Thursday, 17 September 2020

Battle of Britain Special (Rebellion)

























Back in the sixties and seventies British comics were very much orientated towards stories of the Second World War. For many of our parents, grandparents Uncles and neighbours the shadow of the war hung over us all. I was aware of the effect the Nazi's had on my family most of whom went to Auschwitz. Two uncles who managed to survive still had their numbers tattooed on their arms. 

The story of resistance to the Germans were very much in vogue. The country was rightly proud of its stand against the most hateful regime in history. The pinnacle of that stand was the Battle of Britain where a handful of British, Empire and Allied pilots stood against the Luftwaffe.


For boys the number of war comics ranged from the aptly named Battle and War picture libraries to Air Ace and Commando the latter the only surviving example still being published today. Such stories dominated the boys papers from Lion to Victor but as tastes and attitudes changed there came a new title simply know as Battle Picture Weekly.
























Running from 1978 to 1985 Battle Picture Weekly was a very different type of war comic. It started producing much more gritty and realistic war stories including having a look at troops from the other side. One of it's  features which is clearly of it's era was a letter pages where readers sent in details of their family members experiences of the war.


Developed by comic creators Pat Mills and John Wagner Battle went on to inspire a whole new generation of comics including the short lived but controversial Action and the still surviving 2000AD today published by Rebellion who have managed to purchase the rights to a huge back catalogue of British comics material.



This is the latest in their now almost monthly publishing programme of "specials" based on old British comics in a variety of formats though unlike the originals (which used cheap newsprint) these are produced in colour on high quality paper.

There are nine war stories, mostly about World War Two starting with one of Battle's original features Ratpack and ending with a tale of the German's Death Squad on the eastern front. One of tales is a serious piece produced in conjunction with the charity War Child. 

The US Civil War gets a look in with an adventure featuring Battle regular El Mistizo and Vietnam appears in Bravo, Black Lion.

In line with the comics of the day there are text features on the Battle of Britain itself and one page features on British planes used in the conflict.

Overall this is an excellent read and a trip down memory lane for the older reader. Hopefully this will be the first of many specials over the coming years as Rebellion brings back British comics. And about time to. DC Thomson please note.

Available from all good newsagents and direct from: 2000ad.com





















Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Judge Dredd Megazine #424 30th Anniversary Issue!








Judge Dredd is at the centre of the continuing survival and current revival of the British comics scene having originally appeared in 2000AD #2 back in 1977 and didn't even make the cover! The first cover appearance of Joe Dredd was not until #10! Gradually over the years Judge Dredd became the central character to 2000AD and developed a fan base of his own. 
























It was inevitable especially during the comics boom at the beginning of the nineties that Judge Dredd would eventually get a title of his own Originally called Judge Dredd The Megazine it launched in September 1990 and despite the virtual collapse of British comics in the intervening years still survives alongside it's parent title 2000AD.

The latest issue is a 100 page special and comes with a 68 page supplement a 2000AD Encyclopedia Part One (A to B) which is a fun read and I look forward to collecting the rest. The main issue itself kicks off with part one of a new Dredd story The Victims of Bennet Beeney.
























The rest of the issue is full of stories from the Dredd verse including fan favourite Judge Anderson, The Dark Judges plus an entertaining little alternate universe story of Mega City One. There's the continuing Lawless, The Returners (set in Brit Cit) Dreadnoughts and features including a look at the release of the Battle od Britain Special also out this week!


What better way to celebrate this anniversary issue than a look at some of the covers from over the years!

Available from all good newsagents or direct from 2000ad.com




























































































































And don't forget the latest issue of the legendary 2000AD is also out today!






Thursday, 3 September 2020

Superman #23 (DC)


 






















Superman #23 (DC)

Brian Michael Bendis (w) Kevin Maguire & John Timms (a)

The latest issue of Superman continues the run of former Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis on DC's premier superhero. A new story begins which takes Superman into the realms of magic a world where he is vulnerable but he has the new Doctor Fate to join him for the ride. 

I'm not familiar with the new incarnation of Fate but he's always an interesting choice of character to team up with.  There's guest appearances from the DEO and the Wonder Twins but it's the involvement of Agent Veronnica Bisset that is of interest to us as we are introduced to a new villain Xanadoth whom she has somehow freed.

And he seems to have a grudge.

Meanwhile as Fate and Superman muse inside The Tower of Fate which is an Hogwarts style home the danger builds outside.

This may be the last "single issue" of Superman I will be buying as my approach to the hobby changes* so it remains to be seen whether I will pick up a collected edition sometime in the future. Sad really. 

 

I've been reading Superman in his own title, Action Comics, World's Finest and Superboy since around the mid-sixties on and off. I preferred the days when you could pick up a copy at random and just read a complete story in one issue, but then these were both a lot cheaper and more easily obtainable than they are today. 

As for this story? Not bad  average fare but only the beginning of a story arc.

Rating: 3 Stars

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

DC Vertigo on TV: Preacher (Season One)


 














Not having access to any of the premium channels I have not seen so many of the comic related programmes and am only now catching up on them via DVD box sets. The first season of Preacher cost me a mere £2.99 (plus postage) on Amazon though the other three series are at normal price points. I have to say after a bit of a bumpy beginning I have really taken to the television adaptation.

I have read Preacher in it's entirety but later than most since I collected all the trade paperbacks. A wonderful story but it's been more than a while so I am not held back (at this stage anyway) by worries of how much the story deviates from the original.

 

For those not familiar with Preacher (there must be many out there) this is the tale of Jesse Custer a flawed Preacher with a criminal past who upon receiving a power though a cosmic accident tries to bring God to his townsfolk.

His companions the vampire Cassidy and ex-girlfriend Tulip still in criminal mode watch and try and both discourage and help the way Jesse goes around conducting himself. Throw in a couple of Angels trying to cover their error, a psychotic member of the Seraphim, a totally insane meat baron and his thugs, a corrupt wimp of a mayor and a woman ignored but supportive of Custer and the cast of Season One is born.



The show an 18 Cert is violent as was the comic and that's anything to go by future seasons (there are four to collect) the gore and deviancy should increase exponentially.

Highly recommended.

Meanwhile I have just started Season Three of Lucifer. Marvel may have the better movies but DC rules the TV. 



Saturday, 29 August 2020

Shazam #13 (DC)




Shazam #13 (DC)

Geoff Johns (w) Dale Eaglesham (A)

Once a character that outsold Superman but beaten not by any villain but by a corporate law suit Captain Marvel eventually changed hands from his original publishers to DC Comics who had ended his adventures in the first place.

Originally a young boy given powers by the Wizard living in the Rock of Eternity Billy Batson became Captain Marvel and featured in a comic now called "Shazam" after the magic word that transformed him into a super-powered adult.  The name "Captain Marvel" was now with DC's rivals Marvel Comics.

Never high on my reading list I have purchased the odd back issue or mini series some of which have been entertaining others not so much. When done right there is potential with the good Captain. However the New 52 version was not for me so it's been a while since I've picked up a copy and to be honest the reason I did so was because the solicitation gave the impression that Superboy Prime would return in this issue.

The story itself is Chapter 12 of an on-going adventure which features an army of Captain Marvel's foes including Mr Mind, Black Adam, King Hull and more facing Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel plus a few unfamiliar faces. The ultimate enemy is Billy's father mind controlled by that alien Caterpillar that should have been trodden on a long time ago.

The villains are taking control of the seven lands (I am baffled as to how this fits into DC continuity) and it is in Monsterland that we find Superboy Prime wandering around wondering where he is. A one panel cameo that with the breaking of the panels releases the menace into the DCU once again.

I doubt I'll be picking up this comic in a hurry again but may watch out for Superboy Prime elsewhere.

Rating: One Star. (Avoid)

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

2000AD Prog 2196 Regened Edition


 






















The latest issue of 2000AD hits the stands today and is an oversized special "all-ages" issue which includes no less than five complete stories starting as usual with Judge Dredd though this isn't the tough street wise experienced character we have all come to love its Cadet Dredd!

Bad Seeds sees the Judges being called to a hostage situation where some radical juves have not only taken hostages but appear to manged to construct a bomb. They want to free all the juves who have committed non-violent crimes to be released. But not all is as it seems and young Dredds on the case!

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Next up is a comedy adventure Pandora Perfect who needs a key before a bomb goes off on her leg. And off she goes to get it by ..... babysitting? All will be explained.

There's ghosts in the British Museum which Meera Hundal and Eliot Hunter need to deal with as part of their school trip as Finder & Keeper in The Curse of Kreepindeth. Yeah it's really called that.

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There's a rather bizarre Future Shocks in a story called Boss level. Playing computer games isn't my "thing" perhaps that's wise...

Last but by no means least is the tale of an interns first outing in Department K. I really liked this and want to see more. No spoilers. Tharg must employ a regular droid on this strip.

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Next week it's back to normal (heh) with Judge Dredd, The Diaboliks, The Out*(recommended) another of Thargs 3rillers and a Future Shock. In stores September 2nd

Subscriptions available from: shop.2000ad.

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Sunday, 23 August 2020

Brave & the Bold #101 (DC/1972)

 

Brave & the Bold #101 (DC)

Bob Haney (w) Jim Aparo (a)

One of my favourite titles from back in the day was Brave & the Bold which was (mostly) a team up comic featuring Batman with one of DC's more minor characters getting a well deserved outing. Sometimes these team ups were quite bizarre as Bruce found himself fighting alongside the Joker or Kamandi but those are stories for another day.

This issue features one of DC's most under-rated superheroes, Metamorpho. I recall picking up copies of his short lived comic back in the sixties which along with the action was actually quite educational. Oh yest the stories were quite absurd and Rex's supporting cast somewhat eccentric to say the least but they were a good read.

This team-up is no exception as Batman faces the return of a dangerous opponent in the for of The Bounty Hunter. A murder is committed and a list found which includes not just Bruce Wayne but Sapphire Stagg who just happens to be Metamorpho's girlfriend. 



Metamorpho is revived early by Sapphires duplicitous father in order to protect her from being murdered. Immediately Rex blows his top and fights ensue but Sapphire is his hearts desire so as usual Rex complies.

The story itself is a simple set piece murder mystery around the sale of an estate and a conflict between two brothers. One needs the money, the other slightly deranged wishes to to retain his inheritance and has hired the villain to remove all the bidders.

With wonderful stylish art from Jim Aparo the adventure leads to it's obvious conclusion as Batman and Metamorpho save the day though the Bounty Hunter makes his escape.

This is also one of those 52 page editions that DC mistakenly launched in the early seventies that contributed to companies decline in market share against Marvel. The extra pages feature a story of The Viking Prince which was of no interest to me at the time nor now. Not worth the extra cost in pocket money.

However the main story is a great read and is 25 pages long and complete in one issue. I miss those types of comics. Everything is an on-going story arc these days which makes random pick ups impossible. No wonder they no longer sell anywhere but specialist shops. Comics are no longer for the masses it seems. 

And DC never seems to learn as it runs into trouble again with a disastrous distribution decision by breaking with Diamond. They couldn't have picked a worse moment for the industry.

Still there will always  be back issues....