The Spider: Scavengers of The Slaughtered Sacrifices (2002)

When you have a character that has been around since 1933, it’s kind of double-edged sword if you try to modernize him. Most creators don’t though, and that’s a good thing. Sure you might miss out on the youth that doesn’t care about pulp characters, but you will hit your target demographic. The character in this story is called The Spider. He’s Richard Wentworth, a rich, playboy type guy, that uses his wealth to help him in his fight against injustice…no, not Batman, The Spider! When Harry Steeger created this character, the only other big time pulp characters were basically The Phantom, and The Spirit. Steeger did a good job at using the momentum those characters had generated, but The Spider definitely stood out from them.

Fast forward to the year 2012, Dynamite Entertainment put out some promotional material stating a new series starring this character was soon to be published. It definitely piqued my interest, and the series paid off with great talent (David Liss, Colton Worley, Alex Ross, Francesco Francavilla, and others), that brought intriguing stories, incredible artwork, and quite frankly, a breath of fresh air to the medium.

This introduction got me thinking that perhaps there was more material that I could feast upon? The first book I encountered was an immediate buy. Why? Because when I saw Don McGregor (writer) and Gene Colan (art) at the top of the book (The Spider: Scavengers of the Slaughtered Sacrifices – 2002 Vanguard), that’s all it took. I knew nothing about the story but had faith in Don’s reputation, and of course, it didn’t hurt that my favorite artist was also one of the creators either. If you like crime, action, Noir, and a twist of the macabre, then this is a book you must seek out right away. It’s like mashing Tomb of Dracula and Batman meets Ghost Rider. No joke, it’s that cool.








Cinema Sunday: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969)


Title: Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed

Distributor: Hammer Films/Warner Bros.

Writer: Bert Batt

Director: Terence Fisher

Producer: Anthony Nelson Keys

Starring: Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson, Freddie Jones, Simon Ward

Released: May 1969 (U.K.)



After focusing on a film starring Christopher Lee last week, I couldn’t help but gravitate towards a film starring his Hammer Films counterpart, Peter Cushing! I’ve just about exhausted all Hammer’s Vampire/Frankenstein’s Monster films, but this little gem remains! A controversial film to say the least, this is one that features not only Cushing, but also the gorgeous Veronica Carlson! She’s one of those few starlets that lights up the screen when she appears, and plays a great counterpart to evil Doctor Frankenstein!

Cushing only did one more Frankenstein film after this one (Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell), and I’ll eventually get to it down the road, but for now, let us traverse back in time, to the turn of the century. To a time when a villain like Dr. Frankenstein could get away with his ghastly experiments!



The film begins with a doctor walking down a foggy street, heading for his office. He’s suddenly accosted by a man who’s carrying a basket and some bladed weapon. The man (not seen clearly) slices the doctor’s head clean off! Just then, we see a burglar (Harold Goodwin) trying to break into a home. He hears footsteps, and cannot complete his mission, so he tries the nearest doorknob, and successfully gains access to another house. He wanders around for a few seconds, and then sees a laboratory filled with unusual devices and even a frozen corpse! He gets startled, and crashes into a table. The noise alerts the man whose home he’s broken into (the same man that frightened him into the home in the first place). As the burglar waits, he hears footsteps drawing nearer. He’s then confronted by a horrifically scarred man, and the two then fight. As the two brawl, a basket gets kicked over that the scarred man was carrying. A head comes rolling out, and we now know that it was the head of the doctor who was murdered just minutes before. The burglar eventually gets away, and the other man removes a mask, and it’s revealed that it is Dr. Frankenstein (Peter Cushing) himself!



The doctor realizes that the man will go to the police in all likelihood, so he opens a hatch in the floor, and dumps the body (and kicks the head down like a soccer ball), into a stream below. The burglar runs into a policeman, and then is taken to the station. After confessing, the police arrive and surmise that the man who beheaded the doctor earlier is probably the same man who had this secret laboratory. They then begin their investigation, and it’s headed up by Inspector Frisch (Thorley Walters), who’s an odd fellow to say the least. He doesn’t seem to have any ideas as far as who the killer may be, nor does he take advice from his fellow investigators.



As Dr. Frankenstein leaves the house he was occupying, he then finds a room for rent on the other side of London. He knocks on the door and is greeted by Anna (Veronica Carlson), and with her mother currently elderly and ill, she is running the boarding house. We then switch to a local asylum, where a woman is screaming like a banshee. We are introduced to Dr. Karl Holst (Simon Ward), who is a very prominent young doctor employed there. He looks in on another patient, Dr. Frederick Brandt (George Pravda), who has had a traumatic brain injury, and cannot even speak. The other doctors at the asylum believe he cannot be cured. Back at the boarding house, the other four tenants are discussing Dr. Brandt, and then after Dr. Frankenstein enters the room (under an assumed name), and they involve his name in the conversation. He tells them it’s fools like them that have blocked progress for centuries. They get furious with him, but he leaves (like a boss).



Later, Karl comes to take out his bride-to-be, Anna. He drops a box (of medicinal cocaine) on the doorstep, and then heads inside to see Anna. Dr. Frankenstein finds the box, and uses this leverage to blackmail them into service of his dastardly deeds. They’ve been using the stolen drugs to sell them to support Anna’s elderly mother. The next day, Anna tosses the other four tenants out on the street to make room for Dr. Frankenstein’s experiments. He then tells Karl that he means to repair the damaged brain of Dr. Brandt, a man whom he’d been corresponding with about brain surgery. Frankenstein and Holst rob a medical supply store, and Holst murders the night watchman in fear of being caught. Frankenstein then uses Karl’s place at the asylum to kidnap Dr. Brandt from the asylum, so he can remove his brain and put it in another body, and repair it during the process.



Will Dr. Frankenstein succeed in his devilish plot or will Karl and Anna find a way to not only clear their names but also put an end to the devious deeds of Dr. Frankenstein?!?!


OK, here are my thoughts:

One scene aside, this is one of Hammer’s best films in the “Frankenstein’s Monster” franchise. It’s not the typical monster as was the first couple of films (and the Universal Studios film), in that the story revolves more around the doctor himself, and his machinations. Of course, when you have a lead like Peter Cushing this is possible. The supporting cast is great as well, and you get a wild actor like Thorley Walters, a solid job by a young Simon Ward, and the utter beauty and grace of Veronica Carlson (image below) to cap it all off.

At this point, Hammer was relying on film distribution companies in the U.S. to partially back their films, and of course, distribute them in America. So, in a roundabout way, they had some say in the content of the film itself. Hammer executive, James Carreras, demanded that director Terence Fisher (his first film back at Hammer after a few years break) add a rape scene to the film. This did not settle well with Cushing and Carlson (the two involved in the scene), but the did it, albeit begrudgingly. Quite honestly, the scene does seem a bit out-of-place, and for anyone that’s a Hammer aficionado, you’ll know that this isn’t something Dr. Frankenstein would’ve been interested in.

Definitely set aside some time to watch this one. It’s part of a great four film set by TCM Classics, and is one of my treasured compilations of Hammer Studios material!




Click here for the trailer!


Defenders: The Coming of The Defenders 1, 2011 “The Return”

After a short break from posting (due to that absurdity called “work”), I’m back with a look at one of my favorite books of all time! Yes, and even though it’s a reprint, it still holds a huge place in my reading trophy case because it shows the formation of my second favorite team, The Defenders! To help pump up readers for the new series that came out that year (2012), Marvel reissued some of the classics that showed what an awesome team The Defenders were! The story shows how Dr. Strange faced an almost impossible situation, and called upon Namor and The Hulk to help him combat it (he actually peered in on the Silver Surfer, but he was knocked unconscious).

From the mind of Roy Thomas (writer), we get the beginnings of a most unusual, but also incredible teams in Marvel comics. Once the tam got their own title, and Steve Gerber began writing, it really went to another level. For now though, Thomas delivered the goods, as he just about always did in his career. The penciling chores were handled by two masters, in Ross Andru and Don Heck (Heck did the backup story in issue 1 of Marvel Feature, showing us the return of Dr. Strange, Andru penciled the rest). As if those two giants weren’t enough, you get inks by Bill Everett, Frank Giacoia, and Sal Buscema! Letters by Sam Rosen and Artie Simek, and edited of course, by Stan Lee (cover by Neal Adams).












Marvel Two-in-One 51, 1979 “Full House–Dragons High!”

As the train rolls on, and Marvel Two-in-One is still at the forefront of my coconut, this issue that was a recent purchase is ready for the spotlight! Anytime you pair two superheros together, it’s a plus, but when you add several, then the odds have just increased substantially of the book catching the eye of a potential reader. Team books offer so much with all the varying personalities, potential strife, and vast array of powers, that you can’t get out of a solo book (although Doctor Strange is the best character and his ’74 series is the best of all time). In this marvelous tale, we see a few heroes gather for a night of poker, and companionship. We see Ms. Marvel, Wonder Man, The Beast, Nick Fury, Jarvis, and of course, The Thing (also a minor character named Blake Tower, a District Attorney from the pages of Daredevil). Good action issue, but honestly, it’s all about the personal interactions between the heroes during some “down time.”

Peter Gillis is a name I know from the pages of Doctor Strange. He wrote a few stories in that mag, and did a fine job. In this book, he does an excellent job of weaving the action in with the quiet moments of the book. Also adding some great banter between the heroes as they spring into action! The art team of Frank Miller (pencils) and Bob McLeod (inks), really bring their “A” game on this book! One page in particular shows the heroes in shadow, in a smoke-filled room playing cards that is outstanding. No Bronze Age book would be complete without the letters of Tom Orzechowski and colors of Glynis Wein! And if that wasn’t enough, you get the legendary Roger Stern (another great name who has also written some very good Doc Strange stories!) as editor! And, last  but not least, you get a bonus as George Pérez and Joe Sinnott give us this fabulous cover!










Cinema Sunday: The City of The Dead (A.K.A. Horror Hotel – 1960)


Title: The City of The Dead (U.S. Title- Horror Hotel)

Distributor: British Lion

Writer: George Baxt (screenplay), Milton Subotsky (story)

Director: John Moxey

Producers: Seymour S. Dorner, Milton Subotsky, Max Rosenberg, Donald Taylor

Starring: Christopher Lee, Dennis Lotis, Venetia Stevenson, Betta St. John, Patricia Jessel

Released: Sept. 1960 (U.K.)



It has been a couple of months since I spotlighted a film starring the late, great Christopher Lee. His contributions to the industry are nothing short of legendary, and rightly so. This week I’m going to showcase a lesser-known film that stars Sir Christopher, called “The City of the Dead!” With the two men responsible for the creation of Amicus Studios at the helm (Subotsky and Rosenberg), this film is impressive because of its atmospherics, and some solid acting.

In 1960, the age of Hammer Studios was just starting to blossom (Cushing and Lee were just beginning their conquering stride through the medium), and everyone else was scrambling to catch up. Most other companies (as a whole) never caught up, but some did produce some very good films that live on! Anytime you mix witches, Christopher Lee, and Massachusetts together, you know you’ve got a winner! Alright, and away we go…



The film begins with a witch, Elizabeth Selwyn (Patricia Jessel) being burned at the stake for her unholy actions. One man in the crowd (Puritans?), Jethrow Keane (Valentine Dyall), seems to have a connection to her, and calls out to the devil to help her. It doesn’t seem to help much though, and she’s apparently toast. Fast forward to modern times, and Professor Alan Driscoll (Christopher Lee), is lecturing some students about these very matters. One student in particular, Nan Barlow (Venetia Stevenson), is very receptive to the subject. Her boyfriend, Bill Maitland (Tom Naylor), thinks it’s a bunch of nonsense, and this angers Driscoll.



Nan then asks Driscoll if he knows of any place where she can visit to help with her term paper on the subject. Driscoll suggests she stay in his ancestral town of Whitewood, Massachusetts, where she can get a first hand look and get some real perspective. Her boyfriend, Bill, isn’t too happy about this, but lets her go without much trouble. Just then, Nan’s brother, a professor of science at the same school walks in, and has a go with Driscoll about witchcraft. We see that although Driscoll may look like a wuss, he has a temper, and also a sinister look about him.



The following day, Nan heads out to the town of Whitewood, but seems to get lost in an eerie fog. She happens upon a gentleman and asks him for directions. He tells her the way, but warns her that the town is evil. She continues on, even after he warning. As she gets to a fork in the road, a man is walking nearby. He introduces himself as Jethrow Keane (Valentine Dyall – image below)  and asks for a ride. She invites him in, and he begins to tell her a little about Whitewood. They eventually arrive in town, and their destination, the Ravens Inn. As Nan turns around to get her luggage, but then the man disappears! She heads inside and meets Lottie (Ann Beach), but before she can even try to communicate with her, the owner of the inn appears. We then are introduced to Mrs. Newless (Patricia Jessel – image below), who has a striking resemblance to the witch, Elizabeth Selwyn.



Later that night, Nan heads out to take a walk around town. It’s very dark and dreary, and the townspeople, who are few, don’t seem to care for strangers. She then heads over to the old church. It seems unoccupied, and in an obvious state of closure. As she attempts to enter, her way is blocked by a minister, claiming to be the leader/caretaker of the church. She questions him about the church and town, but he’ll only remark that there is an evil presence here, and that she should go immediately. She returns to the inn, and settles in for the night.



After a short time, she thin ks she hears some noise below her room. She gets the attention of Mrs. Newless, but after they investigate, there is nothing to be found. Later, Mrs. Newless invites Nan to come out to join the others, who are dancing in the hall. She eventually does, but by that time, no one is around anymore. We are then made aware that this date is of significance for those who worship Satan, which unfortunately is bad news for Nan. At the very stroke of midnight, she again hears some disturbance, and as she looks outside of her window, she can see robed figures walking through the cemetery. She then finds a handle that fits into the trap door in the floor of her bedroom, and uses it to open the door.



Next, Nan decides to head down into the dark basement, but is instantly accosted by two men in robes. They drag her, kicking and screaming to an altar, where we see the townspeople, Mrs. Newless, and Jethrow Keane. They begin a count, and when they reach the number thirteen, the knife is plunged! Over at a party, Nan’s brother, Richard, and her boyfriend, Bill, haven’t heard from her in days, and are worried. They attempt to call the inn, but are told that no such place exists.



Will Bill and Richard find out what happened to Nan and stop the cult from killing again? And what does Professor Driscoll have to do with all of this chicanery? You must watch to find out!


OK, here are my thoughts:

Any time you get a black and white film full of atmosphere and incredible sets, count me in. Even if Lee wasn’t in this picture, it would still be quite good. He does add his normal power and presence, but his screen time is somewhat sparse. His scenes are very important, but I’m used to seeing him as the big star, and not a lesser part. The rest of the cast does a solid job though, and really plays up the scary! Patricia Jessel is especially creepy, and does a fantastic job as the witch. Not lost in the crowd is Dennis Lotis (Nan’s brother), who really takes charge once his sister disappears.

As stated above, the atmosphere in this one is incredible. Even though the film is a little too dark at times, it does add a level of fright that is welcomed. The one and only thing I can say that was pretty bad, was the music score. During a couple of the scenes (mainly driving scenes), the music was a ridiculous upbeat tune that seems more appropriate for a Doris Day/Rock Hudson film. Take that away, and this is an excellent film that should be viewed by any serious fan of the time/genre. Oh, and Venetia Stevenson (image below) is stunning in this film!




Click here for the trailer!


Marvel Two-in-One 24, 1977 “Does Anyone Remember…The Hijacker!?”

While I don’t “remember the Hijacker,” I do know an awesome villain when I see one! Brought to life during the great, but short-lived series “Black Goliath,” This little known villain is so generic he’s awesome! Marvel’s sister titles, Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-in-One, were both exquisite in their own strange way. Both offered characters that even casual fans would recognize, but once in a while, they’d throw a curveball at you, and have a villain (or even sometimes someone/thing from pop culture) that was completely off the wall. This is one of those times of awesomeness.

The name Bill Mantlo (writer, with an assist from Jim Shooter), is one that I hold is high esteem. Many times I’ve picked up a comic book and after reading it, was not shocked to find out it was from the mind of this gentleman. The art team is composed of two masters. Sal Buscema (pencils) and Pablo Marcos (inks), are two staples from the Bronze Age that really resonate with fans of that era and beyond. Irv Watanabe (letters) and George Roussos (colors), are also a couple of names synonymous with that period, as is editor, Archie Goodwin!










Marvel Two-in-One 95, 1982 “The Power to Live, The Power to Die!”

After searching far and wide (OK, not really), I’ve finally purchased a book I’ve been wanting to buy for years! Why this book? Because I love N’Kantu, The Living Mummy, that’s why! With a backstory along the same lines as Imhotep, this former warrior prince of an African tribe was put down by politics. They embalmed him alive and with a special fluid that has kept him alive for centuries! In this story, we see Ben Grimm and Alicia Masters get caught up in an Egyptian-style caper with magic and mayhem!

This issue was scripted by the very capable David Anthony Kraft. He was one of those guys that was ready for anything, and even though he didn’t have many extended runs on any specific title, the work was there and on point. The recent passing of Alan Kupperberg (pencils) was quite a shock for me. Having been friends with him on social media for a couple for years, I found him to be very friendly, and always positive. The inker, Jon D’Agostino, is someone I know nothing about, but his work with Kupperberg looks very nice to my eyes. The cover was brought to us by the awesome Bronze Age duo of Ron Wilson and Chic Stone! Veterans Diana Albers (letters), George Roussos (colors), and Tom Defalco (editor), round out the team!








Cinema Sunday: X The Unknown (1956)


Title: X The Unknown

Distributor: Warner Bros. (Hammer Studios)

Writer: Jimmy Sangster

Director: Leslie Norman (and originally, Joseph Losey)

Producer: Anthony Hinds

Starring: Dean Jagger, Edward Chapman, Michael Ripper, Leo McKern, Anthony Newley

Released: November 1956

MPAA: Approved


Of course, everyone that’s a fan of the sci-fi/horror genre has heard of the 1958 classic, The Blob. I’d like to spotlight a film that has quite a few similarities…and was released two years previously. Not trying to imply that The Blob is a ripoff but they certainly seemed to “borrow’ a few ideas from this film. A film that was originally intended to be a sequel to Hammer’s successful sci-fi film, The Quatermass Experiment, but the writer of that film (Nigel Kneale) wouldn’t allow the use of his main character (Professor Bernard Quatermass) to be used, so they reconstructed slightly, and moved forward.

Limited budgets have never stopped Hammer Studios from producing great material, and this film is no exception. The cast isn’t very recognizable to fans of Hammer’s horror films (except for Michael Ripper!), but don’t let that dissuade you from watching. Alright, let the storytelling commence!



The film opens with a soldier, Corporal “Spider” Webb (Anthony Newley), as he’s using a Geiger counter to search an area for radioactivity. He gets a reading, and then finds something buried just below the surface. We then see that it’s a training exercise, and the soldiers are prepping for a mission. We see Sergeant Grimsdyke (Michael Ripper) and he’s told to retrieve Major Cartwright (John Harvey) because one of the soldiers is getting a reading nowhere near one of the test areas. They then try to find the device they planted for the exercise, but the muddy ground begins to bubble near the other site, and one of the soldiers gets frightened. Grimsdyke orders the men to back off, but before they can get away, two of the men are caught in an explosion. We see a “Y”-shaped crack in the Earth, and smoke pouring out of it.



Over at a lab, we see Peter Elliott (William Lucas), and Dr. Adam Royston (Dean Jagger), conducting experiments. Royston seems like a bit of an eccentric old chap, and has an affection for oddities of all kinds. Royston then gets orders to go check out the radioactive area that the Army discovered. The area doesn’t seem to be radioactive anymore, so Royston is skeptical. He then gets a look at the soldiers that were burned in the incident, and changes his mind. He immediately requests for his equipment to be brought out to the site. There are some reporters there and they start to badger the military.



Later that night, two kids are up to some shenanigans, and one ventures out to the restricted area by the fissure. He nears a structure, but then stops when he hears a noise. He’s stopped in his tracks by something horrific that is sizzling like bacon. He runs so fast that he passes out his mate that waiting for him. We next see the boy in the hospital (he eventually dies from the encounter), and Dr. Royston has been brought in to examine him. It seems the boy has radiation burns. Royston questions the other boy about their whereabouts the night before, and he confesses that they went near the restricted area.



Royston heads to the Tower near the restricted area to do some investigating. He finds a old man making moonshine, and then also a metal canister from his lab. He rushes back to his lab, and sees that it has been broken into by some unknown person(s). The lab is ransacked, and there’s a strange film over everything. Peter arrives and is shocked at what has happened. Inspector “Mac” McGill (Leo McKern) is sent by the local authorities to investigate the strange goings-on. That very night, a doctor and a nurse are “fraternizing” but get interrupted by the same unforeseen force that burned the boy. It chars the man to ashes.



Out on the marshes, two soldiers are attacked by the radioactive force, and killed. Royston concludes that there must be a sort of radioactive prehistoric creature that is causing this havoc, and that it must be stopped or many more will die a horrible death! They hatch a plan to repel down into the fissure, and see what exactly they are up against. Elliott volunteers to be lowered down, and as he’s being lowered down, he sees the remains of one of the soldiers that was killed. The creature then moves in to attack, and the army tries to fight it off with guns and flamethrowers. They next attempt to seal the creature below by filling the fissure with concrete. Royston tells them that it wont work, because it already made its way to the surface through tons of rock.

Will Dr. Royston be able to concoct a plan to stop this radioactive nightmare or will the entire countryside be burnt to a crisp?!? Tune in to find out!



OK, here are my thoughts:

Although this film is very good, it does lack star power. The other films (in the Quatermass trilogy) have a very strong lead, and that certainly helped them stay a bit more on point. Dean Jagger isn’t bad or anything like that he just lacks any real “oomph” on-screen. The erst of the players are good but not great, so there’s really no support to help push the cast ahead. There is some great atmosphere and thrilling moments in this film, and they give it a feeling of comfort while watching.

The soundtrack is average, and the sets just above that bar. A few moments of humor are well placed, and throw a good curveball into the mix. There is one glaring omission from this film that you typically find in all of their films- an attractive but competent female role. It would’ve’ benefited the film immensely, and added a nice and missing angle from the film.

Overall a good sci-fi flick that helps set the tone for the other Quatermass films that follow down the road. Definitely set aside some time for a viewing!


Click here for the trailer!


Captain America 207, 1976 “The Tiger and the Swine!”

Now that Halloween is over, Lets get back to some superhero comics! And why not start off with something from the King?!! When people talk about the return of the king, I don’t think of a Hobbit, I think of Jack “King” Kirby returning to Marvel in the mid-1970s. The man was a legend before he left Marvel for DC in 1970, so some may have written off his last works for Marvel Comics, thinking they’d be inferior to his previous works. Honestly, his Fantastic Four run is the stuff of legend, and co-creating the Avengers, X-Men, and many other characters/groups is obviously extremely important. In his return to marvel though, he was able to be in complete control of his work (writing, editing, penciling). This gave the world some iconic and trippy books that are also the stuff of legend!

In this issue, we see Steve Rogers get kidnapped by a terrorist group in Central America. The story is one that has a slight humanitarian angle to it (explained by Jack Kirby in the intro), but it’s basically a Cap issue where he shows good versus evil. Nothing to heady but definitely a good read that keeps your eyes on the paper, especially from his marvelous visuals. The inks are by “Fearless” Frank Giacoia, letters by Jim Novak, and colors by George Roussos.









Strange Adventures 232, 1971 “Hollywood in Space!”

Every once and a while, you just grab a book on a whim, and soon realize you struck gold! This book is one of those times. If this cover doesn’t grab you with its stunning display of sci-fi action, or the proclamation of “Startling Stories of Super Science-Fiction,” then you’d better check your pulse! Seeing the twenty-five cent cover also was a dead giveaway that this book is from my favorite era, the Bronze Age. It sounds as if this book is a sure winner, but being a DC noob, and no creator credits on the cover (that I saw at first glance), it was a shot in the dark, personally. Little did I know that the five stories inside would be to my liking, and quite honestly, anyone that’s a fan of the genre.

This gorgeous cover was brought to you by the man, the myth, and the legend, Joe Kubert. This guy could draw a jungle scene one minute, a fantastical world from outer space the next, and then finish off with a gritty war comic, all before lunch. And oh yeah, it would blow your mind. I’ve just scratched the surface with his work, but I already know he’s one of the greatest men to ever pick up a pencil. The interior has work from some incredible creators from days gone by, like Mort Drucker, Sid Greene, Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino, Murphy Anderson, and more! If you love sci-fi and action, this one will impress you, I guarantee it!