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for Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Gorgo 9

The Steve Ditko-drawn issues of Charlton's Gorgo and Konga comics from the 1960s are the most eagerly sought issues of those runs and with good reason. The art is sensational and the stories are sometimes excellent and never less than fun. However, even the non-Ditko issues are entertaining.

Gorgo #9's "Return From the Deep" is pencilled by Joe Sinnott and inked by Vince Colletta. The cover is one of the best of the title's run, even though it was lifted from an interior page by the ever cost-conscious - I'm being kind - Charlton. While the interior art does show the inevitable influence of Charlton's low rates, Sinnott shows a real knack for drawing the giant monsters. Even with Colletta's inks flattening out the final result, you'll find a number of exciting monster shots in this issue, especially when the beasties go all "Saturday night is all right for fighting" on a secret Red Chinese base in the Arctic.

The script is almost certainly by Joe Gill, the workhorse of the Charlton writing staff. He produced his stories in a fast and furious manner, but, despite that, many of them are remarkable and most are good or better. I'd rank "Return From the Deep" as one of the better ones. Gill has nice little details, such as Gorgo and his mom searching for food and getting frozen in the underwater ice when the Arctic winter sets in. He also has a solid "B" story in a disgraced American pilot who redeems himself by exposing the Red Chinese base at the risk of his own life.

Also in the issue:

"Danger on Dagor," a two-page text story;

"The Executioner," a three-page story drawn by Bill Molno and probably written by Gill in which a mad scientist plots to unleash his mechanical monster on an unsuspecting world; and,

"The Greatest Mystery," a two-page piece, also drawn by Molno, that examines the life of prehistoric man.

This being something of a buyer's market, I picked up a very good/fine copy of this issue for under ten bucks. Anytime you can buy an issue of this title or Konga or Reptilicus for under ten bucks, you should jump on it.

Gorgo 23

Gorgo #23 [September, 1965] was the last issue of the title's run. "The Land of Long Ago" never quite clicks as a story, but it has its moments as a kindly scientist attempts to transport Gorgo back to the time of dinosaurs where, the scientist presumes, the big kid will be happier. There's a glitch in the plan that has the scientist transported back in time with Gorgo and then the two of them time-jump across the ages, stopping here and there. Gorgo protects the scientist and there's even a happy ending of sorts as the general in charge of the project recommends the Pentagon stop trying to kill Gorgo.

The script is almost certainly by Gill. The cover is by the underrated Rocke Mastroserio. The interior art is by the team of Bill Montes and Ernie Bache, equally underrated. Filling out the issue are three odd short non-fiction pieces drawn by Molno and a even shorter text story.

Konga's Revenge

Konga's Revenge Vol. 2 #1 [December, 1968] was the last of Charlton's giant monster comics, hitting the stands about three years after the last issue of Konga. It reprinted the 1964 Konga's Revenge #3 with a cover note describing the issue as a "popular request second printing." The end of the 1960s brought great change to the comics industry and I assume this one-shot was Charlton's way of testing the market for a resumption of its once-popular giant monster books. The cover was drawn by Dick Giordano, but it's merely a redo of the interior splash page with the only major change being bringing the story's lovely heroine out of the shadows.

Almost certainly written by Gill, "The Trojan Queen" is a cute tale of Konga's crush on a movie actress. There's even something of a romantic triangle as the movie actress and the director are in love. The director works Konga into the script and much fun is had by all, except perhaps for a ex-director bitter over his fall from that lofty position. The art is by Montes and Mastroserio, a rare combination of their skills that works out quite well.

Also reprinted from the original are:

"The Missing Earthlings," a text story; and,

"Birthday Gift," a five-page story drawn by Molno and likely written by Gill.

This Konga reprint is my favorite of these three issues, but I love every one of them with the finely aged fervor of the young lad who used to stay up late to watch their cinematic inspirations on Ernie Anderson's Ghoulardi movie nights. I sometimes ponder if, in some parallel dimension, there's a blessed Tony Isabella working as a monster movie host.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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