Korba #1, Feb-Mar 1976. "Fangs of the Kobra!" Written by Martin Pasko from a plot by Jack Kirby and Steve Sherman, art by Jack Kirby, D. Bruce Berry, & Pablo Marcos, edited by Gerry Conway, cover by Ernie Chua
In a secret tunnel complex beneath Manhattan, three men, Horst Buchner and his partners, have been called to meet with Kobra. Kobra has a job for them, but Buchner wants to take Kobra's rare finds and other items. Kobra shows the trio a gigantic cobolt blue egg, which opens to reveal an alien probe which Kobra calls the Servitor. The robot steps forward, and Buchner's goons draw their weapons against Bucher's orders, and Kobra orders the Servitor to destroy them. When it's done, Kobra orders the Servitor to find and kill Jason Burr, whom Kobra senses will soon learn his location.
An hour later, the Servitor attacks at Columbus University! The police are unable to stop it from proceeding to the Stuent Union, where NYPD SWAT force Lt. Perez is speaking to Jason Burr, explaining he needs Burr's help. Suddenly, the Servitor strikes, taking Burr into its large magenta hand. Perez desperately shoots towards the Servitor's head, in an attempt to knock out its control center. This sends the robot amok, still holding Burr. From far away, Kobra orders the Servitor to crush Burr, but Kobra feels Burr's pain as well! Kobra immediately tells the Servitor to release Burr, and the countermanding causes a short-circuit, resulting in the Servitor's self-destructing!
Perez tells Burr that this is an example of why he's needed immediately, and explains further as they drive to Burr's dorm room. It seems that Burr was born on May 25, 1953, one of a pair of Siamese twins, and that Burr's brother -- whom Jason thought was dead -- is still alive, and they think he's responsible for the attack! Burr recalls that when he and his Siamese twin were born in New Delhi, they were seperated after a 21-hour opeation, but without adequate facilities, his brother died within an hour. Perez explains that what really happened is that a pair of cobra-worshippers, seeking their new leader as has been fortold, entered the hospital, and finding the dying baby ("He enters the world on the shoulders of death.), decide this is their Lord Kobra, and took him away.
Perez goes on to explain that the cobra-worshippers raised Burr's rother, solely to begin training, and then, as a test, forcing him to drink cobra venom... if he survived, he would truly be worthy to lead the cult. He suffered, but survived -- and at the same time, Jason Burr suffered inexplicable pains and weird convulsions which doctors could find no phyical cause for. Whenever Kobra was hurt, Jason would fel the pain, too... and vice-versa! Perez figures Burr can lure Kobra to the NYPD, but Burr wants to know what's in it for him, aside from a one-way trip to the morgue.
Meanwhile, beneath the city streets, a cobra worshipper interrupts Kobra's meditation to display the "Saber of Farah," which he plans to use on Jason Burr. Kobra dares not kill Jason now, and orders the lackey to leave. When the lackey begins to apologize, Kobra becomes angered, and sprays venom-spray at the lackey, searing him -- the oppain will make him remember to think in the future. Kobra then retreats to his isolation cell, but realizes that if he were to capture Jason Burr, he'd be able to imprison his brother in the isolation cell, preventing him from being a threat. Suddenly Kobra's hand feels as if it's on fire! He knows Jason Burr is doing this deliberately, and he vows to track him down.
At an abandoned warehouse, Jason Burr holds his hand over a candle flame, trying to manage it for as long as he can, when Kobra bursts in! As he threatens to make Burr pay for the pain he's inflicted, a cage drops from the ceiling to capture Kobra, but the villain slithers out from underneath it before he is trapped, and eludes the charging police the same way. When the police start to fire on Kobra, Burr realizes that he's expendable to the police.
The police finally surround Kobra, but then Kobra fakes them out, activating an electromagnetic beam which draws him out of the warehouse and into his "Ark," a tripodal airborne haven.
Comment: This title had one of the strangest parentage any comic could have had. As the text piece explains, it started when publisher Carmine Infantino suggested that Jack Kirby do a modern-day version of the Corsican Brothers, but with the brothers on opposite sides of the law. Shortly after the first issue's pages arrived at DC's offices, Jack resigned from DC, and it languished for a time, being scheduled for three different "First Issue Specials" (the "Showcase" of the time) before Gerry Conway took over as editor, and Martin Pasko was assigned to write it. Pasko reworked the dialogue and plot, and had Pablo Marcos rework the artwork, and the result was this bizarre title, which had some pages virtually 100% Kirby artwork, some pages a mix of the two, and some all Marcos.
Now, to the ads from this issue... this first one was just too different not to share! I don't recall ever seeing Mattel advertising Barbie in any superhero titles, but rival Kenner certainly took a shot here, hoping to reach girls with this ad for Dusty! Apparently, it didn't work, as the doll didn't last long (my youngest sister had one of them, as I recall, but it's long gone now). Nowadays, of course, it's rare to even see an Action Figure ad in comics, much less an ad for a fashion doll (well, maybe in an Archie comic or something like that... not that there's anything wrong with the idea!).
This ad was more to the norm.. Big Jim's P.A.C.K., the final incarnation of Big Jim, who began his action figure career as a sports-related action figure, available with several different sports playsets. Dr. Steel, if I recall correctly, had been previously introduced as Big Jim's enemy -- apparently he reformed by then.
Now, I only vaguely recall seeing Warpath or the Whip in the stores, but I do remember seeing Big Jim in all his incarnations. As best as I can figure, Mattel saw the success of Hasbro's G.I. Joe line, as well as Mego's "Action Jackson," "World's Greatest Superheroes," and other lines of figures, and decided they needed to compete... and boy did they compete! Big Jim was the closest I've ever seen to an action figure with truly super-heroic muscles... better than the Megos, G.I. Joe, and even Captain Action!
Perhaps the Kirbyesque physique is what prompted this particular ad, which I don't believe is really by Jack Kirby, but more likely by someone else imitating him (which Rich Buckler had more or less cornered the market on at the time... although Herb Trimpe might've done it... or idt could've been none of the three!).
Last I checked Big Jim figures could still be had fairly cheaply loose, and if you're interested in custom-creating male action figures, he makes a good base!
Oh, my analysis of where Jim and the P.A.C.K. went wrong? Who the heck were they supposed to fight? They couldn't stand a chance against the powerful heroes and villains produced by Mego, and G.I. Joe towered over them (at least until the smaller Joes came out that were about the same height)... the Shogun Warriors maybe?
This next ad gets away from toys and to one of the biggest comics joys of my youth... those wonderful tabloid-sized comics, which both DC and Marvel put out! DC had a bit of an edge here, I believe... just look at the variety of titles they had here! Famous First Editions (did you know that some morons have actually been convinced those were the real, original comics by dealers who just discarded the cardboard wraparound covers?), the Super Friends, Dick Tracy, Ghosts, Tarzan, the Bible, Shazam!, Batman, Secret Origins of the Super-Villains, Superman... and if you couldn't find them at your local store, you could mail order them for $1.50 each! What an incredible deal!
Now, personally, I'd love to get my hands on all of these, but they seem difficult to find these days... I'm guessing a lot of dealers don't bring them to shows because they're odd-sized... but they should!
They were all great reading, and if you get a chance to buy them... do it! You won't be sorry! Same goes for all the Marvel ones, too! And if you don't like them, send 'em to me! Oh, wait, you'll want money and postage for them, won't you...?
The fourth ad from this issues is not a Heroes World ad, but it sure looks like it could be! Actually, from the "NCG Merchandise" name (NCG = National Comics Group?), it appears DC sold these direct, but considering the comics ads all listed New York as the address... maybe not. Perhaps these people became Heroes World?
Anyway, it features the Mego DC Superheroes, as well as some related items. Now, you may want to argue with me, but in my not-so-humble opinion, this was the greatest line of super-hero figures ever produced. Sure, they had mittens instead of gloves, and the insignias were cheap paper stickers that fell off almost immediately, and Captain Marvel's costume got screwed up, and Mxy's too darn tall, but hey -- ask anyone in their 30's what toys they remember from their childhood, and chances are, they'll get around to these things!
Besides, while they only sold for $3.39 back then, they're worth much more now! Take Green Arrow, for example... mint figure, complete... $125+! Batgirl goes for even more! When I was trying to get these re-collected as an adult, the cheapest I paid for any of the figures shown here was the Joker, which still set me back $20 loose (and that was a helluva deal, I tell you!). No, wait... I found a naked Green Arrow at a swap meet for $1, then bought him a costume sans gloves, bow, quiver and hat for $15...
Anyway... they're cool as hell, and if Mego hadn't passed on the Star Wars license, they'd still be making them today...
As always, if you've got any of the items presented in these ads, send me a scan of you with them, along with any story you might have about them to email@example.com and I'll add it to this page!
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