Monday, 29 June 2015

Thunder (1970)




Thunder was a very short lived comic launched in October 1970. It lasted just 22 issues in what was then a very crowded market before merging with Lion. It's one of those titles I obviously missed as a kid since I don't remember it all but having purchased the first few issues I have to say worth reading and not too difficult to collect given it's short run.

The stories in this comic are fairly standard fare for the time but quite enjoyable all the same.

The first issue opens with The Terrible Trail To Tolmec described as "the most dangerous journey in the world, Tom Taylor goes in search of his missing father using a map (of sorts) which indicates a number of obstacles and dangers the traveller must fact to get to Tolmec, the forbidden city of gold, oddly situated somewhere in the "Asian wilderness". So off he sets with Dr Wolfgang and his treacherous manservant Troll. Yeah I know... but this was the seventies and this was aimed at kids!

Black Max came up next with an adventure set in the skies of World War One. This featured the evil Baron Maximelien Von Klor who's dark secret is a giant bat he uses to destroy allied aircraft.



Then there was Adam Eterno, "doomed never to die, he wandered the earth for centuries on end" as a result of betraying his "master" all those years ago. He could only be killed by a weapon of pure gold, however such things are never as simple as they seem, hence his longevity.



Other features included the rather charming Fury's Family about a circus boy who takes their animals to a safe haven "hidden" in the hills of England.  Comedy with the Spooks of St Luke's and the Steel Commando, a tongue in cheek story about a robot in World War Two teamed up with the only person who can control him the layabout Ernie Bates.

Like all anthologies there are some strips that didn't really appeal like Dusty Binns (whose dad wouldn't let him play football) and Cliff Hanger which was corny even for the seventies.

There's also a surprise in the form of Sam which is a renamed reprint of Biff from Power Comics Wham!


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Sunday, 28 June 2015

DC War: Our Army at War #161 (1965)



Our Army at War #161 (DC Comics)

One of DC's longest running war comic titles was Our Army at War which became best known for introducing the world the the iconic Sgt Rock character. This issue published in 1965 is fairly typical fare containing Sgt Rock in the lead story with an eye on a "green" addition to Easy Company whose brother was shot for cowardice.

Add a secret Nazi multiple rocket firing position holding up the advance of the American army and you have average war story about sacrifice and redemption that would be familiar to readers of the genre both in the USA and UK.

What did differ in this particular issue was the back up story set in the Korean war. MiG Bait tells the story of a group of jet pilots who set up one of their colleagues as "bait" to draw out the reds MIG 15 fighters so they can pounce on them.

Not a safe position for any pilot to be in and our hero takes exception to the role.

Our Army at War ultimately ran for 301 issues until 1977 when it's title was changed to Sgt Rock who now had the comic to himself.

Not as well remembered as Sgt Fury of Marvel Comics (and didn't survive the war like his more famous counterpart) but many of his adventures are worth reading.

 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

DC Western: Bat Lash #3 (1969)



Bat Lash #3 (DC Comics)

Will he save the West or ruin it?

So ran the headline above the short lived Bat Lash title from 1968 to 1969. Not a comic I picked up as a kid, but certainly one that I recall being advertised across DC's line of comics around that time. So I thought it time to pick up a copy.

Bat Lash is a comedic western tale about an outlaw who is a wee bit of a womaniser and small time thief who always manages to get himself into and out of a fix. This issue was published at a time when writing and art credits were not published, which is a pity because this story is fun and has very good artwork.

Opening with the obligatory gunfight and a pretty gal pleading for his life of our "hero" shoots into the sunset only to find himself drawn to the beautiful singing of a woman in the local creek.

Yes of course he gets caught, falls in the water gets frogmarched back to her place where he awaits the return of her husband the local sheriff. Whilst waiting he befriends her gets fed then hubby comes home.

Oh dear.

Add a corrupt and somewhat barking mad judge (who thinks he's Nero), a lynch mob and the story rounds off with a bang.

Worth adding a couple of issues of this to your collection and I say that as someone who hasn't been a fan of the genre for some years.

Except for Jonah Hex....

 

Friday, 26 June 2015

Preview: Aliens vs Vampirella!



The latest issue of Previews the comics catalogue contains a solicitation for one of those unusual cross-overs that can only happen in comic books!

We have recently had a string of Star Trek crossovers with Doctor Who, Planet of the Apes and currently Green Lantern with IDW. Now Dynamite Entertainment brings Aliens vs Vampirella.

The solicitation reads:

Humans have begun to colonize Mars, but something ancient and sinister got there first. Now Vampirella is faced with a mystery only she can solve, and the bloody realization that some monsters should never be awakened.

On sale 2nd September. I've pre-ordered mine. Do you dare to join me for the horror?

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Sunday, 21 June 2015

The New DC: Martian Manhunter #1



Martian Manhunter #1 (DC Comics)

Rob Williams (w) Eddy Barrows (a)

Finally the Martian Manhunter gets his own title after a gap of several years and this time set in the new "converged" DC universe. J'onzz J'onzz is the last surviving Martian who has made the Earth his home. In prior incarnations was a central figure in the Justice League of America, now the Justice League, his place taken by Cyborg for diversity reasons.

But what if everything you knew about yourself was a lie?

And how are these hundreds of terrorist attacks across the globe connected to your heritage? Are you truly the last?

Are you really far from being a superhero and really a weapon of mass destruction?

This opening chapter raises all these questions and more. For long time DC fan boys the seeming appearance of the "White Martians" will come as no surprise. That much was obvious half way through the story.

And just who is Mr Biscuit who we see in the opening pages? What is his connection to our favourite Martian.

Worth reading. Rush down to your comic store and get a copy now. This series is going to be a good one!



Saturday, 20 June 2015

The New DC: Prez



Prez #1 (DC Comics)

Mark Russell (w) Ben Caldwell (a)

One of the most surprising additions to the post Convergence DC line is the revival of Prez, the story of America's first teenage President. A title originally conceived and published in the seventies for just 4 issues, this time "Prez" is a girl!

A satire of American politics that has both it's light and dark moments this series looks like it might be a blast even if (like in Family Guy) some of the references are unfamiliar to us in old blighty. 

"Corndog Girl" becomes a "write in candidate" and starts on her road to victory, but the secret coterie of businessmen that run the USA meet in secret to see how they should respond to this new threat to their hegemony.

DC are to be congratulated for taking a risk when such "non spandex" titles rarely find an audience in the big two publishers efforts.

Nevertheless with an almost "Disney like" approach the comic will hopefully find an audience.

Here's some sample pages.


Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The New DC: Starfire #1

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Starfire #1 (DC Comics)

Amanda Connor & Jimmy Palmiotti (w) Emanuela Lupachino (a)

A beautiful alien woman stranded on Earth. What do you do? Where do you go? And of course what do you wear? Such basic questions are not as simple as you might think.

Did I mention our Princes is a bright shade of orange? Long time DC fans will know this but just in case you're picking up her adventures for the first time, Koriand'r is descended from a cat like race on the plane Tamaran?

Find that hard to believe? We are descended from apes remember.

So back the world where we set aside disbelief and get on with the adventure.

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As a teenager who has had a life spent in captivity and high adventure Starfire as she calls herself seems a wee bit naive about life, but lands on her feet by trading in a couple of stones she had with her for "three big ones" at the local jewellers. Off she goes to live in a trailer and gets help in choosing her clothes from Ms Gomez and a quite obviously gay shop assistant.

"Why would you ever cover legs like that" muses Javi, "And the colour of her skin is to die for"

Quite, even though this is fiction of course. I do remember that..most of the time.

The first issue has a comedic feel as the alien and her neighbours settle down together.

Then the storm breaks out.....

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The New DC: Constantine The Hellblazer #1

"Constantine: The Hellblazer #1" first look

Constantine: The Hellblazer #1 (DC Comics)

Ming Doyle & James Tynion (w) Riley Rossmo (a)

John Constantine is a bastard.

Everyone knows that, especially some of his mates who now follow him around as ghosts after they found themselves used and abused after Constantine wielded his various magics.

Everything and everyone he touches seems to get hurt so you'd think people or even demons would learn a lesson or two from his reputation.

Nah, not even Blythe as she enters a bar where our Mage is having a drink.

You just don't try to trick a trickster. Does't end well....

 Image result for DC Constantine Hellblazer 1

The relaunch of Constantine with a new number one issue is a welcome development. This version with it's quirky artwork and near Vertigo style of presentation works much better than the short lived series of (almost) the same name that came with DC's now defunct "New 52" relaunch.

Hopefully this will attract both new fans and some of the lost readers from the long running Vertigo line that ended a few years back when DC decided to make John Constantine very much a major player in their "shared" universe.

Unsurprisingly this gets a Teen + rating and pushes the boundaries of that rating just a wee bit.

Next issue, how does someone kill a ghost exactly?

Monday, 15 June 2015

Marvel UK Flashback: Blockbuster



Blockbuster (Marvel UK)

Every so often I come across an unknown comic and Blockbuster was certainly one I'd never heard of as I went through the back issue bins in my local comic shop. The first two issues at a quid each. What's to lose?

Containing three strips, two of which I'd never read before (one by choice if I'm honest) this black & white monthly lasted just 9 issues from June 1980 until February 1981. Not surprising considering it contained two b-list stories Iron Fist and The Inhumans plus the rather odd and sometimes over looked Omega.

 

The first issue runs with what I assume is the first storyline from Iron Fist's own US title and  weaves the origin of our hero as he returns to the city in search of his parents murderers. Not bad but I was never (and am still not) a fan of martial arts stories.

It was the Inhumans tales that caught my attention and the two-parter in issues one & two was worth the entry fee in itself. Not sure what series this was perhaps a reader could enlighten me?



Blaastar returns to Earth to raise the Kaptroids to harvest and enslave the Inhumans on behalf of the Kree the militaristic alien race who genetically engineered these (In)humans way back in time...

As for Omega the Unknown.... this comic only publishes very short excerpts from the US edition which I'll cover as a separate review since i have the entire (short) run plus it's belated conclusion in the Defenders.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Tiger & Hurricane (1966)



Tiger & Hurricane (Fleetway)

Whenever you saw the words "Great news inside pals" you knew this meant the comic you were reading was going to merge with another title and your "favourite strips" would continue in the new combined comic. Tiger & Hurricane was one of these.

The main comic Tiger was the stronger of the two comics and got the lead having been published since 1955 and was part of the same publishing group that included Lion and Valiant.

Hurricane however was a short-lived newcomer having lasted a mere 63 issues in 1964/65.

To be honest neither was a main stay of my comic reading though I did get a couple of Hurricane Annuals which continued to be published even after the comic itself had been long gone. Typhoon Tracy is probably one the best known features.

Tiger however lasted 1,555 issues until it was finally merged with the re-launched Eagle in 1985.

 Hurricane

The advert below gives you an idea of the material that appeared in this comic of which I purchased a few issues from January 1966 simply because I had none and wanted to see what it was like. The most famous (and one I skipped over due to a lack of interest in football) was Roy of the Rovers who eventually got his own comic.

One strip that amused me mainly because I'm a bit of a political animal was Nelson Lord T.I.G.E.R Agent. This was the initials of The International Group for the Elimination of Revolution. Nuff said! Trotskyists beware!

More entertaining though was The Coming of the Skull starring Val Venture which showed an alien craft in the shape of a Trojan Horse appearing in Trafalgar square. what danger lurks inside?

Lion and Tiger were the bright new comics of the 50’s from amalgamated Press (Fleetway Publications). Both had strips covering a range of subjects common to many comics of the times, though the artwork was fresh with younger artists. Tiger’s Roy of the Rovers ran from 1954-1978 and the later favorite Johnny Cougar ran from 1962 to the comic’s demise in 1984. Along the way Tiger picked up favorite strips from comics it merged with. Rockfist Rogan came from Champion in 1955 and Jet Ace Logan from Comet in 1959. It wasn’t until 1965 that Skid Solo joined Tiger from Hurricane continuing until 1982. The sport side of Tiger started to creep in in the late 60’s with the appearance of football stars.

You will find science fiction in the form Jet Ace Logan crime stories with Mick of the Manor..a police dog!

Worth picking up for the nostalgia!

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Giant Size Chillers featuring the Curse of Dracula #1 (1974)



Giant Size Chillers featuring the Curse of Dracula #1 (Marvel Comics)

Marv Wolfman (w) Gene Colan (a)

With the relaxation of the (now defunct) Comic Codes Authority after a confrontation with Marvel over a four part Spider-man drugs story, horror comics began to re-appear. Marvel in particular took advantage of this and launched a whole line of titles such as Werewolf by Night, The Living Mummy, The Frankenstein Monster and of course The Tomb of Dracula.

The latter was their most successful and longest running horror title but one until now I had never read.

This was the first of a short lived run of "Giant-Sized" comics that Marvel experimented with in the seventies. The title proved unwieldy and it became simply Giant Size Dracula for the rest of it's five issue (quarterly) run.

  

If this issue is anything to go by, Giant Size Dracula and the regular Tomb of Dracula series look like a good candidate for collecting.

In issue one we see the rebirth of Dracula's daughter Lilith in an old English "castle" as the undead one himself looks for a new place to "rest". The Wolfman/Colan team certainly delver a memorable tale and there is a two page prose history of Dracula at the end of the extra long main feature for people like me who are not familiar with Marvels take on the character.

As a bonus there's a couple of old horror reprints in this issue.

Methinks I will be seeking out further copies of these Marvel series!

Thursday, 11 June 2015

The New DC: The Omega Men #1



The Omega Men #1 (DC Comics)

Tom King (w) Barnaby Bagenda (a)

The Omega Men return in a new on-going series, and guess what? Everyone's after them again. The perennial outcasts are being hunted the murder of the White Lantern, Kyle Rayner. But all it turns out is not as it seems.

The story opens with the Citadel looking for the Omega Men on the Planet Ocyptu in the Vega system. Banging on the door of a local monastery the unfortunate monk gets shot as soon as he opens the door. These men are serious shooting several people until they are told where their prey is hiding.

Down in the cellar, where Tigorr lurks is not actually a place you'd want to go as the Citadels forces soon find out.

Exactly where this story is going remains a mystery but one thing is for certain.

The Omega Men are innocent.

Aren't they always.....

Rated Teen Plus for graphic violence by the way. 


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The New DC: Midnighter #1



Midnighter #1 (DC Comics)

Steve Orlando (w) ACO (a)

DC hits the ground running with this solo tale of the Midnighter (from the Stormwatch team). This is the company's premier gay superhero though psychopath is also a useful word in his case. He's already fought the battle with his enemies a million times in his head before they even  move.

So what happens when a guy's on a date and terrorists butt in on your meal.

Not a pretty sight..

And then there's the Gardener up in space. Someones nicked all the super weapons he's been hording.

Who you gonna call?

Midnighter of course.

And the price for his help? The secret history of Lucas Trent (the Midnighter) is amongst those items stolen. The adventure begins and its going to be a very rough ride for all involved!

Highly recommended. But not for bigots!




Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Meeting Alan Class

Alan meets Howard, his first vistor.

On Sunday afternoon courtesy of 30th Century Comics  I had the pleasure of meeting Alan Class the now retired publisher of those black & white anthologies that I used to buy in the sixties and seventies and were published until 1989.

Being first to arrive (very unusual, usually late me) I got the opportunity for a chat with Alan who was a charming man full of stories about his life with comics. One story he related was his purchase of the rights to the Fantastic Four when it first came out. After being given the printing plates and a copy of the first issue he had to take the cover off so the printer knew what colours to use.

The true horror! But without this his comics would not have made the mark they did! The FF along with other Marvel heroes made their appearance in the various titles he published over the years. I also got my introduction to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, many Fly and other Archie Superhero tales from Alan's comics.

But most of all the horror!

I took along Tales of Suspense #24 to be signed which he did, but on the back as he didn't want to ruin the cover! This was an edition I have only recently (re)purchased from the shop and hadn't read since I was what 8 or 9 can't remember exactly, though the stories in this issue from the likes of Steve Ditko and others I did remember having read the comic several times as a child!

Great stuff!

Alan Class Comics included: Tales of Suspense, Secrets of the Unknown, Astounding Stories, Out of This World, Sinister Tales and Creepy Worlds.

 

 

 

You can get copies of these great titles from:

30th Century Comics

18 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, London SW15 1JP
020 8788 2052

sales@30thcenturycomics.co.uk

Thor window, April 2015

Monday, 8 June 2015

The New DC: Batman Beyond #1



Batman Beyond #1 (DC Comics)

Dan Jurgens (w) Bernard Chang (a)

A lot of people (myself included) were only familiar with Batman Beyond as a cartoon series that was set in Gotham's future with a retired Bruce Wayne and a new, more technologically enhanced "Batman" in the form of young Terry McGuiness.

Then suddenly he appeared in Futures End a tale supposedly set five years later in Earths future. Terry came to stop Brother Eye and not only failed but dies in the process. His legacy is continued back in the future by Tim Drake, better known as Red Robin to regular DC readers.

Of course getting ones head around future realities that changed and have ceased to exist through time paradoxes are further confused by the changing of reality itself in the recent Convergence multi part series.

So what's the deal?

Whether this is really is the future of the DC universe is debatable, more like it's an alternate Earth. If it isn't then DC's comics have just a few years to run before they all (or at least most of them) turn into the robotic nightmares we now see outside Neo-Gotham, possibly the last refuge of humanity.

Then again we have Justice League 3001 which doesn't tie into even perceived continuity in any way. In this there has been a "great disaster" and Earth is a prison planet. No Legion of Superheroes in sight even though we know they are out there somewhere having been seen in Justice League Unlimited.

And anyway since the earth 2 survivors went to a new world rather than Earth much of the premise of Futures End never happened.

Maybe DC will explain all this one day...

Meanwhile enjoy the ride while it lasts. The story shows great potential in it's own right and I'm looking forward to the ride.

Just try not to think about how we got to this point and read the adventure for what it is.

A comic, and a rather good one at that!

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