Wednesday, March 12, 2014

August 1973 Part Two: Living With a Mummy!

Luke Cage, Hero For Hire 12
Story by Steve Englehart
Art by George Tuska and Billy Graham

A woman spends her lunch break watching a skirmish between Luke Cage and Spider-Man. When she goes back to her office at Mainstream Motors, she is attacked by a costumed villain calling himself Chemistro. Using a gun that can change the alchemy of objects, Chemistro turns the floor below her into glass. The woman crashes through the glass and has to be taken to Dr. Burnstein's clinic. When Cage arrives to see what has happened, the President of Mainstream Motors hires him to stop Chemistro from harassing his company. Chemistro was a man that had worked for Mainstream Motors, but decided to create his alchemy gun on company time to make himself rich. When the president of Mainstream demanded a share in the profits of the gun creation, the man became Chemistro in order to extort the company. Cage is able to stop Chemistro as he attacks a board meeting, however the villain gets away so Cage has one of the alchemy gun's latest object transformations tested by a friend at a lab. The only problem with the Alchemy gun is that whichever object it transforms becomes unstable and can dissolve into dust. During this time, reporter Fox tries to blackmail Cage so that he will pay him to keep his real identity out of the press. Cage throws him out of his office and threatens to beat him if he comes there again. At a race track that highlights Mainstream Motors' newest car models, Chemistro appears to wreak havoc. Shooting a stunt car in mid-air with his gun, Chemistro turns it into a melted, burning wreck. The driver turns out to be Cage working undercover. As the two of them fight it out, Chemistro shoots his own foot to turn it into steel so that he has an advantage over Cage and begins to kick him. In short time, Chemistro's entire foot disintegrates, quickly ending the battle. The story ends with a sorrowful Chemistro being taken away in an ambulance while reporter Fox chastises Cage for doing a poor job. -Tom McMillion

Tom McMillion: Chemistro has got to be the dumbest bad guy in the history of Marvel comics. I'll bet that no other villain has ever so quickly derailed his own career by literally shooting himself in the foot like this clown has. A super-villain idiot savant that was smart enough to create his own alchemy gun but not smart enough to test it out for potentially dangerous aftereffects? Cage keeps going strong as his enemies have a tendency to incapacitate themselves like Chemistro, or burn themselves to death accidentally like Mr. Luck/Death.

Scott McIntyre: It’s nice to see this pick up on the heels of Spider-Man’s dust up in his book, but it’s an obvious ploy to get people to run over to that title. George Tuska again drowns out Billy Graham’s contributions to the issue. Another bit of Marvel Madness; a guy named Carr sabotages a New Jersey race track. Phil Fox is already annoying. Let’s see how long this arc lasts.

Shanna the She-Devil 5
"Where Nekra Walks, Death Must Follow"
Story by Steve Gerber
Art by Ross Andru and Vince Colletta

After a leisure day beating beau Patrick at arm wrestling, Shanna welcomes SHIELD agent Jakuna Singh to the She-Devil compound. Singh admits that Shanna is now SHIELD's go-to girl for anything resembling trouble in Africa and he's got a humdinger to lay on our heroine this time: an unknown super-mutant appears to have popped up in the jungle (according to Charles Xavier) and it might have been in league with The Mandrill (who was defeated by Shanna last issue). Turns out the mutie is Nekra, Priestess of Darkness, a vampiric babe (think, oh, i don't know, maybe Vampirella?) who preaches hate as an answer to all of life's problems and leads a group of lemmings into war with Shanna and her small band of merry men. A vicious cat fight between the two femmes ensues before Shanna initiates her famous choke hold on Nekra and puts the princess into a deep sleep. The only question then is: what to do with her when she wakes? -Peter Enfantino

Peter Enfantino: There is not one iota of sarcasm in my voice when I admit that I'll miss this series, a throwaway title that should have been just that, rather than an immensely enjoyable ball of fluff. Thanks to the wit and comic book keenness of Steve Gerber, these last two issues of Shanna have been everything the first three weren't: a wink and a nod at comic book tropes. At one point in this story, ultra-liberated eco-friendly Shanna sits and wonders why the hell she needed to build a gargantuan treehouse when it really wasn't the best thing for the environment. Zing! The canceling of the series must have come at a moment's notice, despite the "we've been axed" notice in the letters column this issue, since there are a few loose ends left untied (chief being the fate of Shanna's pop). Our letter column person informs us that the answers will come eventually but, since I didn't read any of the titles that show the promise of a Shanna sighting, I can't say whether we ever did have "closure."

The Tomb of Dracula 11
"The Voodoo-Man!"
Story by Marv Wolfman
Art by Gene Colan and Jack Abel

Count Dracula has returned home to Transylvania for some much needed rest. He plans to stalk and kill the members of a biker gang that had previously beaten him and thrown him into a river while he was in a weakened state. The bikers have been busy doing a hit list of sorts for an invalid millionaire named Jason Faust. The rotten Faust dictates orders to the bikers while he is in an iron lung. He sends the leader of the motorcyclists, Lucas Brand, to go visit a bank clerk that wouldn't cash Faust's bonds when he needed the money for his illness. Faust has a voodoo doll, bearing the likeness of the bank clerk. When Brand signals him with a watch communicator that he is confronting the bank man, Faust begins to stick needles into the bank worker's voodoo doll via mandible claws attached to his iron lung. Once Brand signals Faust that the victim is now in a permanently crippled state of pain, the gang leaves to visit the next target. After feasting on a mugger, Drac tracks down a former member of the biker gang in a nightclub who reveals to the evil vampire the location of their next target. Faust relates in flashback how the next man he kills with his voodoo instruments was a former business partner of his. They had sailed to Haiti for a venture, and were attacked by Haitian tribe members. His partner ran off to leave Faust to the natives and they tortured him with voodoo dolls for such a long length of time that it left him in his iron lung. After that former business partner is killed the bikers move on to Quincey Harker's place. where they subdue Harker and his dog. Before Brand can signal Faust that everything is good to go, Dracula smashes through the window and throttles everyone. Using his hypnotic powers, Drac orders the bikers to ride their bikes off the nearby cliff. He then bites Brand so that he becomes his vampire slave. Faust is surprised to see Brand come into his room since he had received no communication from him regarding the Quincey Harker hit. Before he realizes that Brand is now a vampire, the undead biker sinks his teeth into his throat. Faust is able to kill Brand with a needle through a voodoo doll but then turns into a vampire himself. Stuck in his iron lung, the vampire Faust watches helplessly as the sun begins to rise, casting deadly light upon him through the windows. Dracula bids farewell to Harker, claiming he wont kill him tonight as his taste for blood has been sated for the time being. -Tom McMillion

Tom McMillion: There is so much cool craziness going on in this issue. It might be uneven in some parts but the good moments, along with the creative ending, more than make up for it.

Mark Barsotti: He's Hot! He's Sexy! He's Dead!

What Rolling Stone once trumpeted about Jim Morrison is true of Dracula as well, so it's down to the tombs for something rich and red! Marv Wolfman gets a newbie up to speed fast: Drac's manservant, dead. His owes payback to a biker gang who work for a revenge-crazed psycho in an iron-lung, check. If Lungy's (a.k.a. Jason Faust; no heavy-handed lit class allusion there) voodoo backstory is kinda doo-doo (how being tortured by a Haitian hexman teaches you all his tricks, Marv only knows), all the pin-poking doll torture fits perfectly in the bat-flapping, blood sucking milieu.

Scott: Does anyone use iron lungs anymore? I remember the 1970’s comedy The Big Bus had the villain in an iron lung. That ruined them for me. Now all I do is chuckle when I see one. That really takes something away from this issue for me. Little things pop out at me, like Frank grumbling about bikers, and having said biker hear Frank's words from yards away on his loud motorcycle was a tad ridiculous. The ending is interestingly ironic. Good art, as always.

Mark: Gene Colan modeling his Count on Jack Palance was an inspired choice, and although the Dean did yeoman work on other Marvel titles (Shellhead, DD, Doc Strange), the Dark Lord is the quintessential vehicle for his moody, atmospheric style. The body count is entertainingly high, even with Drac saving a damsel in distress and letting one of the bikers live, and the Faust re-born as a fanger but still imprisoned in the iron lung ending is a killer.

Werewolf By Night 8
"The Lurker Behind the Door!"
Story by Len Wein
Art by Werner Roth and Paul Reinman

Fleeing the burning carnival, the famished Werewolf comes upon a campsite and tries to steal the food, but the two hunters see him, and they tussle until Werewolf runs off and is grazed by a hunter’s bullet! Awaking as Jack the next morning, he finds an old cave and a bunny rabbit—and a mysterious voice that he tracks to a door. Smashing in, Jack spies a skeleton with the diary of Amos Treach, a warlock who summoned the demon Krogg to earth, and eventually trapped the murderous monster in the very cave Jack was in. Quick aside to Philip Russell, who gets an odd phone call and a visit from LAPD Lt. Hackett, who’s searching for a werewolf! Jack wakes from a nap and turns into the Werewolf on Third Night…and is met by the freed Krogg! The two creatures battle, with the “elemental force” of Krogg trying to kill our hairy hero! Even fire breath is not enough to kill our versatile Werewolf though, who seemingly has a victory—until the two hunters return, and Krogg kills them by literally feeding on their life forces! Krogg tracks down Werewolf to the caves, but as he shoots his fire breath, it misses the leaping lycanthrope and causes the rocky roof to fall on him! But the small bunny crawls out of the rubble, to the sound of demonic laughter! –Joe Tura

Joe Tura: The first thing I saw when I turned the page on WWBN #8 was Werner Roth Guest Artist and I thought “This will be the worst. Issue. Yet.” One look at the Werewolf and I thought the same thing again. Where is my Mike Ploog? Werewolf looks like he came straight from Archie’s Riverdale, while Krogg looks like Wendigo with a bad mullet and a dragon’s tail. All in all, it’s better than expected, yet not so hot. Part of the problem is the script which is equal parts wordy captions and meandering tenses and nonsensical characters. The usual “weirdo of the week gets offed” has a slight twist, which is good. And more teases to further plot developments, which is promising, but we can’t except a great payoff. At least we get a decent Ploog cover!

According to the various missives in this month’s Weremail By Night, busy Mike Ploog has indeed left the series, which is not good. Marv Wolfman will take over scripting starting next issue, which might not be too bad. Then again, let’s not get too optimistic, okay…

Most cuddly and adorable werwolf ever?

Peter: Get optimistic, Professor Joe. Before Wolfman takes over for his decent five-issue stint with #11, we're gonna get the two best issues of WWBN ever produced. Now, I know I've just set the bar real high but have I ever lied to you, Professor Joe? This story's title has to be a wink and a nod from Len at all the Lovecraft rip-offs over the years, right? Right?

Warlock 7
"Doom: At the Earth's Core!"
Story by Mike Friedrich
Art by Bob Brown and Tom Sutton

Jason reveals that he escaped a fight between the police, who placed Dave and Ellie in protective custody, and a San Francisco mob, inflamed by Adam’s denunciation, but citing his heroic repair of the bridge, Carpenter ends the manhunt.  Summoned by the President, Reed sees his shadowy Svengali and is turned back into the Brute, hijacking von Doom’s experimental Earth-Corer-1 in search of “energy food.”  Doom warns Adam, with the kids now in his custody, that if the Brute taps too much geothermal energy, Earth will freeze; they follow him to the core, where Doom jury-rigs a radiation absorber to prevent him from reaching critical mass, but after the Brute reverts to Reed, Doom dies to save his old friend when the energy causes an explosion. -Matthew Bradley

Matthew Bradley: Sutton’s inking—or at any rate the apparent Brown/Sutton shotgun marriage that will close out this run—has not noticeably improved, and although it pains me to say it, given my love for the character, Friedrich is off his game as well.  The story itself is solid, yet somewhere between the plot and the script, Mike falls under the sway of the tin ear that sometimes plagues his work, and the nearly naked Brute transforming back into a suit-and-tie-clad Dr. Richards is ludicrous in the extreme.  While it’s sad to see the death of a character with as much potential as Counter-Earth’s von Doom, we now know that the book’s current incarnation only outlived him by one issue, and at least, as Adam eloquently observes in a genuinely affecting ending, his sacrifice had meaning.

The Mighty Thor 214
"Into the Dark Nebula!"
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Sal Buscema and Jim Mooney

Thor, Odin, and their companions fly in the Starjammmer to the place known as the Dark Nebula, where Sif and Hildegarde were known to have been sold to the miners there. Three such miners spot their coming and open fire upon them. The Asgardians destroy the crafts from which the miners attack, and then find out the story. Said miners thought them to be raiders seeking the “Jewel,” something they are protecting. They recall the miners from another asteroid who deal in slaves speaking of a woman-- possibly Sif or Karnilla? At this point the raiders attack, revealing themselves to inhabitants of the death dimension, led by Mercurio, the 4-dimensional man. When last Thor defeated him, Mercurio had been saved from certain demise by a giant crystal, possessing both intelligence and power that had allowed him to return alive to his home world. The crystal is the jewel everyone seeks; it is sought by Mercurio as a source of power to save his world. Suddenly, the jewel rises from the asteroid, revealing the goddesses they seek imprisoned within. The “creature” speaks to them, revealing its plans to conquer the cosmos. -Jim Barwise

Jim Barwise: It’s great to see Thor, Odin and company back in action, and anything with the Starjammer isn’t bad. My appreciation of Sal Buscema’s art continues to grow. The story again relies on the epic nature of the Thor title in general to carry it, with so-so results. The ending looks promising, but we’ll see…

Scott: Thor continues to underwhelm, with too many small panels, too much dialog and not enough genuine interest. The 4D Man is an appealingly designed character, but he does nothing for me. This title just lurches on and on, not gripping the imagination as it once did. As always, the art is swell, but there is little incentive to get to the last page without skipping or going into the kitchen for a sandwich. And then realizing this isn’t a TV show and you didn’t just burn off useless airtime.

Matthew: After months of John’s work being subjected to a kind of telephone game, in which it is filtered through first Perlin and then Colletta, to see Sal’s pencils ably inked by Mooney is like a new day dawning.  I’ll belabor neither the literally astronomical odds of re-encountering this villain at the ass-end of the universe nor the utter lack of effort to explain the impermanence of his death (in effect, “it didn’t stick”), but the fact that they misspell his name throughout the issue as “Mecurio.”  Sure, that’s how it appears on the cover of #208, but inside it’s “MeRcurio,” as in “mercurial,” meaning to shift rapidly between extremes, and “mercury,” i.e., the metal in a thermometer that signifies changes in temperature…which pretty well sums up the guy’s powers!

Supernatural Thrillers 5
The Living Mummy in
"The Living Mummy
Story by Steve Gerber
Art by Rich Buckler and Frank Chiaramonte

Archaeologist Doctor Skarab believes he has found the burial site of a legendary African tribe and pharaoh thanks to an ancient papyrus he's unearthed. According to the script, in a "lost time in Egyptian history" there lived a strong and influential slave named N'Kantu, a man who was secretly riling up his fellow troops. Once the Paharaoh Arem-Set got wind of the uprising he ordered all slaves to be murdered upon completion of his pyramid. N'Kantu discovered the plot and roused his comrades to rebellion but Arem-Set got the upper hand and condemned his #1 slave to a living death, buried alive in the pyramid. Somehow, N'Kantu has arisen and is stomping through the streets of Cairo, destroying everything in his path. Skarab, believing himself to be the descendant of Arem-Set declares the mummy must be destroyed and sets out to do just that. Before Skarab can follow in his great-great-great-great grandpappy's footsteps, the mummy is accidentally electrocuted and presumed dead. Skarab convinces the authorities that he should examine the brute. -Peter Enfantino

Peter: Though a bit creaky and obvious at times (an archaeologist named Skarab?), I really enjoyed the premiere installment of the latest pilfering of the Universal/Hammer icons. It doesn't really add anything new to the Mummy myth but then maybe it doesn't have to. I'd like to know if the plan was to give the character its own series or if it was a testing of the waters. The climax could have gone either way.  "Roarin'" Rich Buckler's pencils are just perfect for this strip and Chiaramonte is just perfect for Buckler. There's one more installment of Gerber's Mummy in Supernatural Thrillers but it won't land until June 1974. After that, Tony Isabella takes over and it likely won't be pretty.

Matthew: Marvel having done the Big Three (Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, and a werewolf), this book shifts from literary adaptations to another evergreen with a strip that resumes in #7—after a Headless Horseman digression and a seven-month hiatus—and closes out its 15-issue run.  Co-creator Steve Gerber turns the figurative tana leaves over to Tony Isabella after the second issue, yet gets N’Kantu off to a good start in an origin with pleasant echoes of, as one character puts it, “an old B-movie plot,” plus enough contemporary twists to bring readers back for more…or at least those who, unlike me, will continue past this Marvel Firsts reprint.  The Buckler/Chiaramonte artwork, although a little rudimentary, does have a certain raw power.

Sub-Mariner 64
"Voyage Into Chaos!"
Story by Steve Gerber
Art by Don Heck and Don Perlin

Four aliens from Zephyrland arrive at Namor's Atlantis kingdom inside of a golden submarine. The aliens relate to Subby that Zephyrland was once a peaceful place until the warrior woman named Virago came along. Through savageness and manipulation she was able to toss Zephyrland into a state of battle in which she emerged victorious as its monarch. Subby volunteers to go back there with them to see if he can maintain order. Once they get there, Namor and company are instantly attacked. Even though he is able to outfight most of Virago's warriors, eventually their numbers overwhelm him as Subby is hit from behind and knocked out. He awakens in chains as Virago greets him, challenging him to combat with the four alien deserters' lives on the line. -Tom McMillion

Tales of Atlantis
"In the Wake of the Warriors!"
Story by Howard Chaykin and Steve Gerber
Art by Howard Chaykin and Joe Sinnott

Two barbarian tribes clash over who will claim the land of Atlantis. The nomad tribe from the west is led by Tanas and the tribe from the east by a warrior called Stegor. They joust with each other during the war and Tanas is killed. This is only the beginning as Tanas's wife, Elanna, takes over his command. She leads the western army to victory as she defeats Stegor in a duel. Later, Tanas's jealous brother Orrek plots to get rid of Elanna and Tanas's son Kamuu. Orrek sets Kamuu out on a dangerous scouting expedition to check the ruins of the city -Tom McMillion

Scott: Don Heck comes into another title and, actually, doesn’t do too badly this time around. Perhaps the inks of Don Perlin are just what he needed. However, the layouts still lack excitement. The story is decent and a good moral lesson in racial acceptance. Not bad, but not all that gripping either.

Matthew: Perhaps understandably, the first post-Everett issue is a lackluster affair by any standard, especially the shabby artwork by the two Dons, Heck and Perlin.  The notion that the Atlanteans were no more noble than the rest of us packed a punch when they massacred Tamara’s race, but now that we’ve seen the successively negative reactions of the blue people to the red people, the green people, and the gold people—don’t even get me started on that whole Golden Submarine thing—it’s beginning to seem a bit much, giving “people of color” a whole new meaning.  And just as this month’s brief Fear crossover finally generated a spark of interest in “Tales of Atlantis,” Chaykin has switched to a different group of characters and lost me again.

The Invincible Iron Man 61
"Death Knells Over Detroit"
Story by Mike Friedrich
Art by George Tuska and Mike Esposito

Holding Iron Man in his Capto-Lock, the Marauder plans to turn the shuttle into an atomic missile, destroying Detroit unless paid a $1 billion ransom.  Left to analyze Iron Man’s armor, Steele removes one of the gauntlets, turning its repulsor ray against Tony when he breaks free; its residual charge is soon depleted, but before Iron Man can put Steele down for the count, the Marauder returns and pins him under steel wreckage.  In Tony’s absence, Pepper receives the Marauder’s ransom demand (causing her to miss Happy’s angry call), yet despite being blinded again, Iron Man successfully jolts his optic nerve with an electrical charge to defeat his enemies and defuse the atomic device, only to learn—as Tony—that Happy has said he is leaving Pepper. -Matthew Bradley

Scott: Continuing the naming trend, Shellhead fights a super tough guy named Steele. I can’t wait until he tackles a guy named “The Sissy.” That’ll be a short fight. Happy Hogan continues to annoy. It would help if we saw him doing something other than trying to browbeat his wife into a life of dull servitude. Does he have a job? What is it? Let’s see if he has friends to talk to. I mean, make us care in ways other than nostalgia. Ending this issue on a “thrilling cliffhanger” about Happy leaving Pepper just wouldn’t send me scrambling to the spinner rack 30 days later to see what happens next.

Matthew: Aside from a couple of pages bringing the Hogans to their marital crisis, this is mostly one of those battle-heavy issues that I’m often not too crazy about, and while there’s nothing especially wrong with this one, I do find the Marauder more effective when he’s paired off against his old sparring partner, Daredevil.  It does, however, exemplify a trend that has so far distinguished Friedrich’s work on this book, giving us a Golden Avenger who is less prone to (if not totally free from) self-doubt, equipment malfunctions and/or a failing heart, all of which combined to diminish what should be one of Marvel’s most formidable super-heroes.  And although Tuska’s work here—inked by Esposito—is not his finest, he does generally portray a powerful Shellhead.

Marvel Spotlight 11
The Ghost Rider in
"Season of the Witch-Woman!"
Story by Gary Friedrich
Art by Tom Sutton and Syd Shores

Ghost Rider has emerged from a kaleidoscopic vortex to find himself trapped by the flaming shackles of the self-described Witch-woman.  Witch-woman declares it is her duty to present the soul of Johnny Blaze to Satan.  GR makes the mistake of asking what she stands to gain from handing over his soul, so Witch-woman compounds the indignity of GR’s captivity, and subjects him to a (lengthy) account of her deliverance to Satan’s service.  As she becomes enraptured in her reverie, Ghost Rider notices his hellfiery bonds are fading.  Once her back is (conveniently) turned, GR makes a break on his trusty bike.  Satan pops in – his latest now-trademark showy entrance – and declares that Witch-woman has failed him.  Satan offers no second chances.  GR takes advantage of their conversation to race to his escape.  GR struggles to maintain high speed along narrow and twisty mountain trails in the dim pre-dawn light. GR then pitches off a ledge, and has time to wonder (as he plummets to the desert floor) whether Satan’s protection will preserve his life this time.  But his concerns are quickly dispelled as the crash-springs on the bike cushion GR’s landing.  From the pueblo above, Witch-woman announces to GR that she must sacrifice herself for having failed Satan.  She sets herself aflame and plunges from the cliffside pueblo, as Johnny (now restored to self by the morning light) blames himself for her death, since it all stems from the deal he had made with the devil in the first place.  -Chris Blake

Chris Blake:  This is easily the least issue of the series so far.  GR is barely in the mag, as the vast majority of space is taken up with Witch-woman’s over-long description of her indoctrination into Satan’s service.  What purpose is served – either for GR or for readers – of taking up all this time with her story?  Her account could’ve been summed up in a few frames on one page, maybe two.  The origin is made all the more pointless by the character’s death on the last page – as far as I know, she never makes another appearance in GR, or any other Marvel mag  – so why the over-investment in her story?

Witch-woman’s origin might’ve been more interesting if there had been anything distinctive about it.  If there is a noteworthy aspect, it might be Linda’s apprehension about participating in the Satanic rituals, which devolves to outright terror (as she tells us) once she realizes that the rite is not a lark, but for real, and that her life is being handed over.  Tom Sutton certainly is capable of creating a frightening setting, but does not deliver here, as the spooky exterior of the castle reveals a clean, well-lighted space for the sacrifice.  Linda’s co-covenites are all very attractive, and neither menacing nor glassy-eyed drones, so their presence contributes nothing to the overall mood either.

Matthew: This is the last issue of Spotlight that will topline Ghost Rider; he’ll make a cameo in #12, but only after he has two issues of his monthly solo book under his belt.  We also haven’t seen the last of this limpet-like plotline, and I am increasingly amused by Friedrich the Lesser’s worldview, which seems to suggest that every other person one meets is a Satanist—perhaps a by-product of his own “demon in a bottle.”  Yet in an oddly fun way, this issue borders on meta-comics with Linda’s repeated criticism of Johnny for not developing his powers, especially among those of us who know with 20/20 hindsight that such concerns (e.g., when and why he changes into GR, his hellfire, his flaming cycle) will be, um, fleshed out in future entries.

Joe: Well, at least we know where Frank Miller got his inspiration for Elektra's costume....I was kinda underwhelmed by this last GR tale in Spotlight, which felt like an audition for the Witch Woman's own mag. Although for obvious reasons, that ain't gonna happen. This merits a three out of four on the shrug scale.

Chris: Witch-woman raises an interesting point that Johnny has done little to hone his Satan-bestowed capabilities.  This issue also provides little opportunity to show GR applying his powers, as all we get is the standard stunt-biking and a few finger-shots of hellfire.  It’s a little hard to believe that the stories in the first seven issues of Spotlight (especially the past 3 ½ issues, ever since the inconclusive showdown with Satan in hell in MS #8) had been sufficient to inspire a following.  But, overall the lettercols have shown fan interest, and sales had to have been supportive, since GR was about to debut in his own title.

It bears noting that Ghost Rider will last for 81 issues, longer than any horror/occult title in the Bronze era (Doctor Strange also wraps up at 81 – Tomb of Dracula is the only one that comes close, at 70).  It will be interesting to see how the character develops over time in his own mag.  Meanwhile, watch this space for the inimitable Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan!

Marvel Team-Up 12
The Amazing Spider-Man and Werewolf By Night in
"Wolf at Bay"
Story by Gerry Conway and Len Wein
Art by Ross Andru and Don Perlin

Trying to forget Gwen with a gig to photograph Daredevil and the Black Widow, Spidey is attacked on the Golden Gate by the Werewolf, who plunges into the bay.  Peter visits a diner full of strangely robotic people, to which his lupine foe tracks him down, and after WWBN is knocked out in battle, he reverts to Jack Russell and explains that he, his sister, Lissa, and his best friend, Buck Cowan, were entranced by stage magician Moondark on a visit from L.A. He had sent WWBN, believing Spidey is there to thwart his ill-defined “master plan”; at the theater, Jack transforms and attacks anew, but Spidey knocks the villain and himself into the “mists of passage,” transporting them to the bridge and an apparently fatal fall for Moondark. -Matthew Bradley

Matthew: The incoming Len again scripts outgoing Gerry’s plot, and the pairing is eminently logical, since between them they wrote all of our lycanthropic guest-star’s adventures through #10 of his book, with which Don Perlin would soon begin his dominant association as penciler and/or inker.  He here embellishes Andru’s penultimate MTU entry just two months before Ross begins his five-year reign on Amazing (with which this tale maintains admirable continuity).  The team-up itself is not the last head-scratcher to be seen in this mag, as Spider-Man meets all manner of monsters and, later, futuristic heroes Killraven and Deathlok; the sooner he swings into next month’s Daredevil, the better, but fortunately, we’ll be spared Moondark’s return until #91 (March 1980).

Scott: This is something of a minor milestone issue for me. It was the first time I discovered Gwen was dead, as Spidey so helpfully mentions on page 2. The rest of the story faded into memory, but this tidbit was what sent me on the obsessive trail to find out exactly what happened. I wasn’t there at the time, I caught it in a reprint or treasury edition. Such a shock for this young reader. Jameson is actually kinda/sorta sympathetic to Peter when he asks for out of town work, which was as nice as he gets (aside from that weirdly out of character trip to the Savage Land months ago).

Joe: Another Werewolf sighting! Hurray! Well, sort of. At least Ross Andru is a step up from Werner Roth. All in all, a decent MTU but Len's script gives it the "weirdo of the week" feel we get in the regular pages of WWBN. I do find it odd that Spidey wouldn't get even a little freaked out by a fight on a bridge, so soon after Gwen's death. And Moondark is a kinda stoopid name, like something a ten year old would dream up. Maybe that's the point?

Scott: Is it me, or does Ross Andru have a thing about depicting people eating? There’s a food theme running through his work, possibly as a way to show a “slice of life” so to speak. Here Peter is in a diner ordering a burger “well done on the grill” as others chomp down on lunch. I see it more with him than anyone else.

Moondark doesn't make any impression, most of the issue is devoted to Spidey fighting Jack’s furry alter ego. Jack doesn't even really look like Jack, but I’m used to the stylized art of his own title (not counting Werner Roth’s awful art this month). An okay issue, but little more than a reason to have Spidey fight the Werewolf and boost his book.

A bit more like it, no?

Also This Month

Chili #24
Combat Kelly #8
The Gunhawks #6
Haunt of Horror #2 (final issue)
Journey Into Mystery  #6
Kid Colt Outlaw #173
Marvel Spectacular #1 ->
Marvel Tales #44
Marvel Triple Action #12
Millie the Model #203
Monsters on the Prowl #24
Our Love Story #24
The Outlaw Kid #17
Rawhide Kid #114
Sgt. Fury #113
Vault of Evil #4
The X-Men #83

The latest entry in the Reprints Sweepstakes is Marvel Spectacular, a title that will see 19 issues of non-original material between now and November 1975. Each issue reprinted one truncated Thor story (from issues between #128 and 148) and a "Tales of Asgard" installment. Haunt of Horror, Marvel's wade into the pulp digest market comes to a screeching halt after only two issues. I suspect product placement (or lack thereof) had a lot to do with the axe falling. Don't cry too many tears as the title will stage a comeback next year.


  1. Peter, what's a trope? I read comic books and I have not seen that word before.

  2. Sad to say, I think the Marauder would have had an easier time ransoming Detroit for $1 billion in 1973 than today.