Monday, July 5, 2010

Weird Western Tales #53 (1979)

Weird Western Tales was one of several titles DC offered in the 1970s as an alternative to the more standard spandex-clad hero fare. War, romance, mystery, and horror were other popular genres. Weird Western Tales is famous for its showcasing of Jonah Hex. However, the title also featured the Native American hero Scalphunter, seen here arm-wrestling President Abraham Lincoln in what was, presumably, a fair contest to decide reservation boundaries and limitations of manifest destiny. The artistry of Dick Ayers delivers a cover featuring the sinewy determination of the story's Old West hero.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Swamp Thing #1 (1972)

Swamp Thing, created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, presents a mixture of the macabre and marvelous in the character of scientist Alec Holland who finds himself transformed into the titular muck-encrusted hero in this first issue from 1972. Centered in the swamps of Louisiana, the bayou hero would undergo major transformations at the hands of successive artists like Gerry Conway and Alan Moore. Nevertheless, it is Bernie Wrightson's orignal concept art shown here which summarizes the fusion of humanity and nature that would be the series's longstanding draw.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Kamandi #1 (1972)

Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth is another example of the timeless art and creativity of Jack Kirby. This series, produced during Kirby's time with DC comics, presents an alternate timeline of Earth where humanity is an endangered species and animals have mutated and evolved to become the dominant, warring rulers of the planet. On this cover for issue 1, the clear lines and classic Kirby characterization are evident, accented by the inks and letters of Mike Royer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Justice League International, depending on your taste, may be considered the lowest point in the Justice League canon or a hilarious alternative to the usual self-referential continuity. As evidence, consider issue twenty-two of the series. As part of the late 1980s DC "Invasion" crossover, we find the Justice League's diminutive butler Oberon defending the headquarters alone against a miniaturized alien invasion force. Employing weapons both conventional and not (for instance a fork and microwave), the steadfast dwarf repels the first strike of an extraterrestrial occupying force single-handedly. The pencils of Kevin Maguire and the inks of Joe Rubinstein portray the tongue-in-cheek violence of the story that, along with a general goofy portrayal of spandex-clad heroes, defines the series.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Mighty Thor #126 (1966)

Iconic characters spring from the minds of iconic creators. Such is the case of The Mighty Thor, brainchild of comics legend Jack Kirby. As the cover of issue #126 aptly demonstrates Kirby's classic style translates particularly well to the revitalization of mythology to the modern age. Demigod trappings abound and otherworldly sinews strain as the Asgardian prince pits his Norse strength against the ancient Greek might of Hercules. Vince Colletta's inks bring the toil of combat to vivid life, as the titans cause the Earth to tremble in their battle for the affections of Jane Foster.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Atom and Hawkman #40 (1968)

DC Comics has a long tradition of pairing heroes to boost sales of flagging titles or capitalize on popular trends: Superman & Batman, Green Arrow & Green Lantern, even Hawk & Dove. One famous, albeit short-lived pairing, was the seven issue run of Atom and Hawkman of the late 1960s. Elevating two B-list heroes to a level of popularity normally unachievable for either outside of their involvement in the Justice League of America. The enduring quality of the team-up owes much of its memorability to the unforgettable pencils and inks provided by Joe Kubert, as evidinced by this forced perspective cover. Hawkman looms larger than life, almost belittling the raging storm elements, cradling the crumpled forms of Atom and, for scale, a wounded bird.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Doctor Strange #14 (1976)

Continuing a storyline begun in Tomb of Dracula #44 from the same year, readers find the Master of the Mystic Arts, Doctor Strange confronting the Lord of the Vampires, Dracula. The cover by Gene Colan and Tom Palmer draws a casual glance closer immediately, as the vampire gloats disdainfully over the seemingly vanquished sorcerer (mockingly referring to Stephen Strange as a "magician"), all the while unaware that the battle is far from over as the good Doctor's astral form prepares to renew the conflict. The fluid lines and exaggerated facial expressions convey completely the free-wheeling Marvel mayhem of the mid-1970s, when mysticism and pop culture combined to revitalize staid storylines in the comics industry.