Madre De Dios! More Mighty Marvel Mayhem!
“A quest… You humans love quests and epics… romantic notions… absurdities which clutter your lives and distort your base realities!” – The High Overlord.
NIX OLYMPIA VOLCANO, MARS – DECEMBER 2019
“He had touched the blade of grass… and it turned to red Martian dust beneath his hands. The sand shifts through his fingers now, and Killraven knows for a certainty that the desert he kneels upon is located on the planet Mars.
“He is alone with that truth – and the truth is staggering!”
But what is truly staggering is that how a comic entitled: War Of The Worlds featuring Wellsian Martians (on giant tortoiseback, by gad!), alien vistas and high adventure on the Fourth Rock From The Sun with a Terran hero bestriding the russet landscape sportin’ thigh-high boots could turn (on?!) out to be so…
Killraven: ha! Now there’s a name ta die for!
With the right creative team, this should have developed into a hit – at least a cult classic, but no…
As a fan of all things Martian, hopes that #36 (May 1976) would be a joy to behold were running high, until the reaction was so low. No prizes for guessing that this title was cancelled after only 30+ ishs…
Anyway! Welcome back to the weird wonderful world of Bradscribe – apologies for the delay since the last Post, but things have been hectic around here.
Once more unto the back issue boxes, dear friends!
Undoubtedly the highlight of Summer ’16 involved delving into the treasures of Bronze Age comics – that exceedingly special time from c. 1970 (curiously estimated with the debut ish of Conan The Barbarian of all things) up until the mid-’80s (and the death of Jean Grey?) when some exceptional titles were produced. At the most, taking advantage of the opportunity to catch up with some truly remarkable writers and artists; pleasantly acquire previously unknown titles; and dip nostalgically into editions that used to belong in my bedroom but for whatever outlandish reason got lost in the mists of time has transmogrified into an enjoyable and worthwhile venture.
For me, the Bronze Age happened to be the best period for comic books. Killraven – for all its faults – demonstrates how experimental and innovative Marvel Comics could be during the 1970s.
Here then are some of the special ishs that have accumulated in my specially-reserved box this past few months:
“The brute still lives! Such ineffable strength and longevity are almost beyond my experience and bear further study at The Project!” – The Hate-Monger.
“The first rays of the crescent moon found the blood-red pendant grafted to John Jameson’s throat and he becomes a beast: Man-Wolf!”
Yes, yes, we covered that lupine moonbeast here: but that was too long ago, and quite frankly, he deserves more blogspace – for he is an extraordinary character simply never available on the Southern English newsstands of my youth. And it is a pleasure to finally catch up with his stunning series.
From ish #30, Man-Wolf became the sole principal star of Creatures On The Loose, until being cancelled (with ish #37 back in 1975). Ish #35: Wolfquest (May 1975) is – rip-roaring sci-fi action/adventure at its 70s best.
“David Kraft wrote it; George Perez drew it; you get to read it!” says the text on the groovy front page. There is also an ace cameo from Colonel Nick Fury (one of my all-time fave comic book characters) – “Sonuvagun if it ain’t!” – and Dum Dum Dugan!
As penultimate pages go, this – the death of the Hate-Monger is as awesome and intense as Bronze Age comic art gets – proudly loaded up here (above).
Can’t help thinking what Perez would have done with Killraven…
And there was no way that Col. Fury’s dramatic entrance could not be included here:
Nick Fury: “Dum Dum, ya big walrus, quit flounderin’ and folla me!”
Dum Dum Dugan: “Fergit it, Nick – I ain’t goin’ nowhere without my blamed Derby!”
Thanos: “Would you believe I’m doing all this out of the goodness of my heart?”
Adam Warlock: “No, for I perceive that you have no heart!”
Like the BA gem listed above, (The Power Of) Warlock was also cancelled in its prime, but Adam, the golden-hued character himself made such an indelible impression on my infant mind.
More tragically, the original series lasted no more than just 15 ishs. Ironically, Warlock – “By Orion!” – has attained hallowed cult status and is extremely difficult to come by; when my sensors did detect odd editions, the going rate seemed ridiculously high. So finding that immortal classic: Warlock #10: How Strange My Destiny (December 1975) (for a thankfully ridiculously low price!) proved to be an exceptional find.
The first part of the acclaimed Magus Saga in which Adam makes an uneasy alliance with notorious bad seed: Thanos in his showdown with the Magus. It also features Gamora (of Guardians of the Galaxy fame!) and Pip The Troll (who – judging from the letters pages – became a sensation among Marvelites far and wide!)
Thanos – and (let’s be honest) even Pip The Troll – would have swept the floor with Killraven…
As Adam realizes with horror: “My mind is a cesspool of corruption that will someday spawn the Magus” – the Magus is Adam Warlock’s future self!
Blimey Charley, what a humdinger!
“25,000 armed Black Knights just to kill four unarmed intruders?! The Magus must be cracking up! Wish I had 50,000 instead of a mere 25,000…” – General Egeus.
Captain Marvel: “There’s Titan, Drax – it won’t be long now. But why so silent? What are you thinking about?”
Drax The Destroyer: “About how difficult it may be, once our alliance is ended… to kill you!”
Hankering for more galactic thrills, it seemed inevitable that Marvel’s spaceborn “most cosmic superhero of all” – the original Kree warrior: Mar-Vell – would get snapped up.
Eager to find out more, an excellent additional feature of Warlock #10 – an insert in which Captain Marvel explains the background (and threat!) of his arch-enemy: Thanos. Usefully, it noted #s 25-33 as the classic ishs in which the two legendary characters went head-to-head.
Initially, Marvel Spotlight #2 (featuring Captain Marvel) came into my hands fairly early on during this hunting season. However, Pat Broderick’s art style failed to alight the Bradmonitor. Not to be outdone, a chance was taken with Captain Marvel #59 (November 1978). Despite retaining Broderick’s pencils, The Trouble With Titan actually offered a more satisfying look, mainly because of the special guest star appearance by Drax The Destroyer.
“By the Lost Horns of Hala!”
The outlandish contents involve Mar-Vell and Drax having to rescue Eros and Mentor from being “menaced by what manner of monsters, only the the Great Pama knows!” And trespassing in the domain of Lord Gaea – and having to fight their way through his hordes of Earth-Demons to escape! Written by Doug Moench – always a reliable choice (so why couldn’t he have worked on Killraven…?)
Have already picked up further ishs, but so far, #s 25-33 are proving to be elusive…
In conclusion, me lovelies, it should be pointed out that – in a sale, just to be on the safe side! – another ish of Killraven WAS acquired. And lo, Brad The Merciful steps in to grant the underachievers a second chance, but…
Ha! Guess what?
Despite having a fascinating splash page, #35 (March 1976) is bogged down with an even more confusing plot; moreover, he grumbles, the addition of an insipid Martian character and a deranged, scantily-clad woman spouting interminable gibberish does NOT guarantee rewarding reading!
So, it’s official then: Killraven is PANTS….
Not gonna let this absurdity distort my base realities!
But heck! Let’s not end on a bum-note.
As Confucius used to say: “If you’ve got time for one more cake, you’ve bally well got time for one more comic!”
Hey! Looks like yours truly has got just the right thing:
“Alas, Iron Fist, you have my sympathy. No man should be spurned by a beautiful woman and fall in battle on the same day!” – El Aguila.
Last and – well, really! Is anyone nuts enough to say: “least” to Luke Cage’s face?! – we have Marvel’s very own dynamic duo: Power Man and Iron Fist.
This is such a nifty break from my usual cosmic cravings, and besides, back in the day, one ish did pass through me grubby infant mitts, but Brad‘ll be damned if he can recall the exact one! Never fear, random back ishs have been selected, and are turning out to be an unexpected fab treat!
#65: “An Eagle In The Aerie” (Oct 1980) is great fun. En route to the Aerie (HQ of Heroes For Hire), Luke and Danny are followed by old adversary: El Aguila and – “Santa Maria!” – half the staff of all-female guards have revolted and all three costumed heroes have to defend the Aerie from all-out assault.
El Aguila leaps and bounds suavely through battle, firing bursts of his biologically-generated electricity through his sword while exclaiming: “Believe me, senoritas, doing this hurts my heart as much as it does your lovely bodies.”
Before Luke and Danny can get a word in, the Eagle escapes in a helicopter, but not before smooching the secretary.
Ah, they don’t make masked men of mystery like that any more…
If only Killraven oozed just half the charm of El Aguila…
Been searching for ish #58 (El Aguila’s initial appearance) but – not surprisingly – it is rare and expensive.
Finally, could not resist including this intriguing lil cameo from another Marvel stalwart:
Iron Fist: “You’re up early, Luke. How did you sleep?”
Power Man: “Kept dreamin’ ’bout floods an’ tidal waves.”
Iron Fist: “Sorry about the waterbed.”
Originally, this Post began back in September(!), revised in November, but it has taken the last few gruelling days just to finally launch this draft – well, anything really! – into the blogosphere.
Relieved, rather than pleased, to have accomplished some writing again.
Meanwhile, quite a considerable comics collection has amassed here over the past few months – therefore CANNOT WAIT to discuss, in a flurry of forthcoming Posts, the juiciest finds with you!
So, while the world falls apart, this:
…is where you’ll find me: the “Leisure Hive” @ Brad Manor.
Happy hunting, True Believers!
You would NOT BELIEVE what you can get for 60 Portions these days…