Sunday, 16 September 2018
Action Summer Special (IPC)
Various (w) & (a)
Action started life as a very controversial comic due to it's violent content. The press hounded IPC until Action was suspended for 6 weeks before returning in a much more traditional fashion as a "boy's paper".
I've never read any of the early issues and only a couple of the later ones, but was familiar with Hook Jaw due to the reprints in the short lived Strip! monthly. I rather liked Hellman, the tale of a German tank commander.
However for now I decided to treat myself to a reasonably priced summer special. Besides the Jaws inspired Hook Jaw story there was also Spinball which was a product of it's time with all these Death Sport movies (only ever saw the Arnie one myself). It was readable but nothing special to commend it.
Dredger, a secret agent was much more to my liking and set in a circus. Here the skills of an agent proved useful as a crack-shot act, shooting fags out his mates mouth. Rather him than me!!
In the same vein Code Name: Barracuda was given a feature split into two parts due to it'd length which saw Barracuda refuse to work for the Russians and then having to rescue the scientist they wanted him to protect in the first place.
Barracuda faced a wacky villain, a "sinister albino" who was an agent of WAM (War Against Mankind) the kind of stuff we used to love from James Bond (Spectre) and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (T.H.R.U.S.H.). Great story.
Much of the Special is filled with those one page features such as Epics of Sport, Great Escapes and so on., some more interesting than others. There are also a couple of war stories such as Mission Executed and Escape by the Skin of his Teeth.
Worth picking up but beware Summer Specials tend to cost more.
Action lasted 87 issues before it was merged with Battle in 1977. The specials outlived their parent comic until 1980.
Thursday, 13 September 2018
The Creeps Spooktacular: Annual 2019
Various (w) & (a)
Hot on the heels of the publication of The Creeps #15 comes the 2019 Annual with no less than 11 great stories from previous issues of The Creeps, all from before Diamond started distributing them and at last making the mag available in the UK.
As a big fan of both horror comics, the Warren tradition and black & white formatted magazines this was something I just couldn't miss purchasing. And I wasn't disappointed.
The first story from The Creeps #5 Ghoul Boys written by Artie Godwin with art from Nik Poliwko finds the kids exposing the activities of a local ghoul before and going home to a slap up meal! Violins by Nicola Cuti,writer and artist M. Ramlan follows with ghostly apparitions getting revenge for their murder. Originally published in The Creeps #7.
Horrors of the screen come up in Nightmare in Nitrate from Creeps #4 by Don Glut with art from Mansyur Daman. Then there's a science fiction yarn The Sands of Life written by Artie Godwin with artist Reno Manquis. Picking up survivors of a long dead race is not always a good idea.... also from The Creeps #4
Readers will be mortified by The Talking Dead by Don Glut & Nik Poliwko is reprinted for your pleasure from The Creeps #8 and there's a twisted western The Desperado from The Creeps #3 from the very busy Artie Godwin with art by Mansyur Daman. Gunslingers get their devilish rewards!
Clowns are some peoples biggest phobia, which won't be cured in this horrific tale simply entitled Clownin' Around as schoolkids sneak out the big tent for a lark that may well be their last brought to you by the pen of Lloyd Smith and the pencils of Nik Poliwko, another Creepy regular. From Creeps #8
Next up is a helping of damsels in distress and wicked mages as our hero heads for the castle to free a beutiful maiden. This being a horror tale means there's a wee bit of a twist. I wouldn't eat any meal on offer herein. Castle of Horrors is regurgitated from The Creeps #7 in a story by Artie Godwin
A second helping of science fiction is served up in Life Cycle by Artie Godwin (told you he has been busy) with art by Jason Paulos.
There's two final tales to add to your nightmares as a paedophile gets his just reward in The Darkest Corner with spooky art from Peter Aymard and written by Artie Godwin. Eternal Life is not always what it's cracked up to be in the final tale of revenge by Artie Godwin and art from Alex Williamson. Stories from The Creeps #1 & #2 respectively.
Not a dud story in this bumper package. Well worth picking up to read just before you go to sleep.
Wednesday, 12 September 2018
Captain Britain #1 (Marvel UK)
Various (w) & (a)
In October 1976 Marvel Comics UK launched a bold experiment. A truly original British superhero in full colour called Captain Britain. And what's more he even had his own comic co-starring the Fantastic Four (in glorious black & white) along with Nick Fury: Agent of Shield.
At last us Brits had a hero exclusively for ourselves. Now I have covered Captain Britain in previous posts having collected a number of the weeklies, monthlies and mergers with other titles. Only now have I finally got my hands on the first issue, but also the free gift that went with it.
A Captain Britain Mask!
Creators Chris Claremont (writer) and terrific art by Herb Trimpe were parised iby Stan Lee in his "soapbox that week which also played tribute to Marvel UK employees including one Neil Tennant who went on to be a Pet Shop Boy!
Obviously the first issue gives part one of our hero Brian Braddock's transformation into Captain Britain after an attack on the scientific centre, Darkmoor.
Oh and Reed Richards of Fantastic Four is somewhere in the Negative Zone facing dangers galore whilst Nick Fury is seemingly having a break...
Captain Britain was a great comic and with the back-up stories should have been a roaring success. It joined Super Spider-man, Planet of the Apes & Dracula Lives, The Titans and The Mighty World of Marvel on the stands. Maybe it was one too many for the pockets of British kids. It lasted just 39 issues, even changing format towards the end as colour was far too expensive.
In June 1977 the inevitable happened. Captain Britain merged with Super Spider-Man with #231 sharing the comics title for a 23 issues until #253.
Captain Britain was not lost forever. Brian Braddock went on to star in many more stories in monthly British anthologies and eventually graduated to the American market
Some previous posts on Captain Britain:
Captain Britain Summer Special
Captain Britain Monthly #1
Super Spider-Man and Captain Brtain
Excalibur: War Weird III
Marvel UK: Daredevils #1
Tuesday, 11 September 2018
Terrific #1 (Power Comics)
Various (w) & (a)
The final title from the "Power Comics" range from Odhams publishers, Terrific arrived not long after Fantastic in April 1967. In the same "midway" format it also retailed at 9d. With five titles on the market, two of which were presumably aimed at older readers with perhaps more pocket money meant they were in danger of competing with themselves.
A lot of readers were collecting the U.S. colour comics where they were available and though they were more expensive at a shilling for the average sized editions (I forget how much the Annuals and 80 page giants cost) that may have affected sales. Nevertheless it was not long before someone at Odhams finally did an audit and found their comics line was actually losing money.
However for 43 wonderful editions readers were treated to tales of the Sub-Mariner, the Avengers and Doctor Strange.
The first issue had three stories the Sub-Mariner's first solo adventures in Tales to Astonish #70, the Avengers oddly from Avengers #6, though prefaced with several two page features on Captain America and other heroes that readers may not have been familiar with.
The final story was from Strange Tales #110 (who didn't even warrant a mention on the cover!) and was the origin of Dr Strange with wonderful art from Steve Ditko which actually looks great in black & white.
For some reason Terrific dropped the date of publication on the cover which may have been an attempt to keep it on the shelves longer. Terrific only lasted 43 issues and less than a year before being "merged" (as is the British tradition) with the higher selling Fantastic, but this only put off the inevitable.
Power Comics were being wound down for a sell-off. The final comic of a superb line of titles that entertained this child in the sixties.
Monday, 10 September 2018
Fantastic #1 (Power Comics)
Various (w) & (a)
Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a particular interest in the "Power Comics" range of titles published by Odhams Press between 1964 and 1969. These comics introduced many readers to the Marvel superheroes with Spider-Man & Sgt Fury appearing in Pow!, The Hulk in Smash! and the Fantastic Four in Wham!
These titles also contained humour stories (Georgie's Germs, Eagle Eye etc) and some original adventure material. Fans were treated to an original Hulk story in Smash! that only recently was made available to U.S. readers.
The first three "Power Comics" were all traditionally formatted British comics and cost around 6d, the average price on the market to sustain sales. The launch of Fantastic came as a surprise. Not only did it feature long stories of Marvel Characters, it was in a smaller format halfway between the respective sizes of British & US comics. A 40 page black & white package that cost a whooping 9d!
Fantastic treated British readers to three Marvel Features. All first appearances from Thor in Journey into Mystery #83, X-Men #1 and Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #39.
Fantastic went on to last 89 issues merging with it's sister title, Terrific the last of the "Power Comics" as of issue #52.
As with all things Power Comics came to rather an abrupt end as Fantastic merged with Smash & Pow! Pow! had already consumed Wham! leading to the publication of Smash! and Pow! incorporating Fantastic. Rather a mouthful of a title.
The sole surviving Power Comic, Smash! was purchased (along with the Eagle) and totally transformed into a more traditional British "Boys Paper". The Eagle was merged with Lion, though Dan Dare was the only strip to survive the merger.
All Power Comics are worth picking up and collecting. Alan Class anthologies aside, these comics (including the Eagle which published Tales of Asgard) introduced many readers to Marvel back in the sixties. Later on Marvel would start up it's own UK publishing outlet, but that's another story.
Sunday, 9 September 2018
Fantastic Four #1 (Marvel Comics)
Main Story: Dan Slot(w) & Sara Pichelli (a)
At long last the first family of the Marvel Universe are back. Well sort of and not quite yet. Only Ben Grimm and Johnny Storm are around at the moment. Of course we all know that Reed and Sue are not dead. Marvel would always find a way to bring them back,so the story's ending will come as no surprise and was expected.
The revival of Marvel-Two-In-One with the storyline Fate of the Four indicated the way things were going. Without the Fantastic Four there would be a big gap in the Marvel Universe.
The appearance of the "4" flare in the sky over Manhattan sends Johnny rushing to find out if it's Reed and Sue. Guess what. It isn't Just the Yancy Street Gang. A couple of kids. Meanwhile Bens proposing to Felicia and when he asks Johnny to be best man at his wedding the Human Torch Fares up in anger and flies off.
Towards the very end the missing two show up and well sort of make their survival clear. To be continued.
This is the only ongoing title I am collecting at the moment and was previously the only Marvel title I had stuck with until it ended.
This is the comic which literally created the background to Marvel's "universe" in the first 102 issues by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The Skrulls, the Watcher, Silver Surfer, Galactus, Warlock (Him!), the Inhumans and more.
Over the years the line up changed from time to timeas Ben lost his powers, Sue had a baby and so on So She Hulk She-Thing (Ms Marvel) and Medusa (of the Inhumans) amongst others filled the gap.
But it always reverted to the original four. Reed Richards Susan Storm, her brother Johnny Storm and everybody's favourite "Thing" Benjamin Grimm.
Their return is a joy to behold! Recommended.
Saturday, 8 September 2018
Brave and the Bold #57 (DC)
(w) & (a) No Credits published
Brave and the Bold is probably remembered for being the Batman team up comic by most readers but there was a time when like Showcase it was a try out title. Amongst those appearing were Hawkman, the (original) Suicide Squad and even the JLA! This edition however introduced one of my personal silver age favourites Metamorpho: The Element Man!
This first story introduces the reader to the main characters Rex Mason, Sapphire Stagg, multi-millionaire and untrustworthy git, Simon Stagg and Java a genetically modified Neanderthal that is a love rival for Sapphires attentions and forever trying to get rid of Rex.
Rex is a popular adventurer working for Simon Stagg with a large following amongst the ladies though he only has eyes for Sapphire (this was the moralistic bent of the time). Returning from yet another adventure he parachutes into Sapphires car and avoids the formal welcome upsetting all & sundry.
Plotting revenge and not approving of his daughters relationship with Rex comes up with a plan. He sends Rex with Java to obtain the mythical Orb of Ra in a missing pyramid. The plan is to leave Rx behind but Java has more sinister plans...
Following a plane crash the pair enter the pyramid and eventually find the Orb. Java wacks Rex and departs trapping him inside. Meanwhile old mechanisms whirl and Rex goes down on a stone elevator to find himself face to face with the meteor that the orb was made from. One strange and painful event later Rex wakes up and finds himself transformed.
Metamorpho: The Element Man is born.
Returning to the U.S. Rex wants revenge but Stagg has other ideas and sets his henchmen on Rex. Eventually our hero defeats Stagg who promises to find a cure. The adventures begin, but neither Simon Stagg or Java can ever be trusted.
Metamorpho appears in the following issue of Brave and the Bold and gets his own bi-monthly series which ran for 17 issues between July 1965 and April 1968.
Every issue I could get hold of was a joy to read for this young fan. Still worth reading and collecting today.