Category Archives: comic books

Tonto Is Surprisingly Menacing On This Great Cover

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This month’s great comic book cover is a surprisingly menacing one. It’s also surprising that it’s by Dell Comics and not EC. Being that it is from late in comic books’ Golden Age, I wonder if it caused anti-comic book crusader Sen. Estes Kefauver any pause for concern.

The popular series The Lone Ranger, with Clayton Moore as the title character, was still in its original run on television when this issue of Tonto hit the newsstands (issue #16 dated August-October, 1954). The Lone Ranger’s faithful companion had gotten his own comic book series and, on this cover anyway, it seems he’s quite the badass!

Not only is the coloring of the cover dark, the tone is dark. Very dark. It sure looks as though Tonto might be more than willing to break that bad guy’s neck. He shows no signs of mercy. His deadly serious look of calm determination is in stark contrast to the look of fear in the bad guy’s eyes. “D-d-don’t kill me, M-m-mister Tonto!”

If the baddie wasn’t wearing the nose and mouth covering handkerchief (the disguise of choice of villains in Hollywood’s Old West) and we didn’t know it was Tonto this cover would certainly have us thinking a Native American is going to kill. With his bare hands!

Don Spaulding’s illustration is masterful. Beautifully done in those darker colors with a flat black background. Tonto’s expression is terrific, if damn cold. Those hands are fantastic and, along with the clothing, look almost photographic.

This really is a great cover.

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

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This Story Is Bonkers!

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Is this R. Crumb? The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers? Or some other weird underground comic from the 1960s or 70s?

Nope. It’s Marvel Comics‘ double-sized anniversary issue number 200 of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – The Avengers. This issue is dated October, 1980 and… it’s bonkers!

At this point, I’m going to warn you that I will be spoiling the heck out of this 38 year old comic book.

In the lead up (issues #197-199) to a very special issue of The Avengers, readers learn that Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel, is pregnant. We also learn that this is no ordinary pregnancy. Not only is it progressing at a highly accelerated rate, according to Ms. Marvel, who would surely know, there is no father. In fact, she stops just short of admitting to The Scarlet Witch that she’s a virgin.

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“When I shouldn’t even be pregnant at all! I never even… I-I mean, there couldn’t be…

Blast it, Wanda, there isn’t a father!

In a matter of days, with the assistance of Dr. Donald Blake, aka The Mighty Thor, and Jocasta, a robot created by the evil Ultron to be his mate (it didn’t work out – long story), Ms. Marvel delivers a healthy baby boy. The big-brained science members of The Avengers whisk the baby away for a battery of tests, while the new mom is wheeled off to her room for some rest. This does not upset Carol, as it might most any other new mother, in fact, she doesn’t want anything to do with the boy. She doesn’t consider him to be her son.

That’s actually probably a good thing considering what happens later. And what happened before.

Much the same as with the pregnancy, the boy grows at an incredible rate. Within hours he is talking and building a special machine for a purpose he refuses to reveal. He’s incredibly intelligent and resourceful; and he’s named himself Marcus.

As Marcus was growing, Captain America thought he’d ask the miracle boy some questions to determine just what is going on.

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Captain America asks, “For starters, where did you come from?”

Marcus answers, “My mother.”

“Yes, we know that, but… that is, how were you conceived?”

“Uhhhm… By my father?”

“Well, of course, blast it! But who is your father?”

“I am.”

Hold the flip phone! Virgin birth? The kid is his own father? Well, what do you know? I guess this can be considered my Christmas blog.

Somehow Marcus is causing all manner of space/time continuity errors to occur. Ordinary people from modern times are being shifted to earlier time periods. Spacecraft from the future have been brought to 1980. A medieval knight attempts to skewer The Scarlet Witch in a hallway of the Avengers Mansion, while an impossibly large T-Rex attacks it from the outside.

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I mean, seriously, that dinosaur is way too big.

Ms. Marvel finally gives in and goes to meet her “son”, who is now a young man, very nearly her own age. When she sees him she feels immediate stirrings. And not the maternal kind.

Eventually, Marcus tells his tale.

He’s the son of an evil time lord named Immortus, who ruled over the timeless realm of Limbo, but he was originally from earth. (It really is a long and convoluted story. Just go with me, OK?) Immortus was lonely in Limbo, so he plucked a woman from earth to be his mate, and along came Marcus 1.0. However, Marcus is not like his father. He is not evil.

When Immortus disappeared, due to a battle with the Avengers, Marcus was abandoned in Limbo. He wandered lonely for what might have been an eternity, when he thought since he was born into Limbo, perhaps he could be born out.

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Taking a page out of his father’s book, Marcus scanned earth for a suitable woman. He found Ms. Marvel, zapped her into Limbo, showed her a good time with the assistance of Shakespeare and Beethoven, and she responded favorably. They… er… gained carnal knowledge of each other, during which Marcus implanted his “essence” into her. (This was approved by the Comics Code Authority?!) She was then sent back to earth a “mere second” after he had abducted her, with no memories of what had happened.

Then came the fast track pregnancy and – voila – Marcus 2.0!

Sadly, his presence was causing the time shift problems and would soon doom the earth if he couldn’t stop it. That’s what the machine he built was supposed to do, but hot-headed, shoot-first-ask-questions-later Hawkeye barged in and destroyed it. That meant Marcus couldn’t stay on earth. His plan had failed. He now had to return to the loneliness of Limbo.

However, he wasn’t going to be alone. Ms. Marvel, feeling an intense attraction and love for Marcus, decided to go with him.

Technically, Marcus isn’t her son. They don’t share DNA. And he existed before she gave birth to him…

She gave birth to him! She doesn’t want to be his mother, she wants to be his lover! That’s bonkers! Right?!

This tale was conceived by Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, David Michelinie, and George Perez. Michelinie wrote the final script and the incomparable Perez drew it with inks by Dan Green. Not a woman in the bunch. No mothers around to say, “Boys! This plot line is bonkers!”

Years later, Star Trek: The Next Generation would use the fast track pregnancy and quickly growing alien offspring plot (The Child – Episode 1, Season 2) involving Counselor Troi. However, she didn’t develop the hots for her kid.

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books.

 

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She’s Wanted And On A Great Cover

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Returning to my weekly blog (did you miss me?) just in time to showcase another great comic book cover as part of my monthly series focusing on some of the great covers in the history of comic books. This month I stay with DC Comics (last month I did a Superman: The Man Of Steel cover) to examine the cover of Wonder Woman #240 from February, 1978.

This cover is a little unusual for a super-hero comic. There’s no battle. Wonder Woman isn’t shown to be in any immediate danger. The villain, if that is what he is, seems to be either moving quickly or nervously. It’s difficult to tell if those motion lines depict rapid movement or a shaky hand. I think it’s a shaky hand.

And is that a star on the cuff of the man’s coat? Is this man a general? Does his military status, the top secret file, and the wanted poster mean the American government is after Woman Wonder? What has she done?

So many questions brought up by the cover.

The artwork is top notch. Drawn by one of DC’s best artists Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and inked by DC’s inking machine Dick Giordano. Garcia-Lopez’s style is crisp and clean. His linework is simple and elegant. And his action and anatomy drawing is terrific.

There’s an attention to detail on this cover that is very impressive. The perspective drawing is solid as the artist shows us the top secret file and stamp, the wanted poster, the drawer, gun, and even the everyday items found on a work desk. Right down to the paper clips in the cup and the wood grain on the drawer. There’s even a nick in the drawer to show the desk have been lived in.

Even with all those details, the reader never loses sight of the cover’s action.

I think it’s a great cover.

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books.

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The Man Has Died. Stan Lee (1922-2018)

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Last December, with the input of a few friends, I had written a post commemorating Stan “The Man” Lee’s 95th birthday. Today I’m writing a brief post to acknowledge The Man’s death and his impact on my life.

I was a Marvel kid in the 1970s, when I started collecting comic books. All of my comic collecting friends were at the time. Although, I grew to appreciate DC Comics later in life, I’m still a Marvel kid at heart. Marvel Comics were just so much more exciting than DC Comics. The artwork was better. The action was better. The characters were better.

The characters were better, in large part, because they were so much more relatable than DC’s. Marvel characters had real world, often mundane, problems. Spider-Man had to figure out how to defeat Doc Ock and protect Aunt May, all while keeping his identity secret and his homework done. OK, I wasn’t fighting super-villains, but I did have homework. That relatability was one of Stan’s greatest contributions to comic books. His characters were people.

I’m aware there have been criticisms against Stan for what appeared to be his desire to be thought of as the sole creator of The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, and a whole litany of other exciting super-heroes. But I think those criticisms are a little unfair. Later in his life, he was certain to acknowledge the massive contributions of such creative giants as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko in those extremely creative years in the early 1960s. (And, let’s face it, without Stan Lee, how many of us would have ever heard of Kirby and Ditko?)

Stan Lee had a “gee whiz” kind of quality to his personality. He could seem a little hokey at times, but his optimism and exuberance were undeniable. It was that personality that made him the perfect cheerleader for Marvel Comics and for comic books in general. And that cheer-leading was an equally important facet to his contribution to the world of comic books, super-heroes, and, eventually, tent-pole super-hero movies. The Man not only changed comic books, he had a hand in changing Hollywood.

Throughout my youth, I would spend hours and hours reading, looking at, and studying comic books, most of them Marvel. Comic books inspired me to keep drawing, when other kids gave up and moved on to other things. I became an artist, a cartoonist. No, I never did get work drawing comic books, but no matter. It was comic books, Stan Lee’s comic books, that put me on the road to gaining this skill.

For that and the thousand of hours spent battling Dr. Doom with The Fantastic Four, or Ultron with The Avengers, or Magneto with The X-Men, I am eternally grateful to Stan “The Man” Lee.

Packing Peanuts!

No. Make that…

Excelsior!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books.

(This post has been corrected and updated on 11-16-18.)

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This Month’s Great Cover Has A Lantern Jaw

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Just look at that!

In the January, 1993 issue of Superman (#75), our hero from the planet Kryton had died defeating what seemed to be an unstoppable foe: Doomsday. In the months that followed, as Superman lay “dead,” four characters stepped in to fill his sizable shoes. They were Eradicator, Superboy, Cyborg Superman, and Steel. Eventually, the real Superman rose from the dead (hardly anyone stays dead in comic books for very long) to take up the task of once again fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

This month’s great cover is from Superman: The Man Of Steel #25 (September, 1993). It was drawn by Jon Bogdanove and inked by Dennis Janke. Bogdanove had started working for Marvel Comics in 1986, then he hopped on over to DC Comics in 1991 and became part of the team that created the Man Of Steel title in an expansion of the titles featuring our hero from another world. Then, in the wake of Superman’s death, the team created a new hero named Steel to take over the title.

1993 was part of th23188at awful time period when comic book art began to drown in unnecessary linework. Lines! Lines! Lines! Marvel and Image Comics led the way in this era in which some artists forgot to leave room for color, adding more and more lines, while some inkers also abandoned the use of varying line weight to show the shape of things. Look at the cover of The Incredible Hulk #341 (March, 1988), drawn and inked by Todd MacFarlane, one of the artists who issued in this flood of undisciplined linework. Now, imagine there’s no color, it’s a black and white line drawing. Without the color it would be difficult to tell just what the hell is going on. So many unnecessary lines, which all have more or less the same weight to them.

Compare MacFarlane’s cover to this month’s great cover. Bogdanove and Janke use plenty of lines for shading, but the lines are disciplined. They are loose in their execution, but they are placed right where they are needed. There are thick and thin lines. They make sense. You can tell exactly what is going on. And they leave room for color, which was masterfully provided by Janke.

I love a good close-up and Bogdanove and Janke nailed this one. This, my friends, is how you draw an angry, determined, about-to-kick-your-butt Superman!

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books.

Correction (12-5-18): I had the scope of the Superman: Man Of Steel title wrong. When the series started in 1991 it featured Superman. I had originally indicated the series was created to fill the void of the missing hero. The correction has been made.

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Hang on! Vince Colletta Inked This?

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Comic books? Check. Hair helmet? Check. Safety glasses? Check. Girlfriend?

By my sophomore year of high school (1980/81), I was a few years into seriously collecting comic books. I had even been drawing my own with a friend since the fourth grade. And in that year’s yearbook there was a brief profile on me and my comic book fandom. It included a photograph of me with a few selected items from my collection.

When the yearbooks were handed out and we were all feverishly defacing them by getting our friends and favorite teachers to sign them, a fellow sophomore approached me. He asked how many comic books I had in my collection. When I told him he complained that I shouldn’t have been profiled. He said, “My collection is a lot bigger than yours!”

My sister is on the yearbook committee,” was my somewhat snarky response. You see, it was my sister who wrote the blurb. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

High school drama aside, do you that page just below and to the right of the Son Of Origins Of Marvel Comics tome? That is the one piece of original comic book art that I own. I bought it for a mere 12 dollars, which was right in my budget.

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Here’s a better look at the page.

The page is from the original Sub-Mariner series by Marvel Comics. It’s the second page of issue #72, the last of that series. The artist is Dan Green and the inker is Vince Colletta.

However, when I shared this image on a comic book fan group page on Facebook, there were plenty of people who questioned if Colletta really did ink this page. Well, the credits in the book say it was him, as does the comic book database site comics.org. So, I went with those sources.

However, I can see why it’s questioned, because Vince Colletta had a very recognizable inking style. His inks have a feathered feel to them. His shading lines tend to be thinner than what we see on the page from Sub-Mariner #72. In fact, the first few pages of that issue don’t look as though Colletta had inked them, but by page 10, his work is unmistakable.

Here’s a good example of his inks. This panel was drawn by George Tuska.

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Note the shading and shaping lines on Angel’s arm, chest, and hair. Those are all signs of Colletta’s inking.

Here are a couple of the first few pages of Sub-Mariner #72. It’s difficult to see any of the Colletta style:

Sub-Mariner Page 1

Page 1

Sub-Mariner Page 7

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Compare the original art page and these other two pages to that panel with the prone Angel. There doesn’t seem to be any of the Colletta feel. Perhaps a little in the creature’s left arm in the first panel of page 7.

Now compare those to these next two pages, also from Sub-Mariner #72.

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Page 10

Sub-Mariner Page 11

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I think it is very clear that Vince Colletta inked these two pages. His style is all over them. So, it may be possible he did not ink those first few pages. Maybe Dan Green inked them, he is primarily known as an inker. However, unless someone with direct knowledge as to the creators responsible for the artwork, I’ll go with the credits given in the comic book itself.

Can anyone provide that insight?

Oh, in case you’re curious as to how the original page I own looks when colored and printed, here it is:

Sub-Mariner Page 2

Packing Peanuts!

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Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books.

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A Great Comic Cover From The Days Before Zombies Were Played Out. (They Are Played Out, Right?)

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The best month of the year has once again arrived. Seriously, it’s awesome. The weather, at least where I live, is so much more pleasant than any other time of the year. Baseball’s postseason kicks off and, boy, I hope the Hated Yankees lose. (You should, too!) My wife and I celebrate our wedding anniversary. And the best month is capped off by the best holiday – Halloween!

Come on! How could any month be better?

Since the capper is Halloween, it’s my tradition to declare a comic book cover that depicts the macabre as great. So, this October I declare the cover of Batman #453 (Late August 1990) to be great. It was drawn by one of my favorite artists Mike Mignola, with inks by George Pratt.

Mignola is one of those artists who when he first started in the field attempted to conform to a more traditional superhero drawing style. Fortunately, he began to draw the way he wanted to and his work got so much more interesting. At least, to me.

This cover of Batman came out during the later stage of his change over in his style. And it’s great. Batman is best when he’s depicted on the macabre side (Kelley Jones also excelled at the macabre Batman) and Mignola’s deceptively simple line work is on par with David Mazzucchelli’s work on the Batman: Year One storyline from 1987. (A terrific story arc!)

Just look at it! Stark contrast, muted colors, a graveyard with a demon-headed tombstone, the Dark Knight, and the undead! It’s great, I tell ya! Great!

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books.

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