Hey, Kids! Comics from 50 Years Ago!
March 24 & 26, 1970
The Groovy Age Essentials
Last week I mentioned a tpb that was worthy of saving from a fire. That got Ol' Groove to thinking: we wouldn't really risk saving a comic from a fire (would we? naw...), but what are the absolute essential comics in your collection? Which comics do you go back to over and over? I've mentioned a lot of 'em here, but these are five that come instantly to mind for Ol' Groove...
Marvel Treasury Edition #4: Two of Roy Thomas' best REH adaptations: "Rogues In the House" and "Red Nails" featuring sumptuous Barry Windsor-Smith art from the color comic inked by Sal Buscema ("Rogues") and bravura BWS art from the b&w Savage Tales mags ("Nails") in for the first time in color in the giant tabloid format. Apes, wizards, dinosaurs, lost cities, beautiful women, savage battles...the stuff sword and sorcery dreams are made of! Best tabloid ever? It is to Ol' Groove!
Thrilling Adventure Stories #1: Atlas/Seaboard's "men's adventure" comic mag! It starts off with a grim and gritty (well before the trend) super-hero, Tiger Man with (literally) killer art by Ernie Colon, then gives us a survivor story (that deals with racism, yet!), a caveman story, Lawrence of Arabia (!), a WWII prison camp story, and articles on the films of Alistair Maclean and the (then) upcoming Doc Savage movie! And did I mention the art on those stories was by Leo Summers, Jack Sparling, Frank Thorne, and Russ Heath? And I'd never seen a cover like the one Colan did for this mag in my life! It's still one of the most unique I've ever seen!
Strange Tales #178: The beginning of Jim Starlin's Magus saga! The gorgeous art, the clever recap of Adam Warlock's history, Adam's mission beginning with total failure (!), the story of the Magus, the psychedelic battle with Warlock's inner demons, the Magus' reveal, and Warlock's final realization. Breathtaking, heart-wrenching, memorable, original stuff. Probably my all-time favorite single issue. Probably.
Detective Comics #437: You knew there'd be a Batman comic in here, didn't you? Well, this issue of Detective Comics is comicbook perfection, so it has to be in this list, baby! Archie Goodwin's debut as editor of 'Tec just blew me away. It's the reason I say Strange Tales #178 is "probably" my favorite single issue. See, not only does Goodwin team up with one of the greatest Batman artists of any age, Jim Aparo, to provide a perfect Batman tale featuring mystery and possible mysticism (like a serious Scooby Doo episode, but waaaay better!), but he also brought us the one-two punch of the (then) new Manhunter with Walter Simonson art! Punisher and Wolverine eat your heart out, Manhunter was what you wanted to be and more before you ever showed your guns are claws! Aaaand Goodwin brought back the original Detective Comics logo, too! Good grief, wotta comic!!
Red Circle Sorcery #8: I know. DC had cornered the market on "mystery" comics in the Groovy Age. They turned out great ones. Hundreds of them. They did! But...Archie Comics' foray into the realm of supernatural comics, led by editor/writer/artist Gray Morrow was just so special, man! Especially this particular issue. The line-up of artists in this issue was...well...to die for! Frank Thorne, Morrow, Carlos Pino, and Alex Toth! Cool, spooky stories by guys like Don Karr, Don Glut, and Marv Channing featuring tales of highwaymen, satanic maestros, poltergeists, swordsmen, pirates, Death, and, best of all, pulp heroes gone mad! From cover to final page, this entire issue is magnificent and memorable!
Okay, Groove-ophiles, let's hear about your five essential Groovy Age mags! Share 'em in the comments! Pax!