Sunday, 28 August 2016
Marvel attempted to break into the black & white adult orientated market in the early seventies with a number of magazines mostly based on characters from their mainstream comics line. None of the titles lasted for more than a couple of years despite the high standard of art & writing on the most part. By 1975 the Marvel horror line had disappeared.
This left the publishers with a large inventory with nowhere to publish. As a result Legion of Monsters was "born". This magazine was designed to feature all their horror characters and Marvel hoped one title would succeed where five had failed. Sadly this was not to be since only the one issue was ever published and the advertised second edition never made it to press.
The Legion of Monsters kicks off with a very passable tale of The Frankenstein Monster who gets accused of murder after following a Princess to a fancy dress ball where he appears not to be out of place. As one might expect all does not turn out well.
The second story introduces readers to the Manphibian another "silent" character from outer space seeking vengeance on one of his people who murdered to woman he loved. A passable tale and Manphibian does get reused in the unrelated Legion of Monsters tales that kicked of in Marvel premier further down the line.
The remaining stories are continuations of two Dracula stories which might have put new readers off not having read the earlier parts.
There is however one short self contained story that I am sure has been reprinted elsewhere, The Flies. A shocking tale of a freak who looks after flies and gets bullied. Kids do not give people ideas about ripping wings of flies..honestly you wouldn't have seen that coming...
A publishing flop mores the pity as these magazines were overall quite good. Marvel just swamped the market with these comparatively expensive comics which sold not quite enough to keep them going. The one unfortunate side effect of their line was to put rival publishers Skywald out of business. Only Warren kept the flag flying for "adult horror".
Saturday, 27 August 2016
By the end of the seventies the horror boom in comics had come to an end. Even the most popular of Marvel's titles, the colour edition of Tomb of Dracula had been cancelled. However Marvel obviously thought there was some life left in the Lord of the Undead as they continued his adventures in their black & white magazine format aimed at "older" or in today's parlance "mature readers".
However this title despite being produced to a high standard with art from Gene Colan, Tomb of Dracula sadly only lasted six bi-monthly issues.
This last issue contained two stories, the main one being about old Vlad himself buying a ship and travelling to the civil war ridden USA and trying to win over the love of his life. In doing so he helps the Confederacy win a battle only to be captured by the rebels and facing certain "death".
The supporting feature sees Dracula's daughter turn detective to find the real culprit of the murders she is falsely accused of.
There was a promise that Dracula would return, but although Vlad appears in various Marvel titles over the years this was the end of what most fans would call the golden years of Marvels take on the Lord of the Undead.
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Supergirl: Rebirth #1 (DC)
Steve Orlando (w) Emanuela Luppachino (a)
DC Comics relaunch or rather Rebirth continues apace as Supergirl returns in her own monthly title and what a debut it is. New "parents", Cameron Chase as the Director of the DEO and a threat from Krypton or rather Argo City's past..involving Red Kryptonite?
As regular DC readers will know Kara is currently without powers so the DEO have sent Kara to the Sun with Kryptonian regeneration matrix as their last hope of restoring her power. It's probably no spoiler to let you know that this is a success and just in time to as a monster attacks Kara's friends back on Earth.
Another survivor of Krypton arrives but in monstrous form and he's angry with Zor-El, Supergirls father who sent him into the Phantom Zone, an innocent man but a threat to all those that survived Krypton's destruction.
And he isn't happy when he sees the symbol of the House of El on Kara's chest..
Good set up story and hopefully a precursor to a great new series. DC is currently having a field day with sales of it's Rebirth line of titles and are outselling Marvel for the first time in three years! Meanwhile Supergirl has her own TV series, which is now out on DVD which I happen to like and a second series is on the way!
Here's the trailer for those who have not seen it! Well worth picking up!
Sunday, 21 August 2016
Hercules #1 (Charlton Comics)
Joe Gill (w) Sam Glazman (a)
One of the greatest legendary figures of all time was Hercules, son of Zeus, King of the Gods and a mortal woman his stories have been told for generations including in the comics medium. Most comic readers will be more familiar with the Marvel incarnation of Hercules. Friend of Thor and Avenger. Firmly set in the world of super-heroes.
Charlton comics however provided the reader with a version of the legend set in ancient times and in a more traditional "sword & sorcery" direction. Now Charlton were not exactly renowned for their high production standards so a lot of their output has production flaws, but there was some effort put into the creative side of this title which lasted 13 bimonthly issues plus one black and white magazine edition of #8 in addition to the normal four-colour comic.
The first story line sees Hercules set out to complete twelve tasks (wrongly referred to in the text as nine) and stopping to save and then fall in love with Princess Helen who is already betrothed to a certain Alexander. Helen reciprocates his affections (and note she has a suspiciously 1960's haircut), but alas Hercules has to choose between her and joining the Gods in (or on) Olympus so engages in a fight with the Lion of Nemea and on his way he goes.
The back-up feature is Thane of Bagarth set in the world of Beowulf with all the usual intrigue. Written by Steve Skeates with art from Jim (Batman) Aparo this strip does have it's fans. Maybe it'll grow on me as I collect the set.
In the second issue which I picked up at the same time Hercules engages in the second of his tasks which is to defeat and kill the three-bodied giant Gerion.
The art & script in this title makes it a solid read, especially given the period it was produced in and makes a change from the normal super-hero fare produced by the "big two" Marvel and National (DC) in the late sixties.
Saturday, 20 August 2016
The launch of Dracula Lives by Marvel UK in October 1974 finally bought the horror revival to our shores as the Lord of the Undead's adventures were reprinted in glorious black & white in this weekly comic. Slightly edited by the publishers due to Marvel's titles attracting a large number of slightly younger readers to it's comics this was nevertheless a feast of horror done in the Mighty Marvel Manner as Stan Lee used to say.
In fact the first splash page contains a personal message and photo of Stan "the man" Lee himself as he introduces Dracula himself as he says;
Dracula! The very sound of his name sends shivers up your spine! The inhuman scourge of Transylvania - the vampire who stalks by night!
This comic reprinted the adventures of Dracula from the US title The Tomb of Dracula which lasted for 70 issues between 1972 and 1979.
I chose to collect the Marvel UK version because I prefer my horror in black & white. Besides Gene Colan's art looks better in this "oversized format.
The first issue takes us to the cliffhanger when the deranged Clifton finds a skeleton with a stake through it and muses "so let's see what happens when I remove this stake".
The adventure begins...
But as Stan reminds back in his intro:
But have no fear, I pray you. We know there is no living dead. We know that Dracula is but a myth. We know it well - or do we?
Dracula Lives terrorised us kids for 87 issues.
The comic launched with two other features; Werewolf by Night and The Frankenstein Monster. The big three movie monsters Marvel style all in one mag.
What's not to like!
Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Having just watched the excellent animated movie Batman The Killing Joke which shows the dark side of the world of Gotham, I was delighted to hear that Warner Brothers have just announced that sixties favourites Adam Ward, Burt Ward and Julie Newmar are returning in a much more light-hearted feature: Batman Return of the Caped Crusaders.
Here's the ad. released in the states on Oct 11th it's usually available a week later in the UK!
Here's the ad. released in the states on Oct 11th it's usually available a week later in the UK!
The latest batch of Commando comics included this wonderful little story (reprinted from an earlier edition in 1966) about a man and his son being transformed from civilians running an airfreight company on a small island near New Guinea to being on the front-line against the Japanese invaders.
The RAF arrive to build an airfield in their paradise and bring the war to them. Despite the presence of modern Tomahawk fighters, very soon survival depends on two very old fashioned planes.
The first a tiny HM14 nicknamed the "Flying Flea"which manages to survive combat with Zero fighters, for a while at least and a Vickers Virginia bomber in which the survivors must escape, be captured or worse.
A charming little story from simpler times. Complete nonsense of course but very typical of how we saw us "plucky British" during the war.
And for the boys amongst us here's some info on the real planes used in this story.
First up the "Flying Flea":
The Vickers Virginia:
Other Commando books out this week include: