Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Longbox Junk Retro Review - The Spectre #8 (1969)

 Welcome to Longbox Junk, where I do comic reviews that nobody ever asked for!

I've decided to mix things up a little by stepping outside of my usual bargain bin fare and taking a look at a few of the older and more "valuable" comics in my collection.  They may not be "Longbox Junk" as far as collector "value" goes, but nobody ever asked for reviews of them either, so there's that!

The comic at hand is a perfect example of how I usually come to own the older comics in my collection.  I bought it for the cover, period. 

 If I like the cover on a comic, I don't care about the company, character, or creators, I'll buy it.  I have a display of framed comic books on a wall in my office at work that I rotate monthly. . .sometimes I'll go seasonal (Captain America for July, Horror for October) and sometimes I'll go with a theme (Science fiction, Batman, Western), but in any case I'm ALWAYS on the hunt for an awesome comic cover.

But the thing is, I hardly read them.  I'll usually give them a quick flip-through before bagging, boarding, cataloging, and storing them until I'm ready to give them a turn up on the "Wall O' Covers".  I know it's sort of a strange way to collect comics, but that's just what I do.  I have PLENTY of comics that I buy to read. . .but if I buy a comic just for the cover, it usually goes unread.

Which is why I like doing these "Retro Reviews" every now and then.  It gives me a chance to get into the unexplored corners of my collection and crack open some of the older comics I've bought for the covers and never read AND maybe educate myself a little in the process.

So enough introduction! Let's crank up the Longbox Junk paper time machine and set the dial for 1969! Ready? Let's Gooooooooooooooo!

DC (1969)

SCRIPT:  Steve Skeates
PENCILS: Jerry Grandenetti
INKS: Murphy Anderson
COVER: Nick Cardy

This is the kind of cover that doesn't just catch my eye. . .it reaches out, grabs me, and shouts "BUY ME!"  I mean, just look at it! It has a commanding presence. The colors. . .the title. . .the feeling of motion and energy. . .THE FINGER! POINTING AT ME! ACCUSING ME! This is one of my favorite covers in my collection.  As far as I'm concerned, it's worth the price of the comic alone.  It's just a beautiful thing. Let's get inside. . .

We begin our tale with a prologue set in 18th-century England.  A student of the dark arts named Narkran looks on as his master performs a powerful spell that will unlock the doorway to another dimension and unlimited power.  

Otherworldly forces possess the old magician and he inscribes a parchment scroll with mystic instructions.  The apprentice looks on, convinced the power will be wasted on his old master, and decides to steal the scroll.  But before he can, the master cries out that the scroll is evil and must be destroyed!

Determined not to let the power of the scroll be destroyed, Narkran confronts his master.  A fight between the two ensues and Narkran strikes his master with a candlestick, killing him!  

Now in possession of the scroll, Narkran reads it.  He is immediately thrown into another dimension, and the pain of the immense knowledge he is gaining is almost unbearable!  He realizes that the only way to ease the pain is to finish reading the scroll.  

Unfortunately, the scroll remains on Earth while Narkran has been sent to another dimension.  He is determined to return somehow to Earth, regain the scroll, and complete his transformation into a more powerful being.   End of Prologue.

The story moves forward 200 years later, where the powerful mystic being known as The Spectre is returning to Earth following an exhausting mission elsewhere.  He feels the urgent need to reunite with his human host (Detective Jim Corrigan) because they have been separated for far too long. . .

Spectre finds his host in a gun battle with thugs from the Carstagg gang, who have him outnumbered and pinned down.  Corrigan refuses to allow Spectre to enter his body until he assists with his present desperate situation.  

The Spectre summons his mystic energy and strikes the gangsters down, saving Corrigan.  But what Spectre doesn't realize is that in his impatience, he has also harmed an innocent bystander with his careless use of power!

Later that night, The Spectre finds himself being pulled from Corrigan's body against his will.  He is forced to stand and be judged by the voice of God for his careless act of harming an innocent with power meant to destroy the wicked.  

The Spectre is punished with "The Mark of Cain", a constant reminder of his failing that will manifest as different weaknesses that will come during times of stress and danger. . .

As the Spectre returns to his host body, the magician's apprentice, Narkran finally breaks through the astral barrier and returns to Earth.  He is astonished to realize that is is now two centuries in the future, but is still determined to discover where the scroll of power is located at. . .

The next day, The Spectre and Corrigan go their separate ways again.  Corrigan to continue his pursuit of the Carstagg gang, while Spectre investigates unearthly forces causing strange weather on Earth. . .something he believes is being caused by a powerful being approaching the planet.

The Spectre finds himself correct in his assumption as he encounters the gigantic form of Narkran approaching Earth.  The giant being's thoughts reveal his evil intent and Spectre knows that he must stop Narkran from gaining the scroll of power.  He grows to match Narkran's immense size and attacks!

As the two mystic beings battle in space above Earth, Spectre is suddenly struck blind!  He realizes this is the "Mark of Cain" that he was cursed with, and fights on through the darkness using his other senses.  

It's a hard-fought, brutal battle between the opposing forces of good and evil, but eventually The Spectre finds the proper moment and uses his mystic powers to weaken and defeat Narkran!

With the force of evil defeated, the Spectre's blindness comes to an end.  He realizes that his enemy was powerful, but not as all-powerful as he could have been with the scroll of power.  The Spectre uses Narkran's shoes (Wait. . .what?) to discover the hiding place of the scroll on Earth. . .

The Spectre destroys the scroll so that nobody else will try to gain its power.  As he does so, a massive explosion rocks space above Earth as Narkran's power destroys itself.  His task now complete, The Spectre returns to Earth to ponder the nature of his punishment for harming an innocent. 

The End.


I'm going to do a bit of a disclaimer/ confession here.  I'm not a big fan of The Spectre.  Because of that, I'm not very familiar with the character. . .with most of my knowledge coming from issues of the 1990's Ostrander/ Mandrake series and from the Kingdom Come mini-series.  I have a handful of issues from other runs (including this one), but I've just never really been able to get into The Spectre.  

It's not that he's a BAD character.  It's just that he's never written the same way twice.  Everyone who gets their hands on Spectre (as far as I can tell) has a different interpretation.  Marvel's Moon Knight is a great example of another character that suffers from the same treatment.  Every series has a different version of Moon Knight.  It's just sort of strange when I read a story I like and decide to hunt down some back issues and find it's almost a completely different character.  


I give every comic a fair chance, and even though I'm not a fan of The Spectre, this comic gets that same fair chance.  So let's break it on down!

The story here is pretty. . .slim.  It's definitely not the kind of story that makes me want more.  It's not BAD, mind you.  It's just sort of. . .how can I put this?  It's just sort of THERE.  It's got a pretty weak "one and done" villain and the entire back half of the story is pretty much two ultra-powerful mystic beings PUNCHING each other in outer space to determine the fate of the Earth.  One would THINK that there would be a bit more magic at play than fisticuffs when the forces of good and evil clash.

The story really seems like it's actually meant to be a framework to hang what should be a pretty big change to Spectre's status quo on:  That he's now cursed with random weaknesses because he harmed an innocent with his power.  But a bit of research shows me that idea was quickly swept under the rug anyway.

BUT. . .

The story is only half of what you read a comic book for, right?  There's also the art.  And HERE is where this comic shines!  I REALLY like the art style in this comic!  

I'm not familiar with Jerry Grandenetti's work, but if this issue is a good example, I'm definitely going to keep my eye out for more.  I was really surprised to see an art style this unusual in a Silver Age comic.  Most Silver Age artists that I've seen (especially on DC comics) have a more traditional style that is thinly-inked and has characters that look a little stiff and posed, set in a strict grid of rectangular boxes (there's exceptions, of course. . .but they just serve to illustrate the general rule).

Grandenetti delivers art with thick, chunky lines and shadows.  There's a feeling of motion, of energy.  The characters populate unusual panel layouts that spill over into each other, twisting and turning in a truly unusual manner.  I see from a bit of research that Grandenetti worked with Will Eisner on the Newspaper version of The Spirit, and I can definitely see the influence, especially in the panel layouts.

Oddly enough, it seems that there was a bit of pushback from Spectre fans on Grandenetti's art (and on Neal Adams as well, who also worked on this short-lived series).  From the letters page, it looks like they preferred the more traditional stiff Silver Age art style and rigid panel structure of artists like Murphy Anderson rather than the more experimental and unusual styles of Adams and Grandenetti.

Here's part of one pretty droll letter to that effect which gave me a little chuckle:

So even though comic fans in 1969 seem to have been a little annoyed at the psychedelic art style of Jerry Grandenetti, from my modern point of view it's the best thing about this comic and a perfect fit for a mystical character like The Spectre.


In other Longbox Junk "Retro Reviews" I've said that I need to separate what I think as a modern reader as compared to the audience the comic was originally written for.  I didn't really need to make that distinction here because this comic was written for a more mature audience to begin with.

Unfortunately, the story doesn't reflect this as much as the art does.  The story is pretty weak, with a forgettable villain and two magical beings punching each other in outer space. It's a good example of the kind of stories churned out as comic rack fillers during the Silver Age without much thought put into them.  

On the other hand, the unusual art style holds up to the modern eye very well, and takes this comic above and beyond what would otherwise be pretty forgettable based on the story alone.  

I didn't go into this comic a big fan of The Spectre, and it didn't really change my mind on the other side.  That said, if you're a fan of mystic superheroes and want to get a good eyeful of some really unusual art for a Silver Age DC comic underneath a fantastic cover, then keep your eye out for this one. 

Up Next. . .

I'm still liking the Retro Reviews, so why not another one?
Maybe something from Atlas/ Seaboard?  Yes. . .I think so!

Be there or be square.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Longbox Junk Retro Review - Fantastic Four #58 (1967)

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the place to find more comic reviews that you never asked for than you could ever ask for!  Read it again. . .it DOES make sense!
Every now and then I like to take a step back from my usual bargain bin fare and shine the spotlight on some of the older and more "valuable" comics I own.  I crank up the old Longbox Junk paper time machine and see what's going on in the Bronze, Silver, and Golden Age corners of my collection.  It's a nice little occasional diversion from the dollar box.

The comic at hand is a very recent addition to my collection.  As of this writing, I just got it last week for my birthday from my comic-lovin' daughter.  She took quiet notice of me admiring that sweet cover every time we hit the comic shop for our weekly fix of four color fun over the past year or so that it's been hanging up among the "premium" comics behind the counter.  It was a great birthday present!

BUT. . .

I can't actually read it.  See, I had to cheat a little on this particular Longbox Junk Retro Review because the copy I have is encased in a plastic prison.  Slabbed and graded at a very nice 8.0. I might one day break it free, but for now it's "cover only" for my actual copy of this comic.

What that means is that the pristine pictures to follow are from the digital version of the comic.  Like I said, I had to cheat a little and go online to do this review. . .but with a cover like that, I just HAD to see what the story was!

SO. . .

Disclaimers aside, let's see what this comic has to offer.  Step into the paper time machine with me and travel back to 1967 when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were hard at work on "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine"  Ready?  Let's do it!

Marvel (1967)

SCRIPT: Stan Lee
PENCILS: Jack Kirby
INKS: Joe Sinnott
COLORS: Stan Goldberg
COVER: Jack Kirby

The cover of this comic is what caught my eye and convinced my daughter to buy it for me, so let's linger here for a moment.  Awwwwwwwwwww. . .Yeah!  Just look at that.  Nice.  VERY nice.  Do I really need to say much about this Silver Age spinner rack eye-catcher?  It's just so. . .great.  The colors, the composition. . .there's nothing I don't like about this cover! THIS is the kind of cover that makes me want a comic book.  Let's move on before I just sit here all day. . .


Our story begins with Mr. Fantastic, The Invisible Woman, and The Thing on top of the Baxter Building, where the lightning flashes of a strange thunderstorm reveal images of their enemy, Doctor Doom!
Little do our heroes know that (in the previous issue) Doctor Doom has vanquished and imprisoned the mighty Silver Surfer and somehow stolen his cosmic powers.  Doom was using the storm as a test of his new powers.  Satisfied, he begins planning to destroy the Fantastic Four!

Later that day, Reed and Sue Richards (AKA Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman) leave for a quiet weekend alone together at a cottage they've rented upstate, leaving Ben Grimm (AKA The Thing) to keep an eye on things at the Baxter Building.  But shortly after the newlywed Richards couple leave, Doctor Doom attacks!

The Thing puts up a good fight, but his brute strength is no match for Doom's new cosmic powers, and Doom stands victorious!  The Thing is placed in a state of suspended animation. . .helpless and unable to speak or move.


Johnny Storm (AKA The Human Torch), Wyatt Wingfoot (AKA normal human supporting character), and the giant teleporting dog called Lockjaw (Who belongs to the Inhumans, but is temporarily providing the Fantastic Four Deus Ex Machina travel support) suddenly appear in New York.

The stop is an unintended interruption to their continued attempts to breach the Negative Zone barrier trapping the Inhumans so that Torch can be reunited with his new Inhuman girlfriend, Crystal. . .But THAT'S another story!

Torch and Wingfoot don't understand why Lockjaw has brought them to New York when there's more important business to tend to, until they notice the gaping hole in the side of the Baxter Building!  Johnny Storm quickly investigates. . .


At the quiet upstate cottage Reed and Sue Richards are spending the weekend at, the couple's mild bickering over Reed's inability to stop tinkering with machines long enough to have a weenie roast with his new wife (Hey-O! But seriously. . .it's just a cookout) is rudely interrupted by Doctor Doom!

Using his stolen cosmic powers, Doctor Doom not only takes Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman by surprise, he is able to easily counteract their abilities.  As Reed and Sue Richards fight for their lives against Doom.

Back in New York City, The Human Torch has discovered the Thing.  He remembers a device in Reed's lab that might work to bring his friend out of suspended animation.  He decides that's a job for Wyatt Wingfoot as he rushes to Reed and Sue's rental cabin to warn them that something's going on.
The Human Torch arrives in time to hear Doom ranting about his new powers and the havoc he's going to be able to wreak.  Johnny rushes in on the attack, heroically intending to sacrifice himself to give Reed and Sue Richards time to escape and come up with a plan to defeat Doom.

Torch quickly realizes he's outmatched by Doom's new powers, and in a last-ditch effort, causes a massive explosion that Reed and Sue barely escape.  Meanwhile, back in New York City, Wyatt Wingfoot uses Reed Richards' "Metabolism Accelerator" on The Thing, bringing him out of suspended animation. . .

Back at the cottage, Johnny Storm is defeated and frozen by Doom. . .but somehow manages to summon the strength to release one last massive blast of fire to free himself!

As The Human Torch escapes to regain his strength, The Thing and Wyatt Wingfoot arrive to join the battle!  Wingfoot is armed with Reed's experimental "Anti Grav Disrupter", and he wastes no time in using it on Doom, causing a massive explosion but seemingly having no effect on Doctor Doom!

Reed Richards realizes that there's nothing they can do against Doom with the stolen powers of the Silver Surfer and orders his team to stand down and surrender.  The Fantastic Four have been beaten!

Doom gloats that Richards has made the right choice, and although he WAS planning on destroying the heroes, a more fitting punishment will be to let them live, knowing that they no longer even matter to Doom.  As the mocking villain makes his exit, Reed lets the rest of the team know that he was just buying time and will never give up!

The End. To be continued. . .


I've mentioned it before, but I'm not really a fan of The Fantastic Four (or super-team comics in general).  Don't get me wrong. . .I've read some mighty fine individual FF stories here and there over the years.  I just can't get into their adventures on a continuing basis for some reason.  I guess I just prefer my FF in small doses.


I liked this story a lot!  A while back, I did another Fantastic Four Retro Review on the superb issue #50 (You can read it RIGHT HERE ), also by the original Stan Lee/ Jack Kirby creative team.  What impressed me most about #50 was that it was an unusual story for the time in that the title heroes actually LOST the fight and were pretty much useless through the issue. . .and in the next issue, Reed Richards was consumed with what almost seems like PTSD brought on by the experience of being helpless in the face of a cosmic powerhouse like Galactus.

We sort of have the same thing here.  As the cover and title indicate, this is a story where the heroes basically are beaten down and have to admit that they are helpless in the face of a superior enemy.  This was NOT the typical Silver Age comic book superhero story!  There are those who like to bag on Stan Lee's writing, but I give him credit for being able to write a story that steps outside the box a bit (for that time) and gives us a tale of superheroes defeated!  

It's a simple story at heart. . .basically Doctor Doom using his new powers to attack his worst enemies until they ultimately surrender and become the object of Doom's scorn and pity.  But within that simple framework, Stan Lee fills the pages of this comic with one little moment after another that kept even someone that's not a fan of the Fantastic Four turning the pages.  And when I got to the last page, I wanted more! It's a testament to the storytelling ability of Stan Lee that I started off reading one comic to review and ended up reading forward six MORE issues (since I was online anyway)!

I'm not going to go so far as to say it made me a Fantastic Four fan, but there for a short while, I totally got it.  It passed after a half-dozen issues, but this issue's tale of demoralizing defeat gave me enough of a starting point that I was able to enjoy what comes next as Reed once again fights through the depression and anxiety of being helpless and figures out a way to come back out on top. . .then moves on to the next challenges with his family and friends at his side.

I'd say that's a job well done on the story side of things.  
But in comics, the story is only half of the equation.  Let's take a look at the art. . .

I admitted in that same Retro Review of Fantastic Four #50 (that I've mentioned several times now, sorry to keep bringing it up)  that I've never really liked Jack Kirby's art much.  I realize that Kirby stands SO tall in the minds of many comic fans that ANY criticism is pretty much ignored. . .no matter how honest it may be.  And so it won't matter to a lot of people that in MY extremely humble opinion, I find most of Kirby's art that I've seen to be pretty basic compared to some other Silver/Bronze Age artists when you take a good hard look at it.  It's a sort of unpopular opinion, but please don't hurt me.


While Longbox Junk isn't a comic idol worship blog, neither is it the place to try and topple said comic idols from their well-deserved pedestals.  At Longbox Junk, EVERY comic deserves a fair chance, whether it costs a buck from the bargain bin or it's a slabbed and graded "collectible".

So taking a fair look at this comic, I'd say that Kirby's art holds up its end of the bargain and more! 

 Most of my comics with Kirby art are actually from the 70's when I've been told he was on a bit of a decline . .this is only the third comic from the 60's I have with Kirby art and I can definitely tell the difference.  Where Kirby's later Bronze Age efforts seem lazy, here his art crackles with energy and motion!  

Thanks to Kirby's simple, clean lines and sparse backgrounds, the characters practically leap off the page and right into your face as you read this comic, especially in the action scenes.  I have to give some credit due to the extremely sharp inking of Joe Sinnott and the glorious colors by Stan Goldberg as well. . .even though I AM looking at a modern digitally-recolored version on a computer monitor, so I can't speak for the actual coloring on my slabbed-up copy.  Still. . .a big round of applause for the whole art team on this comic!

From the eye-catching cover to the final cliffhanger, this is one great-looking comic!  Between this issue and #50, I can certainly catch a little glimpse of why Kirby is held in such high regard.  I'm still not a fan of his later work, mind you, but THIS is some good stuff!


What we have here is a perfect storm of writing and art delivering an unusual story that makes the reader want more.  Stan Lee throws down some trademark Mighty Marvel bombast that makes even a tale of superheroes taking a beating great.  Jack Kirby ups the ante with artwork that practically jumps off the page.  In this issue alone it's easy to see why the Stan Lee/ Jack Kirby combination has gone down in comic history as one of the greatest creative teams.

I said above that Longbox Junk isn't in the business of comic idol worship, but Lee and Kirby deserve a well-earned round of applause from me for hooking me in to the story of a superhero team I don't even particularly like, and doing it with a tale of them getting a solid beatdown!

Overall, I have to say that this has been one of the best Silver Age comics I've read in quite a while and I give it two thumbs-up and a Longbox Junk seal of approval.  It might be a little pricey to find the original in decent shape, but I see it's been collected, reprinted, and available online, so check it out!

Up Next. . .

Another Longbox Junk Retro Review!
But which one is the question. . .

Phantom Stranger? Black Lightning? Savage She-Hulk? The Shadow? Iron Man? 
SO MANY MORE! I might just have to roll a die or something.  In any case. . .

Be there or be square!

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Longbox Junk Retro Review - Four Color #656 - 1955 (Turok, Son of Stone)

Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the place to find comic reviews you never asked for!

Normally here at Longbox Junk I like to keep things in the bargain bin. . .sort of shine a bit of light on some of the comics you might pass by without a second thought while you flip through the back issues.

But every now and then, I step outside the cheap stuff and focus on some of the older and more "valuable" comics in my collection. I call them "Retro Reviews", and I'm gonna do a few over the next month or two, just to mix things up a little bit.

On to the comic at hand. . .

I bought this comic for a measly TWO DOLLARS from an antique store (really more of a junk shop) last year when I spotted that sweet painted cover in a stack of unbagged random comic books thrown in an old wooden laundry basket in a corner of the shop.  There were only a few comics in decent condition in that forgotten stack of comics, so I grabbed this one, a couple of Roy Rogers comics, and a Casper the Friendly Ghost. 

Imagine my surprise when I was later adding them to my comic collection database (Courtesy of COMIC BOOK REALM ) and discovered that this comic I'd bought for the cover for Two Bucks was worth a pretty penny!  Just HOW pretty a penny depends on where you look.  But in any case, it's of interest to collectors because it features the second appearance of Turok and is therefore not quite what one could call "Longbox Junk", as far as "value" goes.

BUT. . .

After a quick flip through to confirm that, yes. . .the interior art didn't even come close that that great painted cover (something I've come to expect from Dell/Gold Key comics), I bagged it, boarded it, and put it away unread. . .like I do with most older comics I buy for their covers.


I'm crankin' up the Longbox Junk paper time machine and setting the dial to 1955!  Join me as I read this very "collectible" comic and throw down what seems will be the one and ONLY full review ever written on it. Ready?  

Let's do it!

DELL (1955)

The Mystery of The Mountain & The Missing Hunters

SCRIPT: Gaylord Du Bois
PENCILS: Bob Correa 
INKS: Bob Correa 
COVER: Robert C. Susor?

I couldn't find any solid information on who painted the cover, but the physical appearance of Turok is very similar to that on the covers of a couple of other early Turok comics I have in my collection (from his later solo series) done by Robert Susor, so that's who I'm going with.  If I'm wrong, please feel free to mock me publicly in the comments.


I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  The painted covers done by companies like Dell and Gold Key are hands-down the BEST covers in comic history, in my extremely humble opinion.  This one is no exception.  The colors are what caught my eye. . .with the stunning burnt orange sunset contrasting with the yellow title.  The flying dinosaur threatening Turok is a little rough, and he's holding his ax sort of awkwardly,  but those little things don't keep this cover from being a fantastic Golden Age eye-catcher!

Too bad the interior art doesn't even come close to matching the awesome cover.  But that's sort of to be expected from this comic publisher. But enough about the cover, let's get inside this thing!

There's two stories in this comic, but really they're just the first and second parts of one long story through the whole issue. . .a little odd for comics of the time, which tended to feature multiple unrelated (except by character) stories in each issue.  Still, they're titled as two separate stories, so I'll run them down that way.

Turok and his brother, Andar, are teaching the primitive tribe of humans they have discovered in an isolated valley full of strange creatures how to make and use bows to hunt with.  They are having some success, but one warrior, Sinak is not doing well.

After Sinak breaks his bow and tries to steal Turok's, the tribe's chief punishes him by making him stand watch that night on the cliff above the canyon.  To Turok's surprise, the burly warrior shows fear of this task.  That night, Turok and Andar lay awake and discussing the days events when they hear Sinak scream in the darkness!

The tribe rushes to the sound of the screams, but there's no sign of the warrior.  Turok scours the area, but even he finds no clue as to where Sinak might have gone.  With the mystery unsolved, the tribe goes about their business until, that night, more screams come in the night and yet another sentry vanishes!  Determined to get to the bottom of the disappearances, Turok and Andar volunteer to stand guard duty during the coming nights.

On the second night of Turok and Andar's watch, they are attacked by a giant, silent flying creature!  After narrowly defeating the flying beast with poisoned arrows, Turok and Andar gather supplies and investigate the cave that it came from the next morning. . .

The two brothers discover a gigantic cave full of the flying creatures!  After a brutal battle, Turok and Andar manage to defeat the creatures using torches and poisoned arrows. Their new friends now safe, the brothers pursue one of the surviving creatures deeper into the cave. . .

Turok and Andar follow a maze of passages leading to another, even larger cave.  From there, they follow a stream and manage to find an exit that leads to another valley that is much bigger than the one they had been exploring!

As Turok and Andar begin to scout the new valley, they witness a battle between a huge flightless bird and a gigantic cat. . .and then encounter a bison that has someone trapped in a rocky cleft.  The brothers decided to come to the rescue and bring down the bison with their poisoned arrows. . .

The brothers discover that they have rescued a woman.  They are able to communicate with her and learn that she is hunting because all the young men of her village have been missing for several weeks.  Turok and Andar help her carry the meat from the bison to her village.

The End. . .to be continued.


Continuing directly from the end of "The Mystery of The Mountain", Turok and Andar arrive in Yellana's (the woman they had saved from an attacking bison) village.  They are greeted by hungry women, children, and old folk glad to see them bringing food to eat.  Indeed, as she had told them, there are no young men to be seen. . .

After a few days, the meat they had brought has almost run out.  Turok and Andar decide to go hunting, and Yellana insists on coming with them.  The trio climb back down the treacherous cliffs to the huge valley below.  Yellana guides the brothers toward the tribe's hunting grounds.  On the way, they spot several gigantic creatures too large and strong for the small party to take down. . .

Later, while hiding from a battle between a stampeding pack of mastadons and the saber tooth tigers hunting them, Turok discovers the skeleton of a bear that has been killed with a stone-headed spear.  Upon examining the spear, Yellana begins to sob.  She recognizes the spear as one belonging to her brother. . .one of the village's missing hunters.

When Turok and Andar investigate the area, they discover human tracks.  They follow the prints to the edge of a steep cliff leading to a cavern below.  As they consider whether or not the village's hunters might have somehow fallen down the cliff, a black panther attacks!

The panther's attack takes them by surprise, and as they fight the cat the three hunters tumble to the bottom of the cliff.  After defeating the panther using their poisoned arrows, the three of them are greeted by the shouts of men as they run from the darkness of the cave. . .Yellana is overjoyed to find her brother, Marok, among them!

Marok explains that a herd of pigs had driven them over the cliff and that they had taken refuge in the cave, where they had found food and water to survive on during the weeks they had been missing, but could discover no way to climb back up the cliff. 

 Turok and Andar quickly fashion a rawhide rope out of the skin of some dead animals that had fallen down the pit, amazing the primitive hunters who had never seen rope before.  It's not long before Turok, Andar, Yellana, and the village's missing hunters have all climbed back up the cliff and out of the pit.

At the top of the cliff, they are attacked by the same herd of gigantic pigs that had driven the hunters into the pit.  Turok and Andar manage to drive the boars away using their poisoned arrows.  Turok teaches the amazed hunters the secret of making the poison powder he coats his arrowheads with, then they all head back to the village, loaded down with meat.

After once again using his homemade rawhide rope to help climb the cliffs surrounding the village, Turok, his brother, and the missing hunters are greeted with much celebration and joy.  Turok and Andar have now found a place to call home. . .but Andar still hopes to one day return to their own home and hunting grounds outside of this strange new valley they have discovered.

The End.

I've discovered that when doing these "Retro Reviews", I sort of need to separate my opinion into two parts:  First, what I think of the comic as a modern reader. . .and second, to consider it from the point of view of who it was originally written for.  And from there to try and find a middle ground.

As far as my opinion as a modern reader goes. . .this comic gives me a feeling of mediocrity.  This is written and illustrated in such an utterly average manner that I wonder just how the character of Turok managed to survive for over 65 years.  The IDEA behind this story is a great one. . .Ancient Native Americans discover a series of lost valleys where dinosaurs and humans live together.  It's a narrative path with a lot of possibility for action and adventure.  Unfortunately, while the idea is great, the execution is lacking. 

The writing is just. . .bland.  This story is pretty much a series of "They went there and then they did that" told with a narrative voice that is  so level and straightforward that reading this comic is almost like watching a documentary.  Information is presented, but there's not much "punch" to it.  Disappointing in a story involving rampaging mastodons, saber tooth tigers, and exploring mysterious caves.

Likewise, the art is also bland.  It's not BAD, but it can certainly be described as "workmanlike".  It tells the story and that's pretty much it.  There are moments here and there that manage to reach a little higher than the rest, but overall nothing here ever really goes above "pretty good".  Once again, disappointing in a story featuring elements like a surprise black panther attack and a battle against a cave full of hungry pterodactyls.  

So as a modern reader, I found this to be pretty disappointing.  Not bad, mind you, but it could have been a lot better.  It's just sort of. . .there.

BUT. . .

This story wasn't written for me.  It was written for boys in the 1950's.  So how does this story look from that perspective (or at least my best try at it, anyway)?  It looks better.  Still not great, but better.

There's a lot to like here for a kid spending a dime on a comic book in 1955.  I'm mostly speaking about dinosaurs and Indians.  I think I can boil down the good stuff in this comic from a 1950's kid view as dinosaurs and Indians.  Westerns were king in the 1950's.  At heart, this is a western comic.  It has a sort of unusual viewpoint in that the main characters are Indians instead of Cowboys, but it's pretty much a western comic when you get right down to it.  

And then you throw in dinosaurs.  It doesn't matter WHAT decade you're talking about, kids love dinosaurs! Heck, I loved dinosaurs growing up in the 70's.  I STILL like dinosaurs!  Does it matter that the dinosaurs aren't drawn that great?  Not really because it's still dinosaurs! And Indians! It's Dinosaurs and Indians!

In other words, the kid in me sees a comic about dinosaurs and Indians.  Not much more than that.  The modern me wants a better story and art.  These two things come together in the middle and I say that this is a pretty good comic book for what it is. . .something written for 50's kids that puts a western twist on the old "Lost World" style story.

To the modern reader, this is a pretty disappointing comic.  The writing is bland and unexciting.  The art is decent, but very workmanlike.  The cover is honestly the best thing about this comic.

But looking at it as best I can from the point of view of who it was written for, it's better.  It's a story about dinosaurs and Indians.  Does a kid really need anything more than that?

Both of those viewpoints together say that this is a pretty good comic that could have been better, but really didn't need to be.  

I'm glad I have this comic preserved in my collection and that I gave it the only full review that's ever been written of it. . .and I hope that the information here is of interest to people who might be trying to find anything on this comic besides that it has the second appearance of Turok.  But I'm gonna be honest here with the bottom line that this isn't bad, but there's a lot better comics in my collection that are "worth" a LOT less.  

Up Next. . .

Another Longbox Junk retro review!

I just got this comic last week for my birthday, so why not give it a read?

Longbox Junk time machine set back to 1967. . .
It's Stan Lee and Jack Kirby with "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!"
Fantastic Four #58 . . .The Dismal Dregs of Defeat!

Be there or be square!