Monday, 5 October 2015
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 (JC Comics)
Various (w) & (a)
The great thing about collecting comics is that even if you are a fan of a particular series or character sometime you will come across something new and didn't even know existed. That's what happened when I went into my local comic shop and saw this on the shelf just waiting to fall into my weekly pile.
A black and white magazine, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1 published by JC Comics who I thought had just published the two "four colour" comics via Archie back in the eighties. I'm rather partial to the large size format B&W comic magazine so this was a bonus.
This was intended to be a quarterly magazine and if you subscribed to the fanzine Amazing Heroes you were promised two free editions. Sadly this was a one off.
Featuring the revival of each T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent chapter by chapter this was great fun, especially part three drawn Kirby style!
The villain...none other than The Warlord!
Bonus features included a reprint of the first adventure of The Fly by Simon & Kirby and an early Black Hood story which is nothing like the gritty version published by Archie today!
Easier to find are the "normal size" comics pictured below.
IDW currently have the licence but only managed an 8 issue mini series due to low sales which was a pity because theirs was the best effort by far in recent years.
Don't mention the DC run. No please don't.
Sunday, 4 October 2015
Doomsday +1 (Charlton Comics)
Joe Gill (w) John Byrne (a)
One of the forgotten gems published by Charlton back in the seventies was their post apocalyptic story Doomsday + 1. This tells the tale of three astronauts who whilst in space watch the Earth die as a deposed dictator uses nuclear weapons to blow up Moscow and New York thereby causing World War Three and the end of mankind.
Led by Captain Boyd Ellis, the trio also included Jill Malden and Ikei Yashida two scientists who returned to Earth to find almost total devastation. They initially land in Greenland where they find a Woolly Mammoth frozen in the ice that suddenly comes to life and their lives are endangered until they are saved by another figure from the distant past, Kuno. He's a giant of a caveman.
The four then set off on an adventure to discover what is left of the world.
The reason this series is of a higher standard than some of Charlton's other fare is down to an excellent script by Joe Gill and the first professional work of John Byrne who will go on to be famous as he recreated the X-Men with Chris Claremont for Marvel.
They fight a Soviet based robot army, save the world from aliens, escape from another dimension and meet two undersea races that have hidden from mankind for thousands of years.
They are not the only survivors but this is a very hostile world they find themselves in.
Doomsday +1 lasts for six issues, though the series is revived again with #7 and gets reprinted which may be a bit confusing when trying to track down back issues as a couple of the covers are re-drawn.
There is however one more story that was finally published in Charlton Spotlight #8 (a fanzine) in 2013. This "missing issue" had been intended to be #13 but the title faced cancellation due to low sales.
Saturday, 3 October 2015
The 1970's saw all sorts of titles tried out by Marvel, mainly horror as the Comics Code (now thankfully deceased) relaxed it's rules. Bloodstone was one of these, more adventure than superhero and frankly the sort of fare that British readers would have been used to.
The first two issues of Marvel Presents were devoted to introducing a man called Bloodstone who seemingly appears from nowhere in the Marvel Universe despite having been alive for some 10,000 years.
We learn that as a caveman our hero follows a hooded figure into a cavern where lo and behold there is technology and a bizarre alien with an unpronounceable name called Ullux'yl Kwan T'ae'sny who "welcomes" the curious human to his presence.
The aliens mission is to turn himself into a "God" and tries using the man that we know as Bloodstone and his tribe to reach that goal. He fails and the tribe get wiped out except for one man. You can guess who that was.
In the ensuing fight a gem used for the ceremony is destroyed and a piece ends up buried in Bloodstones chest. He becomes immortal and powerful and so an ageless battle begins.
In a way this reminds me of the long running Kelly's Eye in Valiant, though the British story has no aliens.
For some reason Marvel changed the stars of Marvel Presents from #3 to the original Guardians of the Galaxy. Bloodstone's story does not end there but he does end up up one of the more obscure characters in the MU.
An inexpensive couple of issues to collect and there is at least one more mini series to collect that is buried somewhere in my collection. I'll dig it up at a later date and see what happens next. Damned if I can remember!
Thursday, 1 October 2015
Marvel Team Up #45 (Marvel Comics)
Bill Mantlo (w) Sal Buscema & Mike Esposito (a)
The only Spider-man comic I have ever really been interested in since the departure of Steve Ditko from the main title back in the early days of Marvel was Marvel Team-up. This comic (mostly starring Spidey) featured the webbed wonder teaming up with a variety of Superheroes from across the Marvel Universe. This one stars Killraven who fights against the Martians in the not to distant future.
The Martian invasion in this time line is the aliens second attempt which never happened in mainstream Marvel (Earth 666 reality) so bear that in mind when trying to workout continuity. Just go with the flow.
Spider-man arrives in the future on Doctor Dooms time travel platform just in time to help Killraven fight some tripods. Given these Martians had wiped out most of humanity and military it's surprising how vulnerable they are to being tripped over and beaten by err...spider webbing. Makes you wonder!
Still the inevitable fight breaks out the heroes win and part company and off Spidey goes trying to get home, except in the next issue he meets Deathlock who is also set in an alternate future.
Oh well. Makes for good stories, just don't think about it too much. Just enjoy!
Monday, 28 September 2015
One of the best of Gerry Anderson's TV shows was the live action Space 1999 series from back in the seventies. This programme which ran from 1975 to 1977 was a firm favourite of mine back in my youth (I'd just left school by then).
Surprisingly Space 1999 only ran for two seasons though there were 48 episodes in all which told the story of Moonbase Alpha on a one way journey through space after an accident hurled Earth's satellite out of the solar system and into deep space.
Starring Martin Landau, Barbara Bain and Barry Morse this series certainly caught the imagination of many viewers and like many programmes in the sixties and seventies caught the attention of publishers. The age of the Annual continued.
This, the first of at least five contained mainly magazine style features about Space 199 but there were two (rather poorly drawn and written) comic strips.
There were some comic book adaptations of Space 1999 including two titles published by Charlton Comics in the USA. It was these I was searching for when I came across the Annual.
The first (illustrated above) was a traditional "four colour comic" aimed at the general comics market and lasted just 7 issues. The second was in a "magazine" style format and had more "adult" content aiming at older readers. Unfortunately I have never been able to get hold of copies of these.... but one day!
British readers were able to follow Moonbase Alpha's adventures in Look In, something that up until now I have never read. Something I will shortly rectify.
The fifth Annual carries a number of reprints of the Charlton series. That'll be worth looking out for.
Since this is the last of a weekend of Gerry Anderson related posts I just have to end with a video. This time it's the opening sequence.
Wonderful stuff that surely deserves repeats on one of the myriad of channels that broadcast today!
Sunday, 27 September 2015
Action 21 was a short lived title that was published for just 10 issues in 1988/89. A valiant attempt to relaunch what was in effect a sort of TV Century 21, this monthly comic had all the great features that made that Gerry Anderson orientated comic famous.
This contained all the favourites not just Stingray and Thunderbirds but also Fireball XL5, Captain Scarlett and Lady Penelope
Right down to treating the front page as a newspaper.
I have to say this completely passed me by when it came out and until I found one (just the one) in my local comic shop I'd not even heard of Action 21.
To be honest since there are so few issues it would probably be better to try and collect the more famous TV Century 21.
One for the "completists" I would guess.
And since it's Gerry Anderson there just has to be a video. So for fans both old and new here's my personal favourite: Fireball XL5 with a complete episode.
Saturday, 26 September 2015
Thunderbirds are go once again as a new revamped series hit CITV earlier this year. The most iconic and popular of the Gerry Anderson shows reaches out to yet another generation. Such revivals shows the continuing popularity of this children's programme, though it's best to forget about that "live action" film which bombed a while back.
Originally launched in the sixties following then end of Stingray, Thunderbirds was a mainstay of the TV Century 21 comic that was produced in the sixties from which all the material in this new comic was taken with some new added "feature" and "fan" pages.
The first issue carried several continuing stories including The Earthquake Maker (above), Atlantic Tunnel and The Big Freeze. All great fun with excellent artwork.
The 1992 Summer Special (below) contained a complete story Solar Danger which is based around the team going to try and cool down the Sun and then crash landing on Venus which includes monsters and the like as they sink into a sulphur lake.....
The artwork is by the most famous of comic book British artists Frank Bellamy.
My copy had some pages printed out of sequence but enjoyable none the less!
Launched in October 1991 Thunderbirds: The Comic lasted 89 fortnightly issues plus several summer specials and poster editions before being cancelled in 1995.
However this is not the end it would seem.
I discovered from fans on the Mighty World of British Comics Face Book page that DC Thompson (the publishers of the Beano and Commando) are launching a new Thunderbirds comic in October.
To finish here's a little reminder of the wonderful show itself!