October 31, 2006

Strange Tales #136 [1965]

"What Lurks Beneath the Mask?" is in the middle of Ditko's long final storyline for Doctor Strange, with Doc on the quest for the secret of Eternity to save the Ancient One while pursued by Baron Mordo, who is being backed by Dormammu. Doc spends the first half of the story going to various mystics around the world for a clue, while agents of Mordo search for him. A lot of great stuff in that sequence, giving a feeling of great breadth to the wider mystic world that Doc inhabits.

Doc finally finds a clue in the possession of a crazy old mystic whose memory the Ancient One had once erased, bringing him to one of those surreal realms, this one filled with odd masks and a demon who traps Doc by switching bodies through eye contact and then covering his face with a mask. Fortunately Doc retains control of his cloak of levitation, which leads to a funny scene of the cloak tossing around the demon wearing it and freeing Doc of the mask. Free to use his powers, Doc then frees all the previous captives of the demon and destroys the realm, then returns to the orient to try to get the secret of Eternity straight from the Ancient One's mind.

This year of Doctor Strange stories is among Ditko's finest work, with a lot of strong short stories full of great imagery building up the suspense for the main story.

Ditko plots and draws the 10-page story.

October 30, 2006

Charlton Spotlight #5 [2006]

As mentioned a few posts back, the recently released CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT #5 [Argo Press] contains a number of items of interest to the Ditko fan, among them a complete reprint of the 5-page "The Great Martian Drought" from SPACE ADVENTURES #25 [1958]. Ditko's style is a little more sparse at this time than some of his earlier work, though the establishing shots of the Martian city are well designed, and the body language is really effective, plus I love the detail on this one close-up of an eye. He definitely knew when to bring in the detail to enhance a story. In this story Mars is suffering from a long drought, and they consider writing a message to Earth until a scientist finds a way to take what's left of their population to Earth, scheduled to arrive in 1964. Guess they didn't make it...

Two 1957 Ditko covers are also reprinted full size, TALES OF THE MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER #4 in black and white and MYSTERIES OF UNEXPLORED WORLDS #4 in colour. The second is especially good, with some great moody furnishings in the "Forbidden Room". The issue has an interview with Joe Gill which has some background on Captain Atom, Steve Skeates talking about Doctor Graves and Ron Frantz talking about some of the Charlton alumni who worked at his ACE Comics in the 1980s, plus articles about the Blue Beetle, the Question and Captain Atom. Lots of great art to go with the articles, including a number that appeared in fanzines like a great 1965 illustration of Captain Atom that appeared in THE COMIC READER #36.

"The Great Martian Drought" 3948

October 27, 2006

New Ditko - Marvel Masterworks

Ditko's in a pair of recent MARVEL MASTERWORKS volumes. HUMAN TORCH v1 includes the Torch/Spider-Man story Ditko inked from STRANGE TALES ANNUAL #2 and ATLAS ERA TALES OF SUSPENSE v1 has at least one Ditko short from each of the first ten issues of the series, plus one solo cover and one cover inked over Kirby.

New Ditko - Charlton Spotlight #5

Just picked up CHARLTON SPOTLIGHT #5, which is full of some great Ditko stuff, with a long interview with Joe Gill and articles on the major Charlton super-heroes that Ditko worked on, plus a long article by Steve Skeates where he talks about his time at Charlton, with a special emphasis on the Doctor Graves story that ended up looking much more like Doctor Strange than he expected. Also included is a complete 5-page reprint of Ditko's "The Great Martian Drought" from 1958, two full page Ditko covers (one in colour) and several rare bits of art that appeared in 1960s fanzines.


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