Writer: Roy Thomas
Artist: Tony DeZuniga
Hugo Danner is working as a sailor on a ship headed toward Marseille. A child falls over and he jumps in to rescue him. He manages to break a shark’s jaw in the process. When the ship lands a fellow American seeks him out at a café. While there it is announced that war has broken out with Germany. Hugo decides to join the Foreign Legion and his new friend accompanies him. They then have to fight off thugs who try to rob them and Hugo uses his superhuman strength to easily take them out.
Thus we then flashback to Hugo’s origin. His father was a doctor that developed a serum derived from insects to give super strength and invulnerability. His first test is a little kitten that goes on to terrorize the countryside killing cattle. The doctor poisons it but decides to try this serum out on his newborn son. The son grows up with super strength, can leap great distances and invulnerable skin. He goes to college and becomes a successful football player. After his parents go bankrupt he gets a job as a strongman at Coney Island. When he returns to college football he accidentally kills a man and that is what brought him to his current position.
So in the Legion his great strength manages to take on the Germans singlehandedly and get him noticed by the generals. He is about to go to Berlin but the mission is cancelled because the war is over. He is left wondering what a superhuman man like him can do in a world at peace.
By Don & Maggie Thompson
An article on the life and works of author Philip Wylie whose book this feature story was based on. An interesting article and make me interested in checking out some of his work.
“Supermen In Science Fiction”
By Don & Maggie Thompson
An article on the history of supermen in the history of literature from the ancient Greeks to the present. An ok article that gets a little dry here and there.
This story is the adaptation of Philip Wylie’s novel Gladiator. It is the first modern Superman and was probably the inspiration for the Superman character. Hugo Danner is a tragic figure. His great power is more of a curse since he can’t live a normal life. An interesting story but somewhat depressing. This was the first half of the book and the second was never adapted because it was probably so depressing. I still would have liked to read the conclusion and one day may check out the book.
“Shanna the She-Devil!”
Writers: Carole Seuling & Steve Gerber
A poacher by the name of Ivory Dan is hunting elephants. Luckily Shanna and her leopard friends Bini and Ina are there to stop him. Ivory Dan is a real dickweed and has trouble getting the hint after his first ass kicking. He tries again and once again gets his ass kicked. He ends up getting trampled by the elephants he was trying to hunt.
Also after Shanna is knocked out she has a flashback to her old life. Its a sad life. As a little girl her big game hunting father accidentally shoots her mother. As an adult Shanna becomes a veterinarian at the New York zoo. Vandals one night break in and shoot all the big cats. Only two leopard cubs survive. She decides to take the job offer to bring them back to Africa and teach them to live in the wild. While there she becomes Shanna the She-Devil.
The first issue for a new comic book character. Back in the early ’70s Marvel introduced female characters to generate interest in comics. Now clearly Shanna is a rip off of the old pulp character Sheena. She has the same leopard skin costume and lives in the African jungle. Even her name is similar. The only difference is she is a redhead instead of a blonde. Thankfully Shanna became her own character in the Marvel universe. She has in interesting origin unique from Sheena and becomes a character in her own right. She is smart, tough and incredible sexy. A great start for this character.
“Beyond the Vale of Savage Time”
Writers: Doug Moench & Gerry Conway
Artist: John Buscema
Ka-zar and Zabu are attacked by a giant ape. They manage to kill the ape but are seriously injured in the fight. Ka-zar passes out and later awakens in a howdah on the back of a mastodon. The mastodon is part of a caravan on its way to Tordon-Na. Ka-zar and Zabu are welcomed by the high priest Sanda. Ka-zar and Zabu are peacefully allowed to recuperate and find the inhabitants friendly except for Slytha. Slytha a lower priest with an ambition to become the high priest. One night four assassins come to kill Ka-zar and Zabu. They are easily defeated but Slytha accuses Ka-zar of being the aggressor. He is taken to the temple for trial by their god Ilak-Aron. Ilak-Aron is a giant bald fat statue that talks. Its judgment is Ka-zar is innocent but the high priest is guilty for allowing a stranger into their city. His son Durnon is sentenced to be a blood sacrifice.
Ka-zar is back to its excellent self after the depressing last issue. We are once again introduced to another mysterious and exotic civilization. It also ends on a cliffhanger so we can look forward to the next issue. Its interesting how diverse the civilizations are in the Savage Land. There have been ones based on European, African, Aztec and now Indian. The place has attracted a real cross-section of the human race. Not to mention the various prehistoric ones. A fun series.
“The Avignon Gambit”
Writers: John Ostrander & Kim Yale
Artist: Gary Kwapisz
For the past few years Winters has lead the Southwest Rebellion. She’s had some success and has been able to cultivate contacts in South America. Now with the help of the Israelis she will rescue the Pope. The Pope is a captive of a drug lord in Colombia. The drug lord Munoz did not like the new Pope’s activism and hopes to eventually replace him with a puppet cardinal that he has. Winters manages to successfully take over the radio station that the Pope is at and convince him to call for a crusade against the drug lords. In the uprising they manage to get the Pope back to Texas. Winters then turns on the Israelis by keeping the Pope in America to weld his political influence. She ends up killing her Israeli friends.
The story is getting more interesting. Rosa is showing a commitment to her country even at the expense of her friends. Interesting that they accurately predicted a South American Pope in the next century. We also get narrative from her autobiography which is published in 2016. Always interesting to read about the future when you’re living in it.
“Birds of Prey”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell
Morgan and Shakira are zipping through the sky on the Titan’s flying disc when they are attacked by Hawkmen. The Hawkmen manage to capture Shakira and Morgan goes crashing into the forest on the damaged disc. Luckily for him the forest is inhabited by a village of dwarves. The dwarves are friendly and victims of the Hawkmen’s raids. Morgan finds out that the Hawkmen live in a giant nest high up on a giant tree. He climbs up and manages to rescue Sharkira and burn down the nest.
This story was a fun one. There was a lot of humor in this story. The dwarves brewed their own moonshine and it is powerful stuff. The look on Morgan’s face as his eyes start to water after drinking it is priceless. The moonshine comes in handy later as its used to burn the nest down. The dwarves are a fun bunch of cowards. Morgan also shows a loyalty to Shakira in coming to her rescue. Shakira is introduced as a very intriguing character. We get to see her cat side more in this story. She would rather burn to death than jump into the lake. Morgan forces her to jump and she is quite upset at the bath. A fun and enjoyable story.
“The Black Widow: I Got the Yo Yo, You Got the String”
Writer: Ralph Macchio
Artist: Paul Gulacy
Natasha Romanova the Black Widow is assigned on a mission by SHIELD. They want her to go to a secret fortress in South Africa and assassinate Irma Klausvichnova. Irma trained Natasha when she was in the KGB. Now she has to assassinate her former friend because she is in charge of a weapons depot used to support Marxist revolutions. When she gets there things go wrong from the start. She doesn’t meet her contact and the train that arrives at the fortress is attacked by British special forces. She finds Irma but she is killed by her contact who is the real traitor. Irma was a Shield agent named Stacy Cromwell who assumed Irma’s identity. Natasha is saved by her old lover who was using her to flush out the double agent.
“Lady Daemon: By Virtue of Blood!”
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Michael Golden & Terry Austin
The Daemon sisters grow up at their clan’s castle in the early twentieth century. The two practice the black arts and get their parents killed. The older one Alisabeth goes off leaving the younger Megan in charge. Megan with her friend a British Army officer uncover a plot of Alisabeth in conducting human sacrifices at Stonehenge. When they arrive they are captured and the next thing they find themselves on the Hindenburg. Alisabeth continues to use her powers with help from powers drawn from Megan. She draws demons from the dark dimension. A fight results in the famous Hindenburg disaster.
“Daughters of the Dragon: Safe Streets”
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Marshall Rogers & Bob McLeod
Misty Knight and Colleen Wing are private investigators for their firm Nightwing Restorations. Misty is a former cop who has a bionic arm. Colleen is trained as a samurai. The two investigate the murder of a NYPD cop. It takes them to a childhood friend of Misty. Seems she was turned into a vampire. The neighborhood she lives in made a pact with a vampire. The vampire would get a safe place to live if it got rid of the criminals. The vampire’s price is that every year a volunteer is turned into a vampire.
This is the first of the newly renamed title for the old Marvel Preview series. Bizarre Adventures does have a ring to it and the idea of truly bizarre stories does have an appeal. This issue was titled Lethal Ladies or as I like to call it the Hot Chicks who can kick-ass. The first with the Black Widow was excellent. Plenty of action and plot twists. I liked the old cold war themes that were still fresh back then. Also beautiful artwork by Gulacy made this a treat.
Lady Daemon was also intriguing idea. We get another conspiracy behind why the Hindenburg blew up. Some of the story I did find confusing but it has a lot of potential.
The Daughters of the Dragon was the best. It was pure ’70’s with its kung fu/samurai action. Throw in bionic arm and vampires in New York. The whole idea behind these two women is guaranteed to make a fun story.
Writer: Cary Burkett
Artist: Gray Morrow
Sheena rescues the reporter Vic Casey and his friend from a group of lions. Vic wants to help Sheena for he has proof that the shaman didn’t assassinate the king. Unfortunately the shaman just passed away and the new king is coming with his mercenary army. Sheena and Vic attempt to slow down the convoy by taking out the fuel truck but the evil king doesn’t play fair. He uses the helicopter to start killing the animals and force the two to surrender. The king makes a deal with Vic for the photos showing how his brother died in exchange for giving the Zambuli their independence.
Well the plan runs into a snag when the jealous girlfriend decides to take Sheena up in the copter and drop her over the village. Sheena mentally calls flamingos to her rescue and crashes the copter with her as the only survivor. This rallies the Zambuli and with the help of the animals they rout the evil football player brother.
The conclusion to the 1984 movie. They did a good job of adapting the movie. I think it stuck close to the script. Been a while since I seen this movie. I do have it on DVD so maybe I’ll watch it again. It was your typical cheezy ’80s movie. Big hair, action and some gratuitous nudity thrown in. So ends my review of the Sheena comics.
“The Man Who Hunted Dinosaur!”
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artists: John Buscema & Sonny Trinidad
Ka-zar comes upon a Alkylosaur who has been killed by a hunter. The Alkylosaur is a harmless herbivore and it was killed purely for sport. Ka-zar sets out to find this hunter. The hunter is Tomas a son of the chief and the last hunter in his tribe. The hunters of the village tried to bring down a mammoth. Tomas managed to kill it but all the other hunters were killed. Now the village relies on his brother Gregor who is a farmer. The old village chief close to death decides to make Gregor the new chief. This enrages Tomas who in a fit of rage knifes his brother then runs off. He is killed by the mate of the Alkylosaur.
Well this Ka-zar was a bit of a let down. A very depressing issue what with all the senseless death. Tomas kills a harmless dinosaur and a pterodactyl. Then he kills his brother. Even at the end Ka-zar tries to save Tomas and ends up killing the Alkylosaur. I guess the moral of this was hunting is bad. A kind of senseless and depressing issue.
“A Scream of Anastasia”
Writers: John Ostrander & Kim Yale
Artist: Gary Kwapisz
Michael Stroganoff is a self-made man. After making a fortune he takes advantage of the collapse of the US government to form the Kingdom of Alaska and him as the king. The kingdom is in reality a puppet of the two major powers in the north Canada and the USSR. These powers see the kingdom as a useful buffer state. The Soviets have their military bases and the Canadians control the oil fields. Stroganoff walks a fine line in not aligning himself too closely with one of the powers. Craig Creek and Avner believe that its in the best interests of both Israel and America that the two powers have a falling out.
So a Columbian drug lord comes with his daughter who has been arranged to be married to the crown prince. In the retinue is Rosa Winters. She and the other Israeli agents have managed to infiltrate the palace. They assassinate the royal family. Both the Soviets and Canadians think its the other that has attacked. It leaves a sore wound in relations between the two powers that never heals.
The second was a fascinating story. An independent kingdom of Alaska. The royal family lives in opulence in an ornate palace. There are tracked limos to carry guest and a sledge pulled by polar bears. Its another fascinating look into the world that exists in this alternate dystopian future. Rosa is a lot harder and has a cybernetic hand with a built in gun wired to her brain. She does decide to save the young daughter of the family and raise her as her own. Giving her a touch of humanity that exists within her.
“Land of the Titans”
Writer & Artist: Mike Grell
Morgan washes up on the shore of an island and is immediately assaulted by two giants. He kills one but the other uses an energy weapon to knock him out. He is taken to a city and awakened before the queen. The island is the home of the Titans a race of seven now six giants. The queen sentences Morgan to death. Morgan though is helped by a beautiful woman of normal size named Shakira. She wants Morgan’s help in escaping. The attempt fails but not before Morgan kills two more of the giants. For this Morgan and Shakira are sentenced to die in the arena by a raging rhinoceros like beast. Shakira manages to have the beast run into the wall causing it to collapse. Once through the opening the two make short work of the other giants. Then they take one of the flying disks and leave for the mainland.
Another interesting adventure for Morgan. A race of giants and a big climactic fight. The big significance of this issue is the introduction of Shakira. She will become one of Morgan’s most reliable companions in his adventures. A beautiful woman in a black furkini, she is strong, independent and mysterious. Oh and she can turn into a cat. Shakira is one of my favorite characters in this series and a perfect companion for Morgan. So welcome to the woman who can change into a cat or is that a cat who can change into a woman. We never find out that mystery throughout the entire series and its subsequent incarnations.