Thursday, 31 January 2019

Marvel Team-Up #100 (Marvel/1980)

Marvel Team-Up #100 (Marvel)

Chris Claremont (w) Frank Miller & Bob Wiacek (a)

Spider-Man is probably Marvels most popular superhero yet other than the first 36 issues by Lee & Ditko back at the beginning I have never been big on Spidey. However there was one title I did read and that was Marvel Team-Up because it featured all sorts of usually lesser known characters or weird story lines that were entertaining.

This the landmark one hundredth issue had Spider-Man team up with Marvels first family the Fantastic Four who were back then and remain today my favourite Marvel characters. I also recall that back in the day Peter Parker thought he could earn a living by joining the FF but that was never to be though he and Johnny Storm became friends. Indeed the first three issues of Marvel Team-Up featured Spidey and the Torch.

In this issue we are introduced to Karma. My local comic shop labelled this as her first appearance, so is obviously a continuing character of whom I know well, nothing. She (as we eventually find out) can control minds and takes over Spider-Man to confront a crooked old Vietnamese General.

There is an amusing sequence as she tries out Spidey's powers and relieved when she discovers his webs don't actually come out his body. Thought that would have been obvious since spider-silk comes out of err..the rear end. Never mind.

Her mission to rescue two children is interrupted by the Fantastic Four who are in attendance at a charity party hosted by General Ngoyen Ngoc Coy who just happens to employ  Karma's brother.

Enter a possessed Spider-Man and the battle commences but Reed Richards being the brainy one figure out Spidey's possessed and holds the team back until Peter finds himself coming round in the Baxter building.

This is actually quite a good story as the adventure plays itself out and well worth picking up if you come across a copy. It's double sized and has a reasonable back-up story with Black Panther and Storm who amidst the flames of battle take a liking to each other though only in time will they become an item and marry. An element missing from the recent Black Panther movie.

First & last issues:


Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Teen Titans #42 (DC/1972)

Teen Titans #42 (DC)

Bob Haney (w) Art Saaf (a)

The superhero's sidekicks formed their own team after a team up of Robin, Kid Flash and Aqualad in Brave & the Bold #54 and with Wonder Girl added became the Teen Titans in Brave & the Bold #60. Over the years some of them have grown up, changed identities or moved on but the core characters have been a part of the fictional tapestry of the DC universe to this day and are more of a family than a team.


However this was back in their first incarnation from the sixties. which sees the team of Robin, Kid Flash, Donna (Wonder Girl), Lilith and Gabriel in his incarnation as Herald along with Speedy (Roy Harper) wander off on a jungle adventure at the behest of Donna Troy who has seen visions emanating from a brooch thrown out of her window by Lilith and wants to return the hero to his own land to be free of the curse that left him in this form.

Originally unable to afford the brooch at an auction they are helped by philanthropist "Johnny Carpetbag". More on him later...

And off to the jungle our heroes go, albeit reluctantly on some of them's parts and in strange jungles and on dangerous rivers where Kid Flash nearly ends up as supper for an alligator they eventually reach their goal whereupon they find themselves at the mercy of The Insect King who had fooled Donna all along and was helped in his duplicity by aforesaid Johnny Carpetbagger, a servitor for the evil one!

He has Uses for the Titans as human sacrifices Donna however is left to wonder free in his domain but by accident comes upon the real hero, Modron, imprisoned by the Insect King whom she frees and with his help frees the Titans and stop the rise of evil just in the nick of time.

This was the penultimate issue of the first series and although revived for another run in the 1976/78 it wasn't until Marv Wolfman and George Perez created The New Teen Titans in the early eighties that these characters saw big time sales. That however is a story for another day.


Tuesday, 29 January 2019

Silver Surfer #100 (Marvel/1995)

Silver Surfer #100 (Marvel)

Ron Marz (w) Joe Phillips & Tome Grindberg (a)

The Silver Surfer was one of my favourite characters when I was young and got hold of every issue I could back then (pocket money allowing). His original series didn't last long but produced a background and some villains that went on to form part of the fabric of the Marvel universe. One of those villains was Mephisto.

In 1987 Marvel launched a second and much more successful series for Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer which lasted 146 issues from 1987 until 1998. I did start collecting this but butted out the hobby in the nineties having been disgusted at the behaviour (selfishness) of those speculators who ruined the industry as I discovered on my return.

I recall being mightily pissed off by someone taking the last two copies of a comic in The Forbidden Planet which had caught my eye, one which was obviously to try and make money on. I didn't return until 1998 on a whim and started collecting  DC One Million.

That means I missed this series and although this is not a great issue being yet another attempt by Mephisto to capture the Surfer's soul through impersonating Frankie Ray or Nova another of Galactus's "heralds" who had died apparently. No idea that had happened and will have to look for that story sometime in the future.

The big reveal here is that the Surfer's parents had their souls collected by Mephisto and he uses this to to torture the Surfer. After the usual battle the Surfer escapes but Mephisto smirks as he has indeed won a small victory against the Surfer.

A very "nineties" presentation which  I have only seen in retrospect through collecting other titles and it's not the greatest of stories. Although comics sell less these days (despite the movies) I do think today's comics are much better.

As for this issue? Good bedtime read overall.


Monday, 28 January 2019

Doom Patrol #109 (DC/1967)

Doom Patrol #109 (DC)

No Credits (w) & (a)

The Doom Patrol were certainly one of the weirdest teams in DC comics history consisting of Robotman, Elasti-Girl, Negative Man and in this issue Mento plus a very young Gar Logan or Beast Boy as we would come to know him in the Teen Titans.  There's also The Chief, a wheel-bound genius who brings the team together to fight some of the quite weird villains and threats to the world.

One of the problems with the Doom Patrol was they were always either about to or actually dead of sorts in a number of stories until their final shocking ending (for the time when they actually did sacrifice themselves to save innocents.

In this issue the team are near death and the Chief is trying to find a cure but the weapon that seemingly ended the heroes lives was set at half-power. Someone had sabotaged the gun used by the Brotherhood of evil. But who and why?

Hiding their death from the villains they prepare a false funeral and allow the Brotherhood into a trap except the buggers sen Mandred the Executioner. As you do. The Chief and young Beastie Boy are in trouble but Negative Man goes to investigate...

They defeat Mandred but the story ends there until the next issue and we are entreated to a second feature, a solo tale of the Negative Man in Flight of Fear. An average tale that one might expect in one of those "mystery" books popular in those days.

I love these characters and the stories are a great read. Recommended.


Sunday, 27 January 2019

Astonishing Tales #25 & #26 (Marvel/1974)

Astonishing Tales #25 & #26 (Marvel Comics)

Rich Buckler(w & a) & Doug Monech (script) 

In the seventies Marvel branched out from it's core heroes with all-sorts of wild and wacky characters especially with the relaxation the Comics Code enforced on the industry since the fifties. Most of their efforts went in their various horror lines plus a certain barbarian often mentioned on this blog but one stood out for me, that of Deathlok, half human, half machine.

Starting in this issue and running through to #36 (except for #29 which was a Guardians of the Galaxy reprint) this was the tale of a dead man trying to regain his humanity and becoming an assassin first for his creator the US military or at least a rogue section of it under General Ryker.

I was lucky enough to pick up the first two issues (I have a couple of others buried somewhere) which tell of his origin and battle with Ryker.

Luther Manning (Deathlok) is reanimated in a post-apocalyptic future so this is not the main Marvel Universe though crossovers do take place with The Thing (from the Fantastic Four in MarvelTwo-In-One and later in Captain America.

There are other Deathlok's as I accidently discovered when picking up back issues but these are in the current MU and of no interest to me. I prefer the original which is (nearly) always the best. Pick up his adventures if you get the chance.


Saturday, 26 January 2019

Adventure Comics #322 (DC/1964)

Adventure Comics #322 (DC)

Edmond Hamilton (w) Curt Swan (a)

From the silver age of comics comes not the Legion of Superheroes but the legion of Superpets! Most people know about Superman's dog, Krpyto but Supergirl had Steaky and there was also Comet the Super-Horse (sniggers) and Beppo the Super-Monkey. In this story both the Legion of Superheroes and the Substitute Legionnaires are all needed elsewhere so who do you call?

This is one of those fun stories that only DC could do well. The pets are needed to guard the Legion's Clubhouse. There's also a new addition to the family Proty II, the "pet" of Chameleon Boy. The second of his species as the first had sacrificed himself to bring back Lightening Lad from the dead. (Adventure Comics #312)

In order to prove himself worthy Proty II must undertake four tasks to prove himself. The pets are able to communicate with each other due to Saturn Girl imbuing them with telepathy. It's odd that Proty's race are kept as pets as they seem to be a sentient species but being 7 it's not a question that would have crossed my mind back then!

Super-Horse sends Proty II to find some Varium, a rare metal from a far away world, Streaky's task involves Proty II impersonating a legionnaire to team up with Saturn Girl. Beppo makes the little fellow keep the Legion out of their HQ for an Hour and Krypto makes our diminutive friend track him down in two hours.

As you can imagine Proty II does succeed in completing the tasks allotted by each individual member of the LSP and Superboy laughs as we all did after a jolly good jape.

In the back-up feature there's an old Superboy yarn in which Clark Kent "dumbs down" to catch a gang helping kids cheat in their tests.

The Super-pets first appeared in the comics below:



Friday, 25 January 2019

New Releases: Blossoms 666, Guardians of the Galaxy, Crypt of Shadows, War is Hell, Freedom Fighters

Blossoms 666 #1 (Archie Horror)

Cullen Bunn (w) Laura Brack (a)

The latest of Archie's re-imagining of it's characters as Cheryl Blossom and her brother are turned to the dark side. No really, THE dark side as their parents expect great things of them as the Coven prepares rituals for the evils that will done in their master's name.

So being set in Archie's world it's time for a..pool party to which the entire schools invited to. Even the dweeb Dilton, the always victim of Reggie. This time he's rescued by Cheryl but for what dark purpose. Meanwhile Jughead is in trouble again for losing an assignment when an unexpected saviour arrives in the form of Jason Blossom.

Exactly what is going on here. One of these two is the Anti-Christ but which one.

Rating: 5 stars


Guardians of the Galaxy #1 (Marvel)

Donny Cates (w) Geoff shaw (a)

Having been a fan of both the movies and enjoying a trade paperback of the Guardians whilst stuck in a hospital bed I decided it was the right time to pick up anew with comic as Marvel launched a new number one.  There were a lot of surprises for me as I haven't read many modern Marvel comics for quite a while and had only kept in touch with the FF until that disappeared.

The FF are back and as great as ever and so are the Guardians? I suppose I'll have to catch up on how Thanos died (again) and find out why Gamorra is now a villain. Drax is also dead and Rocket Racoon? "We don't talk about him" is all I got out of this issue. Shame. Like the little bleeder. So only Starlord and Groot left.

There is a gathering,called by Eros, brother of Thanos who is there to deliver the last will & testament to the assembled group of shall we say "edgy" inhabitants of the Marvel MU. War is all around the universe and the dead Celestials head is missing.

This first oversized issue raises more questions than answers for anyone who like me has not been keeping up. Certainly worth the entry fee. Thanos is dead. Long live Thanos?

Rating: 5 stars


Crypt of Shadows #1 (Marvel)

Al Ewing (w) Garry Brown, Stephen Green & Djibril Morisette-Phan (a)

As part of Marvel Comics celebration of eighty years of publishing they are releasing a series of one-shots based on comics from their past. Crypt of Shadows represents the long lost horror/mystery anthology that many of us grew up with and no longer appear on the stands.

There is horror but not like these and  James Beard gives us a history of horror at the end of the book. We have Stan Lee and Marvel to thank for the ditching of the comics code which allowed the comics industry to grow up into the modern art and literature form it is today.

It's difficult to review the contents of the book without giving away spoilers which I don't want to do because it's a good read even though a little predictable. I just hope you don't suffer from "Cynophobia".

Rating: 2.5 stars


War is Hell #1 (Marvel)

Howard Chaykin (w & a),  Philip Kennedy-Johnson (w) Alberto Albuquerque (a)

Whilst I read British war comics in the form of those little "picture library" booklets that fitted your blazer pocket I was never a great fan of the American ones. Even as an adult I have only experimented with the likes of Sgt Fury or Sgt Rock both of whom fought everywhere and their entire force except one in each title always made it.

The British ones which were nearly always "one-off stories" tended to be as gung-ho but much grittier since people died. Battles were lost but of course the war was won by the allies. There is still one of these going, Commando which has now had over 5,000 issues published!

I knew there was something wrong with this comic in the first two pages which showed the wrong types of aircraft attacking the UK in 1940. Chaykin used the Focke-Wulf 190 fighter (which didn't appear until the autumn of 1941 and the Heinkel He 177 bomber (not in service until 1942) which showed pretty poor research by the writer.

Every schoolboy in this country knows the main German fighter in the early part of the war and the Battle of Britain was the Messerschmitt bf 109 and the main bomber the Heinkel 111 with the occiaional  Dornier do 17 and Messerschmitt bf 110 twin engine fighter.

Chaykin's story had the obligatory non-Nazi pilot and Jazz fan which caused a tragedy. Think Glenn Miller. The second story was just simply a bad read and of no quality whatsoever.

Rating: 0 Stars (avoid)

Freedom Fighters #2 (DC)

Robert Venditti (w) Eddy Barrows (a)

The second issue of this excellent maxi-series continues with the public of occupied USA seeing the return of the heroes in the form of a new team of Freedom Fighters. A battle royal takes place as Doll Woman, Black Condor, Phantom Lady and the Human Bomb take on a giant Nazi  robot. Eventually they overcome. The citizens start to believe and in the "Realm of Ideas" there is a stirring...

I don't want to give too much away but Nazi's always make good comic book villains because there evil was real and add to the mix superpowers and advanced science and you've got a winner on your hands. The writing and art in this book are superb. I cannot recommend it enough.

Just watch out for the Plastic men....

Rating: 5 Stars

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Mighty World of Marvel Annual 1977 (Marvel UK)

The Mighty World of Marvel Annual 1977 contains four full colour adventures of everyone's favourite superheroes kicking off with a sad story about a creature who found a home whilst the Hulk never could. Sad in that the mining operation is causing the Missing Links body to accumulate radiation and start poisoning those around him. In fact he's about to become a bomb until the Hulk intervenes. (Originally published in The Incredible Hulk #179.)

Next up sees Daredevil fighting his way out a swamp and finding his senses don't always help him. Enter the Man Thing where those who fear burn at his touch. Meanwhile Foggy is being held prisoner and Matt Murdoch heads towards...(Originally published in Daredevil #114)


The final adventures see the Fantastic Four appear with a cosmic cast of supporting characters as they fight to save the Silver Surfer from Galactus (Originally published in Fantastic Four #123) and the fly off to help "cure" the Hulk which leads to yet another battle between ole' Greenskin and Ben Grimm aka The Thing. All at the Behest of the Hulkbusters! (Originally published in Fantastic Four #166)

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

The Mighty Crusaders TPB (Dark Circle)

Every so often Archie Comics make an attempt to revive their line of superheroes, most of which were conceived in the forties but are best remembered for their sixties "neo-Marvel" incarnation under the Mighty Comics Group label as Archie attempted to emulate Stan Lee's success. They didn't and the line was short lived though are fondly recalled by comic fans like myself.

The original line up included The Fly, a character based on an insect that predated Spider-Man and was created by Simon & Kirby.  MLJ (Archie) Comics had in fact also created the first "patriotic hero in the form of The Shield some months before Timely launched Captain America.

The "Mighty Comics" line didn't last long and The Crusaders had just seven issues published before these heroes returned to the Ether.

Then there was a second revival as Archie Comics in the form of Red Circle began publishing high end comics for the Direct market. The Crusaders reappeared in a critically acclaimed series that was to last just 13 issues with the Red Circle line disappearing and the comics being published under the Archie Adventure Series label until they disappeared off the shelves.
It seemed these characters did not have the attraction to make them profitable despite a cult following.


Then came a bold experiment. Licencing it's heroes to DC Comics who launched the Impact line which included eight issues of a revamped Crusaders during the comics boom of the early nineties. These were aimed at a slightly younger audience but once again failed.

Then in 2010 DC tried one more time and tried (unsuccessfully) to integrate these heroes into the DC universe with a slightly more modern and adult approach. This too flopped and back to Archie the characters went.


This trade paperback is a collected edition of the four issues that were published of the new Crusaders in the Dark Circle line of comics. It was supposed to be an on-going title and this is clear from the collected edition that so much more was due to happen and probably never will.

This carries on sort of from The New Crusaders when the kids of the original Crusaders banded together to replace their murdered parents. It's a quite enjoyable read even though the art reminds me of Invincible's now defunct universe but because it's unfinished I can only really recommend for the hardcore fan.

Oh and did I mention there's a bonus story? 

Please try again Archie!

Rating: 4 Stars


Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Herbie #14 (ACG/1965)

Herbie #14 (ACG)

Shane O'Shea (w) Ogden Whitney (a)

One of the most bizarre comic strips (and there were a few back in the sixties) was the almost omnipotent Herbie Popnecker who seemingly walked across creation sucking lollipops and being both feared and revered at the same time. Yet his father thinks so little of him....

Herbie first appeared in Forbidden Worlds #73 published by ACG (American Comics Group) in 1958. His powers were obtained from magical lolipops and took him on all sorts of adventures through several issues of Forbidden Worlds though I first came across  Herbie in those Alan Class reprint comics on sale over here in the UK.


In this issue Herbie joins forces with the two ACG super-heroes (or at least the ones I'm familiar with), Nemesis  (from Adventures Into The Unknown) and Magicman (from Forbidden Worlds) neither of which are particularly memorable characters but do have a niche fan-base. Both characters did feature in the eclectic Alan Class reprints even making the cover once or twice

The oddball team face a villain, Roderick Bump who creates his own gang of "super" villains...I mean Halfman, Monkeyman, Pigman, Pizzaman and Frogman and no the last one isn't a diver. This series doesn't take itself to seriously which is part of the fun.

Herbie also "helps out" Santa Claus when he rescues him from criminals and has to save Christmas. in the second feature.

These comics are just fun, aimed a kids in fifties/early sixties Middle America. Worth having at least one or two in your collection. Herbie lasted 23 issues until his publishers ACG went out of business.


Monday, 21 January 2019

Hulk Annual 1983 (Marvel UK)

Hulk Annual 1983 (Marvel UK)

Chris Claremont & Len Wein (w) Sal Buscema (a)

Marvel UK produced quite a number of annuals over the years a lot of which featured old Green Skin himself but this one stands out and is a reprint of the US edition The Incredible Hulk Annual #5 (1976).

A mystery villain tries to destroy the Hulk by using a series of monsters that had invaded the USA back in the late fifties/early sixties but been defeated and forgotten about. One by by one Hulk has to smash Diablo, Taboo and more until he finds the true menace...

The book is padded out with prose adventures and exercise pages. Yes you can undertake a workout with the Hulk...if you want.

The villains originally appeared in these Atlas/Marvel comics: