Saturday, 30 May 2020

Forbidden Gallery #4 (ACP Comics)




Over the last few weeks I have been buying and reviewing a lot of comics from the independent publishers in the UK nearly all of which have been anthologies. Now it's the turn of ACP Comics a small American publisher and their Flagship title.

This is the fourth edition of their occasional comic Forbidden Gallery and is also an anthology being a mix of mystery, horror and science fiction. A much missed genre that no longer sees the light of day from mainstream publishers along with war, western and romance titles (not that the latter ever appealed to me).








































Hosted by "Archimedes" (I miss hosts) this issue has five stories. First up is actually the only one I wasn't keen on, Weird of the Woodchuck. Good art but the story just didn't appeal. Sorry guys. 

However once past this there are four good stories. First up is Into the Drink, a tale of loss, alcoholism and failing to take responsibility. When a pretty lady jumps in your car for a ride "going all the way" isn't always what a man would want, well not in this case.....














You just know the evil baron is going to get his comeuppance one way or another when he kidnaps a beautiful Gypsy girl to abuse at his leisure.  it's certainly The End of the Line for someone!

Particle Man appears next in a story by William Mull that mashes up the Godzilla mythos with Captain Atom whose similarities are obvious in both origin and power. Potentially the first recurring character. 












Last but by no means least is Contamination a science fiction tale by Nicola Cuti which if you saw in the cinema you'd feel like shouting "don't take your helmet off". Something bad is going to happen and does otherwise there'd be no story. The title gives away the problem but there's a twist.

Available from ACP via: acpcomics.com

Rating: 4 stars (Recommended)

Friday, 29 May 2020

2000AD Prog 2183 Regened!




As summer approaches Rebellion have issued the latest mega-sized issue of 2000AD aimed specifically at younger readers featuring younger versions of all our favourite characters. 

Cadet Dredd appears in Combat Ready a self contained story in which Joe continues to compete in his mind with clone-brother Rico in a prequel of sorts to  a well known Mega-City event as a robot rampages around shouting revolution. No one, Joe included is aware of the coming storm....

Meanwhile Finder & Keeper try to order pizza while ma's out but end up seeing the delivery boy chased away by..a poltergeist. What dangers await our intrepid spook hunters in Nuisance Neighbours?

Judge Anderson meanwhile is involved in tracking down a errant juve who is scrawling graffiti all over the city. Enter a well behaved school-boy, a reformed juve and a robot headmaster the plot is afoot. Well behaved..nah. First Class Citizen spins a tale of smoke and mirrors.

A one-off Future Shocks introduces us to the election of the Queen of England. And a criminal is chosen. How did this happen and what will be the consequences.

The final adventure features the much missed Johnny Alpha in a tale set in the early days of the mutie wars in what remains of old blighty. A fourteen year old version shows his mettle and independence of thought and action in Acceptable Losses.

Get your copy now. Available from better newsagents or if not near one there is always direct ordering.

Go to: 2000AD Shop

Rating: 4.5 Stars

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

SMASH! (Rebellion/Out Now!)




One of my all time favourite comics was the long defunct Smash! weekly published firstly as part of "Power Comics" line and subsequently the sole survivor of Odhams line that was taken over and revamped by IPC as a more traditional "Boys Paper". 

Rebellion the publishers of the long running 2000AD having purchased the rights to to the bulk of British Comics output have now published a special edition which not revives the title itself but brings back a number of beloved other British heroes, villains and fantasy characters.

 

First up is The Spider an egotistical villain turned hero first appearing in The Lion comic in 1965. In the first story by Rob Williams & John McCrea the reader finds out what happened to him all those years ago when he and the other villains disappeared. 


This is quickly followed by an updated version of Thunderbolt The Avenger that I vaguely recalled from Buster. This time "It's a lady" as one British comedian might put it. Here we see the tragic origin of the new Thunderbolt. It ain't your dad's comic anymore.

Recently Rebellion published a hardback collection of the complete Johnny Future (which I have but not yet read) and now he returns as he's needed to defeat an alien invasion. There is a twist..... Johnny Future originally appeared in Fantastic a short lived Power Comics title that mainly featured reprint of early Marvel heroes back in the sixties and did merge with the original Smash!


No revival of British comics would be complete without the return of The Steel Claw from Valiant and one of my favourite strips from back then. A collection of Louis Crandell's adventures is due out next year and will be on my must have list next year.

Another feature from Valiant is up next Mytek The Mighty which is updated with modern political problems but is spoiled by the fuzzy artwork which really was not to my taste though the story itself shows promise.

Cursitor Doom the only character from the original Smash! comic teams up with Jason Hyde which I recall was a text feature in Valiant that I ignored as a kid. This also promises to be fun. I look forward to more.








































Last but by no means least is a terrific reworking of The House of Dolmann another Valiant feature. Written by Simon Furman with art by the great Chris Weston I was left wanting more.

In fact everything about this comic left me wanting to see the continuation of all these stories in a regular publication. British comics at their best in a US sized publication worth every penny of the price of entry.

Rating: Five Stars Plus!!  Highly Recommended. Buy!

Available from: 2000ad.com

Friday, 15 May 2020

Countdown To TV Action: Guide compiled by Steve Holland

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Having concentrated in the past more on collecting American comics a number of worthy British comics passed me by. I am currently collecting various bits and pieces especially the compilations emanating from Rebellion. However one comic that may prove more difficult to get reprints of is Countdown or TV Action as it eventually became.

In many ways a successor to TV Century 21 with a great John Pertwee Doctor Who feature that I gather has seen partial reprints in the past are joined by Gerry Anderson creations and much more over the comics 132 issue history. 
 
  

Launched in 1971 Countdown gradually changed it's title into TV action starting with #46 and had fully transformed by #59.

 

This is the third of Steve Holland's guides I have got hold of and is up to his usual meticulous standards taking the fan through the development and history of the comics creation and gives detailed lists of the features and creators. Attention is also given to the two summer specials, three annuals and the various spin off's including Thunderbirds, Doctor Who.


I hadn't realised this was a companion TV Comic something I had ignored for years as being for younger readers. However it was merged with TV Comic as of #1133 though only Dr Who and Dads Army survived the change. Even the header of the merged comic lasted just 15 weeks. 


This volume at over 200 pages is an informative and entertaining read and certainly encourages me to try and collect a few more of these. 

Although published in 2014 it is still available from: bearalleybooks.blogspot.com


Thursday, 14 May 2020

The 77 #1 A new British quarterly anthology





British comics really seem to be enjoying a bit of a revival at the moment. With Rebellion publishing an ever growing series of Specials based on old comics the we grew up with and volumes of the best of the old us Brits and our chums overseas in the former colonies haven't had it so good for years.

The thing about British comics is that they were nearly all weekly anthologies containing either all comedy or adventure content and more often both. Now a group of independent creators have put pen to paper and written and produced a new comic funded  by Kickstarter and now out for purchase.

Mine arrived a couple of days ago with free 77 badge  headlined a new "retro anthology" I sat down to read an enjoy. The comic kicks off with a Punk horror story called Temporal Anarchy. Amazing what can happen with a safety pin innit bruv! Great Art & story by Alan Holloway and Neil Sims.

Next up was another music based story that appears to be on-going The Tinkling Triangles by Steve Mc Manus and Brendon T Wright. Jury remains out on this one However  Mal Earl's Prodigal takes the pace back with this tale of humanity after a magical apocalypse. More please!

No comic seems to be complete without a story set in arena and The 77 is no different. I'm agnostic on V not being particularly a fan of the genre but it is continued and I'll give it a chance. However fear not there is far more to follow..

I was pleased to see a short instalment of Technofreak by Joe Assi & John Charles with Tom Newell on art. This is already being published as an independent and is responsible for my recent foray into the world od indy publishing as it is a great comic. There are two issues in print and a third on the way. Well worth picking up. 

The centre feature is Division 77 a disturbing story of humanity after a virus being re-used by duplicitous aliens. Written by Dave Heely with art by Sinclair Eliot this sci-fi story has plenty of potential. 

Meanwhile The Screaming Hand  by Kek-W & Conor Boyle has obvious shades of John Constatine and disturbing art to go with it. 

As for the rest of the issue only Angel from Baden James Mellows and Steve Austin had any appeal to me. That's the way it is with anthologies. There is also a text piece about Comic Scene Magazine. 

At £6.95 this is not a cheap comic but even with a couple of duff stories it's not only well worth the price of entry but keeping going as a regular publication.. 

Rating: 4 Stars (Recommended)

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Spaceship Away #50




Continuing my trawl through British related comics and related products during the lock-down comes the latest issue of Spaceship Away. I actually do have the first two issues of this which I picked up at my local comic shop but haven't seen a copy in long while. This is dedicated to Dan Dare plus a few other space heroes of the British science-fiction scene.

The main colour story is of course Dan Dare in Voyage of the Ankum all done Eagle cover style and in colour. This is a new story so a great jumping on issue. There is also a text feature on Captain Condor which was an attempt to compete with Dare by The Lion. When the crisis is lifted a little I may have to pick up some fifties Lions to see these (and other strips) first hand.

Also inside is a Jeff Hawke story something I'm not familiar with but will explore at a later date. It's from the Daily Express apparently This is a full colour story set on the moon. And there be aliens....

The only continuing story in this issue in the conclusion of The Golden Amazon but there is also another all new adventure Target Earth, a fine looking retro-production that will entertain.

Also included is a booklet with the first two chapters of Caesar Smith by Conrad Frost.

Overall an interesting package.

Subscriptions & single issues available via their website: spaceshipaway.org

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

The Beano and The Dandy 1937 - 1988 Classic Comic Covers







































The Beano and The Dandy 1937 - 1988 Classic Comic Covers (Phil Comics/£19.99)

One of my great childhood memories was getting hold of the latest Beano and /or Dandy. Certainly I was more of Beano Boy than a Dandy I was more than happy to sit down and have a chuckle with Lord Snooty, Dennis, Korky, Desperate Dan and the rest every time I turned a page.

Then there were those misbehaved and anarchic schoolboys down at Bash Street. Those were the days!  Both comics were already old but far from tired when I started reading them sometime in the early sixties. Can't remember exactly when.




The Dandy was the first of the two comics appearing on Dec Ist 1937 with a much more scrawny Korky the Cat adoring the front page. Sadly The Dandy is no longer with us having finally succumbed to falling sales back in 2012.




The Beano is still with us of course and is now the longest running British comic and sales are on the increase I understand though nothing like they were back in the fifties and sixties. The beano began publication on July 30th 1938 with Big Eggo (an ostrich) on the cover.




Like others of my generation it's Biffo the Bear that was the cover feature growing up. Biffo took over the cover in The Beano on January 24th 1948.



This excellent book brings you some of the cover from both comics many of which will bring back memories of your youth, it certainly did mine. Like many I continued reading both the comic and the annuals way past the age group it was supposedly aimed at. Some still collect it today though I don't find it the same.  Different  generation me!

My only criticism is that they removed a character Peanut because of "racial stereotypes" from a number of issues. I don't approve of historical censorship. These were different times and literature including unsavoury language and imagery has to be understood in the context of the period.



I would imagine no one will ever release a collection of The Sparky covers. Most would have to be blank!

With that caveat this book is well worth picking up. Recommended as a coffee table read!