Sunday, May 29, 2016

For Memorial Day

For this Memorial Day, along with saluting the troops who gave their all for us, I also salute artist Darwyn Cooke, an incredible talent taken from us too soon, with this cover from Justice Society of America #50 (June, 2011).

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Find The Strange Adventures Of Captain Comet

Captain Comet was a mutant, born 100,000 years ahead of his time (or over a decade before that group of kids and their professor came out as mutants against a magnetic menace...).

Adam Blake first appeared in Strange Adventures #9 (June, 1951) by writer John Broome, penciller Carmine Infantino and inked by Bernard Sachs, complete with his origins...though later tales would be drawn by Murphy Anderson, and inked by Sy Barry, with Gil Kane and Sy Barry finishing the art on the series in Strange Adventures #49 (October, 1954).


....where to find those thrilling 1950s tales of space-bound, super-heroic action with Captain Comet, his friend Professor Emery Zachro and lady librarian Lucy Torrence?

Well, continue on.....

Strange Adventures #14

First up on this ride is Strange Adventures #14 (November, 1951) and it is a "Destination Doom" by writer John Broome and artist Murphy Anderson, where Captain Comet was taken off Earth in his alter ego of Adam Blake (looking like an average man) by aliens, who deposit their prisoners on planet FV 782 to be slaves to the robots there who lost their living inhabitants.  Captain Comet destroys the power source of the robots, then makes a spaceship to take his fellow captives home.

This story was reprinted in DC Super-Stars #4 (June, 1976), along with reprints of adventures of Adam Strange and Space Ranger, all under an Ernie Chan cover.

Strange Adventures #17

"Beware The Synthetic Men" was the warning given in Strange Adventures #17 (February, 1952) by writer John Broome, penciller Murphy Anderson and inker Joe Giella, where Captain Comet faces off against five Synthetic Men, artificial humans created by the army that the army lost control over.  Finding his mental powers don't work on this menace, Captain Comet is forced to use his brain to think of a way to defeat this menace, and prevent them from making more of their kind!

This story was reprinted in DC Super-Stars #6 (August, 1976) along with reprints of stories with Adam Strange, Tommy Tomorrow and the Space Cabby!

Strange Adventures #22

With Strange Adventures #22 (July, 1952), things get in order, thanks to "The Guardians Of The Clockwork Universe" by writer John Broome, penciller Murphy Anderson and inker Sy Barry.  Captain Comet is enlisted by the Guardians of the Universe (not related to but extremely similar to the Guardians of the Universe that mentored the Green Lantern Corps).  They send Captain Comet to the planet Lukan, whose rulers plan on moving their planet, which would throw the cosmos into chaos, meeting with his old friend, Radea, a female evolutionary mutant that the captain had met before, and frees her from the rulers of Lukan while stopping their plan, then returns her to her home planet.

This story is reprinted in World's Finest Comics #204 (August, 1971), with a cover by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano, that features a Superman/Wonder Woman team-up and in the Mysteries In Space: The Best Of DC Science Fiction Comics book of October, 1980, along with the origin of the Martian Manhunter, and stories of the Space Museum, Space Cabby, Star Hawkins, Tommy Tomorrow, the Atomic Knights, the Star Rovers, Space Ranger and Adam Strange with a cover by Murphy Anderson featuring Adam Strange facing a flying gorilla!

Strange Adventures #28

Strange Adventures #28 (January, 1953) is the next Captain Comet story to be reprinted, with the "Devil's Island In Space" by John Broome and Murphy Anderson, but this story has a twist....Earth is picked by the aliens of Lamia as a place to put its criminals, and Captain Comet has to stop the invisible alien crooks from escaping, using a stolen hydrogen bomb to power the spaceship they are building.  The captain stops the criminals, returning them to their homeworld, warning the rulers there that Earth is not as backward as they thought, and not to use the planet as a prison.

This story was reprinted in the Greatest 1950s Stories Ever Told hardcover of 1990 with a cover by Joe Kubert and tradepaperback in 1992.

Strange Adventures #31

It's a real War of the Worlds in Strange Adventures #31 (April, 1953) by writer John Broome, penciller Murphy Anderson and inker Joe Giella, as Captain Comet becomes part of a re-enactment of Orson Wells' famous radio broadcast, but this time, it is for real, as real martians have replaced the actors in "Lights, Camera -- Invasion".  Captain Comet must break free from the aliens who have taken him captive and prevent them from taking over the Earth!

This story was reprinted in the Pulp Fiction Library: Mystery In Space tradepaperback of 1999, under a cover by Mitch O'Connell, and features many great science fiction stories, including tales of Tommy Tomorrow, Chris KL-99, Knights of the Galaxy, Space Cabby, Star Hawkins, Adam Strange, the Star Rovers, Space Ranger and Ultra the Multi-Alien!

Strange Adventures #34

With Strange Adventures #34 (July, 1953), you have a choice..."The Lady Or The Tiger Man" (by John Broome and Murphy Anderson).  Captain Comet discovers a new planet, ruled by an evil dictator, Esklon, who also has mental powers.  The captain frees the Tiger-Man, who then battles with him, until Esklon shoots him, revealing that it was the Tiger-Man who was the dictator, controlling him with his own mental powers.  Captain Comet frees the girl, Rana, who is Esklon's sister, and takes her with him to Earth.

This story is reprinted in Superman #244 (November, 1971) along with a new Superman story, and a Superman of 2465 reprint, all under a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson!

Strange Adventures #38

The last of the reprinted Captain Comet tales is Strange Adventures #38 (November, 1953) is "The Seeing-Eye Humans" by John Broome and Murphy Anderson, wherein Captain Comet and other humans are taken captive by aliens who take them to another planet, Reyna, whose inhabitants have been blinded by a nova from a nearby star.  Captain Comet helps lead the captives to freedom and tells the people of Reyna that they will adapt to being blind, and must make it on their own.

This story is reprinted in Justice League of America #60 (February, 1968), the story where Batgirl works with the JLA against the outer space menace of Zazzala, the Queen Bee (beautifully depicted in this cover by Murphy Anderson).

Now, some of these reprints are old as well...and DC was planning a Captain Comet Archives (announced in December of 2012 for August of 2013), but sadly, the Archive program ended before this book could be published (which would have included all of Captain Comet's Strange Adventures and his first 4 tales from the Secret Society of Super-Villains #2 to #5 from the 1970s; though maybe they could have included the tale of Captain Comet teaming up with Tommy Tomorrow to face dinosaurs and Chronos instead?).

One can only hope that DC will find a way to collect the original tales of Captain Comet in the future....

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Spider-Man Teams With The X-Men

Spider-Man was certainly amazing on his own, but...

...what happened when he worked with those uncanny mutants....

...the X-Men?

Here are the three tales of Marvel Team-Up where Spider-Man worked with the whole X-Men team.

First Class

First up is Marvel Team-Up #4 (September, 1972), with Spider-Man "And Then -- The X-Men!", in a story by Gerry Conway, penciled by Gil Kane, and inks by Steve Mitchell for most of the story, and Frank Giacoia and John Romita for the flashbacks (and Gil and Frank on the cover), with the X-Men replacing the Human Torch (who had teamed up with Spidey for the first three issues).

This was mostly the original team of X-Men (Professor X, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Iceman and Angel), with the Beast popping up to explain that he was busy (because at the time, he was the only one with a title....the X-Men were homeless, and the Beast had solo adventures in Amazing Adventures!).

Continuing the story from the previous issue (with a Human Torch team-up), Spidey deals with a sickness and the living vampire of Morbius, who kidnaps a friend of Charles Xavier's...which leads Spider-Man into his team up with the band of merry mutants, who help the wall-crawler in civilian clothes, not their usual costumes (or even training uniforms, as seen in the Angel inset on the cover).


Second Class

Marvel Team-Up Annual #1 (1976) with a cover by Dave Cockrum, and plot by Chris Claremont, Bonnie Wilford and script by Bill Mantlo, and art by Sal Buscema and Mike Esposito, with Spider-Man meeting with the second incarnation of the X-Men to face "The Lords Of Light And Darkness!".

This was a chance for the X-Men to shine outside of their own title, and they did!  The X-Men (consisting of Professor X, Cyclops, Banshee, Wolverine, Colossus, Storm, Nightcrawler and the Phoenix) end up facing off against the Lords of Light and Darkness (who were a group of scientists transformed by a lab accident in Nevada.  Peter Parker was on a plane bound for Arizona and a conference on mutation (which also had Professor Charles Xavier and his students aboard), when that plane flew through a cloud and was attacked by the robots that use to guard the Nevada facility (causing the X-Men to go into action, and Peter, recognizing Cyclops, to change into Spider-Man).  The heroes confront the robot, and head to a source of radiation in the desert (getting an "anti-radiation spray" to keep them safe).  Once they end up at the Nest (the home of the mutated scientists), the heroes are taken down, and the Phoenix is isolated (as she was the one they were looking for).  The scientists, now calling themselves the Lords of Light and Darkness (with individual names taken from Hindu Gods), want to continue evolving and need to release more radiation to help that process (and want Phoenix to join them, as her mutant powers make her the only one on Earth that would survive the process).  Spidey convinces them to go into space to evolve, and not destroy the Earth (or take Phoenix along), and the X-Men help them get there.  Professor X helps wipe the minds of the other plane passengers to keep Spidey's identity a secret, and the team and Spidey then show up briefly in Marvel Team-Up #53 (January, 1977), the start of a two-issue team-up of Spider-Man and the Hulk. 

Third Class

Spidey's last X-Men team-up was in the last issue of MTU, Marvel Team-Up #150 (February, 1985) under a cover by Barry Windsor-Smith, and the story "Tis Better To Give!" written by Louise Simonson, penciled by Greg LaRocque and inked by Mike Esposito.

This time around, Spidey and the merry mutants of Rachel Summers, Nightcrawler, Rogue and Colossus, with Peter Parker dealing with his usual financial woes, and the X-Men dealing with the Juggernaut (who has just given the Ruby of Cyttorak to his friend, Black Tom Cassidy, which gave Juggernaut his power, and it has the same effect on Tom).  The two villains are battling in New York, with Spider-Man and the X-Men fighting to stop them (with Rogue at times absorbing powers from the villains, and turning on the heroes). Pictures of the fight don't help Peter's money troubles, but a lucky accident does!

That issue ended Spider-Man's Marvel Team-Up run, but there were more individual X-Men team ups, but we'll save those for a future date!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Find The Phantom Stranger

Is he man or ghost?

Neither.  He is the Phantom Stranger.

Coming into being in the early 1950s, Phantom Stranger held his own title for 6 issues, from August-September, 1952 to June-July, 1953, facing off against various supernatural threats....with little hints to his origins or life when not battling the forces of mystical evil.

Those issues were hard enough to find then....but now, well, at least some of these classic tales have been reprinted!

Phantom Stranger #1 (August-September, 1952)

Phantom Stranger's first story from his first issue was "The Haunters From Beyond" by writer John Broome, penciller Carmine Infantino and inker Sy Barry, with the man of mystery helping Anne Parris, dealing with ghosts from the Salem witch trials....or are they?  Phantom Stranger is there to solve the problem....

This tale is reprinted in DC 100 Page Super-Spectacular #4 (1971) under a pretty spooky Bernie Wrightson cover, and it also includes plenty of horror and mystery reprints from House of Mystery, House of Secrets, My Greatest Adventure, Tales of the Unexpected and Sensation Mystery (including a Johnny Peril tale!)...

The second story, "When Dead Men Walk" deals with a plane crash, and how three dead men from that crash come back to deal with plans they were unable to, or so it appears until the Phantom Stranger arrives to help in this story by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Sy Barry.

This story was reprinted in the Phantom Stranger #1 (May-June, 1969) under a cover by Bill Draut, when the Phantom Stranger was revived as a reprint title (with Dr. Thirteen reprints from Star-Spangled Comics as well, and a new teaser featuring the two characters as well.....this issue containing a story of the "ghost-breaker" from Star-Spangled Comics #125 of February, 1952), and the Phantom Stranger story was also in the Greatest 1950s Stories Ever Told hardcover from 1990 and softcover from 1992.

The last Phantom Stranger story from his 1950s first issue was "The House Of Strange Secrets" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, with the Phantom Stranger helping Neal Hunter, a lost traveler who ended up being kidnapped by a dead sorceror's apprentice and trapped in a house that seems trying to kill him....or is all just an elaborate plot?  Only the Phantom Stranger and readers of this issue know...

This story was reprinted in the 1960s Phantom Stranger #2 (July-August, 1969) under a cover by Bill Draut, with a Dr. Thirteen debunking more magic in the story from Star-Spangled Comics #128 (May, 1952).

Phantom Stranger #2 (October-November, 1952)

The first story of Phantom Stranger #2 (October-November, 1952) was "The Killer Shadow" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Sy Barry, with the Phantom Stranger helping heiress Myra Hunter who seemed to have her shadow stolen by dark arts performed by her uncle, John Neville.  Did the girl lose her shadow, or is there a more Earthly reason for the trouble being caused to this young woman....

This story was reprinted in Brave and the Bold #98 (October-November, 1971) under a cover by Nick Cardy, with the second team-up of Batman and the Phantom Stranger as the main focus of the issue in a story by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo, and Jim Aparo would come to be closely associated with the Phantom Stranger, drawing many of his issues in the 1970s.

The second Phantom Stranger story from this issue, "Death's Strange Deputy" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs, has the Phantom Stranger dealing with the evil Veile, who has convinced a man named Adam Horton that he is not a man, but a magical creation, and sends him to kill the local district attorney.  Thankfully, the Phantom Stranger encounters Adam, and intervenes to find out the truth.

This story was reprinted in Adventure Comics #418 (April, 1972) under a Supergirl cover by Bob Oksner, and the issue also contains a new Black Canary story, as well as an unpublished until now Golden Age Dr. Mid-Nite story!

The last of the Phantom Stranger stories of this issue is "The Three Signs of Evil" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, with the Phantom Stranger facing off against members of the Moon Cult to save the life of artist Mark Davis.  The Stranger stops the cult, but disappears as Mark calls the police....

This story was reprinted in Showcase #80 (February, 1969) under a cover by Neal Adams, as a try out for what became the 41 issue Phantom Stranger series, with a Dr. Thirteen reprint (this time from Star-Spangled Comics #122 of November, 1951, the first appearance of ghost-breaker, Dr. Terrance Thirteen), and a framing sequence by Mike Friedrich, Jerry Grandenetti and Bill Draut, linking the stories, with Dr. 13 trying to debunk the Phantom Stranger.

Phantom Stranger #3 (December-January, 1952/1953)

The third 1950s issue of Phantom Stranger only sees one of its tales reprinted, the middle one,  with a "Dead Man's Hand" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Frank Giacoia, with rodeo wrangler Hank Wheeler being dealt a "dead man's hand" of Aces and Eights, and then seeing them everywhere he goes until he nearly dies....or is this all just a plot of rodeo hand, Jim Pomeroy?

This tale was reprinted in Adventure Comics #419 (May, 1972) under a Supergirl cover by Bob Oksner, with new Black Canary and Zatanna tales in the issue, as well as an Enchantress reprint.

The first and third Phantom Stranger stories from this issue, "Ghosts For Sale!" and "The Day Of Destiny!" have yet to be reprinted.

Phantom Stranger #4 (February-March, 1953)

The fourth issue of the original Phantom Stranger series only sees its first Phantom Stranger story reprinted, "The Hairy Shadows" by John Broome, Murphy Anderson and Joe Giella, with the Phantom Stranger helping ghost hunters Vic and Ellen Woods as they investigate the disappearance of Old Judd, who supposedly disappeared after a struggle with a hairy shadow.  While there, they encounter a creature from another dimension after summoning a doorway from one of Judd's old spellbooks.

This story was reprinted in House of Mystery #225 (June-July, 1974), along with a few other creepy tales...

Sadly, "The Riddle Of The Ghostly Trumpet" and "The Dream Killer" have not been reprinted.

Phantom Stranger #5 (April-May, 1953)

The first story of Phantom Stranger #5 (April-May, 1953), "The Living Nightmare" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Bernard Sachs, finds the Phantom Stranger helping out Samson...boxer Jerry Samson, who thinks he has a link to the historical hero.  Though Jerry does perform some good deeds, his delusion also gets him into trouble that the Phantom Stranger need to help him out of.

This story was reprinted in House of Mystery #226 (August-September, 1974) along with enough tales to curl anyone's hair, all under Cain's watchful eye with this cover by Luis Dominguez!

The second Phantom Stranger story of his issue, "The Unseen Familiar" has remained unseen since this issue.

The third Phantom Stranger story of this issue, "The Stars Screamed Danger" by John Broome, Frank Giacoia and Joe Giella, has the Phantom Stranger facing off against Vasti, a carnival mystic, who is bedeviling a local amusement park with evil apparitions.  As the Phantom Stranger investigates, he finds out that Vasti is a fraud, trying to get his hands on the park for a lower price.

This story is reprinted in Phantom Stranger #3 (September-October, 1969) under a Neal Adams cover, with another Dr. Thirteen reprint (from Star-Spangled Comics #126 of March, 1952) as well as a new connector story with the Phantom Stranger meeting Dr. Thirteen "Some Day In Some Dark Alley..." in a story by Mike Friedich and art by Bill Draut.

Phantom Stranger #6 (June-July, 1953) 

The last issue of the 1950s Phantom Stranger only finds one story reprinted, that of the last Phantom Stranger story in the issue, "Horror In Minature" by John Broome and Frank Giacoia.  The Phantom Stranger helps Pete, a night watchmen, deal with an invasion of elves from the future, using an iron sword, and gets help from photographer Tim Harley!

This story is reprinted in House of Mystery #224 (April-May, 1974) along with many other classics to chill your bones!

Sadly, the first and second Phantom Stranger stories of his sixth and last issue of the 1950s, "The Ghosts In The Locked Room" and the "Doorway In The Sky" have not been collected.

Phantom Stranger next appeared in the new story in Showcase #80 in February, 1969, which led to his 41 issue series that started with a new Phantom Stranger #1 in May-June, 1969, which had its first all new story, with the Phantom Stranger facing off against mystic menace, Tala, in Phantom Stranger #4 (November-December, 1969).

What type of magic will it take to see all these 1950s (and even all the later Phantom Strangers) reprinted in color?

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Spider-Man Meets Dr. Strange

Spider-Man is a friendly, neighborhood hero....and Dr. Strange is the sorcerer supreme, safeguarding all of Earth from inter-dimensional threats.  These two seem like unlikely heroes to team up, but it happened a few times over the course of Spidey's team-up book, Marvel Team-Up.

Let's take a look at the events that brought two of New York's heroes together....

Reflections Of An Old Meeting

First up, Spidey and Dr. Strange meet up in Marvel Team-Up #21 (May, 1974) with "The Spider And The Sorcerer!" by writer Len Wein, penciller Sal Buscema and inkers Frank Giacoia and Dave Hunt and cover by Gil Kane and Frank Giacoia.

This issue is a follow up to Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2 (October, 1965), which featured the first appearance of the villain, Xandu.  Here, Xandu has hypnotized Spider-Man to break into the Doctor's home to steal the Crystal of Kadavarus, so that Xandu can re-energize his Wand of Watoomb (that Strange drained in the Annual).  Through Xandu's magic, Dr. Strange appears hostile to Spider-Man, and the two fight when Stephen tries to stop him, but Spidey does find the gem to take to Xandu.  Xandu wants his full mystic might back to sale the woman he loved, Melinda, whom he had put into a coma while learning magic.  Spidey and Doc face Xandu in his home dimension, with Strange casting a spell to switch their powers (which aren't quite working right), to enable the heroes to defeat Xandu, casting his Wand into another dimension.  Dr. Strange lives up to his profession, examining Melinda, to find she is not in a deathlike coma, but a coma-like death, which she cannot be returned from.

Doctor Says I Need More Iron

With Marvel Team-Up #50 (October, 1976), Peter and Stephen face "The Mystery of The Wraith" by writer Bill Mantlo, penciller Sal Buscema and inkers Mike Esposito and Dave Hunt and cover by Gil Kane and Dave Adkins.

This story is part of a multi-issue arc, with Iron Man being Spider-Man's partner for issues #48, #49 and #51 (though Doc makes appearances in the last two...).  In this issue, Spidey is recruiting Doctor Strange for help with the Wraith, whom he believes may be a supernatural menace.  The Iron Man team-ups and most of this issue are covered here, but this tale is worth a mention for Spidey's visit to Dr. Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum...and that Doc trusts Spidey enough that his house wouldn't react to him as a threat.

Deal Me In

Now, the story of "If Not For Love" by writer Chris Claremont, penciller Howard Chaykin and inkers Jeff Aclin and Juan Ortiz and cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin, Marvel Team-Up #76 (December, 1978)  starts with Spidey swinging past Dr. Strange's mansion, with Stephen noticing the web-slinger, but he goes back to a gift of tarot cards, and does a reading for himself.  Dr. Strange seems preoccupied with the cards, much to the frustration of his girl friend, Clea.  Meanwhile, Carol Danvers (secretly, Ms. Marvel) bumps into Wong, Dr. Strange's manservant, while shopping, dumping his goods to the ground.  While helping him pick them up, Wong receives a telepathic distress call from the Doctor, and heads to his aid (with Peter Parker witnessing this at the end, and changing to his Spider-Man clothes and going along).  At Strange's home, the Orb of Agamatto (a mystic possession of the Doctor's) has begun an attack at Strange and Clea, with Clea injured and the magical defenses of the Doctor's home down, both Spider-Man and the newly re-costumed Ms. Marvel show up, offering help.  Dr. Strange, along with Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel, head to New Orleans to get help for Clea, from Marie LaVeau, the Witch-Queen of New Orleans.  They decide that Clea was under attack from the Silver Dagger, an old foe of Stephen's, and Dr. Strange must go into the Orb to save Clea, and sends his astral form, leaving his body behind, under the protection of Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel.  Silver Dagger attacks in the real world, as Strange had been the target all along, and Silver Dagger looks to take his revenge while Stephen searches for his love.

This leads into Marvel Team-Up #77 (January, 1979), where Dr. Strange realizes "If I'm To Live...My Love Must Die!" by writer Chris Claremont, penciller Howard Chaykin and inker Jeff Aclin, under a John Romita Jr. and Al Milgrom cover.  Spidey and Ms. Marvel continue their battle against the Silver Dagger, while Stephen tries to free Clea from the world of the Orb with Marie's help.  Spidey gets knocked into the Orb by accident, and while his world temporarily resets the reality inside the Orb, distracting Clea, Strange is able to knock her out, and get her out of the Orb, and takes the cast back to his Sanctum Sanctorum, surprising Wong.  Dr. Strange casts a spell on Clea, causing her to forget her time in the Orb (where she mystically attacked Dr. Strange, due to her being Umar the Unspeakable's daughter, and niece to Dormammu, ruler of a dark dimension).  Marie also revealed it was her that sent Stephen the tarot cards, secretly sending him the message to stop Silver Dagger, to save her own life, and prevent Silver Dagger from destroying the world.  She also tells Stephen that the prophecy is not done, and teleports back to New Orleans, with Strange realizing that in saving Clea, he may have doomed himself.

Meetings Get A Little Hairy

Dr. Strange's tangled web with Spider-Man gets more complex with Marvel Team-Up #80 (April, 1979) as he faces "A Sorcerer Possessed" by writer Chris Claremont, penciler Mike Vosberg and inker Gene Day, under a Rich Buckler cover.  While on a date, Peter Parker fends off a werewolf (and fights to keep his identity unrevealed).  After sending the creature off and getting his panicked girlfriend to the hospital, Peter finds Stephen Strange's Eye of Agamatto where he was attacked, and changes to Spider-Man to take the item home to its owner.  There, Spidey finds Clea, who doesn't want to answer questions.  Remembering their recent adventure, Peter goes to get a tarot reading, which only confirms to him that there is trouble afoot.  Spidey goes back to the Sanctum Sanctorum, and finds Stephen attacking Clea, and transforming into a werewolf!  Clea uses the Eye to find that Stephen can get aid at a Tibetan monastery, and Wong and Spidey take the Doctor to the airport, though the Doctor changes before the plane can even take off, crashing, with the changed Dr. Strange leaving the wreckage, as Satana arrives at Strange's home, offering aid to Clea....

This leads us into Marvel Team-Up #81 (May, 1979), with "Last Rites" by writer Chris Claremont, penciler Mike Vosburg and inker Steve Leialoha (under a cover by Al Milgrom and Steve Leiahola), and Spider-Man working with Satana, as she transport Wong and Spidey to Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum.  Satana explains that Stephen has been cursed, and Spidey goes to track the werewolf down, finding him at the hospital where Cissy Ironwood (Peter's date) was.  With Strange home, Satana and Spidey go to battle the Basilisk (a foe of Satana's since Marvel Preview #7 of 1976, not related to the other Basilisk foe of Spider-Man's).  While there, Spidey learns of Satana's heritage (being the daughter of the devil, thus also relating her to the Son of Satan), and the two break the hold on Dr. Strange, but Satana becomes mortally wounded, dying to save Dr. Strange (and being the bad end prophesied at the end of Spider-Man and Dr. Strange's last team-up).

Doctor Strange also worked with the Human Torch, in Marvel Team-Up #35 (July, 1975) and with Spidey, Quasar, the Scarlet Witch and more in Marvel Team-Up Annual #5 (1982), which have been covered before, as well as working with the Scarlet Witch alone in Marvel Team-Up #125 (January, 1983), and as a part of the Defenders in Marvel Team-Up #111 and #112 (November and December, 1981).  That's the nice thing about Dr. Strange, he always has patience for dealing with other heroes!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Find King Faraday on The Danger Trail

Looking back at comics in the early 1950s, one of the more collectible series was that of Danger Trail, the first four issues of which featured King Faraday, a counter-intelligence spy who was a former soldier, and named King by his dad as a joke ("king for a day"), King faced off against secret agents in exotic locations across the world.... least for a little while.

King Faraday had five stories in the early 1950s, and most of them have been reprinted....

Showcase #50

Showcase #50 (May-June, 1964) contained the first of the King Faraday reprints, with "Spy Train" from World's Finest Comics #64 (May-June, 1953) by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Sy Barry...the last of the original King Faraday stories (originally meant for the never-published Danger Trail #6; the title was cancelled with Danger Trail #5, which didn't feature King).  This story has King playing spy games on the Orient Express, with the help of photographer Alonzo P. Davis (or is he helping?).  This story is also reprinted in the Greatest 1950s Stories Ever Told hardcover of 1990, and tradepaperback of 1992.

The other reprint in Showcase #50 is from Danger Trail #2 (September-October, 1950), which was the basis for this issue's cover, with the story of the "Hangman's House" by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, with King breaking into a foreign government's stronghold to rescue a professor held hostage.

Best of all, Showcase #50 had a new 4-page sequence by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson that led into these stories, and tied the phrase "I -- Spy" to King Faraday (who next appeared in Showcase #100 in May, 1978, along with a good portion of the DC Universe, including the Flash and the Teen Titans, both of whom King later worked with....and took King into the DCU, as well as beyond the 1950s!).

Showcase #51

Showcase #51 (July-August, 1964) just had two King Faraday reprints, under a cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson.

The first was "Hunters Of The Whispering Gallery" from Danger Trail #1 (July-August, 1950) by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, with King overhearing a murder plot while getting on a train, and the hero working to save the pretty red-haired woman, Julie Stevens, who was the target of the murderers, and, after a few attempts by these men and others, finds that Julie had been photographed with Nazi war criminal on the run Martin Vormann, to prevent her from identifying him.  King saves the girl and catches the criminal.

The second story was from Danger Trail #3 (November-December, 1950) with "Thunder Over Thailand", by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, with King tracking down ex-Nazi scientist, Colonel Nego, who had been killing other agents and leaving toy elephants with the murdered men.  King finds the fiend, destroys his headquarters, and the Colonel dies, crushed by an elephant statue!

Sadly, the story from Danger Trail #4 (January-February, 1951) with "The Reign Of The Scarlet Umbrella" by Kanigher/Infantino/Giella has not been reprinted, with King going into action after his friend, Police Inspector Raoul Dore, is killed by followers of tribal chief Ranavilo.

King survived all this action, and though he didn't spin off directly from his two Showcase appearances, did help Batman against Two-Face (in Batman #314 and #315), informed Flash about Saber-Tooth in Flash #290, worked with Batman, Robin, Catwoman and Talia against Ra's Al Ghul in Batman #333 to #335, helped the Dial H For Hero kids (Chris King and Vicki Grant) against the Wildebeest in Adventure Comics #483, before becoming the Central Bureau of Intelligence's contact to the New Teen Titans (starting with the third appearance of Deathstroke the Terminator in New Teen Titans #10 in 1981), and even liaison to Checkmate! and the Suicide Squad (and working with Amanda Waller and Sarge Steel) for a time, starting during the Janus Directive in Suicide Squad #29 in 1989.

King Faraday even got a Danger Trail 4-issue mini-series from April to July, 1993, by Len Wein, Carmine Infantino and Frank McLaughlin, with covers by Paul Gulacy, facing off against the worldwide danger of fanatical cult leader, Kobra (which is why this was "The Serpent In The Garden File"), before continuing on working with Checkmate!

Quite a bit of work for a spy almost left in the 1950s!

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Spider-Man Teams With Agents Of SHIELD

Spider-Man met with various agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage, Law-Enforcement Division, at least until 1991...), during the course of his career in Marvel Team-Up, from Mockingbird, to Quasar, and even Nick Fury...

....and here are the team ups that focused on those characters!

Old Agent New Name

First up on this look at agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Spidey met with is Marvel Team-Up #95 (July, 1980) "...And No Birds Sing!" by writer Steven Grant, penciller Jim Janes, and inker Bruce Patterson (all under a cover by Frank Miller and Bob McLeod).

A bit of a spoiler here, but that agent was Bobbi Morse (who had been working for S.H.I.E.L.D. with Ka-Zar back in the days Ka-Zar appeared in Astonishing Tales), then as the Huntress in Marvel Super Action #1 of 1976 (which featured a lead story on the Punisher).   There, as here, Bobbi had been working to find spies with S.H.I.E.L.D., with Peter Parker returning to New York from the West Coast, and seeing a beautiful blond in a trenchcoat being chased, and he changes into Spider-Man to help out (along the way, seeing her get shot, but surviving due to her insulated costume, and fleeing from their flying car!).  Mockingbird introduces herself to Spidey, and informs him they were battling S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, which upsets Spider-Man, and Bobbi takes off away from him, leaving Spider-Man to deal with S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Manhattan director, Carl Delandan.

Delandan gives Spidey all of Bobbi's S.H.I.E.L.D. history, and says she's here to kill director, Nick Fury, and is using a Life-Model Decoy (LMD) of Nick to lure her here.  Bobbi does show up as Mockingbird, but explains to Spidey she is here to give information to Nick Fury about traitors in S.H.I.E.L.D., not kill him.  Problem is, Delandan is one of those traitors, who uses an old weapon S.H.I.E.L.D. confiscated, the Satan Claw, to stop the heroes.  Then, the Nick Fury LMD shows up, and we find out it was really the real Nick Fury, looking to meet Mockingbird and get the facts she has, as he had already been suspicious of Delandan.  Sadly, Mockingbird is shot by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents (who were protecting Nick Fury, not knowing of innocence), but Bobbi later recovered, to work with the Avenger, Hawkeye, and even the Avengers for a time.

Ex-Agent All Hero

Next up is another former agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., who left the agency to work for Project: PEGASUS, the mighty Quasar, who teamed with Spidey in Marvel Team-Up #113 (January, 1982) in "The Resurrection Of Edward Lansky" by writer Mark Gruenwald, penciller Herb Trimpe and inker Mike Esposito (with a cover by John Romita, Jr. and Frank Giacoia).

While on his way to class, Spider-Man encounters a Project: PEGASUS vehicle taking the dangerous villain, Nitro (whom Spidey had recently defeated), to its headquarters (with Quasar heading the team), and Spidey and Quasar get into a discussion, with Quasar later heading to go Empire State University.

Quasar detects a hidden lab underneath, run by Spider-Man foe, the Lightmaster, who has powers over light, and takes over Quasar's Quantum Bands (and Quasar as well, as Lightmaster attempts to regain his lost humanity, now only being a being of light).

This leads to a battle of Quasar and Spider-Man, but Quasar regains control of himself, and then the two heroes work together, restoring Lightmaster to his own body (that of Edward Lansky), yet still taking him captive (for the crimes he had committed).  Spidey and Quasar don't part happily, which is odd, as Quasar usually gets along with everyone, soon after getting his own series (written by Mark Gruenwald, who also revived Mockingbird in the Hawkeye mini-series) and Quasar becoming an Avenger!

The Boss Is Back

All these agents, but no leader?  Well, Nick Fury finally stops by for his only solo team-up with Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up #139 (March, 1984) with "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime" by writer Cary Burkett, penciller Brian Postman and inker Mike Esposito, all under a cover by Al Milgrom!

Before Colonel Nick Fury was the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., he was just a sergeant in World War II, leading a team of combatants there, called the Howling Commandos.  One of that team's members was called Dino Minnelli, and the crime family of the Maggia kidnapped his girlfriend, actress Julie Winston, getting Nick Fury and Spider-Man involved in the case.

Even worse, the Maggia has some help, with an old weapon Hydra created to attack S.H.I.E.L.D., the robot Dreadnaught!  Sadly for Dino, it seems her acting included their relationship, as it was all a plot of the Maggia, who is heartbroken after this event.

But, these weren't the only times Spidey dealt with S.H.I.E.L.D., as he also worked with the agency in various team-ups involving Captain America, the Falcon, Iron Man, the Scarlet Witch and the Black Widow!  It seems Spider-Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. hold the Marvel Universe together!