Sunday, 31 January 2016
Tarzan Family #60 (DC Comics)
Various (w) & (a)
One of the heroes that most of us grew up with in the sixties and seventies was Tarzan, the ape-man who lived "somewhere" in the African jungle and had been brought up by apes who found him as a baby. Films and TV series galore were made to entertain us with sights of exotic animals, savage tribes, hidden civilisations and even journeys to the centre of the Earth.
The fact he made a splash in the world of comics (and newspaper strips) is hardly surprising. Several publishers, Gold Key, DC and even Marvel obtained the licence though the last adventures printed that I am aware of were from Dark Horse a decade or so ago.
One of the more interesting (if short lived titles) was Tarzan Family published by DC in the mid-seventies. Not only was it led by Korak, Son of Tarzan it also contained other Edgar Rice Burroughs creations Carson of Venus, John Carter of Mars and Amazon of Barsoom.
The transformation of the regular Korak comic into a "Giant" enabled DC to expand the roster. This first issue also tells the origin of Carson of Venus who in a botched attempt to go to Mars ends up on Venus. Now you know.
You also get to see how Martians are born (from eggs) in Amazon of Barsoom and meet the first female warrior.
The issue also contains reprints of some Tarzan newspaper strips from 1932!
Great fun, if somewhat dated.
Sadly this comic lasted just 9 issues before DC had it's infamous "implosion! due to falling sales and financial problems.
Friday, 29 January 2016
Oddly my first introduction to this British creation of Marvel Comics was through it's imported American editions in the form of Marvel Team-Up featuring Spider-Man and only now as an ageing fan that I have started to read his adventures as they originally appeared.
This Summer Special was the second of just two that appeared in 1979 and 1980 and contains just one Captain Britain adventure, Knight of the Hawk where a gift from the Captain himself to a seemingly kindly old academic turns nasty.
The story wouldn't have been out of place in British comics where toys were quite often used by villains (and heroes) to do their deeds. Nevertheless this quite mad professor thinks he can save the environment with one armed robotic hawk.
There's also a tale of the Black Knight from his own comic in 1951 plus Doctor Strange and the Knight team up in another British based adventure. Entertaining enough for a rainy day or a holiday but not exactly the stuff of legend. Which is a pity.
Launched as a weekly comic in October 1976 Captain Britain didn't take off as anticipated and lasted just 39 issues. There were numerous attempts to use the character in Daredevils, a monthly Captain Britain and as a co-feature in Spider-Man Weekly.
Captain Britain was created by Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe who were hugely successful with other projects. The character did have plenty of promise but as a UK title it was never to be.
The good captains success would not come until the US based parent company launched Excalibur, but that's for another day.
Thursday, 28 January 2016
In 1969 when Odhams gave up publishing comics the two remaining titles were taken over by Fleetway. Smash!, the last of the "Power Comics" line was completely transformed losing its Marvel characters (after the licence ran out) and being transformed into something more akin to a regular boys "paper" as they called British comics in those days.
The Eagle however underwent the famous "mergers" that publishers used to boost sales of one comic when another was slacking. Probably the higher costs of publishing the Eagle in it's normal format was another factor. So out with the larger size, colour and higher quality paper and in with the regular black and white newsprint format.
A sign of the times.
Choosing a place to start collecting British titles can be difficult, but I was lucky enough to pick up the key "merger" issue and the first 5 following it so all the stories start anew.
And there's some good stuff inside.
Turvilles Touchstone (almost, but not quite Catweazle in it's concept) begins in this issue as young Tom Turville inherits a run down Hall with a hidden secret, one that his so-called lawyer wants as well. But neither reckon on the existence of an alchemist locked in a spell sitting in the basement for the past few centuries...
There is the inevitable football story Carson's Cubs which had been going for some years but I skipped over having no interest in sport.
Then there was something far more interesting.
Following in the theme of people out of time a group of Roman gladiators find themselves in Italy during World War II. Swords and pikes vs modern weapons. The outcome is certain yes? But no. The "Ratzi's get their comeuppance until the flame throwers come out. Enter The Gladiators.
There's also Lightning Storm about a disabled lawyer set in the states who mixes stock car racing with crime fighting.
Paddy Payne comes up next. A story about a fighter pilot taken out of his squadron for something a little different. Find the traitor in Bomber Command.
The Waxer continues with PC Mike Martin being taken off duty because no one believes his story about melting wax criminals. Who would? Robot Archie also makes an appearance. There's strange goings in the jungle as they emerge from "The Castle" a time machine.
Even motor cycle cop Zip Nolan survives the merger. Can you spot the clue lads?
The the sole strip from Eagle is Dan Dare, in glorious black and white I'm sad to say. Why is space command empty after Dan and his chums return from 10 years in outer space? And who is that watching them. Find out next issue.
Lion and Eagle ends with two quite "left-field strips. Gargan (a boy and his Yeti) and Oddball Oates who smokes a herb to get fantastic athletic abilities. Can't be the 'erb most college students used to inhale. They'd be out like a light. Just saying.
Did I mention Mowser? He's still there giving that pesky butler a hard time!
Highly readable. Reserve copies at your newsagents lads!
Wednesday, 27 January 2016
By the late eighties the days of the weekly boys anthology adventure comic were reaching an end. The Eagle continued to be published and early in the year merged with Battle, the famous and sometimes controversial war comic launched in the previous decade.
As a result Eagle (relaunched in 1982) became the only comic to end up "merging with itself".
The Original Eagle had merged with the Lion in 1969, which then merged with Valiant in 1974 whilst Valiant ended up merging with Battle in 1976.
The new look Eagle contained no less than 9 weekly features including Doomlord, Dan Dare and Computer Warrior continued from itself and added three strips which had been in Battle, Stormforce, Johnny Red and Charley's War from Battle.
Other features included Detective Zed about a detective robot which wouldn't have been out of place in 2000AD, Ghost Squad, which was well..a bit weird and Survival, a story about the children who remained following a plague that wiped most of mankind out.
An advert in this issue highlights two other titles in IPC's stable Roy of the Rovers the long running football comic and Mask.
Eagle was to merge with Mask later in the year.
A strong title that still had a few years (and one more merger) ahead.
Tuesday, 26 January 2016
Devolution #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Reick Remender (w) Jonathan Waysack (a)
The world has gone backwards.
For those who survive the struggle to survive is a dangerous one. One woman is on a mission to change the world back but like all post apocalyptic adventures the real enemies are men rather beasts and Neanderthals.
How did the world get like this? A virus. Nothing unusual there except this particular one was designed to remove the religious part of mankind's brain.
Nothing could go wrong with that idea? Right.
A quite passable comic that despite having many similarities to the world of the crossed (sans the Crossed themselves) this brutal adventure tells the tale of a young woman trying to put things right but with Neo-Nazi's and the like getting in her way is there any hope for mankind.
Or should there be.
An attempt to wipe out religious fundamentalism could not have gone more awry.
Only in comics eh..........
Monday, 25 January 2016
One of the most fondly remembered British comics from the seventies is the short-lived Cor!! published from June 1970 until June 1974 after which it merged with the long running Buster.
However the comic remained alive in the form of Annuals and Holiday Specials until 1986 hence this edition is the first of many that would keep Cor!! in the public eye for another decade.
Most of these stories were reformatted reprints in which one page stories became two and two became four leading to a larger font print that made this ageing collector more than happy as his eyes are not as strong as they were.
To be honest in 1975 this would not have been something I'd have probably purchased since A levels at Tech were high on the agenda. Nevertheless not having many actual copies of Cor!! in my collection this was a welcome addition with the adventures of Gus the Gorilla, The Gasworks Gang and Ivor Lot and Tony Broke plus more to raise a giggle in the part of me (and us all) that remains childlike!
What's the point of growing old if one can't be childish from time to time!
A great diversion from the harsh realities of the world that exist today!
Saturday, 23 January 2016
Beverley Hillbillies #18 (Dell)
One of the iconic TV shows from the sixties was The Beverly Hillbillies starring a family of simple folk from the backwaters who upon discovering oil on their land were suddenly propelled into the world of the rich.
The Clampetts were in town.
The first programme was broadcast in May 1963 and lasted through 9 seasons until 1970. Essential family viewing.
The adventures of Jed, Granny, Jethro and the gorgeous Elly May inevitably took comic book form almost immediately in 1963. Each issue contained a couple of stories all along the lines of the material that appeared on the show itself.
In this issue we have Granny's Goodie Wagon, where Granny tries to look for a job with all the inevitable mayhem and Inferior decorating when the Clampetts are introduced to a trendy interior decorating who ends up being invited back to do something to the Clampett mansion.
Granny sets out to prevent that happening...
"I ain't havin' no silly-faced dandy comin' in and messin' up our house"
And so the expected mayhem begins.
Stuff from a different era that still brings a smile to my face to this day.
Published quarterly the comic lasted 21 issues until 1971.
Tuesday, 19 January 2016
The Legend of Wonder Woman #1 (DC)
Renae De Liz (w) & (a)
Renae De Liz (w) & (a)
Wonder Woman is the most iconic female superhero created in the 1940's by William Moulton Marston and debuted in All-Star Comics #8 (December 81), though not considered important enough at the time to appear on the cover. Wonder Woman soon became popular enough to appear in a solo strip in Sensation Comics (January 1942).
The Amazon Princess also got her own comic simply titled Wonder Woman in the summer of 1942 which was to be continuously published until #329 when the now defined as the "Earth Two" Wonder Woman she went to Olympus with Steve Trevor after the events in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
This major event (the first of it's kind) paved the way for a major relaunch of DC Comics including an updated and more modern version under the helm of George Perez, one of comics great artists. This was to last a further 228 issues from 1987 until 2006.
Currently Wonder Woman appears in two titles, a solo comic and a "team-up" book with Superman. The latter containing a major revision of DC continuity as she dates Superman/Clark Kent. Lois Lane is not on the scene yet so to speak in the latest relaunch of DC comics.
Note the new costume.
Now DC brings us the full story of Princess Diana, the Wonder Woman in this 9 issue mini-series.
Beginning with the necessary Greek Mythology to set the scene the brooding Queen of the Amazons, Hippolyta is finally given a daughter born of clay by the King of the Gods himself, the almighty Zeus.
This is her story.
This issue covers the young Diana's growing inquisitiveness and her early desire even as a child to become a warrior. She has insights (shared only by her future mentor Alcippe) that something is wrong on the island of Themyscria and goes in search of answers only to find impending danger...
Highly recommended and available in your local comic shop now!
Monday, 18 January 2016
If you are a fan of the revived Eagles Dan Dare strip then this annual is a must read as I discovered whilst ploughing through it last night. Not only are there the usual strips and text stories (including a one-off short without Dare himself) but there are two very useful features that make this essential for any collector.
The six-page version of Dan Dare: This is your life gives a complete history of the character up until 1986 (the year this was actually published).
The reader is given the background to the original Dan Dare who in 1950 was flung into the future after two Treen spaceships collided and caused a time rip seeing Dare reemerge in 1994. Here RAF jacket, British stiff upper lip and all be meets Digby and learns the Earth is in the midst of a food crisis.
His adventures begin as Dan heads off in space to learn the mystery of Venus and the disappearing spaceships. Here he encounters...The Mekon and history is made.
However as readers will know the Dan Dare featured in the Eagle at this time is not the original. In fact our Dan is the great, great grandson of the famous hero which also explains the fact he's blond.
The two do actually meet in a nefarious plot for revenge planned by (you guessed it) The Mekon who is still alive. Rather than just shoot on the spot the villainous leader of the Treens decides to have his sport with them on an abandoned Pleasure Planet where the two Dan's face android gunslingers from the wild west, giant robots, dinosaurs and whatever else the Mekon is able to weaponise for their destruction
This is followed by The Treen Dynasty a look at the rise of the Treens on the planet Venus, their inherent evil despite the attempts of fellow Venusians, the Therons to give them civilisation.
The creation of The Mekons (there can be more than one) is explained along with the brutality of the Treen race by the "head of Treen Research and Science". The Mekon can live for some 300 years giving the Treens time to "breed" a new one. So now you know.
The Mekon appears in two stories in this volume (both untitled) with Dare unknowingly saving the villains life from space pirates in one and beating off an assassination attempt in the other.
Superman had Brainiac, Dare has the Mekon.
A great addition to your collection!
Sunday, 17 January 2016
One of the main differences between collecting old American and British comics is the fact that British comics were weekly anthologies with only short chapters each issue which means to get the whole story the whole run has to be collected. Generally old US comics are self contained and it's easier to randomly buy as I used to until I started switching attention to the like of the Eagle.
This is also the reason posts on this blog have been fewer recently as it would become boring to constantly publish an update of the same comic. However having finished the 1986 run that I could find (there are gaps) I decided to finish off with the years Holiday Special.
Eagle did go through a number of changes during the year starting off with being titled Eagle and Tiger and finishing with just plain Eagle.
Stories started and finished, one of my favourites being Ant Wars which I believe may have previously appeared in 2000AD a few years earlier. The usual favourites continued during the whole of 1986 including Dan Dare and the sole surviving strip from the short lived but much missed Scream; The Thirteenth Floor.
Published on glossy magazine type paper unlike its week newsprint parent title the special leads off with The Thirteenth Floor starring every ones favourite rogue of a computer Max. During the year he had become a secret agent for MI5, spawned offspring in the form of Minimax and gone through a breakdown in which imagined paranoia led Max to imprison and nearly execute some of his tenants on his 13th floor. In this issue however his target is some criminals trying to hold some of his residents hostage....yes it is something they will live to regret.
Dan Dare goes to to the Planet Mysterol only to find its colonists have disappeared and discovers hostile ape men. What is the connection. And why should everyone avoid the marsh gas?
S.O.S. try to rob a hostile countries embassy and seemingly fail....
Plus amongst the other features is an obviously reprinted story, The Skyscraper of Doom. A mile high and falling!
As usual a cracking read. I'm a big fan of the second volume of the Eagle and there will more to come in the future as this title absorbs the majority of Fleetway's other adventure titles before Eagles own sad demise in 1994. Plenty of reading before that points reached!