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Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Speak Your Brain! Part V. Comic book hidden gems.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon
***

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
It is time, once more, for this blog to collapse into its newest feature. The one in which the first person to comment below sets the topic for today's discussion.

What dread and magnificent topics will emerge?

And who shall be first to speak?

31 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nominate a comic which, to you, is an underrated, hidden gem. I nominate Captain Marvel # 59:

https://www.marvel.com/comics/issue/8048/captain_marvel_1968_59


Drax, Marvel's mortal foe, becomes a deadly comrade-in-arms. Nevertheless, their mutual goals being satisfied, Drax tells Marvel he'll kill him.

Never has a Marvel artist captured the grandeur of space better than the giant pictures of Mar-vell & Drax flying to Titan.

You get Edgar Rice Burroughs-style fights with giant Spiders; friends on Titan - flushed out by Mar-vell - turning out to be enemies in disguise; then, finally, Isaac's main henchmen make there appearance.

In short - fantastic!

What comic would you nominate?

Phillip

Anonymous said...

their NOT there! Duh!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

My proof-reading mojo's off - It should be Mar-vell in every case except Captain Marvel!

Phillip

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the topic, Phillip. I'm definitely going to have to think for this one.

Steve W. said...

I'm going to go there. I'm going to go for every issue of Frank Robbins' run on The Shadow. People always talk about Kaluta's run but I must confess I prefer Robbins' issues.

Also, Nestor Redondo's issues of Swamp Thing. People rave about Wrightson's issues so much that Redondo's work on the strip tends to be criminally underrated.

Charlie Horse 47 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Redartz said...

Hmmmmmm. As Steve noted, this one takes some thought.

Ok, having thought, I'll go with Conan the Barbarian 57. Often lost between the classic works of Smith and Buscema, this nice one-shot tale has great art by Mike Ploog. A good solid story with some entertaining characters, and visuals that make you wish that Ploog had done more issues...

Charlie Horse 47 said...

You know...

I was going to say Kirby and Ditko monster comics from the early 1960s but I don't have a precise issue in mind.

So...

Captain America 155. The art is so-so Sal. But the story itself is really one that knocked over the first of a long line of dominos at Marvel with the revelation about the 1950s Cap. I mean, this goes back to 1972. And then 32 years later WW2 Bucky is alive as The Winter Soldier and 44 years later it is a film that makes a Billion Dollars.

Maybe...

Perhaps I am wrong to credit all this beginning with Cap 155 but it got rid of 1950s Cap to explain 1960s Cap in a block of ice. It was a mind blower when I picked it up off the spinner and I rarely (never?) heard it mentioned in context of, ultimately, Winter Soldier.

dangermash aka The Artistic Actuary said...

I'm going to throw in Avengers #83 and the Lady Liberators. That issue got far too much stick for treating feminism as a joke and severely downgrading The Masters Of Evil as a threat. But there's some great artwork in there and some genuinely funny panels just dying to be cut and pasted into Facebook posts when female friends start moaning about the male species. Or maybe I just like this one because it was in a U.K. hardback Avengers annual.

Anonymous said...

I'm going for something left of field. New Triumph featuring Northguard #1. This was a black and white Canadian superhero comic (an indy, Canadian version of Captain Britain) published in 1884. I picked up the first issue solely because I liked the cover and never saw another issue. I assumed no furthers issues were published due to the black and white implosion, but a quick google search suggests it actually continued for a few years and was then rebooted in 2015. Well fancy that.

Created by Mark Shainblum and Gabrielle Morrissette (thanks Google) I'll now have to track it down online.

DW

Anonymous said...

1984, not 1884. If I could proof read I'd rule the world...

DW

McSCOTTY said...

Steve; I couldn’t agree more on both your suggestions. Frank Robbins maniacal art on the Shadow run is a great comic book - issue 7 “Night of the Beast” in particular, is from cover to cover a classic. Sadly, Robbins is criminally underrated (like Pat Boyette and (some ) Don Heck) and ignored by many comic fans. Nestor Redondo’s Swamp Thing is an amazing book that truly has been overlooked due to Bernie Wrightson’s wonderful original run and then Alan Moore’s series, For me Redondo run is the equal of both of these.
..

As a single comic book I would suggest Supernatural Thrillers #3 (The Valley of the Worm) with some amazing Gil Kane art it’s a great adaption of the Robert E. Howard story . Another comic that deserves another look is Ernie Colons work on Atlas comics Grim Ghost issues 1-3.

Unknown said...

How about Incredible Hulk # 122 - a single, stand alone issue written & drawn by "Judo" Jim Starlin, telling the tale of Bruce Banner meeting a couple of mysterious kids who live in a cave with a huge cauldron surrounded by bones, who (spoiler alert !!!!) turn out to share their humble abode with their little brother Billy, who has been transformed by a typical "Marvel Radioactive Accident" into a monstrous cannibal capable of matching the Hulk. I remember first reading this hidden gem split over 2 issues of the The Mighty World of Marvel and enjoying the complete change of pace and superb artwork by one of the great storytellers.
Cheers,
Duncan

Anonymous said...

Duncan - I referenced that story 5 minutes ago, ("Feeding Billy"), whilst jotting down notes for my write up of Spider-man/Hulk Weekly, for tomorrow's '40 years Ago This Week' (comparing it to Alfredo Alcala's Hydropolis/Batrachian Man story)!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, like the Wendigo, Billy is a cannibal! Not a story for those of a sensitive disposition!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

....as Duncan said! (Now I've read beyond the first sentence!)

Phillip

Unknown said...

Hi Phillip,
I'm Looking forward to reading your write up - hopefully you spotted my intentional error, this superb story (with amazing inks by Alfredo Alcala) was first published in issue 222 not 122 - d'oh!
Cheers,
Duncan

Anonymous said...

I’m chuffed to see Frank Robbins getting some much-needed love!! I adore Kaluta’s Shadows too, but I agree that the Robbins issues are equally as impressive and enjoyable. If I could only have one of their runs on my Desert Island, I’d probably grab the Robbins issues. They’re awesome.

And for Pete’s sake YES — how on earth could Redondo’s spectacular run on Swamp Thing been so neglected, for DECADES? The Wrightson and Moore runs on the title have been constantly reprinted in high-quality formats for years and years (deservedly so) but it’s only been in the last few years that the Redondo issues have been resurrected. It’s about dang time! They’re freaking beautiful. If everyone buys a copy of the TPB, maybe DC will get the hint and reprint his Rima and Black Orchid stuff too one of these days….

Since McScotty brought up Colon’s Grim Ghost (which I dig too), I’ll give a shout-out to PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES 3. It has gob-smackingly gorgeous art by Russ Heath (seriously, it may be the single best-drawn issue published by Atlas Comics) and a wild story by John Albano packed with violence and dread, as Jim Brown and Captain Mullet blast their way into the Vampire Citadel to rescue the wimmen-folk, mowing down scores of pasty-faced bloodsuckers on the way, and with a shocking bummer of an ending. So 70s!

Good call on the Ploog CTB, Redartz — it’s fab! Another little-known Ploog book : AMAZING ADVENTURES 12 featuring The Beast. It’s actually only inked by Ploog, over pencils by Tom Sutton, but it’s an astonishingly effective artistic team-up. Each of these guys were brilliant on their own, but their styles are so complimentary that they blend seamlessly. This is the one issue in the short-lived solo series that genuinely looks and feels like a horror comic — the pages are positively drenched in inky shadows. There is a sequence where the Beast goes berserk and kills Iron Man (SPOILER ALERT: not really) that is just stunning.

b.t.

Anonymous said...

b.t. - Over in the UK, we had that Ploog Beast story in Hulk Comic (Incredible Hulk Weekly)
# 52. After the Beast decked Iron Man, in a frenzied attack, he just ran (or rather jumped) off, appalled at what he'd done! If he'd just stuck around a bit longer....!

Phillip

Anonymous said...

Can't go with you (or b.t) on The Shadow, Steve, but I agree that Nestor Redondo's Swamp Thing is overlooked. Having said that, his work was better suited to Rima the Jungle Girl which is a fantastic comic; when I picked up a few a while back I was particularly blown away by the unexpected back ups, mad Alex Nino science-fiction that has to be seen to be believed -

https://diversionsofthegroovykind.blogspot.com/2012/06/weird-worlds-week-addicted-to-alex-nino.html

I reckon the real hidden gems in American comics are in anthologies, mainly DCs from the first half of the 70s. And those late 70s/early 80s fantasy magazines like Heavy Metal, Epic, and even Warren's 1984 (they deserve their somewhat iffy reputations to an extent, but even so pretty much every issue will have good stuff in it).

-sean

Anonymous said...

Some "hidden gems" -

The Last American #s1-4, fantastic end of the 80s post-apocalyptic sf by John Wagner and Alan Grant with full colour artwork by the mighty Mike Mahon, originally from Marvel's Epic imprint.
Epic put out quite a lot of good stuff toward the end that isn't remembered much - probably because DC's (then) new Vertigo was drawing more attention - like Chaykin's Midnight Men (one of his best), Ted McKeever's Plastic Forks, and... I don't know, is Sienkiewicz' Stray Toasters overlooked? You don't seem to hear much about it these days, but that is an amazing comic.

Batman/Tarzan: Claws of the Cat Woman #s1-4 (Dark Horse) - I know, a Bats/Tarzan team-up sounds dumb, but its really good. Not hard to find the collected book cheap, or (I'm told) in libraries. Seems Ron Marz might be a decent writer - who knew?

And seeing as its SteveDoesComics, a couple from the 70s -
2001: A Space Odyssey #s5&6, an all-time fave of mine by Jack Kirby.
Weird War Tales #11, a sort of fragmented single story drawn variously by Alfredo Alcala, Gerry Talaoc, Tony deZuniga and ending with (yes!) some mad Alex Nino science fiction.

-sean

Anonymous said...

b.t., Yeah, I loved Planet of Vampires #3 at the time (being 10 probably helped with that ;)
Have you read Son of Satan #8? That has some pretty eye-catching Russ Heath artwork...

-sean

Redartz said...

Sean- your Batman/Tarzan comments put another gem in my head: Batman/Spirit, by Jeph Loeb and the greatly missed Darwyn Cooke. A wonderful ,fun tale with loads of guest appearances. Eisner would have loved it, I believe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Redartz, I've heard thats good from a few people so I really should try it. In turn, you just reminded me of The Spirit: New Adventures #1 - for a comic by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, it doesn't seem widely read...

-sean

Anonymous said...

sean:
That Russ Heath Son of Satan story is indeed pretty great-looking. There’s also a sweet issue of Ka-Zar (#12) that Heath did around that same period. Maybe after all those years of war comics, he wanted to try something different.

Yes, those Space Voyagers back-ups in RIMA are way cool. Speaking of Nino (and jungle comics), there are four Korak stories by Nino buried in the backs of those Tarzan 100-pagers (#s 231, 232, 233 and 234) that are awesome too.

Due to licensing issues, 2001 is likely to remain the most little-seen title of Kirby’s ‘Jack’s Back’ Marvel period. It wasn’t much of a hit at the time, and even Kirby die-hards don’t usually rate it very highly but I’ve always has a soft spot for it.

b.t.

McSCOTTY said...

Speaking of Russ Heath reminded me of a 1990 graphic novel called “Hearts and Minds - A Vietnam Love Story” . I haven’t seen this in years having only scanned it at the time in a comic shop but it stuck with me. I found this article on the book with some nice pages of art. Maybe not an underrated book but (for me at least) an almost unknown book.


https://totally-epic.kwakk.info/2020/03/16/1990-hearts-and-minds/

Anonymous said...

b.t., My impression is that the 2001 comic - which I love, at least up to the Machine Man (when it becomes a bit less interesting) - is starting to get more attention. It used to be that stuff about it on the internet was of the "Kirby lost it in the 70s" variety, but in recent years quite a few raves have appeared.

I am now eagerly awaiting the rediscovery of that other Kirby hidden gem 1st Issue Special #6, The Dingbats of Danger Street...

-sean

Anonymous said...

Duncan - were you thinking of MWOM # 299?

https://marvel.fandom.com/wiki/Mighty_World_of_Marvel_Vol_1?file=Mighty_World_of_Marvel_Vol_1_299.jpg

Phillip

Unknown said...

Hi Phillip,
Yes good detective work, that's where I first read the Jim Starlin "Hulk vs Billy" story, although as the story was spread over 2 issues the first installment was probably in the prevoious issue 298?
Cheers,
Duncan

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Judo Jim Starlin (weren’t we?) — I wonder if Darklon the Mystic counts as his his ‘undiscovered gem’? The character only appeared in a handful of short stories in EERIE, later collected (and colored) in a one-shot from Pacific Comics. It’s Starlin in his usual trippy science-fantasy mode, with more extreme violence, unencumbered by Comics Code restrictions. I’m sure everyone here in this thread is familiar with it, but it does seem to have fallen off the radar a bit, compared to his Marvel stuff and even Dreadstar.

(And if you’re NOT familiar with it, there are scans of the entire series at the Diversions of the Groovy Age site, in their original b/w glory)

b.t.

Anonymous said...

The first US independent comic I ever got was Star*Reach #1, which had a few Comics Code free stories written and drawn by Judo Jim. They were a bit of an eye opener at that age (as was Chaykin's Cody Starbuck in the same issue).
I'm not sure how well they stand up now, but you have to hand it to someone who did a comic book origin story for God.

-sean