Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Justice League of America #37 (DC)
Gardner Fox (w) n/k (a)
Hailing from the Silver Age of comics is this two part story in which the Justice League only play a cameo role in their own title! Earth without a Justice League is exactly what it says on the cover. And it's all Johnny Thunders fault!
After having a row with his Banhnisian Thunderbolt on Earth Two, the pair go to Earth One where they meet Johnny's counterpart. Problem is this version of him is a crook and after knocking out "our" Johnny the villain gets control of Thunderbolt.
Using Thunderbolt to commit crime "Johnny" is thwarted by the Flash and decides to make history different by getting his new found servant to "unmake" the Justice League ensuring they never become heroes. So Thunderbolt stops Krypton exploding so Superman never comes to Earth, saves Abin Sur so Hal Jordan never inherits the ring, prevents Barry Allen's accident and humiliates the Batman on his first outing.
In a world without heroes "Johnny's" crime spree is unstoppable except for one small matter.
The Justice Society arrive from Earth Two to try and save the day but they face an uphill struggle as "Johnny" turns his gang into the Lawless League! From the Earth to the Moon a battle Royale takes place. Can the JSA win through?
It takes two issues to tell this tale and the ending whilst abrupt is fitting to a tale of magic and mayhem.
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
Pellucidar: At the Earths Core (Dark Horse)
Len Wein/Dennis O'Neill (w) Alan Weiss/Michael Kaluta/Dan Green (a)
Edgar Rice Burrough was one of the most creative minds in early fantasy and science fiction and his most famous creation Tarzan still thrills readers and audiences to this day. Others may recall John Carter Warlord of Mars, recently brought to life by Dynamite Entertainment with his "last" story" being published over the next few months.
However there are other Rice Burrough creations that have been semi-forgotten such as Carson of Venus and At the Earths Core which my generation will recall was turned into one of those Doug McClure adventure films we used to watch in the school holidays.
Dark Horse have reprinted the DC version of Pellucidar which appeared in Korak Son of Tarzan #1 (DC edition) and subsequently Weird Worlds #1-7 where it came to a wee bit of an abrupt halt.
This is quite a violent story, especially for the early seventies when it first appeared in print and relates the adventures of David Innes and Abner Perry as they find themselves trapped in the world beneath the earth where humans are seemingly oppressed by apes but the real enemy are evil reptiles known as Mahars.
The battle for freedom commences but ends prematurely as sales were obviously not high enough to continue this storyline and the editorial blurb simply tells us that legend says David Innes and the beautiful Dian bring peace to the world of Pellucidar.
An inexpensive tome well worth picking up. Hopefully if sales go well Dark Horse will print a companion volume featuring Carson of Venus.
Monday, 27 March 2017
When Creepy #145 appeared on the stands there wasn't a hint inside that this was to be the last issue. Far from it. The inhouse newspage even announced the return of the letters page which had been missing for some time much to the chagrin of readers.
There were features on Warren's other magazines and an advert for the next issue #146 which would "be on sale Jan 25th". Issue 146 was to appear a couple of years later as a one-off from Harris Publications who purchased the rights to Vampirella, Creepy and Eerie but these were later returned to Warren for a while.
Sadly the age of the adult black & white horror magazine was drawing to a close. Rivals Skywald had folded after Marvel flooded the market and even Stan Lee's characters failed to make enough profit in this format with the exception of Savage Sword of Conan which would be the longest running title of all.
A shame really.
Only Vampirella was to continue and then in the full colour format chosen by Harris for a lengthy run of different titles. they even kept the fan club going. Today of course Vampy is published by Dynamite.
Unusually this edition contained just three stories, the first of which Moral Blood took up half the pages. A western with vampires and a tragic ending. Well worth the price of entry on it's own.
All of Them Must Die and The Iceman Killeth which follow are the usual tales of gore and horror especially for the greedy that we all came to love.
Warren were truly one of the great comics publishers.
Sunday, 26 March 2017
Giant-Size Invaders #1 (Marvel)
Roy Thomas (w) Frank Robbins (a)
A one-off prequel to a 41 issue run of the main, normal sized Invaders comic which introduces readers to the team which Roy Thomas created as part of the Marvel canon in which not all stories from the forties were considered a part.
The story, which centres around the "super soldier" formula recounts the origin of Captain America, brings in The Human Torch plus the sidekicks Bucky & Toro and then adds the Sub-Mariner to the mix as they have a showdown with the Nazi's own "super soldier", Master Man.
Despite Master-Man's seeming physical and power superiority it seems that this is only temporary as is seen in the final showdown.
The team are stopped from squabbling and told to pull together by none other than Winston Churchill himself.
As a bonus there is a tale from Sub-Mariner #1 (1941) in which Hitler launches an attack on Atlantis. The resulting conflict sees Subby take the throne.
Saturday, 25 March 2017
Justice League of America #71 (DC Comics)
Dennis O'Neill (w) Dick Dillin (a)
Hailing from the late sixties this issue of Justice League of America tells the tale of the Martian Manhunter's origin. Well one of them anyway. I don't recall ever having seen this issue or heard of this tale before but worth a plunge as are most copies of JLA from that simpler era when kids reallly were children...
Featuring a guest appearance from the "new look" powerless Wonder Woman of the time the Justice League have to be called upon to stop a stranger wrecking a carnival. Managing to beat off each JLA member in turn, the "villain" is only beaten when Green Arrow uses a phosphorous arrow causing a fire which weakens and unmasks the Manhunter.
Distraught and confused he returns to the JLA satellite to tell the tale of his last days on Mars as a warlord fighting the Northern Martians for the sole source of heat on the planet. Losing the fight J'onzz is exiled when the transporter takes him to Earth.
The villain responsible for his plight has returned and is bringing genocide to Mars. The JLA must travel to the Red Planet to stop Blanx.
This tale has a tragic ending with the JLA stopping Blanx and his alien allies but failing to save all but a few Martians who manage to escape but not knowing where they have gone, J'onzz leaves the JLA to seek out the whereabouts of his people.
Friday, 24 March 2017
One of the shortest lived British comics was IPC/Fleetways Vulcan which was published as a tryout in Scotland between May and September 1975 before rebooting as a new number one and going for a full UK distribution. A truly odd and as far as I am aware unique experiment.
The Scottish issues are difficult to obtain and attract a premium price when available. The all UK editions are a wee bit cheaper only slightly easier to find. There is one-off Summer Special and of course the Annual pictured above.
Published in paperback this annual is a great addition to anyone's collection and contains a wonderful array of reprinted adventures from various boys comics over the years.
My all-time favourite British strip, The Trigan Empire is presented in glorious colour and features a tale of exploration loyalty and betrayal. Originally published in Ranger and continued in the long running educational magazine Look and Learn, these stories are classics.
The Spider is a villain turned hero who appeared in the traditional boys comic Lion. Actually the publishers referred to them as "papers", probably to make us feel a bit more grown up. But we always called them comics!
In the annuals featured story The Spider faces The Death Master.
It was Ironic that the bulk of Vulcan's features actually came from Valiant because that's the comic which Vulcan merged with as was the practice of British publishers.
Mytek the Mighty, Dollman and The Steel Claw all appear in this weighty tome.
Pick up a copy if you see one!
Monday, 20 March 2017
There's a summer of fun heading your way as DC decide to team up their superheroes with your favourite cartoon characters.
Batman meets Elmer Fudd, Jonah Hex comes across Yosemite Sam, Bugs Bunny joins the Legion of Superheroes, Lobo creates mayhem in RoadRunner, the Martian Manhunter faces the threat of Marvin the Martian and Wonder Woman tries to stop the force of nature known as the Tasmanian Devil.
Vampirella #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Paul Cornell (w) Jimmy Broxton (a)
A thousand or so years in the future Vampirella has woken up to find herself trapped in a tomb and has to break out into what becomes a strange new world.
And why is blood black?
Almost immediately Vampi engages in battle with winged men before seeking shelter in a nearby and futuristic city where things are clearly not right. That it seems comes not from just observation but a simple statement of a shop assistant who asks why a cat should be named.
Despite her wings and aggressive demeanor she seems to not stand out but a group of rampant males certainly get a good kicking from our favourite vampire.
If I have any criticism of what is a very weird story it is the annoying self censorship. Why make the characters swear if you then blank the words out? Please we're adults and kids are not going to be reading these.
Black boxes in the text just look stupid.
Sunday, 19 March 2017
With such an invitation to join the Slither-Slime Man who couldn't resist picking this horror title from the seventies up. Skywald were a serious attempt to compete with the long established Warren Publishers.
Psycho was one of three main titles put out by the company which also included Nightmare and Scream. At the time these were successful but when Marvel flooded the black & white magazine market in the early seventies it was Skywald that suffered with their titles being backpedalled by distributors. Sadly none of their magazines lasted beyond #24.
Like all anthology titles you pay the entry fee and take what you get. Some stories are good others not so. It all depends on individual tastes.
The Slither-Slime Man sees a rotten Sheriff investigate some bizarre goings on in the local cemetery. Determined to find the culprit at anycost he harassed the residents of a local asylum and then kills an innocent man. However the Slither-Slime Man is on hand to bring retribution........
Up next is Ghostly Reunion, a tale of a jealous man who fears his itinerant night-worker is stealing his wife. Murder is on his mind but Gene isn't very bright.
Suffer the Little Children is the best story in this issue. Two seemingly nice kids, an absent father and a rampant couple who kill themselves in a tale that will bring the dead to life.
Unrequited love is the theme of A Plot of Dirt as a Zombie is resurrected to murder and Dracula's daughter makes an appearance a Question of Identity.
Fraudsters get their comeuppance in The Graveyard Jungle. The moral being that you should be real careful who you try to rip-off.
With the confusing All the Ways and Means to Die ending this issue, it's overall a good read. Not easy to find and usually a wee bit more pricey than the Warren magazines these are worth collecting.
Saturday, 18 March 2017
I picked up a copy of the Australian reprint title at random whilst visiting my local comics shop. Reminiscent of the Alan Class titles that were issued in the UK, this has a slightly bigger page size but is in glorious black & white the chosen format of both British and Australian companies back then.
This comic feature stories from the Legion of Superheroes, Adam Strange and a stray horror story. All DC, the one company that Alan Class did not get reprint rights for.
I have picked up a similar comic before and like the Alan Class one's you never know what to expect when you read it, which why I enjoy this type of comic. Hit and miss sometimes but this one was certainly a hit even if I already had a copy of the last Legion story.
Here's a gallery of some other issues. They are all undated.
Wednesday, 15 March 2017
Launched in 1961 Commando has proved a success as generations of readers continue to enthrall to the adventures of war and conflict to the current day. The sole survivor of what was once a major genre of the comics industry in the UK, this "pocket sized"comic has just reached it's 5,000th issue. An incredible achievement.
The all-new story inside focuses on commando's what else could the editors have chosen for this landmark edition! It has an embossed cover by Ian Kennedy who we are told has created no less than 1,200 covers for Commando. Amazing.
I also picked up #5002, Zig-Zag-or Die which is partially set in the Spanish Civil War and the odd types of aircraft interested me.
Two other issues are available:
On sale now in WH Smiths and other good newsagents. Next lot out on March 23rd!
Tuesday, 14 March 2017
Another edition of Eerie one of Warren's great adult orientated horror/fantasy magazines entered into my small, but growing collection of this genre.
And to start the ball rolling is a tale Superhero? So what's the twist? Erm actually this guy who calls himself Crime Crusher literally does "rub out" criminals and when they seek revenge for his actions one underworld hitman pays the ultimate sacrifice when he discovers that Crime Crusher is actually already dead......
The Warning of the Hawk is set in the Himalaya's follows with a tale of greed, murder and comeuppance as the secret of the buried alien doesn't do our villain any good. Meat anyone?
Sticking with the top of the world for a setting Bill Reamy finds sanctuary with monks in The Wailing Tower, but as usual greed overtakes gratitude and hiding in the Tower isn't exactly a good idea. Should have listened the monks Bill!
Bookworm by Richard Corben comes up with a tale of a librarian and his bookworm with a wee bit of a twist and some black magic. Is that noise really the plumbing or is it deep from somewhere else?
I Fell For You is the penultimate story of a rejected prom date, a rematch, wedding and more greed. Say a lot of greed gets punished around these parts. Just stay away from the plane door. You never know where your body might fall!
The Faustian tale Soul Power concludes this issue and why people think the Devil won't get his wily way or you'll meet a fate worse than death never fails to amaze. Hey, you know Old Harry ain't real don't you.....
Pick up a copy to read just before bedtime....sweet dreams!
Monday, 13 March 2017
Weird Western Tales #24 (DC)
Michael Fleischer (w) Noly Panaligan (a)
Jonah Hex, Bounty Hunter, all round anti-hero was in my opinion the best "western" character to ever hit the stands. Gritty, "realistic", hard hitting and well written. Hex's adventures have entertained in a way no other comic of this genre could.
In this issue Jonah is recovering from temporary blindness in a small town where his past actions are fast catching up with him. Driven out of Point Pyrrhus, a small frontier settlement along with an annoying actor, Jonah has to brave the desert and his foes with a man not suited to action guiding his hand.
The real hero of the story is not Jonah himself as we discover at the tragic end.
Jonah Hex is a comic worth collecting and there's further appearances in his own series over the years. The last being part of the "New 52" line in which Hex finds himself in the modern day DC universe.
There's also one where Jonah gets flung to the far future!