Wednesday, 30 March 2016
Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #18 (Marvel Comics)
Stan Lee (w) Jack Kirby (a)
After a distinguished career in World War Two, Nick Fury returned to the fray in the age of superheroes as the Director of SHIELD, a body designed for the more modern threats faced by the world. Seemingly unaffected by age, Nick fights all manners of menaces.
Of course this version of Fury will not be familiar to modern movie goers who are used to seeing Samuel L Jackson playing the role. That's down to the using the "Ultimates" line of comics as a template for Hollywood, which were launched in parallel with Marvels regular books and take place on a different Earth.
Still that's all been mixed up with the recent Secret Wars storyline (which I haven't read so comments welcome) available from your local comic shop in trade paperback I understand.
Sadly this issue is the last of his first series and is all reprint. Obviously Fury needed a break!
The stories were originally published in Strange Tales #142 to #144 and are written and drawn by Marvel's "A-Team" creators Lee and Kirby.
Tuesday, 29 March 2016
Marvels premier title Mighty World of Marvel reached it's 300th issue in January 1978. Featuring the adventures of The Hulk, The Fantastic Four, Daredevil and The Invaders, it was still in the glossy cover format that for many represented the "golden age" of British Marvel.
Over it's six years of publication MWOM absorbed a number of lesser selling titles. The Avengers as of #119), Planet of the Apes (#231), Fury (#258) and The Complete Fantastic Four (#298), sadly MWOM was not long to last either, at least in this format.
Marvel UK comics sales were flagging in the late seventies and despite the popularity of the Hulk TV show was to undergo a major format change courtesy of Dez Skinn.
MWOM was reformatted and relaunched as Marvel Comic.
More British in layout and design, it did not have the same impact as the glossy comics I have learnt to treasure so much.
Monday, 28 March 2016
The return of the famous boys comic the Eagle did attract some publicity when re-launched in 1982 after a hiatus of twelve years. The original title had run from 1950 to 1969 when upon change of owners it was subsumed by Lion.
The main and widely anticipated main feature was Dan Dare as the cover announced the return of the Mekon. The trouble was Dan was long dead leaving the Mekon with no option but to eke out his revenge on the planet Earth itself.
Dan Dare had died in 1950 according to his gravestone. Even the Mekon couldn't figure out how that was possible since that was before he had fought Dare. A mystery to be resolved in forthcoming issues.
In fact it wasn't until #4 that we saw the return of Dan, but this couldn't be the same Dare could it?
Much like it's illustrious predecessor, this new Eagle had features among the stories. But there was a major difference.
These were a phenomenon that had been hugely successful in girls comics and were thought to be a major innovation for the lads. But these were not popular and eventually did disappear, but for now readers were stuck with an unappealing format.
Doomlord was amongst those photo-strips and became a mainstay of the comic until a further revamp in the nineties.
Other than Dan Dare, only the Tower King was a traditional (and quite violent) picture story with good artwork. Because of pin-ups of stars on the back page, Dare was restricted to just two pages, albeit in full colour.
This second volume of the Eagle went on to survive 12 years, absorbing a number of other comics including the long running Tiger along the way.
For its last three years Eagle became a monthly. But that's a feature for another day.
Sunday, 27 March 2016
Star Lord was a short lived comic which lasted just 22 issues between May and October 1978. There was time for just the one summer special.
Two of it's strips were quite successful. Both Ro-Busters and Strontium Dog went on to appear in companion title 2000AD, the latter still being published today. Star Lord was printed on higher quality paper than 2000AD and did cost more as a result. I'm told it actually sold more than 2000AD but a decision was made to merge with it's sister title which had itself only reached #86 by that point.
In retrospect that appears to have been the right move
The summer special contains all the usual fare from the parent comic plus a short story from Arthur C Clarke which albeit text appeared on the back cover. There's also an interview with Gerry Anderson and a feature on sci-fi movies of the fifties.
I particularly liked Time Quake which had an interesting twist involving Lenin and the Russian Revolution as part of a scheme to save the world of the future.
There were also 3 annuals published after the comics demise. Not seen any of these as yet, but Star Lord shouldn't be too difficult to collect given it's short run.
2000AD is still going as the sole surviving weekly adventure comic and will reach it's 2000th edition this year so look out for something special from the publishers!
Saturday, 26 March 2016
One of the better Marvel UK titles was Dracula Lives which featured reprints of Marvels Dracula series with fantastic art by Gene Colan which I have to say looks better in glorious "black and white" than it did in colour. From my point of view I've always thought horror stories lose something when coloured and this format was much more appropriate.
Since the Comic Code Authority had relaxed it's rules in the early seventies, it allowed Marvel (in particular) to develop a genre long neglected in mainstream comics. Hence the return of not just the Lord of the vampires but Frankenstein, The Living Mummy and Werewolf by Night.
Later issues of this comic also featured Man Thing, a swamp monster who had an aversion to fear and anyone who knows fear burns at his touch.
Originally launched as simply Dracula Lives, the title changed to reflect the nature of the back-up strips. Sadly this comic only lasted 87 issues before merging (with the somewhat mismatched) Planet of the Apes.
Friday, 25 March 2016
One of Britains longest running comics was the Hotspur. Published in two volumes, the first beginning in 1933 as a text story paper, it was relaunched as the New Hotspur in 1959, eventually reverting to simply the Hotspur later in it's run.
In later years the title absorbed Hornet and The Crunch before itself being absorbed by Victor in 1981 as the sales of British comics declined.
However as was quite usual with British comics the Annuals outlasted the parent title, this edition published in 1986 contains stories that are fun to read, but are more suited to a simpler age than readers were becoming accustomed to.
The cover features Nick Holly, The Flying Horseman and other stories covered a variety of genres including Grasshopper Green which appears to be a reprint from the Hornet way back in th sixties. There's also X-Bow, a sort of superhero, football with Dozy Danny, comedy with The Bobby of Black Rock and lots more besides.
Sadly no King Cobra feature, one of Hotspur's better stories that Strip attempted to revamp in its' shot run a couple of years back.
These annuals ran from 1934 to 1992.
Everyone should have at least one of these in their collection.
Sunday, 20 March 2016
After the success of Thunderbirds Gerry Anderson went to create Joe 90, a memorable but not quite so popular show Joe 90. As was the trend in the sixties Joe 90 spawned a comic, but this lasted just a mere 34 issues before being merged with the long running TV 21 comic.
Nevertheless Joe 90's short run included Star Trek and Land of the Giants stories which were great fun.
As for the Annual. This is just pure Joe 90 with quite a few stories plus some features about W.I.N. (World Intelligence Network) and their operatives.
The story of a boy used as a secret agent by his father. Not sure what child protection would make of this these days, but every young boys dream I would have thought.
Did I mention he had a flying car? Dinky Toys made a model!
Here's the opening episode of the series for your entertainment!
Saturday, 19 March 2016
One of the most popular and long running British comics was the Buster. In its 40 year history Buster merged with a number of other comics, one of which was the short-lived Monster Fun, which ran for just 74 issues until 1976 when the headline "Great News Inside" appeared on the cover.
For a while the comic shared the masthead with Buster and this included a number of "Holiday Specials" which appeared during the summer holidays.
Monster Fun had been a horror/comedy title and many of these strips made it through to the merged comic, including the specials.
The 1980 Holiday Special is mostly comedy strips with just one adventure strip, a clearly reprinted story from earlier years featuring Wonder Horse, set in the wild west a genre that had frankly lost it's lustre by the eighties.
Otherwise it's comedy all the way with Dracuclass featuring Dracula's Daughter, Rent-a-Ghost Ltd, Kid Kong, Frankie Stein, The Misers and a host of others to brighten the long summer weeks!
Buster of course continued until 2000 and was the last of a long line of British humour comics published by Fleetway/IPC.
Those were the days!
Friday, 18 March 2016
Get Smart #6 (Dell)
No credits (w) & (a)
Back in the sixties secret agents were all the rage. From the UK there was Danger Man and James Bond. The USA had The Man From U.N.C.L.E and err... Agent Smart.
This was a programme shown in the UK after I returned from school and featured the adventures of Maxwell Smart, Agent 99 and their pooch, K13.
Gadgets were all the rage back then and what made us all giggle was the use of the world's first truly mobile phone in erm.. Agent Smarts shoe, which of course had to be taken off to be answered. Not so practical then.
This show, which ran for 168 episodes from 1965 until being cancelled in 1970 also spawned the inevitable licensed comic published by Dell. There were only 8 bi-monthly issues, the last being a reprint of the first but they did capture the feel of the series.
And here is the very memorable theme tune:
Wednesday, 16 March 2016
Sylvia Anderson, voice of Lady Penelope sadly passed away today aged 88. Tributes and obituaries have appeared across the media today so since this is a comics related blog I thought I'd do something a little different.
One of the big spin-offs from the renowned TV series Lady Penelope also had a quite long running comic of her own. Lasting from 1966 to 1969 for 204 issues.
Plus of course the usual annuals which lasted slightly longer from 1967 to 1971.
Corgi even made a model of her pink Rolls Royce, which has been re-issued but is currently out of stock even on Amazon!
And here's an excerpt from Thunderbirds featuring every ones favourite posh secret agent herself!
Tuesday, 15 March 2016
Action Comics #50 (DC)
Greg Pak & Aaron Kuder (w) Various (a)
Over the past few months the story across the various Superman titles have been focused on the loss of Superman's powers, the exposure of his secret identity and being hunted and distrusted by so many around the world that Clark has come close to being finished.
But Clark Kent/Kal-El/Superman never gives up and with his beau Wonder Woman beside him at crucial moments he finds the strength to face down his true enemy and mastermind behind his woes, Vandal Savage.
Now I have to say not long after this "saga" begun I lost interest in the story-line. It dragged on for far too long and as a result skipped a couple of issues or so. However this issue finally gets the action going and despite the extra length of this issue does not bring the story to an end. That will happen in an extra-sized Superman #50 later this month.
Vandal Savage has been over-used in DC's "New 52" and frankly considering his immortality and scheming since the stone age has proved to be a bit of useless villain..until this issue. I just hope DC give him a rest. A very long one should he survive the outcome of this story.
I also hope DC have a way of restoring the status-quo with regards to Clark Kent. Having his identity revealed to the world removes a very important part of the Superman ethos.
With Rebirth on the horizon hopefully DC have some fresh ideas to take their characters to new heights and capitalise on the success of their TV shows and the forthcoming Superman/Batman movie.
I live in hope.