Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays from The Marvel Project! Christmas is almost upon us and we're feeling the warm embrace of the holiday season while looking forward to the New Year. Many thanks to Chris Giarrusso who did an amazing job on this year’s holiday card with a full complement of Mini Marvel characters caroling while the devious Dr. Doom tries to interfere with a snowball assault!  Click below to view a larger version of the card.  Excelsior!


Monday, November 25, 2013

Dakota North #4 (December 1986)

Title: Busman’s Holiday!
Cover: Tony Salmons
Script: Martha Thomases
Art: Tony Salmons
Colors: Christie Scheele
Letters: John Morelli
Editor: Larry Hama
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75
Cover Date: December 1986
Release Date: August 1986
Synopsis:  Dakota runs franticly through the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris, desperately trying to get the attention of her younger brother Ricky before the Orient Express leaves the station. Onboard the train, Ricky sees Dakota, but can’t believe it’s her since he thinks his sister is still in New York.  In any case, he’s much more interested in his new friend Daisy and excited to ride the legendary Orient Express with her.  Daisy introduces Ricky to her fabulous friends and then takes him to the private car where they’ll staying.

Although she is an agent of Cleo Vanderlip and ostensibly supposed to be luring Ricky and his golden pen with the secret cache of nerve gas to the headquarters of their evil organization, Daisy is clearly falling for Ricky and reluctant to put him in harm’s way.  As she takes Ricky to their private car, which we learn is owned by Cleo’s friend Sheik Ibn Bheik, Daisy warns him about the new butler Pettishford and suggests that he keep his golden pen hidden. While the young couple settles in for chocolate malts aboard the Orient Express, Dakota phones back to the office to share what she’s learned about Cleo’s involvement in the plot.

Determined to win Dakota’s heart, Amos Culhane decides to fly to Europe to help her find Ricky and solve this mystery.  Oddly, when Amos goes home to pack, Cleo knocks on his door and volunteers to take care of his cat while he’s gone.  It’s a total non-sequitor, but far from the worst of the holes in the plot.  While Amos in en route to Europe, Dakota manages to beat the Orient Express to the station in Venice only to find that the train is missing ones of its cars.  What Dakota could not see from the station is that the car had retractable wheels and separated from the train in order to take the overland route to Grindelwald, Switzerland.

Amos arrives in Venice where tracks down a very grateful Dakota and he quickly puts his detective skills to work finding the missing boy. On board the land yacht, Daisy once again warns Ricky not to give the golden pen to anyone, igniting the fury of the butler, who is an agent of Sheik Ibn Bheik.  “You little tramp! You are going tell him everything!”  A scuffle ensues and the vehicle crashes while Pettishford is away from the wheel.  Ricky takes the opportunity to escape while Daisy stays behind.  Conveniently, the crash makes the papers the next day, so Dakota and Amos to head Grindelwald to find Ricky.

Daisy and Petishford are brought before Sheik Ibn Bheik, a sinister villain right out of central casting with a trained falcon that he unleashes on the poor butter as punishment for his failure.  The sheik decides to return Daisy to Cleo for punishment and sets his sights on tracking down Ricky and the lost pen with the nerve gas.  Setting out with a hunting party, he spots Ricky just as the boy is reunited with Dakota and Amos in the hills on the outskirts of Grindelwald.  Dakota manages to lure Sheik Ibn Bheik away so that Amos and Ricky and try to escape, but it’s all for naught as the three are all captured by the villain.

The issue ends with Dakota, Ricky and Amos tied up in chairs in Sheik Ibn Bheik’s castle in a scene that is remarkably similar to the one in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) in which Indy and his father are captured in Castle Brunwald.  It’s a fun cliff-hanger in what would turn out to be the penultimate issue of the Dakota North series. This issue includes the first letters page of the series entitled Fashion Statements.  To be concluded in Dakota North #5.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Dakota North #3 (October 1986)

Title: Active Tense
Cover: Tony Salmons
Script: Martha Thomases
Art: Tony Salmons
Colors: Christie Scheele
Letters: John Morelli
Editor: Larry Hama
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75
Cover Date: October 1986
Release Date: June 1986
Synopsis: Ricky and Daisy are enjoying their time together in Paris. At least Ricky is enjoying himself and Daisy is playing along as she carries out the mission that Cleo Vanderlip has given her to deliver Ricky and his golden pen containing hidden nerve gas to their secret headquarters. Back in New York, with her brother having gone missing at the end of issue #2, Dakota is furious with her father and for putting the boy in danger and storms off to cool herself down. Ricky and Daisy visit an old friend of S.J. North to borrow money, so he calls back to New York to check in and let Ricky’s father know that the boy is in Paris.

Dakota heads to JFK to take the next available flight to Paris while Cleo Vanderlip dispatches a hired assassin to prevent the detective from rescuing her brother and thwarting her sinister plans. While Dakota embarks on her flight to Paris, Ricky and Daisy go to the bank with Monsieur Beaumontain where the young North “borrows” money from his father’s safe deposit box after cleverly forging his signature. They then head out to a café for lunch where Beaumontain regales them with tales of fighting alongside S.J. North in the French Resistance movement during World War II.

While in-flight on the Concorde across the Atlantic, Cleo Vanderlip’s assassin ambushes Dakota. “I’m being strangled by a total stranger in an airplane lavatory! At least I know I’m not crazy.” The detective manages to fight off her assailant and kills him with a plastic knife that she had concealed in her boot.  Upon landing at Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris, Dakota is met by her assistant Yvon in an apparent homage to Tintin and Snowy while one of Cleo Vanderlip’s agents inquires about the now dead assassin in an nod to the very similar scene in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1985 Commando.

Ricky and Daisy ditch Monsieur Beaumontain at the restaurant, running off together just before Dakota arrives to meet them. Dakota learns from Beaumontain that Daisy knows about Ricky’s gold pen and realizes that she must be part of the plot. The next day, Daisy surprises Ricky with an envelope of money, a Walkman and train tickets on the Orient Express. She tell him that she has a modeling job that afternoon and that he should visit the Pompidou Museum while she’s gone and then meet her at the Gare De Lyon to take the train. “Oh, Ricky it’ll be so much fun to go together!”

We then learn that Daisy has sent Ricky on a direct path past Dakota’s apartment in an attempt to lure her out so that another assassin can make his move. The plan works almost perfectly as Dakota spots Ricky on the street and chases after him to the museum. The scenes that follow are comical as Dakota tried to get Ricky’s attention, but he can’t hear her because he’s wearing headphones. Meanwhile, the assassin keeps trying to get just the right vantage point from which to shoot Dakota without being spotted by witnesses. “Now, Ms. North, if you would be so kind as to sand in front of a red Pollack…Spatter on spatter, non?”

The assassin shoots and misses, alerting Dakota to his presence so she spring into action. Their fight moves from the museum floor the tunnel system on the outside of the Pompidou Museum where Dakota gets the best of her attacker. In a brief exchange before the assassin plummets to his death, Dakota learns that Cleo Vanderlip is behind the attack and that Daisy is one of her operatives who has lured Ricky onto the Orient Express. Dakota rushes to Gare De Lyon to find Ricky, but she arrives just too late. “Gee, that woman out there looks like my sister.”

Will Dakota catch Ricky in time? Will Ricky get the hang of iambic pentameter? Check out next issue, when Detective Amos Culhane takes A – “Busman’s Holiday!”

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Friday, November 1, 2013

Dakota North #2 (August 1986)

Title: Pet Tricks
Cover: Tony Salmons
Script: Martha Thomases
Art: Tony Salmons
Colors: Christie Scheele
Letters: Phil Felix
Editor: Larry Hama
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75
Cover Date: August 1986
Release Date: April 1986
Synopsis: Dakota trades her signature black leather pants for a short black cocktail dress and heads with her brother Ricky to dinner at the Rainbow Room to meet her father and a man who claims to be her husband. While walking through Rockefeller Center, Dakota is narrowly missed by a bolt from a crossbow fired by an assailant from a nearby rooftop. Unable to locate the source of the attack, Dakota and Rick continue to the restaurant where they meet their father and his former colleague from the CIA, Major George C. Cooper.

Major Cooper has written a book about his time at the CIA and he is apparently embroiled in some sort of danger, so he wants to hire Dakota as his bodyguard. Dakota gets into an argument with her father over the potential assignment and the ruse by which she was lured to dinner, but a handsome man named Timas interrupts and asks Dakota to dance. He whisks her away to the dance floor, where they engage in light banter, but Dakota is clearly suspicious of this perfect stranger with perfect timing who happens to know her name.

Back at the dinner table, Major Cooper starts to panic when he realizes that he cannot get in contact with his security detail. He randomly breaks out a deck of cards and starts playing poker with Ricky, deliberately racking up a steep loss of $200 and offering his solid gold fountain pen as collateral until he can reach his bank to get cash.  Ricky takes the pen and heads for home, passing a pair of serious looking thugs that are flanking the door. Having returned from the dance floor with Timas, Dakota tells Major Cooper that she’ll take his case. She also accuses Timas of being responsible for the crossbow attack...

Dakota, her father and Major Cooper leave the Rainbow Room and are attacked by the thugs that were watching them in the restaurant. Dakota fights them off and the thugs escape in a waiting limousine. The next day, Dakota is supposed to accompany Major Cooper on a series of interviews to promote his book, but his car is blown up by a bomb. Elsewhere, one of the thugs spots Ricky with Major Cooper’s gold pen and starts to follow the boy. Riding the subway to his next interview, Major Cooper reveals to Dakota that the villains are after him because he has an experimental nerve gas that he stole from the CIA in order to prevent his superior from selling it to terrorists. 

Major Cooper tells Dakota that the nerve gas is hidden in the pen that he gave to Ricky, which means that the boy is in danger!  Apparently nonplussed by the risk to her brother, Dakota continues to escort Major Cooper on his interview circuit, cutting through Central Park where she is once again attacked by Timas.  Threatening her with a knife, he tries to warn her off the case, but the assassin is too infatuated with Dakota to do her any harm. At the offices of Rycom, we learn that Cleo Vanderlip is involved in the plot and aware that Timas and his Russian employers are wasting their time chasing Major Cooper because they know Ricky has the pen.

Cleo dispatches a 16 year-old model named Daisy to find Ricky and bring him to their headquarters, saying that this assignment represents a chance for the girl to prove herself to their secret organization. Daisy has no trouble finding Ricky or ensorceling him and the unlikely pair are soon on their way to Paris on the Concorde.  Later in the day, Dakota and Major Cooper are attacked once more by Timas, who is intent on crushing them with a monster truck. Dakota deftly avoids near death and races through Rockefeller Center in her convertible, turning away from a barrier at the last minute and causing Timas to crash and nearly perish.

The next morning, Major Cooper stops by Dakota’s offices to collect his pen from Ricky and they learn that the boy never came home the previous night. Dakota is furious with Major Cooper and her father for placing Ricky in danger.  The issue ends with Ricky and Daisy touring Paris and visiting the Eiffel tower.  Blissfully ignorant of the danger he’s in, Ricky couldn't be happier to be by Daisy’s side in the City of Lights. Will Dakota  find Ricky? Will He want to be found? Will the pen write underwater? You won’t be able to live with yourself if you miss the next issue! To be continued in Active Tense!


Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Dakota North House Ad (June 1986)

Marvel titles dated June 1986 featured house ads for Dakota North in a half-page spread that looked more targeted to readers of Vogue than Marvel. Although I was unaware of it at the time, the ad apparently provoked a competitive response from Renegade Comics, which ran a house ad for its Ms. Tree comic entitled Substance in contrast to Marvel's Style ad for Dakota North. Zing!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Catspaw Dynamics, Marvel Comics

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Dakota North #1 Cover Art (June 1986)

The minimalist and stylized art of Tony Salmons was very well suited to Dakota North as a comic title that bridged the very different worlds of detective work and fashion. While Marvel's coloring and print production process circa 1986 yielded somewhat inconsistent results on the interior pages, Tony's line art on the series is fantastic and the covers were a true pleasure to behold.


Source: The ComicArtFans Gallery of Harry Mendryk

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dakota North #1 (June 1986)

Title: Design for Dying
Cover: Tony Salmons
Script: Martha Thomases
Art: Tony Salmons
Colors: Christie Scheele
Letters: Jim Novak
Editor: Larry Hama
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75
Cover Date: June 1986
Release Date: February 1986
Synopsis: Dakota North was certainly a departure from Marvel’s standard lineup of titles when it hit the spinner rack in 1986. The eponymous series about former model turned detective was a bit of Charlie's Angels crossed with Mike Hammer in a brief run that was glamorous and globe-trotting in equal measure. Looking back it was also a bit silly and inconsistently executed, so it doesn't necessarily stand the test of time the way so many of Marvel’s gems do from the 1980s. Nonetheless, it was a really fun series for the fourteen year-old me at the time and it still holds a sentimental place in my heart.

The first issue introduces Dakota North and her supporting cast and immediately drops her into a complicated web of intrigue that involves a fashion designer in mortal danger, a very hostile corporate takeover and a mysterious woman seeking revenge on Dakota’s father. I actually had to re-read the issue three times to figure out the hostile takeover plot, which makes me wonder whether the writing was actually really clever or just really bad. In light of my nostalgic fondness for the title, I’ll give Martha Thomases the benefit of the doubt and assume that it was really clever writing.

For those of you who will never actually read the comic, here’s a brief summary: Dakota demonstrates her beauty and brass on a firing range before getting a call from a fashion designer Luke Jacobson whose life is being threatened. Dressed in her signature skintight leather pants, Dakota jumps onto her motorcycle and heads to his Seventh Avenue studio. Arriving during a fashion shoot, she is mistaken for a model and instructed by a photographer to change clothes. Dakota is then handed a makeup case, but surmises that it’s actually a bomb, hurling it through a window and saving the day just before it explodes.

The scene then cuts to a video arcade where we meet Dakota’s apparently estranged father and her 12 year-old brother Ricky. Her father tells Ricky that he needs to go live with his sister for a while he takes care of some personal business. The boy protests, but a bribe of $200 a week from his father convinces him to acquiesce. Meanwhile, Dakota and Luke compare notes while touring the Guggenheim Museum on the Upper East Side of New York City. Luke tells Dakota that he has had death threats and other trouble ever since he sold his fashion label to a conglomerate by the name of Rycom.

At Rycom, the mystery is revealed and further complicated in one fell swoop.  Rycom executive Cleo Vanderlip outlines her plan to bankrupt her own company by sabotaging Luke Jacobson’s fashion business with the goal of seizing control of the company while it is in a state of financial distress. Cleo says that the scheme will provide her and her assistant Anna with the money and power necessary to accomplish their true ends, which remain a mystery. Cleo also relishes the opportunity to seek revenge on Dakota and her father Samuel James North.  Dun Dun Dun…

Ricky arrives at Dakota's apartment, much to the surprise of his sister who is settling in for a potentially romantic evening with Detective Amos Culhane. Dakota launches her investigation into who might be responsible behind the threats to Luke Jacobson’s business and the next day Luke is kidnapped from Rycom’s offices by masked thugs. Dakota chases the criminals through the streets of New York on her motorcycle, ultimately driving through the front window Bloomingdale's and up the escalator to head off her quarry. She rescues Luke, who is enormously grateful. “Dakota, You were absolutely mythic.”

That evening, a silent alarm is tripped that Dakota placed in Luke’s showroom and she goes to investigate. She finds Luke’s assistant Anna, who we now know is a confederate of Cleo, who says that the showroom was robbed by a group led by a German man named Otto Shanks and that she overhead them plan a rendezvous at a warehouse at the corner of West and Christopher. Dakota goes to the scene with Luke in tow at his insistence where she surprises Otto Shanks and his henchmen shortly after Cleo departs the scene. A fight erupts and Dakota and Luke flee the building.

Ricky makes a surprise appearance and Otto is shot dead by Dakota while Cleo watches from a distance. “We’ll meet again, Ms. North. And you’ll pay for this.”  Chalk up a win for the good guys, but Cleo’s grand design is still a mystery and the danger to Dakota and her family seems to be worse than ever. Plus it turns out that she's married. The plot thickens. To be continued next issue in Pet Tricks.

Source: Kraalo  Archives, Marvel Comics

Friday, October 18, 2013

Wolverine #4 Cover Art (December 1982)

Wolverine #4 was my first encounter with the Wolverine limited series and I was absolutely captivated from the time I first saw the cover. Even without Frank Miller's trademark lighting from beneath that makes the final printed cover so seductive, the original art is incredibly powerful in its portrayal of Wolverine's strength and mystery.  Looking back to the 1980s, the crossbow was probably a very good call on Frank Miller's part since the weapon had entered the popular consciousness in a big way following the June 1981 release of James Bond's For Your Eyes Only.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Comic Link

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wolverine #4 (December 1982)

Title: Honor
Cover: Frank Miller, Josef Rubinstein
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Frank Miller
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colors: Lynn Varley
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.60
Cover Date: December 1982
Release Date: August 1982
Synopsis: Wolverine #3 ends with ends with Logan searching his soul and coming to a critical conclusion: “I’m a man, Shingen! Not a beast. A man! And that mistake is going to cost you!”  And it does. In spades! Wolverine shows that he is the best there is at what he does as he tears through Shingen Yashida’s criminal organization, leaving a trail of bodies in his wake.  What starts as a minor annoyance to the crime lord soon becomes and embarrassment of such magnitude that he dispatches the finest assassins of the hand to kill Wolverine.  To Shingen’s surprise, Wolverine sends back a box with the Ninja hoods and a note bearing only one word: Tonight.  The game is on!

Logan prepares for his assault on the ancestral stronghold of Clan Yashida, arming himself with the weapons that he took from the Ninjas that he defeated.  “I don’t normally use hardware – with my physical assets, who needs any – but for this caper, I figure every little bit’ll help!”  As Logan gets underway, Yukio sneaks into the Clan Yashida castle and is ambushed by the Hand who present her to Shingen for questioning.  She reveals that she sought to balance the scales with Logan by killing Shingen, who cuts her free of her bonds and engages her in combat.  Shingen makes quick work of Yukio and would likely have killed her if not for the timely intervention of Mariko.

At that moment, the radio sounds and Shingen realizes that Wolverine has launched his attack.  As the enraged crime lord demands a report and receives only silence in return, the scene cuts to outside the castle which is littered with the bodies of dead Ninjas riddled with arrows.  As Shingen prepares to fight Wolverine, Mariko’s husband grabs his wife and tries to escape to his helicopter.  When Wolverine blocks their path, he raises a gun to Mariko’s head and threatens to kill her.  Logan steps forward and Mariko’s husband shoots him, but Yukio appears and plants three blades in the coward’s back.  Gotcha!  With Mariko safe and Logan to face Shingen in single combat, Yukio takes her leave.

The duel between Logan and Shingen is easily one of the best choreographed and most memorable fight scenes in the history of comics.  Perfectly scripted.  Perfectly drawn. “We move as one…blades hissing through the air...as we pass.  I cut deep. Shingen cuts deeper.  I’m hurt bad.  He knows it. But no quarter is asked…and none given."  Shingen is the superior swordsman and takes a terrible toll on his opponent, but Logan mutant healing abilities and stamina allow him to keep pace and the outcome of the fight is truly never in doubt.  Frank Miller is at his best in this scene. The drama, emotion, energy and pure physicality that he conveys with an economy of penstrokes is extraordinary.

Happy endings for the X-Men in general and Wolverine in particular were few and far between during Chris Claremont’s definitive run, but it’s a heartwarming moment to wrap up this incredible limited series with the X-Men’s reaction to an invitation to Mariko and Logan’s wedding.  From a personal perspective, this issue was my first encounter with the Wolverine limited series.  To put things in context, I had never heard of ninjas and certainly never seen a hero kill a villain in a bloody sword vs. adamantium claw battle.  This was pretty intense stuff in the mind and imagination of the 11 year-old me.  It’s great to see the story has stood the test of time and is as acclaimed and influential today as ever.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Wolverine #3 Cover Art (November 1982)

Logan suffers no end of emotional and physical punishment in the first two issues of the Wolverine limited series and the third issue finds him at a low point on every conceivable level. Frank Miller does a remarkable job of expressing Logan's state of being on the cover of this issue that marks both a nadir and turning point in the pivotal Wolverine story.

Source: Kraalo Archives, ComicLink

Wolverine #3 (November 1982)

Title: Loss
Cover: Frank Miller, Josef Rubinstein
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Frank Miller
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.60
Cover Date: November 1982
Release Date: July 1982
Synopsis: After enduring no end of emotional and physical punishment over the prior two issues, Logan cuts loose and blows off steam as he and Yukio cut a swath through Tokyo’s seedy bars. The issue starts with Logan sparing with a former Sumo wrestler in a bar room brawl than ends with his opponent being flung through the window onto the street. Outside Logan meets his old friend and former colleague Asano Kimura who is currently a member of Japan’s Secret Service.  Asano prevails upon Logan to stop drowning his sorrows and to help him stop an a villain who has taken over the entire Japanese underworld. In a tense exchange with his old friend, Logan declines to help and takes off with Yukio.

The couple stagger off into the streets as the ninjas of the Hand lie in wait.  The splash page features a fantastic aerial view with group of ninjas on the rooftops overlooking Wolverine and Yukio, proving that no one can draw ninjas like Frank Miller! As he and Yukio walk into a rail yard, Logan is dead drunk and collapses onto the tracks with Yukio in his arms. Despite his drunken stupor, Logan feels a faint vibration on the tracks and dives to safety with Yukio in the nick of time as the Bullet Train flies past. Completely surprised, Logan yells at Yukio, wondering what the hell she was thinking playing chicken with the bullet train. She replies that she wishes to live life to its fullest and, when she dies, she wishes to die spectacularly.

Logan passes out on the tracks and he dreams of himself as a samurai warrior in ancient times fighting to win the hand of his beloved Mariko. He finds the gates of her home barred and the walls lined with archers who tell him that he is not welcome. The warrior attacks against impossible odds and pays a terrible price in the vicious battle. Nearly dead, the warrior is brought before Mariko who says “My love is for a man. Not a beast clad in human form who knows nothing of honor, or duty, or any of the beliefs that I hold most dear.” She then knocks an arrow and shoots him dead, sending him back into the abyss out of which he struggled so long ago. “I sleep. I…dream. I dream. I…weep.” Logan’s tortured soul suffers.

While Logan sleeps, Yukio is cornered by the Hand ninjas who relay Yashida Shingen’s orders to kill Wolverine or suffer the consequences. Yukio pretends to agree and manages to kill all five of the ninjas with her trademark throwing blades. With the threat addressed for the moment, Yukio tries to wake Logan from his drunken sleep, but to her dismay, he mutters “Mariko,” so she kicks him to the ground and stalks off.  Yukio returns to their hotel where she wrestles with her impossible situation: She loves a man who she knows will always love another.  And she is now so far at odds with her employer Shingen that she may have passed the point of no return. As she ponders these issues, the door tentatively opens and she reacts instinctively.

Logan returns to his hotel, looking to make up with Yukio, who he rightly assumes is furious at him for uttering Mariko’s name, and also wanting to determine why the Hand is still interested in Yukio after the death of Katsuyori.  Logan enters his room and stops immediately as he spots a corpse on the floor – his friend Asano with one of Yukio’s knives in his neck. He doesn’t rush to judgement, thinking that Asano’s death may have been an accident born of surprise. But when Logan examines the blade, he comes to a chilling conclusion: The poison on the blade is the same nerve toxin that he fell victim to in Shingen Yashida’s palace. Yukio works for Shingen and has been lying to him from the start. setting him up as her pawn and victim.

Yukio appears on the scene, trying to explain. Logan’s reaction is swift as it is fierce. “You’d better kill me now, Yukio. You won’t get a second chance.” Yukio flees and Logan follows her in a fantastic chase sequence across the rooftops of Tokyo. He soon catches her and they crash throw a window into a rock garden. As the two come head to head, they are ambushed by the Hand who try to neutralize Logan’s close quarters killing skill by binding his limbs with ropes from a distance. They are no match for Logan who quickly dispatches the ninjas with a bit of help from Yukio, who escapes during the melee. The issue ends with Logan searching his soul and coming to a critical conclusion: “I’m a man, Shingen! Not a beast. A man! And that mistake is going to cost you!” To be concluded next issue in Honor.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Marvel Makes The Magic! Promo Poster (1984)

Marvel's promo posters from the 1980s bring back such fond memories of my expeditions to comic shops during the early days of my comic collecting and reading.  Most of Marvel's promo posters were dedicated to a specific event, issue or series, but occasionally there was one that just celebrated the joy of comics overall. This poster with art by Steve Leialoah certainly fits that bill with a man reading a stack of comics on his lunch hour while an interstellar conflict plays out in the window behind him. There are lots of cool details in the piece, so click on the image below to see a larger version of the remastered poster.

Source: Kraalo Archives

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Wolverine #2 (October 1982)

Title: Debts And Obligations
Cover: Frank Miller, Josef Rubinstein
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Frank Miller
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.60
Cover Date: October 1982
Release Date: June 1982
Synopsis: Logan awakes to the urgent cries of the woman Yukio who saved him at the end of Wolverine #1.  He finds himself in a bedroom surrounded by more than half a dozen ninjas intent on doing them harm.  Logan responds in kindand dives through the window only to find a larger cadre of ninjas waiting on the rooftops below.  Frank Miller is at his best drawing the fight scenes in this issue and the double-page spread at the beginning of this issue is nothing short of remarkable. Yukio thinks that the Hand is comprised of the world’s finest assassins, assuming that Logan will be no match for their superior numbers and skill, but he surprises her and emerges victorious.

It’s important to note that Chris Claremont’s Wolverine could be seriously harmed and would take quite a bit of time to heal from potentially mortal wounds in contrast to the way that the character is written today.  This dynamic added a layer of gravity to Logan’s fights and wounds that simply doesn’t exist today as he’s written almost like Superman with a healing factor that serves as shorthand for invulnerability. The screenwriter's decision to eliminate Logan’s healing factor in The Wolverine movie was a great move that really allowed the writers to explore the depths of his character and courage in the face of insurmountable odds and seemingly certain death.

Logan and Yukio return to Logan’s hotel where she is astounded to see that his wounds from the fight have already healed.  “A useful talent for a warrior,” she says. “I would give my soul to be like you.” Logan asks about the assassins of the Hand and Yukio explains that they serve a powerful crime lord who she fears and Logan vows to protect her. Yukio is clearly smitten by Logan, but his thoughts remain with Markio and he denies her advances. In an interlude that follows, Yukio visits Shingen Yashida in his office, revealing her true colors. Shingen instructs Yukio to kill a rival crime lord Katsuyori with Wolverine’s help and then to kill the mutant after he serves his purpose.

Yukio tells Logan that Katsuyori is the crimelord that she fears, tricking him into helping her with carry out Shingen’s plot. The pair sneak into Katsuyori’s castle to find the villain, but Logan is shocked to find Mariko and her husband sitting down with Katsuyori and his wife to watch a performance of the play 47 Ronin.  Logan realizes that the play is a trap and intervenes in the nick of time as the lead actor draws a real sword and attacks Mariko and her husband. “If you wish Mariko-Chan’s life…You’ll have to get past me to take it.” “Then, Gaijin, We shall!” “Ok, Bub -- It’s your funeral!” An amazing fight scene follows.

As Logan fights the assassins, Katsuyori and his wife flee the castle only to have their car blown up by Yukio. “Gotcha!” Logan is holding his own against the assassins, but one of them hits him perfectly from the back with a downward sword stroke that would have cut the mutant in half if not for his adamantium bones. The wound drives Logan into a berserker rage and he makes quick and brutal work of the assassins. When the dust settles, Wolverine stands as the winner, but he is stunned to see that Mariko witnessed the whole fight and a side of himself that he would never have wanted her to know. Logan’s descent into shame will be continued next issue in “Loss.”

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Friday, August 2, 2013

Wolverine #1 Cover Art (September 1982)

The cover art to Wolverine #1 is a truly amazing piece of art by Frank Miller and Josef Rubinstein that sets the tone for the acclaimed limited series that redefined the mutant hero into Marvel's most popular character. Wolverine was only Marvel's second limited series after Contest of Champions that debuted in June of the same year and its success set the stage for a new creative outlet and many more great titles in the years to come.

Source: ComicArtFans Gallery of Eric Roberts

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Wolverine #1 (September 1982)

Title: Wolverine
Cover: Frank Miller, Josef Rubinstein
Writer: Chris Claremont
Penciler: Frank Miller
Inker: Josef Rubinstein
Colors: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editor: Louise Jones
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.60
Cover Date: September 1982
Release Date: May 1982
Synopsis: The first issue of the Wolverine limited series finds Logan high in the Canadian Rockies hunting a grizzly bear that has gone on a wild rampage and killed multiple innocents in its path. The serious feel of the comic is apparent from the first page as Wolverine reminds us that “I’m the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn’t very nice.” The tone of Chris Claremont’s script and the grim and gritty look of Frank Miller’s pencils with Josef Rubinstein’s inks immediately drives home the point that you are not reading an average comic with superheroes in tights battling their standard villains.

Logan tracks the rogue bear to its den and the fight is on. Claremont is clearly enjoying himself as he piles on with the Wolverine bad-assery. “He’s big an’ mean -- a rogue grizzly bear. No more fearsome -- or deadly -- creature exists on earth. ‘Cept me. His claws gleam in the half-light. So do mine.” Logan dispatches the bear with brutal precision, putting the animal down before it can do any more harm and learning that it was driven wild by an illegal poison arrow. Logan tracks down the hunter responsible for the bear’s murder of seven men, three women and five children, turning him over to the authorities for prosecution.

Returning to the X-Men’s headquarters in New York, Logan is surprised to find a stack of returned mail from Mariko Yashida, daughter of one of the richest and most powerful families in Japan. Logan first met Mariko when the X-Men were in Japan in Uncanny X-Men #118 and the unlikely couple fell immediately in love. Mariko was mentioned in a few issues since, but was otherwise relegated to the sidelines. Logan is frustrated that his every effort to contact the woman he loves is rebuffed and decides to travel to Japan to seek her out.

Upon arriving in Tokyo, Logan is greeted by his old friend and partner Asano Kimura, who is an intelligence agent for the Japanese government. He tells Logan that his presence in Japan is unwelcome and explains the circumstances that have changed with Mariko. Long believed to be dead, Markio’s father recently returned and took over as head of Clan Yashida and all of its interests. Her father apparently incurred a debt that he paid by offering Mariko’s hand in marriage. Logan is shocked to learn that Mariko is now married and refuses to accept that her family obligation can take precedence over their love for one another.

That night, Logan travels to the ancestral stronghold of the Clan Yashida and sneaks into the palace to seek out Mariko. He finds her in the garden beneath a statue of the Buddha where he tries to speak to her. She is clearly ashamed and distraught, refusing to face him and telling him that she has no choice in her fate. Logan finally gets Mariko to face him and he sees that her face is bruised. “Who did this?” Logan asks. “It is none of your concern” Markio replies. The four wordless panels that follow are a truly remarkable expression of Logan’s rage as he realizes that Markio’s husband is responsible for beating her.

Mariko talks Logan down and persuades him to accept her decision to honor her family obligation rather than following the dictates of her heart. Logan’s resolve is tested when Mariko’s husband appears and he almost kills him, but he decides to leave and never return. However, Logan is ambushed and knocked unconscious by poisoned throwing stars, awakening to find himself face to face with Markio’s father Shingen Yashida who challenges him to single combat with wooden samurai swords in front of Markio, her husband and two enormous sumo wrestlers who serve as body guards.

Logan is in bad shape from the poison and finds that he is no match for Shingen, who is an expert swordsman despite his advanced age. Although the swords are wooden and the contest ostensibly and exhibition match, Shingen repeatedly hits Logan in key nerves and pressure points, inflicting pain and goading him into dropping his sword and popping his claws. With the poison still flowing through his veins, Logan is still no match for Shingen and the man easily defeats him in a contest that is a perfect mirror of Logan's fight with the grizzly bear. Logan is distraught as he realizes that he played right into Shingen’s hands as he intended to fully defeat and dishonor him in front of Mariko, describing Logan as an “animal cast in a semblance of human form.”

Defeated and broken both in body and spirit, Logan is dumped in an alley in Tokyo where he is woken by a group of thugs intent on doing him harm. Before Logan can try to defend himself, the men are dropped dead by a mysterious woman who comes to his aid. The issue ends with the woman declaring “You’re mine, Wolverine. Now and forever.” This issue still gives me goosebumps when I read it. While Wolverine was always a fan favorite and an incredible character, this issue was the first true solo adventure in which Chris Claremont could really plumb the depths of Logan’s true self. The epic story continues next issue with Debts And Obligations.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Super Hero Prize Club Ad (April 1980)

Start earning $5-$10-$20 a week selling your favorite comics and magazines to your friends, parents and neighbors and earn valuable prizes, too! Click on the image below for a high-resolution copy of the ad.

Source: Kraalo Archives

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Heroes World Toy Ad (April 1980)

Heroes World was one of the most prolific advertisers in the pages of Marvel comics during the late 70s and early 80s. Marvel titles dated April 1980 featured not just one but two ads from Heroes World that varied depending on the release date.  The first ad was for toys related to the Black Hole and Star Trek movies and the second was a general add that included a Hulk Utility Belt, a Spider-Man Web Shooter and a newly discovered cache of those  1970s-vintage Marvel Bronze Medallions.  Oh, to have a time machine… Click on the image below for a high-resolution copy of the ad.

Source: Kraalo Archives

Monday, July 15, 2013

Hostess Twinkies Ad: A Hot Time In The Old Town

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 April 1980 featured the Human Torch in A Hot Time in the Old Town in which the hero fights Flame Thrower in order to save New York City from a fiery end!  Thank goodness the Torch is able to distract the villain with Hostess Twinkies! Click on the image below for a high-resolution copy of the ad.

Source: Kraalo Archives

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Marvel Subscription Form (April 1980)

Marvel comics cover dated April 1980 featured a new subscription form.  Marvel had 33 comics in its line up available for subscription at this point, pretty much the full publishing roster with the exception of its magazines and special editions.  These subscription ads have proven to be very useful for tracking the months that comics were actually released since the cover dates are typically at least three months ahead.  This ad is dated January 1980, which is a pretty good indication of when the April 1980 comics would have been on newsstands. Click on the image below for a high-resolution copy of the ad.

Source: Kraalo Archives

Johnson Smith Company Ad (April 1980)

Marvel comics cover dated April 1980 had a full-page color Johnson Smith Company advertisement. I can remember spending hours staring pouring over these ads back when I was a kid and badly wanting the Spy Pen Radio and Pocket Spy Telescope.  Click on the image below for a high-resolution copy of the ad.

Source: Kraalo Archives

King Conan House Ad (April 1980)

Marvel comics cover dated April 1980 had a full-page color ad for the new King Conan series that debuted in March 1980, adding to a roster that already included the Conan The Barbarian comic and The Savage Sword of Conan magazine. Click on the image below for a high-resolution copy of the ad.

Source: Kraalo Archives

What If? #20 (April 1980)

Title: What If the Avengers Had Fought The Kree-Skrull War without Rick Jones?
Cover: Al Milgrom, Joe Sinnott
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Penciler: Alan Kupperberg
Inker: Bruce Patterson
Colors: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Editors: Denny O'Neil, Mark Gruenwald
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.75
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: In Avengers nos. 89-97 (June 1971-March 1972), Earth’s Mightiest Heroes became embroiled in a deadly stellar conflict that men have come to call the Kree-Skrull War! Yes, battling impossible odds, they successfully spared their infant world total destruction with the heightened mental power of Rick Jones. However, consider for a moment what would have transpired if they had failed! What If the Avengers Had Fought The Kree-Skrull War without Rick Jones?

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics, Marvel Wikia

Uncanny X-Men #132 (April 1980)

Title: And Hellfire Is Their Name!
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: Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: After narrowly escaping the clutches of the Hellfire Club, the X-Men head west to the New Mexico mountain top aerie of the Angel, Warren Worthington III. After a brief reunion between the X-Men and their old teammate and his girlfriend Candy Southern, Cyclops and the Angel take off to a remote butte where Scott fills Warren in the carefully designed series of attacks by the Hellfire Club and his concern about how formidable a foe they have proven. Warren is surprised and tells Scott that he’s actually a member of the Hellfire Club, describing it as a very stuffy – yet risqué – establishment club.

As Scott segues to his concerns about Jean’s recent behavior, she flies up with a picnic lunch and Warren returns to his aerie leaving the couple alone. Jean diffuses Scott’s tension about the Hellfire Club, saying “Stop being Cyclops, leader of the X-Men, for a while. Try being Scott Summers, lover of Jean Grey.  Who knows, you might even enjoy yourself.” Jean proceeds to remove Scott’s protective visor and telekinetically keeps his optic blasts in check, demonstrating the incredible power of the Phoenix. “Hush. No questions now, my love. No words.This is our moment. Let’s not waste it.”  Even Scott can’t disagree.

A week later, the X-Men return to New York to mount a counter assault on the Hellfire Club.  They plan a two-pronged attack with Scott, Jean, Peter and Ororo entering the Hellfire Club as guests of Warren while Nightcrawler and Wolverine crawl through the sewers to infiltrate the Club from the basement level.  Unfortunately for the X-Men, the Hellfire Club is onto them from the moment that they set foot in the club and prepare to put into action their plan to fully subvert Jean Grey under Jason Wyngarde’s control so that she can lead their attack on her unsuspecting teammates.

As the X-Men join the crowd of the Hellfire Club’s gala reception, Wyngarde cuts in while Scott and Jean dance, sending Jean into another timeslip so that she is cast back 200 years into a reality where she is Wyngarde’s wife and the Hellfire Club’s Black Queen. Scott is shocked and confused as Jean walks away with Wyngarde. As he follows them up the stairs,Wyngarde reveals himself to Scott as none other than Mastermind, the villainous master of illusions not seen in the pages of X-Men since he was a member of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in the 1960s.

Under Mastermind’s control, Jean blasts Scott and the Hellfire Club launches their attack the X-Men.  Colossus and Storm spring into action and find themselves face-to-face with Sebastian Shaw.  Colossus underestimates his foe and finds that the Hellfire Club’s leader can absorb his every blow and transform it into raw strength.  In the basement, Nightcrawler and Wolverine are surprised by the cyborg Donald Pierce and mass master Harry Leeland. Pierce knocks Nightcrawler unconscious while Leeland drops Wolverine through the floor deep into the sewers where he is presumed dead. The issue ends with the X-Men completely defeated at the hands of theHellfire Club.

This fourth installment in what I consider to be the Hellfire Club Saga – a subset or prelude to the Dark Phoenix Saga – is a thrill ride with twists and turns that captivated my interest and kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would come next. It’s a significant issue insofar as it introduces the full complement of Hellfire Club inner circle members, reveals Mastermind as the expertly plotted surprise villain, and sets the stage for Wolverine’s truly definitive fight with the Hellfire Club soldiers in Uncanny X-Men #133.  Claremont and Byrne stand the test of time like no other creative team in comic history!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tomb of Dracula Magazine #4 (April 1980)

Title: Tomb of Dracula #4
Cover: Gene Colan, Tom Palmer
Writers: Roger McKenzie
Pencilers: Gene Colan, John Buscema
Inker: Tom Palmer, Klaus Janson
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Roy Thomas
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $1.25
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: Tomb of Dracula #4 is a black and white Marvel Magazine that features two stories Angelica and Death Vow.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Black Gate, Marvel Wikia

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thor #294 (April 1980)

Title: New Asgards For Old!
Cover: Keith Pollard
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: Keith Pollard
Inker: Chic Stone
Colors: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Roy Thomas
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis:  Thor continues to question the disembodied Eye of Odin about the All Father’s past and the origins of Asgard.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics, Marvel Wikia

The Hulk! Magazine #20 (April 1980)

Title: The Hulk! #20
Cover: Joe Jusko
Writers: Doug Moench, Steve Swires
Pencilers: Ron Wilson, Walt Simonson, Bill Sienkiewicz
Inkers: Alfredo Alcala, Walt Simonson
Colors: Steve Oliff
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $1.50
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: The Hulk! #20 is a full-color Marvel Magazine with three stories: Power Unchained and This Man Tell Hulk What To Do featuring the Hulk and The Long Way to Dawn featuring Moon Knight.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Comic Vine, Marvel Wikia

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tales To Astonish #5 (April 1980)

Title: Watch Out for…Tiger Shark!
Cover: John Buscema, Frank Giacoia
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Frank Giacoia
Letterer: Sam Rosen
Reprint Editor: Danny Fingeroth
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980        
Synopsis: Tales to Astonish #5 reprints Sub-Mariner #5 (September1968) in which an experiment by Dr. Dorcas to restore the health of injured champion Olympic swimmer Todd Arliss transforms him into the deranged and villainous Tiger Shark!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics, Marvel Wikia

Star Wars #34 (April 1980)

Title: Thunder in the Stars!
Cover: Carmine Infantino, Bob Wiacek
Writer: Archie Goodwin
Penciler: Carmine Infantino
Inker: Bob Wiacek
Colorist: Petra Goldberg
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Editor: Jim Shooter
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: An epic space battle ensues as the rebel fleet is lured into a trap to in an attempt to destroy the Empire’s Omega Frost before it is unleashed on their supply planet! 

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Wikia, Wookieepedia

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Star Trek #1 (April 1980)

Title: Star Trek: The Motion Picture - Part 1
Cover: Steve Leialoha
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciler: Dave Cockrum
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorist: Marie Severin
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Marv Wolfman
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: Mighty Marvel unleashes the first part of its awesome adaptation of the movie of the year. Quite possibly the most incredible space fantasy you’ll ever read!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Wikia

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Spider-Woman #25 (April 1980)

Title: To Free A Felon!
Cover: Jim Mooney
Writer: Michael Fleischer
Penciler: Steve Leialoha
Inker: Steve Leialoha
Colorist: Glynis Wein
Letterer: Diana Albers
Editor: Denny O’Neil
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: Spider-Woman becomes a criminal!  How?  Why? And why are there two Spider-Women on the cover? It’s a shocker!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics, Marvel Wikia

Shogun Warriors #15 (April 1980)

Title: The Insider!
Cover: Herb Trimpe, Bruce Patterson
Writer: Steven Grant
Penciler: Mike Vosburg
Inker: Bruce Patterson
Colorist: Roger Slifer
Letterer: Jim Novak
Editor: Al Milgrom
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: Raydeen’s pilot Richard Carson is replaced with a villainous look-alike!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Wikia

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sgt. Fury #157 (April 1980)

Title: The Big Breakout!
Cover: Dick Ayers
Writer: Gary Friedrich
Penciler: Dick Ayers
Inker: John Severin
Letterer: Artie Simek
Editor: Stan Lee
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: March 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos #157 reprints issue #61 (December 1968) of the same series in which the Howlers launch a mission to rescue their CO Happy Sam who is being held prisoner behind enemy lines.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Wikia, Nick Fury Homepage

Savage Sword of Conan #51 (April 1980)

Title: Satyrs’ Blood
Cover: Earl Norem
Writer: Roy Thomas
Penciler: John Buscema
Inker: Tony DeZuniga
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $1.25
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis:  The feature story in this issue of Savage Sword is Part Three 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, Conan Wiki, Marvel Wikia

Savage She-Hulk #3 Cover Art

The cover to Savage She-Hulk #3 features pencils by Rich Buckler and inks Al Milgrom. Somehow the shadowed villain looks more menacing in the original black and white before he was colored purple.


Source: The ComicArtFans gallery of John Mone

Friday, July 5, 2013

Savage She-Hulk #3 (April 1980)

Title: She-Hulk Murders Lady Lawyer!
Cover: Rich Buckler, Al Milgrom
Writer: David Anthony Kraft
Penciler: Mike Vosburg
Inker: Chic Stone
Colorist: Carl Gafford
Letterer: Michael Higgins
Editor: Jim Shooter
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: The Emerald Amazon is wanted for the murder of her alter-ego Jennifer Walters in a complicated case of mistaken secret identity!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Comic Vine, Marvel Wikia

ROM #5 (April 1980)

Title: A House is Not a Home!
Cover: Al Milgrom
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Penciler: Sal Buscema
Inker: Sal Buscema
Colorist: George Roussos
Letterer: Michael Higgins
Editor: Joe Duffy
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter
Cover Price: $0.40
Cover Date: April 1980
Release Date: January 1980
Synopsis: ROM takes on a surprise villain.  Hint: You’ve seen him before in the original Dr. Strange series by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Guest staring the Sorcerer Supreme himself!

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Wikia

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles (1976)

Title: Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles
Cover: Jack Kirby
Writer: Jack Kirby
Penciler: Jack Kirby
Inkers: Herb Trimpe, John Romita, Sr., Barry Windsor Smith
Colorist: Phil Rachelson
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Jack Kirby
Editor-in-Chief: Stan Lee
Cover Price: $1.50
Cover Date: August 1976
Release Date: May 1976
Synopsis: No comic book character says “Independence Day” to me more clearly than does Captain America and no single issue says it more eloquently than Jack Kirby’s masterpiece Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles. Originally published as an oversize Marvel Treasury Edition, Bicentennial Battles was released during the summer of 1976 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of America’s declaration of Independence. The story was written and penciled by Jack Kirby and features an all-star cast of inkers, including Herb Trimpe, John Romita, Sr. and Barry Windsor Smith.

Bicentennial Battles takes Captain America on a journey though time and space to visit key moments and poignant vignettes in America’s history. From the dawn of the American Revolution though two world wars and far into an uncertain future, Captain America experiences America at its best and worst and comes away with a renewed conviction in the American Dream. “Two hundred years of old thoughts in young minds—two hundred years of seeing it through. It is the way of a great country and a great people, who stand together against the slings and arrows of a threatening tomorrow,” Kirby concludes.

This story is particularly special for me as one of the first comics I remember from my childhood. I was five years old when it was first published, and I can imagine being entranced when my older brother first showed it to me. That original copy of the Marvel Treasury Edition didn’t survive our childhood, but Bicentennial Battles was one of the first things I bought after I discovered the miracle of eBay. The story was re-released in 2008 by Marvel as a trade paperback along with Captain America issues 201–205 and it’s also available online via Marvel Comics Unlimited, but it’s truly impossible to beat the original Marvel Treasury Special-size original edition if you can find it.

Source: Kraalo Archives, Marvel Comics
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