Saturday, 3 December 2016
Marvel launched Kull and the Barbarians as a magazine sized comic for older readers on the back of the success of The Savage Sword of Conan. This title features three other Robert E Howard creations; Kull, Red Sonja and Solomon Kane but sadly only lasted three issues.
The main feature Kull the Destroyer sees the former king sail across the seas to his former home of Atlantis in search of an army with which to bring down Thulsa Doom, the demonic mage who had usurped his throne. His only companion a loyal (and slightly irritating) minstrel. Stooping off at an island Kull sees a possible future. Trouble is that as he finally arrives in Atlantis (an finds a seemingly quite advanced civilisation the story ends.
A fourth issue is advertised but never appears.
Red Sonja meanwhile attempts to rescue a traveller and finds the captive is the man she has been seeking to get revenge on for the murder of her family. Key a flashback to her origin.
Trouble is her nameless target has lost his mind after being tortured and revenge seems pointless. Sonja moves on with her life.
Solomon Kane allies with non-Christian magic to defeat an enemy to defeat vampires in Africa. Kane of course reappears as a backup in Conan from time to time.
Kull never achieved to popularity of Conan despite being set in the prehistoric world that came before our heroic Cimmerian. This magazine probably fell foul of Marvel's swamping the magazine market with too many titles,
Sunday, 27 November 2016
Dan Dare: The 2000AD Years Volume 2 (Rebellion)
Various (w) & (a)
At long last the second and final volume of the adventures of a resurrected Dan Dare, 2000AD style has hit the shelves and well worth the wait it was. A rather weighty tome which not only collects all the stories from the comic itself, but also the material from the annuals! Pricey at thirty quid but collecting the original comics would not only cost more but may prove time consuming and difficult especially if like me you only want the Dare stories.
This volume collects Dan Dare from 2000AD Progs 52 to 126 plus material from the 2000AD Sci Fi Special 1979 and the 1979 & 1980 Dan Dare Annuals.
Dare faces up to continuing threats across the galactic area known as the "lost planets including telepathic aliens, a nightmare world, icebound space squids and even a mutiny from his own crew. But the bulk of the book is devoted to the return of the evil Mekon.
Sdaly this version of Dan Dare comes to an end though Dare or at least his great grandson will reappear in the relaunched Eagle done in a much more "traditional Style".
But fear not Though the Eagle is no more Dan Dare returns in comic form. Look out for it in Previews next week from British publishers, Titan Comics.
Saturday, 26 November 2016
The Jetsons (Charlton Comics)
No credits (w) & (a)
Another trip down memory lane, this time with The Jetsons a wonderful cartoon we used to watch on TV around tea time back when we were young. Set in the far future of the 21st Century this was the tale of the Jetson family as seen through somewhat rose-tinted lenses as hope was the mark of the sixties.
Created by Hanna-Barbera after their success with The Flintstones this series ran from 1962 t0 1963 and was revived in the eighties making up a total of 75 episodes. There was also a movie which I managed to watch on You Tube a few weeks ago.
The first comic book series was published by Gold Key from 1962 to 1970 and ran for 36 issues. The licence was then picked up by Charlton who published a further 20 issues. OK this was for kids, but like the Flintstones did have a wider appeal.
I came across this short documentary about the Jetsons featuring interviews with William Hanna and Joseph Barbera which gives you a flavour of the ideas and concepts behind the creation of this fondly remembered cartoon.
Friday, 25 November 2016
Space 1999 (Charlton Comics)
John Byrne (a)
One of the programmes I used to look forward to on a Saturday morning back in the seventies was Gerry Anderson's live action show Space 1999. The story of a colony on the moon who get rocketed out of the solar system at a colossal speed following an explosion of nuclear waste on the far side of the Moon. The adventures begin...
Meeting all sorts of aliens as they traverse the cosmos the show lasted two seasons with a total of 48 shows. In the UK the series spawned a weekly comic strip in ITV's Look-In magazine. In the USA the licence was picked by Charlton Comics.
I have been on the lookout for copies of the Charlton Comics version for some time. There were in fact two different series. This one was a "four color" comic which lasted 7 issues between 1976 and aimed at the younger market. The other (which I have yet to find) was a black & white magazine sized comic aimed at older readers which also lasted just 7 issues.
The comic contains art by none other than John Byrne who had previously created Doomsday +1 for Charlton. Byrne of course would later become famous for his stellar work on the New X-Men and the Fantastic Four. As a result this comic is of a much higher standard than much of Charlton's other varied output. You have to remember they produced comics more to keep their presses rolling than anything else, paid their creators poorly, even Steve Ditko (who it is said did get more than the others) and had comparatively low production standards using poor quality paper.
Nonetheless I remain a fan of Charlton's output mainly because it was not just varied but had less editorial interference than other publishers.
Finally for those too young or others like myself who are getting longer in the tooth here's the very first episode. Pity they didn't do more, both TV programmes and comics.
Sunday, 20 November 2016
Conan The Reaver (Graphic Novel) Marvel Comics
Don Kraar (w) John Severin (a)
The advent of the original graphic novel led to Marvel producing a run of no less than 75 magazine style editions between the eighties and the nineties of which three featured Conan the Barbarian, one of Marvels big sellers. These tales were pretty average for Conan and did not have the more adult content that one would expect of The Savage Sword of Conan magazine.
Nevertheless this edition is a solid read seeing Conan as King of the Thieves and planning to rob a dying King who figures out Conan is a bit of a rogue, but an honorable one. Promising to save the Kings young wife and her bastard son, Conan gets embroiled in yet another adventure from which he he puts his barbarian honour before profit.
Worth picking up if you can find them and not too expensive.
Saturday, 19 November 2016
Giant Size Fantastic Four #3 (Marvel Comics)
Gerry Conway/Marv Wolfman (w) Rich Buckler/Joe Sinnott (a)
The Fantastic Four provided the fictional "spine" around which the Marvel Universe was created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby. Sadly the comic is no more, having been put on hiatus because the company want the franchise back for movie making or so the story goes. The fact sales had drastically slipped didn't help either.
However back in the seventies the Fantastic Four could be relied on to provide a good yarn month after month along with The Thing getting his team up up series in the form of Marvel Two-In-One. Marvel also gave their first family a Giant Size quarterly edition which featured a new 30 page adventure plus a bargain basement reprint.
Lasting for four issues these are great fun to read.
In #3 the FF meet the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse who have returned to earth after being beaten and exiled in disgrace. Only the Fab Four can stop them! Nuff said.
The back-up reprint is a reprint of Fantastic Four #21 in which the team face The Hate-monger who turns out to be..Hitler or one of his doubles? Guest stars Sgt Fury.
Thursday, 17 November 2016
The Dandy is one of the most famous British comics ever published running from December 1937 until December 2012 for an incredible 3610 issues. Korky the Cat and his pals entertained countless generations of children. Only the Beano and The Eagle (for older readers) can lay claim to having such a presence amongst young minds over the years.
Produced by Scottish family publishers DC Thompson the comic also saw no less than 79 Annuals which even continue to this day and the latest is the shops as I write. This particular edition cover dated 1975 would have been released in the run up to Christmas 1974, the year I left school though by then the Dandy was not on my reading list.
Featuring the adventures of Desperate Dan, Smasher, Dirty Dick, Bully Beef and Chips plus Corporal Clott amongst others will bring back memories of the world when life was simpler.