Kobra #1: Kirby’s DC leftovers, but great pulpy fun!

Behold!

Bronze age

Kobra # 1, March 1976 (remember the cover date of comics is about three months ahead of the actual publication date, blah blah blah…)

“Fangs of the Kobra” written by Martin Pasko and Jack Kirby, art by Kirby and Pablo Marcus. Editor: Gerry Conway, Inkers: D. Bruce Berry and Pablo Marcos, Colorist: Carl Gafford, Letterer: Ben Oda

Cover by: Ernie Chua (Chan)

Synopsis: (why type it all out when someone else has done it for me?)

(the following paragraph courtesy of ReadComicsOnline):

Deep beneath the streets of Manhattan, assassin-for-hire, Horst Buchner, along with two associates, are ushered through secret tunnels, to keep a prearranged rendezvous with Kobra. At the first sign of insult, Buchner’s men draw on Kobra. Put off by Kobra’s arrogance, Buchner declines his offer of employment, deciding, instead, to rob Kobra of several intriguing artifacts. Still held at gunpoint, Kobra leads Buchner and his gunsels into another chamber, one that holds Kobra’s most unique artifact, the Ovoid. Within the confines of the still shimmering meteoroid, Kobra reveals an enormous alien robot, he calls the Servitor. At Kobra’s command, the Servitor steps forward, then murders Horst and his associates, pummeling them to death with its giant metal fists. Sensing that his brother, Jason Burr, is soon to learn of Kobra’s existence, and whereabouts, Kobra sends the Servitor up to the streets, on a mission to slay Burr. The Servitor leaves a swath of destruction in its path, as it makes its way to Columbia university. Despite opposition from New York’s finest, the Servitor moves inexorably to the student union building. Inside, Lieutenant Perez is interviewing Jason Burr. Just as Perez is about to reveal to Burr the existence and identity of his brother, the Servitor crashes through the wall. Lifting Burr up in one of its gargantuan hands, the Servitor, at Kobra’s command, begins crushing him. Suddenly, Kobra, too, feels the crushing force of the Servitor’s grip compressing his own chest. Realizing that he and Burr share a sympathetic bond, Kobra orders the Servitor to release him. The countermand causes the Servitor to self-destruct…

Jason meets Lt. Perez who tells Jason the secret origin of Kobra …

(from Wikipedia): (Kobra) “… was born part of a set of Siamese twins, but was stolen at birth by the Cult of the Kobra god, since a prophecy claimed he would lead them to rule the world. Under their teaching, he became a dangerous warrior and a sadistic criminal mastermind. He led the cult into using advanced technology to menace the world.  … However, unknown to the cult, he had a psychic link to his twin brother, Jason, who knew nothing of Kobra. As a result, one felt what the other felt, including pain. Because of this, his brother was recruited by an international agency to help them combat Kobra.”

Perez convinces Jason to injure himself (holding his hand over a candle flame. Kobra cannot stand the pain any further and confronts Jason for the first time). Perez and his men try to capture Kobra, who slithers through their trap. The police shoot at the terrorist. “No guns!” shouts Jason to no avail. Were they trying to kill Kobra? IF they do, he will be collateral damage! Kobra escapes unharmed …

***

(from Wikipedia):

(Kobra was) “… created by Jack Kirby for a proposed DC Comics series called King Kobra, the first issue of which was both written and drawn by Kirby (the letter column discussed Infantino and Kirby wanting to do a take on the Corsican Brothers). This first issue then sat in DC inventory for over a year, during which time Kirby left the publisher to return to Marvel Comics.  Eventually the concept was handed over to writer Martin Pasko with orders to make a series out of it. Pasko was unimpressed with King Kobra, feeling it to be a throwaway idea churned out by Kirby as he was preparing to leave DC, and tried to make the best of the assignment by whiting out all of Kirby’s original dialogue, rescripting the issue, and having Pablo Marcos redraw some of the art (and re-)titled simply Kobra. … Pasko later reflected, “I wrote all of Kobra with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek—it was a preposterous exercise dumped in my lap, and it helped pay the rent on a very nice place in the Village.”

Dumped? Even the letter column introducing the comic said the title was “thrown” into Conway’s Corner. It seemed no in at DC gave much of a damn about the comic.

Pasko was correct about this preposterous exercise, but THIS pre-teen loved every issue of it! I still have every issue of the original run. The comic is great fun straight from the pulps – not a caped crime-fighter in sight! It was akin to Dr. Yen Sin or the Mysterious Wu Fang.  DC did something it did not do often – it took a chance! An unknown villain in the lead and an unknown cast! Very shortly it would launch another villain-led comic: the beloved Secret Society of Super-Villains, firmly entrenched in the DC’s superhero world.

Kirby’s art by the mid-1970s was an acquired taste: exaggerated physiologies, gaping mouths, fingers the size of Snickers bars, women whose eyes were set below the center horizontal line of their faces, etc. Marcos did his best redrawing Jason and Perez, but the redo was glaring and obvious. I would have loved cringing at Kirby’s original dialogue, but Pasko did a fine rewrite with what he had (I kept expecting one of the Cobra Cult to say, in Kirby’s typical expositional shorthanded way, “We must obey!”).

Not an auspicious beginning to only the second DC title to headline a villain (The Joker was first by less than a year). Villains starring in comics was a rarity (and was to remain so for the next several years – nowadays it is somewhat common): the Golden Age had its Yellow Claw and the Sub-Mariner (who was more of an anti-hero than an outright villain). The Silver Age, with its Comics Code, was more cautious about villain-led features. Even the House of Ideas itself – Marvel in the Silver Age – only gave Doctor Doom the lead in an anthology without giving him his own title.

The comic got better in later issues … much better …

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 About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Adventure Comics #425: a new, less super direction…

Behold!

Bronze age

Adventure Comics #425. January 1973.

Joe Orlando: editor. Mike Kaluta: cover artist.

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“The Wings of Jealous Gods”

Writer: Lynn Marron; Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Alex Toth

Rodeo showman Chad L. Hammond is in the Himalayas, where he hears rumors of “hawkhorses”. His guides say they are a myth, but he wants to hunt them anyway! In a snow-less grassy valley, he captures a foal and kills its winged mother. His guides accuse him of killing a sacred god and desert him.

While descending with the foal, he is attacked by pegusi, but managed to take the foal (now named “Cloud”) to the US and enters her into the racing circuit until its wings sprout. It wins, often, making Hammond a rich man.

Cloud’s wings begin to grow much to Hammond’s ire – he can’t race it if it has wings! He orders the wings removed. Cloud’s handler (who came with Hammond from the Himalayas) tries to stop Hammond but is killed for his concern over the sacred animal. Hammond sets the barn on fire – hiding the evidence of his murder.

After Cloud’s wings sprouted, Hammond rides the skies – only to be held hostage as Cloud joins the white Pegasus. They make it back to the sacred mountain and drop Hammond into a nest of hungry, sharp-toothed foals!

***

“Prior Warning” Writer: unknown. Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Frank Redondo

Aliens come to earth claiming to be peaceful. They think they are tricking the earthlings and actually plan to attack. But earth attacks them first and drive them off! The aliens have no idea what made the earthlings know they were, in fact, aggressors. Maybe the fact they dressed like Nazis and their leader is a dead ringer for Hitler!

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“Sword of the Dead” Writer/ Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Gil Kane

Evlig, the renegade knight, slaughters a woman and her children, not knowing it was the family of John the Gaunt, retired champion of the kingdom. John comes out of retirement to hunt down the killer and both fight to the death … and beyond!

***

“Captain Fear”

Writer: Robert Kanigher; Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Alex Nino

A native Carib tribe in Haiti are attacked by Spaniards in search of slaves. Fero, the son of the chief, and others are captured and put to work in the mines. They revolt and escape in a Spanish ship; only to have the ship destroyed in a storm.

Rescued by other pirates, Fero fights for the command of the ship and kills the Asian captain. He renames himself Captain Fear – for that is what he will put in the hearts of every white devil he will meet! This he vows to the cheers of his bloodthirsty crew!

***

In a short letter column Joe Orlando explains the change in the magazine’s format from Supergirl to high adventure: fantasy, science fiction, mystery and/or horror!

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Until its first cancellation in 1982, Adventure Comics was the oldest continually running comic book on the stands (back when there were stands…). Its first issue was called New Comics dated December 1935 by someone calling themselves National Allied Publications. It changed its title with issue #12 (January 1937) to New Adventure Comics. The “New” was removed in November 1938 and remained that way until its cancellation (although during the Spectre’s run in the early 1970s it was called Weird Adventure Comics, to cash in on the horror trend: Weird Mystery, Weird War, Weird Western, etc.

With its change to New Adventure Comics, it changed formats from humorous stories to action/adventure tales – some stories were written and drawn by future-Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Seigel.

At the dawn of the superhero age Adventure dove right in with the debut of the Sandman with issue #40, Hourman (#48, March 1940), Starman (#61, April, 1941) and Simon & Kirby’s Manhunter (#73, April 1942).

When More Fun Comics changed formats to humor stories, its characters moved to Adventure, including Superboy, as of issue #103 (April 1946).

Issue #247 (April 1958) the Legion of Superheroes debuted. They eventually shared billing with Superboy during their classic run.

They were replaced by a solo Supergirl lead as of issue #381 (June 1969). She starred in the comic until #424 (October 1972). The letter column of her last issue explains she will get her own book but says the editors do not yet know the next issue’s new format. It only says to be back for a “new line-up of fantastic features!”

With #425 Adventure went back 35 years to focus on … well … adventures! Why? A search of the internet does not say specifically, but I can guess. At this point both DC and Marvel were making good money with their non-superhero lines – horror comics weren’t outselling Superman, but by gum the sales figures weren’t bad! With the Legion safely ensconced in Superboy and the Maid of Steel getting her own magazine, maybe it was time to add another non-superhero anthology … perhaps a repository for some not-quite-horror-themed tales …

(For more on Adventure Comics history AFTER issue #425, click here … or watch this blog for future issues!)

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Captain Fear is the only feature of this short-lived era of Adventure with any legs. He had back-up stories in later issues of Adventure and in the Unknown Soldier.  He is given pages in Who’s Who and the History of the DC Universe.

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Behold! The Bronze Age! A new series

Regular readers of Curry Takeaways know of my many loves; including the Bronze Age of comic books.

What is the Bronze Age? It is a vague time period of comic book publishing. Most ages are determined by fixed events or dates in the history of comic book publishing – although even those are debated.

Only a contrarian disagrees that the Golden Age of comics began with the publication of Action Comics #1 and the debut of Superman (June 1938 – let’s please stop discussing cover date vs actual date; if you don’t know by now …).

There are more arguments over the beginning of the Silver Age, but the majority still believe it began with the publication of Showcase #4 and the (what we would now call) reboot of the Flash (October 1956).

The Bronze Age beginnings are more arguable. Was it when the price of comics went to fifteen cents? Was it when Jack Kirby left Marvel for DC? Some simply say 1970. This was when Kirby left for DC, Green Lantern became Green Lantern/Green Arrow and symbolized DC’s going “relevant” and growing up, many old-time writers and artists retired and were replaced by fans-turned-pros, Marvel published Conan the Barbarian, etc.

I do not really have a preference, although I lean more to the fifteen-cents-theory (early 1969).

The theories as to the date of the end of the Bronze Age is almost universal – the Crisis on Infinite Earths and the deaths of Flash, Supergirl and others in 1985.

Ages since have been of little interest to me – I just call anything since the Modern Age (some have coined post-Bronze Ages as the Copper Age and the Modern Age …).

I love comics in all of the various Ages, but the Bronze Age was when I first really read and paid attention to the comics I was getting (and saving).

Over the next few years on this blog I will share my favorite Bronze Age comics – sometimes going through entire series or a specific run. It will focus mainly on DC versus Marvel, Atlas, Harvey or Archie – but that’s because that is what I read.

They will be similar to other specific runs in the past (what I call the Adventure Line imprint, the Bicentennial issues and a few others) and may repeat some blogs. Forgive the reruns – I’ll keep them to a minimum.

I’d like to hear your opinions. Keep up the comments.

Enjoy.

Michael Curry

 

About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!


 

Back to the Blogging Board …

Mike, where have you been?

The Doctor Strange movie came and went, no review.

Guardians of the Galaxy came and went, no review.

The season finales of Supergirl, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Flash …

The 50th Anniversary of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band … and the new commemorative CD…

And now the Wonder Woman movie…

Silence.

Oh I posted a little about the death of Rich Buckler and the Beauty & the Beast movie and Sensory-Free movies, but I do admit my blog posts have been very thin of late.

Work is the main reason.

I started my own office in April of 2016 and I concentrated on my work blog more than my writer’s blog.

I hope to remedy that. Wonder Woman so inspired me I may write a late review of the film, and I plan on a series of reviews of my favorite Bronze Age comics.

And anything else that comes to mind. I hope to be back to regular blogging from here on.

So I am coming back. Thanks for sticking with me!

 

About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!