Published: January 1st, 2020 Written by: Roy Thomas Art by: John Buscema, Gil Kane Based on:Conan the Barbarian and other characters by Robert E. Howard
Marvel Comics, 281 Pages
This is old school ’70s Conan the Barbarian by the original Conan comic book maestro, Roy Thomas. But it was just released as a collection and it’s kind of unique, as it tries to adapt the only full-length Conan novel that Robert E. Howard wrote: The Hour of the Dragon.
This was mainly told over the course of multiple issues of Giant-Size Conan and Conan the Barbarian annuals, as opposed to being a part of the regular comic book series.
Overall, this was action packed and featured some of the best character development writing for the Conan character. It also sees him fall in love, get married and become a ruler.
This is one of those Conan stories that kind of hits all the marks one would be looking for in a comic featuring the iconic hero. A lot happens and every issue and chapter within is pretty cool.
Additionally, this features art from two of my all-time favorite Conan artists, Gil Kane and John Buscema.
Top to bottom, this is a solid Conan tale with solid art and while it might not be a perfect adaptation of the source material, it pulls it into the Marvel comic book mythos quite well.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with: other Conan comics from the classic Marvel era.
Published: 1975 Written by: Linda Fite Art by: Werner Roth, Gil Kane (cover)
Marvel Comics, 37 Pages
This is where the X-Men team that I grew up with came to be. Yet, I had never read this until now, despite being a massive X-Men fan once I embraced them in the late ’80s.
Now this came out more than three years before I was born and I felt like I knew the story well enough but actually reading it was a worthwhile experience, as the story had a bit more character development than I could’ve anticipated. Especially in regards to Wolverine, Sunfire and Storm. It also allowed me to get more familiar with Warpath’s older brother, Thunderbird, whose superhero career was very short-lived.
This story also involves the island of Krakoa, which is a major aspect of the current X-Men related comics.
All in all, this was solid. I felt like the team was thrown together rather abruptly and it was a dangerous mission without them really training for it but it worked out and we got to see this new crew gel in spite of them all being pretty selfish and petty in the beginning.
What’s really great about this, is that it tells a beefy, deep story with just 37 pages. It really shows the difference in pacing in the comic book medium from the time when this was made up to the ’90s (or so) when comic stories felt like they flew by too quickly.
Additionally, the character designs and the art in this were superb.
I didn’t anticipate this being great, I always just thought of it as a a simple introduction. And while it’s not great, it is still better than I thought it’d be and it just made me appreciate this era of Marvel even more.
Rating: 7.75/10 Pairs well with: other ’70s X-Men comics.
Published: October 3rd, 2018 Written by: Gerry Conway, Chris Claremont, Gary Friedrich, Tony Isabella, Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman Art by: Gene Colan, Ross Andru, John Buscema, Dick Giordano, Don Heck, Mike Ploog, Gil Kane (cover) Based on:Dracula by Bram Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Marvel Comics, 512 Pages
Over the last few months, I’ve been reading a lot of the ’70s Marvel Comics stuff. I dabbled in some of these stories when I was a kid but they were before my time and weren’t as easy to get when I really started collecting comics circa 1990. Plus, my attention, at that time, was focused on superhero stuff, as well as G.I. Joe.
I enjoyed the first volume in this massive collections of The Tomb of Dracula, so naturally I wanted to check out this one too. In the end, I liked this one even more. I think a lot of that has to do with this taking place more in the modern world, which allowed Marvel’s incarnation of Dracula to interact with some of Marvel’s famous superheroes.
In this collection we get to see Dracula meet Spider-Man, Werewolf by Night and Marvel’s version of Frankenstein’s Monster. We also get a small cameo by the Human Torch, as well as the debut of Dracula’s daughter, Lilith. This even had a swashbuckling tale in it.
Now this had a ton of different writers and artists, as it bounces around to different titles that featured Dracula, at the time. Despite this, the book feels consistent, which is a testament to how great Marvel’s editorial was in the ’70s. As far as that company has fallen in recent years, they wouldn’t be able to pull this feat off in 2020.
Most of the stories here were good, it was an energetic read with great art by several legends and it is a fantastic example of ’70s Marvel horror at its finest.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with: the other Marvel Dracula stories, as well as other ’70s Marvel horror titles.
Published: October 4th, 2017 Written by: Gerry Conway, Archie Goodwin Art by: Gene Colan, Alan Weiss, Gil Kane (cover) Based on:Dracula by Bram Stoker
Marvel Comics, 518 Pages
This was an interesting collection, as it not only featured the first few story arcs of The Tomb of Dracula comic book series but it also featured issues of the black and white comics magazine Dracula Lives!
Additionally, this features the first appearance and first story of Blade, the character made most famous by Wesley Snipes in the film trilogy that kicked off in 1998. It also has a story that pits Robert E. Howard’s Solomon Kane against Dracula, capitalizing off of the popular sword and sorcery trend in comics at the time.
Overall, this is a pretty neat comic and since I love the Dracula character in many of his incarnations, it’s cool seeing Marvel’s take on him. I also like that Dracula exists within Marvel canon, as well as Robert E. Howard’s canon, because it opens up a lot of possibilities. Sadly, I don’t think we ever got a Dracula and Godzilla crossover even though both of them existed at Marvel at the same time.
I absolutely love the art in this whether its the stuff from the Tomb stories or the Lives! ones. But I do kind of wish that they would’ve made this a beefier collection of just The Tomb of Dracula while also making a collection just for Dracula Lives!
Both series are great but they’re also very different in that the Dracula Lives! comics didn’t have to adhere to the Comics Code Authority and therefore, were a lot darker, more violent and much sexier.
Anyway, I enjoyed both halves of this huge collection and I look forward to delving into the second volume in the near future.
Rating: 7.25/10 Pairs well with: the later Marvel Dracula stories, as well as other ’70s Marvel horror titles.
Published: January 29th, 2019 Written by: Roy Thomas Art by: Barry Windsor-Smith, Gil Kane, John Buscema Based on:Conan the Barbarian by Robert E. Howard
Marvel Comics, 776 Pages
I read this collection of the first 26 issues of Marvel’s original Conan the Barbarian run because I had just read Roy Thomas’ book where he gives in-depth commentary on the first 51 issues.
Also, I’m a big Conan fan but I hadn’t read most of these issues yet, as some of the earliest ones are really expensive now and because I didn’t start collecting Conan comics until this series was well over a hundred issues. I wasn’t born until the very end of ’78 and didn’t really get into buying and collecting comics until ’89.
Anyway, this was really cool to read and just about every issue was a great story with superb art, whether it was the illustration work of Barry Smith, Gil Kane or John Buscema. The book is mostly dominated by the work of Smith and I found his art here to be some of his absolute best.
What’s especially neat about these stories is that some of them are actually adapted from the works of Robert E. Howard and some are original stories made to fit within Howard’s already established universe that predates the comics by about forty years.
Not all of the Howard material that was adapted was actually Conan stories, specifically. Some of them were taken from other characters like Howard’s Kull and then retrofitted into Conan tales.
This collection of issues includes some first appearances and a crossover as well. This is where we see evil sorcerer Thoth-Amon debut, as well as the most popular female sword and sorcery hero of all-time, Red Sonja. As for the crossover, in this book Conan meets Elric of Melniboné, a popular fantasy character that was created by Michael Moorcock in 1961. Elric has gone on to have his own multimedia franchise in the same vein as Conan.
The price tag on this omnibus is pretty hefty but it’s a 700-plus page hardcover and it still costs less than trying to round up all these issues, individually.
Rating: 9.5/10 Pairs well with: other Conan and sword and sorcery comics penned by Roy Thomas.
Published: 1977 Written by: Gerry Conway, David Kraft, John Waner Art by: George Perez, Al Milgrom, Klaus Janson, Paul Gulacy, Tom Sutton, Terry Austin, Gil Kane Based on:Logan’s Run by William F. Nolan, George Clayton Johnson
Marvel Comics, 160 Pages
I’ve been collecting a lot of Marvel’s movie adaptations from the late ’70s and early ’80s. I was inspired to round as many up as I could after really loving Jack Kirby’s 2001: A Space Odyssey comic series. And like that one, the story in this adaptation goes beyond the movie.
This series only gave us seven issues, as it was cancelled prematurely and didn’t even get a proper conclusion. However, it really comes alive in the final two issues, where it moves on beyond the film.
The first five issues are a direct adaptation of the Logan’s Run movie from 1976. Even though the story is pretty much a replay of the picture, there are some “deleted scenes” sprinkled in that give some parts of the story more context and more plot and character development. There are a few minor deviations from the finished film but this may have been made with an earlier draft of the script and with some of the cut scenes left in. Also, this probably had to do things somewhat differently due to the time and space constraints of wedging the plot into just five thin comics.
I really dug this though, as I love the film and seeing it play out in a different medium was a cool treat. Plus, I love George Perez’s art and this has his patented flair while still being true to the style cues of the film.
It’s issue six that really peaked my interest though, as it starts where the movie’s plot stopped. Everything wasn’t fine once the people discovered the truth behind their existence. In fact, everything goes to shit almost immediately and the now free citizens turn against the Sandmen, especially Logan-5.
The Sandmen are imprisoned but they are released shortly after when the free people of the city don’t know how to solve all the new problems they are faced with. Logan takes it upon himself to try and bring peace and to set in motion a better world but then the series ends… on a cliffhanger.
So that was like a punch in the gut but I enjoyed the comic nonetheless. I just wish Marvel, knowing they were going to cancel it, at least did another issue to wrap things up, even if it came across as rushed. But I guess I’ll have to use my imagination to come up with my own ending like so many television shows that were cancelled on cliffhangers.
Anyway, if you dig the movie, you’ll probably dig this. Just be forewarned that it leaves you hanging like a drunk significant other passing out prematurely.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with: other sci-fi comic book adaptations by Marvel in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Published: November 8th, 2017 Written by: Justin Jordan, Robbie Thompson Art by: Barnaby Bagenda, Emilio Lopez, Ethan Van Sciver (covers) Based on:Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle; Green Lantern by John Broome, Gil Kane
BOOM! Studios, DC Comics, 157 Pages
I can’t believe that this came and went and I never saw it. I was at a different comic book shop than my normal one, though, and that’s where I discovered some of the single issues of this series. They didn’t have all of them for me to grab so I got the digital version of the collection because I didn’t want to wait to read it. I’m just a massive fan of both franchises and seeing that they have now crossed over got me really excited, as both universes just fit really well together. More Planet of the Apes crossovers, please!
The way that these universes collide was also really well orchestrated. If you remember the original Planet of the Apes movies, all five of them, once all is said and done, become a time loop. This is due to the ending of part 3 and the events of part 4. Because of this, the Apes version of Earth has been locked away from the rest of time/space. So, at some point, a Universal Ring was created as a sort of master ring over all of the Lantern rings from all of the different color/emotional spectrums. This ring was hidden away on the Apes Earth as it was locked off from the rest of the multiverse.
Anyway, Sinestro wants the ring for obvious reasons. Hal Jordan confronts him but soon finds himself waking up on Apes Earth at the head of the Statue of Liberty, reminiscent of the closing scene of the original movie. A group of other Lanterns tracks him down with help from the Guardians. Guy Gardner brings Grodd with for assistance (not a good plan) and the Red Lanterns follow the Green Lanterns, once they open a gateway to Ape Earth because Atrocitus also wants the Universal Ring.
The premise may sound a bit convoluted but it isn’t hard to follow in the book and I loved it. And hell, maybe it’s created a plot device with the Universal Ring that could pop up again down the road.
I also really liked the art in this book. BOOM! Studios is doing a really good job producing quality indie comics. Hell, this looks better than most modern Marvel series and is on par with the better DC titles.
Additionally, I love that Ethan Van Sciver came back to do a few of the covers for this series.
If you love Green Lantern, especially the Geoff Johns era and everything after, you will probably love this too. If you also love the Planet of the Apes, this will be a fun read for you. If you love both, prepare for a rollercoaster of awesomeness and possibly the need to change your underwear after this book reaches its climax.
Rating: 8.25/10 Pairs well with: Other similar crossovers: Planet of the Apes/Star Trek, Planet of the Apes/Kong, as well as Star Trek/Green LanternI and II.