Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 1974 Part Two: By Popular Demand! The Curtain Falls on The Savage Sub-Mariner

 Ka-Zar 5
"A Man-God Unleashed"
Story by the Marvel Bullpen and Mike Friedrich
Art by Don Heck and Mike Esposito
Colors by Linda Lessmann
Letters by Tom Orzechowski
Cover by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia

Ka-Zar finds himself in the middle of a myriad of resurrected man-apes, and is joined by Bobbi Morse when she spurns Man-God’s wish for her to be his Queen and he tosses her into the melee. Both blondies battle the brutish bullies until they leap—bouncing into a bigger band of baddies! Zabu holds El Tigre prisoner until the sabretooth senses Ka-Zar is in trouble and bounds away to help. The swarthy South American grabs a native, but trusty Tongah kicks the knife out of his hand and the villagers kick El Tigre’s culo but good.

Part Two, “Be This My Destiny” starts with Man-God dreaming of popularity, until El Tigre shuffles on the scene and is dismissed as unworthy, which leads him to travel into the Mystic Mists. They give E.T. strange powers and change his appearance, so his pride causes a fall—to his death. Ka-Zar battles on, until Zabu rushes in to lend a claw and turn the tide. Man-God finds El Tigre, and decides to re-enter the Mists to learn their secrets. Turns out the power source is an alien intelligence that splits him into two beings, both of which seemingly die, and along with it all the walking dead man-apes. In our Epilogue, Bobbi and Ka-Zar part most amicably, and Maa-Gor stumbles from the mists to dream of conquering the Jungle Lord…one day…—Joe Tura                  

Joe Tura: The first thing that struck me about this issue was the sound effect on page 2: “PLOTT!” Now, was this because Ka-Zar was re-hashing about the mindless plot to the mindless Man-Apes in this panel? Can the Bullpen be that crafty and clever? Yeah, I think so, depending on the hallucinogens. More fun when Bobbi is literally thrown into the pile of man-apes and she says Man-God has “a throwing arm to match Vida Blue’s!” Gotta love those out-of-nowhere‘70s sports references. All the man-apes look the same, kinda like George Tuska creations, and all with bad acne and bad Beatles ‘dos and Hobbit-like hairy shoulders. And they’re endless. Like this comic!

Best news of all comes from the “Comments to Ka-Zar (and Zabu)” page, where we’re told this is the last Mike Friedrich script for this rotten book. Yay! Next ish we’ll get Gerry Conway and John Buscema, which is a step up, no, make that a giant leap up! But it’s still Ka-Zar so tread lightly, true believers….

Wait, best news of all is really the last page—a full page trumpeting the first Marvel Treasury Edition, “The Spectacular Spider-Man”! You can bet your bippy this 7-year-old future Prof. was one of the first on line at Grand Candy to get it! Thwip! (See the "Also This Month" section far below for more swinging' details - Paste-Pot)

 The Tomb of Dracula 24
"A Night for the Living... A Morning for the Dead!"
Story by Marv Wolfman
Art by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer
Colors by Tom Palmer
Letters by Charlotte Jetter
Cover by Gil Kane and Tom Palmer

Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing share a passionate kiss after Frank bares his soul about how depressed he was when he attempted suicide. In India, the mute Taj meets up with his estranged wife. When she relates to him that their son is sick, he slaps her aside and leaves. Back in London, Blade walks in on a vampire attacking his girlfriend, Saffron, at her apartment. The creepy old vampire is no match for Blade. Later on, Saffron's neighbor and co-worker, Trudy, comes to visit them to share a horrific tale. While working at the strip club, Trudy was visited by a strange, charismatic man, a man she would discover to be Dracula. She was able to use a cross to fend off his assaults but now she fears for her life. Skeptical that Drac is still alive, Blade wanders the streets to find the vampire that tried to kill Trudy. In his bat form, Dracula swoops down to destroy Blade. It's a running battle as the two fight each other through the city and into a department store. Eventually, Blade is able to fend off the vampire bat. The story ends with both parties going home. Shiela Whittier is now officially Dracula's brain-washed caretaker. -Tom McMillion

An exquisite slice of English cheese!

Tom McMillion: The series takes the time to cool off for a bit with this basic story. It's enjoyable, but not memorable. Funny when Trudy asks about the dead vampire in Blade's kitchen and he shrugs it off like it's no big deal.

Mark Barsotti: Proof that no one bats .1000, "...A Morning for the Dead!" is scatter-shot at best, from Vlad's new thrall Shiela Whittier having somehow convinced herself that the Dark Lord is "my man," and thus "...isn't evil like they all say he is," to scatter-brained stripper Trudy (friend to Blade's burlesque babe Saffron) dashing through the London night in bra, panties, and open raincoat while bemoaning that no one, not even the bobbies, will help her evade Drac's bat attack 'cause she's scantily dressed. While enjoying the Dean Gene cheesecake, Trudy forgetting raincoats have buttons gives both blondes and strippers a bad name.

The one page diversion of Taj in India slapping his wheelchair-bound wife when she tells him their son is dying doesn't endear us to the stoic vamp-staker, and Frank Drake's moody soul-searching fails to gin up interest in the book's least interesting character.

On the plus side, Blade's five page running battle with the Count closes things out on an energetic high note, and the Colan/Palmer art is, as always, fangtastic.

Chris Blake: An average issue of ToD, which means it’s still much better than most of the other titles on the spinner rack.  Marv gets us caught up with many of our cast: Shiela tells us that, yes indeed, she is either that naïve, or that desperate for companionship; Blade still has plenty of fight in him; Taj’s need to return home is more dire than we might’ve expected; Frank is going off to get his head together, or find himself, or something (while Quincy stays home for tea).

Scott: An interesting transition style tale, as Frank and Rachel are still under the belief that Dracula is dead. The rest of the issue belongs to Blade as he is the first of the group to discover the Lord of the Undead still lives. It’s a fine battle with some interesting insights into Blade’s character. We get an interlude with Taj that serves to confuse rather than illuminate, but all will be revealed, I trust. Frank leaves on a soul searching mission that can only end in yawns. This guy barely has a personality. Maybe he’ll find one.

Chris: Drac’s seduction of Trudy is the take-away from this ish; ordinarily, Drac’s snacks play out suddenly, and anonymously (such as p3, pal 6, reprinted above), so it’s interesting to watch as Drac bides his time.  Vladdy would have us believe that he came on to Trudy as a way to flush out Blade, but the cross-burn in the forehead wasn’t part of that plan, now was it?  Also, it’s handy to know that the next time you want to break into a downtown clothing store thru a window, and toss around costly merchandise until the gendarmes arrive, all you have to do is tell them that you were fighting a vampire, and they’ll let you walk out without further explanation.  Seems to me that a bail-posting scene should’ve followed the end of the Vlad-Blade tussle.

Ordinarily, in the context of our august temple of learning, we encourage the exuberant expression of opinions.  In the case of letter-poster Kim T., however, who equates the work of Tom Palmer with . . . with, ah-hmm, excuse me – with a certain Vince Colletta, I will only say to you, madame, that you are thoroughly, woefully mistaken, and entirely in the wrong.  Your opinion, as is this class, is dismissed.

What the hell! One more slice!

 Werewolf by Night 21
"One Wolf's Cure... Another's Poison!"
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Don Perlin and Vince Colletta
Colors by Petra Goldberg
Letters by Artie Simek
Cover by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia

On First Night, Werewolf breaks free from a barred window in the apartment of old chum Buck Cowan. Meanwhile, Lt. Hackett pays a visit to Geraldo Kabal, smacking him into some answers about the mysterious ring, which came from Joshua Kane’s treasure trunk, a bauble which once belonged to mad monk Aelfric (WBN #3 for both of you who remember it). He spills that Jack took the other ring, then Hackett puts on the first, turns into a werewolf and kills Kabal. Werewolf makes it to Coker’s place, where the moon transforms him and the two brother beasts lope off toward the forest. But Hackett speeds in, trapping the two in an alley, transforms again and attacks! A savage battle ensues, until Hackett climbs to the roof. Werewolf tracks him down and they plummet through a skylight into a warehouse full of huge vats of molten steel. Hackett gains the upper claw, and as Werewolf is desperately holding on to the catwalk, Coker leaps in and knocks Hackett into one of the vats, vaporizing him! Killing another werewolf cures Coker of his curse, and as Jack Werewolf leaves to search for the forest, Coker wishes he could still be a werewolf so Jack can kill him and be cured.
 –Joe Tura

Joe: It’s always good when the last panel on the splash page is the cover from last month's issue. Why? Sigh….That’s not a good start, is it? Neither is this month’s cover, which depicts the cops shooting at the two werewolves, which of course doesn’t happen at all. Sigh…But the insides are OK. We get some closure with three characters that are completely unlikable. Hackett is killed, Kabal is killed and Coker is cured. So good riddance to them, I guess. Perlin’s art still pales in comparison to Ploog, but the battle scenes are decent, certainly better than his closeups of the nearly beehive hairdo of the Jack Russell werewolf. The mention of “the werewolf had manhandled those bars like so much soggy spaghetti” makes me think young Dougie Moench must’ve loved his pasta, as that’s two issues in a row. Maybe next month he’ll go for some ravioli instead….

Chris: I hope Doug will forgive me if I had my doubts about this story.  For most of the time, it
seemed like a slightly interesting werewolf’s night out, with chasing and scrapping and such.  The inevitable skylight (defenestration!) and inevitable unattended vat of searing-hot something-or-other (dedermistration!) are nothing but deadly scythes aimed at the heart of one of the characters (while we’re at it, I didn’t know there were any mom-and-pop steel mills in Los Angeles, but hey, you never know).  The only drama here involves whether we see Hackett or Coker take the plunge – we know it’s not going to be Jack.  Still, I enjoyed the outcome, as Coker achieves what he had sought, and provides Jack with food for thought – would he also be willing to kill, if that were the price to pay to be freed of his curse?

We’ve already seen the best art-moments this series will offer – Perlin provides occasional flickers, but his Werewolf will never top Ploog’s, or Kane’s, or Sutton’s.  There might be some good art in this issue, but I can’t tell; pages 26-27 weren’t bad (I’m reaching).  For once, I’m going to weigh in against colorist Petra Goldberg, who chooses reds and violets for some of the backgrounds, which are distracting, and fail to contribute to a moody nighttime cityscape.

Master of Kung Fu 20
"Weapon of the Soul"
Story by Gerry Conway and Doug Moench
Art by Paul Gulacy and Al Milgrom
Colors by George Roussos
Letters by Dave Hunt
Cover by Gil Kane, Frank Giacoia, and John Romita

Shang-Chi’s contemplative moment, as he walks alone on a Florida beach, is interrupted by an attack by three frogmen.  S-C incapacitates all three, and extracts information from one about the identity of the man who sent them.  Cut to: the yacht of Demmy Marston, the man who – for reasons of his own – had ordered the attack.  Demmy sends a henchman to deliver a contract to a samurai named Korain.  S-C climbs aboard the yacht from the water below, summarily dismisses armed minions, and confronts Demmy.  Demmy’s clumsy attempt to shoot S-C is followed by the dramatic entrance of Korain, brandishing two razor-sharp swords.  During their battle, S-C recalls a warrior of this name from his father’s court, but clearly the man he is fighting is too young to be the same.  Korain pins S-C’s sleeve to the wall, and prepares to deliver the death blow, when a sudden spasm hits.  Korain desperately slugs down an elixir, “Fu Manchu’s potion of immortality,” but the strain on his system has been too great for too long, and Korain’s lunge to finish S-C instead leaves the now-ancient samurai dead on the floor.  His sword flies forward, and finds its target instead in the midsection of Demmy’s moll, Diana, who joins Korain in death.  S-C leaves Demmy to grieve, alone. -Chris Blake

Chris: You know, it’s the old Boy Meets Girl, Boy Slaps Girl Around, Boy’s Dastardly Ambitions Result in Girl’s Death story.  We don’t know Diana well enough to mourn for her, but we’ve seen enough in this brisk issue to acknowledge that she deserved a better end.  Now that the S-C vs Fu dynamic has been established, this title is ready to move along to other villains who can be involved in furthering Fu’s aims, which is a good decision on Doug’s part.  After all, even though S-C’s demise might be important to Fu, let’s face it – running an empire of evil is a full-time job.  We can’t expect Fu to be directly involved in every scheme.

I was a little thrown by the opening credits, which list Gerry as scripter, until I realized that he and Doug had split the duties into two chapters, which undoubtedly gave Doug some much-needed time to get caught up on sleep after writing all three original stories in G-S MoKF #1 (also on sale this month, true believers!).

Mark: Paul Gulacy had a double workload this month, drawing not only this ish, but the 24 page opening tale in Giant-Size MOKF #1. That may well account for the rollercoaster quality of the art in both books, from brilliant Steranko Jr. highs to impossibly-contorted bodies & sketchy, leave-it-to-the-inker lows. Overall, Gulacy still grades out at a B, but he's not at his eye-popping best.

Gerry Conway slips behind the typewriter pretty seamlessly, capturing the tone of the series as Shang travels to Miami, where he's attacked on the beach by scuba-suited assassins hired – for once – not by father Fu, but by leisure suit-wearing, girlfriend-slapping, yacht-owing, Miami Vice-prototype sleazeoid, Demmy Marston.

Shang invades Demmy's floating casino to discover why he's being targeted (nothing exotic: Demmy expects a bounty from FM). He tangles with Korain, an ancient samurai kept ever-young by a magic elixir, "Fu Manchu's potion of immortality," overuse of which, alas, leads to a mid-battle coronary thrombosis. As he dies on a craps table, Korain's ill-flung sword skewers Demmy's squeeze Diana.

Shang exits, light-footed, leaving behind irony, heavy-handed.

Giant-Size Master of Kung Fu 1
Cover by Ron Wilson and Mike Esposito

"Death Masque!"
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Paul Gulacy and Dan Adkins
Colors by Petra Goldberg
Letters by Artie Simek and Jean Izzo

"Frozen Past, Shattered Memories"
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Craig Russell
Colors Uncredited
Letters by June Braverman

"Shaolin Temple Boxing"
Text and Art by Frank McLaughlin

"The Coming of the Yellow Claw"
Story by Al Feldstein
Art by Joe Maneely
(reprinted from Yellow Claw #1, October 1956)

"Reflections in a Rippled Pool"
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Ron Wilson and Mike Esposito
Colors Uncredited
Letters by Dave Hunt

"Death Masque!"
 In “Death Masque!”, Fu taunts Shang-Chi into attacking him by sending the assassins of the Council of Seven in pursuit of S-C; as it happens to be S-C’s birthday, Fu promises that the day also will prove to be the day of his death.  S-C proceeds to attack Fu’s Manhattan headquarters, and infiltrates the Council, which gains S-C entry to Fu’s private chambers.  S-C defeats the remainder of the Council members, but the battle buys Fu time to zip away in a helicopter.

“Frozen Past, Shattered Memories” chronicles S-C’s effort to prevent the theft of a rare Buddhist artifact, on display in a Miami museum.  S-C foils the thieves (S-C had overheard them discuss their plans earlier), only to find the figurine still has disappeared from its pedestal.  S-C hurries outside, and the Buddha is there, left in pieces on the ground.  S-C recognizes that, somehow, Fu has perpetrated this crime.

“Reflections in a Rippled Pool” opens as S-C tries to find affordable lodging in a seedy corner of Miami.  The landlord rebuffs S-C, stating he would not rent to “the likes of you!”  Back on the street, S-C is fired on by a sniper from a nearby rooftop.  Two other thugs pursue as S-C races up the building’s stairs.  S-C wisely chooses not to run thru the roof-access door, as he suspects the sniper might be awaiting him; he elects instead to climb to the roof from a top-floor window, and surprises his attackers.  One of the thugs escapes; S-C finds the man in the apartment of the bigoted landlord, in the act of threatening the landlord at knifepoint.  S-C saves the landlord, and leaves, to seek a home elsewhere. -Chris Blake

Chris: I must open with a two-edged point: first of all, the cover misleadingly promises “5 ALL NEW” stories featuring S-C, when in fact there are only three S-C stories.  But, I should acknowledge that this Giant-Sizer has more original material – by far – when compared to its contemporaries.  There is only one reprint in the entire issue: an 8-page Yellow Claw story from 1956.  8 pages! – when some of these early Giant-Size issues feature two- or three-times as many pages devoted to reprints.  I checked the later issues, and this trend will carry over, as G-S MoKF will consistently feature at least 40 pages of original material – well, good on ya, chop-sockers!

"Frozen Past, Shattered Memories"

Chris: Of course, this extra originality came at a price to Doug Moench, who had to write all three features, at the same time that he needed material for the regular 32-page mag.  The stories aren’t stifled by a preponderance of thought – all three are essentially action-first, with observations from S-C sprinkled in.  The first story is the most enjoyable, since there is time for S-C to recognize what Fu is trying to achieve, and opportunity to devise a way to cross his arch-dad.  The second story is hampered by the shorter length, though, as there isn’t adequate attention to the significance of the Buddha as a symbol from S-C’s past, which also would’ve helped us understand why Fu wanted to deprive S-C of it.  The third story works well enough on its own.

As for the art, Gulacy’s work isn’t suffering from the extra demands on his time (as MoKF is moving up to monthly) – check panels like the seduction sequence on p 22, plus a knee to the chin (p 30 pnl 4), and a forearm to the back of the head (p 31 pnl 2) for good measure.  Russell’s art on the second story isn’t as good, and I’ll cut him some slack since it’s an early assignment for him, but there are too many instances when S-C’s face looks like an action figure’s.  Wilson follows his striking (pow!) cover with a solid story, as he employs some clever perspectives a few times, but overall it lacks the unique appeal that Starlin had established, and that Gulacy has proven capable of matching in his own right, for this title.

Mark: "5 ALL-NEW STEEL-SMASHING SAGAS STARRING THE ONE AND ONLY SHANG-CHI!" shouts the promo-box on the cover. Yet inside there are only three. They keep this up and they're liable to shake a generation's faith in the four-square honesty of advertising!

Beyond the over-heated carnival barkery, ya get your four-bits worth here. Nothing says "dysfunctional family" quite like the hanged mannequin of Shang-Chi that Fu Manchu uses to bait his son on Shang's birthday in "Death Masque!" Such a sweet gesture can only be followed by a pair of Si-Fan assassins, the high-quality kind, who crunch cyanide gas pellets when defeated. After all, nothing's too good for number one son.

Fu quickly restocks his depleted Council of Seven, but the birthday boy survives being dragged down into the sewers by a mace-wielding giant and a more interesting assault by a comely assassin whose streetwalker acts comes complete with snappy patter ("Spiffy pajamas you got there - you always wear them when you're out slushing through sewers and chasing bozos with buzz-saw boomerangs?") and a kiss before an attempted garroting.


Mark: Gulacy's art is mostly first-rate, a notch above his more rushed effort in this month's regular MOKF. Shang invades Fu's New York headquarters, further depleting the ranks of the Seven before his old man escapes by helicopter. High grade chop-fuey action, even if the Fu-sends-assassins Shang-foils-same rinse/repeat cycle is growing stale.

Shang stops a museum robbery in "Frozen Past, Shattered Memories" after some culture clash banter with a lunkhead security guard, but father Fu gets the Buddha-busting last laugh. Okay art by Craig Russell.

Frank McLaughlin drew two pages of "Shaolin Temple Boxing" tips before we're treated to a reprint of 1956's "The Coming of Yellow Claw," with an intelligent script by Al Feldstein and lushly detailed art by the great Joe Maneely.

We close with "Reflections in a Rippled Pool," a fortune cookie lesson in cultural tolerance, wherein Shang saves the bigoted landlord who refused to rent him a room.

"Reflections in a Rippled Pool"

The Incredible Hulk 179
"Re-Enter: The Missing Link"
Story by Len Wein
Art by Herb Trimpe and Jack Abel
Colors by Glynis Wein
Letters by John Costanza
Cover by Herb Trimpe and John Romita

As a reward for helping out during Adam Warlock's revolution on Counter-Earth, the Recorder sends the Hulk back to his regular planet on a ship. The military shoots it down when it reaches earth, and the Hulk lands in the countryside. A generous family takes Bruce Banner in to their home to stay and, while there, he encounters another guest that the family has adopted as one of their own, the Missing Link, whom they call "Lincoln." Bruce doesn't remember the Link from the time he fought him as the Hulk. Now a friendly creature, the Link helps the family out around their home and works in the local mines. While the Link is playing with the family children, a child collapses with severe stomach pains. Bruce suspects that the Link's radiation is causing the children to become ill. After using a machine to confirm his suspicions, Bruce politely confronts the Link at his workplace. Not wanting to believe the truth, the Link knocks Bruce aside and he accidentally falls down a mineshaft. He turns into the Hulk and the two monsters have a rematch, using everything available to knock each other silly. Just as the last time they fought, the Link's body overloads with atomic energy and he explodes. The locals dig him out of the rubble and help him leave the area to recover. The Hulk decides that it is best to just leave the Link be. During this time, Glenn Talbot comes back to the States after being held prisoner in Russia. He is reunited with Betty Ross-Banner-Talbot. -Tom McMillion

Scott McIntyre: The Romita cover is a bit of a tease, but the Trimpe/Abel art is still pretty good. The sight of the Missing Link coming home in a miner’s outfit is bizarre as hell. The all-too-quick explanation of the Hulk returning to our Earth is disappointing. I was rather hoping for something more than a seven panel kiss off. The story is okay, a nice one-shot to counter the multi-part arcs so common at this point, It was a nice ending, not a depressing one, which was also very much appreciated. A light story, but enjoyable.

Matthew Bradley: Question:  Which of the three writers involved with the prior issue stayed the course?  Answer:  None; instead, Wein begins his unbroken run of more than 40 issues, with Trimpe and Abel smoothing the transition, although Jack will jump ship himself after #181.  Len has been polishing his gamma-irradiated credentials in Defenders, but “bring back Missing Link” would be pretty low on my to-do list if I were taking over the book.  That said, although the story is rife with unanswered questions (e.g., is the similarity between “Link” and “Lincoln” just a coincidence, since it’s never clearly established that they knew his original moniker?) and lapses in logic, it wins points for its poignancy, and especially for trying to do something a bit different.

The Invincible Iron Man 70
"Who Shall Stop Ultimo? -
Confrontation Part Two"
Story by Mike Friedrich
Art by George Tuska and Mike Esposito
Colors by George Roussos
Letters by Tom Orzechowski
Cover by Ron Wilson, John Romita, and Mike Esposito

Revived by his automatic life-support systems, Iron Man is mistaken for a bogey, evades ABMs, and heads for the Mandarin’s castle, where the vengeful Sunfire attacks Ultimo.  Stating that lust for power creates a self-defeating flaw in Earth’s super-villains, the Black Lama has offered a golden globe—containing ultimate power and inner peace—to the one who prevails by mortal combat; meanwhile, one-armed Marty shows Roxie a hidden city, and Happy plans to promote togetherness by applying to head S.I.’s security.  The Mandarin is mortally wounded when he karate-chops an explosive robot double of the Claw (whose minion Loc Do retrieves the now-powerless rings), but after he and Iron Man defeat Ultimo, Sunfire refuses to fight the Claw. -Matthew Bradley

Matthew: The as-yet-unnamed war claims its first casualty, the permanence of which I will not address for fear of spoilers; meanwhile, it’s always nice to welcome back Ultimo, and especially to see Sunfire more agreeable than usual.  Tellingly, the lettercol states, “currently the behind-the-scenes plan is to feature Sunfire in an expanded group of m***ts called the *-M*n, if that group ever returns as a regular book…but since it’s still not yet approved by the Higher-Ups [and] we’re supposed to keep quiet about it, we shan’t say any more!”  Rumors have been buzzing in various mags for months, so in addition to laying probable groundwork in Marvel Team-Up and Defenders, Wein might have had that in mind when introducing Wolverine in next month’s Hulk.

Scott: Tuska was always wonky when it came to drawing humans, but usually he was spot on perfect when dealing with Shellhead’s armor. However, this time, he doesn’t get the helmet quite right. The rest of the issue feels like a giant delaying tactic to drag out the final confrontation between Iron Man and the Yellow Claw. Once again, Sunfire is a thick headed idiot and once again he learns the profit in playing nice with others. All while the Mandarin has his ass handed to him. It’s overcrowded and Ultimo is wasted here.

Jungle Action 11
The Black Panther in 
"Once You Slay the Dragon!"
Story by Don McGregor
Art by Billy Graham and Klaus Janson
Colors by Glynis Wein
Letters by Artie Simek
Cover by Gil Kane and Dan Adkins

 T’Challa and his security forces arrive before dawn at the village of N’Jadaka.  There, they are challenged by Lord Karnaj and other supporters of Erik Killmonger.  The Panther saves W’Kabi from a sneak attack by Baron Macabre.  W’Kabi expresses his thanks, and his appreciation for T’Challa’s take-charge attitude, which W’Kabi equates with the Panther’s commanding presence of old.  T’Challa’s thoughts dart to his recent exposure of Tanzika as Zatama’s killer; Tanika’s violent act was a crime of passion, which she had staged so that T’Challa’s “heathen foreigner” girlfriend, Monica, would be implicated.  T’Challa’s attention is drawn back to the battle by W’Kabi’s warning of Malice’s attack.  Karnaj tries to take advantage of the Panther’s divided attention, but his sonic disruptor-blast misses his intended target, and instead kills a villager child.  Taku witnesses the killing, and defeats Karnaj in single combat; his punishment of Karnaj is unrelenting, so T’Challa carefully draws Taku apart, and advises him of how men have grown “lost in the journey to vengeance.”  The Battle of N’Jadaka is won, with heavy costs to both sides, and Killmonger still at large. -Chris Blake

Chris: It’s the beginning of a new chapter in Panther’s Rage, as T’Challa finally is ready to take the fight to Killmonger’s stronghold.  His decisive action serves to rally his cabinet behind him, as W’Kabi and Taku put aside their differences – both between themselves, and with their chieftain – in the interest of the greater Wakandan cause.

McGregor’s interruption of the battle does not prove to be the sort of distraction that it might have been in lesser hands, since T’Challa’s reflection over Monicagate, and its likely resolution, helps to explain how he has succeeded to put palace intrigue (and squabbling) behind him.  Nice choice by McGregor to remove Tanzika from the Killmonger conspiracy – my initial impression had been that she had killed Zatama on Killmonger’s orders.  It looks like Killmonger has gotten into my head, too.

The Graham/Janson art is very effective, with a moody moonlit sequence (complemented by purple backgrounds by Glynis), and all the dusty chaos of the battle.  Notice how Graham sets up Taku’s outrage over the child’s death: on p 17, Malice throws a spear, which whizzes right between T’Challa and W’Kabi; in the next panel, we see Taku (on the sidelines) duck as the spear passes thru the far side of a hut; as he looks down and to his right, the running child comes directly into Taku’s field of vision; the two-page spread (p 22-23) nimbly manages to feature confrontations between all the principal characters, instead of focusing on just one; your eye is drawn across the pages from left to right, with the last image (falling out of the frame to the far right) as the only sight Taku has seen – the blast from Karnaj taking down the running child.  Masterful.

The non-story pages are at their shortest, and continue to be relevant.  The letters page shows that fans were inspired to try to guess the identity of Zatama’s killer, so this issue features a two-page howdunnit, featuring mini reproductions of art from JA #9, detailing how Tanzika framed Monica.  At least it doesn’t feel as much like filler.

Matthew: Okay, Baron Macabre, King Cadaver, Lord Karnaj…maybe this “aristocracy of evil” thing is getting out of hand after all?  Seriously, Karnaj isn’t very interesting, and Macabre has little to do here, so it’s nice to see Malice join them, if only to remind us how big Killmonger’s crew is, and although T’Challa’s raid succeeds, Don is too nuanced a writer to provide a clean victory.  Likewise, the two-page spread impresses not because Billy fills it with breathtaking figures, but because keeping the focus away from the figures emphasizes the scope of the battle.  Reprints are forestalled with a two-page “Collection of Pantherish Clues (Or, what really happened the night Zatama died!),” plus Kirby’s first cover layout for the Panther’s debut.

 The Man-Thing 9
Story by Steve Gerber
Art by Mike Ploog and Frank Chiaramonte
Colors by Linda Lessmann
Letters by John Costanza
Cover by Mike Ploog and John Romita

Out of curiosity, The Man-Thing approaches an old woman, named Maybelle Tork, who has lived for years in the swamp in a little hut. She is, of course, frightened out of her wits but as her partner Ezekiel Tork rushes from the shack to her rescue, firing at the Man-Thing, the beast simply walks away. "Zeke" heads out to find a doctor, Maybelle claiming near heart failure, and their pet "Dawg" follows after seeing Maybelle drop dead. Adventures aplenty await, as Zeke is attacked by a tree turned evil demon! Manny to the rescue, showing the former that the beast is really on his side. Same scenario, next with an alligator, then skeletons, and finally...snakes! All are evidentally the same evil force, one that Man-Thing vaguely recognizes, as it moves via red smoke from host to host. -Jim Barwise

Jim Barwise: I couldn't decide whether I should be afraid or rolling with laughter with this tale! It is so "cartoony" looking as to be the latter mainly. Still, I found a fondness for Zeke and Dawg develops throughout the story. That sure doesn't look like Zeke on the cover!

Scott: Another weird tale, which is par for the course, made weirder by Ploog’s distinctive pencils. There’s no resolution to this yet and the idea that Zeke, a likable sort, is dead is depressing. The mist is apparently Maybelle’s spirit, but I haven’t skipped ahead to see. It’s all good, macabre fun.

Matthew:  Restricting this issue’s human supporting cast to the, shall we say, highly eccentric Torks frees the Ploog/Chiaramonte team to go into full stylization mode, with any pretense of realism but a thing of the past.  Which is fine, since it suits Steve’s typically outré story so well, while a more traditional entry such as Giant-Size Man-Thing #2 is handled by a more traditional artist such as John Buscema (who, we may recall, drew Manny’s four-color debut in Astonishing Tales #12, and will pencil several issues of the monthly book).  In the best possible way, this is like a cross between Walt Kelly’s beloved Pogo, with its Okefenokee-type setting and bizarre inhabitants, and Tolkien’s Middle-earth, with its anthropomorphic tree and Gandalf-hatted hero.

Mark: Call this one Li'l Abner Goes Gothic as Steve Gerber and Mike Ploog plunk Manny down on the doorstep of Zeke and Maybelle Tork and their saggy-jowled bloodhound Dawg, a swamp-dwelling trio straight outta Dogpatch.

Maybelle's as sour as a sack o' limes, and her washtub run-in with Manny prompts buckskin-wearing Zeke to put a rifle slug into our quaggy empath even as he senses, "I don't think it even would'a hurt ya – if ya hadn't been so skeered."

Calling Zeke a "skunk-brained idjit," old crone Maybelle sends Zeke to town for a doctor, but then works herself into a lather over Dawg and drops dead of a coronary, prompting the terrified pooch to skedaddle from the shack and swim after his master.

Chris: Steve encourages us to join in some fun with the hillbilly (swampbilly?) caricatures, thereby successfully disarming us as readers, so that the evil might sneak up and bite us.  Ploog, of course, contributes beautifully, as he depicts Maybelle’s possession of the dead tree as something dangerous, but still a bit silly-looking (more like an aggrieved ent than something that might, you know, really hurt you).  Steve & Mike up the ante as the story continues, as the malevolent spirit moves on to a crocodile (now that’s dangerous!), and then trump themselves with the convict-skeletons.  Ploog’s two-page spread is a real-gone gasser, man.  You can hear the splutch as the heavy bones slowly draw themselves up, out of the mire.  The flying dust as Manny pulverizes the bones is a nice touch, too.  Overall, a very satisfying chapter in a consistently enjoyable series.

Mark: Ploog's creepy-cartoon style is perfect for this one: hawk-nosed Zeke exudes a good-natured if inbred nobility; Maybelle is a Tales From the Crypt crone, and the evil tree that snatches Zeke from his skiff manages the neat trick of being both scary and suitable for kids seven and under.

This issue's "nogoodnik" is a red vapor that jumps from the Manny-crushed evil tree to a giant gator to the skeletal one-time fugitives from a chain-gang, all of whom have a murderous mad-on for Zeke, who may or may not survive a last page skeleton strangling, even as the vicious vapor is " the snakes!"

To quote Al Capp, "Amoozin' but confoozin'!"  

Marvel Premiere #17
Iron Fist in
“Citadel on the Edge of Vengeance”
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Larry Hama, Dick Giordano
Colors by Petra Goldberg
Letters by Artie Simek
Cover by Gil Kane, Dick Giordano, and John Romita

In New York City, Iron Fist tracks Harold Meachum to a skyscraper that was the home of Rand & Meachum Industries, now renamed simply Meachum Industries. Taking the elevator up to the executive offices, the man formerly known as Daniel Rand is menaced by projectile spears, automatic machine guns, electric shocks, a trio of gunmen, a trap door, a wolf, knock-out gas, and a swordsman: with his supreme martial arts skills and the power of the iron fist, he overcomes all. When he finally makes his way to Meachum’s office, Iron Fist finds that a paid assassin named Triple-Iron awaits. -Thomas Flynn

Thomas Flynn: Once again, it’s out with the old and in with the new, as Doug Moench replaces Len Wein who replaced Roy Thomas — Moench will remain for the next two issues. While Giordano’s inks seem lazy, Hama’s art is a bit more assured than last issue. But the story is as light as the air in the mountain city of K’un-Lun. Moench just whips up an endless series of challenges for Iron Fist to face, including a ravenous wolf that seemed to be locked in a janitor’s closet — would hate to have to clean up that space. Before dropping through the trap door, Iron Fist notices a ninja lurking in the corner of the room: this mysterious figure has little impact on the story but will emerge as a major character in the upcoming issues. We seem to be on autopilot here, not an encouraging sign for a series so new.

Matthew: Moench becomes IF’s third writer in as many issues; he and Isabella, who also succeeds him on Creatures on the Loose, will do three apiece before Danny comes into his own with rising star Chris Claremont.  Despite the abuse I’ve heaped on Doug’s current Man-Wolf yarn, I think the worst you can say about this story (which eschews both the “You are Iron Fist” and “like unto a thing of iron” formulations) is that it might have one too many “And then a trapdoor opened, releasing a horde of rabid squirrels!” set pieces, and that the heavy on the last page looks alarmingly pedestrian.  It’s otherwise commendably off-beat and impressively focused, offering our first glimpses of the mysterious Ninja featured in the pre-Claremont issues.

Chris: Meachum’s Tower of Terrors, a non-funhouse without a single body-morphing mirror, is so completely over the top that it reaches the point of parody.  The seemingly endless parade of perils might as well be something two eighth-graders had made up during lunch period.  “It should have machine guns! and poison gas! and a trap door! and a rabid killer animal!” etc.  (Okay, in fairness, it’s something we made up, more than once, over a year’s worth of lunches.)  

The quality of art has dropped off noticeably since Iron Fist’s first foray.  The absence of details and backgrounds made me wonder whether Colletta had snuck in one night and erased them.  Speaking of cousin Vinnie, is this really Giordano on the inks?  There’s little of the texture Giordano has brought to recent issues of Doctor Strange.  The disappointing nature of the art has more to do with Hama, though, whose depiction of Danny is inconsistent, as he’s sometimes looking lithe, and others stiff and awkward.  I’m also distracted by the fact that, even though Iron Fist took the elevator to the 20th floor, and then went up a staircase, he later opens a door and finds himself looking out from –the 7th floor.  Isn’t anyone paying attention, here? 

Marvel Spotlight 17
The Son of Satan in
"In the Shadow of the Serpent!"
Story by Steve Gerber
Art by Jim Mooney and Sal Trapani
Colors by Petra Goldberg
Letters by Artie Simek
Cover by John Romita

Daimon and his associates, Dr Reynolds and Byron, are captured at Atlantis, after they had seemingly appeared from nowhere.  Daimon states that he is seeking counsel of “the seeress, Zhered-Na.”  King Kamuu declares that Zhered-Na had been banished for her “blasphemous prediction” of Atlantis’ impending doom; he then accuses Daimon’s group of witchcraft, and sentences them to banishment.  Daimon burns free of his bonds, and throws a wall of flame on the palace floor to cover his escape, together with Dr R and B.  Daimon calls on the power of his trident to summon Zhered-Na, who appears, and draws Daimon’s astral self from his physical form.  Zhered-Na leads Daimon past the edge of the universe, and reveals to him “the foundation of all life,” and its stability-guardian, Spyros.  Daimon perceives that Spyros’ role is to periodically purge the earth of its evils; Daimon decides to contest Spyros, so that “man [might] be free to purge himself!”  Spyros’ attempt to smite Daimon goes wide, and strikes the figure of Kometes (the fire-dragon harbinger) instead, which serves to interrupt the cataclysmic cycle.  Daimon‘s spirit is reunited with his body, and as he and his companions whisk back to the present, they witness the final disappearance of Atlantis, as it is consumed by flames, and the sea.
-Chris Blake

Chris: This one read as two comics to me.  The first comic was The Misunderstanding of the Strange Strangers from Somewhere Else, followed by a daring escape.  The second comic was A Poorly Understood Mind-Trip, with groovy astral travelling.  The two halves of the story felt as separate as could be – it was easy to forget the first half, especially as I had to devote so many neurons to my attempt to derive some comprehension of how Spyros, floating in beyond-space with his big axe, posed a threat to humankind and its evils.  I got that he was there to safeguard the cosmic balance, but it wasn’t apparent to me how his “my bad” squishing of Kometes somehow upset his whole purpose.

Jim Mooney’s final installment on this series is uneven, as the first few pages don’t do much; Daimon’s lapse into Evil (far above) is well done, with D taking on a Vladish air in the final panel.  The art takes off from p 17 on, as the pencils seem more inspired, and appear to gain more texture from Trapani’s inks.  The supposedly monumental matrix of reality falls flat, though (p 26) – it’s not much more than a long, intersecting strings of lights, right?  It would look real cool as lighting for outdoor seating at a new pizzeria, but as “the foundation of life?”  Not so much.

Matthew: Okay, this is cool:  Zhered-Na links Daimon to Steve’s Man-Thing strip (see Fear #15 in particular) as well as his “Tales from Atlantis”—we’re clearly in Gerber-World here.  I wish I could get as excited about this issue overall as Mooney, whose Trapani-inked art is as functional as ever, apparently was when he drew that adolescent wet dream on page 22; it’s like an enormous pair of boobs that just happens to have a sorceress attached to them, as Daimon swims upstream à la some Satanic sperm cell.  Even Steve, as much as I love him, seems to have overreached with a story that lurches around erratically to encompass no lesser personage than Adam himself, but ultimately falls into the “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” category.

"Well, we've spotted Jupiter and Saturn and
we can't be far from Uranus" Hyuck hyuck

Marvel Team-Up 25
The Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil in
"Three Into Two Won't Go!"
Story by Len Wein
Art by Jim Mooney and Frank Giacoia
Colors by Glynis Wein
Letters by Artie Simek
Cover by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia

Spotting the Cat-Man with a suspicious satchel, Spidey accosts him, only to be attacked in turn by DD, who explains after his old foe flees that it is a ransom delivered by Matt Murdock for an industrialist’s daughter, Gail Callan, the latest victim in an “appalling rash of pseudo-political [?] kidnappings.”  With his radar-senses, DD analyzes a clod of dirt that fell from the Cat-Man, enabling them to track him to Coney Island, where he is holed up in a bait-shack with his partners.  In short order—and as Professor Joe might put it—Spidey plucks the Bird-Man’s feathers on a carnival ride, DD declaws the Cat-Man in the funhouse, and the two of them make a monkey’s uncle out of the Ape-Man atop the roller coaster as well as rescuing Gail. 

-Matthew Bradley

Nope, it's all just a misunderstanding!

Matthew: Spidey and DD were teaming up long before there was an MTU, so it seems a shame that their reunion is marred—er, marked—by a return of the boring Ani-Men (aka the Unholy Three; don’t even ask about their convoluted history), for whom I have a certain, shall we say, Ani-Mosity.  Compounding the error, Len bends over backwards manufacturing an excuse to pit the longtime allies against each other with the most contrived MARMIS in recent memory, and once it’s been resolved, do we really need to squander a two-page spread on them swinging into action, other than to provide a visual of the Coney Island setting?  Frank does his level best to elevate Jim’s typically pedestrian pencils, but it’s a good thing they didn’t waste a top-notch artist on this dog.

Scott: Was there an editorial directive that said every title had to include at least one full two-page spread to pad out the stories? Man-Thing had one, so did this issue. These aren’t all that compelling or even that beautifully rendered. They just stand out as obvious space killers, the kind Jack Kirby used to put into his later work. DD is a little hard on Spidey, making him feel guilty for trying to stop a crime. “Blundered upon the scene?” And Spidey even cops to screwing up, but the guy was really doing his job. Ah, Marvel heroes. Anything for a little angst.

Joe: Spidey and Daredevil make a nice team. The Unholy Trio make a lousy bunch of dumb-looking villains. The big battle is at an old abandoned amusement park. What's not to like? Another fun, if not too-short romp, but would have looked much better drawn by Our Pal Sal.

 Marvel Two-In-One 5
The Thing and The Guardians of the Galaxy in
"Seven Against the Empire!"
Story by Steve Gerber
Art by Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito
Colors by Petra Goldberg
Letters by Annette Kawecki
Cover by John Buscema and Mike Esposito

After Lordsire Drang has Cap’s memory probed to explain their presence, Ben revives and the trio escapes.  Because of her prior refusal to join the Resistance, Zakkor disbelieves Tarin’s story until Qarl brings a visicorder tape of Cap battling the Badoon, then gathers his forces and summons the Guardians of the Galaxy from their orbit around the Martian moon of Phobos.  Searching Manhattan for the rebels, Ben et al. stumble into a Badoon platoon, yet are quickly reinforced with the arrival of the Guardians; Cap’s presence rallies the underground to liberate New York and capture Drang, who reminds them that the Badoon still control our entire solar system, but a 24-hour time limit forces the chrononauts to return to 1974. -Matthew Bradley

Matthew: Amid the blather about the forthcoming (as I write this in April) revisionist Hollywood travesty, the real Guardians have been much on my mind; they now return almost six years after Marvel Super-Heroes #18, and believe it or not, their original inker, Esposito, brings some continuity to Sal Buscema’s pencils.  That led to the Tura-pleasing realization that my favorite writers of this period each had fruitful collaborations with Our Pal:  on Avengers (Englehart), Captain America (Englehart), MTIO (Gerber), and Defenders (both).  Sal’s rendition incorporates some wholly salutary alterations to the appearances of all but Martinex, although we learn next time that “the striking new costumes for Vance Astro and Yondu…and [the] ship Captain America” were designed by Dave Cockrum.

That’s the good news, but I will leave it to your collective imagination how completely my mild impatience over last issue, an 18-page tease setting up their resurgence, turned to outright dismay when they didn’t actually appear until midway through this one.  Christ, we’re just getting acquainted—or reacquainted, as the case may be—when the curtain comes down.  The lettercol asks readers to “let us know what you thought of this issues [sic] tale—and, in particular, the Guardians of the Galaxy.  Do you want to see them again?  Soon?  We hope so,” yet it will be almost another year (during which their debut is reprinted in my well-thumbed Astonishing Tales #29 in April) before Gerber starts their first substantive arc with Giant-Size Defenders #5 in July.

Scott: Not quite the Guardians of the Galaxy I just enjoyed in the movie theater, but still a fun group of heroes. It’s pretty standard Marvel Space Opera, but a nice time-waster. Cap seems a little out of place in this kind of sci-fi story, especially with his current identity crisis. The art is pretty standard Sal Buscema, which means “pretty damned good.”

Chris: Steve Gerber proves again why he has so many fans – how many comics authors have this kind of range?  The story calls for a straightforward good guys vs bad guys bash-up, and Steve delivers just that, with a minimum of deep thinking.  This issue serves as sort of a re-introduction of the pre-Starhawk Guardians (the real Guardians, not the made-up movie ones), and it’s encouraging to know we’ll see more of them, just as we’ll see more of the Badoon war (or “Baboon,” as Ben calls them) in The Defenders in another year or so.  Vance is the only team member who gets any significant screen time, but he arguably has the most interesting back story, especially when he has the chance to meet the real-live Captain America.  Now I feel like I should re-view Avengers #167, to see if Cap and Vance acknowledge their previous meeting.  Sal’s art is solid as always – the Badoon are notably nasty-looking – with Espo’s inks at times better than his usual standard.

The Savage Sub-Mariner 72
"From the Void It Came..."
Story by Steve Skeates
Art by Dan Adkins and Vince Colletta
Colors by Linda Lessmann
Letters by Artie Simek
Cover by Larry Lieber

Far off in outer space, an alien blob travels the universe. A satellite orbiting earth interests the creature and it goes inside. A mysterious unseen person blows up the satellite and the alien crashes into the earth's ocean where it forms itself into a humanoid creature out of muck and seaweed from the ocean floor. Fast forward a couple of years later and Namor is contemplating his life on a waterfront dock. Two musclebound brutes encounter him. One of them is very ignorant and he kicks Namor out of pure meanness. Subby gives the tough guy a good beating before throwing him in the ocean, killing him. The man's friend then attacks Subby while the alien creature has made its way to the surface to observe them. When the alien joins the fray, all three of them fall into the water. The alien and Subby battle each other for a time until the alien gets tired of the skirmish. It detaches its amoeba-like head from its body, then flies off into the universe, but not before using its strange powers to blind Subby and restore the one bully's life. Namor starts feeling sorry for himself since he can't see. For whatever reason, the alien uses his powers from above to restore Namor's sight, giving him a new, more positive outlook on life. The story ends with the two chiseled, hard bodied friends deciding to spend some quality time together back at their apartment, where they plan on having some beers and reading a wrestling magazine together before going to bed. -Tom McMillion

Well, at least Skeates didn't borrow a line from
a Robert Frost poem.

Tom McMillion: I guess the one thing that can be said about this series is that no matter if the stories were good or bad, it was consistently weird. With the exception of maybe Captain Marvel, the Sub-Mariner is the only mainstream Marvel super-hero that ever had his own title that didn't last past the 1970's. As someone that had to endure reading every issue in the series I can say that it was canceled for good reason. I guess it was just too hard to come up with story lines that took place in the ocean. Whenever the bullpen took Namor out of his habitat it gave the series a bit of a mishmash that didn't work well together. Plus, Subby is a bit of a tool who is hard to root for. This final issue was one of the better ones and it's nice to see this saga come to an end on sort of a high note.

Matthew: You can’t make this stuff up:  in a bizarre bit of symmetry, Subby’s last issue is apparently an unofficial sequel to/crossover with the last issue of his DC counterpart’s own early-’70s run, Aquaman #56 (“The Creature That Devoured Detroit!,” April 1971); seems that’s the unseen Aquaman’s hand destroying the satellite on page 3.  Both were written by Steve(n) Skeates, of whose work this is the only example in my collection, and then, just in case it weren’t enough of a curiosity already, it contains some obvious gay subtext.  It’s every bit as strange as it sounds, Adolf Hitler quote and all, but what it most definitely is not is same old same old, while Atlantean hand Adkins gives Namor a nice sendoff with some intermittently atmospheric visuals.

As Prof. Matthew notes:
"You can't make this stuff up..."
Scott: Well, the last issue of Sub-Mariner and it’s, well, pretty pointless. A page waster that ties up nothing. The art is okay, but the story is simplistic. Namor is blind but then not. He kills a guy, but he’s not dead. Namor learns a lesson he’ll remember “always,” but you know that’s not going to really stick. How far this title had fallen.

Chris: I truly hoped that this final issue was better than I remembered it, but sadly, my memory was right on target.  The series closes with a whimper, the only bang coming from a distant, slamming door.  See that?  – in response to the over-written, heavily-captioned script, even my commentary is affected (I realize I probably should know Steve “Roller” Skeates, but I don’t, since he did hardly any Bronze-Age work for Marvel).  The disparate pieces of the story (pollution, bigotry, random destruction of satellites, spontaneous generation, miraculous cures, etc) lean awkwardly against each other, until we’re informed at the end that Namor learned some kind of lesson.  Oh well.  I wish I could say that the art was worth it, especially after Dan Adkins’ noteworthy contribution to the series with his fine work of issue #56, but I can’t.  Can’t blame it on Colletta this time either.

It’s easy to say that this title lost its way when Marvel lost Bill Everett, but there’s more to it than that.  The over-reliance on Everett to breathe new excitement into the character may have been the first mistake, since all Wild Bill wanted was revive Namor as a Golden Age action hero, largely forgetting Namor as the conflicted, head-strong ruler of Silver Age Atlantis.  Namor’s character regressed, and after Everett was gone, it wasn’t possible to carry-off this title in the pure-adventure vein without Everett’s enthusiasm.  

The letters page (by Steve G -?) cries no tears for our hero, and hints at big plans for Subby, which will come to fruition in another year or so (much to the delight of our own Prof Bradley) with the premiere of Super-Villain Team-Up.  For me, speaking as a lifetime fishman-fan, I’m disappointed that this title amounted to so little, particularly over its final 15+ issues.  

The Mighty Thor 227
"In Search of... Ego!"
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott
Colors by Petra Goldberg
Letters by John Costanza
Cover by John Romita

As Thor, Firelord, and Hercules  prepare to battle Ego the Living Planet, Odin watches, shocked at his son's apparent siding with Galactus, a former foe. It becomes obvious however, that Ego clearly has gone mad, and the battle is a just one. The Lady Sif asks Odin to aid his son, but he views it as Thor's chosen fight, heading off instead on routine kingly business. Hildegarde checks in on sister Krista, still recovering. While Galactus develops his own strategy, the three heroes fight the fight against Ego on the surface. They find their way inside the planet, seeing Ego's "brain." Thor's hammer strikes it, and an explosion results.
-Jim Barwise

Jim: "A return to former glory," an argument could be made that that is the case here. The art is spectacular; Joe Sinnott bringing Rich Buckler's fine pencils to life. I know I keep mentioning the Kirby likeness but it is especially blatant here in the full-page of Thor in flight (Journey Into Mystery
#124) for example. I can't imagine that everyone didn't notice it at the time. The story is refreshingly simple, and flows along nicely. Finally Odin doesn't jump the gun with his judgement. Curious how Galactus just steps aside and leaves the battle, and how easy it is for the others to find Ego's brain. Still, the anticipation of his origin makes up for it!  

Chris: A straightforward, but enjoyable, adventure for Thor & Co.  Buckler is a welcome arrival, especially when backed by Sinnott’s inks.  Buckler doesn’t seek to establish anything distinctive in his depiction of Thor – he seems at times to channel Kirby, then Buscema, then both (!), which seems appropriate for this title.   I was grateful that Odin’s distracting voice-over didn’t carry on for the whole issue.  It also was helpful that the check-in with the Asgardian supporting cast was brief, so we could continue with the action.  I would’ve preferred to have spent some more time with Galactus – Odin’s right in thinking that, ordinarily, we wouldn’t be thinking of Big G as an ally, so I miss the fact that there isn’t more interplay between him and Thor.  And what might you suppose Galactus could be up to, all this time, alone with the advanced technology of his planet-devouring craft . . ?

Scott: Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott do right by the God of Thunder, even if Gerry Conway lets us down again by piling on the melodrama and epic action over interesting plotting. Another multi-part cosmic opera with emotional gods, squabbling, fighting and boasting. There’s some fun here, but mostly it’s the same old stuff. Ego was more interesting when he was a photo-drawing back in the Journey into Mystery days.

Matthew:  Unintentional hilarity abounds, on the splash page that touts this as “a return to former glory”—as opposed to the Buscema swill we’ve been enduring?—while bearing the title “In Search of…Ego!” (I think you found it), and in the line “it must never be said that all-father Odin did act without knowing the consequence of his interference,” y’know, like you usually do.  This briefly follows the FF model as a Conway/Buckler/Sinnott collaboration, although Riotous Rich will pencil only four issues.  As always, the Kirby influence is strong, but I’m not going to complain when the results are so handsome, especially that stunning splash page; Gerry continues characterizing Herc as a jerk (“Greater even than the strength of Hercules, vast one?”).

Also This Month

Chamber of Chills #12

Crypt of Shadows #12
Kid Colt Outlaw #186
Marvel's Greatest Comics #51
Marvel Spectacular #9
Marvel Tales #53
Marvel Treasury Edition #1 ->
Marvel Triple Action #20
Mighty Marvel Western #34
Millie the Model Annual #11
My Love #30
Rawhide Kid #122
Sgt. Fury #121
The Human Torch #1
Tomb of Darkness #10
Vault of Evil #13
Where Monsters Dwell #30

Since I weighed in on the whole treasury-edition phenomenon at great length back in May, I’ll focus here on noting how the “mandate” for MTE changed over the years.  This debut issue is an overview of Spidey’s history, attempting to show some milestones (e.g., M.J.’s unforgettable two-panel debut) and a cross-section of creators, with some bells and whistles like those faux newspaper pages thrown in.  As time went by, however, the format morphed into a catch-all for sometimes miscellaneous reprints; true, they re-presented some notable issues that were not available in the continuity of Marvel Super-Heroes and its ilk, but unfortunately, said issues were often carelessly reproduced and, worst of all, unconscionably cut.

That said, I’m sure I was as excited as Professor Joe back in the day about this literally outsized event, with its stunning Romita cover. I hadn’t seen many issues of Marvel Tales at the time (#45 stands out in my memory, and may in fact be the only one), so this was quite possibly my first exposure to the Ditko stuff, yet my personal pick of the litter, which I’m sure will be shared by nobody, is from Marvel Super-Heroes #14 (May 1968).  It’s interesting both as an example of Andru’s Spidey more than five years before he became his regular artist, and that they reprinted such a rarity, but stranger still, we must have had a copy of the issue—which sadly no longer survives—because I actually remembered that bizarre story when I saw it in this treasury edition.

I have to assume that given the opportunity I’d have picked up most of the non-Conan treasuries, featuring material that would then have been new to me, yet I missed the first FF, Thor, and Hulk issues, and the next one appearing in my spotty collection is #6, which probably contained more Dr. Strange stories than I had ever seen.  I think I deliberately skipped the “Giant Superhero Holiday Grab-Bags,” but was lucky enough to score the Avengers (#7) and Howard the Duck (#12) issues, the latter among the few with significant new content, the Gerber/Buscema/Janson “The Duck and the Defenders.”  My single-arc issues included #14 (Amazing Spider-Man #100-2), #21 (Fantastic Four #120-3), and—already covered in detail—#24 (Incredible Hulk #175-8). -Matthew Bradley

Those Marvel-ous Mags

Dracula Lives 8
Cover by Luis Dominguez

"Last Walk on the Night Side"

Story by Doug Moench
Art by Tony DeZuniga

"Black Hand... Black Death!"

Story by Len Wein
Art by Gene Colan and Ernie Chua

"Child of the Sun"

Text by Chris Claremont
Art by Pablo Marcos

"Coffin Chronicles

News by Carla Joseph

"Dracula Chapter IV -

And in That Sleep..."
Story Adapted by Roy Thomas
From the Novel by Bram Stoker
Art by Dick Giordano

Lou Garver's "Last Walk on the Night Side" as a cop is an action-packed one: he discovers a hooker being attacked by a nut who drinks blood, his apartment is broken into by thugs he sent up the river years before and, in the capper, his long-suffering wife is bitten by Dracula. Lou decides his retirement should be postponed while he tracks down the murderer of his wife. If you can stay awake between all the prattling about the fall of mankind and the city, there's actual a story here to keep the interest. Sure, the cons showing up right on Lou's retirement day is a bit coincidental but I can ignore that. Lou's babe of a wife hanging out all day around the apartment in her negligee is tough to ignore though.

"Last Walk on the Night Side"

"Black Hand... Black Death!" is a supremely silly period piece, with Dracula taking on the Italian mob after the Count disses a powerful Don. Why is it that some of these Dracula stories take place in a world where the Count is a mythical figure and in some it's as though no one's ever heard of him? "Black Hand"'s Godfather doesn't know what's going on, despite the fact that bullets seem to go right through "Mr. Fancy Pants", until the final panel when, suddenly, he realizes he's dealing with a vampire. It's not just the script that allows for tough reading; the spellcheck was obviously on loan.

"Black Hand... Black Death!"

"Dracula IV"
The fourth chapter of the epic adaptation of Dracula shows that Roy and Dick were getting some steam in their stride despite a couple of weak early chapters. "And in That Sleep..." is the best yet, showcasing some of the more brutal aspects of Stoker's original novel. I'd almost forgotten the sequence where the Count kidnaps a baby and feeds it to his wenches and then unleashes his wolves on the wailing mother. Pretty grim stuff for a 19th-Century gothic.

In place of the usual look back at a chapter in the Chris Lee/Hammer series, Carla Joseph gives us an early peek at the final Lee/Dracula installment, The Satanic Rites of Dracula. Joseph implies she's seen the film but that's unlikely unless Marvel paid the roving reporter to hop on a plane to the UK (also highly unlikely in the days of $12 pay per page of art). Satanic had the most troubled distribution of all the Hammer Draculas, not showing up in The States until 1978, but it's got its fans (I ain't one of them). Chris Claremont returns to the hallowed ranks of "Dracula Text Writer" with "Child of the Sun," which has something to do with Dracula (here known as "Dragon") and Russians but, unlike Carla Joseph, I won't pretend I've read the damn thing. On the "Dracula Reads" letters page, some correspondents take the company to task for daring to pit Dracula against the Vatican (in Steve Gerber's "A Death in the Chapel" from DL #6). Really? There are taboos when you're reading about a guy who drinks blood? I suspect that it may have had more to do with the fact that there was really nothing else to comment on. Eight issues in and the formula is way past stale. -Peter Enfantino

The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu 4
Cover by Neal Adams

"Circle of Serpent's Blood"
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Mike Vosburg and Al Milgrom

"Enter the Dragon Part III"
Review by Don McGregor

"Kung Fu Revisited"
Text by John David Warner

"Night of the Death-Dream!"
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by Don Perlin and Dan Adkins

The endless attacks on poor Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu by the evil genius Fu Manchu continue when Shang is assaulted by the assassin known as Chow Loo. As with most of the henchmen sent his way by his father, Shang finds Chow a little slow and a whole lot of clumsy and the Master puts him face first into a gutter. When Shang interrogates the ninja as to Fu's latest plans, he learns that his father intends to poison the drinking water of the populace of Los Angeles. During the fight, Shang had stripped Chow of the man's sacred medallion, the "Circle of Serpent's Blood," a medal given to Fu Manchu's best assassins. Chow begs Shang to let him keep his medallion and further, his honor, and the softy gives it up. Chow returns to Fu with a story of bloodshed and dead Kung Fu Masters but the criminal mastermind sees right through the lies and orders the man to be taken away and experimented on by his vast army of evil genius scientists. Chi thumbs a ride with a hippy-dippy couple in a Chevy Van (and that's all right with me...) and winds up at the LA dam, where he's yet again attacked, this time by a giant half-man half-ape creature with chop-socky skills. A vicious roundhouse kick and an upwards thrusting haiiiii-yahhhh send the creature spiraling into the water below.

The infamous medallion lying nearby clues Shang-Chi to the fact that he had been battling a mutated Chow Loo and that the water poisoning scheme was a fraud. Nothing really of merit to point out here; it's your typical martial arts marathon with a few word balloons thrown in. Believe me, with Doug Moench's hippy-dippy flower child rot that supposedly passes for dialog in evidence all over this thing, the fewer balloons the better. Seriously, did Moench really talk like this or was he still writing for the 1960s comic books?

Hippy: Howdy-Do, man, we're cuttin' a swath all the way to L.A. Hop in for whatever fraction of it you're worth!

Hippy Chick: Faaaar Out!

Hippy: I don't know about you, Shang-Chi, but these last couple of days have been a stoned-out gas for us.

When Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki offer up a doobie to Shang, I thought for sure Doug was next going to show us what a cutting-edge funny book writer he was by consummating the Summer of Love Six Years On scene with a threesome in the park but Shang keeps his black belt fastened. Thirty-three issues this zine lasted? Time for me to renew my Modafinil prescription.

Doug Moench shows just how edgy Marvel is by writing 1968
dialog for a 1974 story.

The Sons of the Tiger must contend with the forces of "The Silent Ones," a deadly band of drug dealers plotting to overthrow America by hooking the younger generation on horse. The Sons defeat the evil genius Lo Chin (think Lo-Rent Manchu) and, seemingly, his mad dreams go up in flames along with his jet plane but we know that you can cut off a limb and two more take its place. "Night of the Death-Dream" suffers from deja vu storytelling and dreadful art. How many of these Kung Fu tales are going to revolve around heroin traffickers and evil Oriental geniuses? At one point, I suspected Gerry was winking at his audience by having Chin's sleazy right hand man proclaim, "That's right, the old Big H. A pity we had nothing more original on hand for you to uncover..." The only plus here is a few fatalities, as when one of the Sons tosses a gun-toting pilot through his own windshield. You probably won't see that in the four-color Master of Kung Fu. -Peter Enfantino

The Haunt of Horror 3
Cover by Jose Antonio Domingo

"House of Brimstone"

Story by Doug Moench
Art by Billy Graham, Pablo Marcos, Frank Giacoia, and Mike Esposito

"The Restless Coffin!"

Story by Doug Moench
Art by Pat Broderick and Al Milgrom

"The Exorcist Tapes - Part Two"

Text by Chris Claremont

"Flirting With Mr. D."

Text by Doug Moench

"The Swamp Stalkers"

Story by Larry Lieber
Art by Larry Lieber and Win Mortimer

"They Wait Below"

Story Uncredited
Art by Bernie Krigstein
(reprinted from Uncanny Tales #42, April 1956)

"Last Descent Into Hell"

Story by Doug Moench
Art by Frank Springer

"House of Brimstone"

Gabriel is called to the house of noted demonologist, Dr. Craig Miller, whose daughter has been exhibiting classic symptoms of possession. When he arrives at the mansion, the demon hunter indeed discovers an unearthly presence within the young girl. While attempting an exorcism, Gabriel discovers some new information from the demon : the world of haunts has put a hit on him. Trickery draws the spirit out of the girl but her father knows the only way his daughter will be safe is to trap the monster inside his own body and kill himself. Gabriel and his bodacious assistant are left to wonder what it's really all about. After The Exorcist arrived on the scene, every writer had to cop its riffs and Doug Moench is no exception. Adhering to the already-cliched formula of sex and profanity (or as sexual and profane as Marvel's own censors would allow), Moench types up yet another rote script. Seriously, could there not be any other manifestations than those laid down in William Peter Blatty's "bible"? Hordes of locusts? Obscene phone calls? Pizza delivery men who eat a couple slices on the way? All I ask for is a little originality and "House of Brimstone" is not the first stop. The art resembles exactly what it is, a patchwork of several different styles. Moench also contributes "Last Descent Into Hell," wherein a bored reaper enters hell to do battle with Satan. It's certainly better than the Gabriel story (and  it features some of the better art I've seen from Frank Springer) but "Last Descent" suffers from a silly climax. 

"Last Descent Into Hell"

Another Moench script, "The Restless Coffin" is a silly bit of nothing about a young Canadian man who wishes to be an American actor but is warned by a fortune teller that it might not work out. Nice work by Broderick and Milgrom but there's not much of a story here. With three scripts, a text piece, and a place at the Exorcist dinner table, I'm wondering why Doug Moench didn't hold out for his name above the masthead.

"The Restless Coffin"

Drifter Joe Baxter wanders into Gooseburg ("a small town nestled deep within the deep south"), looking for some easy coin and finds it at Elias Peterson's little market. While robbing the store, Baxter shoots Peterson dead but then, making his getaway, trips over a black cat and is easily apprehended. As is wont in the deep south, a speedy trial ends with a date with the hangman and it looks like Joe's lawless days will be behind him soon. As the noose is being fitted on Joe's neck, a sudden storm brews and the rope is severed by a bolt of lightning. Joe escapes, taking Peterson's daughter as a hostage. Meanwhile, in the town's graveyard, Elias has dug his way free of the grave and heads for town. When he comes upon the walking dead man in the road, Baxter panics and crashes the car but he and his hostage are unharmed. When he exits the car, Joe realizes he's surrounded by the walking dead and his cute little hostage announces she's in control of the army. Baxter screams almost as loud as the reader as he is carried away into the swamp by the shambling deaders. So this is what Larry Lieber did after leaving his triumphant stint on The Rawhide Kid? As far as I can tell, "The Swamp Stalkers" was the last work Leiber did for Marvel (other than a return to western roots in Giant-Size Kid Colt and a script for Vampire Tales that won't appear until February) before jumping ship and co-launching the disaster known as Atlas/Seaboard. Not one of the better swan songs. 

"The Swamp Stalkers"

The best story in this issue is the reprint, "They Wait Below," which would be a sad state of affairs if I didn't first tell you that it's illustrated by the great Bernie Krigstein, an artist who seemingly elevated every story he came in contact with. Krigstein, an EC vet, uses a multi-panel choreography that almost seems to speed up the drama (a lighthouse keeper seduced by a siren) and heighten the tension. "They Wait Below" strengthens the argument that, despite the teeth of the CCA, Atlas could still pump out an excellent horror story now and then.


"The Exorcist Tapes - Part Two" is just about as worthless as the first installment. For those who have already forgotten my rant of "two months ago", the set-up is: Chris Claremont conducts a round-table discussion, featuring a handful of Marvel writers and their spouses, about Friedkin's hit. The consensus was that the flick wasn't all that great but that funny book writers sure are cool. Close to the end of the piece, Claremont takes the time to let the audience know just how hip these cats are by debating the merits of Marilyn Chambers' The Resurrection of Eve. X-Rated flicks? That's how these guys come up with such cutting-edge scripts! In "Flirting With Mr. D", Doug Moench relates how he made fun of William Peter Blatty after seeing him on The Johnny Carson Show. Seems Blatty had all kinds of weird things happen to him while writing The Exorcist (hordes of locusts, obscene phone calls, and hungry pizza delivery guys included) and Moench thought the author was doing a con job... until... Doug sat down to write Gabriel, Demon-Hunter and equally outrageous things began occurring (I will not insert jokes about Marvel writers getting lucky with females for the first time). As if to convince us how cool Doug is, he riffs on a Stones song in the title. Regardless, I remain unconvinced. -Peter Enfantino

Savage Tales 6
Cover by Neal Adams

“The Damnation Plague”
Story by Gerry Conway
Art by John Buscema & Tony DeZuniga

“Walk the Savage Land”
Text by Roy Thomas

“The Sword and the Road: The Saga of Brak the Barbarian”
Text by Fred Blosser

“Jan — With One ‘N’”
By Fred Blosser

“Fangs of the Black Orchid”
Story by Don Rico
Art by Al Williamson and Ralph Mayo
(reprinted from Jann of the Jungle #16, April 1957)

Story by Len Wein
Art by Steve Gan

“The Night of the Looter”
Story by Stan Lee
Art by John Buscema
(reprinted from Savage Tales #1, May 1971)

As if the emergence of the dreaded Ka-Zar as the spotlight Savage Tales character wasn’t enough of a bummer, the cover is a bit of a bungle as well — though you can’t blame the superb Neal Adams art. It promises “All-New Adventures” and an “Extra Bonus” of a Brak the Barbarian adventure. According to an editorial, half of the main Ka-Zar story was delayed in the mail so the character’s “The Night of the Looter” was hastily reprinted from Savage Tales #1 to fill the page count: “The Damnation Plague” will conclude next issue. The Brak pages were supposedly in the same wayward package, so “Dragonseed” was also a substitution. Sigh. We’re off to a great start.

In the first half of “The Damnation Plague,” a deadly virus grips the Savage Land, driving the inhabitants mad, causing sons to kill fathers. Talking to an elder of a ravaged village, Ka-Zar proclaims that the plague was brought in by meddling outsiders, and that since the inhabitants of the hidden jungle have no immunity, they are all doomed. The old man disagrees, saying that an ancient race in the Mountain of Darkness has a cure. Ka-Zar and Zabu race off to see if this is true. While pausing for a dinner of roasted ridged reptile, the old friends discover that they have been followed by a villager named Rhyla. She begs to come along and help and the jungle lord reluctantly agrees. All three continue on together — until they come face to face with a rampaging Tyrannosaurus rex.

"The Damnation Plague"

For a Ka-Zar tale, even one the ends at such an incomplete and abrupt end, this isn’t bad. The stakes are high, and I always enjoy a nice quest. Of course, Buscema’s art is top-notch and he’s well served by the inks of newcomer DeZuniga. (The magazine bills him as deZuniga but I’ll go with the capital “D.”) Tony, by the way, was supposedly the cause of the delayed package, as he was suddenly stricken by a kidney infection. So guess you can’t be too hard on the poor guy. There’s a subplot about an airplane looking for a place to land and three pages are devoted to recapping Ka-Zar’s origin.

The Ka-Zar installment is followed by three text pieces. With “Walk the Savage Land,” Roy Thomas provides a brief history of Ka-Zar, claiming that since he first appeared in a pulp magazine published by Martin Goodman in 1936, he’s Marvel’s oldest character. Included since Brak was supposed to be featured in this issue, “The Sword and the Road: The Saga of Brak the Barbarian” by Fred Blosser maps out the chronology and geography of John Jakes’ character — something the author never did himself. Blosser is back with “Jan — With One ‘N,’” a review of Otis Adelbert Kline’s pulp-age jungle hero, Jan of the Jungle — not to be confused with Jann of the Jungle who comes up next.

"Fangs of the Black Orchid"

The Jann of the Jungle reprint, “Fangs of the Black Orchid,” is a short 5-pager that boasts nicely drawn but fairly static art by Al Williamson, best known for his work on Flash Gordon and Creepy. It’s about the usual greedy whiteskins trying to exploit Africa’s natural resources, in this case a rare but deadly orchid. Of course, they gets whatsa coming to them. “Dragonseed” is the replacement for the late Brak the Barbarian story: since both were drawn by Steve Gan, it’s a well-chosen stand-in. It’s about an original barbarian character, Marok the Merciless, the slayer of cities, conqueror of kingdoms. In other words, an all-around swell guy. When the villainous Marok is in the need of a new army of cutthroats, he steals a bag of dragon’s teeth: when planted, warriors will spring up from the earth. In an expected twist ending, the dragon shows up to reclaim his missing chompers. Gan makes a nice showing, but this 9-page filler is immediately forgettable. And, of course, the whole dragon’s teeth gag is a direct ripoff from Harryhausen’s Jason and the Argonauts. And as mentioned, things wrap up with Ka-Zar’s “The Night of the Looter,” reprinted from Savage Tales #1. 
-Thomas Flynn

Tales of the Zombie 7
Cover by Earl Norem

“The Blood-Testament of Brian Collier”
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Alfredo Alcala

“Mails to the Zombie”

“Voodoo in the Park”
Text by Kenneth Dreyfack

“Haiti’s Walking Dead”
Story by Doug Moench
Art by Win Mortimer

“Inside Voodoo”
Text by Chris Claremont

“A Second Chance to Die”
Story by Carl Wessler
Art by Alfredo Alcala

The usual creative team of Steve Gerber and Pablo Marcos take this issue off, as Doug Moench and Alfredo Alcala temporarily take charge of everyone’s favorite walking corpse. Gerber and Marcos do make an appearance, as they created two pages that bookend the main Zombie tale, helping place it in the context of the previous issue. The Zombie doesn’t really do much in “The Blood-Testament of Brian Collier,” as he's basically an observer of the events that unfold.

"Brian Collier"
While leading the Zombie through the New Orleans swampland, the priestess Layla trips and is knocked unconscious: the undead creature wanders off. After killing an alligator, the Zombie comes across a sprawling mansion. Peering inside a window, he spies the Collier family standing over the dead body of their patriarch Brian, who has been suffocated by a pillow. Soon, the obnoxiously gruff Detective Stuart Weller arrives and states that they are all suspects. After Weller departs, Jerome Ralston, the snooty family lawyer arrives. Ralston informs the Colliers that since Brian was gravely fearful of being buried alive, the entire family and household staff must watch over his crypt for a year before the rich inheritance is split between them. During the night, there are additional murders, all by the victim’s greatest fears: Brian Collier’s wife is skewered through the eyes by rapiers; his brother drowned by being hung upside down over a bathtub; the maid pushed down a flight of stairs; etc. Soon the murderers are revealed to be Collier’s nephew Jason and the attorney, Ralston. Only when the youngest Collier child is threatened does the Zombie intervene, bursting in and bloodily crushing Jason and Ralston’s skulls. The thing formerly known as Simon Garth trudges away and reunites with the revived Layla.

An odd bird this one. The Zombie only appears in a handful of panels throughout the 32 pages, peering through windows. So we basically have an old-fashioned murder/mystery on our hands. Some of the deaths are fairly graphic, but not sure that’s enough. What saves the story is Alfredo Alcala’s art, a cut above what we have come to expect from Marcos. It’s terrific, dark and sinister, with each of the numerous characters carefully delineated. Since the Zombie is not much of a participant, I wonder if “The Blood-Testament of Brian Collier” was originally ear-marked as a stand-alone horror tale and that the character was added in at a later date. Who knows, I couldn’t find anything to substantiate that thought.

More from the treasure known as Alfredo Alcala

Alcala returns with the 7-page “A Second Chance to Die.” Convicted of the murder of Frank Harrow, Brad Sloan stands on the gallows with a rope around his neck. When the trapdoor opens, the rope is too short and Sloan survives: he is spirited away by his victim’s wife Lura and taken to the remote island owned by her deceased husband. There, Lura raises an army of zombies to hunt down and kill Sloan. Pierced by multiple arrows, the murderer is just about to succumb when he suddenly snaps back to the gallows. This time the rope is true. It seems that a simple hanging was not revenge enough for Lura Harrow. Again, we get to enjoy Alcala’s excellent art but Carl Wessler’s plot is fairly harebrained. First time I’ve come across Wessler: it looks like he dates back to Marvel’s forerunner, Atlas Comics. Moench and Mortimer’s “Haiti’s Walking Dead” is not a full-fledged story per se, but an illustrated example of how a houngan uses voodoo to make his victims appear dead. Ho hum.

An article reprinted from The Village Voice, “Voodoo in the Park” is an expose about voodoo artifacts found by actual New York City police officers and park workers: decapitated pigeons, chickens, and whatnot. Who knew? Finally, Chris Claremont’s “Inside Voodoo” is a book review of Marcus Bach’s work of the same name. The only thing that really stood out for me was that it was published by New American Library under the Signet imprint. NAL was where I first met Professor Joe — a coincidence brought about by some kind of voodoo spell? Ooooo eeeee ooooo! -Thomas Flynn

1 comment:

  1. It is actually pretty funny that some of the most dangerous scenes are playing in Miami. Especially since it is so safe there during the last few years. I've lived in an apartment building near Biscayne Bay (link for the interested: for like 5 years now and never has anything happened to me or to anyone I know of. Funny where the author got his ideas from haha.