Hercules Unbound #8, January 1977

“Game”

Cover: Walt Simonson & Wally Wood, Editor: Joe Orlando

Writer: David Michelinie; Pencilers: Walt Simonson, Inker: Wally Wood

Story Editor: Denny O’Neil

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While rafting across the Irish Sea, our heroes are strafed by jet fighters, destroying their raft and killing Dave Rigg! Herc dispatches three of the jets, and he, Kevin, Jennifer and Basil follow the fourth to a strange citadel. They are again attacked, this time by gorgeous Wally- Woodish women in spandex and metal hats! Discovering they are androids, our heroes quickly destroy them.

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They are invited into the compound and meet Miss Agatha Simms: a paraplegic military and scientific genius who built the compound (and the androids) to further her “game”. Game? She and her unknown opponent, who also has a military compound, have been hammering at each other for weeks. She mistook our heroes for agents of her opponent, hence her jet fighter and android attack. She explains she plucks her weapons from earth’s past, going back only as far as World War II. As an example, she tries to bring forward PT-109, but instead a … slight miscalculation … brought in the Bismark

Dave Rigg comes ashore, alive and well, and finds his way to a small village. He finds a robotic army recruiter and is knocked unconscious!

Simms promises to restore Kevin’s sight if Hercules helps her with the Game. With the Bismark laying down diversionary fire, Hercules, Kevin, Jennifer and a troop of androids fight their way to the Enemy’s Control Center on the Isle of Man.

Finding a hidden door, they batter their way to the control room to find Dave Rigg in the Commander’s chair!

To be continued!

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The letters page announces that Michelinie, Simonson and Wood will be the permanent creative team under the editorial guidance of Denny O’Neil!

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Simonson’s art is once again nearly hidden by Wood’s dominating inks, but it this is still cracking good story and art!

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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!

 

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Hercules Unbound #7, November 1976

“To Slay a Legend”

Cover: Rich Buckler, Wally Wood & Tatjana Wood, Editor: Joe Orlando

Writer: David Michelinie; Pencilers: Walt Simonson & Wally Wood

Letterer: Milt Snapinn; Colorist: Jerry Serpe

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At the shores of Loch Ness, Hercules and friends are greeted by three beautiful women who invite them for a dinner and a peaceful repast. Naturally, Hercules is suspicious, but relents when the others see nothing wrong here.

Surprise! The parties are drugged into unconsciousness! When they awake, they are bound and Kevin is staked at the shores of the loch. The villain is revealed: Casper Zedd – given magical powers by a Cthulhu-esque insectoid who appeared at Loch Ness days after WWIII began.

Zedd was ordered to capture Kevin and imbue the new and weakened god-thing with Kevin’s more-than-mortal power!

Hercules recognizes the god-thingie as Oceanus the Titan! Hercules … unbinds and attacks Zedd, knocking him out and stopping Oceanus’ recharge.

Per Hercules, only Zeus’ lightning can destroy Oceanus. Our heroes decide to use the nearby hydroelectric dam to generate a large enough charge to destroy Oceanus – who felt the destructive power of WWIII and came to investigate the end of the world, but became too weak in transit.

Oceanus attacks the heroes at the dam, and is joined in battle once again with Hercules. Hercules wields the electrical bolts of “lightning” and knocks Oceanus back to his nether realm.

Zedd’s scepter explodes when Oceanus disappears and his followers leave him. He is now as he was before the war – alone.

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The letter column “Myth Mail” thanks legendary writer David Micheline and legendary artist Walt Simonson for this “fill-in” issue. Gerry Conway, we are told, is gone forever, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez will be back next issue.

Simonson’s art is also hidden by Wood’s dominating pencils and/or inks, but it still makes for a dazzling combination!

And thank you, David, oh thank you for NOT having Nessie pop up anywhere in the story. Oceanus the Titan was enough of a Loch Ness Monster for all of us!

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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!

Claw the Unconquered #8! Bicentennial weirdness …

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#18.

Claw the Unconquered #8

clawtheunconquered8

Published bi-monthly, thirty cents, August

Cover Artist: Keith Giffen

Editor: Joe Orlando

            Claw was part of DC’s Adventure Line of comics from 1975. The implication that “Adventure Line” was some sort of imprint is my own invention and I have published many a blog on that line of comics. Claw’s is here:

 https://michaelgcurry.com/2015/01/25/claw-the-unconquered-finally-a-dc-adventure-line-success-for-a-while/

            A house ad in 1975 hyped seven comics as part of DC’s new Adventure line of comics – as opposed to their superhero and horror line. Claw the Unconquered, Tor, Kong the Untamed, Warlord, Beowulf Dragon Slayer, Justice Inc. and Stalker were advertised. Of the comics, only Warlord eventually met with success – going well past a hundred issues into the 1980s. But Warlord was put on hiatus after its second issue for several months. It quickly succeeded upon its return, but during August of 1976, only Claw survived: in that respect, it was the most successful of the “Line” and at that point it lasted longer than the other six.

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            For its first seven issues, legendary artist Ernie Chua (Chan) did the excellent artwork. With this issue, a new art team debuted. And they did an excellent job, too – good thing, they had some huge shoes to fill. With the new art I noticed was Claw looked more like a Native American than a certain Cimmerian he previously resembled. The artwork certainly fit this excursion into weird worlds. In the letter column, writer Michelinie calls the Villagran/Novelle/Dominguez combination of artists contributing to this issue “the South American Crusty Bunkers” (a name given to a core of artists who occasionally helped out Neal Adams and Dick Giordano at deadline time…).

            It is a beautiful cover – Claw in all his faux-Cimmerian glory about to slice a trans-dimensional worm-man in twain, all while spouting neo-Shakespearean pomposity!  Even the issue’s villain’s name evokes Howard and Lovecraft – lots of oddly-placed consonants and apostrophes without a vowel in sight!

            This issue is Part Four of Five. This background is a recap from issue #6 near the beginning of this epic quest: N’Hglthss (geshundheit) is “unleashed upon an unwary world … N’Hglthss, whose vile passage brings naught but death and decay … yet who cannot himself be touched by death … it had taken Avistar, the Burning Man, to reveal the only weapon effective against N’Hglthss :a silver sword called Moonthorn, whose origins lie buried deep in Claw’s unknown past … a blade attainable only by uniting the three facets of an arcane talisman known as the Grimstone …”. Issues #4 introduces the menace of N’Hglthss (geshundheit), #5-7 depict Claw collecting the talismans (talismen?) in excellent stories. In #7 Claw links the three talismans together and he and his companion disappear into the void! And on to…

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Master of the Seventh Void”, David Michelinie ( w ), Keith Griffin, Ricardo Villagran and Oscar Novelle & Luis Dominguez (Luis is mentioned in the letter column, but not in the splash-page’s credits) (a), Liz Berube (i).

            Claw and his companion, Ghilkyn – a devil-horned extra-dimensional traveler – enter the seventh void. By page two Ghilkyn is thrust back to … well, who knows where, leaving Claw on his own.

            Tell you what; let me use the author’s own synopsis from #9. I’m lazy that way: “traversing that demonic plane alone, Claw had come upon the object of his worlds-spanning search – the enchanted silver0hued blade called Moonthorn. But Moonthorn had a guardian – the malevolent politician-cum-sorcerer (snicker) Mahan K’Handa … a creature whose corrupt soul lay captive in a crystal egg about his waist … a vulnerability Claw’s twisted right have had somehow sensed and had crushed into oblivion allowing the elusive prize to fall into Claw’s grasp and allowed the Grimstone quest to at last end in success.” I will give my collection of Claw comics to the first reader who successfully diagrams that sentence. Now it is on to defeat the evil N’Hglthss (geshundheit)!

            The readers are promised Claw’s origin next issue!

 

 Of Swordsmen and Sorcerers (letter column); neither of the positive letters are about a specific issue, just praising the series in general. Paul Emrath of Milwaukee, WI and Kevin Callihan of Brea, CA contribute.

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            Claw had one more issue to go before cancellation. DC was about to launch their DC/TV line-up (Shazam, Isis, Welcome Back Kotter and Superfriends), so something had to go to make room. One of those somethings was Claw.  The yearning lust of DC fanboys to get the Bicentennial Superman belt buckle was not enough to keep the title going.

            The character appeared in a cameo in Star Hunters #7 (October 1978) along with fellow-David Michelinie-creation Starfire (Star Hunters was also a Michelinie creation).

            Claw was revived for three issues in early 1978 but was again cancelled at the beginning of the DC Explosion. Issues #13 & 14 were in the Cancelled Comic Cavalcade – that little-seen shelter in which hid the remains of the DC Implosion. The character had a brief stint as a back-up feature in Warlord #s 48 & 49 to wrap up the storyline from its issue #12.

claw by hembeck

            Claw has appeared in modern times: in a cross-over miniseries with Dynamite’s Red Sonja, and in his own revived title as part of DC’s Wildstorm imprint for six issues. Earlier, he appeared in Swamp Thing (with Adventure Line alum Stalker), the 2008 Wonder Woman story arc Ends of the Earth, along with Stalker and Beowulf, and in issue #1 of the series Time Masters Vanishing Point. His demonic gauntlet appeared in Justice League: Cry for Justice as that comic’s villain’s artifact.

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Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #19: The Brave and the Bold #128

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.