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Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review Monsters Unleashed #10 (1974)

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Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the blog stuffed FULL of comic reviews nobody asked me to write!
 
It's that time of year again! October. . .the season of harvest, spooky fun, and questionable costume choices!  Here at Longbox Junk we're throwing a little Halloween party where I'm shining the spotlight on some of the older and/or more "valuable" comics in my collection with some supernatural flavor.  
 
This time out, I'm sending the Longbox Junk paper time machine back to the Bronze Age for a look at a comic book that Marvel insisted was actually a "Magazine" because it was a little bigger than a comic and printed in black and white. . .it was an earnest dodge of that pesky Comic Code, of course. 
 
 They put out  quite a few runs of these black and white "Magazines" , to varying degrees of success.  Most of them lasted a year or less.  The most enduring and popular being Savage Sword of Conan, which lasted until 1995 with an astounding 235 issues!  The series at hand only lasted for 10 regular issues plus an annual. Not close to SSOC level, but better than most of the others.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Monsters Unleashed #10. . .featuring that cadaverous cut up himself, FRANKENSTEIN! 
 
Let's do this!

MONSTERS UNLEASHED #10

MARVEL (1974)

 
COVER: Vicente Segrelles
 
THE COVER:
 
It's a very nicely painted cover, that's for sure!  The monster IS a bit horrific, but this actually looks more like a fantasy cover than a horror cover, with a sort of "Beowulf" feel to it.  That doesn't take away from this great piece of art one bit, though.  I always say that Gold Key and Dell had the best painted covers, but it looks like 70's Marvel was at least TRYING to give them a run for the money on their "Magazines" at least.  Let's get inside!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Three full stories and a one page space filler in this issue. . .with a very nice selection of Bronze Age comic talent on hand.  Just looking at the names on the credits makes me want to jump right in!
 
THEY MIGHT BE MONSTERS
(One Page)
SCRIPT: Tony Isabella
PENCILS: Pablo Marcos
 
A one page appetizer about an explorer who claimed to have seen a gigantic hairy monster-man in Africa. . .with the twist being that he was actually the first white man to have reported sighting a gorilla.
 
 
For a one page space filler I REALLY liked this!  Credit due to one of my favorite Bronze Age writers (Tony Isabella) for doing a lot in such a little space!  The art also knocked it out of the park, making this a fantastic opening for this comic. . .er. . .MAGAZINE.
 
A great start. . .let's get into the main course!

THE FRANKENSTEIN MONSTER: 
THE 11:10 TO MURDER
SCRIPT: Doug Moench
PENCILS: Val Mayerik
 
During a journey without a destination that he knows of, Frankenstein's Monster boards a train and meets a young woman who shows him the kindness that few others ever have, and they become friends in a short time.
 
Suddenly, the train comes under attack by a group of gunmen aboard.  It seems that the President of the United States is aboard the train and is the target of an assassination attempt.  
 
The Monster's new friend insists that they do something to save the President, and so together they make their way through the train to the President's car, defeating any assassins they come across on the way.
 
It turns out that the President being on the train was just a ruse.  The Monster's friend tells him to run away before he gets blamed for all the dead men, and she stays behind to explain what happened.  But as the train leaves The Monster behind, one last assassin blows it up with a grenade, killing The Monster's new friend and leaving him once again alone.
 
 
Although the setup feels a bit forced, with the tale hinging entirely on the coincidence that The Monster somehow finds himself on the same train as the President, I really liked this story.  The spoken dialogue might be a little overblown in places, but the omniscient caption box narration running through the story itself isn't just some fine comic book writing, it's some fine writing period!  Doug Moench does a knockout job setting the scenes here.
 
On the art side, Val Mayerik (Who I know more from Howard the Duck than anything else) gives the story some dark and gritty Neal Adams-inspired flavor with his fantastic, detailed, grey-tone artwork.  Every panel on every page of this story is worth lingering over a moment!
 
Overall, despite some awkward story setup relying on a bit of eye-rolling coincidence, this is a very nice little nugget of Longbox Junk gold, with two serious Bronze Age comic talents coming together in a great way.
 
NEXT!
 
BEAUTY'S VENGEANCE
SCRIPT: Doug Moench
PENCILS: Sanho Kim
 
After a fisherman rescues a mermaid, she promises that she will be his after one year if he returns home and doesn't find happiness.  As the year goes by, the fisherman only becomes more obsessed with the beauty of the mermaid, ignoring the growing love his homely housekeeper has for him.
 
Upon returning, the mermaid chastises the fisherman for obsessing over her outer beauty when there was a woman with great inner beauty right in front of him.  She turns into a water dragon and kills the fisherman, to the great sadness of his housekeeper, who was actually a mermaid herself.
 
 
Another great story courtesy of Doug Moench!  He imbues this tale with a dreamlike quality, as if it is a fable being told by a storyteller.  It's a pretty straightforward "Greedy person gets what is coming to them" tale with a supernatural/ Asian twist, but Moench's writing elevates it over the well-worn path that it travels.
 
Korean artist Sanho Kim brings the Asian flavor this story needs in a big way!  His unusual panel layouts and delicate, detailed lines are the perfect compliment to the dreamlike supernatural fable feel of the story.
 
Overall, another winner!  Once again, two great Bronze Age comic talents come together in one place to deliver a story that is captivating and memorable.  An unexpected nugget of Longbox Junk gold!
 
AND FINALLY. . .
 
THE SERENITY STEALERS
SCRIPT: Tony Isabella & Chris Claremont
PENCILS: Tony DeZuniga
 
Greer Nelson (AKA Tigra, formerly The Cat) faces the first test of her new were-cat powers as she tracks a killer taking the form of a monstrous rat through the sewers of the city.  
 
Deep beneath the city, Tigra discovers an ancient vampiric being named Surisha who the Rat-Man worships by bringing her prey that she drains the life force from in order to maintain her youth and beauty.  In particular, she feeds off her victim's happiness and serenity.
 
During the ensuing battle, Tigra manages to turn Surisha's Rat-Man servant against her, destroying the vampire before Tigra kills him in turn, revealing to the reader at the end of it all that Surisha was powerless against Tigra because she knows no happiness or serenity.
 

Do you really need to look any further than the three names credited on this story to know that it's good?  You have Tony Isabella. . .creator of Black Lightning and writer of some of the best Ghost Rider issues of the original run (and one of my favorite Bronze Age writers).  You have Chris Claremont, the writer who brought the X-Men back to life and took them higher than Stan Lee ever imagined.  And on art, you have prolific Bronze Age great Tony DeZuniga, co-creator of one of my favorite comic characters of all-time, Jonah Hex. 
 
If you were looking for a Bronze Age all-star team to write a comic story, you couldn't do much better than this team right here!
 
As for the story itself, it's an interesting mash-up of superhero and supernatural that's everything you'd expect from this creative team.  It has over the top action combined with an introspective inner monologue as Tigra wonders exactly who and what she really is.  In the end, that inner turmoil haunting the character turns out to be what wins the fight for her instead of any powers or abilities she might have.
 
Overall, a great combination of talent gives us a great little supernatural superhero tale to end the issue.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Three for three!  Or really, four for four, if you count the one page Tony Isabella appetizer at the front of things.  But no matter HOW you count it, this comic. . .er, sorry. . .MAGAZINE is a great read from cover to cover!
 
I have a confession.  I'm not a fan of black and white comics.  Except for Savage Sword of Conan and getting on the Walking Dead train after #50 after the constant recommendation/ nagging of a friend, I usually let the B/W comics stay right in the bargain bin.
 
BUT. . .
 
Based on finally reading this comic (which I bought for the cover and have let sit for years unread), I think I might be interested in checking out some more of Marvel's Bronze Age Black and White "Magazines".  That says a lot about the quality of the stories and art in this issue right there.
 
Overall, Monsters Unleashed #10 is a very nice nugget of Longbox Junk gold.  I can easily recommend this one to anyone looking for some supernatural flavor provided by some great Bronze Age comic talent.  It's not a particularly "valuable" comic to collectors, so copies can probably be found for decent prices (I think I paid ten bucks for mine, if I remember) if you keep your eye out for it.
 
Up Next. . .
 
The Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review party keeps going!
 
Let's stay in the Bronze Age and head over to DC for a look at  1974's House of Secrets #123.
 
Be there or be square!
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