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  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

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

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find all the comic reviews you never even knew you wanted!

 
Dun-dun-dun-DUN!
*snap. . .snap*
Dun-dun-dun-DUN!
*snap. . .snap*
Dun-dun-dun-DUN!
Dun-dun-dun-DUN!
Dun-dun-dun-DUN!
*snap. . .snap*
 
Awww. . .yeah.  You know the song.  One of the most famous T.V. theme songs EVER.  The young folk of today (, I feel old now) might be more familiar with the gothic dance style of Wednesday Addams, but for those of us of a. . .certain age. . .that finger snappin' theme song means it's time for some altogether ooky fun!
 
So let's lighten things up for Part Three of the Longbox Junk Halloween party with some of the comic book antics of that most delightfully strange Addam's Family, shall we?  WE SHALL!

The Addams Family #1

Gold Key (1974)

 
 
COVER: Bill Ziegler
 
THE COVER:
 
Just look at those colors!  This one's a real eye-catcher, that's for sure.  The vibrant pink, green and yellow just sort of grab you and MAKE you check out this cover.  It lets you know without even opening the comic that this is going to be less about gothic grumping and more about wacky shenanigans.  It's not really a favorite cover in my collection, but it's a fun Halloween cover.
 
Let's get inside!
 
IN SEARCH OF THE BOOLA-BOOLA
 
SCRIPT: ? (Mark Evanier?)
PENCILS: Bill Ziegler
INKS: Bill Ziegler
 
THE STORY:
 
The Addams family decides to take a detour from their volcano-watching vacation to visit a pet store in Miami, hoping to find a Boola-Boola (a color-changing swamp creature) for their daughter, Wednesday.
 

 
 
Gomez offers Pooky, of Pooky's Pet Shop, $30,000 to find Wednesday a Boola-Boola. . .but later on, the family decides it will be a fun adventure to camp out in the swamp and find one for themselves.


 
 
In the meantime, Pooky contacts a trapper in Florida called Anything For A Buck Frank.  Frank agrees to trap a Boola-Boola for Pooky, but really he plans on just faking one.  Unknown to them, there's an actual Boola-Boola nearby. . .
 
 
After making camp in the Everglades, the Addams family spots Frank and his assistant digging Boola-Boola traps.  They invite the hunters to their camp and Frank spots Ocho, the Addams family's pet octopus.  He decides to steal the octopus and sell it to Pooky as a Boola-Boola.
 
 
Later that night, after stealing Ocho, Frank and his partner disguise the octopus as a Boola-Boola and send it to Pooky.  But then they spot the Addams' children Pugsly and Wednesday searching for their lost pet octopus.  They don't find it, but they DO find the actual Boola-Boola! Frank decides to capture the Boola-Boola and double his money.
 
 
 
The Addams family and their guests, Frank and his partner, continue to try and capture the Boola-Boola.  After several attempts they finally manage to lure it to their camp, where it is given to Wednesday to make up for her lost octopus.
 
That night, Frank steals the Boola-Boola and is caught by the family.  Gomez thinks it's hilarious and pays Frank $50,000 to take the creature so that Wednesday's heart will be broken. . .which Wednesday doesn't really mind.
 
 
Frank tells the Addams family that Pooky has an octopus matching Ocho's description.  As the Addams' pack up to head back to Miami, Frank and his assistant rush back ahead of them with the Boola-Boola.
 
They distract Pooky and disguise themselves right before the Addams family arrives. . .and then they sell the Boola-Boola to them for $30,000 AND sell their own octopus back for another $10,000!
 
 
Later on, the Addams family decides to return the Boola-Boola to Frank in the swamp, because they think he still has the one they gave him. . .which is the one they are bringing to him.  When Frank and his assistant see the family coming, he assumes that they have discovered what he did.
 
Frank and his assistant attempt to escape, but shenanigans ensue and the angry Boola-Boola chases the hunters into the swamp and they lose all their money while the Addams family laughs at their misfortune.
 
 
After Frank and his assistant are gone, the Boola-Boola returns to the swamp, where we see it was a female with a nest of eggs.  The Addams family leaves the Boola-Boola and returns to their volcano-watching vacation, with Gomez promising Wednesday that they will get her a little volcano of her own.
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This comic really confused me. . .not anything with the story or art, but the physical comic itself.  I'm not sure if ALL the issues printed have the same problem mine does, but the pages are out of order. 
 
 The first page of the comic is actually the middle of the story at the pet shop, with the first page of the story coming in on page 16, the last page of the story on page 19, and five pages between the first page and their arrival at the pet shop coming at the end of the comic.  The scans above are in the right order, but it was interesting getting them that way. 
 
If anyone else reading this has a copy of this comic, kindly let me know if yours is all mixed up too, if you would.  It's sort of making me wonder if I have some sort of unique error copy.  I never read this comic before (got it in a box of comics I bought from an estate sale), so I never noticed.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
When it comes to comics like this, I have to put myself in the mindset of the younger audience it was written for.  As an adult, the story is a mess and less of a story and more of a series of barely-related incidents strung together.  But shifting to a more childlike point of view, I can see that what we have here is a madcap adventure with people running back and forth searching for something they already have while Gomez and Morticia laugh at every bit of misfortune that comes along.
 
That said, even as an adult, this is a fun comic.  I got a couple of genuine chuckles over some of the gags. . .the one where they purposely break Wednesday's heart and she thanks them for it probably being the best.
 
 
On the art side of things, I would describe the art through the whole issue as being simply delightful.  It's just some good, solid cartoon art with Gomez and Lurch being the best looking characters of the bunch.  The design of the Addams Family's haunted house mobile home was really fun as well! 
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, once I got past the confusion of the pages in my copy being out of order, I found this to be a fun comic.  It has a frantic, -nilly plot that's all over the place, but there's some pretty good chuckles to be had here and there.  The art is delightful throughout.  This is just some good, clean, and dare I say it. . .altogether ooky FUN!  So if some light Halloween fun is what you're looking for, this comic has it, and I can certainly recommend this issue to readers of all ages.
 
Unfortunately, this short (just three issues) series has never been collected, and a bit of research shows me that there IS some collector "value" attached to this particular issue, being the first comic appearance of the Addams Family.  I'm not sure exactly how much it's "worth" but the only raw copy I saw for sale was VERY much more banged up than my copy and it was going for $180.00,  a graded (7.5) copy was running close to $450.  So it might be a bit of a problem finding a copy of this comic to read.
 
UP NEXT. . .
 
Let's invite some more ghosts to this Longbox Junk Halloween Party!
Charlton's The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #56, from 1976.
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

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

 
You know what I say? I say there ain't no party like a Longbox Junk Halloween Party, 'cause a Longbox Junk Halloween party don't stop!  Until November.  Then the Longbox Junk Halloween Party stops.  So I guess. . .well. . .never mind. 
 
Anyway. 
 
WELCOME TO PART TWO OF THE 2023 LONGBOX JUNK HALLOWEEN PARTY!
 
We got started off with some pretty "meh" ghost stories, so here's hoping that a little late 80s indie horror may bring this party to life!  Ready? Let's do it!

DEATH RATTLE #1

Kitchen Sink Comix (1985)

 
 
COVER: Richard Corben
 
THE COVER:
 
Richard F'ing Corben! An undisputed comic art legend. No, strike that.  Not just a great COMIC artist, but a legendary artist PERIOD.  If you can't tell, I'm a Richard Corben fan.  
 
I'll be the first to admit that this cover isn't Corben's BEST work, but as far as I'm concerned, I haven't met a piece of Corben art I haven't liked yet.  It's creepy, it's claustrophobic.  The look of terror on the woman's face is spot on unsettling.  Corben doesn't disappoint, and this cover is no exception.
 
Let's get inside this thing!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Three spooky stories in this issue.  Let's take a look at each one in their own turn.
 
KILLER PLANET
 
SCRIPT: Rand Holmes
PENCILS: Rand Holmes
INKS: Rand Holmes
 
THE STORY:
 
In the year 2683, a passenger ship headed for the Nexus Rimworlds encounters engine problems, forcing them to land on a nearby planet. . .one that has been quarantined as a "killer planet" with lifeforms extremely hostile to humans and unsuitable for colonization.
 
With the ship helpless and communications down, the crew and passengers set out for a homing beacon placed on the planet for emergencies, hoping to activate it and wait for rescue.
 
 
The band of survivors quickly discover why the planet was tagged as a "killer planet" as they are constantly attacked by horrific creatures.  Their numbers begin to dwindle as they fight their way toward the beacon. . .a 35 kilometer hike through hostile territory.
 
 
Finally, the remaining three survivors make it to the beacon.  But then, the ship's navigator, Zleen, turns on his Captain and the one remaining passenger.  Holding them at gunpoint, he tells them that it was HE who sabotaged the ship!  
 
He had met the lone survivor of an ill-fated robbery who had crashed on this same planet.  They had hidden the loot, including a priceless gem, near the rescue beacon.  Zleen killed the robber after gaining the information, and now he plans on killing the other survivors, finding the gem, and waiting for rescue.
 
The captain thinks quickly and tells Zleen that he saw where the gem was hidden. . .leading the greedy navigator into the den of a deadly creature, leaving just the captain and one remaining passenger alive on a hostile world, hoping for rescue. 
 
 
The End. 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Not a bad little sci-fi horror story at all!  It reminds me a lot of stories I used to read in Heavy Metal magazine.  It's well-written and I actually came to like some of the characters before they met a gruesome end.  It's nice to see a little character development in an anthology horror story.  The art also has a strong retro-modern vibe to it that I really like a lot.  
 
Overall, I liked this story quite a bit.  It has a nice plot, interesting characters, and a cool art style.
 
So, this one's off to a strong start.  Let's see what's next!
 
ILL BRED
 
SCRIPT: Charles Burns
PENCILS: Charles Burns
INKS: Charles Burns
 
THE STORY:
 
A young man named Ron with a fascination for insects finds an unusual and unknown specimen that later escapes his captivity.  Unknown to Ron, the strange insect has taken up hiding in his mattress.  
 
 
 
When Ron leaves home for college, he brings the infested mattress with him. He begins dating a fellow student named Sheila.  After they spend their first night together, Ron notices a mysterious wound on her wrist.
 
 
As the weeks pass, Ron notices Sheila changing.  She grows more masculine and behaves oddly. . .becoming more and more aggressive.  And then, one day, Ron cuts himself while preparing food.  Sheila rushes in and jabs him with some sort of stinger growing out of her wrist, knocking Ron unconscious!
 
When Ron wakes up, he finds himself tightly tied to the bed, with a strange wound on his hand.  He lays there for hours before Sheila comes into the room.  Without a word, she squeezes tiny eggs from the wound as a horrified and helpless Ron looks on!
 
We move forward in time, months. . .perhaps years later.  Ron is now nothing more than a bloated captive, covered with festering wounds filled with eggs. . .a living incubator for hideous insect offspring.  
 
Our last view of the horrific scene is that of Sheila, now completely transformed into a human-sized version of the strange insect Ron found so long ago, coming into the room to force feed him.
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This story, even more than the first, definitely reminds me of something that would be found in Heavy Metal.  Charles Burns' unique style was a fairly regular fixture of that magazine.  Along with his unique art style, Burns also brought his weird and disturbing narrative style. . .mixing body horror and strange romance into a truly creepy little tale.
 
Overall, Charles Burns is one of those "love it or hate it" sort of creators.  I don't really like most of his work I've seen, but this freaky little story, I liked.  It's a bit uncomfortable and unsettling, but that's Burns' whole thing.
 
AND FINALLY. . .
 
TOM QUICK'S REVENGE
 
SCRIPT: Charles Dallas
PENCILS: Charles Dallas
INKS: Charles Dallas
 
THE STORY:
 
1757.  The beginning of the French and Indian War in Pennsylvania.  A young Tom Quick witnesses the brutal scalping and death of his father. . .
 
After the war, Tom found and killed the Indian who had killed his father, then swore an oath of vengeance upon the whole Indian race.  After that, Tom Quick's life was spent hunting and killing Indians. . .with the goal of being able to walk the entire length of the Delaware River without encountering a single Indian.   His methods were brutal and unrelenting.  
 
Upon his deathbed in 1796, Tom Quick begged for one more Indian to be brought to him so that he could die having killed an even 100 Indians (he had killed 99 over the years).  
 
After he finally died of Smallpox, vengeful Indians dug up his body and burned it.  In doing so, the tribe contracted Smallpox and were decimated.  Tom Quick had killed more Indians when he was dead than he did while he was alive!
 
Artwork Edited: Pasties Added By Yours Truly.  
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
So a little research shows me that Tom Quick was an actual historic figure and is regarded by many people along the Delaware River as a sort of folk hero.  The Native American Nations of the area tend to strongly disagree. . .claiming that Quick was a psychopathic serial killer.  I'm thinking that the Native Americans might have the stronger argument.
 
As for the story itself, it's interesting in a "truth is stranger than fiction" sort of way.  It seems like an unusual inclusion into this comic, judging from the other two stories, but I guess the strange tale of a guy who spent his life systematically slaughtering every Native American he came across (including women and children) IS a bit of a horror story when you think of it.
 
Overall, I'd say this is the weak link in this issue.  It's interesting, but it reads more like an Encyclopedia entry (HEY! Remember encyclopedias?  I'M OLD!) than a horror story.  The art is okay, but not much more than okay.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Death Rattle #1 is definitely a stronger horror comic than what we started this Halloween party with. 
 
 From desperate survival on a hostile world with some cool retro-modern art, to creepy, unsettling body horror, and yeah. . .even the somewhat weak last story relating the lifelong obsession of a man for revenge.  This horror comic actually delivers. . .horror.  Go figure.
 
This is an "adults only" comic.  It has a fair share of curse words (especially in the first story) and a little nudity in all three stories.  If you don't mind that, then I can certainly recommend this issue to horror comic fans.  
 
Some of the stories throughout the 18-issue series have been reprinted, but there's not a collection, so you'll have to find these the old-fashioned way. . .digging through the back issue bins.  I have a few other issues of the series and they're all pretty good, so keep your eye out  for Death Rattle if you want some decent horror comics that actually deliver a bit of horror.
 
UP NEXT. . .
 
They're creepy and they're kooky,
Mysterious and spooky,
They're altogether ooky,
The Addams Family.
 
We're going to have a little "all ages" fun with the next one.  
Gold Key's Addam's Family #1.
You know the song! Snap your fingers!
 
Be there or be square.

- read more

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

 
It's that time of year again! It's time for pumpkin spice EVERYTHING!
Take a deep breath, folks. Just SMELL that cinnamon and nutmeg wafting through the air.
 
You know what else it's time for?  The annual Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon!
It's when I try and stuff as many reviews of spooky comics into the month of October that I can. Sometimes I do a theme.  Sometimes not.  
 
This year there's a theme.  It's going to be the SECOND Longbox Junk ALL retro-review Halloween Party!  It's been a couple of years since I did this (2020), and I had a lot of fun.  Besides, it lets the fine and friendly folk over at OLD GUYS WHO LIKE OLD COMICS join the party, since they don't like much of anything in comics that came out after 1986. . .not that there's a single thing wrong with THAT.
 
SO. . .
 
Pumpkin spice and old comic book paper.  The smell of the season.  Let's get this party started! First up, what's a Halloween party without a few Ghosts?  I say it ain't a party at all!

GHOSTS #35

DC (1975)

 
 
COVER: Nick Cardy
 
THE COVER:
 
The late, great, Nick Cardy rarely disappoints and this cover is no exception.  It's not his BEST cover, mind you, but it's definitely a very nice Halloween cover!  The ghosts reaching up for the happy, oblivious woman are really creepy and cool. 
 
 The only thing I DON'T like about this cover is what I don't like about just about ALL the earlier "Ghosts" covers. . .the title and bottom text together take up about HALF of the cover!  Space that could have been reduced for more great cover art.  
 
Let's get inside this thing!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Four. . .count 'em. . .FOUR comic stories and a 1 page text piece in here.  Now THAT'S some good value for a single lousy 1975 quarter.  Let's give them each their own turn. . . 
 
FEUD WITH A PHANTOM
 
SCRIPT: ?
PENCILS: Alex Nino
INKS: Alex Nino
 
THE STORY:
 
After a cruel sea captain smuggling illegal Chinese immigrants to the United States comes into conflict over the wretched treatment of their passengers, he kills the first mate in a fight.  But he is later astounded to discover that the ghost of the murdered man haunts the ship!
 
 
When the ghost causes the ship to come to the attention of the Coast Guard, the Captain orders the illegal passengers thrown overboard, but to his horror, he finds himself joining them in the watery depths as the ghostly first mate has his revenge!
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Not bad.  Not great. Pretty good.  It's a fairly standard "Murdered Man Gets Revenge From Beyond The Grave" story, so it doesn't really stand out or is memorable.  But what this story DOES have going for it is some great artwork!  I love the dark inks and the realistic figures the artist gives us.  The images seem to move and flow across the page! 
 
Overall, an extremely well-worn story saved by some fantastic art. 
 
NEXT!
 
THE GHOST WHO POSSESSED LISA!
 
SCRIPT: ?
PENCILS: John Calnan
INKS: John Calnan
 
THE STORY:
 
Calabria, Italy. 1939.  A beautiful young woman named Lisa is suddenly stricken while getting water from the river.  Before the horrified eyes of the other women, her face and body change to that of an old man. . .a man they recognize has having died two years before at that very river, one Cesare Veraldi!
 
 
The terrified villagers follow Lisa/ Veraldi into town, where the gruesome being confronts three villagers, accusing them of murdering him for his money!  They protest, but Lisa/Veraldi leads the village to where his body is hidden, provoking a confession from the accused men.  Justice now served, Veraldi leaves Lisa's body.  She remembers nothing.
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Another "Murdered Man Gets Revenge From Beyond The Grave" story, this time with a little possession twist.  It's. . .okay.  Not much more than that.  Unlike the first story (which followed a similar well-worn story path), this one doesn't have fantastic art to save it.  The art here isn't BAD at all.  It's pretty good.  I'd describe it as "serviceable".  It tells the story, period.  
 
Overall, another extremely well-worn story path with artwork that's just pretty good gives us a story that is okay, but forgotten almost as soon as you're done reading it.
 
NEXT!
 
THE DEMON'S INN
 
SCRIPT: ?
PENCILS: Ruben Yandoc
INKS: Ruben Yandoc
 
THE STORY:
 
When a man and his wife are attacked by a pillow that seemingly came to life in the middle of the night while staying at a sketchy country inn, they barely escape with their lives before leaving the inn.  The innkeeper explains to his new assistant that the inn is haunted by the spirit of the previous owner, who was hanged for robbing and murdering guests. . .smothering them with a pillow.
 
 
The next night, another guest encounters the killer pillow. . .and sees the spirit holding it!  He knocks the pillow into the fireplace, causing the entire inn to go up in flames.  The innkeeper and guests escape, but a strange, spectral figure is seen dancing in the flames as the inn burns to the ground.
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW: 
 
Really? A haunted PILLOW story?  And here I'd thought I'd seen them all.  I have to admit, it took some guts for the editor to actually include this story.  I'm thinking the book must have been right up against a deadline.  A haunted pillow story.  Go figure.  
 
Too bad it isn't a very good story when you get down to it.  And the art is done by the same artist on the previous story, so it stays firmly in the lane of "pretty good" and just telling the story without trying much harder than that.
 
Overall, beyond the bizarre concept of this tale, there's not much else going for it.  A shame.  The world NEEDS more haunted pillow stories, in my humble opinion.
 
MOVING ALONG!
 
THE SPITE OF THE SPECTER
 
SCRIPT: ?
PENCILS: Frank Redondo
INKS: Frank Redondo
 
THE STORY:
 
Somewhere in the jungle of the Marianas islands.  1945. . .World War II. Private Norman Scott is attacked by a Japanese sniper.  The sniper misses and Pvt. Scott makes a temporary truce with the Japanese soldier, telling him that they are the only two human souls left on the tiny island.  Their armies have gone and left them both for dead!  
 
Despite the truce, the Japanese soldier later attacks Pvt. Scott with a knife, severely wounding him.  The Japanese soldier feels remorse and tries to nurse Scott back to health, but the American dies, leaving the Japanese man alone on the island.
 
 
 
As the weeks go by, the Japanese soldier slowly cracks from lack of human companionship.  The terrified man begins to see the spirit of the dead American.  He follows the spirit around the island, demanding that it speak to him.  
 
Too late, the Japanese soldier realizes that the spirit has led him into a trap. . .quicksand!  As he sinks to his death, the silent spirit finally speaks, telling the doomed man that they will be together forever on this island now!
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
This one seems like a story that was pulled from the Weird War Tales (also by DC) emergency files.  Like the other three stories in this issue, it's just. . .okay.  It's yet another "Murdered Man Gets Revenge From Beyond The Grave" tale, but with a war story twist. Like the first story, this one is saved by some outstanding artwork!  
 
I've always enjoyed Frank Redondo's art, even though he might not be the most FAMOUS Bronze Age artist.  His work is ALL over DC's war and horror comics of the time, and for good reason.  He can make even a so-so story (like this one) look good.
 
Overall, ANOTHER "Revenge From Beyond The Grave" story.  It's pretty good, but the very nice Frank Redondo artwork saves this one from being utterly average.
 
AND FINALLY. . .
 
THE SPIRIT THAT SEIZED A SOUL
(One page text story with illustration)
 
SCRIPT: Murray Boltinoff
ILLUSTRATION: Frank Robbins
 
THE STORY:
 
A rather matter-of-fact recounting of the strange (and supposedly true) case of 12-year-old Mary Jobson, who defied both doctors and priests when she was supposedly possessed by an evil spirit or demon in 1839. . .one of the earliest well-recorded cases of demonic/spirit possession.  Read the whole thing below. 
 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Unlike the other four stories in this issue, this little text piece seems to be based on an actual case, according to a bit of research I did (namely typing "Mary Jobson 1839" into Google like the scholar that I am).  It's a pretty straightforward sketch of what supposedly happened, and for that, it's a pretty good reminder of the days before you COULD just type stuff into Google.  And the single little illustration by Frank Robbins is pretty good too, for what that's worth.
 
Overall, probably the most interesting part of the issue for supposedly being a true story.
 

CONCLUSION

 
All in all, a pretty "Meh" start to the Longbox Junk Halloween party this year.  It's not that the stories are BAD, it's just that none of them are very memorable. . .except maybe the story about the haunted pillow, which is memorable for all the wrong reasons.
 
Three out of four of these stories follow the exact same story path of "Murdered Man Gets Revenge From Beyond The Grave", with just a little twist to set the tales apart from the others.  
 
There IS some very nice artwork in here in the first and last comic story by Alex Nino and Frank Redondo that is just about all that saves this entire issue from being utterly forgettable.  And even THAT isn't enough for me to recommend this issue to anyone but the most ardent fan of Bronze Age horror comics.
 
Sad to say, but there's just not enough spooky meat on the bone here for me to suggest picking up this issue for anything other than the cool Nick Cardy cover. . .which isn't even as good as it COULD be, thanks to intrusive text and title.
 
Oh well, I guess they can't ALL be winners.  
 
UP NEXT. . .
 
This party is just getting started!
There's more spooky Longbox Junk Halloween fun to come!
 
We're heading back to 1985 for a look at some indie horror!
Death Rattle #1 from Kitchen Sink Comix.
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

Longbox Junk - Star Trek Unlimited #7

287 views • 207 days ago • (1) Comment

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place where I write comic reviews that nobody asked me to!

 
Can you smell it? Awwww. . .YEAH! That's FALL in the air, folks!  You know what that means, right? RIGHT? Well, if you don't, it means that it's time for what's become a bit of a Longbox Junk tradition. . . the annual LONGBOX JUNK HALLOWEEN HORROR MARATHON!
 
It's where I make the effort to cram as many spooky comic book reviews into the month of October as I can!  Sometimes there's a theme, sometimes there's not.  But there's always a lot of fun to be had!
 
Ready? Let's do this!
 
Wait. . .WHAT?  It's still September? Ah, you party poopers.  
I guess let's check out a Star Trek comic instead.
 

STAR TREK UNLIMITED #7

Marvel/Paramount Comics (1998)

 
 
 
 
AN INFINITE JEST
 
SCRIPT: Dan Abnett & Ian Edginton
PENCILS: Ron Randall & Tom Morgan
INKS: Art Nichols & Scott Hanna
 
THE COVER:  
 
It's very simple, and in that simplicity, it REALLY catches the eye.  The gold and silver insignias and title against the flat black background pop out in a big way.  Quite a few of the Star Trek covers from the short time Marvel held the license are pretty cluttered and crowded.  This is definitely one of the better ones of the bunch.  Let's get inside this thing!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale as two godlike beings, Q and Trelane, grow bored and decide to play a game.  A game with the very fabric of existence as the prize and with humans as the playing pieces!  Trelane makes the first move. . .
 
 
We shift scenes to the 24th century and the bridge of Starfleet's new flagship, the Sovereign class U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701 E on the day of her maiden voyage.  
 
Commissioned after the destruction of the fabled Enterprise D on Veridian III (as seen in the movie Star Trek: Generations) the powerful new starship is under the guidance of Starfleet's finest Commanding Officer, the legendary Captain James Kirk. . .wait, WHAT?
 
 
Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise E sense that something is wrong, but unable to put their finger on it, they proceed as planned with the ship's maiden voyage.  
 
In the meantime, Q mocks Trelane's choice of player, but Trelane is confident that Kirk will thrive with the technological advantages of the 24th century.  Q decides turnabout is fair play and reveals HIS player. . .
 
On the bridge of the U.S.S. Enterprise NCC-1701, in the 23rd century, we are introduced to Captain Jean-Luc Picard as his ship comes under attack from a Klingon cruiser!
 
 
 
Picard manages to fight off the Klingons despite his confusion, and that of the crew over his strange orders.  Finally, Q steps in to freeze the action and reveal the game to Picard.  
 
Predictably, Picard is outraged and refuses to play Q's games.  Q tells him that he's got no choice. The game is afoot, existence itself is at stake, and Q expects Picard to win.
 
 
 
Likewise, aboard the Enterprise E, Trelane shows himself to Kirk and reveals the game.  Kirk protests that he can't win a game that he doesn't know the rules to, but Trelane leaves without providing anything more than that he expects Kirk to win the game.
 
 
Upon Q and Trelane's exit, the Captains of both ships are informed by their crew that they have somehow been transported to a strange uncharted section of space, with a total absence of all interstellar matter except themselves and a planetoid called "Salvation" that was previously in neither ship's data banks.  
 
Both Captains set course for the planetoid, as it seems to be the only possible source of answers in this strange space.  In the meantime, Q and Trelane are satisfied with the chosen players and the game space.  All that remains is to provide a challenge. . .
 
 
With a snap of his fingers, Trelane summons Picard's old foe Gowron and his Imperial Klingon Vor'Cha Cruiser.  He places the hulking battleship near Picard's ancient Starfleet vessel.  A confused Gowron immediately begins pursuit of the Enterprise!
 
 
Q protests Trelane's unequal match.  Trelane mocks Q for perhaps not being up to the challenge.  Q decides that once again, turnabout is fair game.  With a snap of HIS fingers, a challenge is presented to Kirk and the Enterprise E.
 
 
Kirk's old foe, Commander Kang, is transported to the strange playing field.  They detect the Enterprise E and immediately set course to intercept!
 
 
Aboard the Enterprise E, the approaching ancient Klingon warship is detected on an attack course!  The crew is certain that the Klingon weapons will not be able to harm them, but Q throws another twist into the game, disabling the Enterprise E's shields as Kang attacks, causing heavy damage!
 
 
Aboard the Enterprise NCC-1701, Picard is faced with an advanced Klingon warship bearing down on his ancient and highly outmatched vessel.  He decides that the Klingons thinking that he won't fight will be their advantage.  
 
Using his knowledge of the Klingon vessel gained from the 24th century, Picard turns the Enterprise in and strikes a weak point, taking the Klingons by surprise and heavily damaging their engines.  
 
Picard takes advantage of the temporary gain and warps away from the battle and toward the Salvation planetoid.
 
 
Meanwhile, aboard the heavily-damaged Enterprise E, Captain Kirk desperately tries to think of a way to escape with his crippled and unarmed ship.  The crew informs him that repairs will take hours.  Obviously, fighting isn't the way out of this one.
 
He hails the ancient Klingon ship and Commander Kang seems not at all surprised to be facing Kirk.  Kang demands surrender.  Kirk refuses and makes Kang an offer. . .the secrets of the weapon technology on the planetoid in exchange for safe passage.  A deadly bluff if the Klingons manage to see through it.
 
 

As Picard's Enterprise flees from Gowron, he gathers the command crew, revealing to Spock and McCoy that he isn't who they think he is.  He's from the future and they're all pawns in an insane game between immortal beings.
 
Spock and McCoy are skeptical, but Picard invites Spock to mind-meld with him. . .as in the future, he mind-melded with an older Ambassador Spock and that traces of that time should still be within his mind.  Spock does the mind-meld and is convinced Picard is telling the truth.
 
 
Aboard the Enterprise E, after stalling Kang's attack, Kirk decides to come clean and reveal the truth to Deanna Troi.  Using her psychic abilities, she becomes convinced that Kirk is telling the truth.  She immediately thinks he's talking about Q.  Kirk informs her that there is another. . .Trelane.
 
 
 
The two Enterprise crews contact each other and join in orbit around the Salvation planetoid.  Picard, Kirk, and their command crews beam down to the planet to discuss the situation, driving Trelane into a rage as their respective playing pieces "cheat" by working together!  Q is just surprised it took them this long to do it.
 

 
 
Trying to salvage what's left of their game, Q and Trelane also travel to the planetoid to confront their wayward champions. . .just as Kirk and Picard knew they would.
 
 
As Picard and Kirk argue with Q and Trelane, trying to convince them that their game is childish and beneath the dignity of immortal beings with unlimited power, the Klingons Gowron and Kang ALSO beam down to the planetoid.
 
Kirk and Picard reveal to the Klingons that they have also been used as pawns in a petty game played by immature immortals.  The Klingons stand with the humans in refusing to play any longer.  Q realizes that the game is over.   He challenges Trelane to abandon this game and resolve their contest in another way. 
 
Trelane agrees, and with a snap of Q and Trelane's fingers. . .
 
 
. . .Kirk finds himself back on the bridge of HIS Enterprise, still engaged in battle with Kang.
 
 
. . .Picard finds himself back on the bridge of the Enterprise E, ready for her maiden voyage.
 
 
. . .And  Trelane and Q ready to decide their contest with trial by combat.  All's well that ends well.
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
What we have here is a story that can literally ONLY be told in comic books (or novels).  Even in 1998, twenty-five years ago (TWENTY-FIVE YEARS? I feel old as dirt about now!), the actors in the original Star Trek series were getting up there in years enough that this would have been impossible to do in live action. 
 
And see. . .THAT'S why I love comics like this!  They can give us stories that we could never have otherwise (okay, there's novels too, I guess).
 
As far as the story itself goes, it's fun.  It ends a bit abruptly, but getting to that ending where Q and Trelane are put in their place by their "opponents" joining together and letting the Godlike beings know that they've underestimated humanity AGAIN is a pretty fun ride.  
 
I like the twist that Kirk is put into a situation that he can't fight his way out of, and Picard fights his way out of a situation that he can't talk his way out of.  It shows that Starfleet values both the fighter AND the thinker, and always has.  And really, that's the heart of this story.
 
On the art side of things, the art is decent.  There are a few standout moments, but not many.  There's two artists and two inkers credited, so I'm thinking one did the original crew's story and the other did the Next Generation crew.  
 
They DO match up pretty well, but I think the artist on the original crew did a better job capturing the likeness' of the actors.  On the Next Generation side, Troi, Q and Worf in particular are pretty poorly-done.  
 
Other than that, the art overall is fine.  It tells the story nicely, but doesn't try very hard to do much more than that.
 

CONCLUSION

 
So I WAS going to just do a random comic again for this review, but picked this one specifically because another blogger I really enjoy has been doing overviews of Star Trek comics and had never actually seen one of these Star Trek Unlimited comics.  It was a pretty short-lived series. . .only 10 issues published quarterly during the short time in the 90s when Marvel had the Star Trek license.  
 
There's really not much information to be had on this short series, which told stories set in both the original series timeline and the Next Generation timeline (as well as this issue, which combined the two).  I picked this issue because of the interest the other blogger expressed in it, and I hope this review helps add to the scant information to be found on Star Trek Unlimited.
 
Wait. . .what? Who is that other blogger I mentioned?  Glad you asked!
 
His name is Josh Turnbull and he runs a GREAT blog called JOSH'S GEEK CAVE that can be found at the link, or where he regularly posts as a contributing member at COOL COMICS IN MY COLLECTION . . .the place where they keep comics FUN!
 
I don't mind throwing a shoutout to either one of these great places to get your geek on!  Josh's Geek Cave reviews just about EVERYTHING, from Star Trek to Sesame Street. . .and NO, I ain't kidding!  This guy loves it ALL!
 
As far as Cool Comics In My Collection goes, it's a great little gathering place for all things nerdly and fun!  There's a little bit of everything and I say if you want a fun hangout that keeps things loose and friendly, then join the Cool Comics Crowd!
 
OKAY. . .unsolicited (I swear) plugs for places I really like are done!
 
If you're a Star Trek comic fan then this story combining the original and Next Generation crews is a lot of fun and well worth a read.  The series has never been collected, so you'll have to keep your eye out in the bargain bin for individual issues.  I see them fairly often, so they're out there to be found by the diligent Longbox Junkers willing to hunt them down.
 
Is it the greatest Star Trek story ever told? No.  Is the art the best Star Trek art out there? No.  Is it a fun story that can only happen in comic books (or novels)? Yes!  So keep your eye out and give it a try.
 
Up Next. . .
 
Okay, NOW we can begin the Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon!
 
A couple of years ago (2020) I did an all retro review edition of the Longbox Junk Halloween party. I think I'd like to do that again!  Why not? I have a LOT of old spooky comics that have never been reviewed by anyone.  So let's do it!
 
The Longbox Junk Halloween Horror Marathon 2023 Retro Review Edition is ON!
 
Be there or be square.
 

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews you never even knew you wanted!

 
So, I've been having a little fun just getting random with the Longbox Junk.  I generate a number between 1-40 (the number of boxes I have in the comic cave) online and then close my eyes and grab a comic from the box.
 
This time out, I got my hand into one of my "A" boxes and pulled out ANOTHER Bronze Age Beauty! Thing is. . .it's not exactly Longbox JUNK.  It's not the sort of comic you're gonna find in the bargain bin, and it DOES have some collector "value" to it.  
 
But then again, this ain't a comic that's "valuable" enough to plan on selling it to finance a vacation to Disneyland, either (It won't even cover a single ticket, truth to tell).  So it's not bargain bin and it's not top-tier.  It's just a cool old comic in very nice condition that might be worth a few bucks. You know what? Let's just call it a Longbox Junk retro review and get 'er done!
 
Ready? Let's do it!

ALL-STAR WESTERN #3

DC (1970)

 
 
COVER: Neal Adams
 
THE COVER:
 
Is there ANY cover by the late, great Neal Adams that isn't good?  I haven't seen one yet!  Don't get me wrong, this isn't the BEST or most memorable cover by Adams, but it's still a darn good one. 
 
El Diablo is one of my favorite western characters, and I'm a bit disappointed that Adams didn't put the spotlight on him a little more here. That said, the flowing cape of the mysterious hero, as well as the flying mane of his trusty steed as they leap into action are awesome details that grab the eye, even if they ARE crowded toward one side by big hunks of text.  The flat green background is also very cool and provides a really interesting look for the whole cover.
 
Let's get inside this thing!
 
THE STORIES:
 
Three stories for your 1970 dime and nickel in here! You'll never hear ME say a Bronze Age comic doesn't give you your money's worth.  Two comic stories and a one page text piece.  Let's give 'em each their own turn, shall we?  WE SHALL!
 
DEATH DEALS THE CARDS!
 
SCRIPT: Robert Kanigher
PENCILS: Gil Kane
INKS: Gil Kane
 
Rick Wilson is a young man that once had a lot of potential, but now rides the outlaw trail, pursued by his own father! 
 
 All his life, Rick wanted to follow in his father's footsteps as a Texas Ranger, and so he trained himself over the years to be the fastest gun around.  But his father, Ranger Captain Sam Wilson, tried to discourage the young man, because being a lawman also means being a target.  
 
Not realizing his father was just trying to keep his son safe, Rick rebelled against him and threw in with the Dix Gang, led by a ruthless gunman with a grudge against Captain Wilson.
 
 
When Captain Wilson's trusted deputy is killed in an ambush that seemed to have been set up by his outlaw son, he becomes more determined than ever to bring Rick to justice.  In the meantime, the Dix gang plots to rob a train carrying a gold shipment.  A train that will be guarded by Rick's own father.  
 
As they pull off the daring train robbery, Dix tells Rick that he set the whole thing up in order to finally get his revenge on Captain Wilson.  The rest of the gang draws their guns, ready to kill Rick.  They never really trusted him, as the son of a lawman.  But Rick turns the tables, fighting off the gang as Dix goes to kill his father!
 
 
Dix confronts Captain Wilson, but the Texas Ranger is a wily old veteran and manages to get the upper hand on the outlaw, pushing him off the train as the dynamite the criminal is carrying explodes!  Rick, now done with the Dix Gang, calls his horse and makes his escape as his father shoots at him and swears to bring him to justice.
 
As he rides away, Rick wonders what the future will hold for him.
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Not a bad little story.  Unfortunately, it's the second chapter in a four part tale concluding in All-Star Western #5, so it's not the best place to jump into the story of Rick Wilson: Outlaw.  But taken on its own, this was still a good read. Like Neal Adams' cover, it's hard to find a Robert Kanigher story that doesn't deliver.  Even though this is just one part of the tale, Kanigher definitely makes me want to read the rest!  It's just a good, solid western action tale. 
 
And then there's the art.  I'm gonna take some slings and arrows for this, but I've never been a fan of Gil Kane's earlier art on what many fans consider his best character. . .Green Lantern.  Whoah! Settle down, folks! That said, I DO really like his later stuff, and this little story is a premium example.   It's fluid and cinematic.  I think (remember, just MY humble opinion) that the Kane art everyone loves most is stiff.  THIS art seems to move across the page.  The art is really the best part of this story.
 
NEXT!
 
AND THE SUN BEAT ON
 
SCRIPT: Mike Friedrich (One page text story)
 
An outlaw fleeing through the barren desert, doggedly pursued by the law following a train robbery, discovers that even the finest horse is no match for the searing heat of the Texas sun.  Read the whole thing below. . .
 

 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Most of the time, these text pieces are just filler and not really worth much mention.  But this one I found to be one of the best parts of the comic!  It's not actually a story. . .more of a vignette.  It starts in progress and doesn't really have an ending.  But it has a quality to the writing that sticks in my head and makes me wish it could have been illustrated into a two page intermission.  A very nice little  surprise!
 
AND FINALLY. . .
 
CALL HIM SATAN. . .CALL HIM SAINT!
 
SCRIPT: Robert Kanigher
PENCILS: Gray Morrow
INKS: Gray Morrow
 
We begin our tale with a prologue.  A miner, saved from an outlaw ambush by a mysterious black-clad and masked rider.  The grateful miner tells the masked man that the outlaws are from the Hanged Man gang. . .a ruthless band roaming the area and responsible for several deaths already.  
 
 
We then shift back in time. . .thirty days in the past.  
 
We meet banker Lazarus Lane and his lady love Nora Hayes in the peaceful town of Puerta Del Sol, in southern California.  But the town's peace is soon shattered by a rowdy gang of outlaws that assault Lane on the street in broad daylight. Later, they rob the bank where Lazarus works.  He freezes, unable to draw a pistol and shoot as his friend is killed before his eyes!
 
 
Lane is labeled by the entire town as a coward and blamed for the death of his friend.  Lazarus seeks solace in the company of his native American friend, Wise Owl, who tells Lane that the Great Spirit gives all men a chance to redeem themselves.
 
A week later, a country ride with Nora suddenly turns violent as the same gang attacks the two of them.  As the outlaws taunt Lane for being a coward, he tries to fight back, but is mysteriously struck down by a bolt of lightning!
 
The terrified outlaws flee, leaving Lazarus for dead.  Nora quickly brings him home, where Wise Owl cares for his friend while Nora rushes to get her father, the local doctor.
 
 
Nora and her father find Lane in some sort of coma.  Alive, but nonresponsive, with Wise Owl chanting over him.  The doctor is stumped as to how he can help and leaves Lazarus in the care of his native friend.
 
The days pass, Wise Owl chants and administers concoctions of herbs and roots until days later, Lane wakes from his coma.  He tells Wise Owl that he dreamed that he is neither dead or alive now.  His body is now host to a strange being that roams the earth while Lane sleeps.  A shadow of vengeance and justice called. . .EL DIABLO!
 
 
That night, at the cabin of the miner saved from an ambush in the prologue, the Hanged Man gang. . .so named because their leader survived a hanging. . .has taken him and his family prisoner.  The leader of the gang tells the miner that he is determined to kill everyone who was on the jury that condemned him to death.  But in the darkness outside the cabin, the mysterious El Diablo is coming!
 
 
The outlaws slowly come to realize that something strange is happening.  But by then, it's too late.  El Diablo has fought his way through the guards posted and confronts the Hanged Man himself.  The outlaw desperately tries to use the miner's daughter as a hostage, but El Diablo attacks with a bolo, wrapping it around the outlaw's neck and hanging him from a post.
 
 
The Hanged Man now dead and the miner's family safe, El Diablo silently rides away, back to the home of Lazarus Lane.  Wise Owl sees the black rider and tells him that he cannot truly die until he pays what is owed to the Great Spirit.  Without answering, El Diablo once again returns to the sleeping body of Lazarus Lane as Wise Owl chants.
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Awww. . .Yeah! The second appearance and origin of El Diablo!  What a great idea for a character.  Combining gritty western storytelling with the supernatural makes such a fantastic combination, I love it!  Once again, Robert Kanigher does not disappoint.  
 
This story has just the right mix of the weird supernatural eeriness and the dirty western feel to hit a spot that not many characters can get to.  I REALLY would have liked for this to be an entire issue, because it does seem a little rushed.  But other than that, this is a nice little nugget of Longbox Junk gold.
 
On the art side of things, comic legend Gray Morrow gives this tale a dark, moody, gritty look that perfectly matches the story.  There are some really great moments for the artist in these panels. . .moments that show why Morrow stands up there with just about any other Bronze Age artist you can think of.  Like the first story, it's really the art that makes this special.
 
 

CONCLUSION

 
Neal Adams. Robert Kanigher. Gil Kane. Mike Friedrich. Gray Morrow.  Just LOOK at those names.  LOOK at the talent on this one single comic.  How can it NOT be good? There's NO way this comic can't be good.  There's Bronze Age greatness on EVERY SINGLE PAGE.
 
If you are looking for a great Bronze Age western comic, look no more.  It's right here.  More than that, this is just ONE issue of what I consider (in my humble opinion) to be one of the BEST Bronze Age comic series, period.  
 
I have all the issues of All-Star Western (Yes, even the coveted first and second appearances of Jonah Hex in issues #10 and 11), and page for page, I say that it can stand right up there with ANY Bronze Age comic series in terms of story and talent.  And when I say any, I mean ANY.  
 
Once again, just look at the names behind this ONE issue.  And THEN add in Carmine Infantino, Tony DeZuniga, Jim Aparo, Gardner Fox, Joe Kubert, Joe Orlando, Giordano, Gerry Conway, Frank Frazetta, Sergio Aragones, Denny O'Neil, and more!  All in ELEVEN ISSUES!
 
If that's not pure comic gold, I don't know what is.  If that's not pure comic gold, NOTHING is.
 
If you enjoy gritty western stories, then this entire short series (it was renamed Weird Western Tales and went on for 60 more issues) is for you.  Some of the individual issues ARE a bit pricey and you're not gonna find these in the bargain bin (The mentioned #10 and #11, first and second appearances of Jonah Hex, are the most pricy of the bunch).  Fortunately, all the issues have been reprinted in various Showcase editions.
 
Overall, great issue.  Great series.  Highly recommended.
 
Up Next. . .
 
It's almost time for the annual October Longbox Junk Halloween Horror festival! But not quite yet.  There's still time for another random grab before I get into the spooky stuff.
 
Be there or be square!

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Welcome to Longbox Junk! It's the blog where I just keep on writing comic reviews nobody asked for!

 
Sorry about the delays again.  There's always a huge bump in business toward the end of summer when people who put stuff off for the past few months are rushing to get in some fun time with the kids before they go back to school.  It's just one of those strange things about hotels that the END of summer is one of the busiest times of the year.
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
I felt like getting a little random this time out, so I basically generated a random number between 1 - 40 (the number of boxes I keep in my comic-cave) online. That got me one of my "S" boxes.   Then I closed my eyes and pulled out a comic.
 
And here we are.
 
Truthfully, I'm not much of a Spider-Man fan.  Don't get me wrong. . .a cool comic story is a cool comic story, and Spidey has some pretty cool stories.  I'm just not one of those guys who goes out of my way to collect massive full runs of the many Spider-Man titles.  Most of the issues I have, I've either gotten by accident as part of a larger lot, or they had a great cover that caught my eye.
 
This is one of those great cover issues.  I've never actually read this comic, but I have had it up on my rotating "Wall O' Covers" in my office several times.  So, now the question becomes: Is the story as cool as the cover?
 
Let's find out!

THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #35

Marvel (1979)

 
 
COVER: Carmine Infantino
 
LABYRINTH
 
SCRIPT:  Tony Isabella
PENCILS: Lee Elias & Mike Esposito
INKS: Mike Esposito
 
THE COVER:
 
Like I said above, I might not be a big Spider-Man fan, but I AM a fan of great comic covers. . .and in MY book, this is a great Spider-Man cover!  I mean, just LOOK at it! What's not to like?  Eye-catching contrasting blacks, reds and yellows. . .the hero in an iconic pose, leaping at the reader. THIS is a cover that delivers a nice punch of great Bronze Age art in the Mighty Marvel Manner!
 
So yeah. . .great cover.  Let's get inside and see what's going on with the story!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale with the Spectacular Spider-Man, wracked with pain and falling, mid web swing. We see a mysterious figure who realizes that if Spidey falls to his death, he will be robbed of revenge.  
 
He releases the hold on Spider-Man's mind and the disoriented wall-crawler smashes through a window and into a building, only to be confronted by two police officers intent on arresting him!
 
 
As Spidey tries to reason with the police, the mysterious figure once again invades his mind, commanding him to kill!  Spidey manages to fight back the mental commands enough to avoid killing the officers, but the mysterious voice in his head demonstrates his ability to mentally control Spider-Man by forcing him to throw himself against walls!
 
 
Spidey, helpless to resist the mental commands, follows the voice in his head to an old neighborhood, and then to a run-down shack.  Inside that shack, he finally meets his tormentor. It's a foe that he had fought once before (in Amazing Spider-Man #138), now back for revenge. . .the mutant mindbender called MINDWORM!
 
 
As Spider-Man tries and fails to fight free of Mindworm, the villain gloats and gives Spidey (as well as the reader) a quick recap of his short-lived criminal career, brought short by the hero now helpless before him. . .
 
A psychic parasite who gained strength from draining the emotions and thoughts of those in his area, Mindworm had taken a large group of people to feed on until Spidey had fought and defeated him, leaving him unable to feed on emotions, which nearly killed him.
 
 
After their battle, Mindworm spent several months in the hospital close to death, but during that time, he had found the strength to increase his mental powers and escape custody!  With newfound energy, Mindworm was determined to have his vengeance on Spider-Man!
 
 
The villain's origin flashback monologue now at an end, Mindworm blasts Spidey out of a window, where the hero falls into a strange maze-like place.  Almost immediately, a woman rushes out of the shadows, she recognizes Spider-Man and cries out for help!
 
She introduces herself as Dr. Joyce Phillips, Mindworm's doctor at the time the villain escaped from the hospital.  Spider-Man tries to make sense of it all, but there's little time for conversation with his new companion as gigantic rats leap out and attack them!
 
 
It's a brutal, savage battle against the giant rats, but Spider-Man manages to win the fight and save the frightened Doctor from the oversized vermin!
 
 
With the immediate danger overcome, Doctor Joyce tells Spider-Man that she's not a medical doctor, but a psychiatrist who was trying to help Mindworm through his personality conflicts before he escaped.  
 
She recognizes the rats as one of Mindworm's mental traumas. . .he had been bitten by a rat as a child. She believes that she and Spidey are trapped in a labyrinth of Mindworms own neuroses!  
 
Further speculation on their strange situation is interrupted by a howling blast of wind that carries the two of them to parts unknown!
 
 
Spider-Man and the doctor regain consciousness only to find themselves confronting a grotesque blob-like creature!  
 
As it speaks with the voice of Mindworm and shouts it's hate of all mankind, Doctor Joyce tells Spidey that this is Mindworm's final embrace of inhumanity and alienation, and that they must help him before he is completely engulfed by madness!  
 
All Spidey knows is that he's finally in a position where he might actually be able to fight Mindworm and escape the prison of the villain's mind . . .
 
 
Unfortunately for Spidey, in the mental maze of Mindworm, he's at a disadvantage.  Mindworm sprouts tentacles and pummels Spidey.  Worse, the wallcrawler still doesn't have a way to fight against Mindworm's mental attacks!
 
Doctor Joyce shouts to Spidey that the only way he's going to be able to defeat Mindworm is mentally! If Mindworm is in Spidey's head, then THAT'S where he has to fight the villain!
 
 
 
And so Spider-Man opens his mind and is able to see some of what makes Mindworm tick.  He taunts the villain about his parents. . .accidentally killed with his powers.  An enraged Mindworm struggles against the truth, that his anger at the world is anger at HIMSELF!
 
In accepting the truth, Mindworm sees that he's still capable of being human, and in doing so, he defeats his greatest enemy. . .his own anger at himself.
 
 
The battle against Mindworm won, Peter Parker wakes up in an icy sweat in his own bed. . .it was all just a nightmare! OR WAS IT?
 
Peter suits up as Spidey and swings across town to the psychiatric hospital where Mindworm was confined after their original battle.  He's determined to get to the bottom of things.  Sneaking outside of Mindworm's window, Spidey is surprised to see Doctor Joyce. . .but she's just a nurse and not a psychiatrist.  
 
As he wonders just what is going on, Spidey is shocked to realize that Mindworm can read his thoughts as he invites Spider-Man into the room to ask his questions.
 
 
A calm and composed Mindworm tells Spider-Man that he never intended to drag the hero into his own internal struggle, but he's glad that it happened by accident.  
 
By fighting with Spider-Man, Mindworm was able to defeat his inner demons, but more importantly, he learned from Spider-Man that with great power comes great responsibility. . .and it's time to use his power responsibly.
 
Spider-Man is surprised by the turn of events.  He came expecting another fight, and discovered that he'd helped a villain turn the page from evil without even realizing it.  Taking the unexpected victory as it is, Spider-Man and Mindworm part ways peacefully.  All's well that ends well.
 

The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay, okay. . .not bad.  Not bad at all.  Let's break it on down!
 
I think I've mentioned a time or two that Tony Isabella is one of my favorite Bronze Age writers.  The thing I like most about his stories is that there's ALWAYS a little something to think about.  Even in this filler one and done Spider-Man comic, he takes an otherwise average superhero punch-up and throws an unexpected villain redemption ending at us!  Nicely done, Mr. Isabella!
 
Taken as a whole, the issue's story is decent.  Not really too memorable or groundbreaking.  A solid bit of  Bronze Age superhero storytelling.  Good for what it is, but ultimately nothing much to remember.
 
 But that ending. . .those last two pages.  A villain able to go into Spidey's head and taking the classic "With great power comes great responsibility" to heart and deciding to change his ways.  Now THAT'S a tasty and unexpected turn.  
 
On the art side of things, we have cover to cover of some good, clean Bronze Age artwork.  It might not be the GREATEST art out there, but it tells the story nicely and there's nothing wrong with it.  Like I always say. . .not EVERY comic has to be a masterpiece.  I'd rather have a good, solid piece of work than have someone try TOO hard to be different.  This is exactly the kind of art I want in a good old piece of superhero fun like this.
 

CONCLUSION

 
What we have here is a story that COULD have just been what it is. . .a filler.  But thanks to Tony Isabella, what we got was a little more meat on the bone than what I would have expected from a late 70s Spider-Man comic.  The ending of this story just tells me once again why Mr. Isabella is one of my favorite Bronze Age writers.
 
If you're a Spider-Man fan, a fan of Bronze Age superhero comics, or a fan of Tony Isabella (or maybe all three!), then I can certainly recommend this comic as a tasty little nugget of Bronze Age Longbox Junk gold.   From the outstanding cover, to the thoughtful ending, to the solid art throughout, there's NOTHING I can find to gripe about.  They can't all be winners, but this one is!
 
Up Next. . .
 
I like where going random took me this time.  I think I'll try it again.
In the box I go, what I pull, nobody knows!
 
Be there or be square.

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews you never even knew you wanted!

 
Those of you who have been reading Longbox Junk for a while know that I'm not really a fan of most superhero comics.  MY favorite heroes are the more pulp-style characters. . .Tarzan, Lone Ranger, Zorro, The Spirit, Green Hornet, The Shadow, James Bond, Rocketeer. . .so on and so forth.
 
If you haven't been reading long enough to know this, well now you do. . .and a hearty Longbox Junk welcome to you!
 
Not that there's anything wrong with a good superhero story.  Batman, Moon Knight, and Captain America are some of my favorite characters out there.  But in MY humble opinion, there's nothing better than some good old-fashioned pulp action.
 
Today's comic stars a hero that is a modern throwback to those classic pulp adventures, the one and only globetrotting archeologist and adventurer, Indiana Jones! 
 
I'm a big fan of Indy. The movies are great!  I even liked the much-maligned Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  And even though the newest (and presumably last) Indy movie outing, Dial of Destiny, landed with a resounding thud, I still had fun watching it.  
 
Indy's comic adventures on the other hand. . .
 
They have a bit of a problem.  Despite the character being a homage to the pulps, Indiana Jones' adventures don't often translate well to the printed page.  I guess it's hard to reproduce the spectacle, action, and music of an Indiana Jones movie into silent words and pictures.
 
Not that they haven't tried! What we have here today is an issue of an early effort by Marvel to continue the adventures of Indiana Jones on the comic page.  The series lasted a respectable 34 issues from 1983 to 1986, and actually established its own continuity outside of the original Raiders of the Lost Ark. . .similar to what Marvel did with Star Wars.  
 
Marvel added character development and a supporting cast that assumed the first movie was going to be the ONLY movie.  The series even completely ignored Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when it hit the theatres in 1984. . .opting to just continue along as they were.  It's just sort interesting to me that Marvel created a whole divergent Indian Jones continuity that most of the movie fans probably aren't even aware exists.
 
So let's take a look at what Marvel was doing with Indiana Jones back in 1983, shall we?  We shall!

THE FURTHER ADVENTURES

OF INDIANA JONES #6

Marvel (1983)

 

COVER: Howard Chaykin
 
 
CLUB NIGHTMARE!
 
SCRIPT: Archie Goodwin & David Michelinie
PENCILS: Howard Chaykin
INKS: Terry Austin
 
THE COVER:
 
I like Howard Chaykin's art a lot.  He's actually the FIRST artist I ever really took particular notice of, because of his work on the first comic series I ever collected, Star Wars.  But this isn't Chaykin's best work.
 
I mean. . .it's okay.  It's not a BAD cover.  It's just not that great.  For some reason, even though there's plenty of action being depicted, this cover seems sort of bland.  Not really something I'd give a turn up on the office wall.  Like I said, I like Chaykin's work. . .but I guess they ALL can't be winners.  Let's get inside this thing!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale in New York City, sometime shortly before WWII.  It's the day of the grand opening of "The Raven's Nest", the hottest new nightclub in Manhattan, owned by Marion Ravenwood and her silent partner, Professor Indiana Jones.
 
But their big day gets off to a shaky start when Marion narrowly avoids being hit by a car outside the club.  Indy saves her in the nick of time.  He chalks it up to a nasty accident.  Marion isn't so sure.
 
 
It seems that notorious criminal Emil Marko had tried to get Marion to let him be a partner in the club, so as to use it as a front for an illegal gambling club.  When Marion turned down his offer, he was not pleased.  This revelation convinces Indy that Marko must have been behind the "accident" earlier and that Marion is in danger.
 
 
That night, at the gala grand opening of the Raven's Nest, all seems well.  The sold out crowd is enjoying the music and drinks. . .but a bit of a dark shadow falls on the proceedings as Emil Marko is spotted by Indy and Marion among the guests.  
 
But before they can do anything about the gangster, calamity befalls the party!  A pillar collapses, and it's only through the quick thinking and action of Indy that it doesn't land in the crowd!
 
Marion closes down the party, promising to re-open the Raven's Nest after repairs are completed.  The crowd leaves, except for Emil Marko and his bodyguards.  Indy and Marion confront him.
 
 
Marko insists he had nothing to do with any of the "accidents" and leaves.  In the closed-down club, Indy, Marion, and their friend Jamal (an antiquities dealer) discuss what will happen next.  Repairs will be made. The club WILL re-open.
 
 
A FEW DAYS LATER. . .
 
While the club is readied to open again, Marion and Indy enjoy lunch together and a carriage ride through Central Park.  As they discuss what to do about Emil Marko, a shadowy figure emerges from the trees and shoots a blowgun dart, hitting the horse pulling their carriage!  
 
Indy manages to save himself and Marion with his whip, leaping from the runaway carriage before it plunges into the icy waters of the lake!  After this third "accident" they are now definitely convinced that Marko is trying to kill Marion.  Indy resolves to get some proof to take to the law.
 
 
 
LATER THAT NIGHT. . .
 
Indy and Marion have hatched a plan to infiltrate Emil Marko's mansion.  Marion will provide a distraction by meeting with Marko, pretending to want to smooth over their differences.  In the meantime, Indy will come to the back of the mansion by boat and try to find some evidence in Marko's office. 
 
Both parts of the plan initially go off without a hitch, but Indy runs into trouble when a guard unexpectedly catches him in the act of going through Marko's files!  
 
 
Now that the jig is up, Indy and Marion are forced to flee under gunfire as Marko's guards pursue them from the mansion.  They make it to Indy's boat and make a run for it down the river.  Unfortunately for them, a waiting boat opens fire and gives chase!
 
Indy jumps to the second boat in order to subdue the man chasing them.  A gunfight turns into a knife fight, and then a fist fight as the person in the boat turns out to be a bigger challenge than Indy thought.  But just as our hero gains the upper hand, he hears Marion shouting for help from the other boat!
 
 
The gunfire has disabled the boat's controls and Marion is headed for some rocks! The gunman jumps from the boat as Indy takes the wheel and dashes to Marion's rescue.  He manages to save her just before her boat slams into the rocks and explodes!
 
 
The danger now past, Marion and Indy discuss what they both discovered while in Marko's mansion.  Surprisingly, Indy has come to the conclusion that Marko wasn't behind ANY of it. . .but he thinks he knows who was. 
 
And so the pair head straightaway to their friend Jamal's shop.  Indy is convinced that ordinary thugs wouldn't use blowguns or the strange wavy knife the man in the boat had.  Jamal's shop is closed, but Indy and Marion break in. . .and find explosive blasting caps!
 
 
Having found proof that Jamal is up to no good, Marion and Indy rush to the Raven's Nest, where they catch Jamal red-handed as he plants dynamite around the club!  Confronting Jamal at gunpoint, he confesses that he's been behind all the "accidents".  
 
Jamal had made a lucrative deal to smuggle illegal artifacts into the United States.  He had hidden them in the decorations he provided for the Raven's Nest.  He tried to make it look like Marko was trying to kill Marion in order to reclaim the artifacts and then blow up the club to hide the evidence.
 
As he confesses, Jamal catches Indy off guard and attacks!  As the two fight their way through the club, a fire ignites and the building begins to burn down around them, the flames coming closer to the crates of dynamite!
 
 
Seeing that the club is about to come down around them, Marion and Indy make their escape.  Indy tries to rescue Jamal, but their former friend tries to save some of the artifacts and Indy is forced to abandon him as explosions rock the club!
 
 
Marion and Indy barely escape the exploding club.  In the aftermath, as firefighters try to douse the burning Raven's Nest, Marion tells Indy that it's a complete loss.  In her haste to open the Raven's Nest, she didn't get any insurance for the club.
 
Indy reveals that he knew she'd forget and got a policy without her knowing about it.  All's well that ends well.
 

 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Okay. . .there it is.  Hmmmm.  Interesting.  
 
The first thing I like about this issue is that it's a single self-contained story.  A one-shot.  I DO like a good one-shot story!  I wouldn't call this a GREAT one-shot, but it's a good one.  Looking at the other issues of this series I own (six of them I got at a yard sale a few weeks ago), and a peek at GCD tells me that this whole series is in nice little bite-sized pieces.  One shots, two-fers and just a couple of four parters later on.  I like that in a series.  It makes a comic series easy to collect and read in single issues.
 
As far as the story itself, it's not really what I was expecting from an Indiana Jones story.  No exotic locations (unless you count Central Park as exotic), no death traps, so on and so forth.  It's a bit of a departure.  Definitely a scaled-back Indiana Jones story.  Does that mean it's a BAD story? Not at all.  It's hard to find a bad story from the late comic veteran Archie Goodwin.  Is it a masterpiece? No.  It's just a fun little romp through pre-war New York with Indiana Jones, and that's just fine with me.
 
Once again, looking at the other issues I have (and GCD) I see that Marvel sort of did the opposite of what they did with Star Wars.  Instead of going crazy and expanding the original source material WAY beyond the original movie (as with Star Wars), Marvel scaled things DOWN.  They certainly went around the world with Indy, but many stories are set in and around New York City and the University Indy teaches at.  I kind of like this scaled down approach.  It gives us unusual little Indiana Jones stories like the one in this issue (and in some of the others I have).
 
So, getting back to the story itself, it's a nice little read.  It has a clear beginning and end.  It reminds me of what an episode of a Indiana Jones television show might be like.  Sort of like the show they had on for a while about young Indiana Jones that I really enjoyed.  I could easily see a T.V. show about an older Indy with stories like this one.
 
On the art side of things. . .
 
Like I said in my look at the cover, I'm a fan of Chaykin's early work.  He was the first artist I ever paid attention to, thanks to his work on Star Wars.  I'm not such a fan of his later, much more angular and exaggerated style, but thankfully this is before that time.  Like the cover, this is certainly not Chaykin's best work, but it's not bad at all. Chaykin has one of those "love it or hate it" kind of styles, where there's not much opinion in between.  I'm on the "love it" side when it comes to his earlier stuff like this.
 
One thing I DON'T like about the art is how Chaykin utterly fails to capture the likeness of Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.  But to be fair, I think I read a while back while writing another review that I had the same gripe about (I think it was when I did my review of Topps' X-Files series) that often with licensed properties, the company will get the rights to the characters, but not the likeness of the actors. 
 
CONCLUSION
 
This was a strange little scaled back Indiana Jones story, but I liked it a lot!  Archie Goodwin gave this one-shot a cinematic feel that made me think of what an Indiana Jones T.V. series might be like.  
 
If you're a fan of Indiana Jones and want to see a different take on the character than what we get in the movies (or the Dark Horse comics that came later), then give this early Marvel series a look.  You'll get bite-sized chunks of story that have unique continuity, character development and supporting cast.  
 
This story isn't a masterpiece, and honestly it's a bit forgettable.  One of those stories you read and then forget about pretty quickly.  That said, it's fast-paced and fun.  And like I say pretty often, comics don't ALWAYS have to be deep commentary. . .comics can sometimes just be fun.  This is one of those comics.
 
This story (and the whole series) has been reprinted in a HEFTY omnibus by Dark Horse, but the individual issues have to be found in the back issue bins.  I've read the other five issues I have and can say that I enjoyed each of them, so this is definitely a series worth taking a look at.  All in all, The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones is a nice little chunk of Longbox Junk. 
 
Up Next. . .
 
I'm feeling a little random!  I think I'll just reach into one of my boxes and pull out an issue. Yeah. . .I like the sound of that.  Will it be a Golden or Silver Age oldie? 80s? 90s? Brand new? I DON'T KNOW!
 
Be there or be square.

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Longbox Junk - Marvel Team-Up #128

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Welcome to Longbox Junk! It's the place to find all the comic reviews you never wanted!

 
It's still July, and it's still HOT!
 
Here in Utah (on the 26th of July), the fireworks are finally winding down, and that means that my yearly Longbox Junk spotlight on Captain America is ALSO winding down. . .but I'm not done just yet!
 
Let's crank up the Longbox Junk time machine for a short hop back to 1983.  There we will find Captain America teaming up with Spider-Man to tackle not only a verminous villain, but also to weather the stormy seas of LOVE!
 
Ready? Let's do it!

MARVEL TEAM-UP #128

Marvel (1983)

 
 
COVER: Eliot R. Brown
 
SWEET TEMPTATION
 
SCRIPT: J.M. DeMatteis
PENCILS: Kerry Gammill
INKS: Mike Esposito
 
THE COVER:
 
Marvel put out a few of these composite photo covers (DC did a few as well).  They ARE unusual and interesting for what they are, but truthfully I've never really liked them.  The use of live models for this one just makes it even worse than the others.  
 
It's cool that they tried something different and I realize that there's actually a collecting niche for these covers, and that there are people who really dig them, but I think that they were reaching beyond the grasp of available technology, and it didn't come out great. . .in MY humble opinion.
 
 Let's get inside!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale with a trip to the fair, following Peter Parker and Steve Rogers as they try to enjoy a bit of time off from being superheroes.  Unfortunately Peter isn't having much fun.  He's a bit torn about falling in love with a criminal (Black Cat) and what that means for him as a hero. His friends Mia and Roger try, but they don't have much luck cheering Peter up.
 

 
Steve Rogers ALSO isn't having as much fun as he should be.  His girlfriend Bernie is excited to be spending time with Steve away from him being Captain America, but Steve is reluctant to completely commit.  His last relationship (with Sharon Carter, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) ended in death and disaster.  He doesn't want a repeat of the same happening to him again.
 

Pete and Steve run into each other as they wander through the fair, they know each other from work at the Daily Bugle (where Steve had worked doing some illustrations in the recent past), but not as Spider-Man and Captain America.  Pete, Steve, and company decide to join up and enjoy the fair together.
 
BUT. . .
 
Their fun is soon interrupted by a swarm of rats sweeping through the fair! Pete's Spidey-Sense alerts him to danger!
 
 
The rats are quickly joined by a feral pack of dogs, led by a twisted creature. . .half man and half rat!
Steve recognizes the man-rat as Vermin.  An unfortunate victim of Baron Zemo's experiments in a Mexican castle.  A normal man whose brutal and evil nature was brought to the fore by mad science!
Vermin and his minions begin to wreak havoc through the fair.
 
 
Both knowing this is a job for a super hero, Pete and Steve tell their loved ones to leave, and then rush to find a place to change into their "business clothes".  Both of them find a nearby men's room, quickly change, and then run into each other as they head into battle! They immediately decide to team up to take down Vermin and his minions.
 
 
And the battle is joined! It's not an easy fight, but eventually Cap and Spidey gain the upper hand.  Vermin and his minions retreat and vanish before the heroes can give chase. 
 
 In the aftermath of the fight, an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. shows up on the scene. . .Gail Runciter.  She and Captain America had been at odds over her actions during Cap's assault on Zemo's Mexican castle recently.  Cap's reaction to her interference had been overly-strong.  They agree to talk it out.
 
 
At Gail's nearby apartment, she and Cap have a heart to heart talk.  They come to terms over their conflict, but then Cap is surprised when Gail reveals that she has feelings for Cap. . .strong feelings that have nothing to do with their work together.
 
Cap is surprised to realize that he also has feelings toward Gail.  Feelings that definitely conflict with his growing relationship with Bernie.  The two of them have a moment, but Cap resists the temptation  and leaves to sort things out in his head.
 
 
MEANWHILE. . .
 
Peter arrives back at his apartment to find Mia waiting alone for him.  Her boyfriend Roger has left and she stayed to make sure Peter was okay after the commotion at the fair.  As Mia tends to Peter's wounds, he begins to wonder what it would be like to be with her. . .a normal woman. . .no super-hero/villain drama.  
 
The two of them begin to have a little moment of their own. . .a moment that is interrupted by a news bulletin about Vermin taking over a nearby grocery store!  Peter leaves his feeling behind for the moment and quickly rushes a confused Mia out of his apartment.  It's back to work as Spider-Man!
 

As Spidey swings into action and arrives at the grocery store, Captain America also arrives on the scene, having also heard the bulletin.  The two of them agree to team up again and finish what was started earlier at the fair.  
 
The two of them head in, even though it's an obvious trap.  Spidey's Spider-Sense kicks in and warns of Vermin's ambush, and then it's ON!
 
 
As Cap and Spidey battle vermin, they both find themselves distracted and making little mistakes that they shouldn't.  They both realize that their moments of temptation are weighing on them more than they thought and affecting them in ways they don't like.
 
 
But despite the distractions, both Spidey and Cap shake it off and manage to finally win the day!
The heroes leave Vermin to the authorities and head out together to discuss what happened. . .
 
 
As the two heroes relax on a nearby rooftop, they talk about how maybe they were off their game a little bit because they saw something of themselves in Vermin. . .something neither of them liked very much.
 
Cap and Spidey say their farewells and head back to those who love them, both heroes putting their moments of temptation behind them as lessons learned.  All's well that ends well.
 
 
The End. 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
THIS is the kind of comic book that brings me right back to my Bronze Age childhood.  It's full of action, has a splash of drama, and is generally somewhat silly and forgettable.  But over all of that, it's FUN.  It's Captain America and Spider-Man teaming up to beat down a villain.  The outcome is never in doubt.  You KNOW the heroes are going to save the day.  It's just good old Bronze Age fun!
 
That said, J.M. DeMatteis DOES add a little depth to the story by focusing not only on Cap and Spidey, but ALSO Pete and Steve as they resist temptation and ponder what it means to be in love as a superhero.  
 
DeMatteis was the writer on the mainline Captain America title at the time, and from the few issues I have of this period in Cap's history, it seems he was wanting to more fully explore Captain America's "secret" identity of Steve Rogers than other writers before.  I like that he carried that through to this seemingly inconsequential team-up issue and made it more than a punch-fest.
 
On the art side, Kerry Gammill provides some solid work that even has a few pretty great moments. . .my favorite is the page I scanned above where Cap and Spidey are both using the same men's room stalls to change in without realizing it.  A great, funny moment!  His scenes of Spidey swinging through the city are also very nicely done.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Like I said in my review of Captain America and Hawkeye, not every comic has to be a masterpiece.  Sometimes you just want to have some forgettable fun with some colorful superheroes.  That describes THIS comic perfectly.  
 
It's not the greatest comic story ever written. . .but it doesn't have to be.  It's not the greatest art I've ever seen. . .but it doesn't have to be.  It's not the most memorable comic in my collection. . .but it doesn't have to be.  It's just a quick, fun read, full of Bronze Age memories for those who happened to be there at the time.
 
I can certainly recommend this issue to any fan of Spider-Man or Captain America (or Bronze Age superhero comics in general) as a fun little team-up comic with just a splash of "secret identity" drama.  
 
As far as I can tell, it's never been collected, so you'll have to read it online or find the actual issue in a back issue bin (like I did. . .for TWO lousy dollars).  But if you're looking for some good old Bronze Age superhero fun, go ahead and grab this one if you spot it.  It's a nice little nugget of Longbox Junk.
 
Up Next. . .
 
A few weeks ago I picked up a half-dozen of Marvel's Indiana Jones comics at a yard sale. How about we take a look inside one and see what's going on? 
 
Be there or be square!

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

 
It's July!  It's friggin' HOT!
 And if you live in Utah like I do, the fireworks go ALL month long!
 
Yeah, we're a little silly about our fireworks here in Utah.  Try explaining to a cranky hotel guest from Kansas why there are fireworks waking him up on the 16th of July.  Super fun, I tell ya.
 
BUT I DIGRESS!
 
Here at Longbox Junk, we celebrate Fireworks Month. . .er. . .July. . .by shining the spotlight on the star-spangled super-soldier.  The shield-slingin' Avenger.  The man who loves nothing more than punchin' some Ratzis.  
 
I'm talking about CAPTAIN AMERICA!
 
What we have here is a four issue series from a sort of odd time in Captain America continuity.  You see, everyone thought Cap had been assassinated at the end of Civil War, so the newly-resurrected Bucky Barnes (AKA The Winter Soldier) took it upon himself to become Captain America to redeem his past crimes and honor his mentor. It was a GREAT story!
 
But then Captain America came back. . .because Marvel didn't have the guts to follow through with the dramatic storytelling opportunities presented by Captain America actually being killed.  
 
Turns out he wasn't dead, but trapped in time and fighting his way back to the present day.  Which meant that after jumping through some hilarious and convoluted hoops to bring back Steve Rogers, there were now TWO Captain Americas and Marvel couldn't quite decide what to do. 
 
So they started running self-contained mini-series (like the one at hand) that were part of the (then) current volume numbering, but were also categorized as their own separate series. . .a bit confusing for online collection tracker sites.  To make it a bit worse, Marvel ALSO decided to shift from volume 5 numbering to volume 1 "legacy" numbering right in the middle of it all.  Yay.  
 
Things just sort of drifted with Captain America for almost 2 years (22 issues) with out of continuity teamup stories like this one, one shots, and flashback tales before Marvel finally got around to trying to fix their mess. . .by shuffling Cap through SIX new volumes.  And here we are today. 
 
ANYWAY. . .
 
Enough about Marvel mistreating one of my favorite superheroes.
Let's get into this series. . .which promises some dinosaur punching, if the covers are to be believed.

CAPTAIN AMERICA AND HAWKEYE

Marvel (2012)

Captain America (Vol. 5/1) #629-632

 
 
SCRIPTS: Cullen Bunn
PENCILS: Alessandro Vitti (with Matteo Buffagni issue 631)
INKS:  Alessandro Vitti (with Matteo Buffagni issue 631)
 
ISSUE ONE
(#629)
 
 
COVER: Gabriele Dell’otto
 
THE STORY:
 
Captain America and Hawkeye travel to New Mexico to investigate the disappearance of a large environmentalist group.  They are attacked by the security forces of the top secret Damocles Research Facility.  We are introduced to Kashmir Vennema, the Director of Operations.  They were also looking for the missing group when they encountered the Avengers during their mission.
 
At the research facility, Cap and Hawkeye learn that there are a number of classified U.S. Military research projects being carried out.  But their attention is directed to a lab where a Doctor Henry Reese is examining a strange, mutated creature.  The Avengers are shocked to learn that it was once a human.  One of Damocles' security contractors that had gone missing not long before.
 
 
Learning that the facility had been attacked several times by the twisted creatures, Cap and Hawkeye immediately order the Director to show them to the source of the attacks, a storage room that has a gaping hole leading down into the earth.
 
As they explore the dark tunnels beneath the research facility, it isn't long before Cap and Hawkeye are attacked by a strange dinosaur-like creature.  As they fight for their lives in the cramped tunnels, they see that they are battling against some kind of symbiote that has animated a dinosaur skeleton!
 
They win the battle, but the fight makes too much noise, and before long, our heroes find themselves surrounded by a large group of the mysterious symbiote/ dinosaur creatures. . .
 
 
To be continued.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Yep. . .the covers to this series promised dinosaur punchin' and we have quickly commenced to punchin' dinosaurs in the very first issue.  Sure, there were a few pages of setup, but yeah. . .mostly dinosaur punchin'.  I have the feeling that this might have been the easiest money Cullen Bunn ever made.
 
I do like the gritty art style Allesandro Vitti brings to this series. Cap and Hawkeye look like a couple of rough and tumble guys you do NOT want to mess with, and I like the look.  The art is a little dodgy during talking head scenes, but Vitti definitely scores points when it comes to action.
 
NEXT!
 
ISSUE TWO
(#630)
 
 
COVER: Patrick Zircher
 
THE STORY:
 
We start right where we left off, and get TEN uninterrupted pages of sweet dinosaur punchin'!
 
Captain America and Hawkeye hold their own against a horde of weird dino-creatures until Cap is finally overwhelmed and dragged down a tunnel before Hawkeye can give chase!
 
 
Shifting scenes back to the Damocles Research Facility, we find Director Vennema and Dr. Reese arguing about the possibility of Captain America and Hawkeye interfering with their project for their "real" employers. . .obviously something stinks about the whole thing. 
 
A distracted Dr. Reese is taken over by the symbiote hibernating in the seemingly dead body of their former security head.  The creature pursues Director Vennema through the lab, but she finally manages to kill it.  She doesn't care so much about losing Dr. Reese as she's pleased to have been able to test the "Hybrid" in an actual combat situation.
 
 
IN THE MEANTIME. . .
 
We switch back to the tunnels below and follow Cap as he discovers that the well-known supervillain Stegron is behind some (but not all) of the strange goings-on beneath Damocles.  
 
Stegron explains that he's been trying to use his science/magic to resurrect an ancient lost race of dinosaur-like beings called Saurons who lived in a long-lost city that existed there long before mankind walked the earth.  Unfortunately, his efforts have been somehow warped and only partly successful.
 
Cap tells Stegron he doesn't care WHAT'S going on.  He's there to end it and it's time for some more star-spangled dinosaur punchin'!  We don't see the fight, but what we DO see is Hawkeye searching for Captain America and finding a twisted creature carrying Cap's shield. . .OH NO!
 
 
To be continued.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Roughly half of this issue is dinosaur punchin'.  Don't get me wrong. . .it's some mighty FINE looking dinosaur punchin' thanks to the fantastic action artwork of Allesandro Vitti.  But Cullen Bunn DOES add a little bit more to the narrative by throwing in Stegron and showing that the Damocles facility isn't as innocent as they first seemed.
 
I actually like the back and forth banter between Cap and Hawkeye.  The Grizzled Veteran vs. The Young Buck is definitely a well-worn narrative path, but it's pretty enjoyable reading the push and tug between Cap wanting to use careful tactics and Hawkeye just wanting to jump in.  All in all, a pretty fun issue.
 
NEXT!
 
ISSUE THREE
(#631)
 
 
COVER: Patrick Zircher
 
THE STORY:
 
First there was CapWolf. . .Now meet DINOCAP!
 
A battle between Hawkeye and a dino-symbiote-possessed Captain America ensues.  As they fight, Hawkeye discovers that Cap is only partly taken over and uses a sonic arrow to help Cap throw off the creature.  The gambit works and the pair of heroes begin dino-punchin' their way through resurrected Saurons toward Stegron's laboratory. 
 
 
When the Avengers confront Stegron, he insists that he's not their enemy, and that he wants to help them.  Cap and Hawkeye reluctantly hear him out.  It seems that the symbiote-like creatures twisting the once-peaceful Saurons into deadly killers are actually beings from another world. . .Dire Wraiths!  Worse, there is a Dire Wraith Queen that had been in long hibernation and has finally risen to lead the Wraiths. 
 
Stegron wants to cleanse the infected Saurons as badly as the Avengers do.  As the three of them are attacked by Dire Wraith infected children of the missing environmentalist group, Stegron insists that Cap and Hawkeye make a run for the surface while he holds the attackers off for them. 
 
Unless they can make it on time, the Dire Wraiths may find a way to spread to the surface world again!
 
 
When the Avengers make it topside, they catch Director Vennma in the act of trying to escape with the Dire Wraith-infected corpse of Doctor Reese.  A confrontation with her Damocles security forces is interrupted by the appearance of a massive Dire Wraith infected dino-snake creature breaking through the landing pad to the surface! 
 
IT'S THE DIRE WRAITH QUEEN!!
 
OH MY!!!
 

To be concluded.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Dire Wraiths? 
 
An unexpected callout to one of my favorite Bronze Age Marvel comics. . .ROM!  And here I was thinking the symbiotes were just going to be your typical Venom/Carnage-style Marvel Brand Symbiotes™.  
 
Nicely done, Cullen Bunn.  Very nicely done!
 
Besides the Dire Wraiths showing up out of nowhere like a long-lost memory from the Bronze Age of comics, I also liked DinoCap.  Too bad we didn't get much of him.  Too bad anybody who hasn't read this mini-series (or this review) will even know DinoCap existed.  I salute you, DinoCap!  You were gone too soon. . .
 
LET'S FINISH THIS THING!
 
ISSUE FOUR
(#632)
 

COVER: Patrick Zircher
 
THE STORY:
 
IT ALL ENDS HERE! 
 
As the gigantic Wraith Queen bursts through to the surface, Cap and Hawkeye immediately try to keep the Damocles security forces back, even though they were just getting ready to attack the heroes last issue.  Stegron joins the battle as the mutated Dire Wraith-possessed environmentalists swarm the security forces.
 
 
Captain America comes up with a desperate plan to ram the Avengers Quinjet into the Wraith Queen, but she destroys the jet before he can, leading to Plan B. . .DINOSAUR PUNCHIN'!
 
While Cap punches dinosaurs and gets the security forces to safety, Hawkeye uses sonic arrows to drive the symbiotes off of the possessed environmentalists and save Stegron, who he orders to help Captain America with his science/magic.  Stegron protests that there's nothing he can do against the wraiths.  
 
Hawkeye remembers that Stegron can bring dinosaurs to life from the smallest bone sample.  He comes up with a crazy plan. . .so crazy that it might just work!
 
 

Captain America engages the Dire Wraith Queen, but his shield and best Sunday Dino-Punch aren't doing much good.  Stegron joins the battle, and doesn't really do much good. . .just like he said.  Even so, he and Captain America fight together while Hawkeye rushes back into the laboratory to quickly fashion some arrowheads from samples of dinosaur bones he had seen during their earlier tour. . .
 
 
Hawkeye shoots the enraged Dire Wraith Queen with three dinosaur bone arrows and tells Stegron to use his powers!  But Stegron loses his scepter as the Wraith Queen tries to crush him with her tentacles. 
 
 Captain America grabs the scepter and uses it!  Three fully-grown dinosaurs form inside of the Wraith Queen, tearing her apart as the giant creatures burst through her body!  THE HEROES WIN! YAY!!
 
 
After cleaning up the remaining wraith-possessed Saurons and Environmentalists, Cap and Hawkeye take a breather.  Hawkeye is happy with how things turned out, but Cap is bothered by Vennema and Stegron being missing loose ends. Speaking of which. . .
 
DEEP IN THE TUNNELS BENEATH THE RUINED DAMOCLES FACILITY.
 
We get a one page epilogue.  Stegron has retreated back underground to the ancient Sauron city to stew in his failure and regret.  Vennema appears out of nowhere, offering Stegron a vial of some unknown substance. . .promising him that what is in there will make his dreams come true. 
 
DUN-DUN-DUNNNNNNN!
 
 
 
The End.
 
THE REVIEW:
 
It's an all-out action-packed dino-punchin' finale! The good guys win the day and everything is wrapped up in a nice, neat ending that doesn't even come close to affecting continuity in any way. . .except for that cliffhanger ending.  An ending that, as far as I can tell, was never followed up on.  
 
As a matter of fact, when I tried looking up what happened next, I discovered that only ONE source on Stegron even MENTIONS this story, let alone what happened afterwards.  From what I can see, he just went back to being a Spider-Man villain after his short heroic turn here, and the mysterious vial stayed right here in that single panel I scanned above.
 
Oh well.  I guess it was still some silly, fun, dinosaur punchin'.  Let's just leave it at that.
 
 

CONCLUSION

 
They say not to judge a book by its cover.  And that saying is particularly true with comic books, which often have covers that don't have ANYTHING to do with the story inside. . .especially in this modern age of multiple variant covers for almost every issue out.
 
BUT. . .
 
When it comes to THIS little forgotten miniseries, what you see on the cover is exactly what you get.  Captain America and Hawkeye fighting dinosaurs. . .and a lot of it.  This whole story is little more than a framework for page after page of Cap and Hawkeye punching, shooting, and shield-slinging their way through mutated dinosaur creatures.
 
Is that a bad thing?  Not really. Not EVERY comic has to be an introspective and wordy masterpiece. . .an eloquent reflection of the writer's feelings about the world around him.  Sometimes you just want to see superheroes punch dinosaurs!  Why not?
 
What story there IS does a fine job of setting up the next round of dino-punching.  I liked the back and forth banter between veteran soldier Captain America and brash up-and-comer Hawkeye.  It's a well-worn path, but it's well-worn in the first place because it works. 
 
 I was also pleasantly surprised to see the Dire Wraiths rear their ugly alien heads in this series.  ROM was one of my favorite comics when I was a kid (And yeah. . .I had an actual ROM action figure. It sort of sucked. The comics were better.) but the Dire Wraiths were something I had all but forgotten about.  Honestly, the Dire Wraiths coming back from Bronze Age limbo for a few issues was the part I liked best about the story.
 
But truthfully, Cullen Bunn didn't have much to do here.  He just built the framework and artist Alessandro Vitti did the heavy work of making this extremely simple story a feast for the eyes!
 
Page after page of dark, brutal, and somewhat exaggerated art fills the four issues of this series and  drives it forward.  Simply put, each page is a visual treat!  Vitti's dark and twisted art is really what makes this series worth a read at all.
 
Vitti's style is a little dodgy when it comes to characters standing around and talking, but when it comes to action, he brings it, and brings it hard!  
 
Overall, I can recommend this series as a fun little dinosaur-punchin' Captain America team-up adventure.  If you're looking for a deep story or commentary on society, this ain't it.  It's dinosaur punchin'.  
 
There's some fun banter, a surprising villain, and some tasty artwork, but beyond that, it's little more than a quick, fun read that you'll probably forget not long after you're done.  And you know what? Sometimes that's just fine.
 
Up Next. . .
 
Maybe I can get another Captain America entry done before July ends.
 
Let's find out!
 
Be there or be square.

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Welcome to Longbox Junk! It's the place to find comic book reviews you never even knew you wanted.

 
It's July! That most patriotic month of the year. . .if you happen to live in the United States, that is.  If you don't it's just hot.  That's it. Hot.  Well, it's hot here in the states too, but July is ALSO the month to celebrate all things red, white and blue!
 
I like to consider myself a proud American. A real life nephew of my Uncle Sam. A lover of baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. Yeah, yeah. . .I drive a KIA.  BUT I BOUGHT IT IN AMERICA, SO THERE!
 
ANYWAY. . . 
 
If you don't mind indulging me in a little bit of flag waving here at Longbox Junk, I have a tradition where I spend the month of July looking at some comics featuring that star-spangled Super Soldier, the one and only (okay, there's actually 5 or 6 of them) CAPTAIN AMERICA!
 
So stand up, true believers! Put your hand on your heart and say it with me. . .
 
AMERICA, YEAH!!
 
Or don't.
 
Captain America. Let's do it!

CAPTAIN AMERICA

ANNUAL #5

Marvel (1981)

 
 
COVER: Frank Miller / Joe Rubenstein (inks)
 
DEATHWATCHER!
 
SCRIPT: David Michelinie
PENCILS: Gene Colan
INKS: Dave Simons
 
THE COVER:
 
Now THAT'S a cover that catches the eye! A great example of prime Frank Miller before he went insane with his scratchy art he puts out today.  It's a beauty. Just a wonderful portrait of the star-spangled shield slinger. . .perfectly framed by the bright yellow star contrasting with the stark black (which makes finding this issue in decent condition a bit difficult) background.  I LOVE this cover.
 
If you're a fan of Captain America, how can you NOT love this cover? Let's get inside!
 
THE STORY:
 
We begin our tale at night in New York bay, with Captain America silently swimming toward a Coast Guard cutter that has been hijacked by the villainous Constrictor and his henchmen.  They have demanded a ransom of ten million dollars or they will turn the cutter's guns onto the World Trade Center.  
 
Captain America isn't there to pay a ransom.
 
 
Stealthily boarding the ship, Cap easily deals with Constrictor's henchmen on deck and goes hunting for their leader.  It isn't long before he finds Constrictor in the wheelhouse, and Captain America leaps into battle!
 
Constrictor isn't much of a match for Cap.  As the battle turns against him, Constrictor shouts for his remaining men to fire the cannon!  But before they are able to do so, the ship rocks with an explosion.  
 
 
Both Cap and Constrictor are confused by the explosion.  It wasn't part of either of their plans.  But Cap figures he can sort it out later and finishes beating Constrictor down and then turning him in to the police.
 
As Cap leaves the scene, little does he know that the entire incident was being filmed by a mysterious crew of men.  It seems that there was a third, unknown, player on the board that night. . .
 
 
Later, we follow the mysterious red van that the unknown film crew was in earlier that night.  It drives to a secluded mansion.  We are introduced to its driver, one Kenneth Hanson. . .ex-soldier, ex-mercenary, ex-many-things, but currently the right hand man of a reclusive multi-millionaire.
 
We follow Hanson as he makes his way through the dank, dusty, and unkept corridors of the mansion.  He enters the only clean room in the mansion. . .filled with high-tech computer equipment and video screens.  We are then introduced to the master of the mansion (and of Hanson), one Samson Scythe.
 
As Hanson feeds Scythe intravenously, they discuss another "project" scheduled for the following day.
 
 
THE NEXT DAY. . .
 
We begin by following Steve Rogers in an amusing little side story where he fails a job interview because he declines the. . .er. . .amorous advances of a female executive who just can't resist.
 
 
And then we shift scenes uptown to the Hearth Club, a swanky restaurant where prominent New York crime boss Carlo Ferrini is celebrating his birthday along with his most trusted Lieutenants.  The party comes to an abrupt and "shocking" end when Ferrini is electrocuted while cutting into a turkey!
 
As chaos ensues and Ferrini's men quickly blame rival crime boss Sean Gamble of the dirty deed, we see that the whole incident is being filmed by hidden cameras and greatly enjoyed by the mysterious Mr. Scythe at his mansion.
 
 
Shifting scenes again, we find ourselves at Manhattan's Eleventh Police Precinct, where Captain America has answered a call to meet Lt. Powell. . .a detective Cap works with on occasion. 
 
 In Powell's office, Cap is introduced to Sean Gamble and filled in on the details of the Ferrini assassination earlier that day. Powell, Gamble, and Cap all agree that even if Gamble wasn't behind the hit, there will probably be retaliation.  
 
Cap offers Gamble a deal, his personal protection in exchange for Gamble allowing himself to be bait to draw out the killer.  Gamble agrees.
 
 

We follow Captain America over the next three days as he stealthily follows Gamble during his routine throughout the city.  There's no sign of the killer and Cap is about ready to give up, thinking that maybe they're on the wrong track.
 
BUT THEN. . .
 
Cap finally senses a trap as Gamble steps into an elevator! Rushing into action, Cap narrowly saves the crime boss from falling into an elevator shaft with deadly spikes at the bottom.  Cap almost falls victim to the trap himself as we see Mr. Scythe watching from hidden cameras with great interest.
 
In the aftermath, Captain America and Lt. Powell discuss their next move. Cap is now convinced that there's something more going on than a simple gang war situation, and he's going to find out what!
 
At the same time, we see that Mr. Scythe has now become interested in Captain America and is now plotting against the superhero that ruined his "entertainment". . .
 
 
 
THE NEXT DAY. . .
 
While on a date in Central Park with his neighbor, Steve Rogers overhears a report on the radio about a nearby bank robbery in progress.  He makes an excuse to ditch his date and Captain America quickly makes it to the scene of the crime!
 
Cap makes easy work of the robbers, but one of them gets away. . .one that we learn is none other than Mr. Scythe's right hand man, Hanson.  Hanson leads Cap on a merry chase through the streets that ends up with Cap following him into the back of a parked semi-truck.
 
 
Unfortunately for Cap, it's a trap!  As he is overpowered by a gang of waiting men, Mr. Scythe himself makes an appearance.  The wheelchair-bound millionaire asks Captain America to stop interfering in his affairs.  After all, the only ones he kills are criminals.
 
Cap, of course, laughs in Scythe's face.  Scythe ignores the mockery and we get a flashback origin story of the reclusive killer. . .born rich and a world traveler at a young age, he soon tired of just about everything.  He joined the military and gained a for death during Vietnam.
 
But after the war, he found himself once again bored by literally everything. . .
 
 
He became a recluse, even being so bored by food that he was fed intravenously.  Nothing interested him at all. . .until he met Hanson.  Hanson began filming murders he committed, which are now the only things that make Scythe feel anything as he watches them from his mansion.  
 
Scythe is in control of a huge network of operatives and spies that find criminal victims for his viewing pleasure as they are killed.  Hanson tries to convince Captain America that they aren't that much different in wanting to rid New York of crime.  Captain America disagrees.
 
Prepared for Cap's reaction, Scythe tells him that he now wants to watch the death of a superhero, and that Captain America will come to his mansion to die, or Scythe will put into action a plan to kill police officers. . .the deaths of which will all be on Captain America's conscience.
 
 
Unable to prevent Scythe and Hanson from escaping, Cap decides to take the madman up on his offer and end his killing once and for all.  And so we find ourselves following Captain America later that night as he stealthily infiltrates the mansion grounds, only to be greeted by a gloating Scythe via hidden video screen.
 
Having lost the element of surprise, Cap finds himself fighting a pack of robotic dogs and handily defeating them before making his way into the mansion itself, where Scythe continually taunts the hero as he braves the madman's traps. . .
 

 
First, a room that fills with gold dust. . .
 
 
And then, a deadly sonic assault. . .
 
 
Before finally discovering Scythe's control room and bursting in to confront the madman and his assistant, Hanson!
 
 
As Cap rushes in to battle, Hanson fires a flamethrower at the attacking hero despite Cap shouting that he's an idiot that will set the whole place ablaze.  And yeah. . .Hanson sets the whole place ablaze.
 
As the mansion begins burning around them, Scythe falls out of his wheelchair and desperately crawls across the floor to a fire extinguisher. . .but as he does so, he catches sight of one of his video screens.  On it is himself, on fire.  Scythe is so entranced by watching himself die that it's too late for Cap to do anything for him.  
 
Cap grabs Hanson and rushes from the burning mansion, saving the henchman's life as the mansion collapses behind them.  Outside, Cap fills Lt. Powell in on what's happened as firemen try to douse the flaming mansion.
 
Powell is relieved that Cap has rid New York of a serial killer, but there's still a gang war to consider.  Cap agrees, but tells Powell it can wait until tomorrow.  He's had enough for one night.
 

The End. 
 
THE REVIEW:
 
Alrighty then, there it is.  A nice little one-off Captain America story.  Let's break it on down!
 
So what we basically have here is a pretty good Batman story.
 
Seriously.  If you replace Captain America with Batman and Lt. Powell with Jim Gordon, nothing changes in this story.  It's a Batman story.  Now, I didn't say it was a BAD story, it's just a little odd to see a Captain America story follow this kind of storyline that would normally be seen in something like Detective Comics.
 
I don't have too many Captain America comics from the early 80's, so I can't say for sure if Marvel was trying to go a more grounded and street crime oriented direction in general with Cap at the time, but I just find it interesting to see a Batman story in my Captain America comic.  
 
But like I said, it's not a BAD story at all.  It's not the best Batman. . .er. . .Captain America story I've ever read, but it's well-written and pretty engaging.  There's nothing huge going on here, basically Captain America following clues to a hidden killer and taking him down. 
 
It's a decent read, maybe a little darker than one would expect from a Captain America story, but not dark enough to call it grim. . .except maybe the part about Scythe watching himself burn to death. THAT'S pretty dark.
 
On the art side of things, it's hard to go wrong with prolific Bronze Age legend Gene Colan on the job.  This isn't really his BEST work (That would probably be on Tomb of Dracula), but I've never seen anything I didn't like from Colan and this is no exception.  His gritty pencils are perfect for a grounded and dark story like this one.
 

CONCLUSION

 
Overall, I liked this quite a bit.  It's an unusual Captain America story in that it's dark and grounded in the criminal element of New York and human madness with only a passing glance at supervillains (a few panels of Constrictor in the prologue) and the fantastic (a couple of panels of robot dogs later on). Not what I would usually expect in a (late) Bronze Age Captain America comic.
 
 
If you're looking for a good single-issue Captain America story, then here you go.  It's not anything world-changing, but it's a solid story with good art and a very nice cover.  It's just a nice little piece of Longbox Junk.  If you're a Captain America fan, grab it if you spot it (I bought it for the cover alone, why not?)  It shouldn't set you back much.  From what I can see, it looks like this one is pretty much ignored by specu-collectors.
 
Up Next. . .
 
I got this one out in pretty good time!  
It's still July, so why not more Captain America?
 
Be there or be square!

- read more

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