Friday, March 27, 2020

More Mirth-Inducing Memorabilia!

Hey, Kids! Comics from 50 Years Ago!
March 24 & 26, 1970

Groovy Age Splash Page of the Week

Amazing Spider-Man #96

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 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!


  1. Detective Comics #455 is right at my top, I absolutely love that issue, I still love how several of the drawings mimic publicity stills of Christopher Lee as Dracula with a couple of nods to Barnabas Collins. After that it would have to be any all of my Marvel b/w mags, especially Planet of the Apes.

    1. Great choices! Grell's short run on Batman is almost forgotten since it ran around the time as Englehart/Rogers/Austin on Detective. And POTA is an excellent mag! I almost included issue #2 in my list (the first ish of POTA I ever got)!

  2. Wow, this is a tough one, but a fun exercise! I once again loved your choices, although I would choose thrilling Adventure Stories 2 because of the Simonson story. Here are my five:

    Avengers Annual 7/Marvel Two-in One Annual 2 (My all-time favorite comic book story, I count them as one; Starlin did the incredible: used the two annuals to finish his great Warlock/Thanos saga, and still made it accessible to readers who had never seen all the other parts of the tale)
    Batman 244 ('The Demon Lives Again!" is an inspired conclusion to the Ra's al Ghul storyline)
    Kamandi 16 ("The Hospital"-Kirby provides an origin for how the animals became men and does it by crafting a tale that should be a primer on parallel storytelling)
    Giant-Size X-Men 1 (started it all and has exquisite Cockrum art)
    Swamp Thing 7 (Batman by Bernie Wrightson! Why didn't DC figure this out and treat us to a decade of stories like this?)
    Cheating #6: First Issue Special 9 (Dr. Fate by Pasko and Simonson, with a Joe Kubert cover!)

    Again, honorable mentions so numerous that I won't even try. I do believe that the Groovy Age was the best era for the medium!


    1. I waffled back and forth on Thrilling Adventure Stories #'s 1 and 2, but went with #1 because it was the first one I got, plus some of those stories in #1 just slayed me like no other. #2 is probably better artistically, but #1 just pushes more emotional buttons for me. Can't go wrong with either one, though! I almost did Avengers Annual #7 since it wrapped up everything Starlin was doing and included the Avengers, Captain Marvel, Spidey, the Thing, AND Warlock and company vs Thanos, but again, Strange Tales #178 is just a life-changing book for me. The only reason I didn't include Batman #244 (or 251 or 234) is because they're all in the tpb I included in last week's list. ;D Kamandi is in a class of its own. It should be a list of its own! G.S. X-Men #1 is my #6, lol! Swamp Thing #7 and 1st Issue Special #9 are awesome choices--and #8 could easily be on my list, too! Love your choices, John!

  3. I had the B&V Spectacular, the Date with Debbi, and the ASM #96. I remember seeing the Action and Adventure Comics.

    1. You had a better week than I did, Bryan. I think the B&V Spectacular and that's it for this week!

  4. Thrilling Adventure 1 and Red Circle Sorcery 8 would be in my personal essentials list as well . In addition to those I would add;

    Superman 247, "Must there be a Superman" Just a classic tale

    Silver Surfer 12, the best of the entire series imho plus has the Abomination, my favourite Marvel villain.

    Hulk 136/7 My first ever US Hulk comics as a kid so it has a special place in my collection Plus it had the Abomination

    1. "Must There Be a Superman" is a great choice! Any Surfer issue is worthy, as well. And Thomas and Trimpe's Hulk was all kinds of fun! Methinks thou art an Abomination fan, eh? Coolness!

  5. Great '70s comics? I agree with many already mentioned, but let me also recommend some of Jack Chick's Christian comics tracts, especially the ones drawn by Fred Carter. Here are but a few from the '70s:

    Room 310

    The First Jaws


    Fire Starter

    Fred is still drawing (and painting) for Chick Publications for 48 years and counting.

  6. Tough question -- my top 5 comics from the Groovy Age (which I take it to mean the 1970s)? Here's my list, though if you ask me tomorrow it might be a whole 'nother list! --

    * SUPERMAN # 233 -- This one pretty much launched DC's Groovy Age (unless you want to count JIMMY OLSEN # 133, but I've got another JIMBO issue on my list)
    * PLANET OF THE APES # 1 -- My introduction to b&w magazines and, not realizing it at the time (who the heck is "Curtis"?), the first Marvel comic I ever bought (as opposed to reading friends' copies)
    * PLOP! # 1 -- one of the all-time great humor magazines, and the first issue was probably the best of the whole run
    * JIMMY OLSEN # 141 -- "Don't Ask! Just Buy It!" Was it really the greatest climax ever seen in comics? Who knows, but it was one great comic book, with the origin of the Golden Age Guardian tossed in for extra measure.
    * 100-PAGE SUPER-SPECTACULAR # 6 -- If I could only keep one comic book from the 1970s, in terms of impact on me, this would be the one. Besides containing one of the all-time landmark stories in "Crisis on Earth-One / Crisis on Earth-Two," this comic had maybe the coolest thing I've ever seen in a comic book, then or now -- a list of every single DC superhero and their first appearance. Amazing stuff!
    * Honorable Mention: DETECTIVE # 476, the climax to the Englehart/Rogers/Austin saga.

    1. Hi Dave,
      I felt compelled to comment on your choices! Great stuff, especially Planet of the Apes #1. Man I love that book! I found the collected hardcover of all of those Curtis issues by Ploog, and it is a keeper. I also love Jimmy Olsen by Kirby, especially the Cadmus Project stuff. Good choices, dude!



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