O' Glory be....can it be yet another unabashed smattering of old comics that Delightful Dann is recommending that you all rush out in groves to comic book stores or conventions and snap up as many back issues your greedy little paws can manage?
Yup, I sure am!
This time around we're going back to that year of all years...1978. To get a four color wonder at this time would mean you had to shell out .35 cents of that hard earned allowance. Personally, I had to watch my budget in those halcyon days, but getting the latest copy of Marvel Comics' MICRONAUTS was an 11 year olds comic dream come true.
Now, the Micronauts was a toy line owned in the states by a company called MEGO. I collected the toys 'till my bedroom was overflowing. They're toys I wish I still had, considering they could put my kids though college now. Any one that's ever had any of the toys from this collection can state how much fun they were. Missles detachable parts, interchangeable parts, a multitude of characters....these toys had it all!
Now, the comic itself? Let's just say that this is a comic that few can find a fault with. Written by boisterous Bill Mantlo, Drawn by Michael Golden and inked by Josef Rubenstein, this comic swelled with greatness! On top of all that.....Issue #1 boasted a cover by one of the all time greats in comic art, Dave Cockrum!
The story of the Micronauts went like this:
In the subatomic universe, there was a planet named Homeworld. 1000 years ago, they sent an astronaut by the name of Arturus Rann (Space Glider) to explore the universe with his trusted robotic ship mate, Biotron. Rann was in suspended animation most of the time, but while they were busy exploring the universe, Homeworld's technology advanced during that 1000 year time and space exploration was already beyond what Arcturus had accomplished. Now, the trouble starts when Rann returns home. He thinks he's getting a hero's welcome, but instead, he faces a firing squad.
Over the years, a rather nasty guy by the name Baron Karza, overthrew Homeworld and now rules with an iron fist. He originally had Rann's parents killed (cause they were the King and Queen), and now he wanted Arcturus out of the way as well.
Without ruining any part of the storyline, Arcturus eventually meets up with his new band of rebels that include:
The fierce warrior ACROYEAR, named after his people.
BUG, a wisecracking insectivorid that reminded me of an alien Spider-Man.
Princess Mari (Marionette) A refuge from the most current ruling class of Homeworld.
Microtron, Mari's roboid servant.
and the afore mentioned Biotron.
Eventually we meet Mari's brother Prince Argon.
Baron Karza has what he calls, "the Body Banks". If you're rich enough, you can buy body parts (or whole bodies) so you can essentially live forever. Of course, the body parts came from the poor, or the rebels that were trying to overthrow Karza. Karza captures Prince Argon and decides to do some "body management experiments"....like this:
Argon got the raw end of that deal!
Eventually, the Micronauts make their way to Earth and meet up with little known Marvel characters such as Man-Thing. Issue #8 also introduced a character that's running around with the Avengers at the moment...Captain Universe.
After a little time on our old blue marble, the Micronauts travel back to their own system to rid the Microverse of the nasty bad rule of Baron Karza and his allies.
This story arc winds up being big, epic and cosmic! With tons of fantastic character development and eye popping artwork, a reader can't put down even one chapter before he's finished with it.
Now here's the kicker...
The Micronauts lasted as a series for quite a few years, well into the '80's.
For many tho, myself included, it's the fist 12 issues that most have fond memories of. Not saying issues 13 up weren't good, heck, with art by guys like Pat Broderick and Steve Ditko, things weren't horrible.
But, the team of Mantlo and Golden (along with inker Rubinstein and later Bob Mcleod and Al Milgrom) only stayed on till ish #12, which spotlighted one of the coolest Micronauts, Acroyear.
The dynamics...the intricate artwork...everything about those first 12 issues screamed "Perfect!"
It was a good time to be a kid in those days.
I had the toys, I read of their adventures, I was pretty thrilled to read comics back in those days.
Some of the dialoque may seem slightly stilted in these comics, but nothing can take away the wonder and excitement these books brought to Marvelites across the globe!
Go buy these 12 issues....
You can thank me later!
Another few months pass, and another new "old" comic review hits ya!
This time around, I'm looking at another magnamanous Marvel comic from 1975, The Champions! Conceived by Tony the tiger" Isabella, this fondly remembered supergroup consisted of 5 central characters... Hercules, the Black Widow, Ghost Rider and two of the original X-Men, Angel and Iceman!
I liked this comic from the get-go! It had 5 underused characters that I knew little about as a small kid, and as the series progressed, I even liked the comic more than my usual favorite, the "Justice League of America". The book was originally a little Hercules-centric as the plot was the god of death, Pluto was looking to get a little revenge on Zeus' favorite offspring. It just so happened that Angel and Iceman were starting college in that area and the Widow and Ghost Rider just happened to be in town. After meeting, fighting and generally kicking the bad guys butt, the 5 heroes decided to make a go of it and form the Champions. The "Battle of Olympus" storyline lasted for the first 3 issues. The first issue sported a great classic cover by Gil Kane. Joining Tony on the creative team were Don Heck on pencils and Mike Esposito in inks. Don Heck's art was always a blast to look at. He was under appreciated during his later years...but the man could draw ANYTHING! A true artist in every sense of the word.
In issue 3, Heck left to pursue other projects and George Tuska joined the creative team. Tuska has always been one of my favorite Iron Man artists and George on the Champions was a dream come true for this art lover.
The book was, in many ways, a typical team book of the '70's. Good guys get together to stop the maniacal bad guy from taking over the planet or destroying Los Angeles and everyone is happy at the end.
But, the Champions had a brand of uniqueness too... they were headquartered in LA, not NYC like every other Marvel group, and were slightly more a "business" in a way. They made sure the money was there to pay for all the equipment they used and when something was destroyed, they worried about the repair bill. And the fact that Ghost Rider wasn't really liked by the other Champions made me feel bad for ol' Johnny Blaze... he was always the odd man out. They fought plenty of cool villians after their inaugural story arc. Bad guys like Rampage, the Griffin (who always scared me as a kid) Titanium Man, Crimson Dynamo and others.
After issue 7, Tony Isabella left the writing chores and the talented Bill Mantlo took over and Bob Hall took over the penciling. The few months from #7 to 10 were decent enough, but the real hoopla came when issue #11 came out and the ever lovin' Jocular John Byrne became the new penciler. Byrne was a major rising star at Marvel and his scribblings on the Champions made fan boys squeal like school girls at a Justin Beever concert!
John stayed on as penciler till #15 (those stupid X-Men drove him away) but we got some really offbeat villains such as Swarm! He was a guy made entirely out ofsuper smart bees...and he had a cape. Plus we got to see appearances by the late Black Goliath and Darkstar. They were some pretty fun additions to the team.
Issue 16 saw Byrne leave and Bob Hall back on the art duties and it featured the 2 original X-Men getting to team up with their old pal Hank McCoy, The Beast!For the villain we had Magneto before he became a kinder, gentler maniac.
Issue 17 was bittersweet for me. It was the last issue of the series, so I was pretty bummed...but the art...the art had George Tuska back on pencils and John Byrne on inks while the Champions fought the Sentinels. This was such a good looking comic. If you get any issue, get this on for the art alone! Plus it came with a terrific Ernie Chan cover!!
All in all...it was a great series! Terrific characterization on all the players, all great quirky line up, cool settings and master creative teams all across the board!
Even Kirby got in on the action and drew the cover for ish #6.
I miss this series....I really do. Why Marvel hasn't brought this team back in some shape over the years is beyond me.
Like Tony said on the splash page of #1....."The world still needs... the Champions!"
Go by the back issues of this comic...you'll be glad you did!
And now, yet another dramatically dizzying diatribe of the great comics of yesteryear.
Today, I'm going over DC Comics' own Clown Prince of Crime...The Joker!
This was a comic that was way ahead of its time due to the fact it was one of the first comics to headline a villian instead of the usual "hero". For the uninnitiated out there...the Joker has been Batman's main nemesis since his first issue way back in the late '30's. The Joker has had a lot of different interpertations over the last 70 some odd years. He first appeared as a spooky, meticulous murderer constantly outwitting the police and Batman. Eventually, he was turned into a bit of a nutjob that pulled off "clown" centered crimes that would rather pull a prank on his enemies instead of killing them. Later, DC would give back his "push-you-in-front-of-a-moving-truck" attitude, but add in a touch of insane lunatic. Nowadays, he'll kill you and then cut his own face off....just 'cause he can.
This comic, however, was his more goofy attitude that made you think twice about how murderous he really was.
Issue #1 was published in 1975. It only lasted 9 issues due to DC's implosion that cancelled a zillion of their more interesting comics! The first 3 were written by the legendary Denny O'neil and penciled by one of my personal fav's...Irv Novick.
There was a basic theme for all 9 issues. Joker hatches a plot, meets up with a villian, goes to jail..and sometimes escapes said jail. And just in case you were wondering, Batman ever shows up in any of the comics. The first issue involves Joker matching wits with another baddie, Two-Face. It's a pretty fun ish with a lot of death traps, maniacal speeches and criminal rivalry. Issue #2 gets the Joker involved with an uninspired cornball villian named Willie the Weeper. I'm not sure why the character was ever created, because, even as a kid reading this, I knew I hated this guy. He wept, I threw up. One thing that this book included tho, was the Joker Mobile! It was a garishly green car with the Joker's face mammothly painted on the hood. Why a crazed, escaped murderer with every cop on the planet (not to mention, every Super Hero) looking for him would drive around in the daylight in a car that looks like him was stretching the belief system of an innoent, naive waif of 8. I just couldn't wrap my brain around that.
Issue 3 really got my attention tho...it guest starred one of Steve Ditko's coolest creations, the Creeper! With inks by Jose Louis Garcia Lopez, this issue was my all time favorite! Good story, great art, and a cool guest star...you can't ask for more.
Issue 4 had the writing chores change hands to the prolific Elliot S! Maggin. On his premiere story, Mr. Maggin pitted our main Villian against Green Arrow. While the story was pretty entertaining, it didn't include the art of Mr. Novick. Lopez did the penciling here and Vince Colletta did the inks. Irv Novick came back on the next issue tho, but the writing was now done by Marty Pasko, the guy DC editors nicknamed "Pesky" when he was a constant fan letter writer in his earlier years. Not content with just having one guest villian, Pasko introduced an entire group of baddies, The Royal Flush Gang! It actually seemed a logical choice for a Joker comic.
Ish #6 was the hardest for me to find over the years. No one ever seemed to have this one and I only purchased it over a year ago. The wait drove me nuts! But... It was a great read as Denny O'Neil was back behind the keyboard....umm, I mean typewriter for this fun fest meeting with the great Sherlock Holmes.
N0. 7, now again writen by Elliot S! Maggin, had Joker meet up with Lex Luthor! It was, plot wise, a pretty darned juvenile story...but it did include one of my favorite scenes ever! Joker, in an afro, tells Lex one of the funniest jokes I'd ever heard as a kid, (and still, I think its a riot!) The comic only told the punchline. It wasn't until issue 9 in the letters page did the editor tell the entire joke.
The Scarecrow appeared in #8. This issue was a little bit of a return to Joker's true murderous roots as Joker went around killing people willy nilly. Then, towards the end of the story, we get this totally Un-PC moment.....
Back then, you could say things....pretty much anything, and not get slammed by a few hundred focus groups.
Finally....issue 9 featured Joker going up against Batman's greatest female foe, The Catwoman! The usual gang (hah) of creators, Elliot and Irv produced this final issue.
Unfortunately, the story was still along the goofy side. At one point, a guy is running away from Catwoman and he says, "Catwoman's NOCTURNAL! She won't follow me here in the daylight!" Again...I was 8, and I knew Catwoman didn't have any type of cat powers. She was a normal human that could happily walk out in the daylight at any given moment. Uggghhh!
But I digress...this was a comic that shouldn't be compared to any other standard besides what this comic really is....A good goofy comic book with slightly serious undertones and terrific art. Forget the inane plots, horrid characterizations and a couple of forgettable characters...have fun and pick this set of 9 up! The prices aren't the lowest...I paid 6 bucks for #6, but it's a somewhat easy set of comics to get a complete collection of.
DC Comics' "The Joker"!
A surprisingly light hearted, fun read.....go get it!
Welcome effendi's, to another comic book review of older comics which you SHOULD be reading.
As every good Comicbook Junkie knows, there are plenty of new comics on sale every week. Every Wednesday, comic fans rush to their local comics shop like a true zombie horde. And while those new comics can be fantastic and uncanny and amazing, there are so many older comics out there that haven't been reprinted or talked about in years.
Which is why I'm doing this column! The word needs to get out there....let the young whippersnappers know how great the comics of yesteryear really were.
Case in point: Marvel Comics' INVADERS!
Originally published in 1975 as GIANT SIZE INVADERS. This World War 2 era comic was written by comics master Roy Thomas and drawn by the massively talented Frank Robbins. Inks were supplied by the ever consistent Vince Colletta.
The Invaders was made up of 5 core heroes: Captain America with his kid partner Bucky, The original Human Torch and his sidekick Toro, and the king of the seven seas himself...Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner (he didn't have a sidekick).
The comic lasted for a whalloping 41 issues plus the Giant size issue along with an Annual.
The plots were pretty straight forward....set in WW2, our heroes set out to stop the nefarious Nazi plans of Adolf Hitler. They were constantly up against some of the toughest enemies Hitler could throw at them. Baddies like Master Man, the Red Skull, Baron Blood, the Blue Bullet, and so many others.
Up to issue 6, it was pretty standard superhero fare.
Issue 1 and 2 put the Invaders against aliens that Hitler brainwashed into thinking they were German gods protecting the Third Reich. #3 and 4 sent Namor off to fight an old enemy of his named U-Man, another baddie on the side of the Germans. Issues 5 and 6 introduced fan favs the Liberty Legion, a group comprised of other, more obscure '40's era heroes like Red Raven and the Patriot.
The Invaders were being controlled by the Red Skull and the Legion were brought together to stop them....fairly standard Marvel stories!
Then #7 hit the stands and introduced us to Baron Blood and Union Jack. WW2 vampires fighting retired English heroes....always fun stuff. The battles started to have more importance. Somehow I knew, even as a kid, that if the Invaders failed against these bad guys, the Nazis would have won the war and we'd be Seig Heiling all the time. Scary stuff.
Besides giving us 2 great, enduring characters...issue 7 was also the fist issue inked by the legendary Frank Springer! Robbins and Springer made the perfect art team. Never did two styles compliment each other so perfectly.
As the series went along, we were given some pretty terrific covers by the King himself, Jack Kirby and the master of dynamics, Gil Kane
One of the coolest thing to hapen in the Invaders tho, was the "crossover" with rival company DC Comics. In issue's 14 and 15, Roy Thomas gave us the CRUSADERS. Across the steet, DC was producing their WW2 era hero team called the Freedom Fighters. This was written by Gerry Conway, a friend of Roy's. Roy and Gerry wanted to cross over their respective teams, but for obvious reasons, couldn't. So Roy created the Crusaders, which was the Freedom Fighters with diferent names and costumes. DC's Freedom Fighters consisted of: Uncle Sam, Phantom Lady, Doll Man, Black Condor, The Ray and the Human Bomb. So Roy created "Marvel" versions of them...The Spirit of 76, Ghost Girl, DynaMite, Captain Wings,Tommy Lightnin' and Thunderfist!
Meanwhile, at DC, Gerry did his version of the Invaders. No many knew about this as there wasn't any internet to give it all away.
New members joined up over the years....Spitfire, Union Jack, The Whizzer and Miss Amrica.
Back then, when a story was delayed for whatever reason, Marvel would reprint old stories from the Golden Age. We didn't have internet or trade paperbacks back then to enjoy the older comics ,so any reprints were appreciated. Every so often The Invaders would feature an old 40's Cap story or maybe something from the Sub-Mariner or Human Torch comics. Always fun stuff!
Eventually, like in most comics, the creative team were off to other project. Don Glut became the new regular writer and Alan Kupperberg was the artist. Unfortunatly this new team didn't melt the hearts of the readers and the Invaders wound up being cancelled in 1979 with issue #41.
Marvel has tried to bring back the Invaders over the years, but nothing really matched that old magic Roy, Frank and Frank had in the 70's!
This is an extremely fun series! Roy Thomas was extremely faithful to true events in that time period and gave it an air of authenticity that few comics had for period pieces. 41 issues of spectacular stories, dynamic art, and the Greatest Superheroes of World War 2!
So there ya go....a great comic set in the World War 2 era with a bunch of cool characters! Now stop reading this and go buy some back issues!!
Salutations O' faithful ones, and welcome to the third of my Comicbook Review series!
This time we'll go exploring with a little diddy from Marvel Comics called "SKULL the Slayer"!
Welcome friends and fanatics, to my first ever unabashed blog of news, notes and nostalgic musings!