Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Challengers of the Unknown #80 (DC/1973)

Challengers of the Unknown (DC Comics)

Credits only given for Jack Kirby (a)

One of the joys of comic collecting is picking up back issues, some of which are not what they might seem. Published in 1973 this is actually a reprint of Showcase #11 originally published in 1957. The only credit given by the publishers is for Jack Kirby who is obviously the artist and was hugely popular back then and still has legions of fans to this day, myself amongst them.

DC went to the trouble of giving the issue a more "modern" cover (well for the seventies anyway), though the original isn't too bad at all.

The story is simple enough. Missing explorers in Antarctica, Challengers called to investigate, race of aliens plotting to destroy most of mankind, enslave the survivors and take over the Earth. Typical fifties fare.

Unlike today's comics this actually requires reading. One of the reasons old stuff is so charming. Corny dialogue but not read in under three minutes like some modern comics.

It tells a complete story in one issue, one of the reasons that I preferred DC to Marvel as a kid.

You can pick up this comic for just a few pounds whereas the original Showcase comic will cost you a lot more beer money.

Since obtaining this I have purchased the Challengers of the Unknown Archive Editions, themselves not cheap but they do collect the entire run by Kirby in two volumes and worth sitting down to read.

Here's some other covers for your delectation.


Sunday, 22 November 2015

Vampirella #1969 Anniversary Edition

Vampirella #1969 (Dynamite Entertainment)

Various (w) & (a)

Regular readers of the blog will know that I have a "soft spot" for Vampirella and they'd be right. I have a fair number of comics featuring this scantily clad vampire and I make no excuses for featuring the latest offering from her new publishers Dynamite Entertainment.

Starting in 1969 (hence the numbering) Vampirella her adventures have enthralled her followers for the last 45 years. Starting off as a "hostess" in the black and white "mature" title published by the now defunct Warren Comics, then Harris before finally settling with Dynamite Entertainment. Vampy has had varying degrees of popularity and even had a fan club also sadly deceased.

This latest comic features a number of short stories by different creators in an extended deluxe square-bound format.

Here's some preview pages for your delectation.

A new series is on the horizon. Watch this space.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Battle and Valiant (1977)

One of the main British comics I grew up with was Valiant. It finally ended publication in 1976 and was merged with Battle Picture Weekly, a more modern comic. These all appeared in a period when I had all but ceased reading British weeklies and was only just returning to comic reading through DC and Marvel after a gap of a few years.

Battle and Valiant is certainly a good read and I know that that Battle in it's various incarnations was one of the stronger British comics absorbing a number of other titles including the controversial Action which I'll have to get around to reading one of these days!

Picking up copies at random I chose the 11th June 1977 issue because of the cover and the story that goes with it. Unusually  Panzer G-Man covers the Second World War from the perspective of a German soldier and his comrades, which given the inherent anti-German element of the British national character prevalent as I grew up was a brave move.

This comic also includes Johnny Red which has recently been revived by Titan Comics for a mini-series and I can see why. A complex adventure about a disgraced British pilot fighting alongside Russians and facing mistrust from the NKVD at a time when Stalin's rule could not be questioned. Ordinary men and women caught in a war between two totalitarian ideologies where life was cheap. Another brave choice.

Sadly none of the features I associated with Valiant have survived the merger. Even the indomitable Captain Hurricane has just a cameo appearance on one of the readers pages. The Steel Claw nowhere to be seen...

Still times change. Tastes change and this war-story orientated comic is well worth picking up.

Other stories include Darkie's Mob, Hell Island, Joe Two Beans ( a "Red" Indian at war)  and Rat Pack.

Another British title to add to my growing list of "wants" for my collection.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Superman: American Alien #1

Superman: American Alien #1 (DC Comics)

Max Landis (w) Nicj Dragotta (a)

Well this is different.

When I ordered Superman American Alien I had assumed this was to be some kind of definitive story about the "rebooted" Superman that DC use in their new and updated shared universe. Seems I was wrong. This is something different and unexpected.

DC have decided to concentrate on writing good stories about their characters "regardless" of which incarnation they use. Hence this is not the classic Superman I grew up with in the sixties nor is it John Byrnes recreation following Crisis On Infinite earths or Grant Morrison's recent adaptation using a gradually super-powered Kal-El wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

This is something else.

And it looks like this seven issue mini-series is going to be fun.

The first issue with somewhat "cartoony" orientated artwork introduces the reader to a young Clark Kent trying to come to terms with the fact he is different.

Oh boy is he different as the opening sequence shows.....

Make mine DC!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Misty (1978 to 1980)

Back in the sixties and seventies before the days of "political correctness" and "safe spaces" boys were boys and girls were, well you know the score. As a young lad I wouldn't have been caught dead reading soppy girls comics. Neither would any of my mates.

However for the publishers these titles were big business, many girls comics outsold the ones for boys and most women will have grown up reading Bunty, Sally or one of the many published back then.

Following the announcement by Rebellion (publishers of 2000AD) that they have purchased the rights to Misty, I decided to have a look since on fan pages this comic does get of a lot of raves especially..from the lads!

Misty is essentially a horror comic with great writing and art. The stories were a mix of continuing features and complete short stories.

The copies I picked up were from towards the end of the 101 issue run and featured the first two parts of The Body Snatchers which was set in a girls boarding school were the teachers seem to be changing personalities and had been told to sat away from the old mansion.

But our heroine makes the mistake of taking her suspicions to the headmistress...will she be the next victim.

One short story featured the Girl Who Knew Fairies but no one believed. Too old to believe in fairies right? Then why go down to the woods at night.....

So OK, this was a comic I should have picked up, at least when my girlfriend was out!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor #1 (Titan Comics)

[Cover Art Image]

Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor #1 (Titan Comics)

George Mann (w) Emma Vieceli (a)

Titan comics have launched their fourth on-going Doctor Who title, this time featuring the adventures of the "missing Doctor" played by Paul McGann who made just the one episode/film and only made one further appearance in a "prequel" to the Time Wars storyline on BBC's "Red Button" channel.

Broadcasting history can't be changed but the adventure of the eight Doctor can now be told in comic book form, though it has to be said the writers have taken into account the numerous audio adventures made by Big Finish which were sold on CD and some broadcast on BBC Radio7/Radio 4 Extra.

This story is a omplete "one off" introduction for new readers and introduces a new companion Josephine Day who the Doctor finds squatting in his cottage (who knew he had one?).

Trouble is that forces are at work that brings her imaginative paintings to life threatening the locals.

Is the Doctor to blame?

A worthwhile addition to Titan Comics line. And remember although primarily aimed at the American market through Diamond distributors this is a very British company.

A worthy start and is now on my "pull list" at 30th Century comics.

The "missing years" audio adventures available from Big Finish Productions

Blood of the Daleks Part 1 Horror of Glam Rock

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Lion and Champion (1966)

One of the longest running boys comics, Lion, merged with a the short lived Champion comic in 1966. Oddly Champion was described as the "companion paper to Valiant" but was merged with a different title. The publishers did the same with Hurricane when it ceased publication and was subsumed by Tiger. I'd guess Lion was the one that needed a circulation boost at the time.


The first few issues elude me but I decided to pick this comic up from the issue dated 17th September 1966 as it had a cover that announced the return of the Phantom Viking. In a story line reminiscent of Marvel Comics Thor, Olaf Larsen found a helmet (rather than a hammer) which when place on his head gave him superpowers including flight. The mild mannered if not complete wimp of a teacher then went on to fight crime...on the seafront!

Also continuing in this issue was The Spider who beats the Android King with the help of fellow criminal The Exterminator and then decides to reform and fight crime much to the consternation of all his minions bar two and complete disbelief by the police.

The inevitable World War Two story featured Trelawney of the Guards who commits a minor mutiny to prevent being promoted to being an officer. And of course there's Robot Archie, this time wandering around the jungle in a boring machine fighting criminals escaping in a hover car. All futuristic stuff that must have wowed Britain's young readers back in those days before men landed on the moon.

Other strips included Code-name Barracuda an agent of the United Nations fighting one of those bizarrely named international organisations back in the sixties WAM (War Against Mankind). No idea either.

Zip Nolan, Mowser the aristocratic cat plus Texas Jack (a western story) fill out the issue.

Oh there's also the inevitable football story which I would have skipped over then and did so today.

Worthwhile reading, but Lion was one of the better British comics.