Friday, June 21, 2019

Groovin' Back In the Summertime: June/July 1980

Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertiIIIime! Greetings, Groove-ophiles! Ol' Groove couldn't let any lazy, hazy, or crazy days go by without a pithy post about summer times past! Hope you dig it! Of course, this post is pretty bittersweet for your's truly--and more than likely 'tis bittersweet for most all of you Groove-ophiles who lived and spun comicbook racks during that fateful summer. Ol' Groove's not gonna cover all the mighty mags that came out in June/July 1980, but I am gonna hit the highlights--and lowlights. (Is that even a word?) Lots of changes happened in the summer of 1980. Some good, some bad, but all of them helped close the book on the Groovy Age and opened the door to the 1980s. Let's take a look...

 ADVENTURE COMICS #475: DC was trying the 25 page, fifty cent route again, just as they had done with the infamous DC Ex(im)plosion back in the summer of 1978. This time, though, the time was right, as the direct sales industry was just a-borning and could help pick up any slack that might come from newsstand sales. The only real drawback as far as Teen Groove was concerned was that DC's beloved Dollar Comics would disappear and revert to "mere" 25 page mags. Adventure Comics, though, showed how cool the 25 page format could be for an anthology, keeping the great Martin Pasko/Joe Staton Plastic Man and Paul Levitz/Steve Ditko Starman, while returning Aquaman (courtesy writer J.M. DeMatteis and artist Dick Giordano). The cool Brian Bolland cover made the deal even sweeter!

 DC COMICS PRESENTS #26: Jim Starlin was at DC! if that wasn't pulse-pounding enough, we also got the debut of the very first DC's 16 page preview. But even that isn't the biggest deal. No THE big deal was the contents of that immortal insert: a sneak preview of Marv Wolfman and George Perez's New Teen Titans! That comic, to Teen Groove, was the turning point. THE moment when the Groovy Age was replaced by a brand new, super-cool, era.  The actual END of the Groovy Age? Keep reading, Pilgrim...

 FLASH #289: Now, Ol' Groove will be honest. I don't recall much about the lead Flash feature. My sole reason for buying this mag was for the Gerry Conway/George Perez back-up featuring the return of Firestorm! Marvel's loss was truly DC's gain!

JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #183: A Jim Starling cover, a JLA/JSA cross-over, and our heroes meet the major players of Kirby's Fourth World. A cause for celebration for sure, but sadly, the fun was marred by the discover that this was the last issue of JLA to come from the talented pencil of long-time artist Dick Dillin who had passed away in March. Sigh. Another Groovy Age mainstay gone.

 MYSTERY IN SPACE #111: The Dollar Comic, Time Warp, was replaced with the return of the Silver Age staple. A solid, fun anthology loaded with cool stories and fantastic art. It should have made it, but, alas, MIS lasted only 7 issues. But what a cool seven issues it was! Stories and art by guys like Kubert, Ditko, Rogers, Barr, Sutton, Weiss, DeMatteis, Austin, Bingham, Kashdan, Von Eeden--well, you get the idea!

MARVEL SPOTLIGHT Vol. 2, #8: The good Kree Captain Marvel's last solo tale before his Death a couple years later in the first Marvel Graphic Novel. We didn't know at the time that this was truly and finally the end, but had we known, we couldn't have asked for a much better send off than this gem by Mike W. Barr, Frank Miller (!), and Bruce Patterson!

 X-MEN #137: Yep, this one closed the door to the Groovy Age. The Dark Phoenix Saga was a masterpiece of comicbook magnificence. Years in the making, the Greatest X-Men Story lived up to, nay, surpassed our expectations of what the team of Claremmont/Byrne/Austin/Orzechowski/G. Wein could do. It was heartbreaking and beautiful all at the same time. While the above named creative dream-team would stay together for a few more issues, the Death of Phoenix signaled a definite end of an era. The End of the Groovy Age. Little did we know that the team it would inspire, the team that would start the new era of comics was hidden snugly in the middle of the latest issue of DC Comics Presents? (I'm talkin' 'bout The New Teen Titans, natch!)

 CAPTAIN AMERICA #250: We're in the middle of Roger Stern and John Byrne's magnificent-but-too-short-lived Captain America run. The story of Captain America seriously thinking about running for President of the United States was brilliant in every way. One of the best Captain America comics ever, because it not only explored Cap/Steve Rogers' ideals, but forced him to stand on them. And what a stand it was!

 DAREDEVIL #166: Frank Miller (with Klaus Janson) was killing it in the art department. My buddy Roger McKenzie was turning out some amazingly fun stories, too. Didn't know this was Rog's final ish of DD at the time. He'd been on the title since issue #151. Over two years! Ya done a good job, Rog!
AVENGERS #200: This beautifully drawn ish (with art by George Perez) has become known as a huge stinker of a comic and a blight on the Avengers due to the horrible mishandling of the Ms. Marvel subplot featuring a time traveler named Marcus, son of Immortus...sort of. I won't go into details here (you can read about it all over the Interwebs), but it was bad. Very, very bad. And as much as I love the Avengers, the comics didn't really recover until well into Roger Stern's run in the mid-80s.

As you can see, the summer of 1980 was filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. It was a time of change and renewal. Most of all, it was an exciting time! Long live the Groovy Age!

Monday, December 31, 2018

Lo, There Shall Come Endings! "The Legion of the Black Orchid!", "The Black Orchid Conspiracy!", and "Will the Real Black Orchid Please Stand Up?" by Fleisher, Carley, and Carrillo

Happy New Year's Eve, Groove-ophiles! We're continuing our tradition of sending the old year off with the finale of a comic we've been sharing during the waning year! This time we're going with our unfinished look at Black Orchid. We had three tales to go featuring our mysterious femme fatale, so here they come! Let it be known that these tiny yet titanic tales are Ol' Groove's "Happy New Year" to ya all! Written by Michael Fleisher (with script continuity by Russell Carley) with art by Fred Carillo, here's the wrap-up to the Groovy Age Black Orchid, with all the cool art and story twists and turns you'd expect! From Phanton Stranger #39 (July 1975) here's "The Legion of the Black Orchid!"

Followed by "The Black Orchid Conspiracy!" from Phantom Stranger #40 (September 1975)…

And here's the actual finale from Phantom Stranger #41 (November 1975)…

Happy 2019, Groove-ophiles! Ol' Groove'll be back with more surprises by and by and now and then. Until next time, make every day great!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018 with Roy Thomas, Sal Buscema, Jim Mooney, Len Wein, Walt Simonson, Jim Aparo

Merry Christmas, Groove-ophiles! Not only do we have (as promised) part two of the awesome Roy Thomas/Sal Buscema/Jim Mooney Titans Three Saga, but we have some little-seen classic tales from the amazing Detective Comics #500! Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like a trio of barely-clad outcast heroes and detective-themed superheroes, right? When it's happening in Groove City--RIGHT ON!

When Young Groove got his hands on  Sub-Mariner #35 (December 1970), second grade me was just starting to become enraptured by Mighty Marvel. This was the warm-up for Avengers #88, the mag that hooked me forever. Why is Ol' Groove rappin' about this mag in a Christmas post? 'Cause this is another of those (for me) legendary comics I picked up on the way home from Christmas play practice, baby! I read and re-read this mag pretty much every day leading up to Christmas--and many, many times after. Check it out...

Detective Comics #500 (December 1980) is a milestone, natch. An 84 page, square bound cornucopia of comicbook treasures. I have great memories of discovering the last copy on the spinner rack at my grandmother's local Piggly Wiggly (in Rose Hill Virginia). Man, I'm so glad she sent us to pick up an extra can of yams for our Christmas Feast! Anywho, I've shared the Walter (The Shadow) Gibson-penned prose-piece in the past (read it here), so I thought we'd share a couple more faves from that magnificent mag for this Christmas--both of 'em written by the late, great Len Wein. First is the legendary, Snoopy-inspired "Once Upon a Time..."

And finally, this cool tale teaming some of The Batman's non-super-hero back-up pals from the first five hundred issues of 'Tec, starring Slam Bradley with art by one of the all-time greatest Batman artists, Jim Aparo…"The 'Too Many Cooks' Caper!"

 And here's an extra Christmas surprise--the gorgeous wrap-around cover and the story-behind-the-story of Detective Comics #500!

I hope you've enjoyed this visit to Christmas' past with moi, Groove-ophiles! Better to spend time with Subby, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Batman, and Slam Bradley than those spooky ghosts that keep tracking Ebenezer Scrooge down year after year, right?

Oh, and it's not a Christmas post without a look at some presents from Ol' Groove's Christmas Present...

Hope you enjoy your day! Spend quality time with the ones you love, remember the Reason for the Season, and share the love all year long! Meeeeeeeerry Christmas! (See ya New Years Eve!)


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Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!