More great comics first seen by UK fans in the pages of the great Alan Class b/w reprint comics, but originally from Wally Wood's wonderful Tower Comics line of spy / superheroes, the T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents.
( The Higher United Nations Defence Enforcement Reserves, thanks for asking )
Jointly inspired by Marvel's burgeoning success and TV's Man From U.N.C.L.E. Woody drafted friends like Gil Kane, Reed Crandall, Mike Sekowsky & George Tuska to help him with the art, while he wrote
( most of ) the scripts and edited the line.
Here, you had a bunch of great, fun characters like Noman ( Mad scientist transplants his mind into a series of creepy androids with invisibility cloak ), Menthor ( traitorous psychic with costume borrowed from The Atom ), Lightning ( super-speedster who ages rapidly every time he uses his powers ), and back-up sidekicks The Thunder Squad, plus great hissable villains like The Warlord and the super sexy Iron Maiden. And the subject of today's post, the Joe Shmoe of superheroes, Dynamo!
Dynamo was Tower Comics version of Superman, but with a twist.
The great thing about Dynamo, was that he was just an ordinary working schlub, clocking in on his day job as a superhero, and having no real emotional investment in saving the world beyond his next pay cheque. A great concept I'm amazed hasn't been used since.
The other great thing about him was that he was, in all honesty, a bit of a dumbass, constantly forgetting to recharge his Thunder Belt before going into battle, getting his ass whipped, then getting reamed out by his boss after the mission. At times, he's so thick, you almost feel Woody is parodying muscle-bound tough guys.
Plus he's named after a real person: Len Brown was working for the TOPPS chewing gum company, and providing Woody with work such as the Mars Attacks trading cards, when they came up with the idea for Dynamo. Struggling to come up with a secret identity, Woody just said to Brown ' Ah, let's just give him your name! ' Hey Ma! Wally Wood named a superhero after me!
Here's Woody in top satirical & artistic form. And why don't I know any women called Kitten?
Here's some more fantastic Tarzan Sunday pages from Gil Kane. Gil gets to draw Tarzan leaping, jumping and swimming all over the place AND a ruined temple, so he's happy, and we get to see Tarzan kick the crap out of a bunch of Nazi's so we're happy. Everyone's a winner.
I've always liked this issue of Marvel Team-Up. Like a lot of this books' early run, it's a totally inconsequential piece of fluff that's guaranteed to raise a smile. Firstly, it's got Bird-Man, Ape-Man & Cat-Man, the lowest of low rent super-villains. How these saps ever had the cojones to call themselves something as tough and spooky sounding as The Unholy Trio is beyond me.
But also, as well as a beautifully solid and unshowy art job from Jim Mooney & Frank Giacoia, it's Len Wein just having fun with the characters. Spidey and DD here are like an old vaudeville act ( 'Boy, it sure took you long enough, Horn-Head' ' Guess you've taken care of everything, Web-Head' ) and the way they bounce off each other throughout the story is why it's one of my favourites. From the days when super-heroes liked being super-heroes.
Here's some cracking work from near the beginning of John Bolton's career. Over here, we first noticed Boisterous Bolton in the pages of Look-In, his near photographic art making The Bionic Woman an unmissable two pages of weekly excellence. When he made it to the big leagues with Kull: Demon In A Silvered Glass for Marvel, we could delight in crowing that we'd been into his stuff for ages.
In between, John did work like this, the 1976 Planet Of The Apes annual, chock full of black, white and blue illos, as well as one full-colour strip.
I got this annual for Xmas that year, along with a brilliant Galen mask that moved along with your jaw when you did your best Roddy McDowell impression. Planet Of The Apes was huge in our house, lemme tell ya.
Here's a selection.
I'm a writer and cartoonist, responsible for ' The Infernal Gods Of Electric Disaster' & Essential Showcase Presents: Stan & Jack, along with the odd thing I've done with old pal Sean Phillips.
I think the 1970's was the best era in comics' history. And I can prove it...
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