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!
CASE IN POINT. . .
The comic at hand is part of a stack of six from this series that I recently bought at a yard sale for the sweet price of five lousy bucks apiece. Now THAT'S the kind of summertime Longbox Junkin' I'm talkin' about!
I already have an issue of Marvel's "Rampaging Hulk" Magazine in my collection that's in black and white, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that THESE Hulk Magazines are printed in full, glorious SUPER MARVEL-COLOR! Look! It even says so right there on the cover!
I did some checking, and thanks to the fine and friendly folk of the "Old Guys Who Like Old Comics" Facebook group, I learned that Marvel-Color was a process where the colored plates are shot from the colored artwork, making the artwork pop in a sharp and bright way that was rare at the time. All I know is that it REALLY looks good!
And not for nothin' but if you're looking for a comic book group second to none, go check out "Old Guys Who Like Old Comics" on Facebook. No, really. . .go. I'll wait.
ANYWAY. . .
Let's crank up the Longbox Junk time machine and head back to 1979 for a look inside this awesomely colored comic book magazine I found at a random yard sale, shall we? WE SHALL!
THE HULK MAGAZINE #14
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.
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.
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!
AND THEN. . .
We ALSO get an early Moon Knight tale from the classic Moon Knight team of Moench and Sienkiewicz! Even though it was the conclusion of a multi-part story and I wasn't able to read the whole thing, it hit me HARD with nostalgia for some old school Moon Knight.
The two together provided me with a very enjoyable reading experience! The stories both hold up well, even 43 years down the road. I can highly recommend this magazine to fans of the Hulk, Moon Knight, or both. Even if you aren't big fans of the characters, this issue is worth a look for the beautiful, sharp Bronze Age art alone. Every page is a feast for the eyes! Just LOOK at the scans above!
Overall, if you're a fan of the Hulk or Moon Knight, you WANT this magazine! I can't really think of anything to complain about beyond a bit of disappointment that the Moon Knight story wasn't complete. I give Hulk Magazine #14 the official Longbox Junk Gold Seal of Approval!
Up Next. . .
This has been a great year for comic hunting.
But no matter WHAT I throw down next. . .