Friday, March 15, 2013

Long Live The Legion!

The above comic, All New Collectors' Edition No. C-55 from 1978, featuring Superboy And The Legion Of Super-Heroes represented one of the turning points in my young comic collecting career.  It introduced me to the wonder of the Legion and I was hooked immediately.  I loved the variety of heroes and powers each member possessed and I liked science-fiction books so it was a no brainer that I'd like the Legion.  Mike Grell's art bowled me over and it was a thrill over 25 years later when I met him at a con and had him sign this replacement copy of one of my favorite comics (the original is coverless and missing pages from many hours of reading back then).
Of course, not soon afterward I got into the back issues of Adventure Comics that the wonderful Curt Swan drew back in the 60's.  I loved Swan's Superman and his Legion was just as good in my young (and old now) eyes.
After Swan many other notable artists tried their hand on the Legion, either through covers or interior work.  Guys like Neal Adams, Nick Cardy, and Joe Staton left their mark on the team with these beauties, among many other covers during this time.
My love of the Legion hasn't really dissipated through the years.  I still love poring through the Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell issues from the Bronze Age and I was really happy to see that DC Direct put out these great action figures of the original three members, Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, and Cosmic Boy.  They're like Curt Swan drawings come to life.
The above covers are courtesy of the always excellent Grand Comics Database.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Tribute To Russ Manning

One of the more underrated comic artists of the Silver Age was the great Russ Manning.  Perhaps best known for his run on the Tarzan newspaper strip and the Gold Key comics adaptation of the King Of The Jungle.  His simple, clean style was perfect for the jungle hero and he was much admired by fans who grew up reading Hal Foster's iconic take on the character and with good reason.
I first became aware of Manning's work via the Star Wars syndicated newspaper strip, which ran from 1979-1980.  Like Tarzan, his style was perfect for George Lucas' adventures in a galaxy far, far, away.
In my opinion though, his crowning achievement was the robot smashing hero he created for Gold Key Comics in 1962.  Magnus Robot Fighter 4000 AD was the jewel of Gold Key's line.  He drew the strip for its first 21 issues, from 1963-1968.  Needless to say, he was very good at conveying the futuristic world where robots needed to be taken down a peg.  And Magnus was just the man to do it.
Among everything else, Manning drew gorgeous girls, especially Magnus' girlfriend/aide Leeja Clane.  She always looked great, even after scuffles with deadly robots.
Magnus didn't just fight robots though.  In one adventure he had to take on a deadly troglodyte and Manning was definitely up to the task.
These images came from the great Magnus Robot Fighter Volume 1 archive edition put out by Dark Horse Comics, which reprinted the first seven issues plus this great concept art from 1962.
Russ passed away in 1981 but his legacy in the comics world will live on forever thanks to these great collections.  He was one of the best.

Saturday, March 02, 2013

The Phantom The Charlton Years Vol. One

I recently picked up this hardback collection featuring the one and only Ghost Who Walks drawn by the one and only Jim Aparo.  This book by Hermes Press reprints the first nine Charlton issues cover dated February, 1969 to June, 1970.  In addition to the great Aparo artwork, there are also examples of Sal Trapani, Pat Boyette, Bill Lignante, and Frank McLaughlin's work.  Dick Wood wrote most of the stories and they're pretty decent.  Of course the Aparo art is the main reason I picked this up.  He was arguably in his prime in the early 70's and most of these stories showcases the style that became famous later on in his Batman work.

Hermes also reprinted several pieces of Aparo's original artwork from issue #38.  I always love looking at original Aparo art (I wish I had more of it in my collection) and these pieces don't disappoint.

I recommend this book to any fan of The Phantom or Jim Aparo.  There's a lot of good Bronze Age reading here.  Amazon has it for $34.99, which is a pretty good deal.