Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas All Week 2015! "The Cosmic Quest for the Disc of Mars!" by Harris, Delbo, Heath, Ditko, Ayers, and Colletta

Merry Christmas Eve, Groove-ophiles! While you're waiting for Santa to sneak down your chimney (if ya have one--how does he get in for those of us without chimneys?), has Ol' Groove got a massive (I'm talkin' 'bout 64 ho-ho-honkin' pages plus a cover, baby) post for your dazzling day-before-Christmas! Y'see, back in Christmas 1977, DC gave Wonder Woman fans a most superior Christmas gift in the form of DC Special Series #9, aka Wonder Woman Spectacular 1978! With Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman TV series still on the air (the series had moved from WW II and ABC to 1977 and CBS in the Fall of 77, so WW Fever was still running wild (should I have saved that phrase for the Incredible Hulk?), therefore the powers-that-were saw fit to fan those flames of --er--fandom! So here we have a comic that came out in 1977, dated for 1978, set in the 1940s (and Earth-2, natch)...whew! It's a time warp, baby! Anyhoo, Wonder Woman Spectacular 1978 just goes to show that you don't need a year-long series with a hundred cross-overs to produce an epic story! With "The Cosmic Quest for the Disc of Mars!", Jack C. Harris, along with artists Jose Delbo, Russ Heath, Dick Ayers, Steve Ditko, and Vinnie Colletta gave us a monumental WW II  saga, complete with the gods of Olympus, and then tossed in a new Nazi bad-guy (The Red Panzer), a new "good-guy" (The Bombardier), and even Adolph Hitler! For one measly buck! (Oh, how I loved the Dollar Comic format, didn't you?) Snuggle up by the fireplace, but don't hit the egg-nog too hard, as you savor..."The Cosmic Quest for the Disc of Mars!"
Cover art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano

For those of you dying to know who-drew-what, according to Grand Comics Database: Jose Delbo drew pages 1-9, 15-17, 28-32, 35-37; Russ Heath penciled 10-14, 45, 60; Steve Ditko  drew (and inked) 18-23, 33-34, 43-44, 47; Dick Ayers penciled 24-27, 38-42, 46, 48, 49-59, 61-64; and Vinnie Colletta inked everything but the Ditko pages! Merry Christmas, baby!


  1. Thanks, I'd always wondered about this.

    Ditko apparently had real disdain for Colletta's inks. Mark Evanier told a story of how Ditko dropped a Kirby Thor that had been handed him directly into the trash at Marvel's offices and made sure they knew why. I think he may have stopped pencilling the Hulk in Astonish when Colletta inked one issue. It may seem a little extreme, especially if you're a fan of Colletta on Thor, but when you think of what those Heath pages might've looked like, maybe he has a point.

  2. It is fun trying to figure out who drew which pages. Ditko is obvious, although I think he inked himself here, not Colletta. Too, Heath's stuff is still fairly discernible even under the bland Colletta inks, but I agree with Russ - how much better those Heath pencils would look inked by Anyone else than Vince. Of course, Heath gets the pages with the rest of the Amazons on them because of his ability to draw females so fetchingly. The trick is separating Delbo's stuff from Ayers'. GCD has a pretty good breakdown on who did what, although I think they are wrong on a page or two.

  3. Wow! I've been hoping that you would post this. I remember buying this in 1977, just before Christmas. I, too, loved the Dollar Comics, and this one is definitely my favorite. I still own it, but it's packed away, so I really appreciate getting to read it again here. I was a huge fan of the Lynda Carter TV show at the time. Even though it had updated to the Seventies a few months earlier, the comics hadn't caught up yet. I loved the 1940s-set stories, so I was glad to get one last epic World War II adventure. I was also a big fan of Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta, and I think that they did some of their best work on this book. As such, I do believe that GCD got several of the art credits wrong. As far as I can tell, the book basically breaks down like this: Jose Delbo penciled all of the Wonder Woman / Diana Prince / Steve Trevor / Bombardier pages; Russ Heath penciled the Paradise Island stuff; Dick Ayers penciled the pages involving the Nazis; and Steve Ditko drew the Mt. Olympus pages. So the credits should be as follows:

    1-9 Delbo
    10-14 Heath
    15-17 Delbo
    18-23 Ditko
    24-27 Ayers
    28-31 Delbo
    32 Heath
    33-34 Ditko
    35-36 Ayers
    37 Delbo
    38 Ayers
    39-41 Delbo
    42 Ayers
    43-44 Ditko
    45 Heath
    46 Ayers
    47 Ditko
    48-52 Delbo
    53 Ayers
    54-59 Delbo
    60 Heath
    61-64 Delbo

    In other words: Delbo did pages 1-9, 15-17, 28-31, 37, 39-41, 48-52, 54-59, and 61-64; Heath did pages 10-14, 32, 45, and 60; Ayers did pages 24-27, 35-36, 38, 42, 46, and 53; and Ditko did pages 18-23, 33-34, 43-44, and 47. (I'm not familiar with Ayers' work, so there are a couple of pages that I'm not 100% sure about.)

    Thanks again for posting this classic! I would love to see more of the World War II Wonder Woman stories from the Seventies.

  4. GCD credits certain pages to Ayers when it is obviously Delbo, and they missed Heath's page 32. Pages 49 - 59 and 61 - 64 are all Delbo, except for p. 53, which is Ayers. Ayer's faces are sloppy and sometimes ugly (see Hitler on p. 24, for example), whereas Delbo's are nice and generic. Delbo also draws the "wedge" panels with the diagonal gutter and Ayers very rarely if ever does that. Ayer's inset panel usually have colored borders, whereas Delbo's inset panels are borderless, usually. They both draw stiff anatomy, and Colletta's inks don't help much. Mr. Flip's list is correct, although p. 27 still confuses me - it looks like neither Ayers nor Delbo to me, and it certainly isn't Ditko or Heath. The staging and figure-work, especially in panel 4 looks like very early Trevor Von Eeden to me, but it probably is Ayers and maybe I've been staring at it too long.

  5. One of the most epic WW issues ever! Wow! I must get a copy. I sense a lot of hate towards Colletta and way too much starry eyed wonder at Ditko (and Kirby). Russ in his comment up above seems to think that Ditko acting like a child in a professional workplace is acceptable, if not admirable. It's not really and if one of my employees behaved that childishly, I'd give the rest of the day off without pay. Needless to say I'm not a fan of Ditko (or Kirby) Amazing Fantasy 15 really has crappy art when compared to almost all later efforts on Spider-Man. I find Kirby ok in the early years, but as the 60's moved into the 70's he just got weird with all those wide, flat faces. I find most his work from that era so distracting that it is hard to focus on the story. I know I am in some sort of sacrilegious minority by not liking Ditko or Kirby, but I know what pleases my eye and what doesn't. I wish Matt Baker had lived. Just think of what 60's & 70's comics would have looked like.



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Special thanks to Mike's Amazing World of Comics and Grand Comics Database for being such fantastic resources for covers, dates, creator info, etc. Thou art treasures true!

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.

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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!