional powers or costume), featured the comic-book debut of Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, two heroes of sword-and-sorcery fiction who’d been appearing in the stories of Fritz Leiber since 1939. In the comic’s story, Diana and Catwoman journeyed to the the world of Nehwon (spell it backwards), where they tussled briefly with the two blade-wielding adventurers before teaming up against their common foes.
Immediately following the story’s conclusion, a half-page ad promised us readers of 1972 that this was by no means the last we’d see of Fafhrd and the Mouser: Read More
In our present age, when not only the original Captain Marvel has been the subject of a blockbuster motion picture (with a second one on the way), but so has his most powerful adversary, it may be difficult for younger fans to comprehend just how obscure Billy Batson and his alter ego were to the average comic book reader of half a century ago. Even if you were an avid comics fan who’d been reading superhero funnybooks for the past seven years (as was my fifteen-year-old self, back in December, 1972), you might not have much more than a vague idea of what the “Marvel Family” and its mythos were all about, prior to the publication of Shazam! #1. Read More
Artist Jim Aparo’s dramatic cover for Phantom Stranger #23 depicts a scene that unmistakably calls back to Gaston Leroux’s 1909-10 novel Phantom of the Opera, or one of its several film adaptations; meanwhile, a blurb at the top plugs the opening installment of a new back-up series, “Frankenstein”. A prospective buyer eyeing this one in the spinner rack back in November, 1972, might well have wondered: didn’t the comic’s publisher, DC Comics, know that Halloween was last month? Why were they releasing this kind of Double Creature Feature now, after the spooky season had already passed?
On the other hand, this was the latest issue of Phantom Stranger — and “spooky” was what this comic book title was all about, not just in October, but all year long. So I suspect most fans probably didn’t think twice about the double dose of classic horror stars, half a century ago; in any event, I’m pretty sure I didn’t, either when I first eyed the cover, or when, after buying the book and taking it home, I finally turned to the first page… Read More
I may be misremembering, but I have a vague recollection of my fifteen-year-old self looking at this one at the spinner rack back in October, 1972 and thinking, “The Justice League standing around a grave site? Again?” After all, it had only been three issues since artist Nick Cardy had built his cover for JLA #100 around a similar idea. On the other hand, it was October — the spooky season — and what could be spookier than an open grave? Especially when said grave was being ominously loomed over by… hey, is that thePhantom Stranger? In an issue of Justice League of America? Forget about repetitive cover concepts; I couldn’t wait to buy this one and take it home. Read More