Saturday, 23 July 2016
Betty & Veronica #1 (Archie Comics)
Adam Hughes (w) & (a)
The relaunch of the Archie Comics line for the 21st century continues unabated!
Following their successful revamps of Archie and Jughead it was inevitable that the girls would return in their own book and here is the first issue where Betty and Veronica continue their love/hate relationship over their mutual feelings for the perennial teenage Archie.
Written and drawn by the hugely talented Adam Hughes this new version of Betty & Veronica will be a big hit. Launching with no less than 25 alternative covers will no doubt be a big sales boost for the title.
And all narrated by Jughead's pet, Hot Dog!
As if that wasn't enough for all you Archie fans, the residents of Riverdale will be on the small screen.
No video available on-line as yet but here's the poster for the new Riverdale TV series featuring Archie and the gang, coming soon to TV channel near you!
According to an advance review from io9.gizmodo.com:
The pilot features Cheryl and Veronica going toe-to-toe in a battle of high school titans, and it’s fantastic. I hope the show does it every week.
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
When I saw this comic in my local comic shop I just had to pick up a copy, partly because I'd never heard of it and also because these are complete stories reprinted from from one of the various boys comics put out by DC Thomson.
In this case, Terror in the Tall Tower originally appeared in Wizard (from issue 28) a comic I knew about but never picked up. It tells the story of "Young Dan Ballard, an Englishman" who had recently been "left one of the famous Manhattan skyscrapers by a distant unknown uncle". But nothings quite that simple.
From his arrival at New York's Kennedy Airport things start happening. Two thugs try kidnapping our young hero until he's rescued (conveniently) by a hippy looking character who later turns out to be an ex Green Beret. The adventure begins.
Local Mafia Bosses, a "haunted" building that no one wants to go near with hidden rooms and corridors. a "missing floor" along with a monster in the basement (the cover is a bit of a giveaway) and a mysterious "tenant" hidden in the shadows this is a great yarn from 1974.
Published at a slightly smaller size than the originals with a glossy cover, these are "graphic novels" before such things became vogue.
This comic also reprinted stories from Hotspur, Victor and the Hornet. I'd particularly like to pick up a copy of the complete V for Vengeance which surely inspired a certain tale by Alan Moore...
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
The idea that aliens have been visiting Earth since antiquity and interfering with humanity is not a new idea in science fiction, let alone amongst the many UFO conspiracy theorists out there. I recall reading Eric Von Daniken's Chariot of the Gods whilst I was still at school and got thrown out of religious studies class for quoting his theory that the Archangel Gabriel artificially inseminated Mary.
Been an atheist ever since...
But the fact that so much of what went on in the Ancient World seems inexplicable, even by modern scientists provides much potential for writers in the sci-fi genre.
Jack Kirby gave us the Celestials in his short-lived but influential Eternals series. A more "down to earth" and frightening story from David Anthony Craft is presented in this "done in one" feature from Marvel Preview, one of those black & white magazines from the seventies.
Researching the potential of obtaining energy from a pyramid construct a scientist suddenly finds himself and his young daughter on the run from aliens. The long and the short of the story is that these beings feed off of human psychic energy in order to survive. They kidnap and use human beings like cattle.
photo: By Ricardo Liberato
This advanced race have been using us "primitives" since the days of the pyramids which collect our physic energy for their use. However in order to continue to do this their activities must remain forever secret.
This story does not end well and has a tragic conclusion.
Monday, 18 July 2016
Straight out of the pulp era of the thirties comes...Doc Savage, the man of bronze. Unbelievably intelligent, strong and fast this was the man of the steel before Krypton exploded. In 1975 Doc got a feature film and of course the inevitable comic.
Our feature opens with a brooding cloud raining lightning down on skyscraper in New York which collapses with only the designer and his sister inside but escaping. Off Angelica Tremaine goes to find help in the form of Doc Savage and his crew.
The reader is introduced to the supporting cast of Monk, Ham, Renny, Long Tom and Johnny all experts in their own right who join with Doc to find the missing Tremaine and solve the mystery of the collapsing buildings.
All done in a Marvel style!
Gyrocopters, Zeppelins, submarines, hidden Islands. This story's got the lot plus the inevitable mad scientist, What's not to like!
Sadly this magazine lasted just 8 issues, but the film, well call it a cult movie, is entertaining enough for a rainy afternoon but long forgotten.
Ron Ely stars as Doc Savage!
Sunday, 17 July 2016
One the more fondly remembered but short-lived comics was Starlord, a science fiction anthology produced to a high standard with some memorable strips such as Strontium Dog and Ro-busters which most readers will be more familiar with in 2000AD.
Starlord lasted just 22 weekly issues before being merged with the lesser selling but cheaper to produce sister title 2000AD.
There was one summer special and despite Starlord's short run, no less than three Annuals cover dated between 1980 and 1982.
Promoted as the Sci Fi book of the year this volume is a mix of new and reprinted material from across the Fleetway/IPC back catalogue.
So whilst starting with Strontium Dog and Ro-Jaws, readers also get to meet Captain Condor from the Lion comic in the fifties/early sixties who was created to compete with Dan Dare but never quite achieved Dares iconic status.
Also included were several episodes of Jimmi from Jupiter the tale of a stowaway from Jupiter who was marooned on Earth. This feature also hailed from Lion in 1965.
Other tales included Val Venture in Peril at the Centre of the Earth (from Tiger) which featured giant ants and introduced us to the (almost) indestructable Palpoids. Wonderful stuff.
Invaders from Jupiter finishes off this weighty volume with the RAF fighting back in a reprint whose origin I have been unable to ascertain.
If you can get hold of these annuals they are well worth collecting.
Saturday, 16 July 2016
House of Mystery #194 (DC)
Various (w) & (a)
Dare you enter.. The House of Mystery?
One of DC comics long running anthology titles House of Mystery had started as a "mystery/horror" comic, switched to promoting super-heroes such as the Martian Manhunter and Dial H for Hero but eventually reverted to the original format by the seventies.
Published in 1971 this was the year that DC had switched to a larger format with more pages which meant there were reprints alongside new material. Whilst the horror titles might have proved a good read, the increased price and reprints in their other comics turned out to be a sales loser for the company. It was a move (prompted by Marvel's decision to do the same for just one month) from which DC nearly didn't recover.
This issue is solid enough with four tales leading with Born Loser by Jack Oleck with art from Alex Toth about a man who married for money but was a failure at whatever he turned his hand to, except "black magic". The tale has a shocking ending. The moral being do not trust the demons you conjure up!
The Human Wave tells a tale of cursed treasure, this time in the form of a sword. Sometimes local legends should be believed.
The Negative Man (nothing to do with the Doom Patrol) is up next and warns the reader of meddling with science. There's no credits on this story but appears to have been drawn by a young Jack Kirby. Any reader know?
The King is Dead written by Jack Oleck with art from N.Redmond finishes the book about a monster who stalks the kingdom but when a new king is on the throne there is a bit of a surprise for his courtiers.
All told a solid read as are most of the issues in this comics latter run.
All introduced by our host, Cain.
Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Marvel had a success with Tomb of Dracula in the four colour format so launching a magazine format edition featuring everybody's favourite Count was inevitable. This comic featured stories about Dracula across time plus an adaptation of Bram Stoker's original tale adapted by Roy Thomas and drawn by Dick Giordano.
The main feature was of course the present day adventures of the fanged one with A Death in the Chapel being written by Steve Gerber with art by Gene Colan whom many would consider the definitive artist for Marvel's version of Dracula. Certainly his art fitted the bill in black & white.
Dracula goes to the Vatican in order to confront his most dangerous human enemy, a monk called Montees who has discovered an ancient incantation that can banish vampires including their Lord and and Master from creation. Trouble is the Vatican is no place for a vampire!
Meanwhile back in the days before the French Revolution Dracula plots to gain influence through the King, but falls foul of a trap that nearly destroys him until the peasants storm the Bastille freeing him to fight another day. Shadow over Versailles is written by Tony Isabella with art by John Buscema & Pablo Marcos.
There's even an old reprint from Atlas called Mark of the Vampire to fill the issues quota of vampire goodness.
Dracula Lives ran for 13 issues plus one Annual.