Posts tagged ‘Steve Skeates’

Adventure 449 – Aquaman vs Marine Marauder, and Martian Manhunter begins

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Steve Skeates takes over the writing on Adventure 449 (Feb 77), introducing a new villain, the Marine Marauder, while Jim Aparo stays on the art.

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The Marine Marauder has developed a tech that allows him to command air-breathing sea creatures, and has been using whales in his piracy, stealing rare vaccines.

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Aquaman’s investigation brings him back into contact with General Morgan, but the long-awaited confrontation between the two men does not happen.  In fact, they work pretty well together in this story.

The Aqualad storyline progresses as well, as he and Tula are stalked by the man from the previous issue.

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The climactic battle between Aquaman and the Marine Marauder ends as it must.  Aquaman has far more animals under his control than the Marauder does, but at least the battle between the creatures makes for some interesting visuals.

Although this version of the character never appears again, a female Marine Marauder shows up in the 80s, and proves more of an enduring foe.

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The Martian Manhunter begins a three-part story in this issue, written by Denny O’Neil, with superb art by Mike Metzer and Terry Austin.

This was my first introduction to the character, who had made occasional appearances, mostly in Justice League of America, since his last series in House of Mystery ended in the late 60s.

J’onn is about to be sworn in as leader of New Mars for the second time, but senior stateman R’es Eda is murdered at the ceremony, and mentions “Sol” as the place the killer was from.  Interpreting this to mean Earth, J’onn assumes one of his former Justice League comrades must be the killer, and determines to return and find out who was responsible.

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N’or Cott tries to stop him, but J’onn commandeers a ship and heads off back to Earth.

A simple start to the tale, though certainly dramatic enough. The art was what really grabbed me as a child.  And looking back on this now, I cannot help but notice that this introductory story does not utilize any of J’onn’s powers or abilities.

 

 

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Adventure 436 – The Spectre takes on terrorists and Aquaman deals with robots

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Earl Crawford returns, once again following Corrigan to try to find the connection between him and the Spectre, in Adventure 436 (Dec 74), by Mike Fleisher and Jim Aparo.

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A militaristic terrorist group, who use poison gas, are the bad guys in this story.

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And again, Crawford winds up on the scene in time to see the Spectre’s horrific murders of the group.  There is an unfortunate sameness to the tales, the originality pretty much confined to the methods of death.  The one thing that makes it stand out is that it is the hero who performs the frightening deeds, rather than the villain.

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Aqualad returns to the pages of Adventure for this story, written by Steve Skeates with Mike Grell art, as Aquaman deals with a robot duplicate.

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The robot was commissioned by Aquaman to relieve him of the kingly duties he finds “boring.”  Although not intended at the time, this can be seen as the start of his dissatisfaction with being king, and alienation from his people, that would grow throughout the 1970s Aquaman stories.

The Bugala, an undersea monster that Aqualad dealt with in the old Aquaman comic, returns in this story, although it turns out to be a robot as well.

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The Aquaman robot was drawing the Bugala robot to the city, and the final panels show that Black Manta was behind this attack as well.

Aqualad next appears in Aquaman’s next run in Adventure Comics.

Adventure 435 – The Spectre meets Earl Crawford, and Aquaman begins, again

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The Spectre series gains a second supporting character, Earl Crawford, in Adventure 435 (Oct 74), although many of his appearances would not come until years later.

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The story, by Mike Fleisher and Jim Aparo, has reporter Crawford notice the connection between Jim Corrigan’s cases and the unusual deaths of the criminals, and he decides to interview Corrigan, and then follow him when he fails to get satisfactory answers.

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Crawford winds up in the hands of a gangster who intends to kill Corrigan, and puts him right in the centre of things as the Spectre takes his deadly vengeance on the man, turning him into wood and slicing him up.

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Aquaman returns to the pages of Adventure Comics, three years after the cancellation of his own comic.  Mera, Vulko, and Black Manta also appear in this story, their first appearances in Adventure, all not seen since Aquaman’s book.

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Black Manta has been drugging the water around the farming areas around Atlantis, and stealing the crops.  Aquaman defeats Black Manta and his men, but Manta escapes.

It’s a simple little tale, written by Steve Skeates, notable largely for the Mike Grell art.

 

 

 

 

Adventure 433 – The Spectre vs the Swami, and Captain Fear ends

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Adventure Comics becomes, on the cover only, Weird Adventure Comics, for issue 443 (June 1974) and the following four issues.  “Weird” was clearly a popular word in the early 70s, as DC also had at this time Weird Western Tales, Weird War Tales, Weird Mystery Tales and Weird Worlds.

The Spectre story by Mike Fleisher and Jim Aparo in this issue is highly reminiscent of a story from the character’s 1940s run in More Fun Comics, both of which feature a phony swami taking advantage of bereaved women, and in both cases the Spectre’s romantic interest winds up getting involved in the scam.

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The Spectre’s attempts to make Gwen forget that she saw him transform into Jim Corrigan clearly failed, as Gwen seeks out the Swami in this story to help her deal with the situation.  Coincidentally, Jim is investigating Swami Seelal after the murder of the husband of one of his followers, when he decided to stop contributing to him.

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The Swami uses Gwen to try to set up Corrigan to be killed, but his plan backfires terribly.  The Swami never believed Gwen about the Spectre, and so seriously underestimated Corrigan.

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Captain Fear gets a really great logo for the final instalment of his serial, by Steve Skeates and Alex Nino.

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Fero is rescued from the pit by escaped African slaves, and reunited with his friend Mupo.  Together, they plot revenge against the plantation owners, but Fero has seen too many revolts fail to want to stay on the island afterwards.

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They attack the plantation, and force Senora Hernandez to accompany them to the docks, where they commandeer a ship.

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The story ends with a great shot of Captain Fear as a pirate king.  Essentially, this entire serial has dealt with the events that lead Fero to become Captain Fear.

The character would return 7 years down the road, in a back-up feature in Unknown Soldier.  But in my eyes, none of the later Captain Fear stories can really hold a candle, art wise, to Nino’s work on this run.

 

 

Adventure 432 – The Spectre meets Gwen Sterling, and Captain Fear becomes a plantation slave

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The Spectre hunts down hired killers, and gets a romantic interest in the Mike Felisher/Jim Aparo tale in Adventure 432.

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Gwen Sterling’s millionaire partner is killed, and Jim Corrigan is put on the case.  Gwen mourns for almost an entire page before she starts flirting with Jim. But being dead and all, Jim has no interest in love.

He takes on the ghostly form of her dead father to confront his business partner, who promptly phones the hired killers.  When not murdering for money, the duo work as a hairstylist and model, as I’m sure many professional hitmen do.

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The Spectre gives the pair hideous demises, snipping the stylist in half with huge scissors, and aging the model to death.  Gwen sees Jim transform into the Spectre, but he makes her forget what she has seen.

 

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Back on his home island of Haiti, Captain Fear is sold into slavery on a plantation in this story by Steve Skeates and Alex Nino.  The plantation is run by a woman, Senora Hernandez, who faces her own troubles trying to maintain her freedom in a male-dominated society.

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She tries to make Fero her personal bodyguard, and perhaps more, but he refuses to accept anything from the whites who massacred his people.

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He fights his way to freedom, but in escaping falls into a pit.  Poor guy just can’t catch a break.

Adventure 429 – Black Orchid takes on pirates, and Captain Fear returns home

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Black Orchid’s story in Adventure 429 (Oct 73) opens with her dropping a warning note to modern day pirate Barry La Motte, but even knowing she is on his trail, he continues his evil plans.  Well, I mean, of course he does, or this wouldn’t be much of a story.

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We then get some of the backstory, how La Motte takes over a ship, loots it and sinks it, leaving the captain and crew to blame.  Black Orchid usually seems to be helping someone in distress, though how she knows of these people is part of her mystery.

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Knowing Black Orchid is after him, La Motte invites all the women he knows, who he suspects might be her, about a cruise.  He decides that his assistant Mala must be Orchid, and she confirms this.  She demands he prove his worth to her by taking over a freighter single-handed.

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Could this guy be any dumber?  He walks right into her trap.  And Black Orchid was not really Mala, just impersonating her.

I don’t feel I really did this story by Sheldon Mayer and Tony de Zuniga justice.  It’s an entertaining read, with lovely art.

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Seems like everyone wants to enslave Captain Fear in this chapter of his saga, by Steve Skeates and Alex Nino.

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Denise pursues and captures Fero, selling him to a slave ship.  He leads a  revolt aboard the ship, but fails to beat the armed crew.  Nature seems to be on his side, as the ship gets wrecked in a storm, and he washes up back in Haiti, his island home.

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It’s not much of a homecoming though, as he discovers his people have been completely wiped out by white invaders, who promptly enslave him as well.

Good thing the art on this strip is so beautiful, because the story is dark and ugly.

Adventure 428 – Black Orchid debuts, and a Dr. 13 story

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Black Orchid debuts, beginning her short-lived cover feature with Adventure 428 (Aug 73).  Created by Sheldon Mayer and Tony de Zuniga, Black Orchid was a hero whose identity remained completely unknown during her run.  Her powers were also a bit of a mystery.  Certainly she was capable of flying, but whether this was innate or something endowed by her costume was never explained.  She was also never the main character in any of her stories.  In each tale the villain was, essentially, the star.  There would be a number of female characters in the tale, and the bad guy would try to figure out which of them was really Black Orchid in disguise.

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The story in this issue deals with a district attorney trying to get information on an organized crime ring.  He attempts to infiltrate them in disguise, but gets caught and almost killed, Black Orchid swooping in to rescue him.

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The mobsters then try to set up the DA and frame him for murder, but once again its Black Orchid to the rescue, and this time she makes sure the gang gets caught.

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Tony de Zuniga does some of his best work on this series.

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Dr. 13, the Ghost Breaker, had a back-up series in Phantom Stranger, but that had recently been replaced by Spawn of Frankenstein. This story, by Steve Skeates and de Zuniga, had likely been intended for that run, but moved here.

A woman is distraught over the unusual death of her husband, who apparently died of fright.  The reader sees that this happened right after he put on a pair of glasses.

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A cleaning lady finds the glasses and tries them on, allowing de Zuniga a full page of horrific visions, which he does to the max.

Examining the glasses, Dr. 13 notices a tiny needle in the frame, and has the needle tested.

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Dr. 13 then proudly explains to the woman that her husband had plotted to kill her with the glasses, but messed up and took them instead, accidentally killing himself.  As the poor widow breaks down completely, Dr. 13 strolls merrily away.  Jerk.

Dr. 13 would continue as a supporting character in Phantom Stranger, and his next solo outing would be a Vertigo Visions special in the 90s.

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