Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hostess Fruit Pies Ad: The Hungry Battleaxe!

Hostess ran a series of ads featuring Marvel characters in comics throughout the 1970s and early 1980s that decades later I still indelibly associate with Cupcakes, Fruit Pies and Twinkies. Marvel comics dated March 1980 featured Iron Man in The Hungry Battleaxe! in which the Avenger fights an armored villain bent on stealing uranium from a depository. Iron Man surmises that Battleaxe is hungry and throws him a bunch of Hostess Fruit Pies, distracting the villain from his felonious pursuit. The ad bears no signatures, but the art is attributed to Al Milgrom and Frank Giacoia with letters by Irving Watanabe.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Grand Comics Database

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

X-Mail Letters Page (March 1980)

The X-Mail letters page in Uncanny X-Men #131 has a letter from one David Stallman that balances effusive praise with insightful commentary and really hammers home the fact that what Chris Claremont and John Byrne were doing on the title was truly remarkable at this point in time. Of note, David Stallman observes that Magneto's wife Magda bears a strong resemblance to the Scarlet Witch, guessing that she may be her mother years before it was revealed as fact.

The editorial response to Stallman's note lays out tantalizing hints of what else to expect in 1980, including the return of Alpha Flight, Juggernaut, Black Tom, Arcade and the Sentinels. There is also a mention of a last Sauron story by Chris Claremont and Michael Golden set in the Savage Land that would eventually see print with the March 1982 launch of Marvel Fanfare. In the days before Marvel Age, the previews in Marvel's monthly letters columns were always welcome windows into what was to come.

A statement of circulation dated October 1, 1979 appears in this month's Uncanny X-Men letters column, showing average paid circulation over the preceding 12 months of 167,641 issues. The prior statement of circulation dated September 25, 1978 appeared in Uncanny X-Men #120 and showed average paid circulation over the preceding 12 months of 113,377 issues. The October 1, 1979 figures represent an increase of average paid circulation of 54,264 issues or 47.9%.  The Claremont-Byrne magic was clearly working to improve sales, so it will be interesting to see the sales figures for 1980 after the Dark Phoenix Saga.

Source: Kraalo Archives

Uncanny X-Men #131 Cover Art

John Byrne's cover to Uncanny X-Men #131 shows key moments from the issue with the White Queen superimposed over the top. A picture truly speaks a thousand words and Byrne grew increasingly adept at this type of montage during his definitive run on the X-Men. The pencils and inks of the original art really show the magic of the John Byrne-Terry Austin teamwork that was a hallmark of this incredible period in the X-Men's history.  The note in the right margin reads "Office, Put Logo Behind Head In Front Of Cloak, As Indicated Please."

Source: The Marvel Age of Comics

Monday, November 26, 2012

Uncanny X-Men #131 (March 1980)

Title: Run For Your Life!
Cover: John Byrne, Terry Austin
Co-Plotters: Chris Claremont, John Byrne
Script: Chris Claremont
Penciler: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Roger Stern
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: After narrowly escaping the Hellfire Club's troops, Kitty Pryde runs for her life in the streets of Chicago. The X-Men intervene and defeat the villains pursuing the young mutant, returning to the safety of their skyship along the banks of Lake Michigan only after they convince Kitty that they're actually the good guys. Cyclops and Phoenix interrogate their Hellfire Club prisoners and learn about the shadowy organization and its plot against them, prompting Phoenix to ponder her dreams in which she's living the life of an ancestor who is married to a lord of the club. Cyclops, Dazzler, Nightcrawler, Phoenix and Kitty Pryde develop a plan to rescue Colossus, Storm, Wolverine and Professor Xavier and set out for the White Queen’s base at Frost Enterprises. Kitty Pryde infiltrates the base and frees Wolverine with her phasing powers while Cyclops and Dazzler create a distraction for the guards outside. Phoenix interrupts the White Queen in midst of a mental interrogation of Storm and the two foes engage in a battle that culminates in the destruction of the complex with Phoenix emerging as the victor and the White Queen missing in action. The team returns Kitty Pryde home in their civilian disguises to her relieved and enraged parents, who remarkably turn very friendly after a bit of mental manipulation by Phoenix. The issue closes with Cyclops and Storm noting that such behavior is out of character and worrying that there is a dark side to Phoenix that may be out of control.

This issue is a great middle act to the Hellfire Club Saga and serves up fantastic foreshadowing for the Dark Phoenix Saga to come. A few notable items come to mind after re-reading this issue for this review. First, Emma Frost is portrayed as a truly evil and sadistic character, so it's hard to imagine that Claremont or Byrne ever imagined her reforming and joining the forces of good later in the X-Men series. "All they'll find when they reach this chamber is a mindless thing, human only in physical form -- you, Storm." Yikes! Second, this issue offers Wolverine's first lethal encounter with the Hellfire Club soldiers after one of them shoots Kitty Pryde with a blaster. "Sucker, you just made the biggest mistake of your life.  And the last.  Snikt!" Think that's bad for the Hellfire Club goons? Just wait until issue #133! Third, on a more cheerful note, we see early signs of Kitty Pryde's crush on Colossus. "Eh? Why is Kitty staring at me?" "Wow, Peter -- You saved us all.  That was neat!" "It was?" Overall a great issue that truly withstands the test of time.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thor #293 (March 1980)

Title: The Twilight of Some Gods!
Cover: Keith Pollard, Bob Layton
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Keith Pollard
Inker: Chic Stone
Colors: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Jim Shooter
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: After triumphing over Odin’s disembodied eye, the sentient creature promises the Thunder God the answers he has been seeking about his father’s treachery!  Trust us, true believers, Thor isn’t going to like what he hears!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tales To Astonish #4 (March 1980)

Title: Who Strikes for Atlantis?
Cover: John Buscema, Frank Giacoia
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Frank Giacoia
Letterer: Mac Duffy
Reprint Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: Tales to Astonish #4 reprints Sub-Mariner #4 (August 1968) in which Attuma attacks Atlantis and to his regret goes toe-to-toe with Prince Namor!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Friday, November 23, 2012

Star Wars #33 (March 1980)

Title: Saber Clash!
Cover: Carmine Infantino, Bob Wiacek
Writer: Archie Goodwin
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Gene Day
Colorist: Petra Goldberg
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Jim Shooter
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: Luke’s showdown in a lightsaber duel with Barron Tagge!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Wikia, Wookieepedia

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Spidey Super Stories #45 (March 1980)

Title: The Sunshine Machine
Writers: Jim Salicrup, Michael Siporin
Penciler: Winslow Mortimer
Inker: Ricardo Villamonte
Editor: Deborah November
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: Spidey and the Silver Surfer Battle Dr. Doom!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Comic Vine, Marvel Wikia

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Spider-Woman #24 (March 1980)


Title: Trapped -- In The Doomsday Room!
Cover: Bob Budiansky, Josef Rubinstein
Writer: Michael Fleischer
Penciler: Trevor Von Eedon
Inker: Mike Esposito
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: The Gamesman returns to trap Spider-Woman in the Doomsday Room!

Source: Kraalo Archives

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shogun Warriors #14 (March 1980)

Title: Should Heroes Fail…
Cover: Al Milgrom
Writer: Doug Moench
Penciler: Herb Trimpe
Inker: Mike Esposito
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Al Milgrom
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: The final showdown with Doctor Demonicus!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Wikia

Savage Sword of Conan #50 (March 1980)

Title: Swords Across the Alimane
Cover: Nestor Redondo
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Tony DeZuniga
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $1.25
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: The feature story in this magazine is Part Two of Marvel's adaptation of Conan The Liberator, a novel written by L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter featuring Robert E. Howard's seminal sword and sorcery hero. The story was first published in paperback by Bantam Books in February 1979.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Wikia

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Savage She-Hulk #2 (March 1980)

Title: Deathrace!!
Cover: John Buscema
Writer: David Anthony Kraft
Penciler: Mike Vosburg
Inker: Chic Stone
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Jim Shooter
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis:  Disaster strikes as the She-Hulk fights to prevent a tragedy!  A powerful story featuring the death of She-Hulk’s closest friend!

Source: Kraalo Archives

ROM #4 (March 1980)

Title: The Fire, The Friend, and The Foe!
Cover: Al Milgrom
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Sal Buscema
Colorist: Ben Sean
Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Joe Duffy
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: The Spaceknight fights Firefall, champion of the Dire Wraiths!

Source: Kraalo Archives

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Spectacular Spider-Man #40 (March 1980)

Title: The Terrible Turnabout!
Cover: Al Milgrom, Joe Rubinstein
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: Frank Springer
Inker: Ricardo Villamonte
Colors: Ben Sean
Letterer: Diana Albers
Editor: Al Milgrom
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: This, then, is the tragedy.  To begin as man…and end as monster! Spider-Man becomes the Spider-Lizard! Can Dr. Curtis Connors cure him and save Manhattan?

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Wikia

Micromails (March 1980)

The Micromails letters page in Micronauts #15 includes lots of love for the title plus a great house ad for Marvel's bi-monthly Doctor Strange comic.  Click on the image below to see a larger version of Micromails.

Source: Kraalo Archives

Micronauts #15 (March 1980)

Title: The Inside Job!
Cover: Michael Golden
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Layouts: Howard Chaykin
Finishes: Al Milgrom
Colors: Bob Sharen
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Al Milgrom
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: December 1979
Synopsis: The Fantastic Four guest star!  ‘Nuff said!

Source: Kraalo Archives

Monday, November 5, 2012

Master of Kung Fu #86 Cover Prelim Art

Artist Mike Zeck's web page is a treasure trove for fans of his definitive work on Marvel titles such as Captain America, Master of Kung Fu, The Punisher, Secret Wars and many more.  While his finished work is always incredible, it's  really interesting to see his rough sketch work like this prelim to the cover of Master of Kung Fu #86.

Source: Mike Zeck
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