Sunday, 31 July 2016
Printed in New Zealand, distributed in Australia back in the seventies this copy ended up in 30th Century Comics in Putney and hence the first Aussie comic in my collection. I was looking for something "different" when I picked this up. I have no knowledge about Australian titles, but given the cover and that I'm a big DC fan I thought I'd give it a try.
These remind me of Alan Class comics published over here in the UK. Undated and seemingly random content (I'd need to pick up a few more to confirm that) these are all DC reprints.
This issue contains four stories The Man Who Betrayed Krypton with Superman taking on The Crime Syndicate and their super-weapons. A "golden age" story featuring The Kid Commandos, A short "mystery" tale from one of DC's many such titles and Jimmy Olsen in The Strange Second Life of Jimmy Olsen.
All great fun.
There's not much about these comics on the Internet but these were started by KG Murray publishing and taken over by Australian Consolidated Press in 1973, so #109 pre-dates this. Published bimonthly and then thrice yearly this title appears to have lasted 126 issues according to the National Australian Library.
I would love to hear from an Australian fan with more knowledge than I about these fun black & white reprints. I am inclined to pick up a few more.
Friday, 29 July 2016
Predator vs Judge Dredd vs Aliens #1 (Dark Horse/IDW)
John Layman (w) Chris Mooneyham (a)
I am a great fan of crossovers and what's not to like about the idea of Judge Dredd meeting up not just with Predator but the Aliens as well. And here it is in an adventure jointly produced by Dark Horse, the US licence holders of the Predator & Alien franchises and IDW who publish the US version of 2000AD's Judge Dredd.
This is a very "busy" first issue. A bunch of weirdo's tracking down a Predator, Judge Dredd chasing some perps who worship robot-gods and that's just the beginning.
Here's a wee look at a few pages from the first of four issues chronicling this violent adventure.
You have been warned.
Go on. Get yer copy now from the local comic shop.... you know you want to!
Monday, 25 July 2016
One of Marvels early successes of the "big screen" was the Blade Trilogy. Three fine films for fans of the horror genre that actually sold more on DVD than tickets in theatres, but hey who's complaining. Rumour is that Wesley Snipes has agreed to another movie. If so I will be first in the queue for another adventure in the tale of the hybrid human/vampire, the day-walker known as Blade.
Oddly Blade has never been able to hold down a successful on-going comic series and his original appearances are somewhat different to the one portrayed on celluloid.
First appearing in Tomb of Dracula #10, Blade was very human. Simply out for vengeance against the vampire who killed his mother during childbirth and his "substitute father" Jamal Afari who after a chance encounter with a young nine year old Blade ended in a fight with vampires and a friendship was born.
All of this is recounted in a "novel-length" adventure in Marvel Preview #3.
Originally planned as a five part series to be published in Vampire Tales which like most of Marvels horror magazine line had been cancelled, the story was published as a "one-off" tale in the new Marvel Previews.
Set in seventies London this grim tale sees Blade framed for the murder of a 12 year old human girl and wanted by the police even though Detective-Inspector Katherine Fraser, a psychic knows he's innocent. Her evidence torn from a dead vampires mind is inadmissible in court. It would be wouldn't it...
Even worse the Legion of Vampires has kidnapped Blades lady, Safron.
The race is on to save her from being turned and prove Blades innocence. The tale is a tragedy as a horror story usually is.
Dracula (who only appears briefly at the end) is unforgiving......
Sunday, 24 July 2016
Blue Ribbon Comics #1 (Red Circle)
Joe Simon (w) Jack Kirby (a)
During the early eighties Archie Comics were publishing a range of super-hero titles under the Red Circle imprint. The Mighty Crusaders, The Comet and The Fly all got their own titles so it was inevitable that Red Circle would reprint some of their earlier stories from the Archie vaults.
Blue Ribbon Comics was originally published between 1939 and 1942 so this is presented as "volume 2". Printed on higher quality paper and aimed at the growing Direct Market, this was a little more pricey than the average comic of the time.
That said this issue represents the origin of The Fly as young Tommy Troy finds himself at the mercy of hoods in the orphanage where he is being kept. Starved and miserable Tommy confronts the warden, Mister Creacher only to find himself in danger but is shipped off to stay with a wicked old couple Ben & Abagail March who treat him like a slave.
Here he stumbles upon their room filled with "black magic" and finds a ring that connects him with the "Fly People, former inhabitants of Earth who have fled to another dimension. Turan, their Emissary appears and explains that his people fled after their magics caused their downfall. Tommy, being of "pure heart" will be granted powers to carry on their war against greed and crime.
Using his ring, young Tommy becomes The Fly. A wee bit reminiscent of Billy Batson, but that's where the similarity ends.
In his first adventure Tommy becomes The Fly and exposes the corrupt Creacher and the hoodlums freeing the orphans from their plight. Not so good for Tommy himself who remains with the March couple.
There is also a reprint of The Fly's first encounter with The Spider (he just had to have a nemesis based on his namesakes predator) and in a third story The Fly discovers his (non-lethal) Buzz gun.
Saturday, 23 July 2016
Betty & Veronica #1 (Archie Comics)
Adam Hughes (w) & (a)
The relaunch of the Archie Comics line for the 21st century continues unabated!
Following their successful revamps of Archie and Jughead it was inevitable that the girls would return in their own book and here is the first issue where Betty and Veronica continue their love/hate relationship over their mutual feelings for the perennial teenage Archie.
Written and drawn by the hugely talented Adam Hughes this new version of Betty & Veronica will be a big hit. Launching with no less than 25 alternative covers will no doubt be a big sales boost for the title.
And all narrated by Jughead's pet, Hot Dog!
As if that wasn't enough for all you Archie fans, the residents of Riverdale will be on the small screen.
No video available on-line as yet but here's the poster for the new Riverdale TV series featuring Archie and the gang, coming soon to TV channel near you!
According to an advance review from io9.gizmodo.com:
The pilot features Cheryl and Veronica going toe-to-toe in a battle of high school titans, and it’s fantastic. I hope the show does it every week.
Wednesday, 20 July 2016
When I saw this comic in my local comic shop I just had to pick up a copy, partly because I'd never heard of it and also because these are complete stories reprinted from from one of the various boys comics put out by DC Thomson.
In this case, Terror in the Tall Tower originally appeared in Wizard (from issue 28) a comic I knew about but never picked up. It tells the story of "Young Dan Ballard, an Englishman" who had recently been "left one of the famous Manhattan skyscrapers by a distant unknown uncle". But nothings quite that simple.
From his arrival at New York's Kennedy Airport things start happening. Two thugs try kidnapping our young hero until he's rescued (conveniently) by a hippy looking character who later turns out to be an ex Green Beret. The adventure begins.
Local Mafia Bosses, a "haunted" building that no one wants to go near with hidden rooms and corridors. a "missing floor" along with a monster in the basement (the cover is a bit of a giveaway) and a mysterious "tenant" hidden in the shadows this is a great yarn from 1974.
Published at a slightly smaller size than the originals with a glossy cover, these are "graphic novels" before such things became vogue.
This comic also reprinted stories from Hotspur, Victor and the Hornet. I'd particularly like to pick up a copy of the complete V for Vengeance which surely inspired a certain tale by Alan Moore...
Tuesday, 19 July 2016
The idea that aliens have been visiting Earth since antiquity and interfering with humanity is not a new idea in science fiction, let alone amongst the many UFO conspiracy theorists out there. I recall reading Eric Von Daniken's Chariot of the Gods whilst I was still at school and got thrown out of religious studies class for quoting his theory that the Archangel Gabriel artificially inseminated Mary.
Been an atheist ever since...
But the fact that so much of what went on in the Ancient World seems inexplicable, even by modern scientists provides much potential for writers in the sci-fi genre.
Jack Kirby gave us the Celestials in his short-lived but influential Eternals series. A more "down to earth" and frightening story from David Anthony Craft is presented in this "done in one" feature from Marvel Preview, one of those black & white magazines from the seventies.
Researching the potential of obtaining energy from a pyramid construct a scientist suddenly finds himself and his young daughter on the run from aliens. The long and the short of the story is that these beings feed off of human psychic energy in order to survive. They kidnap and use human beings like cattle.
photo: By Ricardo Liberato
This advanced race have been using us "primitives" since the days of the pyramids which collect our physic energy for their use. However in order to continue to do this their activities must remain forever secret.
This story does not end well and has a tragic conclusion.
Monday, 18 July 2016
Straight out of the pulp era of the thirties comes...Doc Savage, the man of bronze. Unbelievably intelligent, strong and fast this was the man of the steel before Krypton exploded. In 1975 Doc got a feature film and of course the inevitable comic.
Our feature opens with a brooding cloud raining lightning down on skyscraper in New York which collapses with only the designer and his sister inside but escaping. Off Angelica Tremaine goes to find help in the form of Doc Savage and his crew.
The reader is introduced to the supporting cast of Monk, Ham, Renny, Long Tom and Johnny all experts in their own right who join with Doc to find the missing Tremaine and solve the mystery of the collapsing buildings.
All done in a Marvel style!
Gyrocopters, Zeppelins, submarines, hidden Islands. This story's got the lot plus the inevitable mad scientist, What's not to like!
Sadly this magazine lasted just 8 issues, but the film, well call it a cult movie, is entertaining enough for a rainy afternoon but long forgotten.
Ron Ely stars as Doc Savage!
Sunday, 17 July 2016
One the more fondly remembered but short-lived comics was Starlord, a science fiction anthology produced to a high standard with some memorable strips such as Strontium Dog and Ro-busters which most readers will be more familiar with in 2000AD.
Starlord lasted just 22 weekly issues before being merged with the lesser selling but cheaper to produce sister title 2000AD.
There was one summer special and despite Starlord's short run, no less than three Annuals cover dated between 1980 and 1982.
Promoted as the Sci Fi book of the year this volume is a mix of new and reprinted material from across the Fleetway/IPC back catalogue.
So whilst starting with Strontium Dog and Ro-Jaws, readers also get to meet Captain Condor from the Lion comic in the fifties/early sixties who was created to compete with Dan Dare but never quite achieved Dares iconic status.
Also included were several episodes of Jimmi from Jupiter the tale of a stowaway from Jupiter who was marooned on Earth. This feature also hailed from Lion in 1965.
Other tales included Val Venture in Peril at the Centre of the Earth (from Tiger) which featured giant ants and introduced us to the (almost) indestructable Palpoids. Wonderful stuff.
Invaders from Jupiter finishes off this weighty volume with the RAF fighting back in a reprint whose origin I have been unable to ascertain.
If you can get hold of these annuals they are well worth collecting.
Saturday, 16 July 2016
House of Mystery #194 (DC)
Various (w) & (a)
Dare you enter.. The House of Mystery?
One of DC comics long running anthology titles House of Mystery had started as a "mystery/horror" comic, switched to promoting super-heroes such as the Martian Manhunter and Dial H for Hero but eventually reverted to the original format by the seventies.
Published in 1971 this was the year that DC had switched to a larger format with more pages which meant there were reprints alongside new material. Whilst the horror titles might have proved a good read, the increased price and reprints in their other comics turned out to be a sales loser for the company. It was a move (prompted by Marvel's decision to do the same for just one month) from which DC nearly didn't recover.
This issue is solid enough with four tales leading with Born Loser by Jack Oleck with art from Alex Toth about a man who married for money but was a failure at whatever he turned his hand to, except "black magic". The tale has a shocking ending. The moral being do not trust the demons you conjure up!
The Human Wave tells a tale of cursed treasure, this time in the form of a sword. Sometimes local legends should be believed.
The Negative Man (nothing to do with the Doom Patrol) is up next and warns the reader of meddling with science. There's no credits on this story but appears to have been drawn by a young Jack Kirby. Any reader know?
The King is Dead written by Jack Oleck with art from N.Redmond finishes the book about a monster who stalks the kingdom but when a new king is on the throne there is a bit of a surprise for his courtiers.
All told a solid read as are most of the issues in this comics latter run.
All introduced by our host, Cain.
Tuesday, 12 July 2016
Marvel had a success with Tomb of Dracula in the four colour format so launching a magazine format edition featuring everybody's favourite Count was inevitable. This comic featured stories about Dracula across time plus an adaptation of Bram Stoker's original tale adapted by Roy Thomas and drawn by Dick Giordano.
The main feature was of course the present day adventures of the fanged one with A Death in the Chapel being written by Steve Gerber with art by Gene Colan whom many would consider the definitive artist for Marvel's version of Dracula. Certainly his art fitted the bill in black & white.
Dracula goes to the Vatican in order to confront his most dangerous human enemy, a monk called Montees who has discovered an ancient incantation that can banish vampires including their Lord and and Master from creation. Trouble is the Vatican is no place for a vampire!
Meanwhile back in the days before the French Revolution Dracula plots to gain influence through the King, but falls foul of a trap that nearly destroys him until the peasants storm the Bastille freeing him to fight another day. Shadow over Versailles is written by Tony Isabella with art by John Buscema & Pablo Marcos.
There's even an old reprint from Atlas called Mark of the Vampire to fill the issues quota of vampire goodness.
Dracula Lives ran for 13 issues plus one Annual.
Sunday, 10 July 2016
Mention the word "zombie" and everyone thinks of hordes of mindless flesh-eating cadavers rampaging through the streets munching on the living. Dozens of comics including the highly successful Walking Dead, now a TV series helps maintain that image to todays readers and viewers,but the original "zombies" were quite different.
Tales of the Zombie was part of Marvel Comics foray into the black & white more adult horror comic field. In this strip Simon Garth had been cursed to rise from the dead and had an individuality given to him in part by a strong"soul" and an amulet that led him on a quest to find the other talisman that would free him from his curse.
In this issue we see a story in which Simon wanders through the bayou but takes a detour to a house in the swamps where an Agatha Christie type murder mystery is taking place, Deciding to help protect a young girl at risk from the murderer the Zombie shuffles into action. Simon kills but doesn't eat his victims.
More traditional Voodoo and black magic than viruses infecting the world this is actually a quite readable tale in a comic that lasted just 10 issues and one "Annual".
Saturday, 9 July 2016
The Incredible Hulk was a phenomenon back in the late seventies/early eighties and had not just a top selling comic book, but had become a household name after three series of a TV programme. According to the editors Hulk merchandising was second only to Star Wars at that point. No mean achievement for a character that hadn't been that successful at his inception.
This issue was however to be the last of one of the longer running Marvel Magazines which were themselves running out of steam except for the Savage Sword of Conan which lasted well into the nineties.
Originally published as the Rampaging Hulk chronicling the "missed adventures" of ole greenskin between the demise of his first title (which lasted just 6 issues) until his re-appearance in Tales to Astonish, the magazine had been transformed into a glossy colour magazine to take advantage of the TV show. Sadly sales and the fact many stores didn't either stock or know where to put the magazine apparently.
Thus The Hulk reverted to black & white staus but ended with #29.
There are two stories winding up the Hulks adventures in this format. Feudin, which sees Bruce Banner unwittingly kidnapped by a bunch of thieving hillbillies when they hijack a truck unaware who is sleeping in the back. When they discover him and its shipment of mice they are none too happy.
Threatened with death from both the hillbillies and the local beauty's suitor they soon learn that you just don't get the Hulk angry....
There is also a feature on the history of the Hulk up until this point Readers are reminded that the HUlk was originally grey but it wasn't gamma rays that made him green, it was poor colour printing on cheap paper. The original grey was impossible to maintain and green was substituted.
The final story sees the Hulk in Vegas, learning how to get "shiny things" out of slot machines (he doesn't require luck!) and gets involved with a gang feud and becomes a rather unreliable enforcer of sorts.
People never learn.
The Hulks adventures continued (as they do today) in the normal full colour format. And a movie star these days!
Thursday, 7 July 2016
The Flintstones #1 (DC)
Mark Russell (w) Steve Pugh (a)
Everybody's favourite stone-age family is back. It's not a cartoon (though rumour has it Seth Macfarlane has got the contract) but a comic. And a rather good one at that.
With updated dialogue, seashells as cell-phones old Fred Flintstone has to impress the Boss once more as he gets ordered to take three Cro-Magnon cavemen on a good time in Bedrock. Not that they seem to like their experience very much.
Meanwhile Wilma gets her paintings picked for an art exhibition. She'll feature alongside Andy Warthog and David Rockney. But will her new dress impress.
As you might expect none of this goes well.
Our Cro-Magnon visitors make a poignant observation at the end:
"No offence, but the whole point of civilisation is to get someone else to do your killing for you".
Meanwhile Fred and Wilma console themselves with love.
Highly recommended. And watch out for an alien invasion in issue three out in September!
Tuesday, 5 July 2016
The actress Noel Neill who played the role of Lois Lane on the big screen in the saturday serials and on the fifties Superman TV shows passed away at the age of 95 on Sunday.
Other roles included the Superboy TV series in the eighties and the film Superman Returns in 2006.
In an odd twist of fate she had planned to follow her father's footsteps to be a journalist but ended up more famous as the fictional reporter.
Her contribution to the world of super-heroes will live on.