Friday, 24 June 2016
IDW is a small publishing company that puts out a great variety of comic books and graphic novels in varied formats. Some are successful, others are not. In 2005 long after the demise of the black & white comic book the company decided to revive the format with this quarterly series.
Now I have an admission to make. Whilst I purchased this when it came out I wasn't too keen when I flicked through and put it to one side. I finally read it yesterday when I came across the magazine in a pile of stuff in a corner.
My tasted have changed over the years and having recently started collecting old black & white magazines such as Creepy, Eerie and Vampirella which IDW based Doomed on, I was finally ready to dip in. And a good read it turned out to be.
There are five short stories introduced by a "host" in the form of Ms Doomed.
An adaptation of Richard Matheson's Blood Son is the first story about an odd little boy who gets weirder as he grows older, but exactly why does he behave that way. As for the family cat.....
Cuts is a variation on the tale of a Voodoo Doll which has a quite unexpected conclusion.
A struggling writer enters a parallel world to escape a murder he commits in Blood Rape of the Lust Ghouls. Only things are even worse there than he could imagine..
It's the final story that makes the book a great read. The Final Performance delivers a shock when a weary traveller books into a motel as the only guest. His one night stand with the girl who works there leads to an ending that you will read over more than once.
Overall a great comic. Sadly it only lasted four issues. I'll keep a lookout for the other three. Gets the thumbs up from me.
Doomed is also available in a collected trade.
Thursday, 23 June 2016
The Original Shield #1 (Archie Adventure Series/ 1984)
Various (w) & (a)
The Shield was the first superhero to appear in a US flag themed outfit, predating Captain America by nearly a year having first appeared in Pep Comics #1 in 1939 (cover dated Jan 1940). Like Captain America , the Shield ended up "frozen", though this time as a statue by the Eraser who had been hired by the mob to get rid of this troublesome hero.
In the eighties Archie were once again reviving their super-hero line and this time there were two, not one Shields. In order to differentiate when he got his own book it had to be called The Original Shield.
As in the forties Joe Higgins (the Shield's civilian identity) worked for the FBI and this relaunch saw a retelling of his origin over several issues as the Shield sets out to confront foes new and old meeting old friends along the way.
As a result of a confrontation with a villain called Boroff our man becomes aware of three mechanical men( or robots to use modern parlance) that he had confronted on his very first mission as a superhero. perceiving them as a threat Joe accompanies his boss Lisa Carvin to New York where these machines are due to be put on display.
While Joe Higgins sleeps on the plane he dreams of his origin from being a child witnessing his father's death and getting help from Edgar J Hoover to gain his revenge as a g-man. As a scientist he makes a suit that enhances his physical prowess and becomes the Shield.
The original origin of the Shield appeared in Shield/Wizard Comics #1 (1940).
The next issue continues the story where we learn of his gaining a sidekick in the form of Dusty and marrying Ellie, having a son and being trapped by the Eraser.
Sadly this comic only lasted 4 issues, the last two not being in my collection so how this all pans out will have to wait until I come across a copy. The story is quite passable for the era it was written in as was the art but annoyingly varied the artist from chapter to chapter.
Archies attempts at rebuilding it's superhero line in the eighties did not succeed.
Today's re-launch sees a completely different Shield in it's Dark Circle line but their tardiness in releasing this and other comics in their range does not bode well for their future despite much higher production values than in the past.
Oh and the new Shield is a woman......
Wednesday, 22 June 2016
Vampirella: Summer Nights (Harris Comics/Dark Horse Comics)
Various (w) & (a)
This little gem was published in the early nineties as Harris Comics re-launched the Warren horror franchise. This was a 48 page black & white "prestige" format edition with 4 stories over 48 pages and if you can find a copy grab it. This book contains everything you need to know about Vampi in one edition.
The first story starring Vampirella herself sees her meet the other Warren Comic hosts Uncle Creepy & Cousin Eerie in a cursed house somewhere in the countryside after being arrested for beating up a bunch of thugs. The policeman thinks she's a prostitute because of the way she dresses. Her costume contains very little material remember and their breaks down.
Sadly Creepy & Eerie just want to kill Vampi so a "family reunion" this is not!
Next up is a solo tale of Adam Van Helsing Vampirella's love interest and descendent of the famous vampire hunter. In a passable tale written by Kurt Busiek and drawn by Dave Cockrum Adam has to rescue some people trapped in a derelict church by a Tomb Vetch (no me neither).
Pendragon the magician gets his comeuppance for "deserting" his family while having the inevitable drink in a short story entitled Magic Tricks.
Last but far from being least comes a tale of Chelsea, now turned into a vampire with an equally material lacking costume and befriending a lonely little girl who is dead and remains trapped on the earthly plain as a ghost.
All the main characters being set up for the first of several Vampirella series that Harris Comics would go on to publish.
The real bonus is on the back of a fold out poster. An essay outlining the creative and fictional history of Vampirella.
Essential reading for all Vampi fans.
Now if they would only bring back her fan club....
Tuesday, 21 June 2016
Excalibur: The Sword is Drawn (Marvel Comics)
Chris Claremont (w) Alan Davis (a)
With the X-Men "dead" and threats still looming on the horizon, a series of events occur that will lead to the formation of a new team.
From a waking nightmare, shared it seems with Nightcrawler who has recently come out of a coma, Kitty pride meets some characters more associated with these shores from the pages of the sadly defunct Captain Britain Monthly.
Technet are are here and they want to collect a bounty in the form of Rachel Summers who in turn is on the run from Mojo and his warhounds who also want the same woman.
Meanwhile Captain Britain is somewhat, well "incapacitated", pissed to use a more colloquial term due to the death of his sister. Brian even spurns the comforts of his elvish girlfriend before being brought to his senses by Nightcrawler who literally throws him into the sea to sober up.
With the usual battle taking place wrecking a small London street our disparate band of heroes retire to the beach where they form the super-hero team with a difference, Excalibur!
Written in a style that doesn't take itself too seriously Claremont and Davis certainly deliver with this introduction to a wonderful comic that featured not just our "Captain" but introduced to the weird and wonderful multi-verse.
Monday, 20 June 2016
One of Marvels short-lived foray into the black & white magazine market was Vampire Tales featuring a variety of vampiric characters from their mainstream comic books in a more "adult" setting. Issues feature Morbius, the living vampire, Blade, Satana and Lilith, Daughter of Dracula plus a few short stories.
This edition starts off with Lilith as the main feature in which she kills men who tried to mug her and befriends an ordinary mortal, Martin Gold and helps avenge the death of his lover, a victim of a deranged axe-murderer with twisted morals.
Lilith by the way hates her father and became a vampire after Dracula abandons her to Gypsies who are subsequently murdered by the psychotic Lord of Darkness and does not have the fatal weaknesses of other vampires.
She is a day-walker. Committed to fighting her father's evil.....
There are four other tales of vampires in this issue, the best of which is Blood Death where a husband seeking immortality is turned into a vampire but meets an unexpected fate..at the hands of his loving wife.
This magazine like most of Marvels black & white output, Vampire Tales lasted for only a few issues. Eleven in all.
Sunday, 19 June 2016
The seventies saw not just a boom in the horror genre in both colour and the black and white magazines field but also the creation of a new, albeit short lived competitor in the marketplace.
This company launched with much fanfare and attracting a lot of talent from the comics world was around for barely a year or so before it collapsed, but Atlas did produce a few good comics including this one, Weird Tales of the Macabre aimed at the older reader in a black & white format.
The stories which were unrestrained by the oppressive and thankfully now departed Comic Code Authority because it was a magazine rather than a comic with the type of fare found in Warren Comics who dominated the "adult" market.
There are six tales in this issue, all of which were of a goof standard in story and art, even if a couple were far from original.
The Bog Beast is the story of a "muck monster" who rises from a tar pit to make contact and learn about the human race on behalf of the "Elders" of whom we learn nothing else as this was to be on-going story and this issue was to be the last. Needless to say man reacts the way you would expect, and is reminiscent of Man-Thing and Swamp-Thing from the big two, Marvel & DC.
Dr Mercurio's Diary is up next with a tale of vampiric rats will make you squeal.....
Pat Boyette of Charlton Comics fame produces a bizarre tale of Gods and scientists fighting demons with a twist of the sort you might just expect, Carrion of Gods.
However the best is saved for last with Who Toys with Terror about a boy, his Aurora Monster kits and an evil uncle. And then there is The Staff of Death with a moral that if you "witch-hunt", make sure that your victim isn't a real witch!
Just two issues in this short lived series. Hopefully I'll be able to pick up the first issue one of these day.
Saturday, 18 June 2016
Rok of the Reds (BHP Comics)
John Wagner & Alan Grant (w) Dan Cornwell (a)
A dying planet. A spaceship heads heads towards Earth containing a sole survivor. Except he's not what he seems. An alien shape-shifter reverts to his real form and blames himself for the deaths of countless lifeforms on the shattered planet.
Meanwhile on planet Earth Rok Dixon is playing up of the field again as he gets a "yellow card" and then a "red card" and is sent off the pitch.
And goes off the rails in the style of all those overpaid, egotistical footballer types we read about in the red top tabloids.
Drunk and friendless he sees a UFO.
The story begins.....
An Excellent beginning to a new mini-series by British publisher BHP Comics based in Glasgow. Offered in Previews UK a couple of months back this finally arrived in my subscription pile this week. I'm not a fan of football, but add aliens and my interest is piqued.
And I wasn't disappointed.
You can order this title from your local comic shop now or go to their website: bhpcomics.com