MARVEL COMICS TURNS 80! And they don’t look a day over 70!

KC Carlson and his hired muscle.

KC Carlson and his hired muscle.


A KC COLUMN by KC Carlson

In honor of Marvel Comics’s 80th anniversary, the company has recently released six special one-shot comics spotlighting some of the “not-just-superheroes” diversity of their history. These six one-shots take a modern look at stories about War, Horror, Science Fiction, Western, Romance, and Funny Animals. Each issue also includes an essay about the history of the series and the key creators who worked on them. Equally informative is a Cover Gallery of key moments of early Marvel history of each genre.

War is Hell #1

War is Hell #1


War: War Is Hell #1

Lead story and art by Howard Chaykin

Backup story written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson with art by Alberto Alburquerque

Covers by Dan Panosian and Greg Land

The Howard Chaykin story is titled “Swing Verboten!” and features some of his grittiest art in quite a while. (And the coloring by Edgar Delgado is exceptional and nuanced — a good fit!) As in all good Chaykin projects, the story isn’t just about what he says it is. Here (as in many of his stories), music plays a key emotional role, as well as providing an excellent counterpoint to all the crazy SFX of the sounds of war. I wanted the story to be longer than its too brief (but just right) ten pages.

The “War Devil” back-up by Johnson/Alburquerque set in modern-day Afghanistan is not quite as gripping, but it’s a good match with the issue opener.

Crypt of Shadows #1

Crypt of Shadows #1


Horror: Crypt of Shadows #1

Written by Al Ewing with art by Garry Brown, Stephen Green, and Djibril Morissette-Phan

Covers by Kyle Hotz and John Tyler Christopher

This is the second version of Crypt of Shadows! The first series appeared from 1973-1976. But you might have passed it by because the issues were all reprints of material from the ‘50s and ‘60s. This is all-new! Three stories are presented here, connected by a classic horror narration device. A man is being treated by a strange female psychiatrist who provides more questions than she answers!

Journey Into Unknown Worlds #1

Journey Into Unknown Worlds #1


Science Fiction: Journey Into Unknown Worlds #1

“Bones of the Earth”: Written by Cullen Bunn with art by Guillermo Sanna

“Chrysalis”: written by Clay McLeod Chapman with art by Francesco Manna

Cover by Mike McKone with a variant cover by Superlog

Two all-new scintillating sci-fi stories! One is an extraterrestrial horror adventure, with a back-up about a bizarre Scouts camping trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Talk about roasting nightmares on a stick! The secrets of the the universe lie waiting to be discovered.

Gunhawks #1

Gunhawks #1


Western: Gunhawks #1

Written by Maria Lapham and David Lapham with art by Luca Pizzari

Covers by Gerardo Zaffino and Aaron Kuder

This seems to be a third generation Gunhawks tale. While keeping the title and Old West setting, it features a new Gunhawks team of Sheriff Dean (of Clearwater, Arizona) and his soon-to-be-wife Colleen, a local schoolteacher — although Sheriff Dean may have a new partner by issue’s end, who appears to be some sort of a demon woman. This is very confusing, and I’d bet that the creators are REALLY hoping to tell more Gunhawks stories, because this seems very unfinished.

Love Romances #1

Love Romances #1


Romance: Love Romances #1

The title comes directly from the 1948 romance comic published by Timely Comics (which would eventually become Marvel after several company title changes). By 1949, romance comics (by many many comics companies) flooded the marketplace. They became so popular by the early 1950s that they drew the attention of psychiatrist Fredric Wertham — who turned his indignation into screeds that let to the formation of the self-policing Comics Code Authority in 1955. There were still romance comics after that, but they were nowhere near as steamy as the pre-Code romance books.

The four all-new stories here (by folks including Gail Simone, Rogê Antônio, Dennis “Hopeless” Hallum, Annapaola Martello, Margaux Motin & Pacco Dorwling-Carter, and Jon Adams) don’t exactly bring back that pre-Code feeling in these stories, but they’re a nice reminder of that now almost ancient history, even if individually, they’re forgettable.

Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal #1

Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal #1


Humor: Ziggy Pig – Silly Seal Comics #1

Ha! This book is late, so I don’t have a copy to look at yet. (It should be in comic shops today!) It’s written by Frank Tieri with art by Jacob Chabot and a cover by Nic Klein. And since I can’t talk about that issue much, how about a fascinating mini-history of the characters?

Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal first appeared (separately, in solo stories) in Krazy Komics #1 (July 1942), published by Timely Comics (which would eventually become the massively popular Marvel Comics). Once they appeared together on the cover of Krazy Komics #5, they’ve been teamed up ever since.

Here’s the really interesting part — Ziggy Pig & Silly Seal were both created by Al Jaffee, the guy you probably know better for creating the Mad Fold-In from Mad Magazine. (Jaffe, now 97, is also credited as being Mad’s longest-running contributor. He only missed one issue of Mad between April 1964 and April 2013!)

Jaffee also did a lot of work for Timely/Atlas in the 1940s for editor Stan Lee, including editing Timely’s humor and teenage comics, including all the Patsy Walker comics. Jaffee also says that Stan came up with the name Ziggy Pig.

Marvel Comics: Timeless Tales TPB

Marvel Comics: Timeless Tales TPB


Editor’s note: If you missed any of these issues, Marvel is collecting them all in the Marvel Comics: Timeless Tales TPB.

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KC CARLSON: Currently on vacation at Disneyland. Where is that Goofy guy…? He owes me money. Gawsh, indeed!

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you.

Meet the Skrulls #1

Meet the Skrulls #1


You should also check out Meet The Skrulls #1 (of 5) by writer Robbie Thompson and artist Niko Henderson this week. The shape-shifting Skrulls have infiltrated our society to pave the way for a full-blown Skrull invasion! (What, again?!) They might be living in the house next door to you! And believe it or not, this might have a teeny something to do with the Captain Marvel film opening this Friday (or Thursday night in some cities).

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  1. Jim Burdo Says:

    It sounds like the Skrulls are the opposite of what they are in the movie.