Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Into The Woods!


One of the more peculiar volumes in my collection is The Marvel Comics Work of Wally Wood from 1982. I forget where I picked this slender volume up, but it was in somewhat less than stellar condition, a touch musty and a touch rounded. I've since used the miracle of massive weight to straighten it out and the mustiness has faded after years in good dry conditions. But those deficiencies aside this tome from an outfit calling itself Thumbtack Books brings together Wally Wood's later Marvel Comics work from the pages of Astonishing Tales and Tower of Shadows. In the former we has some spanking great stories featuring Doc Doom and from the latter a quartet of stories in the Sword and Sorcery vein. That's the focus today.


"Flight into Fear" appeared in Tower of Shadows #5 and is the tale of a modern young man who takes a nap on a gargoyle and ends up in a distant land, his lameness healed and he finds himself a proper hero chosen to save a group of tiny people from a terrible ghoulish wizard. He ends up back in the modern day after his good deeds but with some changes. Wally Wood narrates this one, a mild tradition in this comic after the classic narrator Digger was largely abandoned.


Read the story here.


"The Ghost-Beast" from Tower of Shadows #6 is a more straightforward S&S offering with a "hero" named Beowulf battling against a dark and dangerous demon and saving the day only to force himself on the people as their new leader. He turns out to be a heel and ends up enjoying a grim destiny indeed.


Read the story here.


"Of Swords and Sorcery!" from Tower of Shadows #7 is in many ways the most Woodian of the stories in this run with our hero Vandal the Barbarian helping a group of tiny people against a wizard named Arak. He goes on a bit of a quest with a Princess and some small helpers, the human looking one named Tippit and the lizardlike Trolkin. Our hero here stays true to his nature and ends up rather happily when it's all said and done.


Read the story here.


"Sanctuary" from Tower of Shadows #8 is the only one of the stories to get its own cover, this one by Berni Wrightson. A warrior-king named Hamand battles to penetrate a dangerous crypt to liberate an ancient crown but then finds himself pursued by ghostly enemies and all his efforts to hide in a fortified castle prove less than effective.


Read the story here.

These frothy stories fit well into the canon of sword and sorcery because like the genre itself they are a form of weird horror and are presented as such in comics anthologies dedicated to that form. Wally Wood's craftsmanship is on good display here and his heroes (such as they are) often resemble one another physically but seem to have an array of personalities. Wood's penchant for little people is also evident as is his delightful tendency to portray beautiful women as demure beauties with active libidos.It's all Comics Code approved here but you can tell it wants to be more.

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4 comments:

  1. It was his favorite genre and if Marvel hadn't converted this book to all-reprint, he would've done more. He also did a number of S&S tales for Warren, including "Prelude to Armageddon" a pretty ambitious epic. There was also his Tolkien satire in Plop! And of course the Wizard King, which he worked on for basically his entire life. All of the diminutive, elfin (and cynical) protagonists from Odkin to Bucky Ruckus were obvious self-portraits. I always thought Wood would've been great doing an adaptation of the Harvard Lampoon's irreverent "Bored of the Rings" which was making the rounds during the Tolkien revival of the late 60's.

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    1. Wally Wood on Bored of the Rings is an inspired idea. I wish it could happen. I dug out his Wizard King stuff and gave them another read a few weeks ago and might get around to posting about them. It's too bad that for all his talent Wood never got around to finishing that series properly.

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  2. I remember seeing this book at a comic mart in The Royal Stuart Hotel in Glasgow in 1982. Wish I'd bought it.

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    1. I forget where I got mine, it was musty and slightly rounded. But time and pressure has straightened it out and the mustiness is now gone (for the most part). I sure didn't pay much for it but online I see it for large dollars. Not mine I suspect.

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