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atom's Comic Book Blogs

  • atom | Male | Utah

"I have a lot of issues. . ."

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

August 2022




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

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


Marvel (1979)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk, the place to find more comic reviews you never asked for than you could ever ask for! Read it again. . .it DOES make sense!
Recently, I've thrown out a few reviews of comics that are the bread-and-butter bargain box fillers. . .and there WILL be more to come.  But right now, it's flea market and yard sale season here in Utah and I've been having a pretty good run of luck finding some great older comics.
And so, I got to thinking. . .
If comics from Malibu, Image, Marvel's New Universe, and the like are some of the comics you're practically guaranteed to find while Longbox Junkin' through the cheap bins at your local comic shop. . .what are some of the comics you're most likely to find at the flea market, or at an estate sale, or at an antique/junk store?  In other words, what is the "Longbox Junk" of comics found OUTSIDE of the comic shop?
Three words: Dell Four Color
Dell's Four Color comics have to be THE most common comics I've come across outside of comic shops.  The series ran from 1939 to 1962, for an astounding 1354 issues. . .the record for the most issues produced of an American comic book.  Four Color hit 1000 issues LONG before Action Comics managed to get to that milestone.  Not bad for a series that didn't have any regular characters or continuity!
Four Color isn't so much a "series" as it is a vast collection of one-shots.  Each one can be read on its own, in any order.  They cover a VERY wide range of subjects. . .heavy on licensed properties popular at the time, and Disney properties in particular.  You can find anything from westerns to detective stories, to funny animals, to adaptations of movies and novels. . .and everything in between!  
And, like I said above, the great thing about Four Color comics are that they are easy to find in the wild.  I have about FIFTY of them in my collection!  Even better than the relative ease of finding them is the rock bottom prices most of them are sold at.  I see some pretty high "values" in online price guides for Four Color comics. . .but I've never paid more than twenty bucks for one.   
What I'm trying to say is that if you're Longbox Junkin' out in the wild outside the comic shop, you WILL find Four Color comics, and you WILL be able to afford issues going back into the Golden Age of comics.  Perfect example: The issue at hand is from 1958, in decent condition, and I bought it at a flea market for FIVE BUCKS.
Let's strap into the Longbox Junk time machine and take a trip back to 1958, when westerns were king and comics cost a dime!  Ready? LET'S DO THIS!



DELL (1958)

COVER: Sam Savitt
I'll tell you true, folks.  To ME, that cover alone is worth the five bucks I paid for this comic!  Just look at it! It's FULL of motion, action, and detail!  This stunning painting of a Pony Express rider running for his life from a band of pursuing Indians isn't just a great comic cover, it's a great piece of western art, period.  Let's get inside!
Plenty of Western action in here for your one thin dime! Two full-length comic adventures, along with two one pagers on the inside front and back covers.  You can't buy THAT for four bucks these days!
Let's check out each one in their own turn, shall we?  WE SHALL!
(Inside Front Cover)
PENCILS: Nicholas Firfires
Basically a short little lesson in the meaning of various Native American war paints.  It's actually pretty  interesting, but there's not much more here than an appetizer.  The whole thing is scanned below.

SCRIPT: Eric Friewald & Robert Schaefer
PENCILS: Nicholas Firfires
Pony Express rider Craig Garrett is given the task of buying new horses for the Express, as well as being trusted with the $5000 in government gold allocated for the purpose.  Little does he know that word of the gold being held at an isolated Express station has gotten out and a band of outlaws have attacked and stolen the funds, making it look like it was an Indian attack!
Garrett isn't convinced that Indians were behind the attack, though.  He follows clues and believes he's found proof, but must keep on the trail and prove his theory before the army mobilizes against the Indians and it's full-on war!  
He and another express rider follow clues to the town of Liberty Junction, but lose the trail.  Garrett discovers that a man named Miller had been talking about the Express Station attack before it happened, and Garrett is back on the trail!  
The two Express riders head to Indian Land outside of town after hearing that Miller is a friend of the local tribe. They don't receive a warm welcome, but Garrett convinces the warriors that confront them  that he's there to prevent a war and needs to see their Chief. . .
The tribe's Chief is doubtful that a friend of the tribe like Miller would use them to hide such a crime as murder and theft, and even to try and pin the blame on the tribe.  But after overhearing Miller secretly talking to his two co-conspirators, he quickly realizes that Garrett is telling the truth.

Knowing they've been found out, Miller and his friends make their escape from the camp. Garrett, his partner, and an Indian brave set off in hot pursuit!  
After a short gun battle, the criminal gang is taken down.  At the end of it all, the gold is recovered, a war is prevented, and the Pony Express has made some new Indian friends.  All's well that ends well.
The End.
Okay. . .not bad!  I liked that this story followed a trail just a little bit out of the ordinary, giving the reader equal parts investigation and action.  It wasn't all just rootin' tootin' shootin' like you find in a lot of these older western comics. 
 I can see that there was some actual thought and effort put into this story, which is a little surprising because if you read a lot of old westerns like I do, you KNOW that there's quite a bit of similarity across the board. 
The art was also surprisingly good for Four Color.  Normally, what you get is a fantastic cover and art inside that hopefully is at least serviceable, but usually is borderline bad.  The art here is actually pretty good.  Not great, but solid and better than expected. 
So overall a well-done story backed up by decent art.  Not bad.  I usually come into these Four Color comics with pretty low expectations, but this time I was pleasantly surprised.  Let's check out the second story and see what we get.
SCRIPT: Eric Friewald & Robert Schaefer
PENCILS: Nicholas Firfires
Pony Express rider Craig Garrett is tricked into an ambush by two men while riding a dangerous route across the Nevada desert.  When he wakes up from the attack, he realizes that the men didn't steal any of the mail, just Garrett's prize horse, Colonel.
After recovering from the attack for a few days at a nearby Express Station, Garrett takes a leave of absence.  He's seen that there's a big horse race taking place in Carson City in four days, and suspects that he was ambushed because of his horse's reputation for being one of the finest in the West. . .and that the culprits will be entering Colonel in the race.
Arriving in Carson City, Garrett meets a man named Len Miller, who was entered in the big race, but has to forfeit his entry fee because his horse has taken ill.  Miller offers Garrett the hospitality of his home while the Express rider tries to locate his own horse.
The next morning, before the cross country race begins, Garrett and Miller spot the two men who ambushed Garrett a few days before.  They've got Colonel, and just as Garrett thought, have him entered into the race.  Garrett confronts the men.  They deny his accusations and the sheriff is called.
Garrett proves his ownership of Colonel by giving the horse commands that he obeys.  That's enough proof for the Sheriff and the two thieves are taken away to jail.  In thanks for Miller's hospitality, Garrett lets him ride Colonel in the big race.
Riding the powerful Pony Express horse, Miller easily wins the race.  With the prize money, he can now afford an operation that his wife needs.  Garrett has his prize horse back again.  All's well that ends well.
The End.
With the same creative team as the first story, it's no surprise that this one is pretty solid as well.  Once again, there's less focus on gunplay than one would expect from a western comic from the 1950s.  As a matter of fact, there's NO gunplay at all in this story! There's a little bit of fist fighting to be had in a couple of places, but this is definitely a story that breaks my expectations for a Golden Age western comic!  I like that.  I like it a lot!
Overall, this was a well-written little nugget of western action that steps outside the boundaries of what I normally expect.  It's backed up with some very solid art, and I found it to be a pretty enjoyable read.
Let's wrap this up!
(Inside Back Cover)
PENCILS: Nicholas Firfires
Another one pager to finish this comic off like the one on the inside front cover that started the show.  Like the opener, there's not much to this little story. . .a tale of two Pony Express riders passing each other while they sleep in the saddle.  If the one inside the front cover was an appetizer, this one makes for a nice little dessert.  The whole thing is scanned below. . .


One of the things I love about doing these Longbox Junk "Retro Reviews" is knowing that I'm writing what will probably be the ONLY review of this comic that has been, or ever will be, written.  I feel that by scanning the pages and describing the contents, I'm doing a small part to add to the overall comic knowledge out there, even if nobody asked me to.  
Hopefully, I don't sound like I'm not just tooting my own horn, and some of what I've put out here in this review will be useful or informative for those interested in Golden Age western comics like this one.  
I found this comic to be quite a surprise.  Both of the stories focused less on gunplay and more on narrative than I expected coming in.  There's plenty of action, don't get me wrong, but that action is a different sort than I'm used to when I open up a Golden Age western comic.  
The stories seemed less like boilerplate, and more like some thought and effort had been put into them.  The artwork was also surprisingly solid for a Four Color comic.  The combination of the two gave me some timeless western action that still reads well even after 64 years!
I'm not sure how rare this comic is, but I can certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good western story that steps slightly outside the often-repeated scripts that most Golden Age western comics stick to.
Up Next. . .
Back to the bargain bin!
If you've ever gone digging through a dollar box, I can practically guarantee you've seen a "Glory" comic.  So let's take a look at Image's version of Wonder Woman, shall we?  WE SHALL!
Be there or be square!

- read more

Welcome to Longbox Junk!  It's the blog absolutely STUFFED with comic book reviews nobody ever asked me to write.
Every now and then, I like to take a step back away from my usual bargain bin fare and shine the spotlight on one of the older (and possibly, but not always, more "valuable") comics in my collection.  This is one of those times.  
Strap into the Longbox Junk time machine, because it's time for a Retro Review!
The comic at hand holds a lot of nostalgia for me.  Reading it takes me back to my younger days in the 1970's in a big way because it's a comic book tie-in to one of my favorite T.V. shows back then. . .Emergency!  
The show (and the comic) follows the day-to-day exploits of a team of paramedics (John Gage and Roy DeSoto of squad 51).  As a kid, I LOVED this show!  My brother and I used to watch it any time we could.  And when we couldn't watch it, we were in the yard playing it! 
 After my brother left active duty in the Army, he actually became a paramedic.  I think maybe those days in the 70's playing and watching Emergency! might have had a little something to do with that.
The show itself was a pretty big hit in its time (lasting a respectable 6 seasons).  I'm not sure how well it's remembered these days, but I have the feeling it's one of those kinds of shows that people don't think about much now, but when you mention it to someone of a certain age there's an "Oh yeah. . .I remember that" sort of thing.
I was never aware that Emergency! Even HAD comics until recently, when I found this issue at a little antique shop a few towns over that my wife wanted to check out.  I could NOT wait to get home and read this baby!
So yeah. . .big fan of the Emergency! T.V. show.  Now the question is whether or not the comics can stand up and deliver some of that nostalgia I have when I think of long-ago afternoons playing paramedic with my brother.  That's a pretty tall order, but let's find out!


Charlton (1976)

COVER: Jack Sparling
We're off to a good start because THAT is one great cover!  Beautifully painted by prolific Bronze Age artist Jack Sparling, this cover has a real sense of motion and action. The splashes of bright and dark colors combine to give this a feeling of chaos barely being controlled by the featured firemen.  This isn't just a great comic book cover, it's a great piece of art, period.  Let's get inside!
Two stories in this issue. . .an extra-sized comic story and a short two-page text piece (With some of John Byrne's earliest comic work illustrating it!).  Let's take a look at each one in their own turn.
SCRIPT: Joe Gill
PENCILS: Jordi Franch Cubells (As J. Franch)
A new fireman is transferred to Station 51 from another station for personality conflicts with the men there.  Joe Diskin quickly lives up to his reputation as rude and unfriendly at the station, but when he's on the job, he's a skilled and brave firefighter that helps the paramedics of Squad 51 through a rough situation while rescuing people trapped in a raging fire.
Thinking that the men of Station 51 just got off on the wrong foot with Diskin, Paramedic John Gage decides to try and make friends with the new man.  Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, Gage runs into a brick wall of unfriendly behavior from Diskin, causing Gage to wonder if maybe there's no getting through to him.
Despite Gage's failure to make friends with Diskin, the new firefighter once again proves his worth while assisting the Paramedics during a harrowing rescue operation during a blaze at a power plant, risking his life to keep the flames at bay while Gage and his partner, Roy DeSoto, save trapped workers.
As the days go by, Gage is more determined than ever to break through Diskin's hard shell, even though the rest of the men at Station 51 have given up.  Finally, Gage manages to get Diskin to socialize with him by challenging him to a handball game. 
After returning to the station, Gage and DeSoto discover that the other men of Station 51 are passing around a petition for their Chief to transfer Diskin to yet another station.  The Paramedics immediately stand up for Diskin, telling the others that the new man may not be friendly, but he's a good firefighter that deserves as much of a chance as anyone else.  Unknown to them, Diskin overhears the whole thing.
Later, as Diskin assists the paramedics during another fire, he finally has a friendly word for the team as he challenges them to another handball game.  It seems that Diskin has decided he wants to be part of the Station 51 family after all.  
The End.
Okay.  Not bad!  I wanted some of that nostalgia from Emergency! and I got it.  This story reads like a "lost" episode of the show!  I like that it took just as much time with what was going on at the station as it did with action scenes, just like many of the T.V. show episodes did. 
There's really not that much to the story. . .a new guy has trouble fitting in and Johnny Gage takes it on himself to try to bring him into the "family". . .but it's that simple framework that allows the writer to provide a story where I can almost HEAR the voices of the actors from the T.V. show as I read it.
The art for this story delivers in a big way!  A lot of the Charlton comics had great covers and not so great art inside.  This comic is not one of those.  The artist manages to mostly capture the likenesses of the T.V. actors, but where the art REALLY shines is during the action scenes of billowing smoke and chaos!  Some of the station scenes are a little sketchy, but the firefighting action more than makes up for it.
All in all, just a great little story!  I'll tell you true. . .it makes me want to go watch some Emergency!
Let's see what the backup text story is about, shall we?  We shall!

While his usual partner, Roy DeSoto is on vacation, Johnny Gage is teamed up with a new paramedic who transferred from the firefighting team.  Although the new man seems to be a good paramedic, one of the other firemen warns Gage that the new guy quit firefighting because he lost his nerve after being injured in a fire.  Fortunately, after being rescued by the new man, Gage realizes that the warning was off base and the new paramedic will fit in just fine.
The End.
The entire story is scanned below. . .
This story follows the same theme as the main comic offering above. . .a new guy having trouble fitting in and John Gage helping him along.  It's. . .okay.  It's not bad, but I would have rather seen a bit more page space given to the main story instead.
I guess the main draw here is that this actually has some of John Byrne's earliest comic work.  There's not much of it, being spot illustrations for a text piece, but you can definitely see a master's hand at work here, even in the tiny amount we're given. 
Overall, this backup story is okay.  I personally think the space could have been put to better use expanding the main story for a couple more pages.  The art is an interesting artifact of comic history. 


So there it is.  Emergency! #3.  
I'm glad I found this comic and now have it in my collection.  It really DOES read just like an episode of the T.V. show. . .to the point that I could almost hear the voices of the actors in my head when I read it.  This story could EASILY have been adapted for the show.  
Is it the best comic I've ever read?  No.  Not even close.  But what this DID do for me was take me back in time to the 70's like I was taking a trip in a paper time machine and left me wanting more!  I really don't think there's much more I could ask from a comic book.
If you were a fan of Emergency! Then I heartily recommend this comic.  If you're looking for something a little unusual that doesn't involve superheroes, then check this out.  I'm probably a little biased because the T.V. show holds some great memories for me, but it's really a decent comic even without that connection.
The series was very short. . .four issues only.  There was a second Emergency! series (also from Charlton) that also ran for only 4 issues.  I don't see that they've been collected in any way, so I guess finding these in the wild or buying the issues online is the only way to get them.   Luckily, it doesn't seem the prices are too bad.
Up Next. . .
I'm not really sure!  It's flea market and yard sale season and I've had a REALLY good run of luck finding great comics out there so far this year.  So I might do a few more retro reviews spotlighting some of them.
In any case, be there or be square!

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I write comic book reviews that nobody asked me to!
When it comes to comic books, I'll admit that I'm much more of a fan of non-superhero characters.  Don't get me wrong, there's a lot to be said for a great Batman or Captain America story, but give me a Lone Ranger, Green Hornet, Spirit or Zorro story and I'm a very happy man!
Conan The Barbarian is right up there in the top ten list of my favorite non-superhero characters.  I think one of the things I like best about Conan is that he's a deceptively simple character that can be used in almost ANY kind of story!  
Conan fits right into horror stories, comedy stories, epic adventures, small character pieces, mysteries, heck. . .at the time of this writing, Marvel even has Conan teaming up with superheroes in the mainstream Marvel Universe (in the ongoing "Savage Avengers" series) and they're STILL great Conan stories!
Marvel's impressive original 275 issue (plus 12 annuals) run on Conan The Barbarian is a pretty good testament to just how versatile the character is.  Even better for a Longbox Junker such as myself, a hefty run like that means (with the exception of the earlier, more "valuable" issues) you can find a LOT of great Conan comics in the bargain bins.  Maybe not as ubiquitous as other dollar box fillers, but there's plenty of them out there to be found.
Which brings us to the issue at hand!
Coming in at roughly the halfway point of Marvel's run on the series, we have a tale that leans toward the horror genre, wherein we find Conan the Barbarian during his days as a wandering mercenary encountering a savage beast with a tragic secret.  Let's take a look, shall we?



Marvel (1984)


SCRIPT: Michael Fleisher & John Buscema
PENCILS: John Buscema
INKS: Rudy Nebres
COVER: John Buscema
The late, great John Buscema was a Bronze Age heavyweight and he doesn't disappoint with this cover! The colors are rich and inviting, the composition is perfect.  I really like the contrast between the background and the shadows, which give us a hint of the story inside.  
This cover tells a story in ONE single image and it immediately grabbed my attention when I spotted it in the bargain bin.  It's just an amazing cover all around and I'm glad I have this in my collection!  Let's get inside and see what's going on. . .
We begin in the desert, witnessing a strange scene. Two horsemen pulling a box with a captive woman inside across the sand as she cries out for help. . .
Luckily for her, Conan the Barbarian just happens to be passing by within earshot of her cries and decides to investigate.  As the woman begs for her life, Conan demands she be freed.  A fight breaks out and Conan easily dispatches her captors before letting the woman out of the box.
Not long after rescuing the woman, her father arrives on the scene.  He initially thinks Conan was one of her captors, but she tells him of Conan's brave rescue of her.  
Her father informs Conan that a certain Sheik Abdul Zu Fadh has been obsessed with gaining the hand of his daughter for over a year and has become enraged at her rejection of him.  This is not the first time he's had her kidnapped.  
They all return to her father's camp and prepare for a celebration in Conan's honor.
Later, at the celebration, we learn the girl's name is Kahlima and her grateful father is Ali Maksoud.  After dancing for her barbarian savior, Kahlima departs for the evening. . .
Not long thereafter, eerie howls rend the night air.  Conan is unconcerned, but Ali Maksoud seems to be mysteriously more worried than he should be.  After he departs to check on the noise, the back of the tent is ripped open and a huge wolf-like creature attacks!
As Conan fights for his life against the supernaturally strong creature, Ali Maksoud and his men rush to his aid, barely managing to pull the monster off of him.  The creature flees into the night.  Conan is ready to give chase, but Maksoud convinces Conan to leave it be, as he fears an ambush that might cost him more men.  Conan reluctantly agrees.
Come the dawn, Conan is roused by shouts of alarm.  Kahlima is missing again!  All signs point to another abduction by Sheik Abdul Zu Fahd.  Conan joins Ali Maksoud and his men as they set off to follow the trail of the kidnappers. . .
After a long chase through the day and into the evening hours, Conan and company finally discover the camp of the kidnappers, as well as Kahlima bound to the rocks.  Conan is wary of an ambush and his misgivings come true as a large band of armed men appear, led by none other than Sheik Abdul Zu Fahd!
Conan mocks the Sheik for having to kidnap women he wants to marry.  But Zu Fahd protests that he doesn't want to marry Kahlima, but that she's responsible for the death of his only son. . .
A battle between the two armed bands breaks out, but as they clash and the moon rises, Conan finally learns the truth of things as Kahlima begins to transform into the same horrific beast that attacked him the night before!
The enraged beast breaks free of its bonds and begins to attack both Zu Fahn and Ali Maksoud's men indiscriminately, sending the men into a fearful panic as Conan desperately tries to fight the creature.
Sheik Zu Fahd cries out to his men to bring him an arrow tipped with a deadly black lotus poison, but Ali Maksoud prevents him from shooting it at his transformed daughter.  Instead, he uses the arrow on her himself. . .
As the deadly poison takes effect and the creature changes back into human form, Ali Maksoud cradles his beloved daughter in his arms one last time as he tearfully explains that she was born from a night spent with a demon in disguise, and that he tried to conceal Kahlima's true nature because of his love of her.  
Conan walks away from the tragic scene without a word and rides into the desert night, reflecting that this is an event that will live on in the tales of these desert people, but as for him. . .it's just another thing to put behind him on his journey through life.
The End.
All right, there it is. . .Conan the Barbarian and The Night of The Wolf.  Let's break it on down!
Prolific comic legend Roy Thomas wrote the lion's share of Marvel's Conan run, so it was interesting to see an issue written by someone else.  Thankfully, Michael Fleisher does a great job filling Thomas' shoes on this story!  
It's simple, it's action-packed, and it's a good, solid adventure story that leans a little into horror.  Fleisher doesn't get fancy here, and because of that, this story has the timeless feel that is a hallmark of any good Conan story.  It doesn't matter that this was written 37 years ago, it reads like it was written yesterday. . .or in the 1930's, for that matter.  A good Conan story should have that timeless feel to it, and Fleisher captures it very nicely.
To be fair, there ARE a few places where the overblown dialogue has a faint whiff of Bronze Age Marvel bombast, but it's not really distracting from the simple story at hand.  All in all a very solid "one and done" story.
Now let's talk about the art. . .
The story is solid and well done, but it's the art that's the REAL star of the show here!  Like I observed in my look at the cover of this comic, the late John Buscema was a Bronze Age heavyweight and fully deserves a place of honor in the hall of comic book legends.  It's his work that REALLY makes this story shine!
The first handful of Conan issues are a bit pricey and considered more "valuable" to collectors because of the Barry Windsor-Smith art. . .and rightly so.  But in MY extremely humble opinion, Buscema's long run as artist on the title was superior.  
When I think of Conan, it's Buscema's work that immediately comes to MY mind.  His detailed, kinetic artwork breathed life and energy into Conan's world in a way that's rarely been matched to this day.
Just LOOK at the pages I scanned above!  Every panel of this comic is a feast for the eyes!  This single issue alone is a master class in visual storytelling that a lot of modern artists could definitely take a lesson from.


A simple, action-packed story with that timeless feel needed for a good Conan tale, backed up by page after page of fantastic artwork from a comic book legend. . .what more could you want?
If you're a fan of Conan the Barbarian, you'll love this story!  If you're not a fan, this probably won't change your mind because it hits just about everything that a good Conan story should have in it.  
I hate to make myself sound old, but they just don't make comics like this anymore.  From page one to page done, this is a great example of why Bronze Age comics still hold such a big place in the heart of many comic book fans. . .and I'm one of them.
Up Next. . .
I haven't decided yet, but I WOULD like to take this opportunity on the eve of Thanksgiving to thank each and every person reading this for spending a little bit of your precious time here with me.  I am indeed sincerely thankful that there are fellow comic fans out there who like to read these reviews that nobody asked me to write.  I wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving!

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

Lately, I've had a pretty good run of luck while out Longbox Junkin' at the local flea markets.  There's been some unexpectedly sweet finds coming my way, and ain't THAT the truth!  
In my last Longbox Junk post, I took a look at a great Golden Age Lone Ranger comic that I bought for a couple of bucks.  So I thought to myself, "Why not show off another one of those Fantastic Flea Market Finds?"
And so here we are. . .ready to crank up the Longbox Junk time machine for a trip back to 1969 and a look at another surprise find I made back in early August that cost me a measly TEN BUCKS at the flea market!
It's a comic featuring the iconic artwork of the great Neal Adams and the introduction of his Bronze Age makeover for Green Arrow.  When I spotted this comic in the shape it's in (I'd grade it at a 7.5/8.0, but I'm no expert) for the price they wanted, I couldn't believe my good fortune!
So strap in, because it's time for another Longbox Junk Retro Review! 
Ready?  LET'S DO IT!


DC (1969)



SCRIPT: Bob Haney
PENCILS: Neal Adams
INKS: Neal Adams
COVER: Neal Adams
Now THAT'S a nice cover!  A Bronze Age beauty by the Legendary Neal Adams at the top of his game.  Green Arrow is the star of the show on this one, sporting his new (at the time) look front and center.  I really like how Batman's cape serves to frame the Emerald Archer.  The tilted logos and  bright splashes of color also really catch the eye. There's nothing I don't like about this cover.  It's the sort of thing that grabs my attention and makes me want to buy a comic book!  Let's get inside and see what's going on. . .
After witnessing the attempted assassination of newly-elected Senator Paul Cathcart, a staunch supporter of a pending anti-crime bill, Batman fails to capture the gunman.  Later, in the hospital as the Senator lays in critical condition, Bruce Wayne is shocked when the Governor asks him to take over the Senator's term in order to push the anti-crime legislation through!
Meanwhile, as Bruce Wayne ponders his decision, we find multi-millionaire Oliver Queen discussing his bid on an important building project meant to keep the state and Gotham City from bankruptcy.  His opponent for the project is Argonaut Incorporated, headed by Miklos Minotaur. . .a man Oliver knows is the head of a powerful criminal organization (thanks to his other identity as the Green Arrow).  
As he wonders whether or not he can do Gotham more good as Oliver Queen or as Green Arrow, he is suddenly attacked!  After narrowly escaping the assassination attempt, Oliver realizes that he's been targeted by Minotaur.
The next day, Bruce Wayne, still agonizing over the decision to take over the Senator's term and fight crime through legislation, or to continue to fight crime as Batman, he reveals his secret identity to his psychiatrist, Edmond!  Sworn to secrecy, the psychiatrist  isn't really much help, telling Bruce/Batman that this is a decision he's going to have to make by himself.  
Later that day, we learn that the psychiatrist that Bruce Wayne revealed his identity to is ALSO Oliver Queen's psychiatrist as we follow Edmond and Oliver while they survey the contested land development project and Oliver Queen reveals his identity as Green Arrow!  Edmond is either the luckiest, or the unluckiest psychiatrist on the face of the earth!
That night, Green Arrow and Batman both decide to visit Edmond's office to continue their respective discussions with him.  After they get over their surprise at running into each other in such a seemingly random way, they find that Edmond's office has been broken into and the psychiatrist is missing!  
Both heroes realize that Miklos Minotaur is trying to get to their public identities through their mutual psychiatrist. The suspicion is confirmed when they review Edmond's office recording and they hear the kidnapping in progress.  Green Arrow and Batman agree they have to team up and rescue their friend. . .
The following morning, realizing the lengths Minotaur will go to, Bruce accepts the task of completing Senator Cathcart's term. . .and so becomes Senator Bruce Wayne!  In the meantime, on a small volcanic island in the Mediterranean, Green Arrow is hot on the trail of Edmond's kidnappers. . .
As Green Arrow pursues Minotaur's men, vicious animals are released in the maze of rocky tunnels leading to the crime lord's hidden base.  Green Arrow manages to fight them off, and shortly after is joined by Batman, who followed the signal of Green Arrow's Justice League transmitter to his location.  The two heroes continue on together to rescue their mutual friend. . .

In the meantime, Miklos Minotaur reveals to his prisoner that he plans to have agents destroy both Bruce Wayne and Oliver Queen for their interference with his schemes.  At that moment, Batman and Green Arrow burst onto the scene!  Minotaur takes Edmond hostage. . .

Minotaur believes he has the upper hand, but he didn't count on Green Arrow's superior bow skills, which give the heroes the chance to attack and easily subdue Minotaur's men.  Unfortunately, in the confusion of the fight, Minotaur himself manages to escape!  
As Batman rushes back to the United States in order to vote on the anti-crime bill as Senator Wayne, Green Arrow concocts a plan to capture and arrest Miklos Minotaur for his crimes by inviting him to a posh party at the U.S. Embassy in his public identity of Oliver Queen.
At the party, Oliver Queen informs the smug crime lord that he's to be arrested and taken back to the United States to stand trial.  Minotaur is shocked when he realizes he's fallen into a trap. . .the embassy is legally U.S. territory and he's taken into custody. . .

Meanwhile, in Washington D.C., Batman arrives just as the voting for the anti-crime bill has begun.  As he rushes toward the Capital, Batman discovers and defeats an assassin waiting for Bruce Wayne.  He manages to arrive just in the nick of time to deliver the deciding vote in favor of the anti-crime bill!
At the end of the day, Edmond is safely returned to the U.S., where he learns that Oliver Queen has decided to fund the land development project AND continue fighting crime as Green Arrow.  
Later, Edmond discovers that Bruce Wayne plans on giving up his Senate seat now that the anti-crime bill has passed.  Wayne prefers to fight crime as Batman.
In a final scene, we see that Edmond has decided to undergo self-hypnosis in order to wipe the knowledge of the true identities of Batman and Green Arrow from his mind.
The End.
Okay then, there it is.  Let's break it on down!
What we have here is a pretty typical example of early Bronze Age DC "One and Done" storytelling.  They weren't quite as tuned in to the continuing storylines as Marvel was at this time, and this story shows it.  This is a tale that needs just a LITTLE more room to breathe.  I think this would have made a fine two-parter.  Anything more than that would probably have been too much, but one issue just seems like it's too little.
That's not to say it's a BAD story.  It's not.  Bob Haney does a great job in the space he's given.  The story is well-written and interesting.  It just seems a bit rushed and overly-compressed.  
What I liked most about the story was the spotlight on both the public AND heroic personas of the two main characters.  With limited space to tell comic stories during this time period, the secret identities of the heroes often fell to the wayside in favor of the more action-oriented superhero side of things.  In this story, Haney makes great use of Batman and Green Arrow's public identities, and truthfully, the scenes with the heroes out of costume were the more interesting to me.
The central conflict of this story was very engaging, with two superheroes grappling with the question of how to better serve the public. . .as themselves, using their money and position to fight crime. . .or as costumed crimefighters able to do what the authorities are unable or unwilling to do.  
This kind of superheroic introspection was just becoming popular at DC, and it's a welcome change from the usual supervillain of the month punch-ups that were more characteristic of DC comics at the time.  This story is a great example of the more mature storylines that would begin to come out of DC in the following years to come.
So the story is good. . .an early example of the more socially-conscious, or "relevant" comics to come.  I just wish that it had a little more room to move around in.  Let's talk about the art side of things.
In my humble opinion, Neal Adams is a living legend and a national treasure.  His fantastic art is always a joy to see in a comic.  His writing?  Not so much.  But THAT'S something for another review!
What we have here is Adams at the top of his Bronze Age game.  The pages of this comic are FULL of superb Neal Adams artwork, featuring his trademark realism and interesting "camera" angles.   Like the story, the art is at its best when spotlighting the characters out of costume, but every single page of this issue is worth lingering over for an extra moment before turning to the next.


From the fantastic cover to the final panel, this is comic that delivers in a big way!  It has an interesting story based around heroes conflicted about how best to serve the public and is backed up by some great Neal Adams artwork.  
Sure, the story is a little rushed and could have been better served by having an extra issue to tell it in, but I don't blame that on Bob Haney. . .I blame it on DC thinking that every comic book had to tell a complete story in one and only one issue at that time.  As a modern reader used to comics being a bit more decompressed, it just seems like a missed opportunity to make a good story great.  
If you are a Batman fan or Green Arrow fan or a Neal Adams fan in particular, you'll love this comic! But I can certainly recommend it for just about ANY comic fan that wants to see a somewhat unusual story (for the time) that focuses not just on superheroics, but also on the men behind the masks.  
Me finding this actual issue in good shape at a flea market for ten bucks was just lucky, but a bit of research shows me that this one has been reprinted many times, and is available on ComiXology, for those who like to read their comics online, so it's not hard to find at all.  Give it a look!
Up Next. . .
Spotlighting a few of my more "valuable" lucky flea market finds has been fun, but I've been inspired by Ed Gosney at COOL COMICS IN MY COLLECTION to return to my Longbox Junk roots by taking a look at some. . .Longbox Junk!  
By taking a short look at 1987's "G.I. RAMBOT" from Wonder Color Comics in his blog, I was reminded that not everyone is going to be able to snag a 1950's Lone Ranger comic, but there's plenty of forgotten and "worthless" comics lurking in the bargain bins that need a little love too!
And not for nothin' but if you're looking for a place that keeps comics fun and gives you JUST enough bite-sized pieces of comic goodness to make you want to come back for more. . .check out Cool Comics in the link above or on Facebook.  
Okay, plug time is over!  See you next time with some ACTUAL Longbox Junk.
Be there or be square!

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Welcome to Longbox Junk, the blog that's just FULL of comic reviews nobody asked me to write!

To me, comic collecting is all about the hunt.  Finding unexpected comic book treasure in a forgotten back issue bin way down on the bottom shelf back in the corner. . .or sitting in a pile of unbagged comics with the pages flapping in the wind on a folding table at the flea market. . .or hiding in the middle of a pile of old Life Magazines in a milk crate at a little antique shop. 
Maybe it's just me, but I think the internet has sort of ruined comic collecting a little bit.  The easy access and ability to specifically pick and choose which comics you want to buy have brought a little bit too much focus on "Value" and "Grade" of comics and taken away some of the joy of discovery.
I'm a huge fan of The Lone Ranger.  Unfortunately, older Lone Ranger comics are a little hard to come by in "The Wild".  Yeah. . .I could just jump on the internet and buy whatever old Lone Ranger comic catches my eye, but where's the fun in that?  
So imagine my joy when I discovered not one, not two, but FIVE Golden Age Lone Ranger comics in decent condition sitting in a cardboard box mixed up with a bunch of battered Richie Rich and Archie comics at the local flea market about a month ago for a lousy TWO BUCKS each!
Now THAT'S the sort of find that keeps me excited for hunting comics in "The Wild" right there!
SO. . .
Since I've found these great old Lone Ranger comics, why not take a closer look at one?
Let's strap on a set of ridiculous steampunk goggles and crank up the Longbox Junk time machine for a trip back to 1955. . .when westerns were at the top of the pop culture pile and characters like The Lone Ranger cast a long shadow over the imagination of young Americans.  That's right, it's time for a Longbox Junk Retro Review!
Ready? Let's do this!


DELL (1955)


COVER: Sam Savitt
Let's get this much straight. . .the cover of this comic is worth the admission no matter WHAT is inside.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again:  In my humble opinion, Dell/ Gold Key comics have some of the greatest covers in comic book history.  Unfortunately, the interior art rarely ever even comes close to matching what's on the cover.  This comic is no exception.
But that cover, though!  Now THIS is one awesome Golden Age comic rack eye-catcher!  I haven't owned this comic for long, but it's already among my top ten favorite covers in my collection.  Heck, I'd say top five.  
Just LOOK at this cover! Feast your eyes on the rich colors! This beautifully-painted piece of western art perfectly captures the motion, the spirit, the energy of The Lone Ranger and Silver.  It's just a wonderful moment of action captured in art!  I could go on, but let's get inside. . .
Never let it be said that a kid didn't get his money's worth from a Golden Age comic!  Under that awesome cover rests three full length comic stories, an illustrated text story, and a couple of one page non-fiction information pieces.  That's a nice amount of western fun for one thin dime!  Let's take a look at each story in turn. . .
SCRIPT: Paul S. Newman
When the town of Weston is plagued by a series of robberies carried out by what seem to be glowing ghost men, the entire town is terrified except for the sheriff.  Tales of the ghostly gang reach The Lone Ranger and Tonto, who arrive in town to help the sheriff get to the bottom of the strange happenings.
During their investigation, while taking shelter from a rainstorm in a cave outside of town, the Ranger discovers the secret of the glowing robbers. . .a phosphorescent sludge that the criminals are soaking their clothing in to fool the townfolk into thinking they are spirits!
The Ranger and Tonto work with the sheriff to set up a trap, and manage to catch the bandits flat footed in the dark, where their glowing clothes make them easy targets.  Their work done, the Ranger and Tonto ride off to their next adventure.
The End.

Not a bad little story to start things off with.  Not bad at all.  I like that this short tale shows us the Lone Ranger as an investigator, solving a mystery.  It's a simple story, but it still reads well 66 years down the road, so there's something to be said for simplicity.  
The art is also surprisingly nice for a Dell comic.  I usually have a pretty low bar when if comes to Dell/Gold Key comic interior art, but the art here is actually very nicely done, with rich dark inks, plenty of detail, and with none of the sloppy coloring issues that often turn up in Golden Age comics.  It doesn't hold a candle to the fantastic painted cover, of course, but the art is quite a bit better than I expected.
Overall, a fun little western tale showing off the Lone Ranger as a detective, with unexpectedly good art.  This comic has gotten off to a fine start. Let's see what else is in here. 
SCRIPT: Paul S. Newman
After the Lone Ranger and Tonto rescue an unconscious man laying on train tracks from certain death, they discover that he's a recently-discharged soldier who was attacked by another man, who stole his discharge papers and clothing and left him for dead after changing clothes with him.
Searching the man's clothing, they find an envelope addressed to a wanted killer named Mac James that the Ranger and Tonto have been tracking.  They realize that James has stolen the soldier's identity in order to try and escape their pursuit.  They head to the nearest town, Trail City, to try and catch the killer.
In Trail City, Mac James' disguise quickly falls apart when the Sheriff recognizes him.  James shoots the sheriff and escapes by jumping onto a moving train, but Tonto sees him circling back around to Trail City and heading into a hotel that is a suspected safe house for criminals on the run.
Thinking that the soldier is dead, James decides to finish off the sheriff so that he can safely use his new identity.  The Lone Ranger learns of this plan from the crooked innkeeper and rushes to the doctor's to save the sheriff.  The Ranger arrives just in time to shoot the gun from James' hand.  After taking the killer into custody, the sheriff deputizes The Lone Ranger and he leaves to arrest the innkeeper.  And with that, all is well in the town of Trail City.
The End.
There's a little more meat on the bone of this story, compared to the simplicity of the first. . .with this tale of identity theft and murder requiring just a bit more of the reader's attention.  Once again, this story shows the Lone Ranger as more of an investigator than a gunfighter.  As a matter of fact, reading back over the story, the Ranger fires a total of ONE shot (to knock the gun out of the killer's hand) through the entire narrative.  
I find it interesting that both of the Lone Ranger stories in this issue focus more on the investigative side of the famous masked vigilante.  And when I say I find it interesting, I mean I like it a lot.  It seems an unusual path to follow in a 1950's western comic, where one would normally expect a lot of rootin' tootin' pistol shootin' action.
The art in this story is a little weaker than in the first, even though both are done by the same artist.  I chalk it up to the first story mostly being set at night, allowing a lot of deep inks and silhouettes, where this story is set mostly in broad daylight.  That's not to say the art is bad.  It's still surprisingly good for a 1950's Dell comic.
Overall, an interesting story about identity theft and a killer desperately trying to elude the Lone Ranger, showing the Ranger as more of an investigator and less of a gunfighter, backed up by some more unexpectedly good art.  It's a decent little western story that still holds up well, even after 66 years.
And that's it for the Lone Ranger in this Lone Ranger comic.  Let's see what else we've got here.
Next up, we have a two page text story with some very nice spot illustrations.
It's about a man and his son hunting for a stolen herd of cattle and talking about an old maverick bull that's never been captured.  When they finally find the herd, they are amazed to find that the maverick has already driven off the rustlers by himself.  You can read the whole thing below.

Usually, unless I'm reviewing a comic, I just skip by the text stories.  But this one was actually pretty interesting in that about half of it is told from the point of view of the maverick bull.  An unusual storytelling choice. The illustrations are also very nicely done.  Overall, I expected filler.  What I got was a pretty good little read.
PENCILS: Rex Maxon
Young Hawk and his brothers, Little Buck and Strong Eagle make camp beside a river.  Their rest is interrupted by a bear and a wolverine fighting over the meat the brothers have left hanging. 
After driving off the bear and killing the wolverine, the brothers continue their journey down the river. . .noticing the strange lack of young ducks, even though it's the season for them.
As their pet dog, Tumbleweed, swims through the river, he is suddenly pulled under water! Young Hawk dives in to save him and is astounded to see a gigantic snapping turtle.  He kills the turtle by cutting off its head, saving Tumbleweed.  The monstrous turtle will no longer trouble the animals or travelers along that part of the river again.
The End.


This story just didn't do it for me.  I have to admit that I'm not a fan of Du Bois' writing in the first place, so I'm a little biased going in.  That said, I can give anything a fair chance, and given a fair chance, this one still falls flat.  
To be fair, the simplistic narrative, with its "This happened. Then this happened. Then this happened. The End" story path IS well-suited for the younger audience this comic was written for, and is characteristic of Du Bois' style in ANY comic he's written that I've ever read.  But where the simplicity of the opening Lone Ranger story gave it a snappy character, the simplicity here just makes the story feel like it's being written down to the lowest level of reader.
The art doesn't help.  After the surprisingly well done art in the first two stories, the art here feels like a big step backward and more into the territory I would expect in the interior of a Dell comic.  Compare the page above with the pages I scanned for the first two stories and you'll see what I'm talking about.  The art here isn't BAD. . .it's just a little disappointing.
Overall, this one was the weak point of this comic.  An overly-simple story backed up by some disappointing art just makes it feel like this effort was aimed squarely at a juvenile audience.  To be fair, on that front it succeeds. . .but it doesn't read very well to a modern reader because of it.
To finish things off, we've got a couple of short page space fillers.  
The first is about Native American gourd lamps. . .

The most interesting thing about this little half-pager is that it was written by an actual Native American tribal Chief. . . Red Thunder Cloud of the Catawba Nation, who was a pretty interesting (and sort of controversial) character, according to his Wikipedia page.  So I liked this one not so much for the gourd lamp information (which was okay), but for the direction it took me reading about Chief Red Thunder Cloud.
The second page space filler is a little synopsis of the tragic history of the Black Hills.  It basically reads like an encyclopedia entry (For my younger readers, they were big sets of books we used to look things up before Google existed. . ., I feel old).  Interesting, but ultimately there just to take up some unused space.  The "Dell Pledge" below it was actually more interesting to me.  It basically gives the justification as to why Dell comics never sported the CCA seal.


And there you have it, Lone Ranger #84 from 1955.  
Overall, I found this to be a quite enjoyable read.  The first two stories showcase the Lone Ranger as more of an investigator than as a gunfighter, and I really liked that a lot.  The third story wasn't to my liking, but taking a step back and trying to put myself in the shoes of a kid in 1955 paying a dime for this comic, it's not really that bad.  Heck, it's got a bear fight, a giant turtle, and Indians! What more could a kid ask for?
A lot of Golden Age comics don't age very well.  This one still reads pretty good even 66 years down the line, with the exception of the Young Hawk story. But even that wasn't enough to keep the grin off my face as I transported myself back to 1955, when westerns were at the top of the pop culture pile and The Lone Ranger stood strong and tall as one of the great American heroes.
If you are a Lone Ranger fan, you will love this comic!  Heck, the cover alone should be enough to make you love this comic.  But this comic will also appeal to fans of Golden Age western comics in general.  This was a lucky find for me, and it's a little more "valuable" than my usual Longbox Junk fare, so finding a copy in decent shape might be a bit difficult.  That said, keep your eye out!  I found this in "the wild" so there might be more of them out there just waiting to be found.
Up Next. . .
I'm thinking I'll spotlight another one of my recent great flea market finds.
But which one?  Stick around and find out. . .
Be there or be square!

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LONGBOX JUNK - The World of Krypton

746 views • Jul 19, '21 • (2) Comments

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

Sorry about the delays between posts (I actually started writing this one June 12).  Between work really ramping up and my wife being in a car wreck (and in and out of the hospital, doctor appointments and such), I've had to put comic readin' and reviewin' on the back burner for a little bit.  But here I am, back at it!
SO. . .
If you've been reading Longbox Junk for a while, then you probably already know that I'm not much of a Superman fan.  If you're new to Longbox Junk, Welcome!  I hope you stick around for a while.  And by the way. . .I'm not much of a Superman fan.
But what I AM a fan of is a great comic book cover!  So when I spotted these three issues at the flea market recently for two bucks apiece, the cover for #3 immediately caught my eye, and I bought the set.  Seriously. . .scroll down and just LOOK at that cover!  It's a Bronze Age beauty if I ever saw one!
So I bought three comics featuring a character I don't even like much because I liked the cover on one of them and didn't want to break up the set.  It's just my sort of random way of collecting comic books.  It's Longbox Junkin' is what it is.
BUT. . .
When I got the comics home and was looking them up to enter them onto my COMIC BOOK REALM list (where I make a half-hearted effort to keep track of the gigantic pile of random comics I've accumulated over the years), something caught my eye.  Apparently, The World Of Krypton is regarded as the FIRST actual comic book mini-series.
I found it a bit strange that a little piece of comic history like this was. . .well. . .Longbox Junk.  In perfect-o condition, these issues are only "worth" about eight bucks each.  And yet I see they hold an acknowledged place in the comic book timeline.  I hadn't really intended ever reading these comics, but NOW my interest in them was raised.
Enough introduction! Let's take a look at these Bronze Age relics.  Are they an overlooked and undervalued piece of comic history?  Or do they rightfully belong on a folding table at a Utah flea market, flapping in the wind and sold for less than the price of a Big Mac meal at McDonald's?
Let's find out!


DC (1979)

SCRIPTS: Paul Kupperberg
PENCILS: Howard Chaykin & Alan Kupperberg (Uncredited Layouts)
INKS: Murphy Anderson & Frank Chiaramonte
COVERS: Ross Andru & Giordano (Inks)



To me, kind of "Meh".  It's nicely-drawn and the background elements of the building and the ship in the sky are interesting, but there's nothing really here that grabs me and makes me want to read this comic.  
After Superman discovers a memory tape on the moon that turns out to part of his father's journals, we join the Man of Steel as he learns about Jor-El's early life. . .beginning with his entering school as a brilliant student of science, but unfortunately not quite as brilliant at making friends outside of his studies.  
After graduation, Jor-El joins Krypton's fledgling space program, where he studies and then creates anti-gravity.  Unfortunately, his first anti-gravity ship crashes, stranding the young astronaut he has fallen in love with (Lara) and forcing him to travel to Krypton's moon to rescue her.
His next project is more successful. . .developing orbital "prison cells" where convicts sleep in suspended animation while undergoing rehabilitating hypno-training, after which they can become part of society again.  Now that he's become a successful and recognized scientist, Jor-El and Lara decide to marry.
Unfortunately, their application for marriage (Filed with Krypton's automated Matri-Comp marriage compatibility computer) is denied.  As Lara fights against the man Matri-Comp seems to have arbitrarily assigned her (despite her never meeting him previously), Jor-El fights against a criminal that has sabotaged his prison capsule and battles his pursuers using Jor-El's own stolen anti-gravity technology.
After defeating the escaped criminal, clues point toward a rival member of the science council as being behind the plot.  Returning to Lara, Jor-El discovers her hypnotized and declaring her love for a strange man.  Jor-El discovers that the Matri-Comp has developed intelligence and feelings, and has decided to marry Lara through an android proxy.
After destroying Matri-Comp and its android, Lara and Jor-El are finally able to marry, and we end the story at their wedding with Superman himself somehow being present, but with an assurance we'll be told why and how in the next issue!
To be continued. . .
Say what you will about Bronze Age comics, but the writers of that era were able to pack a LOT into a little space!  The amount of story to be found in this issue would easily take up 3 or 4 issues of a modern comic.  But for all the information packed into this comic, it's actually a pretty brisk read.  
The story jumps from place to place a bit, and the whole back half involving Jor-El fighting against an escaped criminal and a marriage computer gone mad seems tacked on just to provide some action.  Despite these few things, I found this to be a decent read, even though Superman is probably my LEAST favorite comic book character.  
I think this story kept my attention mostly because with each page that went by, I kept wondering "How much more stuff can they put in this thing?" This single issue is like a Dagwood sandwich of comic writing!  It's a teetering pile of stuff crammed between two covers!  Even the bare-bones synopsis I provided above takes up six paragraphs.  
The art is. . .it's okay.  It compliments the story without trying to take it over.  I saw Howard Chaykin's name on this and was expecting something a little darker and grittier, but I guess this is one of those cases where the inker has more of a hand in things than usual.  The lines are a lot cleaner and sharper than what I would think of when I see Chaykin's name on a comic.
Overall, I have to tip my hat to Paul Kupperberg on this one.  His writing isn't fancy or flashy, or particularly deep, but he tells a story in one single issue that would take months of modern comics to tell.  It's not all good. . .there are definitely parts that seem tacked on for obligatory action scenes that could have been trimmed. . .but for the most part, this was a decent read.



Again, sort of "Meh".  I like the interesting details on the city of Kandor, but other than that, this just seems like a pretty unremarkable Superman comic cover.  Sorry Superman fans.  It's just me, I guess.
We pick up the story shortly after Jor-El and Lara's wedding at the end of issue #1.  Jor-El and his father are attacked by an alien ice bird long thought to be extinct during a visit to Antarctic City.  Jor-El's father is severely injured and falls into a coma before being able to tell Jor-El his reason for the visit.
Jor-El searches his father's papers and makes a terrifying discovery. . .his father's research indicates that Krypton's planetary core is unstable and within the next few years, the planet is doomed!  Jor-El (and his trusted assistant, Kal-El. . .who is actually Superman trapped in the past on Krypton) wastes no time in trying to find a way to evacuate the planet.
Unfortunately, Kryptonian politics delay the project until Jor-El and several other scientists friendly to his cause pool their talents and own resources to at least try and save some of the doomed Kryptonians in gigantic space arks of Jor-El's design when the time comes.
Jor-El's father briefly regains consciousness and tells his son that the real reason behind their visit to the Antarctic was because he had discovered a gigantic alien ship in the ice. . .but dies before he can reveal the location.
As Jor-El searches for the alien craft, Kal-El designs a robot capable of doing the work of 100 men, and construction of the first Kryptonian evacuation ark begins.  
An unidentified craft attacks the capital city of Kandor, ripping it from the ground, and then shrinking the city before departing!  Along with Kandor goes the ark under construction, the super-construction robot, Jor-El's fellow scientists working with him on the project, AND the supply of rare fuel needed for the starships!  All hope seems lost.
With Kandor gone, Krypton is plunged into panic.  As the Kryptonians try to hold their society together without their capital city, Jor-El receives even more bad news. . .his assistant, Kal-El has gone missing (Superman discovered a way off-page to return to Earth and his own timeline).  Despite the crushing hopelessness of it all, Jor-El vows to continue with his project somehow, if only to save his own recently-born son, who is named Kal-El in honor of Jor-El's faithful assistant.
With the newly-reformed science council now behind Jor-El's research, he begins investigating other dimensions as an alternative to the gigantic space arks.  During his research, he discovers the Phantom Zone.  It's unsuitable for general habitation, but Jor-El convinces the Science Council that it would be a better place for criminals than the expensive system of orbiting suspended animation prison satellites he created years ago (in issue #1).
Jor-El finally discovers the location of the crashed alien ship that his father had discovered!  It seems to hold all the answers needed to help the Kryptonians escape into space locked inside its strange technology.  Unfortunately, during a test flight, a criminal named Jax-Ur fires a powerful rocket, causing the alien ship to crash before completely destroying Krypton's moon, Wegthor!
Jax-Ur is captured and is the first criminal sentenced to the Phantom Zone, but the loss of the alien ship's technology and the destruction of the launching facility on Wegthor together spell the end of Jor-El's rescue plans for the people of Krypton.
To be continued. . .
I THOUGHT there was a lot going on in the first issue.  The second issue ups the ante at least a few notches by bombarding the reader with so much story that even a major event like the capital city of Kandor literally being ripped from the planet and stolen by Brainiac takes up ONE page.
That's it.  Right there.  Capital City gone.
While I admired Kupperberg's compressed storytelling in the first issue, here it just seems like too much.  The story jumps from place to place so quickly that it's difficult to get invested in any one thing before it's gone and you're reading about something else.  Even writing the synopsis above, I glossed over several plot points for the sake of space and readability. 
Extremely compressed storytelling aside, this issue also seems strange because Superman himself plays a fairly large supporting role, with practically no explanation as to why or how beyond one single tiny editor box: 
We don't need no stinkin' exposition!
Reading this comic in 2021, I was able to hit the internet for more information. . .discovering that this story (for some strange reason) ties heavily into Superman #141, from 1960, which tells the story of how Superman accidentally ended up on Krypton in the past, got to know his parents, and fell in love, before managing to escape despite not having any powers under the red Kryptonian sun.
It seems like an odd story path in tying so strongly into a single Superman issue published almost TWENTY YEARS before the story at hand. . .especially during the Bronze Age, where comics weren't generally kept and collected the way they are now.  One wonders what the thinking was behind the idea, when there was really no way at the time for the average reader to go back and reference. . .well. . .just about ANYTHING not in the card catalogue at a library or in an encyclopedia (For my younger readers, they were a sort of multi-volume printed versions of Wikipedia that took up a lot of space.  Just kidding.  You know what an encyclopedia is, right?  , I feel old).
It just seems really strange to tie a good chunk of this story to a single comic book issue published in 1960.  Beyond the single editor note pictured above, Superman is just sort of. . .there. . .in full Superman garb for most of this issue without any further explanation.  Maybe they were afraid a Superman comic without Superman wouldn't sell?  
Overall, this issue suffers from some extremely compressed storytelling that causes the story to jump from place to place without any real time to dwell on any single story element.  Combined with the strange decision to tie this issue in with an issue of Superman published twenty years previously, this whole second chapter of World of Krypton seems a bit confusing.  It's not BAD, mind you.  It's just a little hard for me to get into.



Now HERE'S the winner!  What a glorious comic book cover!  I'm not even a Superman fan and I absolutely LOVE this cover!  The colors, the composition, the. . .everything! There's not a single thing I don't like about this piece of comic art.  It was worth buying this set of comics for this cover alone!
Continuing from the previous issue, we follow Jor-El shortly after Jax-Ur is sentenced to the Phantom Zone for destroying Krypton's moon, Wegthor.  Because of the destruction, the Science Council votes to ban all further space travel and rocket research, despite the protests of Jor-El.
Unable to convince the Science Council of the need to evacuate the planet, Jor-El continues his research on his own, knowing that he will be condemned to the Phantom Zone if caught.  Suspecting Jor-El of disobeying their command, the Science Council secretly assigns an agent to follow and watch him.
Jor-El discovers a large piece of debris from the destroyed alien ship (from issue #2) orbiting Krypton and calculates it will land in the Scarlet Jungle.  He suspects it is the remains of the ship's engine.  As he waits for it to crash so he can retrieve the technology, Jor-El continues his rocket research, not suspecting that the Council's Agent, Par-Es is watching.
When the debris from the alien ship finally crash lands, Jor-El travels to the Scarlet Jungle.  Realizing he's being followed, he subdues Par-Es using his anti-gravity belt (that he invented in issue #1) and brings the wreckage back to his lab.
As earthquakes rock Krypton, Jor-El works to the point of exhaustion trying to build at least one working rocket to evacuate his wife and son from the doomed planet.  Unknown to him, he has contracted Scarlet Jungle Fever, which makes him weak and unable to resist the mental commands of a group of Krypton's worst criminals (including General Zod) plotting to escape the Phantom Zone.
Realizing something is wrong with her husband, Lara foils the escape plot and helps Jor-El recover from the fever.  He wastes no time in continuing to build a rocket, and finally manages to complete his work as the earthquakes wracking the planet cause the city to crumble around him.
Jor-El puts his son into the rocket, but Lara refuses to go with him. . .preferring to die with her husband and trusting that their son will thrive on his new homeworld of Earth.  As the rocket with baby Kal-El launches into space, the planet explodes behind him!
In the end, we witness baby Kal-El being found by the Kents in Kansas and we return to the present day, where Superman vows never to forget Jor-El and Lara, or the destroyed world of Krypton.
The End.
Okay then.  Finally we get to the meat of the story. . .the destruction of Krypton.  This issue is a little more tightly-focused than the other two.  There are still some seemingly random plot threads thrown in (the attempted Phantom Zone escape comes directly to mind) that look like they're there to pad the length out and add a little action to the story, but not nearly as many as in previous issues.
Because of the tighter focus and relative lack of digressions, this issue is probably the best of the bunch, story-wise.  It's a relentless countdown from the Science Council outlawing space research to the explosion of Krypton, shown to the reader in a single glorious splash page. . .

The actual ending of the story, with baby Kal-El being found and Superman reflecting on his parents' lives, seems a bit rushed.  But then again, what should I expect after a dramatic countdown to a planetary explosion?
Overall, I enjoyed this issue a lot.  Where the first two seemed a bit overwhelming as they piled on information and story digressions, this issue was tighter and more focused, delivering a page-turner of a story that kept me invested even though I already knew the ending.


While doing a bit of basic research to try and ease my confusion over Superman himself playing a supporting role in issue #2 of this series, I discovered that MOST of this series is actually supposed to tie together a series of 27 "Fabulous World of Krypton" back-up features that had appeared in Superman comics during the 70's.  This explains why seemingly random story digressions kept appearing throughout.  
I also learned that the overall story was originally supposed to appear in DC's "Showcase" series as part of the lead-in to the Superman movie in 1978.  But then the movie was delayed and Showcase was cancelled before that could happen, leading to this interesting experiment by DC to build a coherent continuity to Superman's past becoming the very first comic book limited series.
Knowing that this whole affair was actually built from barely-related story elements written over the course of about twenty years gave me a new perspective on things.  Where I did see it as a bit of a mess, but still a sort of fun read.  I now see it as a valiant attempt to make one story out of many, with the explosion of Krypton the established ending.
Even knowing the story behind the story, I'm still not sure they entirely succeeded.  I called the first issue a "Dagwood Sandwich" because of all the story points stacked inside a single comic.  I'm thinking that, reading this with the benefit of 40 years' worth of hindsight, the editors might have done the writer a disservice by trying to cram EVERYTHING that had been written about Krypton up to that point into a three issue story.  
The final issue sort of bears this out with its tighter focus on the inevitable end of Krypton.  If the writer had maintained that focus through the whole series instead of having to diverge to things like the tale of Krypton's automated Marriage Computer somehow developing feelings for Superman's mother (from issue #1, for one example), this strange little piece of comic book history MIGHT not be relegated to the bargain bin because the story would be a lot more readable than it is.
As it stands, World of Krypton (mostly the first two issues) is just overstuffed to the point that it's bursting with things that don't move the actual story along.  Don't get me wrong. . .it's not BAD.  It's actually well-written and the art is interesting, but the story jumps from place to place as it tries to incorporate story elements from almost 30 different sources.
At the end of the day, not being much of a Superman fan, I found this series to be interesting more for the story behind the story than the actual story at hand.  If you are a Superman fan and are interested in "Pre-Crisis" Superman continuity, you'll probably get more mileage out of the actual story itself than I did.  
I'd say that just for its place in comic book history as the first limited series, World of Krypton deserves to be read at least once.  If you spot it in the bargain bin, go ahead and give it a look.
Up Next. . .
It's July!  I'm a bit late off the starting line, but how about some Captain America?
Be there or be square!

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

Every now and then here at Longbox Junk, I like to delve a bit into the corners of my collection that aren't so. . .well. . .Longbox Junk-y.  Those comics I own that are a little older and "worth" a little more to collectors than most of the bargain bin finds that are the meat and potatoes of this blog.
Case in point:  Avengers #58 from 1968.  It's regarded as a minor "Key" comic because it's the second appearance (and origin) of The Vision.  According to various sources it's "worth" a bit north or south of $200 in the condition mine is in (which is really good, considering where I got it from).  So it's not the most "valuable" comic in my collection, but it ain't nothing, either.
I paid five whole bucks for my copy at an antique shop, where it was hiding unbagged and forgotten among a stack of old Archie and Richie Rich comics, so how 'bout dat?  
The Longbox Junk price I paid for this comic just goes to show that there ARE still great old comics to be found out in the wild, and not just at the click of a mouse on the internet.  Finding this one was a very nice surprise, and really made my day.
Every now and then I delve into those corners of my collection that hold the older and more "valuable" comics, and this is one of those times!  Step this way to the Longbox Junk paper time machine, if you please. These goggles are for your safety.  Make sure to fasten your seat belts securely.
*Lowers ridiculous steampunk goggles and takes hold of gigantic lever with both hands*
Everyone ready?  Let's do this!
*Pulls giant lever. . .the number "1968" flashes on a screen above*
And here we are! 1968. . .right in the middle of the "Mighty Marvel" era of comics!  Please remove your goggles and watch your step as you exit the Longbox Junk paper time machine.  To our left is Avengers Headquarters, where the call has gone out for Earth's mightiest heroes to assemble and ponder the possibility of adding a mysterious new member to their ranks.  
Follow me, please, and let's listen in. . .




SCRIPT: Roy Thomas
PENCILS: John Buscema
INKS: George Klein
COVER: John Buscema
By the beard of Odin! Are there any among us who will deny the greatness of this John Buscema masterpiece? I SAY THEE NAY! The stark white (well, sorta cream-colored on my copy) background perfectly frames the colorful assemblage of Avengers!  It's an almost perfect example of what makes up a classic "Team Shot" comic book cover.  When it comes to old-school superhero comic covers, it doesn't get much better than something like this, in my humble opinion.  Let's get inside!
We begin our tale with a fantastic splash/title page featuring Black Panther answering an "Avengers Assemble" summons and making his way to Avengers Headquarters.  There's several great splash pages in this issue and you can bet I'm going to feature them all in this review!  This one reminds me of Eisner's Spirit title pages. . .

Panther is sort of new to the Avengers (he hasn't even met Iron Man or Thor yet) so he's surprised to find a room packed full of Earth's Mightiest Heroes (and we get a great half-page mini-splash group shot).  He's even more surprised to find The Vision among them, because the last Panther heard, Vision was fighting AGAINST the Avengers.

Vision informs Black Panther that he's there because he wants to join the Avengers.  Henry Pym (AKA Goliath) gathered the Avengers together to consider the strange request.  Panther is on board with Vision joining up, but Iron Man and Thor are hesitant.  Membership in the Avengers is a privilege not to be taken lightly and they know little about Vision's powers and nothing about his origin.  Captain America decides to put Vision to the test by attacking the mysterious android. . .

As several of the Avengers attack Vision, he easily defeats them without harming anyone by using his fantastic strength and power to alter his body structure from insubstantial to super-dense.  The battle ends before it gets out of hand by Goliath telling everyone that Cap had attacked in order to give a demonstration of Vision's powers.  The Avengers all agree that Vision is definitely a heavy hitter, but are still reluctant to let him join without learning more about his background.
Thor calls the meeting to order for a formal vote by reading the Avenger's scroll of membership and briefly describing the honor and distinction becoming a member of the Avengers brings to an individual. . .and in doing so, we get yet another fantastic group shot splash page!  Yeah, I know.  This review is a little more picture-heavy than usual, but just LOOK at that Buscema art!
Realizing that the Avengers need more information about his origin, Vision struggles to remember, and then with a mighty push of willpower, he manages to break through a mental block and he clearly remembers the moment of his awakening by his "Master", Ultron 5!
Ultron teaches Vision about his powers and that he has been created for one purpose. . .to destroy the Avengers!  Vision struggles against Ultron's commands, but his newly-created will is no match for that of the malevolent machine that has created him.
Even though Vision has remembered more of his origin, there is still some mystery surrounding him.  Henry Pym (AKA Goliath) remembers working on a similar sort of android, but is frustrated because he can't remember.  Thinking maybe he has the same kind of mental block that was preventing Vision from remembering his past, the Avengers decide to investigate Pym's abandoned laboratory and try to learn more.
At Pym's lab, he finds a memory recording machine and using it, he remembers that it was HE who created Ultron!  At first, Ultron was merely a crude robot, but it quickly learned and transformed into an intelligent mechanical terror!

Ultron attacked its creator, taking Pym by surprise and easily defeating him.  The evil robot then erased Pym's memory of the incident by using his own memory recorder on him.
As the Avengers further investigate Pym's abandoned lab, he realizes that there is a missing memory tape of Wonder Man (AKA Simon Williams).  We then get a recounting of the Avenger's earlier run-in with Wonder Man, who was secretly working with Baron Zemo when he enlisted the help of the Avengers to help him find a cure for the deadly disease he was dying of.  
Turning on his new allies, Wonder Man was able to defeat the Avengers before learning that Zemo planned on murdering them.  He then turned against Zemo and freed the Avengers, helping them to defeat Zemo's team of villains.

Unfortunately, his turning against Zemo sealed his fate.  Zemo had the only cure to Wonder Man's disease.  Knowing he was dying, the Avengers rushed him to Henry Pym's lab and made a recording of his brain patterns before he died.
Vision is shocked by the realization that his brain is actually the stolen pattern of Wonder Man!  The mystery of Vision's origin now mostly solved, the Avengers return to their headquarters to finally determine if Vision is worthy to join them.

After a short meeting, Goliath delivers the good news to Vision. . .he has been found worthy to join Earth's Mightiest Heroes!  As the other Avengers welcome the android onto the team, he remains stoic before asking for a moment to himself.
And as Vision cries with happiness out of the sight of his new comrades, the reader learns that the artificial being has more humanity in him than he is letting on, and there are still mysteries surrounding The Vision.
The End. . .
Part of the fun of doing these "Retro Reviews" is learning a bit about the comic at hand and increasing my general knowledge of the wonderful world of comic books.  So bear with me a bit.
A little research tells me that there was an editorial edict at the time preventing Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor from being regular characters in The Avengers, due to them headlining their own titles. Because of this, the appearance of the three heroes together in this issue was a bit of a special event.
Because the three heaviest hitters in the Avengers couldn't really be IN the Avengers on a regular basis, The Vision was the first character created specifically to be a member of the Avengers instead of appearing elsewhere and then joining up.  So there's a pretty interesting story behind the story to be found here, if you feel like looking into  it.
But enough of that.
Look, I'm gonna be honest here and admit that, comics or movies, Vision is my LEAST favorite Avenger.  I guess he just seems like a bit too much of a stretch for my comic book suspension of disbelief. Once I realized that this issue was going to be centered around the origin of The Vision, I almost didn't even want to read it.  But then there was that great John Buscema artwork waving me in and asking me to give this a fair chance. . .if only for some great pictures.
And guess what?  I found myself liking this story a LOT more than I thought I would.  
Okay, I'll admit that Vision's origin IS pretty convoluted (and it gets worse going forward through the years), especially the part about Wonder Man.  That just sort of came in out of nowhere, and reads almost like something that was thrown in at the last minute. . .but even that was sort of interesting in how they tied in a minor character from years before into the introduction of Marvel's new heavy hitter Avenger.
But convoluted origin aside, I found this story to be well-written and engaging.  It's told in an unusual manner, with no "villain of the month" to be found except in flashback, and delivering (what must have been pretty shocking at the time) several surprise revelations.  
A story like this would take twelve or more issues to tell these days, but the compressed storytelling of Roy Thomas gives the reader basically FOUR short stories in ONE issue!  Thomas doesn't waste a single word from cover to cover on this one.  It's amazing to me that so much story can be packed into so few pages.
And then there's the art.
That fantastic John Buscema cover drew me in, and his wonderful superhero art kept me in to the last page.  Every panel on every page of this comic is simply a joy to look at to begin with, and THEN Buscema threw in several awesome splash pages that you just want to keep turning back to!  Simply put, the art in this issue is classic.  It's colorful, it's expressive, it's everything I could have ever asked for in a superhero comic.


It's sad to say, but a lot of older comics seem to not have much effort put into them.  It's pretty clear to see that they were written for kids and meant to be disposable.  This is not the case with Avengers #58.
From the amazing cover to the final splash page of Vision hiding his emotions from his new teammates, you can see that Roy Thomas and John Buscema were creating something that they KNEW would stand the test of time. . .something that could still bring joy to a comic reader in the far off future year of 2021.
Up Next. . .
Back to the bargain bins!
May is Star Wars month, so how something from that galaxy far, far away?
Be there or be square!

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

It's been a while.  How about we crank up the paper time machine and take a little trip back in time for a Longbox Junk Retro Review?  Ready? 
*Puts on ridiculous steampunk goggles*
LET'S DO THIS! *Pulls gigantic lever*
And here we are. . .1966!  Watch your step when exiting the cabin.  
We've come to the sixties to take a look at the single issue Gold Key put out featuring a character called G-8 and his sidekicks, The Battle Aces.  I bought this comic as part of an auction lot several years ago and have absolutely no idea who G-8 is. . .but part of the fun of doing these Longbox Junk Retro Reviews is being able to educate myself a little bit through these older comics in my collection, and then passing that along.  So bear with me for a moment.
A bit of research shows me that G-8 is a character hailing from the pulp fiction era, with 110 (!) books featuring the character written by Robert J. Hogan between 1933 and 1944. . .meaning he wrote a full book roughly every month for ten years straight!  I can barely manage to get a blog post out every week, so I stand and give the man a round of well-deserved applause!
G-8 himself is an American adventurer, spy, and aviator operating in the thick of World War I.  There's not much representation of WWI in comics. . .the only thing that jumps to mind are the "Enemy Ace" stories. . .so the setting is definitely an interesting choice.  
G-8 seems to have been fairly popular, but without the staying power of pop culture stalwarts such as The Shadow, Green Hornet, Tarzan, Zorro, and The Lone Ranger. . .characters also hailing from the same period.  I'd say he's more on the level of a Doc Savage, The Spider, or The Avenger. . .pulp fiction characters that were very popular in their time, but faded from view as the years went by.
One of the interesting things about G-8 is that through all the stories written about him, his true identity was never revealed!  He was always just G-8.  I'm not sure if there's any other character that I know of that can claim the same thing.  So I give a nod of appreciation toward Robert J. Hogan for keeping the mystery going for so long.
I'm not sure exactly WHY this comic exists.  It seems a bit of a strange bird.  It doesn't adapt any of the published G-8 stories, and even though it was written 20 years after the last G-8 novel, it seems to assume that the reader knows everything about the character already.  
That tone of assumption is sort of interesting and makes me wonder where the demand for this story came from.  It doesn't look like any of the original stories were reprinted until the 1970's, when Doc Savage reprints started fueling a resurgence of interest in pulp fiction, so it's a bit of a mystery to me how this obscure character was even in mind for a comic book.  Maybe someone on the editorial staff was a fan of the G-8 stories when they were younger.
Enough of that.  Let's take a look at this comic and see what's going on.


GOLD KEY (1966)

SCRIPT: Leo Dorfman
PENCILS: George Evans
INKS: Mike Peppe
COVER: ??? (George Wilson)
There's no information out there on who painted this cover, but I'm going to hazard a guess of prolific Gold Key artist George Wilson, based on the resemblance of the main character to Wilson's version of Tarzan (and Korak, Son of Tarzan).  Wilson was also sort of fond of using dark orange as a background color.  So I'm fairly confident in my guess on this.  It's not exactly a burning question demanding an answer, but feel free to correct me if you have information otherwise. 
The cover itself is a glorious example of Gold Key's trademark painted covers.  I love the orange background, and the explosions are EPIC!  This is a cover packed full of motion and action brought to life by the painter.  It's not my favorite Gold Key cover (I'd say the King Kong one-shot from 1968 is my favorite I've seen so far), but it's definitely a great piece of eye-catching art.  Let's get inside and see what this is all about!
We begin our tale during World War I, deep behind the German lines, as G-8 parachutes through the darkness after his plane is shot from the sky. . .

Disguising himself as a woodcutter, G-8 makes his way to the German field headquarters at Feldhausen.  His mission: to gain solid information regarding rumors of a massive German offensive.
Once inside the base, G-8 trails a German Lieutenant he overhears saying that he works in the planning department.  At the Lieutenant's house, G-8 knocks him out and then skillfully disguises himself as the German.
The next morning, G-8, in disguise, goes to the planning department. He quickly discovers that he's too late and the plans for the offensive are already being delivered to the front lines!
G-8 quickly pursues the German messengers in a stolen car.  He runs them off the road and steals the secret battle plans.  As he reviews them at a nearby inn, G-8 is baffled by a missing piece of information.  The plans call for a massive attack carried out by dozens of units. They are to strike after something first occurs. . .but that something is not described.
After making copies, G-8 heads to the front lines to deliver the plans to their original destination, to avoid suspicion.  While he is there, the allies attack.  G-8 uses the artillery fire as a distraction so that he can leave the German trenches and make his way across the dangerous stretch of no man's land in order to deliver the battle plans to the allied command.
Once across friendly lines, G-8 returns to his home base at Le Bourget Airfield, where he is reunited with his "Battle Aces" comrades. . .wingmen Nippy and Bull, and his manservant, Battle.  Reporting to Chief of Staff General Frazier, G-8 discusses the stolen battle plans and his concern over the missing information.  
Over G-8's protests, General Frazier decides to attack before dawn on the day of the planned German offensive, hoping to take them by surprise.  He orders G-8 and his men to take part in the attack.

The next morning, G-8 receives a frantic message from General Frazier.  It seems that G-8's fears of the missing information being part of some sort of German secret weapon have come true.  The allies are under attack and being decimated by an unknown force!
G-8 and his wingmen rush to the scene to find the allies in disarray as German forces move in to take over their abandoned positions.  G-8, Nippy, and Bull dive in on the attack!
A fierce battle against German fighter planes leads to G-8 being shot down over no man's land.  After making his way back to friendly lines, G-8 visits the field hospital in search of information about the attack. 
He discovers from terrified survivors that the weapon threw off showers of sparks and made a weird howling sound before massive explosions caused panic along the allied forces.

Wanting to learn more about the strange German weapon, G-8 once again disguises himself as a German soldier and infiltrates the units at the abandoned allied positions.  While there, he discovers a clue. . .a piece of metal in a bomb crater marked with the name of a manufacturing plant in the town of Steussel, behind enemy lines.
After evading suspicious German officers and killing a guard, G-8 escapes the German trenches and begins making his way toward Steussel to investigate the new information.
Once at Steussel, G-8 infiltrates the Rouse factory and witnesses trucks being loaded with crates of tiny aircraft engines.  Not sure what to make of it, he dodges guards and goes deeper. . .not realizing that the front lines have called the German Intelligence Director about a possible saboteur who killed a soldier on the front line and that might be headed toward Steussel.

G-8's companions, Nippy and Bull are flying patrol when they spot a German Fokker.  After shooting it down, the dying pilot deliriously mumbles directions.  Nippy and Bull quickly realize that they have just been given the information that G-8 is risking his life behind enemy lines trying to gain. . .the location of the German secret weapon!

Back at Stuessel, G-8 has taken over a truck, disguised himself as the driver, and is following a convoy of vehicles that he believes is heading for the location of the German secret weapon.
Overhead, Nippy and Bull, flying a captured German plane that had been stored at their airfield, are headed toward the same destination.

As G-8 follows the convoy, they arrive at a hidden mountain valley with a base carved into the cliffs.  G-8 finally spots the German secret weapon. . .a gigantic zeppelin, but also having the wings of a heavier than air craft, all done up to look like a huge eagle!

As G-8 investigates the huge hangar containing the hybrid zeppelin bomber, he discovers that the miniature engines are being fitted onto bombs to make a kind of guided missile.  He also discovers his wingman Nippy in disguise as a German officer.  
Nippy leads G-8 to where he and Bull have hidden their captured German plane and the three of them form a plan. . .attack with the German plane and drop down onto the zeppelin during the confusion and take it over, then use it and the guided bombs to attack the German front lines after destroying the base.

The plan to capture the hybrid zeppelin and destroy the hidden base goes as planned, with the bomber raining complete destruction down on the Germans, but before they can turn the weapon on to the front lines, a stray shot ignites the hydrogen gas.

Nippy and Bull manage to escape before the gigantic bomber explodes.  Afterward, as they survey the wreckage and consider the devastating guided bombs, G-8 knows that the Germans aren't done with their diabolical schemes, and this is just the beginning.

The End.
Hmmmm. . .okay.  Not bad.  Not great, mind you, but not too bad. 
What we have here is a decent little war story that remains very readable even 55 years later and me coming in with very little information on the main characters (just what was in a Wikipedia article).  
G-8 is an interesting character that reads like a WWI James Bond as he dons disguises, infiltrates the enemy, and makes narrow escapes by using misdirection and his own considerable wit.  Throw in some aerial combat in rickety WWI biplanes and you have a pretty exciting war story in an interesting setting.
Unfortunately, no comic is perfect and this comic is no exception.
While the main meat of the story is good, there are a couple of elements that fall flat.  The objective of G-8's efforts. . .the German secret weapon. . .is the worst offender.  There doesn't seem to be a clear reason as to why their gigantic hybrid airplane/airship has to be done up like an eagle.  It just seems silly and doesn't make sense except as a visual cue that the Germans are insane.  And really, it just seems like putting a hat on a hat when you consider that the rocket-powered bombs are the ACTUAL secret weapon.
The tone of assumption that the reader already knows everything about the character (that I mentioned above in the introduction) is the second most obvious stumbling block keeping this story at the level of "Pretty Good".  The comic reads less like something meant to introduce and interest readers in a new character and more like an issue of a comic in the middle of a long-running series.  There ARE small bits of exposition scattered here and there, but no more than a few sentences of it before heading back into the story.
That said, even with those two major missteps, the writing is good.  The dialogue is snappy.  The story moves along at a brisk pace from scene to scene.  It's not a bad little story at all. . .it just could have been better with a bit more attention from the editor.
On the art side of things. . .
It's a sad fact that although Gold Key had some of the greatest covers in comic history, the interior art can never come close to what is promised on the front.  This comic is no exception.
That said, the art in this comic is actually better than what's to be found in many Gold Key comics.  It follows a rigid and unimaginative panel structure, but the art itself is dark and moody.  Nicely-inked and surprisingly well-colored where a lot of Gold Key comics can be a bit sloppy and heavy-handed on the colors.  The scenes of aerial combat are particularly well-done.  It's not the best comic art I've ever seen, but it tells the story well without distracting from it. . .for the most part.
There IS one strange thing about the art that caught my eye and brought me out of the story a bit wherever it popped up.  If you scroll up and look at the scanned pages above, take note of the German helmets.  They look oddly different. . .like they were added later, possibly by the inker.  They just don't look right.
Other than the strange German helmets, the art in this comic is pretty solid.  


Overall, G-8 and His Battle Aces is a pretty good war story with an unusual WWI setting and featuring a main character that makes his way through the tale with an interesting mix of disguise, deception, and wit.
Assuming the reader knows everything about G-8 coming into the tale, as well as some pretty ridiculous visuals on the German secret weapon that is the main narrative drive, keep the story down at the level of "Pretty Good". But even with those couple of stumbles, this is still a decent read.
I got this comic as a random part of a comic lot at an estate sale auction, but I see that there are copies to be found for sale online for around twenty bucks.  If you are a fan of war comics and want something a little on the unusual side, then definitely keep an eye out for G-8 and His Battle Aces.
Up Next. . .
I don't think I'm quite done with one-shots yet. 
Let's take a look at another handful, shall we?  We shall!
Be there or be square.

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

It's almost Halloween!  That special time of year when kids taking candy from strangers is actually encouraged!  Here at Longbox Junk, we've been handing out all sorts of Halloween treats. . .a lot of candy corn to be sure, but there's been a few full-sized Snickers bars in there too.
Unfortunately, the Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review party is almost over.  Just this last one to go.  I think I did pretty good this year.  This post is #15. . .one more than my Halloween Horror comic spree last year, so there's that.
But enough of that!
On to the comic at hand.  We're heading back to the Bronze Age for a look at a comic absolutely STUFFED full of legendary comic talent.  Just LOOK at the credits below!  Bernie Wrightson, Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, and more. . .All in ONE comic!  How can this NOT be good?
Let's dig in!


MARVEL (1970)


COVER: Bernie Wrightson
Bernie Wrightson is rightfully regarded as a legendary comic talent, and a cover like this tells me why.  It's not the greatest cover I've seen from him (My personal favorite is Swamp Thing #9), but it's still a really good cover.  It has an awesome, dynamic style that gives the figures a sense of movement and life that is so recognizably Wrightson that you don't even need to see his signature on it.  A Bernie Wrightson cover is a great start to ANY comic!
Four stories in this one.  Two of them reprints from ten years earlier.  I look at the credits here and find it hard to believe all these great names are under the cover of a single random Bronze Age "horror" comic!  Let's check these stories out. . .
SCRIPT: Roy Thomas & Bernie (Berni) Wrightson
PENCILS: Bernie (Berni) Wrightson
INKS: Bernie (Berni) Wrightson
After a series of grisly murders, an old craftsman known for sculpting gargoyles and other strange monstrosities comes under suspicion.  During a search of his workshop, the constable find nothing, but two townfolk discover a solid gold gargoyle hidden in a back room.  
They return later, and over the desperate pleas of the old man they have subdued and tied up, the two of them dismember and melt down the golden gargoyle.  But when the clock strikes midnight, the old man transforms into a terrifying creature.  As it closes in on the two thieves, it tells them that the golden gargoyle was the only thing keeping him from killing more people!
A great start!  It's a tale following the well worn path of "Greedy fools get what's coming to them", but the writing is engaging and lively.  What REALLY makes this story great is the fantastic artwork by Bernie Wrightson. . .who even puts himself in the story as narrator (see the splash page above).  There's a reason Wrightson is regarded as a legendary comic talent, and it's very plain to see why here.  The detailed, yet exaggerated and darkly inked figures with expressive faces almost seem to move across the page with a life of their own.  Every panel is worth lingering over for an extra moment or two.
BONUS:  A little research shows me that this is Bernie Wrightson's first work for Marvel!
We're off to a great start. . .NEXT!
(Reprinted from Tales to Astonish #11 - 1960)
SCRIPT: Stan Lee (?)
PENCILS: Steve Ditko
INKS: Steve Ditko
A renowned mask maker uses ancient books to mold his greatest creation, the Mask of Drothor, replicating the face of a legendary sorcerer despite warnings of a curse on any who try to do so.
Realizing that he has made a mask so lifelike that it actually resembles a human face down to its finest detail, the mask maker decides to use it to get rich by robbing wealthy clients.  
During his first robbery, he trips an alarm and is forced to flee the police.  He returns to his shop and tries to remove the mask, but to his horror, he discovers that his own face beneath has taken on the appearance of Drothor.  Unable to disguise himself again, the police catch up and arrest him.
Okay. . .not a bad story.  It follows the paths of "Greedy fools get what's coming to them" AND "Fool ignores the ancient curse". But like the first offering in this issue, although the story is well done and engaging, the real appeal here for me was the fantastic art. . .this time courtesy of Steve Ditko.
Honestly, I've never really been a fan of Ditko, but delving into some of these older comics in my collection has slowly been changing my mind.  Where I find a lot of his art to be a bit basic (yes, I'm talking about Spider-Man, please don't hurt me), I've seen other examples of his art that show me exactly why Ditko is considered a comic legend.  
This little story is a fine example of some great Ditko art that I've seen.  It's dark, fluid, exaggerated, yet lifelike.  There's a great sense of movement and action to the characters.  Ditko's art here elevates an otherwise pretty average story.

SCRIPT: Tom Sutton
PENCILS: Tom Sutton
INKS: Tom Sutton
A mad scientist brings to life his greatest achievement. . .a supremely intelligent creature, impervious to disease, injury, and age. . .presumably immortal.  As the scientist rages with glee that he finally has the means to conquer his enemies and all mankind, his creation turns on him.  If the creature is indeed superior, then he has no need for a master!
This great little twist on Frankenstein takes up only two pages, but Tom Sutton manages to give us a complete and compelling story in a very small space!  I've gone on a bit about the comic legends to be found in this issue like Bernie Wrightson and Steve Ditko, but in my extremely humble opinion, Sutton is a bit of an overlooked legend in his own right. 
He's possibly not as well known as the others to the general comic audience because he worked less with superheroes (except the more supernatural ones like Vampirella,  Ghost Rider and Werewolf by Night).  But his art has a frantic, cartoony and vibrant style that brings dynamic life to his characters.  It's a style I really enjoy and this is a fine little example of it.

(Reprinted from Tales to Astonish #13 - 1960)
SCRIPT: Stan Lee (?) & Larry Lieber (?)
PENCILS: Jack Kirby
INKS: Steve Ditko
A criminal called "Big Carl" Hanson steals what is supposedly a genuine photo of the Abominable Snowman.  Deciding that he can make more money off of actually capturing the creature than just off the photo, Hanson heads to the Himalayan mountains.
As he begins his search for the creature, Hanson is repeatedly warned that the picture is cursed, but he ignores the warnings as superstition.  Eventually, nobody will come near him and he has to continue his search alone.
As he heads higher and higher into to mountains and his supplies run out, Hanson slowly turns more and more savage until he is little more than a wandering beast himself.  He has become the Abominable Snowman.
Yet ANOTHER story following the "Greedy fools get what's coming to them", but with some "Don't ignore the natives" thrown in. . .officially making this entire comic about the follies of greed, with four out of four stories following the same lines.
That aside, this is actually another well written and engaging story that I really enjoyed.  But like the other stories in this issue, what makes this little tale sparkle is the fantastic artwork. . .this time courtesy of comic legends Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.
I think this might possibly be the first time I've ever seen non-superhero work from Jack Kirby, and I have to say that I liked it a lot!  Maybe it's Ditko's inks here, but this little random story really grabbed me, where a lot of his superhero work doesn't (I know. . .I know! Please don't hurt me!) 
I wouldn't mind seeing more of Kirby's non-superhero work, based only on the strength of what I'm seeing here.  Overall, this was a great finish to this comic!


Just looking at the credits on this one, I KNEW it was going to be good, which is why I saved it for last.  My prediction turned out to be true.  Story for story, page for page, and panel for panel, this comic was probably my favorite of the entire Halloweeen Retro Review bunch!  
There is so much great talent on display here, that I am happy that this comic even exists.  The stories are all very nicely done and engaging, but what really shines here is all the great art to be found!  Every page in this comic is a feast for the eyes.
If you're looking for a single comic absolutely PACKED with legendary comic talent, then this is what you're looking for.  The actual issue in good shape is a bit pricey, but I found mine in decent condition in a back issue bin for ten bucks, so they're out there.  If not, then it's been reprinted in a couple of different collections as well.  
WELL. . .
That's it for the Longbox Junk Halloween Retro Review Party for this year.  I hope you had as much fun as I did checking out a some of the older and/or more "valuable" comics with a supernatural twist in my collection!
So what's next, you ask?
With all due respect to the fine and friendly folk of Old Guys Who Like Old Comics, I think I've spent enough time on the other side of 1986 for now. It's time to get back into the dollar boxes and some actual Longbox Junk!
Something I haven't done in a while that is one of the unique things I do here at Longbox Junk is reviewing an entire series from first issue to last.  I think that's what I'll do next.  But which one?
So many to choose from! Suggestions are welcome.
In any case, I'll figure it out.
Be there or be square!

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