Shock Illustrated #2
Shock Illustrated v1 #2, 1956 - Evading the newly enacted comics code, EC produced several adult-targeted magazines. Each story combined text and artwork in near equal proportion. Al Williamson's tale of murder and infidelity is superbly drawn. His brushwork is supple and masterful. Although confined to black and white, his use of greytone screens increases both depth and richness. Also in this issue is some of the finest work I've ever seen from Reed Crandall and Graham Ingels. Other artists in this golden age crime comic include George Evans. This is 1 of 1 Shock Illustrated issues by Williamson.
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"A Question of Time" Al Williamson pencils and inks 10 pages = ****

Al Williamson

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Wonder Comics v2 #20

Wonder Comics v2 #20, 1948 - The Silver Knight must conquer the Barghest, a panther-like creature, before it ravages the countryside. There seems to be a dispute whether Frank Frazetta's inked part or all of this medieval-era tale. Some panels show greater effort than others, with varying degrees of success. His style appears in most of the character faces, but most obviously in the renditions of the Barghest itself (see interior page below). Sensitive brushwork is among Frazetta's hallmarks, but this early effort is a bit muddied. Other artists in this issue include Gene Fawcette, Rafael Astarita, George Roussos, Al Hartley, Lynn Karp and Dave Berg. Cover by Alex Schomburg. This is 3 of 3 Wonder Comics v2 issues by Frazetta.
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"Curse on the Camelots" Frazetta partial story inks (Ken Battefield pencils) 13 pages = **

Frank Frazetta
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Strange Adventures #117
Strange Adventures v1 #117, 1960 - In the deadly aftermath of World War Three, an ex-soldier named Gardner Grayle recruits a team of ordinary people to overturn a local tyrant. Dressed in medieval armor that protects them from ray guns, the Atomic Knights attempt to bring justice, law and order back to a devastated and chaotic world. Oddly enough, the team isn't featured or mentioned on the cover. This John Broome story was drawn by Murphy Anderson. Other artists in this issue include Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella. Cover by Gil Kane and Anderson. /// key 1st appearance, 1st origin Atomic Knights
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"Rise of the Atomic Knights" 16 pages

1st Atomic Knights
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Steve Ditko 1960s silver age charlton monster comic book cover art to Gorgo #13
Steve Ditko
Gorgo v1 #13, 1963 - The film that exposes Gorgo to the world consequently leads to his capture. Steve Ditko's first few pages are minimal, bordering on monotonous. As the action increases, however, panels become more detailed and complete. The interaction between human characters is frankly more interesting, with faces full of expression and individuality. Once again, the Ditko cover art is taken from interior story panels. Other artists in this issue include Dick Giordano and Rocco Mastroserio. This is 6 of 9 Gorgo issues by Ditko. /// Ditko gallery
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"Gorgo Captured" Ditko story pencils and inks 20 pages = ***

Steve Ditko 1960s silver age charlton monster comic book page art - Gorgo v1 #13
Steve Ditko
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Barry Windsor-Smith
Excalibur v1 #27, 1990 - Suddenly transported to another dimension, Nightcrawler and Phoenix come face to face with the mysterious Nth Man. Barry Smith, a seasoned veteran of Marvel mutant books, steps in as a guest artist on the series. His layouts are strong and vary wildly throughout. However, Bill Sienkiewicz's typically loose inking style is a mismatch for the pencils. Smith's hand is recognizable, but marred by the sloppy finishes. The opening splash below is among the better pages. This modern age comic includes cover art by Chris Wozniak. This is 1 of 1 Excalibur issues by Smith.
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"Reel People" Smith story pencils (Bill Sienkiewicz inks) 23 pages = **

Barry Windsor-Smith
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Iron Fist #5
Iron Fist v1 #5, 1976 - Searching for Colleen Wing in London, Iron Fist must contend with a master swordsman calling himself Scimitar. John Byrne employs small, sequential panels to showcase the hero's martial arts moves. Though a bit overdone, it seems more appropriate than other Marvel super-hero titles. The story's highlight is the opening splash (see interior page below), depicting Iron Fist moving stealthily along the rooftops. Cover by Gil Kane. This is 5 of 15 Iron Fist issues by Byrne. /// Byrne gallery
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"When Slays the Scimitar" Byrne story pencils (Frank Chiaramonte inks) 17 pages = **

Iron Fist #5 bronze age 1970s marvel comic book page art by John Byrne
John Byrne
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Pictorial Romances #4
Pictorial Romances v1 #4, 1950 - Saving all her money, Ginger spends a week at a posh resort to experience (for a short time) the life of the rich and glamorous. Matt Baker's art is generally straightforward and dependably laid out. There's little visual interest, perhaps with the exception of a dream-like panel of an underwater kiss (see interior page below). This title is a continuation of Pictorial Confessions, and Baker's artwork would progress with each issue. Curiously, this story would be reprinted in the very next issue, Pictorial Romances #5 and later in Diary Secrets #24. This issue also includes artwork by Chuck Miller. This is 1 of 21 Pictorial Romances issues by Baker. /// key 1st issue 
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"Glamour Was My Weakness" Baker story pencils and inks 7 pages = ***

Pictorial Romances #4 st. john golden age 1950s romance comic book page art by Matt Baker
Matt Baker
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Nickel Comics #1
Nickel Comics v1 #1, 1940 - Jim Barr is a scientist and criminologist who creates an antitoxin for evil. Experimenting on himself, he unexpectedly increases his mass and brain power. Vowing to fight crime, he invents an anti-gravity helmet and becomes Bulletman. Also making their first appearances in separate stories are Warlock the Wizard (who can summon a giant decapitated hand to do his bidding) and the Jungle Twins (two brothers reunited in Africa). Both are quite forgettable characters. "Bulletman" was written by Bill Parker and drawn by Ed Smalle. Cover by Jack Binder. /// key 1st appearance, 1st origin Bulletman, 1st issue 
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"Bulletman" 11 pages


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Jack Kirby
Battle v1 #68, 1960 - Two Jack Kirby tales occupy this issue, each finished by a different inker. In the first, an American pilot grows bored with reconnaissance missions, until he encounters the enemy. Al Williamson's inks add little enhancement, with the exception of the more heavily detailed splash page. Kirby's second story deals with a young soldier's first run-in with an enemy patrol. Steve Ditko's finishes are finely textured and meticulous. Especially noteworthy is the first panel, contrasting the freshly arrived soldiers with the coarse, exhausted veterans passing them. In this issue, Kirby's cover gives readers a chance to see his pencils delineated by a third inker. Other artists in this silver age war comic include Carl Burgos, Don Heck and John Severin. This is 5 of 7 Battle issues by Kirby, 3 of 3 Battle issues by Williamson and 2 of 3 Battle issues by Ditko.
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Kirby cover pencils (Frank Giacoia inks) = ***
"Sitting Duck" Kirby story pencils / Williamson inks 4 pages = ***

"Guard Duty" Kirby story pencils / Ditko inks 4 pages = ***

Jack Kirby / Al Williamson


Jack Kirby / Steve Ditko
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Mystery In Space #7

Mystery In Space v1 #7, 1951 - Unlike his work for Dell, Alex Toth's DC issues during the 1950s were almost always inked by someone else. Consequently, the artist's spontaneous lines were often dampened or reworked. This tale, featuring a science fiction writer at the Venusian Olympics, stumbles due to uninspired layouts and mediocre drawings. This story was later reprinted in DC Special #13. Other artists in this golden age comic include Gil Kane, Carmine Infantino, Bernard Sachs, Joe Giella, Raymond Perry and John Giunta. This is 2 of 2 Mystery in Space issues by Toth.
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"The World Where Dreams Come True" Toth story pencils (Sy Barry inks) 8 pages = **

Alex Toth

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Creepy #85
Creepy v1 #85, 1977 - After bragging to the press, a tv actor named Oliver Munday travels to the Himalayas to hunt the yeti and bring back its carcass. The snowy settings call for the use of more white space, but Carmine Infantino's pencils provide plenty of clarity. Walt Simonson's inks reinforce the idea, while adding more definition. His distinctive, graphic approach dominates most of the scenes, making the artwork more vivid and interesting. Other artists in this bronze age magazine include Leo Duranova, Jose Ortiz, Martin Salvador and Luis Bermejo. This is 3 of 7 Creepy issues by Simonson.
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"Hide and Go Mad" Simonson story inks (Carmine Infantino pencils) 6 pages (black and white) = ***

Walt Simonson
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Neal Adams
Tomahawk v1 #130, 1970 - An impending disaster is revealed this Neal Adams western cover. The layout is a bit convoluted with a lot of graphic elements. Some of the detail gets lost further into the background. Adams' run on this series ends with a whimper rather than a bang. Other artists in this bronze age comic include Frank Thorne. This is 13 of 13 Tomahawk issues by Adams.
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Adams cover pencils and inks = **

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Amazing Spider-Man #300
Amazing Spider-Man v1 #300, 1988 - The alien symbiote that was Spider-man's black costume finds a new host in Eddie Brock. Fusing with the failed  journalist's body, Venom mimics the hero's powers down to the webbing. When his wife Mary Jane is threatened by the new creature, Peter Parker reverts back to his original red and blue costume. Written by David Michelinie and drawn by Todd McFarlane, this also marks the three hundredth issue of this long running series. Cover by McFarlane. /// key 1st appearance Venom, milestone issue
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"Venom" 40 pages

1st Venom
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Jim Starlin
Star Trek v3 #25, 1986 - The four figures on this Jim Starlin cover dominate the layout, but contradict the worm's eye perspective of the background. Kirk's face also seems belabored and stylistically different from that of his female companion. Competently rendered, this Starlin effort suffers mostly from inconsistent and overcrowded elements. Other artists in this copper age comic include Tom Sutton and Ricardo Villagran. This is 2 of 2 Star Trek v3 issues by Starlin.
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Starlin cover pencils and inks = **

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Jonah Hex #1
Jonah Hex v1 #1, 1977 - Hired by a wealthy industrialist landowner, Jonah searches for his missing and possibly kidnapped son. The trail eventually leads to a "boy-fighting" ring among prevalent gamblers. This first issue begins Jonah Hex's second series, following his long stint on Weird Western Tales. It is, however, the character's first self-titled series. This Michael Fleisher story was admirably drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Cover by Garcia-Lopez. /// key 1st issue 
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"Vengeance for a Fallen Gladiator" 17 pages

Jonah Hex #1
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Giant-size Conan the Barbarian #4

Giant-size Conan the Barbarian v1 #4, 1975 - The series concludes its new adaptation of Robert E. Howard's Hour of the Dragon. A Barry Smith reprint unfortunately pales compared to the original in Conan #7. Other artists in this bronze age comic include Gil Kane, Frank Springer and Vince Colletta. Cover by Kane. 

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Detective Comics #450
Detective Comics v1 #450, 1975 - After the assassination of Senator Locksley,  the Batman is driven to find both the perpetrator and those who hired him. Walt Simonson emphasizes the hero's clever and sometimes brutal methods in solving a case. There is mild distortion in some of the faces and figures, but overall the artwork is gritty and visceral. His depictions of the hero are masterful, from the menacing opening splash to the violent battle toward story's end (see interior page below). Impeccably paced and laid out, Simonson's first solo Batman story is phenomenal (reprinted in The Art of Walt Simonson). Other artists in this bronze age comic include Al Milgrom and Terry Austin. Cover by Dick Giordano. This is 8 of 11 Detective Comics issues by Simonson.
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"The Cape & Cowl Deathtrap" Simonson story pencils and inks 12 pages = *****

Walt Simonson
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Jack Kirby
Tales to Astonish v1 #27, 1962 - A young scientist invents a serum that can shrink objects of any size. When he tries it on himself, the experiment goes awry and he befriends an ant to help him regain his size. Though often designated as the first appearance of Ant-man, this is technically only the first appearance of Henry (later Hank) Pym. Not until his second appearance in Tales to Astonish #35 does he don a superhero costume. Artistically, Jack Kirby treats this story no differently than other mediocre tales in the series. Both his cover and story pages lack interest and enthusiasm. On the other hand, Steve Ditko excels with his story of a conquerer arriving on a planet with nothing to conquer. He uses the same nine panel grid throughout, but expertly paces and varies the layouts within. This is 26 of 81 Tales to Astonish issues by Kirby and 27 of 57 Tales to Astonish issues by Ditko
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Kirby cover pencils (Dick Ayers inks) = **
"The Man in the Ant Hill" Kirby story pencils (Dick Ayers inks) 5 pages = **
"Dead Planet" Ditko story pencils and inks 5 pages = ***

Jack Kirby
Steve Ditko
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