Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Avengers #50 (Marvel UK/1974)



The third of Marvel's UK weeklies was The Avengers launched in 1973 after briefly appearing in their flagship title Mighty World of Marvel. However by the time this issue was published the Avengers were not the lead feature.

Disappointingly, but in a sign of the times Shang Chi Master of Kung Fu had become the leading story by the landmark 50th issue.

Not for long though as Shang-Chi's place was soon to be taken by Iron Fist another martial arts character.

I wasn't a fan of the martial arts genre back in the seventies or now, so neither of these stories interest me. Fortunately the comic redeems itself with reprints of Dr Strange with classic tales from the Strange Tales era of early Marvel.

The Avengers lasted for 148 issues before merging with the Mighty World of Marvel in 1976.

 

Monday, 2 May 2016

Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics (IDW)

Star-Trek-UK-1-solicit

Star Trek: The Classic UK Comics (Vol 1) (IDW)

Various (w) & (a)

The long awaited collection of Star Trek stories from Joe 90 and TV21 have finally made it to print. IDW are to be congratulated for this weighty and well produced album bringing these "lost" adventures back for not just us "oldies" but for a new generation.

This book is not cheap (£38/$49.99) but the comparative cost and difficulty of tracking down all 257 weekly issues of Joe 90/TV21/Valiant makes this an excellent buy.

 

As we are advised by the introduction these stories are not typical of the Star Trek we all know and love being written and drawn by people who had not even seen the TV series when this first appeared in Joe 90. That said the art work is very good and the likenesses far superior to other more "modern" renditions I've seen, though erm... references to Captain Kurt was a bit of a faux pas for the first few episodes. Spock isn't quite the Vulcan we got to know either.

Still we were all forewarned of this little problem in the solicitation a few months back.

 

To be honest I just really enjoyed reading this collection regardless of "faults". It's great stuff and there's no way I could afford to collect the originals as the old Gerry Anderson line of comics sell at premium rates, especially if they are in good nick.

So forget any preconceptions and just enjoy these adventures. No spoilers from me!

 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Giant Size Dr Strange #1 (Marvel/1975)



Giant-Size Dr Strange #1 (Marvel Comics)

Jim Lawrence (w) Various (a)

The early stories of Dr Strange appeared in Strange Tales, formerly a "horror/mystery" title which he shared with Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD. In the seventies Marvel were experimenting with "Giant-Size" editions of their comics some of which contained a mix of new and reprint material, or like this one a straight reprint of an adventure which appeared in Strange Tales #164 to 168.



Even at today's prices these editions are pretty good value and given the whole story is contained a good way of filling in the gaps of any collection. My copy (VF) was a steal at £8.75, but I would expect prices to rocket (as did Ant-Man) once the new movie is on the scene!

The Dr has saved the Earth from destruction and has been sent spinning into space by The Living Tribunal to a planet where Nebulos has imprisoned his companion Victoria Bentley.

On landing in a strange jungle Strange is confronted by a giant one-eyed slug that shoots disintegrating beams from it's antennae...



Hiding in a cave from the fauna of this dangerous new world, Strange comes across a machine that introduces his latest foe (and love rival) Yandroth, Scientist Supreme. The bullpen must have been giggling on the ganja when they came up with that one!

Despite being warned off and told that Victoria is safe (Yandroth only wants to marry her before starting universal conquest) the good doctor fights on against the scientific weaponry thrown against him.

As he gains the upper hand Yandroth throws his "ultimate weapon" against Doctor Strange, a frank;y corny looking robot with powers of destruction held in his hands. Atomic destructers apparently.

The final confrontation ( with a little help from a not-so-dead Ancient One takes place in the Dimension of Dreams. Didn't see that coming did we frantic ones.

Great story from the early days of Marvel, but did all our heroes speak out loud to themselves in such a dramatic way in those day. Yep and we loved it! Sod the minimalism of modern writing, this is a classic!

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain (Marvel UK/1977)



Spider-Man is one of comicdoms most successful characters and his popularity in the UK has meant there has been a Spidey title in constant print in the UK even to this day. Over the years the format has changed and back in the seventies saw a merger with the short-lived, but fondly remembered Captain Britain weekly.

Gone was the (expensive) colour format that Cap had been given, but this remained an entirely unique creation by Marvel for the UK market.



I managed to track down a couple of issues and find Captain Britain embroiled in an adventure featuring both Werewolf by Night and Dracula. The latter seems to have taken a fancy to someone close to Brian Braddock.

Other than Spider-Man this comic also features the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, the latter having surprisingly lost their own solo title.

This combined comic lasted just 29 issues.

Worth tracking these down for the good Captain alone.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Batman: The Killing Joke gets "R" Rating,



One of the most famous comics of recent years was Batman: The Killing Joke by British talent Alan Moore & Brian Bolland and it's finally been made into a movie, albeit a cartoon.

Trouble is because of the storyline and it's contents its going to get an R rating.

This is he story of how the Joker crippled Barbara Gordon who was as we all know is Batgirl shocked everyone to the core when published. Barbara went to help the Batman and his allies as a computer based, wheel-bound hero known as the Oracle.

Personally I can't wait to watch this adaptation into the Jokers world of madness, but it's not for the feint-hearted.....

Here's the trailer.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Sub-Mariner King Size Special (Marvel/1971)



Sub-Mariner King Size Special (Marvel Comics)

Stan Lee (w) Gene Colan (a)

From the early days of Marvel comics comes this reprint of the first solo Sub-Mariner stories in Tales to Astonish which Namor shared with The Incredible Hulk until a new distribution deal allowed both characters their own books!

The age of the story can be ascertained simply by the reference to Daredevil #7 on the opening "splash" page as subby returns to Atlantis only to find his throne has been usurped by Krang. On meeting the beautiful Lady Dorma he is betrayed, imprisoned and humiliated by his foe until he escapes.

The search for Poseidon's Trident begins across the seven seas.

  

This story originally appeared in Tales to Astonish #70 to #73 but you need to pick up Sub-Mariner King Size Special #2 for the rest!

This is a story that helped expand the fledgling Marvel universe back in the sixties and establish Stan Lee as the "main man" of the comics world.

Sadly I think Marvel (and their "Distinguished Competition) have lost their way since those days. Perhaps it's time to go back to basics rather than reboots.

No more "Secret Wars" or Crises just good old plain story telling is what the comic industry needs just like this.

Grab a copy if you can!

 

Monday, 25 April 2016

Lady Death: Chaos Rules #1 (Coffin Comics)



Lady Death: Chaos Rules #1 (Coffin Comics)

Brian Pulido (w) Brian Augustyn (a)

Long ago, a girl named Hope renounced her humanity to save her mothers soul from eternal torment in Hell. She is transformed  by insurmountable odds and tragic circumstances into Lady Death, the ravishing conqueror of the netherworld. She ruled He;;. She faced the judgement war . She joined a Dark Alliance, then she disappeared. It's been twenty years. Now, find out what happened to her....

And so opens a new chapter in the journey of Lady Death, a comic I have not picked up for a few years now since then end of Chaos comics and her ill-fated outing with the short-lived Cross Gen company.

Not that Lady Death has been out of print. Stories have appeared under the Avatar and Boundless banner in recent years but with the "bad girl" era of comics now long gone continuing reading her adventures no longer appealed until now.

 



Lady Death is back and in the hands of her original creator Brian Pulido after a court case involving lawsuits and legal hassles galore.  Pulido now has sole rights to the character and has decided to launch a new company to tell new adventures of the anti-hero herself.

I ordered this on a whim from the previews catalogue and I have to say I'm not disappointed. This is a solid "done in one" tale bringing the Lady Death we are familiar with back to life in Hell. The plot and artwork are solid making this an enjoyable read.

Woken from a spell through the intervention of Heaven, Lady Death returns to the fray looking for vengeance. Boy does she enjoy the hunt, even managing to satisfy her "needs" on the way. (This is a comic aimed at "mature" readers.)

Lady Death is apparently going to be published around four times a year in the same square-bound or "Prestige" format with a complete story in each, but building up to a major event that threatens all life on Earth.

Then there will be space vampires. Can't wait for that one.