Saturday, 31 December 2016
Brother Power: The Geek (DC/1968)
Joe Simon (w) & (a)
During the sixties various comic companies produced some frankly quite weird titles and it was often joked that the writers of Archie's Mighty Comics line were "high" when they wrote their scripts for The Fly, Mighty Crusaders and other titles. Well they were more than just a wee bit camp.
One of the strangest comics to suddenly appear was Brother Power: The Geek published by DC Comics. This told the tale of a mannequin rescued by hippies living in a commune which when left next to a radiator to dry out, get warm and then struck by lightening came to life.
His adventures in taking on biker gangs and crooked circus owners were bizarre to say the least. The hippy language used in the script can be more than grating. I was far too young when this was published to be part of the "flower power" movement and frankly I am thankful for that.
This comic only lasted two issues before the plug was pulled and rumour has it that part of DC's management didn't approve because of the potential to become involved in the Hippies well known drug culture. Oh well.
A distracting two issue series for a rainy night if nothing else. I've had these two issues for a couple of years or so and have only just got around to reading them.
Brother Power does return in Brave & the Bold. I'll have to dig that up another day, but that's enough for now.
Now where's my copy of Fatman, the Human Flying Saucer....
Thursday, 29 December 2016
One of Charlton Comics more successful and best known characters was Captain Atom originally introduced in Space Adventures #33 (March 1960). This came at a time when the superhero genre was beginning to stir once more but the Marvel revolution in which the good captain's artist Steve Ditko was to play a major role.
My own introduction to Captain Atom came not through Charlton but the black & white reprints featured in Alan Class comics. Can't remember which after all these years, but certainly had never seen the origin story before picking up some delightful reprints of Captain Atoms's early adventures in a reprint form also published as Space Adventures.
These are in fact very cheap and affordable comics worth picking up if you are a fan of Captain Atom or just Steve Ditko who drew all the stories published in this four issue run.
All the stories are short with no room for character development and are very much anti-communist stories from the cold war since Captain Atom spends much of his time blowing up foreign powers nuclear weapons, though there is the odd alien encounter....
Captain Atom went into hiatus for a while until revived as part of the short lived "Action Heroes Line" when Charlton attempted (unsuccessfully) to cash in on the superhero boom of the mid sixties.
Other than an appearance in Charlton Bullseye and short lived revival under the Americomics imprint, the Captain had to wait until DC comics purchased the rights to Charlton's superheroes where he was to get his own book with a fairly long run.
The Charlton heroes of course were the template Alan Moore used for the seminal Watchmen comic. Captain Atom became Dr Manhattan.
Wednesday, 28 December 2016
Strange Adventures was one of the science fiction/mystery anthologies that were all the rage back in the day and sadly missed today. Published by DC this comic is probably most famous for introducing Deadman to the world, but these two preceding issues were great fun if not quite the kind of literature our teachers preferred us to read.
In Strange Adventures #203 we are treated to another tale of The Split Man, who had previously appeared in #166. This is the story of Cliff Battles (yes it is as corny as it sounds...) who has gained the power to split himself in two after being given Zantec's golden belt by a grateful native. The only downside to this power is that he has to re-merge his body before sunset or he dies....
In this story Cliff uses his new found powers to thwart a group of "bandido's" attempting to steal a tablet which tells the whereabouts of a hidden treasure.
Next up in Strange Adventures #204 came The Crazy Quilt Man this time a one-off adventure about a dying scientist who forgets to set his life-prolonging machine on properly and turns himself into an inhuman monster. I remember seeing this one advertised in the sixties but didn't get to read a copy until now.
The cover is a wee bit misleading as this is just one of three mystery science tales, not a feature in itself. However our scaly hero goes on to stop aliens invading the earth as one does.
Of equal amusement in this issue is the tale of the man who discovered the West Pole...... nah really.
Pick up copies if you find them, Strange Adventures is usually worth a read!
Tuesday, 27 December 2016
Before the Savage Sword of Conan came along our favourite barbarian shared his more "adult adventures with other Marvel characters in Savage Tales, This issue was to be his last before Conan got his own mag is a great read.
Conan leads the magazine with the short story The Secret of Skull River, written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Jim Starlin & Al Milgrom. In this adventure Conan comes across a village of mis-shapen people who need his help to rid them of the scourge of a mage and his evil employer who have polluted the local river from which the villagers obtain their water.
Next up is Brak the barbarian in Spell of the Dragon by John Jakes with art from Val Mayerick & Joe Sinnot. Brak seeks to defeat a dragon and enlists the help of a local witch, but can she be trusted. Nah.
Finally returning to the modern world we are treated to a tale of Ka-Zar in a tale by Stan Lee with art by John Buscema, a winning combination if there ever was one! Ka-Zar seeks to find what happened to the local men of the village and encounters The Legend of the Lizard men.
Ka-Zar went on to be the main feature of Savage Tales for the rest of it's 11 issue run.
Monday, 26 December 2016
House of Secrets #140 (DC)
Gerry Conway (w) Nestor Redondo (a)
This issue was intended to be the opening of a new direction for House of Secrets as it contained a full length feature The Patchwork Man which would continue in 10 page adventures along with back up tales introduced by Abel, the "caretaker". The character first appeared in Swamp Thing #2 & #3 some years back and DC obviously thought it was time to give this obvious Frankenstein clone his own series.
They even changed the title of the letters page in anticipation of the on-going tales of the Patchwork Man.
Alas this was not to be.
Despite a strong start retelling the origin story in which Gregori Arcane was transformed by his brother following an accident from a normal man into the monstrosity that allowed him to live, albeit with a dim memory of his past. A lumbering & frightening monster who as we see in the opening pages scares the living daylights out of young ladies in a department store in which he is hiding.
This is quite a good story with excellent art but unfinished as the next issue saw House of Secrets revert to being an anthology.
A lost opportunity. After all he's the father of Abigail, the love of Swamp Thing...
Tuesday, 20 December 2016
Unusual Tales #11 (Charlton Comics)
Various (w) & (a)
One of the more successful genres for Charlton was their mystery line of titles of which they published hundreds over the years. This giant size issue cover dated March 1958 is almost as old as I am and yet some of the stories are familiar. The reason being that these tales were reprinted in the UK by Alan Class in his classic line of black & white comics.
There are several stories by Steve Ditko (one of the reasons I collect Charltons mystery/horror line) all of which I vaguely remembered from when I were a lad, all courtesy of Mr Class who had the licence to reprint Charlton's material in the UK.
Like all anthology comics the contents are variable and whether you like the stories or not is a question of individual taste but these are a great read.
Some of the later covers are familiar too, having being used for Uncanny Tales, Creepy Worlds and the like over the years, Unusual Tales lasted for 49 issues between 1956 and 1965 when it was compltely rebooted and became the Blue Beetle (the Dan Garrett version). Something to do with a post office fiddle apparently. Told you Charlton was a really mean publisher....
Monday, 19 December 2016
Comichaus #1 (New Wave Comics)
Various (w) & (a)
When I saw this in the British section of Previews I thought it was worth giving the comic a try and I have to say it was worth it. Published in a "prestige format" this may seem a little pricey but the comic is from a small independent British publisher so I have no idea of the circulation of this title and the creators involved do need to make a living so don't let that put you off.
Besides the cover by Glenn Fabry is worth the entrance fee alone!
There are six stories (five are continuing features), kicking off with Karyn Shade by James McCulloch with art by Jessica Byrne which shows promise as a woman with a car broken down in the middle of nowhere has to head off to the nearest house. You just know she shouldn't go there. It is as we the reader learns the home of a bloodthirsty child sacrificing cult....
Next up is Feather by Dave Cook & Norrie-Millar which tells the story of an incurable Bird Flu hitting the world. There's more to this than meets the eye.
Suited & Booted is next up with a tale of mankind's rise and fall at the hands of an alien race with whom no communication ever takes place. Then as suddenly as they arrive the invaders go. Revenge by one survivor is on the agenda.
The Troubleshooters by Aaron Walther and Edwin Bickford is the fourth tale and is set in a post apocalyptic landscape. The art in this one is a bit too sketchy for my tastes.
Mortality is the last of the five on-going stories and all the characters are dead. What happens next remains to be seen. Written and drawn by Luke Cooper.
The final tale Mum and Dad is a disturbing little story of a baby and his parents. No spoilers.
A good first issue and I've already ordered the next two via Previews. For those of you who can't wait there are already four issues in print which explains why the cover date of #1 is September.
To order please go to: http://www.comichaus.com/comic/
Sunday, 18 December 2016
Konga #14 (Charlton Comics)
Steve Ditko (a)
Based on a film of the same name, Konga published by Charlton Comics ran for 23 issues between 1960 and 1965. A story of a simple beast who (in the comics at least) just wants to make friends often ends up misunderstood because he breaks things so easily. No surprise given his size.
An obvious rip off of King Kong, Konga is also somewhat invulnerable making him a threat and in many of his adventures the obvious choice to save the world. I confess to not having seen the movie. Maybe they'll show it on one of the many TV channels we have these days. Hopefully on Freeview.
In this story The Master Plan, mankind is threatened by evil alien invaders known as the Jilakos who have come to conquer out world. Mans weapons fail but our giant ape seems able to destroy the aliens spaceships with his bare hands. Even the Jilakos realise the threat Konga poses and sends one of their kind, an unnamed underling with "issues" to befriend the beast.
However the present of alien fruit does not impress. Only the intervention of Sandra saves the world as the beast starts throwing the Jilakos into space.
A tale that would have appealed to children of a simpler age. And is entertaining enough for adults today. Did I say the art is by Steve Ditko?
Saturday, 17 December 2016
Red Sonja #0 (Dynamite)
Amy Chu (w) Carlos Gomez (a)
Red Sonja's back, and she's pissed! There's a monster between her and a "flagon of ale" and nothing keeps her from that. Except a certain villainous mage called Kulan Gath. And he tells her the game has just begun.
Next thin Sonja wakes up with a head like "a stygian hangover" and here's a noise . Is this another monster for her to fight? No she's woken up in a tunnel in modern day New York and sees men drilling and an underground train.
Obviously the police do not take too well to a scantily clad woman waving a big sword around and she's ordered to drop her weapon.....
And so begins the new adventures of Sonja in this bargain priced introductory issue. Grab a copy now and order the on-going series starting in January.
Thursday, 15 December 2016
I came across the following two videos which reproduce a Doctor Strange story from Strange Tales #142 & #143 which I thought I'd share with you.
Classic Stan Lee & Steve Ditko..with a soundtrack!!
Classic Stan Lee & Steve Ditko..with a soundtrack!!
Tuesday, 13 December 2016
Superman Family #200 (DC)
Various (w) & (a)
Superman was the first and to many including myself, the greatest of the superheroes. I've followed Clark (or Kal to give him his Kryptonian name more or less continuously since first picking up a copy of Superman in the sixties as a young boy. Of course the character has been revamped and tweaked a bit over the years but Superman remains intrinsically the hero we all want him to be.
One of the fun things DC used to do with Superman before Crisis on Infinite Earths changed the world of comics, was to write "imaginary stories" (as if the others were actually real). We had the "Super Sons" of Clark & Bruce and for this very special issue of Superman Family we looked into a "possible future" of Superman.
Here Clark celebrates his wedding anniversary with Lois Lane and his daughter Laura who doesn't have any super-powers. There are a number of interconnecting adventures with Jimmy Olsen now editor of the Daily Planet. Kara has grown into Superwoman but the world is otherwise as you would expect it.
Published in DC's unique Dollar Comic format this was a joy to read so no spoliers since I encourage readers to pick up a copy if they find one. 10/10!
Of course today Clark and Lois are married but they are on a "different Earth" (or are they...) and they have a son. Jon. He has Superpowers and is soon to co-star in a team up book with Bruce Wayne's son Damian. Watch out for this comic in February. Order now!
Meanwhile here's a gallery of covers from Superman Family.