feature requests

atom's Comic Book Blogs

  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

I write comic book reviews that NOBODY has ever asked for!

November 2022

SuMoTuWeThFrSa
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
27282930 

Archives

Tags

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews nobody ever asked for!

 
The Longbox Junk 2022 Halloween Horror Party is still going strong, so this time out, how about we get Indie up in here?
 
Not so long ago here in Longbox Junk, I was spotlighting some of the ubiquitous bargain bin comics.  Those comic series you're practically GUARANTEED to find at least one issue of in just about any bargain bin you happen to dive into.  The series at hand is exactly that.  
 
I've seen so many of these Deadworld comics in bargain bins that I wonder just how many of them they printed!  For a 1980s black and white Indie horror comic, it sure gets around.  And yeah. . .I've bought a few of them for the covers, but (not being a fan of black and white comics in general) I've never actually READ one.
 
UNTIL NOW! Let's do it!

DEADWORLD #1

ARROW (1986)

 
 
COVER:  Vincent Locke
 
THE COVER:
 
The cover is basically the only reason I dropped a dollar on this comic, and it's great!  I'm a sucker for monochromatic backgrounds on comic covers and the stark black REALLY frames the supremely detailed zombie very nicely.  I also really like the gruesome greenish-yellow color on the zombie.  This is just a great horror comic cover. . .simple, but effective.  Let's get inside this thing!
 
EYE OF THE ZOMBIE
 
SCRIPT: Stuart Kerr
PENCILS: Vincent Locke
INKS: Vincent Locke
 
THE STORY:
 
In Louisiana, a group of teenagers are riding out a zombie apocalypse in a school bus, scavenging for food and supplies as they try to make sense of what has happened over the past month.  It's a situation made harder by conflict and bickering among the group.  They finally decide to travel through Texas and head for California.
 
 
Little do they know as they fight and argue with each other, they are being watched by a group of zombies. . .but THESE zombies aren't the mindless husks the kids are used to, these zombies are intelligent, making plans to attack the group.
 
 
Later that night, the group is attacked by a horde of zombies!  As the kids desperately fight and try to gather everyone into the bus, they are horrified to see a trio of zombies riding motorcycles and firing weapons at them!  
 
 
 
The kids manage to get the bus started and escape, but the leader of the zombies vows to follow them.
 
 
To be continued. . .
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Hmmmmm. . .okay.  There it is.  Deadworld #1.  Let's break it on down!
 
So, what we have here is a zombie apocalypse survival story with a twist. . .intelligent zombies.  To be honest, I didn't like it much.  Intelligent zombies sort of step on the whole appeal of zombie fiction, which is the fight to survive against a mindless, overwhelming enemy that never stops coming no matter what you do.  All you can do is run, hide, and hope to live another day.  Once you make the zombies intelligent, they might as well not even be called zombies!
 
The story itself is mostly made up of the group of teenage survivors arguing among themselves.  The zombies only show up for a few pages out of the whole issue.  This makes for a pretty wordy first issue.  The focus on conflict among the survivors works in something like the Walking Dead comics, but here. . .well. . .let's just say Stuart Kerr is no Robert Kirkman.  It gets a little annoying.
 
On the art side of things. . .this comic is a little hard on the eyes.  There's a lot of crosshatching that makes it kind of hard to tell what's going on.  The artist also has some trouble with human faces.  You can tell that he'd MUCH rather be drawing zombies than humans.  To be fair, I do have a few more issues of this series and the art is greatly improved as it goes on, but HERE the art looks pretty amateurish.
 

CONCLUSION

 
It's an interesting comic because I can see some of the things the creative team were doing in it were trying to step outside of the box of zombie fiction.  I can appreciate the effort.  But at the same time, it doesn't really work well.
 
Long, wordy passages of teenagers constantly arguing combined with artwork that is just sort of annoying and topped with an intelligent zombie twist that falls sort of flat all serve to let me know that this comic's constant presence in the bargain bin is deserved.
 
I can't really recommend this one to anyone except the most die-hard fans of zombie fiction.  In my humble opinion, the best thing about this issue is that awesome zombie cover.  
 
Up Next. . .
 
MORE Longbox Junk Halloween Horror fun!
 
Be there or be square.

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find all the comic reviews you never asked anyone for!

 
Not a bad Halloween Party so far.  A few tricks, a few treats.  Some nice costumes.  Good fun!
 
This year, I've invited a special guest. . .someone we haven't had here yet since I started doing the Longbox Junk Halloween party.  Let's welcome the one and only ELVIRA, MISTRESS OF THE DARK!
 
Elvira is a character that embodies the sillier side of Halloween.  Love her, hate her, or indifferent, she's been an unavoidably campy fixture of the season for decades.  Anyone with even a little bit of pop culture exposure knows who Elvira is. As far as comics go, she's had a pretty good run of four-color fun over the years.  
 
Elvira's most recent comic home is at Dynamite, but there was a short time in the 80s when DC had the comic rights to the character and were trying to bank on Elvira's popularity as the hostess of a revival of their House of Mystery anthology series.  It only lasted 11 issues and a Special, so. . .maybe NOT so popular after all?
 
Let's take a look at an issue and see what was going on, shall we?  WE SHALL!

ELVIRA'S HOUSE OF MYSTERY #9

DC (1986)

 
 
THE COVER:
 
Love it!  It has a campy pop art look to it that just makes it catch the eye.   It sort of has the look of an old concert poster. The bright yellow background, the black and white photo of Elvira, and the giant mixed font lettering all combine to make this cover something that will NOT be ignored! 
 
So, nice cover. Let's get inside and see what else this comic's got. . .
 
THE STORIES:
 
Two stories in this one, with a framing device that threads through the issue of Elvira finding an old film projector in a room of the House of Mystery and her watching movies she finds with it.  Let's give each story its own turn. . . 
 
LOST SOULS
 
SCRIPT: Darren Auk
PENCILS: Darren Auk
INKS: Victor Laszlo
 
When writer Jonathan Gray retreats to an old house in the country for privacy and inspiration, he finds himself having horrific nightmares of a murderous, living doll.  As the nights go on, the dreams become more and more real until the beautiful landlady reveals to him that her grandfather is a vampiric spirit tormenting him, using his hellish powers to increase his fear and make it easier to steal his soul!
 
The landlady admits that she is also a vampiric spirit, a succubus, a stealer of men's souls!  She begs Gray to help her destroy her grandfather, but as the demon's attacks begin to intrude on Gray's reality, he gives in to his fear and runs for his life, leaving the succubus behind to set fire to the house and destroy her grandfather. . .

 
In the end, Gray thinks he's escaped, but as he drives away, he is attacked by the killer doll in his car, proving that the succubus was not able to destroy her grandfather, and sealing his fate!
 
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Not a bad little story!  It has a pretty timeworn "gotcha!" ending, but other than that, it's not bad at all.
It's not the greatest or most memorable comic horror story I've ever read, but it's a decent read.
 
On the art side of things, I liked Darren Auk's style.  It has an interesting mix of realism and exaggeration that fits a story where the narrator loses his grasp of what's real and what isn't very nicely.
 
Overall, I liked this story quite a bit.  It's well-written and has some nice art.  What more could I ask for from a comic I bought for two bucks because of the cool cover?
 
MOVING ALONG! 
 
DRINK LIKE A FISH
 
SCRIPT: Dennis Yee
PENCILS:  Graham Nolan
INKS:  Reuben Pharms
 
When Davy's friends taunt him for not joining in the party after a day at the beach, he decides to go against his doctor's orders and drink a beer. . .
 
 
The alcohol affects him in a strange way, transforming him into a reptilian creature! After he changes, Davy remembers that he is there on an assignment to observe the human land creatures, and the alcohol has neutralized the serum that allowed him to maintain his human disguise.
 
His true identity now revealed, he must reluctantly return to the sea, leaving behind his human life and the woman he came to love. 
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This one is a bit of a dud. The emotion the writer tries to put into the end of the tale falls flat because the front end is rushed and there's no investment in the lovers cruelly separated by fate because we don't really get to know much about their relationship to start with.  Okay, I get it. . .it's a short story.  But even ONE extra page would have made it better.  
 
On the art side of things, I know Graham Nolan from his work on Detective Comics. . .and this is NOT his best work at all.  The whole story looks somewhat sketchy and unfinished.  
 
Overall, this is just not a very good story at all.  I guess they can't ALL be winners.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Honestly, the best part of this comic is the awesome pop art style cover.
 
The first story isn't bad.  It's actually pretty good, with some interesting art to back it up.  But ultimately, it's not the sort of story that's going to stick and be memorable.  It's a decent read, but that's about as far as it goes.
 
Unfortunately, there's not much to like at all about the second story, which ends this comic on a sour note which hardly makes this comic seem worth the time to hunt down just for a good cover and a decent opening story.
 
All in all, this comic is definitely half and half. It has a great cover, a promising opening and a disappointing end.  I say give it a read if you spot it in a bargain bin on the cheap, but don't spend much effort trying to hunt it down unless you happen to be a big Elvira fan (she only appears on a few framing story pages).  
 
Up Next. . .
 
We're only halfway through October, so the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror party keeps going!
 
Be there or be square.
 

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the blog absolutely STUFFED with comic reviews nobody asked me to write!

 
The 2022 Halloween Horror party has been going pretty strong so far, so how about we crank up the Longbox Junk time machine for another trip back to the Bronze Age?
 
This time out, we'll be taking a look at the second issue of an extremely short-lived (3 issues) DC anthology series from 1975. . .Tales of Ghost Castle!
 
Everybody ready?  Make sure your safety belt is fastened and all belongings are securely stowed beneath your seat.  Please put on the goggles provided for your safety.
 
*Grasps gigantic lever with both hands and yanks it down*
 
LET'S GOOOOOOOOOOO!!

TALES OF GHOST CASTLE #2

DC (1975)

 
 
COVER: Luis Dominguez
 
THE COVER:
 
I like this one a lot!  It's dark and moody, it tells a story that I want to know more about.  I can definitely see some Joe Kubert influence in the art, and in MY book, that's a good thing.  I really like the giant and pretty unusual title dominating the top of the cover.  This one is a Bronze Age winner!
 
Let's get inside and see what's going on, shall we? WE SHALL!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Three stories in here for your 1975 quarter.  You don't get value like THAT anymore.  You're lucky to get ONE story for five bucks these days.  Actually, more likely you'll get the first fragment of a story that's going to take 12 issues to finish up.  But enough of THAT. . .let's check out what we've got here.
 
SNAKE-EYES
 
SCRIPT: Robert Kanigher
PENCILS: E.R. Cruz
INKS: E.R. Cruz
 
One night, a lab worker that enjoys torturing snakes is bitten by a deadly Bushmaster. She takes an untested experimental anti-venom formula.  It saves her, but somehow turns her into a snake!  When she is discovered, she is unable to speak and save herself from being thrown into the venomous snake pit along with the hated snakes she tormented.
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
A pretty good story of the time-honored "You have become that which you hate the most" story path. The short tale hangs on an overly worn framework, but Kanigher does a good job with it.  But what REALLY puts this story a notch above the ordinary is the art!  If you don't like snakes, then the art on this story will crawl up your spine and hiss at you!  Just LOOK at the page I scanned above.  The snake-tastic art in this story definitely delivers the creep factor!
 
A good start.  Let's see what's next!
 
THE INHERITORS
 
SCRIPT:  Jack Oleck
PENCILS: Alex Nino
INKS: Alex Nino
 
2000 years after Planet Earth was abandoned as a radioactive wasteland following a devastating worldwide nuclear war, humans return to their home planet for the first time.  
 
The explorers quickly discover that Earth is now clear of radiation but is inhabited by brutal savages. . .humans that did not escape and were mutated.  After losing several men, the Captain of the starship decides that the only way for humans to reclaim their world is to completely eliminate the half-human savages.
 
Once the deed is done, the crew celebrates with a swim in Earth's clean waters. . .revealing that they are themselves scaly mutants and hardly human at all.
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Another tale that hangs on a pretty worn story hook. . .this time of the "You're no different than those you hate" category.  But classics are classics for a reason, and this is a well-written story.  But like the first offering in this issue, it's the art that really brings this short story up to a higher level.  The hyper-stylized look of the art REALLY stands out in a bold way.  It's unusual and memorable and I'm definitely interested in finding more work from Alex Nino to enjoy.
 
Two for two! Hopefully, the last story can keep up the quality.  Let's bring it on home!
 
THE FATE OF THE FORTUNE-HUNTER
 
SCRIPT: Mal Warwick
PENCILS: Ruben Yandoc
INKS: Ruben Yandoc
 
Two ruthless mercenaries on the trail of a fortune in hidden Inca gold blaze a trail of blood across South America until they finally find an old man and his grandson who claim to know where the treasure is and will guide the fortune hunters to it in exchange for a halt to their violence.
 
As they travel, the old man angers the mercenaries and they kill him in cold blood.  They follow his grandson to an ancient mine, pursuing him into its depths until they are taken captive and brought before the Prince of a mysterious tribe. . .the old man's grandson. 
 
He sentences the mercenaries to a lifetime of labor in the gold mine they were so eager to find.
 
 
And we finish off this issue with a tale following yet another well-worn story path, this time it's "Your greed earned you a fate worse than death".  But like the first two stories, it's well written and engaging. The ending of the story actually took me by surprise!  And ALSO like the other two stories in the issue, the art is the real star of the show!  The art in this story is just FULL of fine detail and a feeling of motion that really brings life to the narrative.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Three stories. . .three winners!  Not a bad one in the bunch.  What more could a comic fan ask for?
 
The three stories in this issue are all hanging on classic, one might say overused, story hooks, but the writers do a great job of keeping them interesting and very readable, even 47 years down the road.  
 
But even though the stories are enjoyable, the REAL hook for me in this issue was the art!  From the cover to the last page, this comic is PACKED with fantastic Bronze Age art that really brings these stories up to a higher level than you would think a trio of Twilight Zone-style twist ending tales would rise to.
 
Overall, this comic is a grand slam winner!  It's rare I can't find ANYTHING to criticize in a comic, but this is one of those times.  From end to end, Tales of Ghost Castle #2 is entertaining and enjoyable, and I highly recommend it to any fans of classic comic anthology horror/ suspense titles.
 
Up Next. . .
 
Keepin' the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror party going with MORE spooky fun!
 
Be there or be square.

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where the comics are cheap and the reviews are free!

 
The Longbox Junk Halloween Horror 2022 party has just started, so let's keep it going!  
 
This time out, the comic at hand is a horror anthology special from a publisher that has definitely carved out a niche in the "sexy cover" category of comics.  Zenescope has the sort of covers that MIGHT get you a strange look from your wife if she sees you buying one.  Talking from personal experience here.  
 
But what's under that cheesecake cover?  Is it worth your time and hard-earned cash?
 
Let's take a look and find out!
 

GRIMM TALES OF TERROR

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL 2019

Zenescope (2019)

 
 
COVER: Igor Vitorino
 
THE COVER:
 
Yep.  That's a Zenscope cover. Looking at the variants for this issue, I see that I actually have the tamest of the bunch!  Honestly, I like it.  It could stand to tone the sexy down a bit, but I guess if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Zenescope knows their lane and keeps in it.  It's nicely detailed, I like the muted colors a lot, and the scarecrow is actually pretty creepy.  Not a bad cover. . .just not one to hang on the office wall.
 
THE STORIES:
 
Three stories in this one, all tied together with a framing story thread about Keres, (Zenescope's Goddess of Death), setting up a costume shop in a college town in order to bring punishment to those worthy of it running through the issue.
 
Let's take a look at each story in turn. . .
 
EVIL TATTOOS
 
SCRIPT: R. Alan
PENCILS: Butch Mapa
INKS: Butch Mapa
 
A bullied kid finally gets his revenge on his tormentors thanks to magical rub-on tattoos given to him by a woman at a mysterious costume shop that turn the bullies into twisted monsters.
 
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Not a great start.  This first story is so light that it's almost not even there.  From the title to the extremely basic artwork, this reeks of minimum effort.  Hopefully, things will get better from here.
 
MOVING ALONG!
 
CAT AND MOUSE
 
SCRIPT: Raven Gregory
PENCILS: Umberto Giampa
INKS: Unberto Giampa
 
At a frat house Halloween party, a would-be predator finds himself being the prey when strange decorations bought at a mysterious costume shop summon an ancient vampiric demon in the form of a beautiful woman.
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
*sigh*
 
Another extremely light story that seems to be more of an excuse to feature a scantily-clad woman through about half of the panels than anything else.  At least the art on this one is much better than the first story.  That's about the only thing to like here.
 
I'm not holding out high hopes for the last tale, but let's check it out!
 
THE HUNTER
 
SCRIPT: Ben Meares
PENCILS: Salvatori Cuffari
INKS: Salvatori Cuffari
 
A beautiful woman turns the tables on the stalker hunting her when she reveals that she was, in fact, hunting him the whole time.
 
 
THE REVIEW:

 
This is the second tale in this issue to follow the well-worn "Hunter becomes the prey" story path.  This one actually pulls it off much better in the writing department, but takes a step back with the art.  Although I DID like that the reader doesn't really know which point of view the story is being told from page to page, this is still a pretty forgettable effort.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, this was a pretty weak excuse for a horror comic.  There is a definite feeling through the whole thing that it's just a minimal effort excuse to put pages between the sexy cover that Zenescope was counting on being the selling point.  
 
To be honest, nothing here was BAD, but nothing was really that good, either.  The art in the second story and the writing in the third manage to reach the bar of "pretty good", but there's no effort to go any higher than that.
 
I think it's safe to say that most horror comic fans can go ahead and skip this one unless you happen to be a fan of sexy comic book covers (and there's nothing wrong with that).  There's really not much here to like.  I found this in a dollar box and that's right where it belongs.
 
Up Next. . .
 
That's right! MORE Longbox Junk Halloween Horror fun!
 
Be there or be square.

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where you can find all the comic reviews you never asked for!

 
Ah. . .October.  'Tis the season when you can go shopping for Halloween candy while enjoying the festive holiday cheer of Christmas music!
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Keeping the Longbox Junk 2022 Halloween party going, I decided to invite a couple of homicidal maniacs, because what's a Halloween party without a couple of maniacs?  I say it's NOT a party, and you can't change my mind!
 
Let's do it!
 

NEW LINE CINEMA'S

TALES OF HORROR

Wildstorm (2007)

 
 
COVER: Darick Robertson
 
THE COVER:
 
A fine piece of comic book horror courtesy of Darick Robertson!  Very detailed and a little bit uncomfortable. . .just the way I like my horror art!  Leatherface down in the right corner in particular is nightmarishly creepy.  The cover is a winner, let's see what's inside!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Two stories in this one.  The first based on Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the second based on Nightmare on Elm Street.  Let's take a look at them in their own turns. . .
 
THE TEXAS CHAINSAW SALESMAN
 
SCRIPT: Peter Milligan
PENCILS: Tom Feister
INKS: Ton Feister
 
When a door-to-door chainsaw salesman picks the wrong house in Texas to peddle his wares at, he THINKS he has bad luck when he doesn't make the sale, but by driving away with his life, his luck has actually never been better.
 
 
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This first story leans more into comedy than horror, with a hapless chainsaw salesman (is there even such a thing?) ignoring every warning and signal to leave and obliviously trying and failing to hard-sell a new chainsaw to the family from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  
 
It's. . .okay.  The whole concept seems a bit forced, but I did like the ending with the salesman getting away without even knowing how close he was to dying, disappointed because of his bad luck.
 
The art is really the high point here.  It has a dark hybrid pencil/paint feel to it, with supreme detail on character faces and expressions that makes this short fluff of a joke story visually interesting.
 
Overall, this one is decent, but nothing memorable.  
 
NEXT!
 
COPYCAT
 
SCRIPT: Christos Gage
PENCILS: Stefano Raffaele
INKS: Stefano Raffaele
 
When a demented fan of Freddy Krueger captures Freddy's attention with his murders, Freddy is forced to make a deal with the copycat killer.  But Freddy is a solo act and turns the tables on the copycat by using his own blackmail against him when Freddy finds ANOTHER killer who idolizes him.  In the end, the world loses two Freddy Krueger wannabes while the original returns to haunting dreams.
 

 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Not bad.  An interesting little story about the misguided fandom that surrounds serial killers.  The idea is good, but the execution IS a bit forced.  The notion of Freddy Krueger being blackmailed into a partnership of sorts falls flat, and that notion is what props up the whole story.
 
That said, there's some pretty funny moments in the story (like the first, it leans a bit more toward comedy than actual horror) and the artist gives the whole thing a gritty, dirty look that feels right for a story about a terrible character like Freddy Krueger and his scummy wannabe fans.
 
Overall, this story is better than the first, but still not very memorable in the long run.
 

CONCLUSION

 
This was an interesting little comic.  Both stories lean more into comedy than actual horror, and although the stories are pretty good, I just wanted a little more horror out of my horror comic.
 
The art was the real star of this show.  From the creepy Darick Robertson cover and all the way through, this IS a very nice-looking comic book.  The art here almost makes up for the so-so stories.
 
Overall, I'd say give this one a read if you happen to spot it in the bargain bin, but don't go out of your way to find one unless you're a big Texas Chainsaw Massacre or Nightmare on Elm Street fan.  For anyone else, this is going to be a quick and ultimately forgettable read.
 
Up Next. . .
 
Yep.  You guessed it.
MORE Longbox Junk Halloween Horror fun!
 
Be there or be square.

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find a bunch of comic reviews you never asked for!

 
It's October! The scent of pumpkin spice is everywhere and it's that time of year when Longbox Junk heads to the spooky side of comics for a little Halloween Horror fun!
 
This time out, I'm cranking up the Longbox Junk time machine for a trip back to 1978 and a look under the fantastic cover of the second issue of a short-lived DC anthology series starring the one and only Madame Xanadu.
 
Ready? Let's do this!
 

DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE #2

DC (1978)

 
 
COVER: Michael Wm. Kaluta
 
 
DOORWAY TO NIGHTMARE
 
SCRIPT: Gerry Conway
PENCILS: Vicente Alcazar
INKS: Vicente Alcazar 
 
THE COVER:
 
Now THAT'S a fine cover!  I mean. . .just LOOK at it!  Kaluta is one of my favorite Bronze Age artists and he definitely knocked this one right out of the park.  The detail, the composition, the colors, the shading on Xanadu's dress. . .and all set perfectly against a monochromatic background.  I LOVE this cover and it's one of the favorites in my comic collection. It's just a beautiful piece of art.
 
THE STORY:
 
After physicist Melissa Mann gets a warning about the danger of pursuing science that she shouldn't from the mysterious fortune teller Madame Xanadu, she ignores the warning and throws herself even more into the research project she shares with another physicist, Nobel Prize-winning Doctor Hampton Hill.  Believing Xanadu's message to be an attempt to make her quit her work by her boyfriend, artist Douglas Holt, she distances herself from him.
 

 
Doctors Mann and Hill are working on Project Doorway.  An ambitious undertaking to use science to breach the barriers of time and space in order to open a doorway into another dimension.  But when they finally activate the device, the scientists are horrified to discover that the dimension beyond the doorway is full of twisted, demonic creatures rushing toward the opening!
 
Luckily for them, Douglas was nearby, having taken Xanadu's warning seriously.  He rushes into the lab and smashes the machine, closing the dimensional doorway just in time. . .or so he thought!
 
 
 
In the days that follow, Melissa undergoes a terrifying change.  From shy and quiet scientist, she becomes lusty and violent.  Finally, she becomes so out of control that Douglas and Doctor Hampton have her committed to the psychiatric ward at Bellvue Hospital.  
 
The doctors at Bellvue are unable to determine the cause of Melissa's strange, violent behavior.  The distraught Douglas returns in desperation to Madame Xanadu, who informs him that Melissa has become possessed by a creature from beyond the doorway!
 
Reluctantly, Douglas agrees to help Xanadu perform an exorcism.  The supernatural ritual works, drawing a horrific creature out of the body of Melissa.  As it rushes to possess Douglas, Xanadu manages to capture the being in an arcane crystal.
 

 
In the end, Melissa is freed of the demonic presence, but witnessing the exorcism and the creature that came out of her was too much for Doctor Hampton.  His mind snaps and the brilliant scientist is fated to remain a patient at Bellvue.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
What we have here is a modern comic re-imagining of the 1934 H.P. Lovecraft story "From Beyond".  A story that combines science and the supernatural with the idea that there is a horrific dimension just out of our sight with creatures trying to find a way into ours.  It's a classic story that has stood the test of time through many different re-imaginings in various media and it works very nicely here in comic book form.
 
Gerry Conway is in fine form here, providing a chilling tale of science gone wrong with a supernatural twist.  The story is almost 45 years old and it still reads well.  There's a timeless quality and feel to this story that I really appreciate.  It's a simple story and Conway keeps it simple.  That's what makes it good.
 
On the art side, Vicente Alcazar does a fine job, with dark shadows and bold lines dominating the pages (He inked his own pencils here) and giving this tale a moody, almost gothic look.  I know Alcazar's work more for his run on Jonah Hex, so it was a surprise and treat to see something else from him. 
 

CONCLUSION

 
The combination of dark, striking artwork and good writing on a straightforward story that stands the test of time make this 1970s re-imagining of a classic Lovecraft tale worth a read for any fan of horror comics!  
 
Up Next. . .
 
MORE Longbox Junk Halloween Horror fun!
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic reviews that nobody asked for!

 
What's that you say? 
 
I promised a King Conan series review and the title CLEARLY says nothing about King Conan?  
 
Fear not, Conan fans! That series review is in the pipeline, just delayed a bit.  I completely forgot that October is upon us.  October isn't Conan season. . .October is Longbox Junk HALLOWEEN HORROR season!
 
That's right, it's that time of year when I take a look at the spooky side of comics, and I try to pack as many of them as I can into the month of October!  So, settle back, turn down the lights, and let's have some Halloween fun!
 
I'm starting off this Longbox Junk spookathon with something brand spankin' new!  So, before we begin. . .

THIS IS A REVIEW OF A COMIC THAT IS ON THE STANDS RIGHT NOW.  THIS IS YOUR SPOILER WARNING!
 
Okay? Everybody in that's staying in? Let's do this!
 

SGT. ROCK vs. 

THE ARMY OF THE DEAD #1

(DC Horror - 2022)

 

COVER: Gary Frank
 
NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT
 
SCRIPT: Bruce Campbell
PENCILS: Eduardo Risso
INKS: Eduardo Risso
 
THE COVER:
 
Ah. . .There's the good stuff! My favorite WWII infantry dog captured in a freeze frame moment of action against a horde of the undead!  It's super-detailed and full of action.  This is the kind of thing that makes me want to buy a comic book!  Let's get inside. . .
 
THE STORY:
 
BERLIN: 1944.  As the Allies move in on the German capital, A-dolf H-itler becomes more and more desperate to turn things back around.  Operation: Regeneration is put into action.  A mad experiment in returning dead N-azi soldiers back to life, using a combination of chemicals and electricity.  
 
 
After an allied patrol is decimated by seemingly unstoppable German soldiers, Sgt. Rock and Easy Company are summoned to HQ for a special mission. . .infiltrate deep into hotly contested enemy territory, find where the re-animated soldiers are being created, find one Doctor Morell (the head of the project), and do what Easy Company does best.
 
To aid in the mission, Easy Company is issued some experimental equipment, including thermal imaging scopes, and are shown one of the re-animated soldiers. . .but during the briefing, the undead German breaks free and attacks!
 
 
 
Easy Company quickly discovers that the process doesn't just bring the dead back to life but gives them superhuman strength and ability to resist damage.  It takes the combined firepower of the whole squad to bring just the ONE undead German down! 
 
After seeing what it took to destroy the escaped creature, Rock isn't very confident about their chances on this one. . .
 
To be continued.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I LOVED seeing this issue on the stands!  Sgt. Rock is one of my favorite comic characters of all, and it's been a while since DC gave us Rock fans anything new to sink our teeth into.  And then, it's a horror mashup with Sgt. Rock versus N-azi zombies? Sign me up!
 
This first issue is mostly setup for what's to come.  Most of the page space is taken up with various expository briefings, except for a bit of action bookending the issue with the zombie attack on the allied patrol at the front, and the captured zombie attacking at the end.  
 
Fortunately, in such a dialogue-heavy issue, Bruce Campbell does a good job at capturing a military feel and flavor in the character speech.  Unfortunately, he doesn't spend any time at all on introducing Rock and the rogues of Easy Company, sort of leaving new readers out of the loop and aiming this story at established Sgt. Rock fans.  That said. . .there's 5 more issues, so a little more background may be coming.
 
On the art side of things, I'm a BIG fan of Eduardo Risso.  Since I read 100 Bullets, I've gladly bought just about anything with his name attached to it.  I love his clean, dark artwork, his spare backgrounds, and his supremely expressive faces.  That said. . .I'm not entirely sure he's the BEST artist choice for a Sgt. Rock story.
 
Don't get me wrong. . .the art isn't bad by any means.  Risso is a great artist and there are certainly some great moments in this issue.  I just think a Sgt. Rock story demands a little grit, a little dirt.  Risso's art is super-clean and sharp.  Someone more along the lines of a David Finch or the like might have better served the dirty dogs of Easy Company.  But like I said about the story above, there's still 5 issues coming to prove me right or wrong.
 

CONCLUSION

 
It's a little strange for me to review a comic before the whole story is out, but I like what I see so far!  Beside the bare fact that DC has decided to throw us Sgt. Rock fans a 6-issue bone, I happen to really like when genres are mashed up. . .in this case, war and zombies.  Yeah, it's been done before, but it's still fun in MY book.
 
Bruce Campbell does a fine job with writing on this one, giving a good sense of military speech in the multiple briefing/ exposition scenes, but kind of leaves new readers in the dark as to who these guys are.  Without a little background, there's not much to tell the characters of Easy Company apart.
 
Eduardo Risso turns in a predictably great job on the art, but in MY humble opinion, he might not be the best artist for a gritty WWII story.  His art is just too sharp and clean.  This is the kind of story that demands some dirt.  That said, the art's not bad and Risso fans will definitely want to add this one to their collection.
 
Overall, I liked this a lot and can't wait to see what happens next.  If you're a Sgt. Rock fan, or an Eduardo Risso fan, then this is a MUST-BUY!  If you're looking for a good zombie/ war mashup, then this one is a good choice so far.  The first issue is a bit full of briefings and exposition, but if I know Sgt. Rock, it won't stay that way for long!
 
Up Next. . .
 
More Longbox Junk Halloween Horror fun!
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find all the comic book reviews you never asked for!

 
Black Panther is one of those characters I like a lot in a supporting role.  I've been a fan of Black Panther for a long time, but I have to admit that I've never read a full solo run of the character.  I guess there's just some comic characters I like in smaller doses.  He's an awesome hero with a really cool costume design, but I'd rather see him and go, "Cool! Black Panther!" every now and then than follow him on a regular basis.
 
That said. . .
 
Because I DO like Black Panther, I wasn't able to resist a short stack of 6 pretty banged-up Jungle Action comics I spotted on a trip to some antique/junk stores my wife wanted to check out a couple of weeks ago.  I figured for five bucks each, I might not be bringing something too "valuable" into my collection, but I WOULD have something fun to read out on the back porch after dinner.
 
I was a bit interested to learn that one of them (the comic at hand) was sort of a minor "key" issue because it has the origin of Black Panther.  Mine isn't in the best condition (it's actually pretty bad), but I still always get a kick out of finding a little something unexpected for my collection, especially at a random junk shop.
 
Which brings us here. . .
 
Let's crank up the Longbox Junk time machine and head back to 1974 for a look at the origin of Black Panther, shall we?  That's right. . .it's another Longbox Junk retro review nobody asked for!
 
Watch your step boarding the craft.  Please make sure all items are secure.  Fasten the safety belt for your protection.  All set? Next stop. . .THE BRONZE AGE OF COMICS!
 
*Lowers ridiculous steampunk goggles and pulls gigantic lever*
 
IS EVERYONE READY?
 
*The floor begins to vibrate.  A weird humming noise fills the cabin*
 
LET'S GOOOOOOOOO!!

JUNGLE ACTION #8

MARVEL COMICS (1974)

 

COVER: Rich Buckler
 
MALICE BY CRIMSON MOONLIGHT
 
SCRIPT: Don McGregor
PENCILS: Rich Buckler
INKS: Klaus Jansen
 
THE COVER:
 
They don't make 'em like THAT anymore!  
 
It's a real Bronze Age beauty, with vibrant color and a nice feeling of motion and action.  Black Panther looks great in his iconic dark costume against the bright primary colors of the background.  The whole thing is a feast for the eyes, and just looking at it makes me happy. There's nothing I don't like about this cover!  Let's get inside.
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale in the forest outside of the Wakandan Palace, where Black Panther is engaged in a test of his physical power. . .fighting off a large group of attackers. . .as part of a ceremony to fully imbue him with the Panther powers locked within a mysterious heart-shaped herb that cooks nearby.
 
Unknown to Black Panther or his royal aides in attendance at the ceremony, an agent of Erik Killmonger has infiltrated the palace.  Her name is Malice and she's on a mission to find and rescue another recently captured agent of Killmonger's called Venomm.
 
 
Malice makes her way through the palace, interrogating guards until she discovers Venomm's location.  As she approaches, she hears Venomm talking with his guard, a friend and Lieutenant of King T'Challa named Taka.  Malice listens as Venomm confides the strange origin of his ruined face and fall to evil to his sympathetic guard.
 
 
A savage attack by a bully with a bottle of acid when Venomm was young led to his becoming withdrawn from society and taking company with snakes.  He managed to build up immunity to all but the strongest venom. . .a skill that Erik Killmonger admired, and so he recruited Venomm to his cause.
 
As Malice listens to Venomm's sad tale, in the forest outside the palace, the ceremony continues.  Black Panther's guest from the United States, Monica, hears strange chanting in the woods and investigates.  She sees Black Panther laying on the ground, surrounded by dark figures!
 
 
Not knowing what is happening, Monica leaps to rescue Black Panther, unwittingly disrupting the ritual of the heart-shaped herb!  After a tense confrontation with his royal attendants over the forbidden outsider interrupting the sacred ritual, King T'Challa abandons the ritual against the protests of his attendants and escorts Monica back to the palace.
 
 
When they arrive, Panther immediately senses something is wrong, and discovers the unconscious palace guards.  Before he can react, Malice attacks!  Black Panther is taken by surprise and is amazed at the strength and skill of his attacker.  He recovers quickly and engages Malice, who becomes distracted by Monica and the arrival of T'Challa's royal attendants.
 
 
 
As T'Challa's attendants recapture Venomm, Malice makes her escape.  Black Panther doesn't pursue her, instead choosing to stop one of his more vigilant Lieutenants from killing Venomm.
 
 
To be Continued. . .
 
There are also a few pages of supplemental material in the back of the comic, taking the place of the reprint backup story from the original 1950's Jungle Action series that usually ended the issues in this series.  There are some images of Black Panther by various artists reprinted from previous appearances in other comics. . .
 
 
 
As well as a map of Wakanda reprinted and corrected from its original appearance in Jungle Tales #6 of this series, as well as a map of the interior of the Royal Palace. . .
 
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
And there it is.  Jungle Action #8. . .the Origin of Black Panther.  Let's break it on down!
 
Sooooooooo. . .
 
Despite saying so on the cover and being bumped up in collector "value" because of it, this is NOT a Black Panther origin story.  The previous issue and some of the following issues have more origin material for Black Panther than this issue does!
 
Except for a little bit of information regarding the "heart-shaped herb" that gives the Kings of Wakanda their powers and the physical test that comes before that sacred ritual, there isn't ANYTHING in this issue that could give cause to label it an origin issue.  Actually, there are a solid two pages devoted to VENOMM'S origin, making this more of an origin issue for Venomm than for Black Panther!
 
It's pretty disappointing and even a bit strange to have no origin in an origin issue. . .and it's even stranger knowing that there are people who are out there paying more for this comic on the collector market because it's being sold as an origin issue.  
 
Is it misleading, or is it "buyer beware"?  To me, there's nothing in this issue that would make it any more "valuable" than the one before or after it.  But I guess it's a pretty good example of how a lot of comics being sold these days aren't being read.  People will pay more for a Black Panther "origin issue" just because they're told it's a Black Panther origin issue and therefore is "worth" more.
 
I'm going to resist getting into a rant about comic collectors who don't actually read comics here, so let's just leave the missing "origin" of Black Panther behind and take a look at what we actually have here.
 
SO.
 
This issue is the 3rd part of an extended 13 issue story called "Panther's Rage" that ran through most of the 24 issues of this series.  This story introduced Black Panther's greatest foe, Erik Killmonger.  We don't get any Killmonger in this issue, but his presence is felt through his agents Malice and Venomm.
 
As a standalone issue, it's not very new reader friendly at all.  There are a lot of people and events in this issue that are firmly connected to previous issues.  That said, as part of the ongoing story (That I read online to fill in the gaps between the issues I have), it's a great little break. . .a sort of segue between Killmonger initially being in T'Challa's face, and then working through agents to try and collapse the monarchy of Wakanda.  
 
Overall, the complete "Panther's Rage" is some darn fine Bronze Age storytelling. . .it's commonly regarded as one of the stories that started moving Marvel toward tighter continuity and longer storylines.  Unfortunately, unlike a lot of Bronze Age comics that can be read on their own, reading just one issue out of context (like this one) isn't the best experience.
 
That's not to say this issue isn't well-written.  It is.  There are some great descriptive passages in here that really set a mood of simmering intrigue and conflict that Black Panther doesn't understand yet.  There's some good writing in here.
 
The art?  The art is good. . .not great.  It tells the story well and even has a few standout moments.  Just that there's not enough of those moments to push the visuals into anyplace remarkable.  If I had to describe the art in one word, that word would be "solid".
 
So, the writing is good, the art is solid.  The main thing holding this issue back from being more enjoyable is the tightly connected place it holds in an ongoing storyline.
 

CONCLUSION

 
What we have here is a fine example of how comics can become "valuable" just because someone says it is, and the buyer doesn't question WHY.  But this isn't the place for THAT can of worms to be opened.
 
This is part of an ongoing story that is an interesting piece of Bronze Age comic history in being one of the first multi-issue tightly connected storylines. . .13 issue stories were pretty much unheard of at the time.  Most continued stories were 2-4 issues at the most.  
 
As a part of that story, it's a very nice transition issue.  As a standalone comic, it's decent, but not great.
 
If you are a Black Panther fan and haven't read "Panther's Rage" then I certainly recommend you do. It's been collected and reprinted several times so it's pretty easy to find.   As far as just reading this single issue. . .I can't really say it's a great idea.  It's not a BAD read, but it's definitely out of context by itself.   And one more time, buyers beware. . .this is NOT a Black Panther origin issue!
 
Up Next. . .
 
It's been a while since I reviewed an entire series from top to bottom, so why not?
I've recently completed the full run of Marvel's 19 issue 1980-83 series of King Conan.  Let's take a look at what sort of sword swingin' fun is going on in there, shall we?  WE SHALL!
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Longbox Junk - Iron Man: The End

286 views • 10 weeks ago • (0) Comments

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the blog absolutely STUFFED with comic book reviews nobody asked me to write!

 
SO. . .
 
Summer is FINALLY pretty much over.  Things are starting to settle down a bit at work, and I actually have a bit more time to write about some Longbox Junk!  Let's do this!
 
Marvel comics has had quite a bit of success telling tales of their heroes at the end of their careers. Starting with the wildly popular "Old Man Logan" Wolverine story and moving forward from there with many more tales of superheroes past their prime.  
 
One can argue that DC actually started the trend with their groundbreaking "Dark Knight Returns" story about an aging Batman returning for one final ride (let's just pretend the sequels don't exist, deal?), but that's neither here nor there.
 
What IS here is a series of one-shot comics (and mini-series) Marvel has occasionally published since 2002 that feature the final adventures of some of their most popular heroes. . .Hulk, Wolverine, Miles Morales Spider-Man, Captain America, Doctor Strange, among others.
 
The comic at hand is part of that "The End" series, and showcases the high-flyin', high tech Avenger Iron Man.  So, let's head into the future a bit and see what's in store for Tony Stark at the end of his days as a superhero, shall we?  WE SHALL!

IRON MAN: THE END

Marvel (2009)

 
 
COVER: Bob Layton
 
THE END
 
SCRIPT: Bob Layton & David Michelinie
PENCILS: Bernard Chang
INKS: Bob Layton
 
THE COVER:
 
A very nice homage to the classic cover of Iron Man's first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39.  In a reversal of the original cover, Tony Stark is putting away the Iron Man armor instead of putting it on.  I like the bookend feel of it all.  I also really like the colors on this one.  The green circuitry in the background perfectly complements the iconic red and gold Iron Man armor!  It's a real eye catcher.
 
It's a simple cover, but it's a winner!  Let's get inside this thing.
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale 50 years in the future.  Tony Stark has spent more than half a century as a secret superhero and world-famous technology innovator, but now he's feeling the years bearing down. . .
 
 
Lately, Tony has been preoccupied by what may be his greatest project. . .Project Big Jump.  The world's first space elevator, which will allow orbital travel without having to use a rocket and is the first step in a solar power project that will provide the earth with unlimited energy. 
 
 
 
While working to complete the project as Iron Man, Tony is shocked when an unexpected earthquake threatens both the project and some of his workers.  Leaping into action, Tony manages to save the workers, but he realizes that he made several mistakes while doing so, and without a bit of luck on his side, things wouldn't have ended well. . .
 
 
Later, Tony confesses his questionable decisions during the earthquake to his wife, Senator Bethany Cabe.  He also reveals that he has a degenerative and incurable nerve condition brought on by his decades of constant neural connection to the Iron Man armor.  
 
Bethany suggests that maybe it's time for Tony to hang up the Iron Man armor for good before his condition gets worse.  Tony resists and his hostility to the idea pushes his wife away. . .
 
 
Knowing that his wife is right, Tony decides to concentrate fully on completing Project Big Jump while he can.  In order to accomplish this, he promotes a brilliant young protégé, Nick Travis, to Stark Universal's Head Technologist. . .taking Tony's place and allowing Stark to devote his attention to Big Jump.
 
 
Now freed of distractions, Tony throws himself into completing Project Big Jump, but as the weeks go on, an investigation of the strange earthquake at the project site reveals that it wasn't a natural accident at all. . .but was sabotage!  
 
Further investigation points suspicion, and then firm evidence proves that Stark's old adversary, Roxxon Energy was behind the attempted sabotage. It seems they don't like the idea of free and limitless energy.
 
 Tony reveals his findings to his wife and refuses to let her attempt a diplomatic solution.  He decides to take the fight to Roxxon as Iron Man!
 
 
Tony suits up as Iron Man and flies to Siberia, in the New Soviet Union.  His stealth technology allows him to penetrate the Soviet border, but as he arrives at a hidden research lab, his presence is discovered and he is confronted by the Soviet Union's own version of Iron Man, Arkady Vostok. . .The Ultra-Dynamo!
 
 
As the battle is joined, Iron Man quickly discovers that he is outmatched by Ultra-Dynamo.  His weapons and tactics are just too well known, and Dynamo's improved armor has counters to everything Tony can throw at him!
 
 
In the end, Tony takes such a savage beating that he is forced to run for his life!  Even worse, he later discovers that the battle has even further damaged his nervous system, accelerating his condition.
 
 
Disheartened and shaken by his defeat and the worsening of his nervous condition, Tony slides into a deep depression, so deep that he almost returns to the alcohol he left behind so many years ago.  But Tony remembers the strength it took to win THAT battle and realizes that he needs the same strength to quit his addiction to Iron Man.. .
 
 
Tony tells his wife that he's finally done being the hero, and it's time to rebuild their relationship, but he needs to find a replacement first, because the world still needs Iron Man.  And so, he throws himself into the search for the NEW Iron Man!
 
 
Finally, Tony realizes the answer was right in front of him all along. . .his protégé, Nick Travis.
But when he reveals his secret identity as Iron Man and makes the offer to Travis, he refuses.  
 
Nick protests that he's a scientist and not a superhero.  Tony doesn't take the refusal well and lashes out.  Nick tells Tony that he's not acting like much of a hero.  But he can see Tony's desperation and reluctantly agrees to undergo some training. . .for emergencies only.
 
 
And so, Tony begins to train Nick with his newest nano-particle armor, the most advanced design yet, and equipped with cutting edge weapons and technology the likes of which the world has never seen.  Tony is amazed at how quickly and naturally Nick takes to the training. . .
 
 
Unfortunately, Tony isn't the most patient teacher, and the stress of training causes a rift to grow between Tony and Nick.  Eventually Nick tells Tony he's done with it and leaves Tony hanging.
 
Fast forward a few weeks to the day Project Big Jump is finally finished and ready to activate.
 
Nick attempts to break the ice between him and Tony, but as they talk, security alarms blare and something is spotted flying in toward them!  It's Ultra-Dynamo!  The Soviet hero informs Tony that he is there to destroy him as a threat to the economy of the New Soviet Union.
 
 
Tony is unable to get to his Iron Man armor in time and is forced to run for his life. 
Nick, however, is able to quickly use the new nano-particle tech Iron Man armor and jumps to protect Tony.
 
Ultra-Dynamo is confident in his victory, but quickly discovers that the new armor is more than a match for him.  In the end, Nick uses the high-tech abilities of the new Iron Man armor and finally defeats Ultra-Dynamo.
 
Tony is impressed, as Nick has included new upgrades that even he didn't know about.  Tony and Nick make peace as they both realize they've misjudged each other.
 
 
Later, at the activation ceremony for Project Big Jump, Tony Stark publicly announces that he will be stepping down from Stark Universal and retiring with his wife aboard the space elevator's orbiting satellite station.  He also announces that the New Iron Man will remain his representative on Earth.
 
 
At the end of it all, as Tony and Bethany travel to the space station on the first orbital shuttle, Tony tells his wife that he came to realize that he was able to leave Iron Man behind for good because he finally understood that it was the man and not the machine that had accomplished all the good he had ever done.  
 
And so, we end the story with Tony and Bethany looking forward to a quiet future together in space.
 

The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay then.  There it is.  The final days of Tony Stark as Iron Man.  Let's break it on down!
 
Not bad.  It's interesting to me that this hero doesn't go out with a bang, but just sort of quietly. . .retires.
He realizes he's not cut out for the job anymore and just passes the mantle and leaves it all behind.
 
I've read a few of these "The End" one shots and this one is probably the most low-key ending for a major Marvel superhero that I've seen yet (but to be fair, I haven't read ALL of them).  Overall, even though there's a few action scenes throughout, this was a surprisingly calm and quiet end for the hero,  with a story that focuses more on Tony Stark than Iron Man.
 
This is hardly surprising when you look at the creative team.  
 
David Michelinie and Bob Layton are credited with pretty much being the team that redefined and refined Iron Man during their long creative run on the title during the late 70s and through the 80s. 
 
 They brought the focus in on Tony Stark as being more than a prop mask secret identity for the superhero Iron Man and as a character in his own right, which led to critically praised storylines like "Demon in a Bottle" (which this story nods back to) where Tony Stark the man and not Iron Man the machine was in the spotlight.
 
Michelinie and Layton are regarded as being what many consider the definitive Iron Man creative team, and I REALLY like that Marvel brought them in on this project.  And not only that but let them pretty much ignore the 30+ years of stories that came after their run ended and tell the story of the end of THEIR Iron Man!
 
That's right. . .this issue is a callback to the Iron Man of the 80s.  No secret Invasion, no Avengers Dissembled, no Civil Wars. . .none of that.  This story is a direct continuation and conclusion to the Iron Man story that began in 1978 and ended in 1989!  As such, it's an unexpected treat for fans of old-school Iron Man like myself.
 
It's a really bold and interesting move and I give Marvel credit where it's due. . .especially since the first Iron Man movie had hit big the year previous and this version of Iron Man would have been pretty much unrecognizable to movie fans looking for Iron Man comics, and maybe even to (then) current Iron Man comic fans!
 
 A round of applause for Marvel letting a story like this NOT tie into their hugely popular Iron Man movie and letting something be for the fans of Iron Man past. Say what you will about Disney/Marvel, but this just sort of feels special.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, I found Iron Man: The End to be a surprisingly enjoyable read, especially given that the creative team was allowed to put the cap on a story that ended over 30 years ago.
 
 If you are a fan of old-school Iron man stories from the late 70s to the end of the 80s and you aren't aware that this issue exists or haven't read it yet. . .I say do yourself a favor and pick this one up!
 
It's not the greatest Iron Man story ever told, but it IS well-written, has nice art, and just feels like something special that Marvel gave to their Iron Man fans of days gone by.  
 
I give Iron Man: The End a Longbox Junk Gold Seal of Approval!  It's a very nice bargain bin surprise.
 
Up Next. . .
 
I just picked up a handful of Jungle Action comics from an antique store last weekend, so how about I crack one open and we head back to the 70s for a retro review?  Yeah, that sounds nice.  Let's do it!
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, where the comics are cheap and the reviews are free!

 
For those of you who have been sending me messages of concern about the frequency of Longbox Junk posts, I have good news and bad news:
 
The good news is that my health has taken a turn for the better and I'm feeling about 90% normal, with just a few bad days here and there now, and thank for THAT.  
 
The bad news is that it's summertime and the hotel I manage is SUPER busy!  I write these things during my down time at work, and this time of year that's pretty scarce.  One would THINK that with gas prices above five bucks a gallon that people would want to put off their interstate travel plans.
 
Nope.  Not happening.  I've observed before that Americans are a bit psychopathic about doing what they want, when they want (during the supposedly strict state Covid lockdown when our hotel's business didn't slow down one single bit), and this is just more evidence of that.  I have the distinct feeling that even if gas was TEN dollars a gallon, it wouldn't stop people from rolling out on vacation.
 
What I'm trying to say is that the long gaps between entries are pretty normal for this time of year.
 
BUT ENOUGH OF THAT!
 
I've got a retro review for you! Summertime may be super busy at work and a slow time for Longbox Junk, but it's also flea market and yard sale season.  I LOVE flea markets and yard sales!  For a Longbox Junker like me, it's a great time to pick up old comics at a price that won't break the bank.  Every weekend this time of year is like a treasure hunt!
 
CASE IN POINT. . .
 
The comic at hand is part of a stack of six from this series that I recently bought at a yard sale for the sweet price of five lousy bucks apiece.  Now THAT'S the kind of summertime Longbox Junkin' I'm talkin' about!  
 
I already have an issue of Marvel's "Rampaging Hulk" Magazine in my collection that's in black and white, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that THESE Hulk Magazines are printed in full, glorious SUPER MARVEL-COLOR!  Look! It even says so right there on the cover!
 
I did some checking, and thanks to the fine and friendly folk of the "Old Guys Who Like Old Comics" Facebook group, I learned that Marvel-Color was a process where the colored plates are shot from the colored artwork, making the artwork pop in a sharp and bright way that was rare at the time.  All I know is that it REALLY looks good!  
 
And not for nothin' but if you're looking for a comic book group second to none, go check out "Old Guys Who Like Old Comics" on Facebook.  No, really. . .go.  I'll wait.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Let's crank up the Longbox Junk time machine and head back to 1979 for a look inside this awesomely colored comic book magazine I found at a random yard sale, shall we?  WE SHALL!

THE HULK MAGAZINE #14

Marvel (1979)

 

COVER: Bob Larkin
 
THE COVER:
 
At the heart of things, The Hulk is a nuclear age horror story and this cover showcases exactly that.  I like it a lot!  The black border really makes the brilliant colors of the title and the feature text pop.  At the center of it all is the Hulk!
 
 Between the black sky and lightning framing the raging beast, to the torch-wielding villagers below, THIS is a fantastic image!  It's full of detail and atmosphere. There's NOTHING I don't like about this cover.  It's a beautiful example of some great Bronze Age comic art.  
 
Let's get inside this thing!
 
THE STORIES:
 
There's two big stories in this magazine for your 1979 buck and a half!  We've got The Hulk leading things off and a Moon Knight backup.  Let's take a look at each one in their own turn. . .
 
A Cure For Chaos!
 
SCRIPT: Doug Moench
PENCILS: Ron Wilson
INKS: Rudy Nebres
COLORS: Steve Oliff
 
Our tale begins as Doctor Robert Bruce Banner (AKA The Hulk) arrives in Switzerland.  We follow the thoughts of this gentle man of science as he dwells on the Gamma radiation accident that turned him into the monster known as The Hulk.  
 
He's in Europe trying to find one Doctor Hans Feldstadt.  A scientist who has recently won the Nobel Prize for his research into Gamma radiation.  It's a long shot, but Banner is willing to take any chance to rid himself of the monster inside him!
 

Unfortunately, upon arrival, Banner discovers that Doctor Feldstadt has departed Zurich for some unknown reason.  Desperately, Banner seizes upon information that Feldstadt may be in the village of Jungfrau, and so he continues to follow Feldstadt's trail to the Swiss mountains. . .

 
But once again, Banner finds only dead ends.  With Feldstadt seemingly nowhere to be found, Banner decides to make his way to a mysterious castle overlooking the village where a Doctor Klein is said to be in residence, hoping that Doctor Feldstadt may have been acquainted with Klein. . .

 
At the castle, Banner immediately recognizes the man who opens the door as the missing Doctor Feldstadt.  
 
As Banner demands to be let in and assist Feldstadt in his research, he learns that the Doctor has taken on a false name and hidden himself far from prying eyes in order to continue his research in peace. . .the Nobel Prize has brought him too much unwanted attention.
 
Mistaking Banner's desperation for the desire to ride the coattails of the famous scientist, Feldstadt turns him away.  Banner's persistent attempts to get inside the castle cause Feldstadt to call the police.  As Banner gets more frustrated, he feels the change coming over him!

 
Banner changes into the Hulk and begins to rampage through the village, leaving a trail of destruction as he searches for the one person who was kind to Banner, Katrina, the serving girl at the local inn.

 
The next morning, Banner returns to Feldstadt's castle.  After witnessing the destruction from the night before, Feldstadt has come to realize that the strange visitor is the infamous Doctor Banner.  
 
Feldstadt sees the great opportunity before him to study the most famous example of Gamma irradiation and invites Banner to join him in his research. . .

 
But as time goes by, Banner is dismayed to find that Feldstadt is less interested in reversing the effects and damage of Gamma radiation, but more in discovering new effects. 
 
 Feldstadt explains that all avenues must be explored in a scientific manner, but Banner becomes frustrated and convinced that Feldstadt will use him to accidentally create another monster like him. 
 
 Banner realizes he won't find the answers he was looking for with Feldstadt and leaves.

 
That night, Banner reconsiders his hasty departure.  Feldstadt may not be pursuing the exact thing Banner is looking for, but his research may still be an important step in ridding himself of The Hulk.  Banner decides to return to the castle and apologize.  
 
But as he dines at the inn, Banner overhears a group of villagers talking about attacking the castle and driving Feldstadt out. . .believing him and his strange experiments to be the cause of the monster that ran rampant through the village the night before.
 
Banner rushes to the castle to warn Feldstadt of the danger.  Breaking in and making his way to the laboratory, Banner is shocked to see Feldstadt engaged in some sort of experiment on the serving girl from the inn, Katrina!  

 
As Banner berates Feldstadt for using human guinea pigs in his experiments, Feldstadt counters with the fact that only by experimenting on humans can he research the effects of Gamma rays on humans, which may possibly lead to Banner's cure.  
 
Torn between the two moral opposites, Banner suddenly remembers the villagers and their plan to attack.  As he warns Feldstadt, they arrive and surround the castle.  
 
Enraged by the villagers, Feldstadt grabs a pistol and begins shooting!  In response, they throw lit torches into the castle windows, trying to burn Feldstadt out!

 
As Banner rescues Katrina, the flames spread and ignite chemicals in the laboratory, causing the Gamma ray machine to explode, exposing Feldstadt to a massive dose of radiation.  To Banner's horror, Doctor Feldstadt transforms into a brutish monstrosity!

 
The creature that was once Doctor Feldstadt attacks Banner, savagely beating him until he can't help but to transform into The Hulk!  Unfortunately for Feldstadt, he can't match The Hulk's power and ferocity, and after a short battle he is easily defeated by the Jade Giant!

 
After defeating the Feldstadt creature, Hulk saves him from the burning castle before leaving the bewildered villagers behind. . .

 
But the next day, Banner learns that the radiation and the beating the Hulk dealt out to him were too much and Feldstadt has died, taking his secrets to the grave, since his laboratory and notes were destroyed in the fire.  Banner moves along, leaving Switzerland with little hope of ever ridding himself of the curse known as The Hulk.


The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I said in my look at the cover that at its heart, The Hulk is a nuclear age horror story. . .a Jekyll and Hyde tale shadowed by the looming Cold War fear of radiation.  This tale leans hard into the horror aspect of The Hulk, and I liked it quite a bit!
 
We have a mysterious castle overlooking a mountain village, a mad scientist overtaken by his own experiments, and a battle between two rampaging monsters while a mob of villagers burn the castle down around them!  It's just a great little gothic romp that I found very enjoyable.
 
Is it the greatest story I've ever read?  Not even close, but I really liked the way Doug Moench pays homage to classic horror tropes here.  I mean. . .there's literally torch-wielding villagers!  
 
If you're a fan of old-fashioned horror movies, then this story will bring a smile to your face.  There's no super-heroics here, just clandestine experiments carried out in a dank castle and the grim misunderstood monster called The Hulk.  
 
Let's talk about the art.
 
I mentioned the "Marvel-Color" brag on the cover, so let's take a look at what they're talking about.  Frankly, I'm impressed!  Just LOOK at the pages scanned above.  The colors really are sharp and brilliant, making each page pop!  
 
Compared to other Marvel comics I have from 1979, the color here is simply on another whole different level.  I'd say that Marvel had a right to brag about their Super Marvel-Color process!
 
Ron Wilson's art takes full advantage of the sharper color process, filling each page with wonderful detail (Just look at the scans above of Feldstadt's laboratory for some prime examples) that perfectly complements the dark science fiction horror tale being told.  
 
A very nicely done story all around.
 
Now for some Moon Knight!
 
Countdown To Dark
 
SCRIPT: Doug Moench
PENCILS: Bill Sienkiewicz, with Gene Colan & Keith Pollard (Story recap pages)
INKS: Bob Mcleod, with Frank Giacoia &Tony DeZuniga (Story recap pages)
COLORS: Steve Oliff
 
This story is actually the final chapter of a story continued from the previous two issues.  Unfortunately, I don't have those issues.  The good news is that Marvel was kind enough to provide a couple of nice recap pages. . .
 

 
To boil it down to the gravy. . .While on the hunt for a stolen Egyptian artifact, Marc Spector (AKA Moon Knight) has stumbled into a terrorist plot to blackmail New York City with a nuclear bomb.
 
Not knowing who the head of the plot is, Moon Knight's only lead is a planned hijacking.  He joins the hijackers in his identity as Marc Spector, international mercenary. . .and that brings us to the events of this issue.
 

We begin our tale in progress, as Marc Spector is shocked to find Moon Knight attacking the terrorist group he has infiltrated!  Elsewhere, we learn that a mysterious man called Lupinar is aware of Spector's infiltration AND his identity as Moon Knight, and that he is behind the deception.  

 
As Marc Spector fights the fake Moon Knight, the terrorists open fire and believe they've killed both Spector and Moon Knight, leaving them both for dead.  But Spector is protected by his armored Moon Knight costume beneath his clothes, and he resumes his pursuit of the terrorists. . .

 
The terrorists split up and Moon Knight contacts his comrade Frenchie in the skies above, tasking him to follow one of the cars while Moon Knight rides unnoticed on the roof of the other, hoping the terrorists will lead him to the head of the nuclear plot. . .

 
After a day spent in hiding, watching the terrorists as they go to ground and wait for orders, night falls and they are on the move again with Moon Knight following.  His hunch pays off as the car he's been following heads to a massive fortress-like mansion.  Moon Knight takes out the terrorists in the car as Frenchie circles overhead and tries to contact N.E.S.T. (a government nuclear emergency response agency) with their location.

 
Moon Knight gains entry into the mansion and easily takes down Lupinar's assistant, Smelt.  As he explores the halls of the building, not knowing exactly who or what he's looking for, Moon Knight is surprised to open a door and find himself being invited into the room for a glass of wine!
 
A mysterious figure in the shadows informs Moon Knight that not only has he been expecting him, but all that has transpired has been in the service of luring Moon Knight to the very place he stands!  The figure steps into the light and is revealed to be a twisted wolf-like monstrosity of a man. . .

 
The man, Lupinar, rails against a world that has rejected him because of his condition.  He reveals to Moon Knight that his plan was to take the ransom and detonate the nuclear bomb anyway. . .and then burn the billion dollars.  But once he learned Moon Knight was involved, he knew he had finally met a worthy challenge, and so lured him to the mansion. 
 
As Frenchy circles above, trying to contact N.E.S.T., Lupinar draws two swords, throwing one to Moon Knight and challenging him to a duel!

 
As Moon Knight and his opponent clash, Lupinar gloats that should Moon Knight defeat him, his terrorist henchmen have orders to demand his release from custody or they will destroy New York, so even if he does lose, he will still win in the end.  
 
Little does he know that Frenchie has managed to contact N.E.S.T. and they have apprehended the remaining terrorists and now have the mansion surrounded.
 

 
When Moon Knight informs Lupinar of the failure of the nuclear plot and his intention to take him alive and into custody, Lupinar throws himself onto Moon Knight's sword, preferring to kill himself than to be taken prisoner.  Moon Knight is saddened by the outcome and leaves the mansion. . .

 
Outside, N.E.S.T. has finished rounding up the terrorists and begin disabling their nuclear bomb.  Disgusted by being forced to kill again, Moon Knight calls for Frenchie to pick him up and take him home.  His work is done here.
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
I'm a big Moon Knight fan and was excited to see some early Moon Knight stories were to be found in these Hulk Magazines. . . especially when I saw that the classic Moon Knight team of Moench and Sienkiewicz were on the job!
 
I have to say that I wasn't disappointed.  Okay. . .maybe a little bit because I don't have the rest of this story to enjoy, and only have the conclusion to it.  Reading this story brings back memories of the great original Moon Knight series by Moench and Sienkiewicz.  Just good, solid superhero action with a psychological twist.  
 
I had a big smile on my face the whole time I was reading this story.  THIS is the Moon Knight I remember and like the most! There's something to be said for changing a character to keep up to date for new readers, but sometimes you just want to get back to the basics, and THIS is classic Moon Knight right here.
 
The story itself sort of connects with the classic horror tropes of the Hulk main story by giving us Moon Knight swordfighting a werewolf (sort of) in a spooky mansion.  It's kind of a Halloween-themed issue, even though it came out in April.  
 
As for the art, what can I say?  It's Bill Freakin' Sienkiewicz before he went insane and just started scribbling all over the place.  In other words, it's rock solid and made even better by the same SUPER MARVEL-COLOR process that gave the lines of the Hulk story such a fine, sharp look.
 
Overall, even though this is just one piece of a multi-issue story, it really makes me want to dig out my original run of Moon Knight and read it all over again!
 

CONCLUSION

 
I'm gonna come right out and say that I really enjoyed this magazine and, in my humble opinion, it's a great little nugget of 1970s Longbox Junk gold!  
 
The first story was a very nice gothic tale spotlighting the desperation of Doctor Banner to rid himself of the Hulk.  Even to the point of working with a mad scientist.  It leaned hard into the nuclear age horror story aspect of the Hulk and paid homage to classic horror tropes.  It's the kind of Hulk story I never knew I wanted until I read it!
 
AND THEN. . .
 
We ALSO get an early Moon Knight tale from the classic Moon Knight team of Moench and Sienkiewicz!  Even though it was the conclusion of a multi-part story and I wasn't able to read the whole thing, it hit me HARD with nostalgia for some old school Moon Knight.
 
The two together provided me with a very enjoyable reading experience! The stories both hold up well, even 43 years down the road. I can highly recommend this magazine to fans of the Hulk, Moon Knight, or both.  Even if you aren't big fans of the characters, this issue is worth a look for the beautiful, sharp Bronze Age art alone.  Every page is a feast for the eyes!  Just LOOK at the scans above!
 
Overall, if you're a fan of the Hulk or Moon Knight, you WANT this magazine!  I can't really think of anything to complain about beyond a bit of disappointment that the Moon Knight story wasn't complete.  I give Hulk Magazine #14 the official Longbox Junk Gold Seal of Approval!
 
Up Next. . .
 
Not really sure.  I've been piling up a LOT of Longbox Junk!
This has been a great year for comic hunting.
 
But no matter WHAT I throw down next. . .
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

World Community Grid Logo
ComicBookRealm.com: 66 years, 137 days, 22 hours of Run Time
Help projects like: Smash Childhood Cancer, OpenZika, Help Stop TB, FightAIDS@Home - Phase 2, Outsmart Ebola Together, Mapping Cancer Markers, FightAIDS@Home
Join World Community Grid today!
  • Newest
  • IDW Publishing's Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury TPB # 1diamond
  • DC Comics's Superman: Kal-El Returns Special Issue # 1
  • Ablaze Media's The Boogyman Issue # 3d
  • Marvel Comics's X-Terminators Issue # 3b
CBR.com member auction items ?