Thor #201, 1972 “Resurrection!”

After Jack Kirby left Marvel, I’m sure there were some that were very despondent, both within Marvel, and fans. One of the books he left, was Thor. Most would probably say that the Fantastic Four or Captain America are his crowning achievements, but for me, I think Thor is right up there with anything he ever gave us during his time at Marvel Comics. So, the stage is set, Kirby is gone, and who can even possibly try to fill his shoes? Enter John Buscema! The man’s work is well documented, and for all the greats of his time, he stands tall, right there among them. In this issue, we see Odin brought back to life with the help of Hela! We also get a treat, and see the god of war, Pluto, as he battles Thor!

As I’ve already pointed out, this issue is a good one, and basically, you have two elements driving that fact. First is the great creative team of Gerry Conway (writer), “Big” John Buscema (pencils), Jim Mooney (inks), Artie Simek (letters), Gil Kane (cover pencils), and Vince Colletta (cover inks)! The second is the awesome continuity that had been put into place by Lee and Kirby, up until this point in the character’s history. Throw those things together, and you get a great title!

 

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Marvel Adventures #1, 1975 “The Tri-Man Lives!”

I’ll be honest, Daredevil isn’t one of my favorite characters. I don’t dislike him, but he just doesn’t get me aroused. There are a couple of aspects about his life that I do like (his terrible love life, his relationship with Foggy), but overall, I find him slightly dull. There is always one reason to check out some DD though, and that’s because of Gene Colan. He was the first consistent artist on the book, lending his pencils to over 80 issues of that title (the 1964 original run). He penciled one of the most socially significant stories of the decade in Daredevil #47, “Brother Take My Hand.” In this reprint book we see issue #22 shown again. The story centers around three villains, the Tri-Man, The Gladiator, and The Masked Marauder! Now, granted these guys aren’t the cream of the crop in the villain category, but Colan makes them look very menacing!

At this point, DD was still in his infancy, so Stan Lee was writing the book (as he was contributing to most scripts back then (1966). Initially, the book had a couple of different legendary artist (Bill Everett, Wally Wood), but it wasn’t until Gene “The Dean” Colan took over on the book that it had the great consistency it lacked. The inks in this one were provided by two men that were absolute stalwarts in the Silver and Bronze Ages. “Fearless” Frank Giacoia and “Darlin'” Dick Ayers, were both excellent inkers that are legends in the industry. The colors were provided by Stan Goldberg, and letters by Sam Rosen.

 

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Marvel Chillers #1, 1975 “Magic is Alive!”

I recently attended a small comic convention, and grabbed a few good books for a decent cost. Nothing high-end, just a couple of black and white mags, and a few key issues from the Bronze Age (well, key to me anyways). One of them being Marvel Chillers #1! This was the first appearance of a pretty important character during this era, Modred the Mystic. He would go on to plague the Avengers, and especially be a part of the Scarlet Witch’s life for a while. In this issue we see his origin, and more about the Darkhold and Wundagore Mountain!

With a number one issue like this, the cover really doesn’t need an “A” team, but it has one anyway! Artists Gil Kane (pencils), and Tom Palmer (inks) supply a fantastic cover for this one! Inside you get work from Bill Mantlo (script), Marv Wolfman (plot), Yong Montano (pencils), Ed Hannigan (pencils), John Romita Sr. (inks), Petra Goldberg (colors), Tony San Jose (letters), and Frank Giacoia (inks)! With a crew like that, this one is a can’t miss!

 

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Cinema Sunday: Madhouse (1974)

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Title: Madhouse

Distributor: AIP (American International Pictures) & Amicus Productions

Writers: Greg Morrison, Ken Levison

Director: Jim Clark

Producers: Max Rosenberg, Milton Subotsky, Samuel Z. Arkoff

Starring: Vincent Price, Peter Cushing, Robert Quarry, Adrienne Corri, Natasha Pyne, Linda Hayden

Released: March 1974

MPAA: PG

 

After a couple of wild black and white films, I thought it was high-time that two of my favorite horror film stalwarts were plunged back in the spotlight! As you well know, one of the most masterful horror film actors of all-time passed away recently, and next week, I’ll be showcasing a film starring Sir Christopher Lee, but for now, Vincent Price and Peter Cushing will share the stage. Both men had already built a huge catalog of films by this time, and really were still at the peak of their powers! So now, without further interruption, I give you, Madhouse…

 

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The film starts out with a room full of people watching a new movie that’s ready to hit the theaters (a flashback). It’s a cheesy horror flick starring a character named “Dr. Death (Vincent Price),” that shows the good doctor unleashing a monster in a well to kill a damsel in distress, while the townspeople wielding their torches and pitchforks attempt to stop him. A man then stops the film, and tells the guests about how Dr. Death killed many of his beautiful co-stars in different ways, but now, he’s marrying his latest co-star, Ellen Mason (Julie Crosthwait). He (Paul Toombes) introduces the writer, Herbert Flay (Peter Cushing), and gives him full credit for his contributions. As he introduces his bride to be, one of his old flames (and old co-stars), Faye Carstairs (Adrienne Corri) approaches him, visibly upset, and gives them her two cents. Shortly thereafter, a man, Oliver Quayle (Robert Quarry), introduces himself to Toombes, and remarks about how his new bride used to make adult films before he knew her. Toombes is quite upset with him, and his fiancé, and she runs off, embarrassed by the situation. She runs upstairs as Herbert tries to comfort Toombes. After crying for a minute or so, Ellen is brutally murdered.

 

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Paul awakens after having fallen asleep apparently, and heads upstairs to apologize to Ellen. As he enters her room, her head falls off, as she’s been decapitated! Paul scrams, then the story fades to a hospital room, where he’s been injected with some kind of drugs, and being questioned about the murder. He keeps insisting that he can’t remember what happened. We next see a shot of London (present day), as Paul has completed a rehab program (after a nervous breakdown), and his old nemesis, Oliver Quayle, is now a big-time editor of a newspaper, and he’s telling his underlings the story of Toombes’ history, and how he’s planning an exposé on his life.

 

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Next, we see Toombes being awakened by a gorgeous woman, Elizabeth Peters (Linda Hayden). She’s a young actress that wants a break, but Toombes tells her to hit the road. Toombes is on a ship coming to London (he was previously in Hollywood, apparently), and is greeted by Julia Wilson, one of Quayle’s stooges. She takes him to the home of his life-long friend, Herbert Flay, and the two then reminisce about old times, and how the two will now be working on a television show together. Herbert tells Paul that he’s now become a successful actor, but that he wants to work with Paul again. Paul is terrified to revive the character again, as he thinks it’s bad luck. They then watch one of the Dr. Death films together, but as it drones on, Herbert creeps out of the room, and Paul seems to be going into a trance.

 

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Outside the house, the girl from the ship, Elizabeth, is prowling around, and eventually makes her way into the house. She calls out to Paul, but gets no answer. She heads back outside, and sees a figure walking through the garden. She calls out but gets no response. As she follows the figure further and further away, she begins to realize she might be being led away intentionally. Just as she’s ready to give up, the shadowy figure pops out of nowhere and shoves a pitchfork into her neck! Back inside, Paul awakens, after seemingly falling asleep on the couch. He lights a candle, and heads out to find Herbert. He can hear someone talking, and investigates. He finds a phonograph in the basement, along with a glass enclosure full of Tarantulas. Before he can even move, he’s accosted by a woman (image below). At first he doesn’t recognize her, as she’s terribly disfigured, and seems to have had a mental breakdown. Eventually though, he recognizes that it’s Faye (from the opening scene).

 

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The following day, two boys are fishing, and discover the corpse of Elizabeth. The police are baffled but see a pattern with these two killings. Both were done in the same fashion as portrayed in two of the Dr. Death films. Of course, they immediately wonder where Paul Toombes is, but he isn’t a suspect yet. Over at the house, Paul asks Herbert why he never told him that he ended up marrying Faye. As they meet up with Oliver Quayle, and then later they begin to film the first scene. Toombes isn’t thrilled but is doing Herbert a favor, so he endures the hardship. He’s also not excited about finding out that he’ll have a pretty assistant, something he never had in any of his films. Toombes yells at her for not following his lead, and they call it a day.

later that evening, Quayle is throwing a costume party for the launch of the filming, and again, Toombes is less than excited. Herbert attempts to change his mood, but Toombes is anything but happy. He then has a run in with is co-star, but tells her off. Quayle then shows some old film clips of Toombes work (actually films that Price had made, and not “Dr. Death” films), and everyone sits down for the show. Everyone except his new co-star, that is, as she’s gone upstairs to check out some of the props that Quayle has collected over the years. In mere moments, she’s murdered, and a few minutes later, Quayle’s assistant, Julia, finds the girl hanging by her neck, dead. Toombes heads back to Herbert’s home, packs his bags, and attempts to leave. He’s stopped by the police, and they bring him in for questioning.

 

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Is Paul Toombes consciously or unconsciously acting out murders from his movies? Or is someone else trying to drive him insane? Check out this classic to find the answers!

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

I wouldn’t consider this film in my personal top few films in the career of Vincent Price or Peter Cushing, but don’t be fooled, it’s definitely worth a watch. Price gives a solid performance, as to be expected from a consummate pro like him, and so does Cushing. The rest of the cast isn’t on their level, but then again, not many are. Robert Quarry plays a good, sleazy producer, and Linda Hayden (only a small part, image below), is very easy on the eyes.

 

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The sets were good, and the soundtrack was good enough to help move things along here and there. There were a couple of parts that bogged down the film slightly, but nothing to terrible. The cops being portrayed as a couple of boobs is a bit of a tired trope, and really didn’t help. One cool angle was the scene where they were showing some of Paul’s work, and it actually showed some of the films Price did during that era, with fellow horror legends Boris Karloff and Basil Rathbone.

Check this one out if for nothing than to see these two legends, as their careers were certainly winding down (compared to before this time), but not over yet!

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

The Spectacular Spider-Man #50, 1981 “Dilemma!”

As most comic book readers know, the Amazing Spider-Man was the flagship title, and almost always had the best stories. Every once in a while though, the sister title, Spectacular Spider-Man would churn out something cool. It had its share of solid creators working on it, and usually dealt with something a little more off-beat. This particular issue shows Spidey, as he’s wrapping up capturing the villain from the previous issue (the Smuggler), but his night gets a little crazier than he thought it would. After finally packing up the costume for one night, Parker decides to call Debra Whitman and ask her to accompany him to meet Aunt May’s new beau, Nathan Lubensky for dinner the following day. We see that Debra has some pretty deep feelings for Peter, but we know his mind is elsewhere. The story has some nice little moments, and is definitely one that you should seek out!

Anyone that lost track of Spidey after the tumultuous Silver Age is really missing out on some great stories. Everyone knows of the excellence of Gerry Conway, but a couple of other scribes did the old web-head justice as well, and one of them is certainly Roger Stern. He wrote this story along with a few others in this title, and later took over the main title as well, and really made strides in the life of Peter Parker and his surrounding cast (Mary Jane especially). The art team is a great one too, and we have “Jubilant” John Romita Jr. (pencils), and Jim “Madman” Mooney to thank for that. The colors were provided by Ben Sean, the letters by Jim Novak. Your eyes do not deceive you, that is a cover by “Lanky” Frank Miller and Joe “The Rube” Rubinstein!

 

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Marvel Chillers #4, 1976 “Night of the Huntress!”

For a time, Marvel tried to further its reading base by creating some books that had  female protagonists. One of those characters was “The Cat,” Greer Nelson. She was featured in her own short-lived series, and after became an Avenger. She eventually mutated into a tiger-woman, named Tigra! She also had a stint in Marvel Chillers, and in this issue, she battled none other than Kraven the Hunter! We all know that Kraven is a bad mamma jamma, but don’t worry, Tigra can hold her own!

The creative team on this one was unique as this was the only issue they all worked on  (writer, pencils, inks) in the series. You have X-Man supreme, “Clever” Chris Claremont (writer), “Free-Wheelin” Frank Robbins (pencils), “Valiant” Vince Colletta (inks), John Costanza (letters), and George Roussos (colors), that gave us this gem! Oh, and let us not forget editor “Marvelous” Marv Wolfman, and “Jazzy” Johnny Romita (pencils), and “Terrific” Tom Palmer (inks), with the cover!

 

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Black Goliath #5, 1976 “Survival!”

The 1970’s had such an eclectic selection of comic books, that looking back, you can’t deny the place it has in history. It’s understood that without the Golden Age, and Silver Age, things wouldn’t have turned out that way, but that fact doesn’t diminish the greatness of the Bronze Age! Take for instance, the title, Black Goliath. In only five issues, it gave us a superhero of color, and one that was definitely a strong character. If you look back, that was something in short supply. The scientist, Bill Foster, was an employee of Stark Industries, and later became the scientific partner of Hank Pym. In this, the final issue of the series, Foster must do battle with a giant alien savage named Mortag! And also protect two others with no superpowers!

The story is pretty good, and with someone like Chris Claremont writing, you kind of expect it after all he’s done. The artist is the terribly underrated Keith Pollard (a guy I’ve spotlighted before on my blog). He had a good run on the Fantastic Four, and Thor, and if you check out those issues, you’ll be impressed. The colorist is Bonnie Wilford, and the letterer, Irv Watanabe. The short-lived editor, but always reliable writer, Archie Goodwin rounds out the team! Oh, and let us not forget the action packed cover by the master, Gil Kane (pencils) and another Marvel stalwart of the era, Al Milgrom (inks)!

 

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Marvel Team-Up #80, “A Sorcerer Possessed!” and #81, 1979 “Last Rites”

I love team books, if not for just the different characters, then just because you get more “hero” bang for your buck! But if I had to choose between Marvel Team-UP and Marvel Two-in-One, I’d take the latter. 2-in-1 was just more quirky, or off-beat, if you will. I do however love Dr. Strange, and no matter what title he appears in, I’m going to buy it! In this two-parter, the Doc is somehow turned into a werewolf, and runs amok in NYC. It’s up to Clea, Spider-Man, and Satana to stop him! Throw in a guest appearance by Marie Laveau, and the ever faithful Wong, and you get an issue packed with excitement!

Although Chris Claremont isn’t really known for his work with the macabre, but if you dig, you’ll see he wrote a few different stories in the genre. He does a fine job in this story, showing the great concern Clea has for her mentor/lover! In the art department, we have guest penciler, Mike Vosburg, and he does an outstanding job! Assisting with the art (inks) are Gene Day (#80) and Steve Leialoha (#81)! Both men are solid inkers and have a nice resumé! Letters and colors are both recognizable names as well (colors for #80 are Petra Goldberg, and letters by Denise Wohl– colors in #81 are by Ben Sean, and letters by Rick Parker). Both issues have great covers, and Rich Buckler and Bob McLeod gave us the first one, then followed by Al Milgrom and Steve Leialoha on the second!

 

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Fantastic Four #140, 1973 “Annihilus Revealed!”

Although Jack Kirby created Annihilus (FF Annual #6, 1968), there have a been a couple of other creative teams that did some really great work with the character. Case in point- Fantastic Four #140! In this issue, we see more schemes from the bug-like alien from the Negative Zone, plus his awesome origin. I’m not 100% sure if it had been shown in detail like this before, as I don’t have a copy of FF Annual #6, but if not, definitely grab a copy of this book for that cool story!

In the years shortly after Kirby left Marvel, you had a solid contingency of creators that were more than willing to step up to the plate, and give it a go. One of them, writer Gerry Conway, did just that, and more, when he took over books like Spider-Man, Thor, and this title as well (he didn’t write everything after Kirby left, but definitely had the longest run until Byrne came along later). I know most don’t think of Conway when they think FF writers, but believe me, they should. And lets face it, when you have an art team like “Big” John Buscema and “Joltin” Joe Sinnott in your corner, you’re on the path to success. Add on George Roussos (colorist), and John Costanza (letters), and the team is set! The book grabs your attention right away with a cover from “Riotous” Rich Buckler and “Fearless” Frank Giacoia!

 

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Cinema Sunday: Night Tide (1961)

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Title: Night Tide

Distributor: American International Pictures

Writer: Curtis Harrington

Director: Curtis Harrington

Producer: Aram Katarian

Starring: Dennis Hopper, Linda Lawson, Marjorie Cameron, Luana Anders, Gavin Muir

Released: June 1963 (U.S.)

MPAA: PG

 

This week brings another great flick from back in the day! Some don’t care for black and white, but as long as the acting and story are good, it doesn’t bother me at all. Of course, most of the best sci-fi films came from a time when color was in its infancy, but the monsters were still scary, the tech was really cool (for its time), and the ladies looked gorgeous! Speaking of gorgeous ladies, this week’s film has one for sure, in Linda Lawson! The film also has one of the most diverse actors, in Dennis Hopper! This guy has had many roles throughout his career, but always gives a solid performance.

Well, without spoiling too much, I’ll try to do my best with the synopsis of this one. A lesser-known, black and white treat from the early 1960’s, here’s Night Tide…

 

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The film begins with a sailor, Johnny Drake (Dennis Hopper), making his way across the boardwalk in Santa Monica. He eventually wanders in to a Jazz Club, and sits down to enjoy the music and have a smoke. Within a minute or two, he notices a beautiful, black-haired girl, sitting by herself on the other side of the club. He makes his way over and asks if he can sit down by her. The girl’s name is Mora (Linda Lawson), and she seems to be a little apprehensive about talking to Johnny. As Johnny is trying to get his foot in the door, a strange woman walks behind him and mumbles something to Mora. It really upsets her, so she drops some cash on the table, asks Johnny to pay her bill, and runs out of the club. Johnny runs after her, an catches up with her outside. He offers to walk her home and listen to her to make her feel better after the incident. They reach her apartment, and Johnny makes a weak attempt to get her to let him come inside, but she’s not having any of that. He asks if he can see her again, and she concedes, and invites him to breakfast the next morning.

 

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The following day shows Johnny walking to Mora’s apartment. As he gets to the building, he helps an older guy lift up one of the windows to the carousel (Mora’s apartment is above the carousel ride on the boardwalk). The man (Tom Dillon), thanks Johnny and then asks him a few questions about his relationship with Mora (nothing personal, just vague questions). Johnny seems a little nervous talking about her, so then he heads upstairs. Mora greets him, and the two have a nice meal together. She remarks about how she loves the sea and everything about it. You get the feeling that both have taken quite a liking to each other, but there’s definitely an ominous tone over the relationship.

 

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Mora then takes Johnny to see her place of work. She works at a side-show attraction where she portrays a mermaid in a tank of water. They find the side-show owner, Captain Sam Murdock (Gavin Muir – image below), asleep behind the counter. He seems like a nice enough guy, and then he tells Mora it’s time to get ready for the show. Sam then tells Johnny that if wants to know more about Mora, he should stop by his home, and he’ll tell him what he knows. Apparently he’s been her guardian since he found her on an island, years before when she was a youth.

Another day brings another date, as the two young love birds spend the day at the beach. They talk a lot about themselves, and are beginning to get closer to each other. As night falls, there’s a beach party, and one of the musicians asks Mora to dance. She begins to a native-type dance (which is kind of ludicrous). As Mora dances, she spots that same woman from the Jazz Club earlier in the week, and she suddenly faints. It appears as if she’s going to be OK, and Johnny seems concerned.

 

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The next day, Johnny is having some coffee with the people who run the carousel, and talk about everyday subjects. A policeman enters, and asks the man and his daughter, Ellen (Luana Sanders), if they’ve seen anything new. They tell him they haven’t seen anything, and he leaves a minute later. Johnny asks what’s going on, and they tell him that both of Mora’s last two boyfriends died under mysterious circumstances. Johnny seems shocked and can’t believe that Mora had anything to do with it. A local fortune-teller is also there, and she tells him that Mora was never implicated with either death. She also tells him to come and see hm for a reading.

 

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Suddenly, Johnny looks out the window, and sees the mysterious woman in black that’s been plaguing Mora. He follows her but loses track of her in a certain neighborhood. He then recognizes the address on the one house, and knocks. Captain Murdoch answers, and invites Johnny in for a chat. He tells Johnny that as long as he sees Mora, he’s in grave danger. Johnny doesn’t understand what’s going on, and then Murdoch tells him about the legend of the Sirens. After a short talk, Murdoch passes out from the booze he’d been drinking. Johnny takes the liberty of searching through Mora’s old room, but doesn’t find much of anything. He then confronts Mora about it, and she doesn’t deny it, and tells Johnny that the woman in black is one of them, and that she’s there to remind Mora that one day they will come for her!

 

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Will Johnny be able to stop the Sirens from taking Mora away, or will he end up like the last two men that fell under the Sirens spell!

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

I had heard of this movie on a podcast, but not as the subject of their review, but just some idle chatter. I looked it up and thought the description sounded pretty cool. After watching it twice, I definitely knew I wanted to present it here for the masses. Hopper delivers a fine performance, even at this young age, and plays the part of the unaware lover. Linda Lawson is great as the mysterious girlfriend, as well. Another fine job was turned in by Luana Sanders (image below), as Ellen. She does a fine job as the third part of the love triangle (sort of), and is very convincing with her feelings toward Hopper’s character.

The music score for the film was up and down, so it’s probably a wash on the scorecard. The sets however, were very good, and the setting of Santa Monica was a superb backdrop for the film. The cinematography was on point, and especially in two specific scenes (a dream sequence, and in another scene under the pier). of course, the film itself was very dark, and sketchy at times, so there is a desperate need for a restoration on this one.

Definitely catch this one when you get time (check out the big video sites), and give it a watch. You’ll be impressed by Hopper and Lawson, and the quirky plot!

 

Click here for the trailer!

 

Luana Anders (Night Tide)