Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Comics Cavalcade

As blog buddy John Pitt recently pointed out, I haven't posted anything about comics here for far too long  -  so here are some recent-ish acquisitions, starting with a comic I've been after for many years, Fantastic Four Annual #3 from 1965. This issue, of course, features the wedding of Reed Richards and Sue Storm and was kind of a big deal back in the day. As well as bringing us the happiest day of Reed and Sue's lives it also serves up a massive slug-fest featuring the majority of the Marvel Universe at that time... even including Lee and Kirby! The cover hints at the madness within and I especially love the fact that Nick Fury turns up twice in this image in both Howling Commando and Agent of SHIELD guises  -   a neat trick :-)
This copy is a tad battered around the edges ( a bit like myself ) but it only cost me £20 ( I knocked the dealer down by £5 ) so I was pretty happy, as '60s FFs are usually ridiculously over-priced nowadays.
Next, some more FFs, this time from the early '70s when "Big" John Buscema had taken over art duties and Stan Lee was writing his last few issues, aided and abetted by the likes of the late Archie Goodwin.

By this point there was a constant shuffling of familiar elements and characters ( the Inhumans, Galactus, the Silver Surfer, even the less-than-stellar Diablo ) which only went to show how untouchable Lee and Kirby's tenure had been...
I notice Galactus had forgotten to put his trousers on again, see below. Maybe it's those harsh solar winds blowing around his nether regions ( steady! ) that make him so grumpy. And, of course, the fact he's only snacked on a couple of asteroids today and could really do with something more filling... like the Earth...

And here's some more Lee and Kirby wonderment with everybody's favourite Asgardian ( apart from the lady Sif, of course ) fighting the Super Skrull, of all agonisin' alien antagonists...
Page one of said issue below features some lovely inks from the much-maligned Vince Colletta who always added a touch of class to Kirby's pencils on the Thor strip.
And, in my customary disorganised manner, here's the issue before that one  -  the cover seems to be a collage of images from the interior artwork, leading me to believe that some kind of Dreaded Deadline Doom had led to a last minute substitution.
In another corner of the Marvel Universe we find another comic I've long been searching for, Marvel Premiere #3 ( July 1972 ), featuring the return of Doctor Strange...
Doc's own comic, the venerable Strange Tales, had been cancelled back in 1968 but the recent return of the Master of the Mystic Arts as part of The Defenders showed there was still a market for magic so he was granted a try-out run in Marvel Premiere. The creative team for this first issue was the slightly uncomfortable but highly groovy pairing of Stan Lee and Barry Smith. "Bashful" Barry imported a lot of his pre-Raphaelite and Art Nouveau leanings from his work on Conan The Barbarian, while The Man wrote in his usual flowery, faux-mystical style with Hoggoths and Raggadors all over the place. It was unsurprisingly a short-lived experiment but fun while it lasted.
And speaking of that sullen, sword-wielding barbarian...
Barry Smith had long gone by this 37th issue of Hyborian hijinks and "Big" John Buscema ( him again! ) was now the regular artist. However, this issue was a one-off, featuring the superior stylings of  "Nefarious" Neal Adams, popping up for ( I believe ) his only time on the colour Conan mag. This story was apparently intended for Strange Tales but, due to that B&W title's early sales dips and stumblings, it wound up in CTB, short of half a dozen pages. I wonder if the full story was ever published?
Finally, just so I'm not accused of a Marvel bias ( as if! ), here's DC's short-lived attempt to turn one of its oldest titles back into the anthology it started out as...
This "Dollar Comic" ( comics for a dollar! whatever next? ) was a pretty good package, featuring six stories in its 68 pages, with no ads. I mainly tracked this down because it was supposed to feature the "Last Battle" in the post-Kirby New Gods series. Of course, it's nothing of the sort as Orion and Darkseid have the usual, inconclusive Oedipal scrap which ends on a cliffhanger. Ho hum. As well as the New Gods, the other strips in this issue are some fun but dated-even-in-1978 adventures of the Flash, Deadman and Wonder Woman; and a cute spaceship romance for Green Lantern with some typically lovely Joe Staton artwork. Speaking of artwork  -  isn't that Jim Aparo cover fantastic? They really don't make 'em like that any more! And, is it just me, or is the Elongated Man tickling Darkseid under the chin? I look forward to seeing that happen if old granite-puss pops up in any forthcoming DC movie. Zack Snyder, are you listening???

5 comments:

Kid said...

Some great images there, Cer. I've got quite a few of the original issues, plus some of the others in reprint format. (My copy of FF Annual #3 is VFN, if not better, but more to the point, I restored the cover for the first Masterworks printing.) Kirby had drawn a cover for the Thor Vs. Replicus issue, but Stan nixed it because it was awkward looking. There's a pic of a stat of the original art on my blog somewhere. And FF #118 has that great back-up story where The Thing has an encounter with another Thing (who happens to be Reed Richards) in an alternate dimension. Great stuff.

cerebus660 said...

I've Googled that original cover, Kid, and it is indeed awkward. Replicus' anatomy seems very off in that image. I'm sure Kirby wouldn't have liked Lee wearing his Art Director hat, but I think he was right in this case...

John Pitt said...

Great post, Simon! Now, THIS was what I was talking about! Out of all of these, it's the FF annual #3 which I covet the most! I really MUST revisit that story soon!
Speaking of Galactus, were you as disappointed as I was by his portrayal in the "Rise of the Silver Surfer" FF film? Before the movie, I thought, "I can't wait to see what they do with Galactus!"
What a let-down!
I bought quite a few of the DC "dollar" comics, mainly The Superman Family and World's Finest, but also quite a few G.I. Combats as well!
Anyway, thanks for sharing your wares with us!

cerebus660 said...

John, I really didn't expect Galactus to rock up in the movie, wearing a toga and with a big "G" on his chest... but I did expect something better than that terrible CGI snowstorm in space. It was indeed a major let-down. I doubt we'll ever see a decent movie adaptation of the FF. But that's fine - we've still got the comics :-)

I haven't got many of the Dollar Comics left - most of them went in my Great Comics Purge in the '90s. I do remember some great covers on World's Finest and House Of Mystery, especially from Neal Adams.

So, should I do more posts about old comics, or what?
( BTW your comment appeared here twice so I deleted one of them... )

John Pitt said...

Thanks Simon, I may have unwittingly clicked twice.
No, I didn't expect the comics Galactus, but I did want some kind of giant being!
Yes please, Simon, more comics posts, but don't ignore the music & movies &'DW, etc., either!

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