Face Front, Marvelites!: RIP Stan “The Man” Lee


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I know it’s popular these days among a certain coterie of Comic Book Buffs to bash Stan Lee’s contributions to the medium in favor of artist/collaborators Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko . You’ll never find me in that crowd. Not ever. I learned to read (with the help of my dad) at the tender age of three through comics… simple stuff at first, funny books like YOGI BEAR and BEETLE BAILEY. As I progressed into the realm of superheroes, my vocabulary improved thanks to writers like Gardner Fox, John Broome, and especially Stan Lee, who took me to Asgard and Outer Space with Shakespearean-styled dialog and college-level words that made me keep a dictionary always at the ready. Screw you, Dr. Frederic Wertham!!

The Titanic Trio: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko

Stanley Martin Lieber was born December 28, 1922, the eldest son of immigrant parents (his younger sibling Larry…

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TOMAHAWK Fights The War of Independence – in Comic Books!


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There weren’t very many comic-book heroes (super or otherwise) whose adventures took place during the Revolutionary War era. In fact, I can only think of one – DC’s Tomahawk, who made his four-color debut in Star-Spangled Comics #69 back in 1947. Tomahawk fought not only the British, but Indian co-conspirators in the pages of Star-Spangled and World’s Finest, getting his own book in 1950, which had a 140 issue run until folding in 1972.

Writer Ed France Herron and artist Fred Ray produced the bulk of Tomahawk’s tales, and being a comic book there were some sci-fi elements added during the 50’s, and campy super villains in the 60’s. Tomahawk even introduced America’s first superheroine Miss Liberty, a frontier nurse by day who fought alongside Tomahawk in 22 issues. In honor of the July 4th holiday, here’s a gallery of covers chronicling the thrilling stories of Tomahawk:



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This 4th Of July, Make The World Safe For Democracy With These Patriotic Super Heroes!


This 4th of July, while celebrating America’s birthday, don’t forget that there was a time when superheroes not only starred in movies but also made the world safe for democracy!  From World War II, here is a gallery of patriotic super heroes fighting for the freedoms that we enjoy today!

Not even the most powerful of heroes could do it alone.  For that reason, when they weren’t beating the enemy in their own backyard, they were encouraging their readers to support the armed forces by buying war bonds.

Over the course of World War II, 85 million Americans purchased war bonds totaling an estimated $185 billion.

Finally, what other way to end this patriotic post than with a musical tribute to the Star-Spangled Man With A Plan?

And to all the real, flesh-and-blood heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to save the world from tyranny, thank you.

Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” (February 1986, written by Alan Moore)


The Winchester Mystery House

The Winchester Mystery House stands in San Jose, California.  The home of Sarah Winchester, construction began on the house in 1883 and continued nonstop until Sarah’s death in 1922.  The result was a gigantic and maze-like mansion that was built without any master building plan.

Because Sarah was the widow of the treasurer of the Winchester Repeating Arm Company, it was rumored that her mansion was haunted with the ghosts of all the people who had been killed by a Winchester rifle and that, because new ghosts were always arriving, Sarah had no choice but to keep adding extras rooms to the house.  Those legends served as the inspiration behind the new horror film, Winchester.

However, Winchester is not the first time that the supposedly haunted mansion appeared in popular culture.  In the 45th issue of Swamp Thing, Alan Moore took readers on a trip to the Winchester Mystery House.

Swamp Thing #45 was a part of the American Gothic storyline.  For 13 issues, John Constantine led Swamp Thing across America so that he could witness and sometimes battle modern versions of classic monsters.  In the larger DC mythology, the events in American Gothic were due to the first Crisis on Infinite Earths.  (While the rest of the DC Universe was worrying about whether they would live on Earth-1 or Earth-2, a South American cult was planning on using the crisis as their opportunity to take over the supernatural dimension.)  In reality, American Gothic was an excuse for Swamp Thing’s writer, Alan Moore, to indulge his interest in both the occult and contemporary affairs.  The Winchester Mystery House and its connection to gun violence was a natural subject for Moore to take on.

Entitled “Ghost Dance,” the story begins with two couples, David and Linda and Rod and Judy, arriving at the long abandoned Cambridge House.  While David fills everyone in on the history of the mansion and the legends about the ghosts, Rod openly flirts with Linda and makes jokes about The Shining.  Though the name may have been changed, the Cambridge House is drawn to look exactly like the Winchester House.

It does not take long for the four of them to get separated and lost inside the mansion.  Rod starts to make love to a nude woman who he thinks is Judy until her wig falls off and he discovers that she is actually the ghost of Franny Mitchell, who was shot in the head by a scorned lover.  Rod flees and, after opening a door that would have led to a room that was never actually built, he falls to his death.  Judy dies when a herd of bison, all killed by a Cambridge Repeater Rifle, burst out of a closet and trample over her.  After seeing two long-dead gunfighters reenacting their final gun battle, Linda faints while surrounded by the blind-folded spirits of people who were executed by shooting squads.  As for David, he goes mad as he watches the spirits of everything ever killed by a rifle march through the house.  It’s all the ghostly rabbits that finally cause him to snap.

Towards the end of the issue, Swamp Thing finally does show up, long enough to save both David and Linda and to send the spirits back into the chimneys of the Cambridge House.  After Swamp Thing leaves with John Constantine, Linda finally regains consciousness and tells David that she wishes he had died instead of Rod.

Sometime later, David visits a gun shop and buys a Cambridge Repeater of his own.  Feeling less alone now that he has a gun in his hands, David says he is going back home to see Linda and it is inferred that at least one more ghost will soon be moving into the Cambridge House.

Though controversial when it was first released, “Ghost Dance” is one of the high points of Moore’s run on Swamp Thing.  At the time, several readers felt that the issue was too blatantly anti-gun and there were the usual complaints about the story’s violence and sexual content.  Moore was one of the pioneers of the idea that comic books, even ones that featured “super heroes” (or swamp things), could deal with real issues and mature themes and that’s what he did with this story.  Whether you agreed with his opinions or not, the unapologetic approach that Moore took in Swamp Thing was always far more interesting than the safe, middle-of-the-road approach taken by most of the other mainstream comics of the era.

Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 (February, 1986)

  • Writer: Alan Moore
  • Letterer: John Costanza
  • Inker: Alfredo Alcala
  • Penciler: Stan Woch
  • Colorist: Tatjana Wood
  • Cover: Steve Bissette and John Totleben
  • Editor: Karen Berger

In Memoriam 2017: Sports & Other Pop Culture


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Since I’m a Massachusetts-based writer and unrepentant Boston sports fan, I’m dedicating this final “In Memoriam” post to two legends in their respective sports. The Red Sox’ Bobby Doerr was MLB’s oldest living player when he died in November at age 99. Doerr was a Hall of Fame second baseman, 9 time All-Star, and one of the best hitters and fielders at his position. Hockey Hall of Famer Milt Schmidt played 16 years with the Boston Bruins, eight of them on the feared “Kraut Line” alongside Woody Dumart and Bobby Bauer. Schmidt also coached the Bruins from 1954-66, and passed away in January at 98.

Boston Celtic Fab Melo

Perhaps the saddest loss in Boston sports was former Boston Celtic first round pick Fab Melo, who died at the tender age of 26 from a heart attack in his native Brazil. Quincy, MA native Sam Mele (98) roamed right field…

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Halloween Havoc! Extra: The Mind-Warping World of EC Comics!


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William M. Gaines’ graphic and gruesome line of horror, crime, and science fiction comics helped turn America’s youth into mouth-foaming, homicidal Juvenile Delinquents until they met with a horror of another kind – Dr. Fredric Wertham and the U.S. Congress! These beasts effectively destroyed EC through censorship and propaganda, ending one of graphic arts’ most creative eras. But EC still lives in the hearts and minds of horror fans everywhere, so here’s gallery of ten spine-chilling covers from the Golden Age of EC Comics! Spa Fon!

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Happy 100th Birthday, Jack Kirby!


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Today marks the centennial anniversary of the undisputed King of Comics, ‘Jolly’ Jack Kirby! This creative genius was responsible for some of the best known (and loved) characters of the 20th Century, and his influence is still felt to this day. Rather than using my meager words, here’s a gallery of comic cover art featuring the amazing talent of Jack ‘King’ Kirby!

Happy birthday, King!

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Book Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE FALCON: MADBOMB (Marvel 2004)


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Evil elitists are plotting to transmit mind-controlling madness, turning America’s citizenry into docile sheep to do their bidding! No, I’m not talking about today’s election (though I could be!), it’s the plotline of CAPTAIN AMERICAN AND THE FALCON: MADBOMB, Jack Kirby’s 1975 seven part epic collected in this 2004 graphic novel release. The King was making his return to Marvel after five years working for rival DC, and took over the reigns of his baby Cap’s monthly book as writer/artist/editor.

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Kirby was never a great writer, but he shines in this tale of an attempted hostile takeover of America by a group of elitists using the Madbomb to control the populace and rule the good ol’ USA. Cap and the Falcon are enlisted by no less than Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to thwart the fiendish plot. King Kirby’s artwork is stunning, embellished by inkers Frank Giacoia and D. Bruce Berry. Kirby gives us…

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It’s Love, Part 2


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Last year, at this time, we shared some classic romance comic book covers.  Starting in the late 1940s, many comic book companies tried to broaden their audience by publishing romance comic books.  These comics told dramatic love stories in which young women had to deal with issues of cheating, divorce, jealousy, heartache, and the search for the one.

By Gene Colan

By Gene Colan

Because it’s Valentine’s Day, here’s more love and romance.

By Bob Oskner

By Bob Oskner

By Bob Oskner

By Bob Oskner

By Jay Scott Pike

By Jay Scott Pike

4 -- Teenage Love

By Nick Cardy

By Nick Cardy

6 -- Young Love

7 -- Haunted Love

8 -- His Hair Is Long And I Love Him

By Nick Cardy

By Nick Cardy

10 -- How

And remember, while you’re searching for love, be careful and don’t accept a ride from the first guy who offers.  Or you could end up with a bad reputation like Toni!

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Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

By Gene Colan

By Gene Colan