Sunday, 29 January 2017
Fantastic Four Annual #11 (Marvel)
Roy Thomas (w) John Buscema (a)
The Fantastic Four were and should be Marvel Comics "first family" however despite their comic book being the place the Marvel Universe was created and grown the FF no longer have a comic book. Sad times indeed. However there remain plenty of back issues, including Annuals to collect and this was one (of many) that I hadn't got or read before.
In this story penned by Roy Thomas and pencilled by John Buscema the Fantastic Four realise they have to travel into the past to recover a vibranium tube accidently lost through their bootlegged copy of Doctor Doom's Time Platform. I suppose the sudden appearance of half a dozen Nazi Stormtroopers in the Baxter building was a bit of a clue
The appearance of a silent and brooding Watcher persuades them they must not fail as Reed Richards peers into the past and sees that World War Two was still raging in 1946 and both London and Moscow were under the Nazi jackboot.
The four materialise in a room containing Marvel's WWII superhero team, The Invaders consisting of Captain America, the Sub-Mariner, Human torch and the sidekicks Bucky and Toro. With the inevitable misunderstanding and punch-up between the two team over, the FF and the Invaders head to Baron Nemo's castle in the Reich to recover the time lost vibranium.
Success seems achieved after a battle but the FF return with only half the vibranium. Alone in the Time Travel room Ben Grimm muses about the fate of that piece they left behind. With the Watcher appearing yet again Grimm jumps into the breach where the story will be continued in Marvel Tw-In-One Annual #1.
Sigh. I suppose I'll have to track down a copy of this now......
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
Kamandi Challenge Special #1 (DC)
Jack Kirby (w) & (a) plus others
With the imminent release of the 12 issue Kamandi Challenge series tomorrow, I thought it time to quickly post about this little, actually quite large introduction to the world of the "last boy on Earth. This is a really essential buy for all Kirby and Kamandi fans. Firstly it reprints the hard to find "giant" #32 of the original series which also contains the origin story.
More that this edition contains the never before published stories fro what would have been #60 & #61 but were cancelled during DC's infamous implosion in the seventies. These are in black & white not that this should matter.
For the uninitiated Kamandi is set in the world after the "Great Disaster" in which mankind has been reduced to the status of mindless beasts and the animals have become intelligent. Not just Apes, but Tigers, Jaguars, Kangaroos and Rats amongst others.
Obviously inspired by Planet of the Apes Kirby introduces us to a world gone mad in a style that only he could have dreamed up. Kamandi was the most successful of the titles that Kirby created for DC following his departure from Marvel Comics lasting 59 issues.
These stories are just a joy to read and it's best not to think about any logic. Just go with the flow and enjoy. That's what comics are for at the end of the day and this wacky series which tied in with Omac is returning for a special challenge. Get this first and prepare to be entertained!
Sunday, 22 January 2017
One of the programmes we all used to watch as a family back in the sixties was Dixon of Dock Green with Jack Warner. If I recall correctly this came on straight after Doctor Who. Dixon of Dock Green ran on the BBC from 1955 to 1976 for a total of 432 episodes.
This particular comic is published by Pearson in a weekly series featuring different TV programmes. The first issue was William Tell another family programme I vaguely remember along with Robin Hood with Richard Greene. These "pocket sized" editions were published in the early sixties and I would probably have been too young to be aware of these, my earliest comic memories being of the the Beano, Dandy and Wham!.
The art and script which are uncredited are of a high standard for the period and depending on your age and memories an interesting little addition to anyone's collection.
In the this story The Case of Mrs X, PC Dixon investigates the blackmail of of a mates wife by an ex-boyfriend and manages to keep her name out of the papers. Hence Mrs X. Oh these were gentler times.
Saturday, 21 January 2017
Before Marvel UK, before Power Comics there were reprints of Marvel superhero stories published in the UK by Alan Class in his famous black and white comics. Secrets of the Unknown was one of six core titles that were published over the years and this issue contains one of the early solo Human Torch stories from Strange Tales #120 in which Johnny Storm meets Bobby Drake from the X-Men.
Taking a day trip on a pleasure boat the Torch and Iceman have to contend with pirates in a tale penned by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby.
Also featured in this issue is the Doctor Strange adventure in which the mystic investigates a haunted house which turns out to to be an extra-dimensional being that is observing mankind with foul intent. A great little tale from Stan Lee and art by Steve Ditko. I actually love seeing Ditko's art in black & white, it's so suited to the medium.
Of course this being an Alan Class comic there's also a variety of short mystery & science fiction stories from various publishers including ACG & Charlton in this issue.
These comics are becoming very collectible these days. I also picked up a copy of Sinister Tales from the seventies.
Monday, 16 January 2017
Red Sonja #1 (Dynamite)
Amy Chu (w) Carlos Gomez (a)
Following the best selling #0 issue which reintroduced Red Sonja last month, everyone's favourite red-haired barbarian returns in her own full blown solo series and she's here in our time causing mayhem in down town New York. What's not to like.
The cops think she's raving mad and can't understand a word she says and my, what a big sword you're waving about luv. One for the looney bin?
Except on arrival at the local asylum some NSA agents pick her up. Sonja is above the cops "pay grade" who knew. So what or who is manipulating events? Yeah you can probably guess but how come there's this one cop who can communicate with her?
What is the connection?
Oh and you guessed it Sonja escapes into modern day New York.
The great game is afoot!
Sunday, 15 January 2017
Giant-Size Captain Marvel #1 (Marvel)
Roy Thomas (w) Gil Kane (a)
During the seventies Marvel Comics published a number of "Giant-Size" titles many of which were just reprints, other contained new material plus reprints. This one-off edition of Captain Marvel reprints issues 17, 20 & 21 and contains the key story where Rick Jones leaves the Avengers after trying out as Captain America's sidekick and finds the Nega-Bands which allows him to trade places with Captain Marvel who is trapped in the Negative Zone.
Good old fashioned Marvel adventure ensues as Rick and Cap try to find a permanent method of removing this cursed existence.
The cover which proclaims that our cosmic hero is to face off with both the Hulk and Captain America is misleading. There is no confrontation with Steve Rogers, in fact his opponent in the first story is none other than his old Kree enemy, Yon-Rogg.
Oh and a robotic Carol Danvers makes an appearance, briefly.
Marvel does however confront the Hulk who is off to sort out some protesting students threatening an academic. Long before the "safe spaces" movement this story. Politically correct types need to avoid upsetting the green skinned one lest he get angry.
Frankly a good read especially since the originals are a bit pricey. Grab a copy if ya see one!
Saturday, 14 January 2017
For me the best Spider-Man stories were the ones penned by Stan Lee and drawn by Steve Ditko from the early days of Marvel. In a tale reprinted from the US edition of The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2 Spidey meets another Lee/Ditko creation Doctor Strange.
The story The Wondrous Worlds of Doctor Strange sees our favourite master of the mystic arts clash with Xandu a villainous sorcerer who seeks the second half of the Wand of Watoomb to "possess the greatest power of them all as he muses out loud to himself after enslaving two bar-room brawlers.
Catching Doc Strange by surprise, the two mindless thugs overpower our hero and make off with his half of the wand. Just by chance a certain web-slinger happens to be passing and realises a crime is afoot. No match for the mystically enhanced villains it takes the combined efforts of Spidey and the good Doctor to overcome Xandu.
Published in black & white with added red colouring, this early Marvel UK edition introduces British readers to an early tale from 1965.
The second feature in Spider-Man Comics Weekly was Thor in an equally early adventure from Journey into Mystery in which everyone's favourite Asgardian clashes with The Cobra & Mr Hyde.
Wednesday, 11 January 2017
Silver Surfer vs Dracula #1 (Marvel)
Marv Wolfman (w) Gene Colon (a)
When I saw this in my local comic shop I just had to pick it up. The Silver Surfer vs Dracula. The power cosmic vs the supernatural. Good vs evil. Whilst I was aware this comic was a reprint, I didn't know from where until I got it home. It is in fact a complete reprint of Tomb of Dracula #50, Marvels longest running supernatural comic from the seventies.
Written by Marv Wolfman and with art by the late, great Gene Colan this adventure is a treat. Deep in the outskirts of Boston one Anton Lupeski has decided that there is no longer any need for Dracula's continued existence and plot unfolds in which he and his coven "enlist" the Silver Surfer in their mad scheme to end the Lord of Vampires himself.
Needless to say despite Norin Radd's best efforts he does not succeed. Only low sales will end the adventures of Dracula.
As a bonus there are three short stories included in this edition including one from Howard the Duck who is incarcerated by Commissioner Gordonski...yeah you got the reference right after he faces the terror of Hellcow. Don't ask. Read.
Sunday, 8 January 2017
From the early days of Marvel UK hails this issue of Mighty World of Marvel featuring the Incredible Hulk fighting for his survival in the "Hidden Land" on the Antarctic continent. Co-starring Ka-Zar and his sabre tooth tiger Nabu, the pair are trying to save Earth or rather mankind from the effects of an ancient machine that is changing the axis of the world.
What Ka-Zar needs is Bruce Banner, not the Hulk but old greenskin thinks he isn't "puny Banner" and its' all just a trick. Then Hulk gets captured by the followers of Umbu the Unliving which turns out to be a robot connected to very machine that needs stopping.
The battle royale commences.
This story continued from the previous issue which I neglected to pick up but is a reprint from the US Marvel series of The Incredible Hulk #110.
The back-up feature is the Fantastic Four as they meet Diablo for the very first time.
Those were the days.
Saturday, 7 January 2017
Defenders of the Earth #1 (Marvel UK)
Michael Higgins (w) Alex Saviuk (a)
One of Marvel's more surprising ventures into the world of licensing was Defenders of the Earth starring the King Features characters Flash Gordon, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician and Lothur. Based on a cartoon of the same name the first "special" issue was published (in colour) in 1988, no other date given.
This was reprint from a short lived four issue series published by Marvel in the US under their "Star" imprint which was aimed at younger readers. It was apparently preceded by an Annual and there was just one other issue.
The team exist to prevent Ming the Merciless from taking over the Earth with his army of ice robots.
This issue focuses on The Phantom and his daughter as they return to Bandar where his brother, Kurt Walker is attempting to take power over the local natives and despite being turned down manages by chance to discover a cave where he gains the powers of N'Dama an evil entity with mystical powers.
The inevitable battle takes place and Kurt is defeated when he sees himself transforming into the demon whose powers he usurped.
Defenders of the Earth was cartoon that lasted 65 episodes during 1986 and 1987. Here's a taster from the first episode.
Thursday, 5 January 2017
House of Mystery # 148 (DC)
Dave Wood (w) & Howard Sherman (a)
The "Silver Age" of comics saw J'onzz J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter take over the former adventure comic, House of Mystery. This is one of his earlier adventures and published around the time I started reading US comics, though had not seen this one before.
The tale The Beings in Color Rings was plain wacky and did not feature DC's own ring bearers the Green Lanterns before you ask. This story also features the Martian Manhunter's sidekick Zook a friendly little critter from another dimension whose presence gives this book the feel of a Saturday morning cartoon.
As a result of the actions of "Idol Head of Diabolu" (which obviously took place in an earlier tale) a strange object appears over Bedford City and starts stealing colour. Being green, J'onzz allows himself to be taken to what turns out to be a world inhabited by colourless alien disk beings who need colour to enable them to conquer Earth. The Manhunter himself is saved only by the intervention of Zook who (being red) also travels to this alien planet.
Defeating the aliens the pair return home to await the next full moon when the Idol's head will strike again.
Cracking stuff from a simpler age.
Wednesday, 4 January 2017
Strange Adventures #190 (DC)
No credits (w) & (a)
Another change in the "mystery line" of DC comics, This time two heroes who are still to be seen today, though Animal Man is the better known of the two. I saw these advertised when originally published by with limited pocket money wasn't able to pick the up until now.
These were not the first appearances of either of this characters. Immortal Man originally appeared in Strange Adventures #185 whilst Animal Man debuted in #180, however for the benefit of casual readers like myself the origins are recapped in both stories.
Animal Man kicks of the issue with an untitled adventure in which he shares his secret as a costumed crime fighter with his buddy Roger Denning. I suppose someone had to know. And off he goes to fight an animal gang, no not actual animals, just hoods who use these poor creatures to protect their island hideout.
Immortal Man also appears in an untitled adventure in which in his latest reborn guise meets up with the love of his life....again. However he doesn't live long enough to tell her as a monster rises from the earth and off he goes in shirt & tie to save the day dieing in the process once more.
Somehow Helen guesses his secret and waits for his return.
Wonderful adventure from the Silver Age of comics, DC style!
Tuesday, 3 January 2017
Justice League of America #113 (DC)
One of the titles DC selected for the short lived "100 page" bi-monthly format was their super team comic Justice League of America which brought together the top heroes from their line-up, plus the odd second stringer. Each edition contained one new story backed up by related reprints, in this case the JSA and old JLA adventures.
Starting off with the annual team up of the JLA with The Justice Society of America from Earth 2, The Creature from the Velvet Cage readers are "treated" (if that's quite the right word to use) the tale of what happened to the Sandman's young sidekick, Sandy.
And they face up to a monster, but is all as it seems. A quite poignant tale written by Len Wein with art from Dick Dillin & Dick Gordano.
Next up is a tale from All-Star Comics #41, originally published in 1948! As much as I am aware of the historical importance of the "Golden Age" of comics I have never been particularly enthralled by these early adventures. As a child/teenager I much prefered to read new stuff. However this particular story is quite good.
The Injustice Society, the evil counterparts of the JSA, decide to have a competition to decide who should lead them by stealing the nations precious historical artifacts. Throw in the ability to brainwash our heroes the game is on in The Case of the patriotic Crimes.
The real heroes of this adventure are two women. The Black Canary and a traitor from the Injustice Society, the Harlequin who only commits crimes to attract the attention of Green Lantern with whom she is in love. Go figure. They eventually get married but that leads to tales from a later time.
The final tale in this weighty tome is a reprint of an early JLA adventure, The Cavern of the Deadly Spheres in which the heroes are roundly defeated. Except there's a twist. This tale is a challenge by the editor to see how the "real" JLA would have dealt with the situation. So it never happened.
The "Silver Age" at it's best (and silliest). Loved it!
Monday, 2 January 2017
House of Secrets #73 (DC)
No credits (w) & (a)
Another of DC's "mystery" titles handed over to stories of "superheroes" in the sixties was House of Secrets. This particular issue saw the "regular" feature Eclipso joined by a "new" or rather revamped character called Prince Ra-Man.
The issue opens with the tale of of The Death of Mark Merlin or rather his transformation into a new being when sent into an alternate dimension by the Gargoyle seeking revenge for his past defeats. Here Merlin comes across some Egyptians who have lived here as immortals for 4,000 years under a green hexagonal sun.
Instantly the only woman who appears to live in this world falls in love with him but in order to protect his other love Merlin must return to Earth. Only by vanishing from existence and appearing in the "body and brain of another man". Prince Ra-Man (with "amazing mental powers") is born.
Never a major character in the DC universe his adventures were even to the young child I was in the sixties rather wooden. Unsurprisingly this feature didn't last.
The other story in this issue was Eclipso, a villainous creature trapped in the body of Dr Bruce Gordon. Mostly a villain, sometimes hero, Eclipso did go on to have a role in the expanding DC universe.
Eclipso battles the Sea Titan though is a pretty average sixties feature but entertaining enough.
Not exactly "two of DC's greatest characters" as the cover below suggests, but worthwhile having a couple of issues of this series in your collection though.
Sunday, 1 January 2017
Vampirella: Hollywood Horror TPB (Dynamite)
Kate Leth (w) Eman Casallos (a)
A woman travels in the middle of the night to take part in a horror film as an extra and meets a grisly death after she realises there are no cameras...
Meanwhile Vampirella and her latest beau (who happens to also be a werewolf) arrives in Hollywood for a bit of a break and suddenly finds herself attacked in her new home before she even manages to get undressed, not that her costume has much to it.
There is an evil in the heart of Hollywood and it's in the Horror film sector. Who would have guessed. There is a mysterious enemy that cannot die who has taken an interest in our Vampy. Who is Slade and what does she want?
This trade paperback reprints the whole of the original mini-series published at Dynamite, though the actual story ends in #5, there is an extra chapter that will leave a buzz in your mind.
A story well worth the read (and entry price as the fall of the pound has made these editions a little more expensive) and is currently on the shelves in your local comic shop.
Next up Dynamite are bringing Vampirella to the future. One Thousand years in fact after a very long sleep and the world has changed somewhat. Order now!