As we are about to embark one the next box of my unread comics, I would like to thank all of you who come to read and/or comment on these threads. When I first started this project back in July 2006  (really?) on the old board I never thought I would even make it through the first box. The threads have helped keep me semi-honest here.

I'm pretty excited about this upcoming box. It is a very eclectic mix of comics. There are a bunch of my old standbys. Like Legion comics, Daredevil, Marvel Team-up, war comics. There is a ton of other stuff like '80s black and white comics, some Kirby, a touch of Vertigo. I don't know how much will inspire me to write about, and if it does others to comment, but I am looking forward to it.

I'm really stoked to have you with me. Let's get it on!

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The Phantom Stranger #33

Oct.-Nov. 1974

Cover art by: Jim Aparo

Story: Deadman's Bluff

Writer: Arnold Drake

Art: Mike Grell

Mr. Ubric has just had his final rival killled, and now he runs the syndicate in this part of the world. On his was to the opera he suffers an intense pain in his head, and heads over to see Doctor Zorn. Little does he know that Zorn has been hypnotizing him and been stealing 10% of all his profits. When Ubric leaves the Phantom Stranger says something cryptic to him and vanishes. Also, Ubric has some knowledge on the murder of Boston Brand AKA Deadman.

Dr. Zorn is able to reach the Phantom Stranger telepathically, and after some talking Zorn is able to splice some tape to make it seems like the Phantom Stranger killed Brand. He is in the midst of turning over this evidence to the police when Deadman shows up and stops him. Deadman figures out the ruse, and that Ubric knows something about his murder.

Ubric is meeting the other two leaders of the syndicate, and Deadman aims to be there. He possesses Ubric's body during the negotiations, and his right-hand man enters his apartment with a federal agent who had been listening in on the conversation. Mr. Koo gives Ubric a gun, and tells him to kill the fed. Phantom Stranger appears only to Deadman/Ubric and tells him that even after all of his talk of vengeance he can't kill anyone. Basically, goading him into pulling the trigger. Deadman begins to pull the trigger and the Phantom Stranger then appears before everyone. Mr. Koo doesn't know what the hell is going on and snatches the gun away from Deadman. He shoots at the agent, but Deadman dives in front of the bullets. Deadman is ticked at Phantom Stranger for getting his lead killed.

I liked this story with both Phantom Stranger and Deadman for the most part, but the whole thing of framing the Phantom Stranger for the murder of Boston Brand didn't make a lick of sense to me. Why Dr. Zorn did it. What did he expect the police to do with that info, etc.

Cool cover.

Deadman was the co-star in the last three issues of The Phantom Stranger plus they were featured in DC Super-Stars #18 (F'78).

I guess they are a good fit since The Stranger can see Deadman at all times? Plus they are both supernatural...

The Sandman #2

Apr.-May 1975

Cover art by: Jack Kirby

Story: The Night of the Spider

Writer: Michael Fleisher

Pencils: Ernie Chua

Inks: Mike Royer

Dr. Spider has kidnapped some kid named Jed. He registers really high on the angst-meter (that is what it is actually called, no kidding), and Dr. Spider is not only able to project his nightmares on a screen he is also able to bring them to life. Which he demonstrates by killing one of his own henchman. Meanwhile, Sandman is in his base of operations and notices that the amount of nightmares is down for some reason.

After confronting the Nightmare Wizard, Sandman finds out that Dr. Spider is going to use the physical nightmares to take over the world. The wizard doesn't care if the doctor does it or not, figuring that the Doc would be just as good as all of the global administrations in running the world anyways. Sandman then goes to reality!

Once here he sees a number of monsters running around, and the army's ineffectiveness against them. He pulls out his hypnosonic whistle and blows. This causes the monsters to disappear. One of Dr. Spider's lackeys stuns and captures The Sandman. Brute and Glob (allies of Sandman?) see that Sandman is in dire straits and wonder how they can help him, since they can only get out when Sandman blows his whistle to allow them out of their cases. Well it just so happens that Brute made is own whistle, since he likes to have his own fun sometimes, and blows.

The pair are now free and go to Sandman's aid. They stay in the dream stream though, otherwise he will know that they can escape on their own. From there they somehow loosen his straps and leave. When Sandman awakens he frees himself, but Dr. Spider sends him into one of Jed's dreams. He can't blow his whistle or kill them, since that will kill Jed. He uses his sand cartridges to render them unconscious, once in this state and after he turns his whistle to its highest setting he can get rid of the monsters without killing Jed. Sandy and Jed leave, and Dr. Spider blows up his base.

A pretty average comic. It didn't blow my doors off, but it wasn't awful either. It was weird when he got captured by one of Dr. Spider's man he had a firehose in one panel and then shot him with a stun gun on the next. The first issue was just supposed to have been a one-shot with Simon and Kirby, but they decided to turn it into a regular series. Yet, those two were too busy with other projects to take it on. The powers that be at DC kept on Mike Royer as inker on this series to give it that Jack Kirby feel. Most would have appreciated that, but it was a turn off for me.

Shazam! #1

Feb. 1973

Cover art by: C.C. Beck, Murphy Anderson & Nick Cardy

Story: The World's Wickedest Plan

Writer: Denny O'Neil

Art: C.C. Beck

This comic actually begins with a little 6 pager retelling Captain Marvel's origin, which we all know by now: orphan, subway tunnel, wizard, power of the god's, magic word, done!

Alright let's get to the meat of this comic. Captain Marvel has returned to Earth after being gone for 20 years. We learn that Dr. Sivana put him, the rest of Marvel Family, and some other people who were attending a ceremony for the Marvel Family in a sphere of suspendium. As he celebrating his victory, Sivana, Jr, slaps him on the back, and their spaceship crashes into the sphere putting them into suspended animation as well. The outer space crash also hits Captain Marvel, and we see his head broken through one of the windows.

The whole mass of rocketship and globe slowly gets pulled toward the sun, and after 20 years Captain Marvel awakes. He says “SHAZAM!” climbs through the window as Billy, and frees Mary and Junior. They push the globe towards Earth to free the others inside, before the sun melts it, and kills them. The Sivana's also wake up, and fly away.

Previously in the story Cap had stopped some thieves from stealing some electronics. These goons were working for Dr. Sivana. He was working on a death ray to kill almost everyone so he could take over the world. Captain Marvel comes crashing into their lab, and captures them all.

This was an alright story. We never learn at all how Billy knew where the Sivana's were, or how he knew they were the ones behind the robbery. It was fun, but maybe a little too short. Since it had to fit in the origin in the front, and a reprint the the back. Eliminating one of them would have given the main story more room to breathe. I also liked Beck's simple yet effective, animated style. I think someone asked before if this comic was in my collection...Phillip maybe?

Spider-man #18-23

Jan-June 1992

Cover art by: Erik Larsen

Story: Revenge of the Sinister Six

Writer: Erik Larsen

Art: Erik Larsen

I think for the most part the comics of the '90s get a bad rap. It had its flaws, sure, just like every other era. The '90s are just highlighted by a foil embossed cover. After reading this is could be exhibit A of what was wrong with that era. Just look at that cover! It is just so busy, and awful it almost hurts my eyes. This was not a good story.

Anyways, Doctor Octopus is reforming the Sinister Six to help him conquer the world! They don't trust each other though, since Ock betrayed the rest of them last time. He even tries to blackmail Sandman into helping him by blowing up the house of the lady he used to rent a room from. It kind of works as he shows up, but then attacks Doc. He shoots him with a gun that turns him into glass.

At one point they venture to a different dimension (which we don't see) to get some new weapons, and get amped up. All but one of these weapons looks like an uzi. The '90s comic book version of the uzi: the big honking one that is the size of a torso. Oh for those who want to know who is in this version of the Six we have: Doctor Ocotopus, Electro (who is the most trusting of Ock), Mysterio, Hobgoblin (not sure which version), The Vulture,and they later bring in a monster named Gog.

One of the good things about your normal Spider-man versus the Sinister Six is that it is Spider-man against 6 villains. Not so here. For those of you who miss Marvel Team-up they more than make up for it, and it was another problem with the '90s. Endless guest appearances and team-ups. Not only do we have Spidey we also have, joining him in the fight against the bad guys: Ghost Rider, The Hulk, Solo (irony thy names is), Deathlok, Nova, Sleepwalker, and the entire Fantsatic Four. That's right the heroes out number the villains 11-6. Oops I forgot in the end they reanimate Sandman and he almost kills Doctor Octopus with glass shards. That was during the clean-up so I really don't count that as him working with the heroes. Spider-man chastises him for the near murder. Sandman is trying to go straight here, and the Wall Crawler tells him that heroes don't kill under any circumstance.

There is a sub-plot about Mary Jane having to do a nude scene in a movie which Peter doesn't like. Spoiler warning! She doesn't go through with it.

It wasn't all bad. I liked the distrust of the villains. Doctor Octopus got more powerful since he stole some adamantium tentacles. And uh...well that is about it.

I really don't like Erik Larsen's art here. Or his writing. His Spider-man has some very unfunny jokes. Mary Jane has an almost literal hourglass figure. She has a middle, like Captain Comics said in another thread, that doesn't look like it can contain any internal organs. Also he put her in the really awful patterned dresses, and not only that they had no wrinkles in them, so they looked weird. One might wonder why I bought these comics. Well it was a complete story and I was able to pick up the entire group for 3 bucks, the price of one comic today. Less than some others.

Gog from Amazing Spider-Man #103:

Peter's in the Savage Land. The girl in the bikini is Gwen. And Gog is about to go King Kong!

And yes Ka-Zar does show up!

Stray Bullets #1

November 1995

Cover art by: David Lapham

Story: The Look of Love

Writer: David Lapham

Art: David Lapham

This is one of those stories were the night begins badly, and just gets worse from there. Here we have two low level mobsters, Joey and Frank, who are tasked with getting rid of the body of a woman for their boss. Harry, the boss, also allowed Joey to have a roll in the hay with her before she was killed. Joey now believes he is in love with a girl that he has never met before, and is now dead.

On the way to getting rid of the body they get a flat tire. Joey walks into the woods to pee while Frank changes the tire. A cop comes along and questions him as to what is going on. Frank waits in the car, but the policeman notices the blood in the backseat. Joey comes out firing and kills him. He has never killed anyone before, and Frank reassures him he did the right thing.

As the pair drives off, Joey tells Frank he still needs to pee. He never got a chance before. The pair pull into a diner, and Joey runs to the back to use the restroom. When he comes out he sees Frank and another guy outside at an open trunk to a car. Joey freaks out and kills the man. Frank tells him that it was a different car. Joey then goes and kills everyone in the diner. Frank trying to keep an even keel, and not freak Joey out more, tells him its okay. They couldn't leave any witnesses anyways. The duo load as many bodies into their car as they can, and then torch the diner.

Joey then tells Frank he is going to kill Harry for killing the girl. Frank finally freaks out and tells him that Harry let her have her as a joke, and that she is just a whore. Joey pulls his gun, and kills Frank. He then just walks away leaving all of the bodies in or around the car in the early morning light.

I came into Stray Bullets a few years after it had begun, turned on to it by a friend's girlfriend. This is a brutally violent book, that is best in small doses. It is also really good, and I wish it was still being published now. I've always really liked David Lapham's art and it is really striking here in black and white.

My other favorite part is that Lapham included his own mug shot in the back of the book:

Stray Bullets #5

November 1995 (2nd Printing)

Cover art by: Dave Lapham

Story: Backin' Up The Truck

Writer: Dave Lapham

Art: Dave Lapham

Orson is the good son compared to his foul-mouthed, rebellious sister. On his way home from school he witnesses a man get hit by a truck. Plenty of bystanders are around and he eventually gets to talking with a young woman. They go to a diner to grab some dinner, and he tells her he is just about to graduate high school. Rose tries to get him to relax after seeing the dead body and buys him a rum and coke. This takes place in 1981, so the drinking age would probably be 18.

Rose later invites Orson to a party the coming Saturday which he readily agrees to. When he gets back home, his mother tells him that his grandparents are visiting on Saturday. He tries to get out of it, but he can't. Orson then has to sit through mind-numbing conversations between his grand parents and mother. Later that night Rose calls him very upset that he didn't come to her party. He pleads with her to forgive him. Rose tells him she is having another get together on Wednesday, and informs Orson he can make it up to her then. He realizes that is both his graduation day and birthday. She convinces him he better show up.

The big day arrives, and he shows up with some flowers. He hears voices outside of her apartment and waits outside. That is when Monster comes out, and is enraged that he is standing there listening. He almost kills him on the spot, but Rose and Jack talk him out of it. The party gets very out of hand for Orson. He drinks, smokes pot, downs some pills, etc. When he awakes the next morning he freaks out, especially after learning that she has a kid. Orson then begins his trek home when a lady hits and kills a guy with her car. He then punches her out.

Another bang up issue. Monster became a more prominent figure later in the series. There was also a sub-plot of a number written on the hand of the first guy killed. Orson called it and when someone answered he didn't say anything. When he tried calling later it had been disconnected. Orson did not believe that the first guy was killed by accident. Another interesting thing was that you never see Orson's mom or grandparents. Outside of one panel of a reverse negative of his mothers lips, when she tried to kiss him. I'm sure it means something. The lack of control the adults really had over the kids. Their absence in the minor's life.

Superman #274

February 1971

Cover art by: Neal Adams

Story: How To Tame A Wild Volcano

Writer: Denny O'Neil

Pencils: Curt Swan

Inks: Murphy Anderson

Well it looks like the Boki Volcano in the Pacific is about to erupt, also the man who own the island won't let his employees leave the island. Clark Kent asks his boss Morgan Edge if he wants him to go over there to help the employees. Clark seems surprised that Edge wants him to go there and report on the news story, you know his job.

He flies over there as Superman, and sees a ship shooting its cannon at other small boats around the island. The Man of Steel finds out it is the owner of the island, Boysie Harker, trying to keep his employees in line. Harker tells Supes there is nothing he can do to stop him, since the law is on his side. The Man of Steel flies off, changes into Kent, and makes a report on the volcano for WGBS.

Far away a sand creature forms up (that looks vaguely like Superman) and flies off towards Boki Island.

Later Superman decides to burrow underneath the island to relieve the pressure on the volcano, while he is doing that the sand creature flies overhead, and Superman feels very weak. He doesn't know what could have done that since he has removed all of traces green kryptonite. He does regain his strength and then he moves a storm cloud over the volcano to also aid in weakening it, which seems to help some. It would have be one bad ass storm cloud to do that though, I would imagine.

Now Clark decides to fly into the storm to clean his uniform, since he is awfully dirty now. He also has to get back on camera to file another report. When he does the sand creature flies nearby, and this time the Action Ace passes out and lands on Harker's best cannon. Which allows the employees to escape the island. Also, the US Navy shows up and takes in Harker. I don't know what kind of authority they would have over them though, I have no idea how those laws work. We leave with Superman wondering what the creature is, and he how maybe powerless to stop it.

This was an okay story. Nothing spectacular. It was interesting to see O'Neil's take on Superman. I am more used to him writing more street level stories. This Clark isn't happy go-lucky though. We get thoughts like,”Edge is the kind of man you don't like at first...but gradually, you get to hate him!”

I think that cover is pretty nifty.

There was also a story about Jor-El on Krypton written by E. Nelson Birdwell, but I found it pretty forgettable. The one part I really loved was the letter in the back from future comic book writer Martin Pasko just ripping an imaginary story by Carey Bates. Claiming it was the worst imaginary story yet, and that imaginary stories have been going on for eleven years too long. Pretty entertaining. To be fair though, the other two letters in the column had praise for the story.

...Was it still the #1-selling book ( standard format - " Not MAD " , e.g. ) .

  I thouht that , doubtless with TV help , the emyonomous(Sp??) ARCHIE title overtook it in the late 60s .

  Did Kal fight , fly , back up a following year ?

Travis Herrick (Modular Mod) said:

Superman #274

February 1971

Cover art by: Neal Adams

Story: How To Tame A Wild Volcano

Writer: Denny O'Neil

Pencils: Curt Swan

Inks: Murphy Anderson

Well it looks like the Boki Volcano in the Pacific is about to erupt, also the man who own the island won't let his employees leave the island. Clark Kent asks his boss Morgan Edge if he wants him to go over there to help the employees. Clark seems surprised that Edge wants him to go there and report on the news story, you know his job.

He flies over there as Superman, and sees a ship shooting its cannon at other small boats around the island. The Man of Steel finds out it is the owner of the island, Boysie Harker, trying to keep his employees in line. Harker tells Supes there is nothing he can do to stop him, since the law is on his side. The Man of Steel flies off, changes into Kent, and makes a report on the volcano for WGBS.

Far away a sand creature forms up (that looks vaguely like Superman) and flies off towards Boki Island.

Later Superman decides to burrow underneath the island to relieve the pressure on the volcano, while he is doing that the sand creature flies overhead, and Superman feels very weak. He doesn't know what could have done that since he has removed all of traces green kryptonite. He does regain his strength and then he moves a storm cloud over the volcano to also aid in weakening it, which seems to help some. It would have be one bad ass storm cloud to do that though, I would imagine.

Now Clark decides to fly into the storm to clean his uniform, since he is awfully dirty now. He also has to get back on camera to file another report. When he does the sand creature flies nearby, and this time the Action Ace passes out and lands on Harker's best cannon. Which allows the employees to escape the island. Also, the US Navy shows up and takes in Harker. I don't know what kind of authority they would have over them though, I have no idea how those laws work. We leave with Superman wondering what the creature is, and he how maybe powerless to stop it.

This was an okay story. Nothing spectacular. It was interesting to see O'Neil's take on Superman. I am more used to him writing more street level stories. This Clark isn't happy go-lucky though. We get thoughts like,”Edge is the kind of man you don't like at first...but gradually, you get to hate him!”

I think that cover is pretty nifty.

There was also a story about Jor-El on Krypton written by E. Nelson Birdwell, but I found it pretty forgettable. The one part I really loved was the letter in the back from future comic book writer Martin Pasko just ripping an imaginary story by Carey Bates. Claiming it was the worst imaginary story yet, and that imaginary stories have been going on for eleven years too long. Pretty entertaining. To be fair though, the other two letters in the column had praise for the story.

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