Monday, 27 July 2015
Buster was one of the longest running titles published by IPC/Fleetway and as a result absorbed many other titles in it's 40 year existence. Unlike most other British comics which where either all humour or all adventure, Buster was always (until it's latter days a mixture of both. A factor that probably contributed to it's longevity.
I started reading Buster back in the mid sixties and always will remember him as the "son of Andy Capp" even if that had been long dropped, but by the seventies had lost interest so picking up early copies of this combined comic was an adventure.
First I had to try out a copy of Jet another short lived title lasting a mere 18 issues in early 1971, which frankly is a pity because I found the content of this comic rather good.
The excellent Von Hoffman's Invasion started off in Jet and made it to the combined title, as did the Sudworth Sloggers, The Kids of Stalag 41 and Faceache.
The features from Buster included Rent-A-Ghost Ltd, Fishboy, Galaxus and the long running Charlie Peace amongst others.(Charlie seems to have travelled in time to the seventies which was interesting).
I'll have a look at earlier issues of Buster some time as I remember features based on TV comedians like Charlie Drake, Harry Secombe and others.
Sunday, 26 July 2015
Showcase #100 (DC)
Paul Kupperburg & Paul Levitz (w) Joe Staton (a)
The one hundredth issue of Showcase published back in 1978 was a special issue to feature as many of the characters featured in this comic. Whilst some heroes only managed cameos they did manage to keep to their promise of featuring 60 superstars on the cover.
Showcase was certainly an important comic that helped rebuild the DC comics Universe with The appearance of the Flash in #4 back in October 1956, being considered the start of the "Silver Age" of comics.
The Challengers of the Unknown followed in #6, Lois Lane, Superman's Girlfriend got her solo try out in #9 (August 1957), Green Lantern followed in October 1959 and Aquaman re-appeared in #30 (Feb 1969).
There are far too many to list here but if you get a chance pick up a copy of this interesting, but very seventies story whereby everyone from Anthro to Tommy Tomorrow set out to save the earth from being kidnapped and destroyed by aliens.
Some of the characters introduced in Showcase and appearing in this fun issue were less successful and some are long forgotten but here's a gallery of to remind older readers and encourage younger readers to dig out some of these issues from the back issue bins.
With the recent Convergence story line having undone Crisis on Infinite Earths you might see some of these characters again.
One can only hope!
Saturday, 25 July 2015
Whenever a comic reached sales levels that made the title unprofitable, the powers that be usually sought to merge the failing title with one of their more successful weeklies. So when Thunder failed to make the grade off it and it's more popular features went to the Lion, a long running stable title. The new comic was simply entitled Lion and Thunder, the masthead of which actually lasted quite a long time.
Now having reently covered Thunder's short life of just 22 issues I picked some of the early merged comics and got a bit of a suprise.
So many of Thunder's stories made it to Lion.
Black Max, Fury's Family, Phil the Fluter, Steel Commando and Adam Eterno just to name a few. Lions own features had shrunk somewhat which indicates to me that that they must have had a large inventory to be used.
There's even Sam, a renamed strip from the long gone Wham! an Odhams/Power Comic that ended back in 1967, you'd know him better as Biff.
I used to read Lion in the sixties so this period is new to me. No Robot Archie? Maybe he reappears later on I'll find out one day...
This comic is actually a good read and back issues are not that expensive.
Sadly Lion itself doesn't last that much longer. Having run from 1952 the comic ceased publication in 1974 after a very respectable run of 1,156 issues.
Lion merged with Valiant, a story for another day.
Thursday, 23 July 2015
Superboy starring The Legion of Super-Heroes #208 (DC Comics)
Various (w) & (a)
The Legion of Super-heroes are one of DC Comics most iconic supper-groups that part of the re- foundation of the DC Universe in the "silver age" of comics. Originally appearing in Adventure Comics, they ended up relegated to being a back up feature in Action Comics sharing that long running title with Superman.
By the seventies the team had been merged into Superboy's solo title which was renamed as Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes. This issue was published in 1975 in the short lived bi-monthly 100 page format.
The leading story was new material and starred the Legion of Super-Villians who went to a lot of trouble to foil the legion by keeping Superboy and Mon-El stuck in the past and Ultra Boy a prisoner on his home plane of Rombor.
The jailers? The parents! Given away by the cover to be honest, though DC did have a habit of publishing misleading covers....
Why these particular Legionnaires? They all have one thing in common. Can you guess reader?
And will the remaining Legionnaires be able to stop the villains plot? Of course they will! They are the Legion!
Two other stories appear in this issue Lana Lang's Superboy Identity Identification Kit (originally published in Superboy #93) and The Evil Hand of the Luck Lords (from Adventure #343)
Worth picking up?
This IS the Legion we're talking about!
Wednesday, 22 July 2015
Fantastic Four #85 (Marvel Comics)
Stan Lee (w) Jack Kirby (a)
With adverts for the new Fantastic Four movie currently showing on TV it's a shame that there isn't a comic currently being published by Marvel. It got cancelled and brought to an end by the company for the foreseeable future, which is a shame as this iconic title actually forms the backbone of the Marvel Universe.
Created by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack "King" Kirby the Fantastic Four was an all time favourite back in the sixties and even though the comic had it's ups and downs over the years, some story lines are simply unforgettable.
The coming of Galactus in #49 (which I no longer have) was an event to remember as it starred the planet devourer himself, the Silver Surfer, the Watcher plus the fab four and the ultimate nullifier.
This issue is a bit more down to Earth and finds the team in Latveria as prisoners of Doctor Doom. Sue Richards the Invisible Girl is replaced by Medusa for this adventure which sees the team unable to use their powers to stop Doom's latest nefarious world dominating scheme.
Continued next issue....
Tuesday, 21 July 2015
Superman: True Brit (DC Comics)
Kim Johnson & John Cleese (w) John Byrne & Mark Farmer (a)
As Krypton explodes a rocket containing a bay is sent into space. Destination Earth, the British Empire to be exact.
And so it lands in Weston-Super-Mare. where a young Kal-El is found by Mr & Mrs Clark who load the rocket on top of their car and take the baby home. If any one sees anything they'll just deny it.
The adventures of Colin Clark begin.
What will the neighbours think?
A story of Cricket and tabloid smears begins as Colin graduates University to work for the Daily Smear in the big city.
Did I mention Colin managed to impale a fellow with a cricket bat? Never mind that will be relevant later on.
Still despite hiding his powers from the world Colin decides to put on the uniform with the big "S" in the middle of a union jack on his chest and saves the day. Nothing good will come of this you know. The tabloids are watching.
J.J. Jameson? You ain't got nothing on Mr Whyte-Badger who owns all 400 newspapers here in jolly old blighty. Check the facts? That's against Whyte-Badger policy you know old chap.
You never cross the Smear y'know. Not if you want your secret identity protected. Especially if former page 3 girl Lois Lane's British cousin is on yer case.
And a certain Bat-Man. (See that previous cricket related statement was relevant, told you to pay attention).
Anyone seen Basil? Oh wait wrong sketch.
Monday, 20 July 2015
Doctor Strange #170 (Marvel Comics)
Roy Thomas (w) Dan Adkins (a)
One of the founding characters of the Marvel universe Doctor Strange is currently off the scene except for the occasional appearance as a "guest star" in other titles. Originally conceived by Stan Lee with complimentary artwork by Steve Ditko, the good Doctor has always been a personal favourite.
I read his early adventures in either Marvel Collectors Item Classics or as black & white reprints in Alan Class comics published here in the UK.
For some reason Doctor Strange has never been able to keep a solo title going since his inception, though one series did last some 88 issues, but that might change soon.
After the Secret Wars storyline finishes across Marvel, their "new universe" is launching no less that 45 new number one issues. Doctor Strange is one of them.
There's also a movie on the way!
This issue is fairly typical fare for Stephen Strange as he faces Nightmare once again. The mixture of sorcery and dramatic speech makes this comic a great little read.
Finding his mentor the Ancient One in an induced coma, Strange switches to his astral form the enter the old man's mind. Here in the dimension of dreams he finds himself in a trap.
Only the all seeing Eye of Agamotto may be able to save him!
The numbering of Doctor Strange continues from the long running comic Strange Tales.
Sunday, 19 July 2015
When I saw this comic in my local comic shop I just had to buy it as this was published in the year I left school. God was it that long ago. Buster was one of those comics that I had been reading on and off for as far back as I can remember and was always a favourite.
The star of the comic was of course Buster himself originally billed as the "son of Andy Capp" a strip in the Daily Mirror about a drunken wife beating layabout which is probably why as time went on they quietly dropped the connection, though I do recall being given collections of Andy Capp without a second thought by relatives at birthdays and Christmas.
Summer Specials of any British comic seem to be difficult to obtain and disappear off the shelves as soon as they arrive, so if you get a chance pick one of these up you will not be disappointed.
Containing a mixture of humour and adventure strips this issue kicks off with Clever Dick, Sam Sunn and his daft dog Bonehead before getting into the first adventure with Sammy Brewster's Ski-Board Squad. Only a British comic could come up with that one!
However the strip that reoccurs more than even Buster himself is err.. Rent a Ghost. Remember that? A story based on a TV series that caught our attention way back then.
You also get to read Charlie Peace (a Victorian street criminal), there's Sci-fi with Galaxus which I have fond memories of and the rather charming Pete's Pocket Army. Mini aliens if you don't recall the content.
These specials were actually quite a good value read, with this one having 80 pages of fun and adventure!
Saturday, 18 July 2015
Starblazer (DC Thomson)
The seventies was the era in which science fiction finally became mainstream Star Trek had its first movie, there was Alien but most of all there was Star Wars. The comics industry was quick to cash in and Starblazer was one of the longer lasting results of this boom.
A monthly (eventually twice monthly) title these were self contained complete short stories in a "pocket book" format (Digest for US readers, though not quite the same as their range of tiny reprints) which were familiar to boys (and girls) who purchased the myriad of picture libraries that made up a large chunk of the British comic books market at one time.
This was a title I missed at the time and have only just "discovered so picked up three editions to "test the water " so to speak and it proved well worth the dip!
The earliest issue I got hold of was #3 which featured a story called Alien Attack featuring viruses from a comet, aliens being controlled by parasites and the Earth in danger of enslavement. Rather fun I thought!
The other two issues Alien Battleship in #126 and Deadly Pilgrimage in #149 were entertaining enough and certainly this series looks worthwhile picking up. Like all these types of series the stories and art are variable (I thought #126 a little weak, in part due to the simplistic writing style) but not every comic book story is a master piece like every other genre of entertainment there are not so good moments.
But I recommend this comic. Most of the later issues are very reasonably priced where you can find them on sale.
Starblazer lasted 281 issues from 1979 to 1991.
Tuesday, 14 July 2015
Superman #299 (DC)
Cary Bates & Elliot Maggin (w) Curt Swan & Bob Oksner (a)
A comic that features nine of Superman's deadliest villains has to be worth picking up. The line up includes Lex Luthor, Brainiac, The Parasite, Kryptonite Man and many more. Trouble is they are all a distraction from the real villain of the piece, Clark Kent's next door neighbour!
Superman has been having trouble with his powers of late. When he's Clark Kent he becomes human and only regains his powers when donning his costume. Is this a mental block or something more sinister?
One thing we do know is what Clark's mysterious alien neighbour "Mr Xavier" is up to. A plot that seems to come right out of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Earth needs to be demolished to make way for a "Teleportation Highway". Go figure.
Only Superman stands in the way and the aliens have decided to make Superman the catalyst for destruction by making him the bomb that blows away the Earth.
Hence the sudden teleportation of nine villains into Clark Kent's apartment.
The action begins....
An old fashioned story published when Superman was selling more than a quarter of a million copies a month.
Monday, 13 July 2015
Sometimes all is not as it seems.
And so I discovered when I finally got hold of a copy of Tornado #16 which I originally saw somewhere on line (I forget where) and had asked my local comic shop to add to my "wish list". It finally turned up this week.
The cover is part of a competition so doesn't relate to any story inside I'm sorry to say. The idea was for a reader to submit a 350 word story based on the cover feature. First prize was £20, quite an amount for those days. Sadly since the comic ceased publication a few weeks later I do not know whether anyone won let alone saw that story in print.
However the comic itself (which I'd never read before) did prove interesting
With features like The Mind of Wolfie Smith, The Angry Planet and Black Hawk it's actually quite a good read and a comic worth collecting. Tornado only lasted 22 issues, though there was a Summer Special and two Annuals!
The other stories are reasonable fare. Cold War adventure Wagners Walk seems worthy as does Victor Dargo a private detective sleuthing in a story set in London back in 1929.
Tornado eventually merged with 2000AD after less than six months on the shelves. Shame really.
One of several titles that didn't last long like Jet and Thunder which have also proved to be lost gems from the wonderful world of British comics!
First and last issues of Tornado.
Sunday, 12 July 2015
Bloodstrike #1 (Image)
Rob Liefeld (w) & (a)
Well this ones a bit gross I have to say. Rob Liefelds latest outing into comics was obviously designed to shock and I'm writing as someone who is an avid reader of Avatar's comics. Nevertheless much of the content came as surprise. I'm not going to be prudish just don't expect this to be a normal "super-hero" book.
Rated M for Mature, Bloodstrike certainly delivers on that level. The opening scenes of half a man being strung alive to a wall is only the beginning. Add one furry alien who seems to eat pheromones, plenty of decapitation "ninja style" you've got the general idea.
There's one more gory surprise but I'll leave you to discover what that is at the end.
I'm a fan of Rob Liefeld even though he's the most unreliable creator around who starts and stops projects at a whim leaving a whole range of potentially interesting stuff unfinished. What was that thing he fell out with Robert Kirkman over again. I forget, but it ran for four issues and will never be completed. Same with Youngblood.......
This is the first time I've purchased a Bloodstrike title which was around in the not so great nineties which did the comics industry a lot of harm, but that's another story.
Oh, whats this about?
Damned if I know. There's two other issues been solicited so maybe if they ever appear we'll get to the main story.
But that's up to you Rob. Know what I'm saying???
Archie #1 (Archie Comics)
Mark Waid (w) Fiona Staples (a)
After 75 years Archie gets a remake for the twenty-first century. And a new number one too!
With fan favourite Mark Waid at the helm and matching artwork from Fiona Staples Archie Comics might, just might have a hit on it's hands. Gone is the cartoon style adventures that evolved into a distinctive house style over the years and enter.... modernity.
A sound opening issue with Archie and Betty (having been boyfriend and girlfriend for, like forever) seem to have split up. Their friends try to bring them back together but the whole scheme is wrecked by Archie's best friend Jughead.
And guess who's coming to town? Lodge Industries! Thats' relevant because? It means Veronica is coming to Riverdale and then the fun will really begin.
I've added this to my "pull list". Think it's gonna be a gas.
As a bonus there's a reprint of Archie's very first appearance from Pep Comics #22 originally published in 1941.
My how comics change!
Star Trek/Green Lantern: The Spectrum War (IDW)
Mike Johnson (w) Angel Hernandez (a)
The comic which is billed as the "crossover event of 2015" is here. Two great science fiction franchise, Star Trek (the original rebooted team) from the films and Green Lantern the ongoing cosmic "cop" saga from DC comics come together in an adventure that takes us to the edge of the known galaxy.
The crew of the Enterprise discover the body, well skeleton of Ganthet, last of the Guardians along with a number of rings on a dead planet in the middle of space. A "rogue planet" we actually discover is the long dead Mogo, a sentient planet and member of the Green Lantern corps.
Did I mention Klingons?
Yeah just so happens as Kirk and Spock begin their investigation along comes a familiar face, at least from the previous Star Trek reality.. General Chang! He wants to take Kirk to Kronos, the prison asteroid from Star Trek VI which hasn't happened yet.
A wee bit confusing I know but if you know your Trek and have read Green Lantern you'll have no trouble following this I promise.
Then there's the rings... and a certain Hal Jordan.
Just Enjoy. 10/10!
Saturday, 11 July 2015
The "Summer Special" was always a treat when we were kids, usually obtained during the holidays and put aside for long journeys and to read on the beach. Those were the days eh. So when I saw my local comic shop had a copy of the 1968 Victor edition I just had to get a copy.
Although the cover had seen better days, the stories inside were not affected. These are difficult to find at a reasonable cost so being too fussy is not an option!
DC Thompson's range of specials were always had over sized pages and a greater use of colour than their main rivals Fleetway/IPC who went for standard size editions sometimes running to 96 pages, making them more expensive. Personally I was always happy to get either format when I could afford to.
Regular feature Morgyn the Mighty kicked of on page three with a fishing tale that saw him captured by natives of a neighbouring island who tried to feed our hero to giant python they worshipped. They didn't reckon with Morgyn who was billed as "the strongest man in the world" though!
World War Two stories included Sniper Dennison, The Jail Busters and Doyle of E-Boat Alley which showed us Brits in great form against those damned Jerries!
Tales from Britain's days of empire also featured with two short stories The Vision of Jamal set in the North West Frontier in the summer of 1922 and The Killing of Matt Brady which took place even earlier in 1833 and was set in Tasmania.
Add Tucker of the Track and Shark Bait for a bit of added variety and that would have kept us young-uns quiet for a while!
First and last Summer Specials from 1967 and 1992.
Friday, 10 July 2015
Thor Annual #7 (Marvel Comics)
Roy Thomas (w) Walt Simonson & Ernie Chan (a)
The 1978 Thor Annual is a pivotal moment in the development of the Marvel comics as the Eternals, Deviants and most of all, the Celestials enter the shared MU. It's a big story with repercussions that remain with us until today.
The Eternals was a series created by Jack Kirby that introduced a sort of Chariot of the Gods concept to comic books. At first it seemed that this was a stand alone title that didn't fit in the Marvel Universe and was championed as such by many fans myself included at the time.
However the Bullpen took a different view and with this annual published a year or so after the cancellation of The Eternals own magazine the whole caboodle was thrown into the fray.
The Eternals revolved around cosmic beings known as the Celestials who had seeded intelligence on the ape like creatures that inhabited the Earth. They visited each of their experiments four times. The fourth and final visitation was due in just 50 years.
Just a heartbeat for an immortal like Thor who is given the knowledge of his previous meeting with the Eternals when the host made their third visit.
The storyline was to pan out in Thor's own monthly magazine for quite a long time and is worth collecting.
This is adventure on a grand scale.
Worth starting with Kirby's original series which ran for 19 issues plus one annual in 1976/77. They were available as a two volume trade paperback a few years back if you can get your hands on these.