The Crusty Curmudgeon’s Comic Classics ~ These Are the Days of Our Lives (in the Savage Land): Examining Ka-Zar the Savage

© 2013 Paradox Productions LLC

kazar03Ka-Zar is a character with a long, spotty history. He got his start all the way back in the pulp age, where he first appeared as “Ka-Zar the Great” in 1936. He was then one of several characters to make his first comic book appearance in Marvel Comics #1 (cover date October 1939)—part of a cast that included Carl Burgos’s Human Torch and Bill Everett’s Sub-Mariner. But the Ka-Zar we know today (the Kevin Plunder version) first appeared at the dawn of modern Marvel in the pages of X-Men #10 (March 1965).

If you’ve never heard of him before, it’s understandable. Since that issue of X-Men, Ka-Zar has appeared in several different series under his own name, only to see each one of them cancelled. If you blinked you probably missed them.

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The Crusty Curmudgeon’s Comic Classics ~ Love Sans Rockets: Looking Back on Jaime Hernandez’s “The Death of Speedy Ortiz”

© 2013 Paradox Productions LLC

Once upon a time there were three brothers named Hernandez who wanted to publish a comic book. And they did. It was called Love and Rockets.

Originally self-published and distributed by the three brothers in 1981, the comic caught the eye of Gary Groth, head of Fantagraphics and publisher of The Comics Journal. Groth was so taken by the work that he struck a deal with the brothers (“Los Bros,” as they later came to be known) to publish their magazine. Ever since, from 1982 to the present, Fantagraphics has been the publisher of Love and Rockets.

If you came to know the strip in its later years, you’d be more than a bit surprised to see it in its original form in those first few issues. There was sci-fi. There was horror. There was also a brother named Mario who contributed to some of those stories. All of these things disappeared (some more quickly than others) until we were basically left with two separate strips by two separate brothers: The Palomar stories by Gilbert Hernandez and the Locas stories by Jaime Hernandez. For anyone arriving late to the party, these two strips would likely be all they know of Love and Rockets.

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The Crusty Curmudgeon’s Comic Classics ~ Superman: Digging for Gold in the Bronze Age, Part III

Superman: Digging for Gold in the Bronze Age, Part 3
More of the Best Superman Stories of the 1970s and Early 1980s

© 2013 Paradox Productions LLC

Welcome to the concluding installment of my coverage of great Superman stories of the Bronze Age. Hope you enjoyed Part I and Part II. Last time, I covered some of Superman’s appearances in other character’s titles and in more esoteric formats (the treasury editions and book-and-record sets). I’ll wrap up here by covering Superman’s appearances in his more regular titles.

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The Crusty Curmudgeon’s Comic Classics ~ Superman: Digging for Gold in the Bronze Age, Part II

Superman: Digging for Gold in the Bronze Age, Part 2
Great Superman Artifacts of the 1970s and Early 1980s

© 2013 Paradox Productions LLC

Alright, so we examined the failings last time. Now let’s get to some of that gold.

kamandi29Outside of Superman’s more regular titles, there were a number of appearances elsewhere that served the character really well. First, there is Jack Kirby’s Kamandi #29 (cover date May 1975)—a story where Superman does not actually appear, nor is he even identified by name, but hoo boy is his presence ever felt!

If you’re unfamiliar with Kamandi, it’s set in a dystopian future where, due to the “Great Disaster,” man is virtually extinct and anthropomorphic animal creatures vie for supremacy. As this issue opens, Kamandi (the “last boy on Earth”) and his android companion Ben Boxer come across a tribe of ape-men that appear to worship the legend of Superman.

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The Crusty Curmudgeon’s Comic Classics ~ Superman: Digging for Gold in the Bronze Age, Part I

Superman: Digging for Gold in the Bronze Age, Part 1
Analyzing the Failures of the Superman Stories of the 1970s and Early 1980s

© 2013 Paradox Productions LLC

As discussed last time, the greatest era of Superman is generally considered to be the period after Mort Weisinger took the editorial reins of the character, circa the mid-1950s through the late 1960s (the Silver Age).

Conversely, the character’s weakest period was likely the Julie Schwartz era, from the early 1970s to the mid-1980s (the Bronze Age). If you got your start reading comics in this later era (like me), then you already know that finding a good Superman story amongst all the flotsam was quite a chore back then. So I thought I’d follow up my previous blog post with a survey of the best Superman tales of this time, along with an analysis of why the majority of them were so weak.

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