For artist Frank Brunner and Marvel Comics’ Doctor Strange, the third time around would prove to be the proverbial charm.
As we’ve covered in previous posts, Brunner first brush with the Dr. Strange feature came with Marvel Premiere #4, for which he supplied finishes to pencilled art (mostly just layouts) by Barry Windsor-Smith. He returned four months later with Marvel Premiere #6, where his complete pencils were inked by Sal Buscema. But unhappy with writer Gardner Fox’s scripts, as well as with the overall H.P. Lovecraft-by-way-of-Robert E. Howard “cosmic horror” direction of the series (a direction we should note had been inaugurated by plotter-editor Roy Thomas in issue #4, and then continued by Fox), the young artist left again after only a single issue. Read More
As was noted in last Saturday’s blog post, the date of April 17, 1973 saw Marvel Comics release not just one, but two different periodical issues devoted to the exploits of the world’s most famous vampire. But while the color-comics format Tomb of Dracula #10, featuring the debut of Blade, is probably much better known to contemporary comics fans, I’m pretty sure that, back in the day, my fifteen-year-old self was at least as jazzed by the arrival of its black-and-white companion publication, Dracula Lives #2… and probably more so. Read More
Like its immediate predecessor, the 122nd issue of Amazing Spider-Man leads off with a cover by John Romita, which, if not quite as iconic as that of #121, is still an exceptionally arresting image. Not to mention one which, back in April, 1973, would likely have shocked the hell out of any semi-regular reader of the web-slinger’s series who had somehow managed to miss not only that most monumental of issues, but also any fannish discussion of same over the several weeks since its release on March 13th.
If there were any such readers fifty years ago, and if they hoped for some sort of recap to bring them up to speed on the details of how so something so unthinkable as the murder of Spider-Man’s beloved Gwen Stacy had come to pass, they were pretty much out of luck — because the creative team behind both the previous episode and this one — i.e., scripter Gerry Conway, penciller Gil Kane, foreground inker John Romita (who may have also contributed to the plot) and background inker Tony Mortellaro — weren’t about to break their storyline’s headlong momentum with any more exposition than was minimally required, let alone any flashbacks: Read More
Return with me now, if you will, to that long-ago era when the word “zombie” was virtually never paired with the word “apocalypse”… a time when one didn’t worry about having one’s brain (or other bodily parts) eaten by ravenous specimens of the walking dead because, well, those guys didn’t seem to eat much of anything, as far as one could tell from the stories about them… and when the animating agent that could make corpses clamber out of their graves and shamble about (no running or swarming in those days) was almost always associated with the magical traditions of voodoo (or, more properly, what passed for authentic voodoo in popular entertainment media), rather than derived from an imaginary contagion or some other “scientific” cause. Read More
It’s been some seven months since the blog last checked in with Captain America. As regular readers may recall, at that time we took a look at the storyline that kicked off new writer Steve Englehart’s tenure on the title — a four-issue saga in which our star-spangled Avenger (aka Steve Rogers) learned that during the post-World War II era, while he himself had been frozen in ice, he’d been replaced by another Captain America — the “Commie-busting” Cap whose adventures Atlas (aka Marvel) Comics had published for a few years in the 1950s. That iteration of the hero, along with his partner Bucky, had ultimately gone insane, becoming an avatar of bigotry — and a menace to society whom the real Captain America, along with his partner, the Falcon, and girlfriend, sometime S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sharon Carter, had to take down before he could permanently damage Cap’s reputation… and a whole lot else, besides. Read More
The subject of today’s blog post is generally considered to be one of the most important issues in the sixty-plus-year history of Marvel Comics’ best-known hero, Spider-Man. Many fans would call it one of the most significant single comic books ever published by Marvel, period. Some (though not, I must confess, your humble blogger) would even go so far as to call this issue the precise dividing point between the Silver Age of Comics and the Bronze.
But you almost didn’t get a chance to read about Amazing Spider-Man #121 on its fiftieth anniversary — not in this venue, anyway. Why? Because your humble blogger’s then fifteen-year-old self almost didn’t purchase the book when it first arrived on stands, back in March of 1973. And why was that? Because I’d stopped buying Amazing Spider-Man two months earlier. 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
Behind an attention-grabbing cover pencilled by John Buscema from a rough layout by Jim Starlin (and inked by Frank Giacoia), the Defenders creative team of writer Steve Englehart, penciller Sal Buscema, and inker Frank McLaughlin began this latest installment of the super-team’s continuing adventures right where the previous one had left off.
It wasn’t exactly what you’d call a happy scene… Read More
Readers of our Avengers #105 post back in July may recall how that issue’s plot — the first from the title’s brand new writer, Steve Englehart — concerned the team’s search for their missing member Quicksilver, who’d disappeared towards the end of the previous issue. Following the inconclusive resolution to their efforts in that tale, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes would continue their quest for the mutant speedster for months to come. But, surprisingly — well, it surprised me, back in November, 1972 — when Pietro Maximoff was finally “found”, it didn’t happen in the pages of Avengers; instead, Quicksilver resurfaced in, of all things, an issue of Fantastic Four — which, as it happened, was the new super-team scripting gig of Roy Thomas, the man who’d written Avengers for the last five-plus years prior to Englehart taking over, and thus the guy who’d launched the whole “where is Pietro?” mystery in the first place. From a creative standpoint, it made a certain kind of sense that Thomas would be the one to ultimately wrap things up; but in terms of the ongoing mega-story of the Marvel Universe, it seemed to come out of nowhere. How did Quicksilver ever manage to end up in the Himalayan homeland of the Inhumans, the Great Refuge? And why the heck was he fighting the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch, Johnny Storm? Read More