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
According to an interview with Bernie Wrightson published in Back Issue #6 (Sep., 2004), the artist was initially reluctant to take on Swamp Thing, in large part because he wasn’t sure he’d be able to handle the deadlines required in producing a regularly published full-length comic book — even one that came out on a bi-monthly schedule. What ultimately convinced him? Mostly, he said, it was because he realized he’d never get a better chance to draw a series that would be “wall-to-wall monsters”.
That opportunity didn’t come immediately, of course; as readers of Swamp Thing #1 (or our August 13 blog post on same) already know, there’s just one bona fide monster in that issue — and he doesn’t even show up until well into the story. But as we’re about to see, by only the series’ second installment, young Mr. Wrightson would be able to make his dreams come true. Read More
Last November, we discussed Phantom Stranger #17, the fourth outing on the title for writer Len Wein. In that issue, Wein and his collaborator, artist Jim Aparo, showed us a more human side of the mysterious titular hero than we’d seen previously, largely through the introduction of a potential romantic interest. But the Phantom Stranger bid farewell to that interest — a beautiful blind psychic named Cassandra Craft — at the end of #17; and the potential for more characterization-rich storytelling (and perhaps even a touch of issue-to-issue continuity) that Ms. Craft’s advent had seemed to signify wasn’t followed up on in the next couple of issues, both of which featured standalone adventures in which the Stranger operated as solitarily as he had before. Read More
As was related in our post about Forever People #11 at the beginning of this month, Jack Kirby is reputed to have already begun work both on that comic and on New Gods #11 when he received word from DC Comics that those two issues would be the last for both titles. The official word was that the two series were being “temporarily suspended”; but Kirby seems to have known that this was truly the end for both of his cherished creations, at least for the foreseeable future.
While we’ll probably never know just how far the writer-artist had already gotten in plotting, drawing, or scripting either comic, there can be no doubt that he made whatever adjustments were necessary to be able to provide the readers of both Forever People and New Gods with not just one last adventure of the series’ titular heroes, but with an ending for each. In the case of Forever People, Kirby quite literally took his characters off the field, transporting them across the cosmos to an idyllic planet far from the battlefront between the warring god-worlds of New Genesis and Apokolips. Read More
First off, please be advised that this blog post is going to be one of the long ones. That’s primarily due to the fact that, in addition to covering the specific fifty-year-old comic book that gives the post its title, your humble blogger is also goiing to take a shot at answering the age-old conundrum: who came first, DC Comics’ Swamp Thing or Marvel Comics’ Man-Thing? (Regular readers may recall that when the blog spotlighted the second Man-Thing story, back in March, I promised something of this sort would be forthcoming; that moment has at last arrived.)
But it’s also destined to be at least a bit on the long side because before I can even get into discussing Swamp Thing #1, I feel that it’s necessary to give some attention to an even older comic, one that came out over fifty-one years ago. Of course, I’m talking about House of Secrets #92, published by DC in April, 1971; the comic book whose first eight pages gave us the very first “Swamp Thing” story, as written by Len Wein, drawn (mostly) by Bernie Wrightson, and edited by Joe Orlando. Neither the behind-the-scenes story of how Swamp Thing-the-series came to be — nor my own initial reactions to the first issue of the latter, as a fifteen-year-old reader in August, 1972 — make a whole lot of sense outside of the context of that classic tale. So, that’s where we’re starting, on what in all probability will indeed be a lengthy (though hopefully also enjoyable) journey. Forewarned is forearmed, eh? Read More
Regular readers of this blog will recall how, over the past year, we’ve been tracking the Fourth World-adjacent story material that appeared in various “Superman” family titles — mostly in Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane — during the period that Jack Kirby was writing, drawing, and editing Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. The most significant piece of this material was that having to do with Morgan Edge, the head of Galaxy Broadcasting (and thus the boss of Lois and Jimmy, as well as of Superman’s alter ego Clark Kent). Originally created by Kirby, Edge was introduced in his first Fourth World comic, Jimmy Olsen #133, as being secretly involved with the criminal organization Intergang — and thereby, as shown in the very next issue, also an operative of the dark lord of Apokolips, Darkseid. More recently, however, it had been revealed in Lois Lane #118 that the Morgan Edge we readers had been reading about in all the Superman books wasn’t the real Edge at all — rather, he was an evil clone who’d been created by Darkseid’s minions in the Evil Factory to pose as the media mogul. Read More
In March, 1972, the format change that DC Comics editor Joe Orlando had brought to the company’s House of Mystery title at the beginning of his tenure had been in place for four years. This format — which emulated the approach of the horror anthology comics of the early 1950s to the extent possible under the strictures of the Comics Code Authority — had proven very successful, leading to similar revamps of other DC titles (House of Secrets and Tales of the Unexpected) as well as the launch of brand new titles cut from the same rotting gravecloth (Witching Hour and Ghosts). Even DC’s arch-rival Marvel had been moved to try its hand at the “mystery” anthology comics game (though so far without much success).
Through it all, House of Mystery had kept to the course charted by Orlando in 1968, centered on a mix of short stories of supernatural horror (generally featuring twist endings), interspersed with a page or two of macabre cartoons, all “hosted” by Cain the Caretaker. To the extent that anything had changed in the last four years, it was largely in the makeup of the talent roster that produced the title’s content. Even so, it was still possible to pick up an issue and be completely surprised — as was the case with the very comic we’re looking at today. Read More
As I wrote last month in my post about Tarzan #207, I firmly believe that it would have been all but impossible for an American child of my generation to grow up not knowing who Tarzan was. Korak, son of Tarzan, on the other hand… well, maybe not so much. Sure, the scion of the Lord of the Jungle had been around since 1914, when he appeared as the infant Jack Clayton in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel The Eternal Lover. But he’d made a much smaller imprint on popular culture, at least as a solo adventurer, only appearing in a single film, the 1920 serial The Son of Tarzan; as far as most moviegoers (or movies-on-TV viewers) were concerned, the Ape Man’s kid was a boy named, er, “Boy”. Seriously, unless you were a reader of the novels, about the only way you’d know the name “Korak” was from comics — and even there, the poor guy had to work to stake his claim. Read More