Friday, October 31, 2014

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Forbidden Dark Mansions of DC

A little something to get you in the mood…whether it be horror or romance as Halloween approaches...

Starting with issue #1 of the Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love in September-October 1971, through #4 in March-April 1972, and then continuing as the Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion for issues #5-15 (from May-June 1972 to February-March 1974), fans of horror and romance had tales they could look forward to. 

With covers by Joe Orlando (#2), Jeff Jones (#3), Nick Cardy (#4, 5, 10, 12, 14, 15), Alan Weiss (#6), Mike Kaluta (#7, 8, 13), Neal Adams (#9), Jack Sparling (#11), and a photo cover for issue #1, this series is a treat for those able to find them, and you’ll find it no trick to appreciate the covers, presented below!

They say love hurts.... scars, love wounds...

...but, even so...

...these tales prove...

...that love can kill!

Some tales from Sinister House of Secret Love and Doorway to Nightmare (companion titles to this one) were even reprinted in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #20 (April, 1982), with a cover by Joe Orlando, using the Dark Mansions title, and issue #7 of Forbidden Tales of the Dark Mansion introduced Charity as a host, who ended up in James Robinson's Starman book.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Welcome to My Alice Cooper Nightmare

For Halloween, I was looking for something simple, short and a little horror related to feature...

...and I hit upon the bright idea of featuring comics with Alice Cooper, feeling that he's quite worthy of focus....

...and then the horror began, because there are quite a few comics featuring the greatest villain of rock and roll!

From the Inside

Done to support his album, From the Inside (about Alice's stay in an asylum in New York due to severe alcoholism), it ended up being licensed by Marvel Comics, and a story was presented in Marvel Premiere #50 (October, 1979) written by Jim Salicrup, Roger Stern, Ed Hannigan (and Alice Cooper himself), and art by Tom Sutton and Terry Austin, and featured Alice's attempts to leave the asylum and find his snake, Veronica, and face offs with Nurse Rosetta, Jackknife Johnny and the Doctor, and even an attempt to put Alice into politics...and Vincent Furnier (aka Alice) realizes "We're All Crazy".


The next Alice Cooper comic was the unauthorized biography of the monster menace put out by Revolutionary Comics as Rock And Roll Comics #18 in 1991, coming out after Alice's wildly successful Trash album.  Written by Spike Steffenhagen and art by Steven Goupil, this covered much of Alice's real history, not being tied to a specific album.   It was unauthorized, having a real "Behind the Music" did most of Revolutionary's biographies...many stars felt they were "Poison"!

The Last Temptation

The Last Temptation was Alice Cooper's 20th studio album, and a three issue mini-series that was put out by Marvel Comics as part of their "Marvel Music" line. 

The comics were written by Neil Gaiman (author of DC's Sandman and a few episodes of Doctor Who) and interior art by Michael Zulli, with covers by Dave McKean

The issues came out cover dated May, August and December of 1994...and the album came out in July. 

The story (and album) revolve around Steven, the usual protagonist of Alice Cooper, facing off against a mysterious showman giving the boy twisted visions of his life as he tried to get Steven to join his road show where the boy would never grow up...

...and become "Lost In America". 

The series was collected by Marvel in 1995, and by Dark Horse Comics in 2000 and 2005, and very recently by Dynamite in 2014!

Welcome to Alice's Nightmare

In September, 2014, Alice Cooper finally gets his own monthly comic by Dynamite.  With story by Joe Harris, and art by Eman Casallos, the Prince of Darkness reveals he's more than the master of horrific road shows, but Alice Cooper was also the "Lord of Nightmares" and watched over everyone...until those powers were taken away...and he wants them back, proving that there will be "No More, Mr. Nice Guy"!

Hey, Stoopid!

One last Alice Cooper treat...another unauthorized biography comic with Orbit: Alice Cooper

This time, it's by Bluewater Comics (home of comics about William Shatner, Adam West, Vincent Price and more)...and written by Michael Frizell and interior and regular cover art by Jayfi Hashim.  "School's Out"  on whether you'll like these..."and I hope I didn't scare ya..."

Monday, October 27, 2014

Universal’s Mutant Of The Opera

No, it’s not an addition to the X-Men to back up Dazzler, but instead, the latest series (#4) of Universal Monsters’ action figures to hit the shelves in time for Halloween!

The fourth series of Universal Monsters Retro-Style Action Figures is due out in October! The two new 8-inch, cloth-costume figures — inspired by the classic Mego figures of yesteryear — are of the Phantom of the Opera (as played by Lon Chaney) and the Metaluna Mutant from This Island Earth (as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000).

The Phantom Of The Opera

The Phantom of the Opera was originally a novel by Gaston Leroux, and adapted as a silent movie in 1925 with Lon Chaney as Erik, the deformed Phantom, who haunts the Paris Opera house looking to make the woman he loves (Christine Daae…played  by Mary Philbin) a star…but things don’t go well for Erik.

She is given all by him, but is not suppose to look behind his mask.  Of course, that doesn’t go well….hence, his surprised look (which required extensive make-up at the time for star, Lon Chaney…quite painful as well…).

This movie has been remade a few times...and even been on Broadway...but, the classics are the best!

This Island Earth

The Metaluna Mutant is from the movie version of This Island Earth that came out in June 1955 as Universal was switching from the more gothic horror it had been known for to the science fiction based bug-eyed aliens invading Earth idea that became popular in the 1950s, and was their first in color, no less!  With Regis Parton as the mutant, he didn’t really have a lot to do in the movie, but he stole the show from alien Exeter (Jeff Morrow), Dr. Ruth Adams (Faith Domergue) and Dr. Cal Meacham (Rex Reason) who were helping to fight off the invasion of Metaluna by the evil Zagons (so, two intergalactic armies fighting it out, with Earth getting dragged in…sounds like the Kree-Skrull War…but it was first!).

Look for Dracula, the Mummy, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster and his Bride from previous series in stores now!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Batman's One Time Supernatural Team-Ups

Batman was no stranger to team-ups, thanks to the Brave and the Bold (and multiple team-ups with folks like Deadman, the Phantom Stranger, Spectre and the Demon), neither was he a stranger to the supernatural... the darknight detective had encountered plenty of odd things in his own magazine and Detective Comics as well...

...but, these were a few of the magical team-ups Batman only did once in Brave and the Bold!

Sunny Side Down

Eclipso was only Batman's second team-up appearance in Brave and the Bold, but the story in B&B #64 (February-March, 1966, by Bob Haney and Win Mortimer) was a doozy all under a magical cover done by Gil Kane (who was more known for drawing the Green Lantern and the Atom at the time!).

Batman faced off against Dr. Bruce Gordon's alter-ego...the evil Eclipso, as Eclipso and Queen Bee (Marcia Monroe, not related to the JLA foe, Zazzala) started a crime wave in Gotham, and even framed Batman for the crime!

Eclipso came into being in House of Secrets #61 (August, 1963) in a story by Bob Haney and Lee Elias, and was originally though to be solar scientist Bruce Gordon (no relation to Com. James Gordon), scratched by a black diamond held by tribal sorcerer Mophir during an eclipse. 

Bruce would then turn into the evil Eclipso (like Jekyll and Hyde) and weld the power of the black diamond against the forces of good (and usually his fiancĂ©, Mona Bennett and her father during the run to House of Secrets #80, and a few returns in Metal Men and Green Lantern, among others).  Later, it was revealed that Eclipso was tied to the Spectre as a former wrath of God, and that the diamond imprisoned his essence (in the Eclipso: The Darkness Within 1992 DC Annual event , and Eclipso's own 18 issue series, and a storyline in Spectre #14-18 at the time involving DC magicians Dr. Fate, Zatanna, Phantom Stranger, the Demon and Madame Xanadu)...and that anyone holding one of many black diamonds could manifest Eclipso under anger.

Another House

Batman went into the House of Mystery in Brave and the Bold #93 (December-January 1970/1971) in a story by Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams (famous for a run on Green Lantern at the time as well), where Batman had to save a boy in Scotland from what might be the ghost of a Scottish king in "Red Water, Crimson Death".

An odd, but often reprinted tale....and a pretty good one as well, with some historical significance for DC Comics, as the House of Mystery had originally been a horror anthology without a host, then home to the first Brave & the Bold co-star back from issue #50, Martian Manhunter, and a newcomer, Dial H for Hero until they were evicted ...

What made this story a little odd was Batman meeting Cain, who was the host of DC's horror anthology title, House of Mystery (and until his point, thought only to be a narrator of tales for the writer starting in #175), and, with his brother, Abel (who took over House of Secrets when it became a horror anthology after Eclipso and Prince Ra-Man were sent packing) became parts of the DC Universe, with houses that magicians and others went to (like Superman, Blue Devil, Sandman and more).

Daylight Sucks

One of the residents of the title of the House of Mystery, was a real bat-man...and Andrew Bennett (of the feature I...Vampire) met Bruce Wayne's alter ego in Brave and the Bold #195 (February, 1983, by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo).

This set the two against each other for a time, then united against Andrew's foe, Mary and the vampires of the Blood Red Moon as Batman had to deal with this vampire invasion of Gotham and save a mobster's daughter in "Night of Blood"! 

Not the first or last time Batman faced a creature of the night...

Andrew Bennett was one of the earlier "good" vampires, who lamented his existence as a vampire, and had been an Englishman who turned in the 16th century, and bit only one human, his lover, Mary, who joined the evil cabal of vampires called the Blood Red Moon, whom Andrew devoted his life to ending.  His story started in House of Mystery #290 (March, 1981, by J.M. DeMatties and Tom Sutton) and ran in most issues of House of Mystery (continuous from #302 up) until House of Mystery #319.  Andrew then popped up in Dr. Fate's 1980s series for a time, and even returned in the New 52 with his own I...Vampire series, and DC made a collection of all his original House of Mystery appearances as well.

The Doctor Is In

Dr. Fate had met Batman before as a member of the Justice Society, but the two had one adventure together alone, with Brave and the Bold #156 (November, 1979) by Cary Burkett and Don Newton.  The Gotham City police force (including Commissioner James Gordon) had become possessed by an evil force, and it took the help of the mystic from Earth-2 to save Batman and the police!

Now, regular readers of this column might remember a mention of Earth-2 before, but for those that don't, it was a place of heroes that existed since World War II, and gathered as the Justice Society of America (as opposed to the Justice League of America), with some heroic duplicates on each Earth, like Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Arrrow and Aquaman, and some similar, like Flash, Green Lantern, Atom and Hawkman.

Dr. Fate was a hero unique to Earth-2, and was quite the hero!  Kent Nelson first appeared in More Fun Comics #55 (May, 1940) by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman (under a Spectre cover), wherein the magic user saved Inza from the evil Wotan.  Later, it was revealed that Kent was the son of Sven Nelson, an archeologist, and while the two were clearing a tomb in Egypt, they found Nabu, a Lord of Order, who accidentally killed Sven, and then took Kent as his ward, trained him in sorcery, and gave the boy Nabu turned into a man the helmet of Fate...which allowed Kent to operate as a sorcerer and fight mystical menaces (as well as join the Justice Society). 

Kent learned that the helmet was taking him over, and left it behind for a while (using only his flying powers, strength and invulnerability) to fight slightly more ordinary crime, but by the time of the JLA/JSA team-ups, Dr. Fate was in the full helmet again (with Dr. Fate being separate from Kent Nelson, much to the chagrin of Inza, who had become Kent's wife).  Dr. Fate even joined the Justice League after the Crisis on Infinite Earths for a time, until his body gave up the ghost, and Eric and Linda Strauss took over being Dr. Fate (and they were the Dr. Fate who met Andrew Bennett), and when they gave it up, Inza became Dr. Fate for a time (and she helped face Eclipso with the Spectre and Zatanna....).

Backwards Magic

Batman and Zatanna had worked together many times before, and she even fought Batman and Robin back in an issue of Detective Comics, but her one and only team-up with Batman in Brave and the Bold happened in issue #169 (December, 1980) by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo.

This story, "Angel Of Mercy, Angel Of Death" was a nice chance to see more of Zatanna on her own, yet with the safety of having Batman around as well (kind of the point of Brave and the Bold issues....). 

The pair work together to see if a faith healer is real (as does the mob boss who want to avail himself of the healer's talents!).

Zatanna first appeared in Hawkman #4 (October-November, 1964) in the story "The Girl Who Split In Two!" by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson.  Zatanna was revealed to be the daughter of Zatara (a mystical character who first appeared in Action Comics #1), and was on a quest to find her missing father using the same powers of backward-speaking magic that her father possessed.  This saga would unfold in a few individual Justice League members titles, ending in Justice League of America #51

Later on, the mistress of magic joined the JLA (and gained the costume she wore when she was in B&B), and then gave that costume up for one designed by artist George Perez (that is more associated with her time in the JLA).  Later, as Zatanna gained more independent appearances, she returned to the fishnets, top hat and coat that she used in her stage magic act...but kept up helping people using her magic, including John Constantine, the Hellblazer, himself a dabbler, and confidant of the Swamp Thing (who teamed with Batman a few times, though John never did in B&B).

That's the fun of Batman team-ups, they were always magical and that legacy carries on today!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Horror is Sexy…See Vampirella

Back before Pamela Anderson made blonds synonymous with red swimsuits, there was a sexy brunette who did the same, and she did it all for fifty cents…and mostly in black and white as well!

Vampirella premiered in Vampirella #1 (September, 1969), with a stunning cover by Frank Frazetta.  Vampirella was created by Forrest J. Ackerman, and though Tom Sutton did the art of her first appearance, Trina Robbins came up with the hair and design of her iconic look.

Vampirella was an alien vampire from the planet Draculon, and for the first seven issues of her Warren Publishing magazine, she was the hostess of tales of horror…with tales of her own starting with her getting her regular costume (in a tale with art by Mike Royer in #2, in November, 1969) and with issue #8 (November, 1970), her adventures were a regular feature, when Archie Goodwin first took over editing of the book.

The magazine proved quite popular, and even added color inserts over time (but still stayed mostly black and white), and was published in magazine format, mostly to get into better circulation and avoid the Comic Code Authority of the time (the tales were a little racy…though nothing like the magazine 1984/later called 1994, and its tales, especially those of Frank Thorne‘s Ghita of Alizarr…very loosely based on his work with Red Sonja at Marvel…but, Ghita was a blond, not a redhead).

At one time, Vampirella was even to be a movie by Hammer Films (mostly noted for it’s sexy 1960s and 1970s remakes of classic Universal Horror films) with model/actress Barbara Leigh, but the studio failed before the project could get anywhere (though Barbara was immortalized in the red suit, as she appeared at conventions, and had seven covers of the magazine devoted to her as Vampirella…#67, 69, 71, 73, 74, 76, 77 and 78).  As the red suit proved to be very popular at comic conventions – with women wearing it, and the wide-eyed boys who followed them around – being an official Vampirella model became an important event (as Brinke Stevens began her modelling career that way!).

The series lasted for 112 issues (until March, 1983) at Warren (along with an annual and a special, that reprinted key issues), and Harris Publications even had an issue #113 in magazine size in 1988, before Vampirella came back again, this time in more traditonal comic book form…and her origin switched from science to a more traditional Earthbound vampire origin (making her the daughter of Lilith, the first wife of Adam….) and Harris Comics had a few different Vampirella models, including Cathy Christian, Kitana Baker, Julie Strain and Maria Di Angelis.

There was even a movie in 1996, with Bond girl Talisa Soto as Vampirella, and Roger Daltrey in there as well…but, well, it was direct to video, and…not really to talk about (though by this time, Drakulon became the preferred spelling of her planet’s name).

Dynamite Comics revived the character in 2010, and, along with publishing current comics about Vampirella, offers a series of graphic novels that reprint the original Warren tales and that incredible poster by Jose Gonzalez that opened this article!  Hope you enjoyed this little bite of Vampirella…and tell us if you need more bite to our coverage of Vampirella!  Check out the covers of the current ten volumes of Hardcovers produced by Dynamite…

Dynamite Archive #1 features Vampirella #1-7, with the stories that started it all, including that Frank Frazetta cover and work inside by Neal Adams, Don Glut, Mike Royer, Ernie Colon, Jerry Grandenetti, Jack Sparling, Gardner Fox, Tom Sutton and Jeff Jones!

Dynamite Archive #2 features Vampirella #8-14 features Vampirella art by Jose Gonzalez, as well as tales of horror by artists and writers like Neal Adams, Jeff Jones, Dave Cockrum, Frank Brunner, Steve Englehart, Denny O’Neil, Wally Wood, Steve Skeates, Don Glut, George Roussos, Jerry Grandenetti, Gardner Fox, Tom Sutton, Nicola Cuti, Sam Glanzman, Mike Ploog and more!

Dynamite Archive #3 features Vampirella #15-21, with work by Archie Goodwin, Jose Gonzalez, Doug Moench, Richard Corben, Pat Boyette, Don Glut, Jan Strnad, Steve Skeates, Reed Crandall, Denny O’Neill, Rich Buckler and, more, including Vampirella’s encounter with Dracula!

Dynamite Archive #4 features Vampirella #22-28, with work by  Esteban Moroto, Steve Englehart, Jose Gonzalez, Jose Bea, Don McGregor, Wally Wood, Steve Skeates, Bill DuBay and more, and the color sections are in color!

Dynamite Archive #5 features Vampirella #29-35 with work by Doug Moench, Steve Skeates, Jeff Jones, Bernie Wrightson, Budd Lewis, Richard Corben, Auraleon, Jose Gonzalez, Jose Bea and many more, and includes the introduction of Pantha, a beautiful were-panther in her own feature!

Dynamite Archive #6 features Vampirella #36-42, with work by Don Glut, Jose Gonzalez, Archie Goodwin, Felix Mas, Jose Bea, Esteban Maroto, Ramon Torrents, Steve Skeates, Doug Moench, Paul Neary, Budd Lewis, Jose Gonzalez and many more, celebrating the 5th Anniversary of Vampirella!

Dynamite Archive #7 features Vampirella #43-49, with work by Jose Gonzalez, Victor Mora, Esteban Maroto, Ramon Torrents, Gerry Boudreau, Isidro Mones, Auraleon, Luis Garcia, Len Wein, Budd Lewis and many more, adding new foes like the Blood Red Queen of Hearts and more battles with the forces of Chaos!

Dynamite Archive #8 features Vampirella #50-56, with work by Jose Gonzalez, Esteban Maroto, Ramon Torrents, Bill DuBay, Howard Chaykin, Zesar, Leopold Sanchez, Auraleon, Gerry Boudreau, Jose Ortiz, Enrich Torres, Bruce Jones, Gonzalo Mayo, Jan Strnad, Richard Corben, Manuel Sanjulian and many more, facing off against many menaces and the undead!

Dynamite Archive #9 features Vampirella #57-64, with work by Jose Gonzalez, Esteban Maroto, Dick Giordano, Carmine Infantino,  Bruce Jones, Gonzalo Mayo, Roger McKenzie, Budd Lewis, Bill DuBay and many more, with everyone's favorite vampire babe facing more horror than she could handle from Earth and beyond!

Dynamite Archive #10 features Vampirella #65-71, with work by Jose Gonzalez, Leo Duranoma, Jose Ortiz, Bruce Jones, Enrich Torres, Gonzalo Mayo, Roger McKenzie, Gerry Boudreau, Bill DuBay and many more, with our heroine facing mysteries, robots, aliens and more menaces...including photo covers!

Dynamite Archive #11 features Vampirella #72-79 has mostly photo covers of Barbara Leigh as Vampirella, though Enrich TorresBob Larkin, Jose Gonzalez and Jordi Penalva each painted one, with stories by Bill DuBay, Auraleon, Nicola Cuti, Cary Bates, Len Wein, Bruce Jones, Michael Fleisher and more, art by Jose Gonzalez, Auraleon, Gonzalo Mayo, Leo Duranona, Jose Ortiz, Val Mayerik, Alex Nino, Russ Heath, Jim Starlin and more on the insides as Vampirella goes through the end of the 1970s!

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Walking Dead Action Figures Series 6 and 7

It's October...and that means it's the Walking Dead time!

Action figures for the 6th series of the Walking Dead TV line from McFarlane Toys include:

The Governor (with long coat), Carol Peletier, Abraham Ford, Hershel Greene, a Bungee Guts Zombie and Rick Grimes!

Action figures for the 7th series of the Walking Dead TV line from McFarlane Toys include:

Carl Grimes, Michonne, Gareth (with a slab of meat!), and a "Mud Walker" complete with a sign...that should have been a warning.  Series 7 is not due until March of 2015!

Get them before they get you!