Saturday, 26 July 2014

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes Crossover!

Star Trek Planet of the Apes: The Primate Directive

In an unexpected press release at the San Diego Comic Con 2014 Boom! Studios and IDW Publishing have announced that the original Star Trek cast will meet the original Planet of the Apes cast in a crossover title.

Both franchises are enormously popular amongst not only Science Fiction buffs but comic fans as well. Personally I can't wait!

Having read the excellent Star Trek/Doctor Who crossover published by IDW in which the Doctor and the crew of the Next Generation team up against an alliance of the Borg and Cybermen these fantastic mixes of fantasy fiction make exiting and interesting reading.

The Press release reads:

San Diego, CA (July 25, 2014) – Have you ever wondered what it would be like to “mind-meld” with a sentient ape? Or wanted to see a Klingon on horseback, brandishing a rifle? Readers will soon have a chance to peek into just such an alternate future, as IDW Publishing partners with BOOM! Studios for the crossover event of the year: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes.

IDW will publish the crossover, which will mark the first time BOOM! Studios has partnered with another publisher on a series. Together they will bring Star Trek, licensed by CBS Consumer Products, and 20th Century Fox’s Planet of the Apes together in a way that is sure to delight existing fans and make new ones. The series will pair the original U.S.S. Enterprise crew with Taylor, Nova and the cast from the original Planet of the Apes film.

“Planet of the Apes and Star Trek are groundbreaking science-fiction properties and both deal with many of the same social issues and themes,” says Greg Goldstein IDW President & Chief Operating Officer. “A crossover between the two is a natural and long overdue.”


“Before I could read comic books as a child, I could watch science fiction on my television. My dad used to wake me up way past my bedtime to watch Star Trek in syndication—it came on after the nightly news—and I took a Planet of the Apes lunchbox with me to kindergarten every day,” says BOOM! Studios Founder and CEO Ross Richie. “Suffice to say, teaming up these two titans of science fiction on the page in a way that they probably will never meet each other on the silver screen is a huge moment for me personally and emotionally.”

The creative team will be a mix of proven experience and new blood with scripts by beloved Star Trek scribes Scott and David Tipton (Star Trek: The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation 2) and interior art and covers by the British newcomer Rachael Stott.

“With the Klingons secretly backing a renegade gorilla general in a coup for control of Ape City, Captain Kirk finds himself in the uncomfortable position of having to help out Dr. Zaius’ orangutans,” explains David Tipton. “Taylor won’t be happy with that!”

“What an epic pairing! I’m so excited to see Taylor, Kirk…and those damned dirty apes…in our upcoming comic,” says IDW editor Sarah Gaydos, “We’re eager to team up these exciting creative forces to bring this to life.”

A "must have"comic! Can't wait!!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Supreme returns

Supreme: Blue Rose (Image)

Warren Ellis (w) Tula Lotay (a)

When I first saw the solicitation for this title in Previews (the comic shop catalogue), I took little notice and only when finalising my order for July did it click that this was in fact a new series for the Rob Liefeld character , Supreme.


For those of you not familiar with  Liefeld or Supreme this "hero" was originally launched in 1992 and was originally no more than a slightly more violent take on Superman complete with a dog in a cape. The whole early era of Image comics was building an alternative "universe" of superheroes to compete with Marvel and DC. Some of these were it has to be said "rip offs" of existing characters and Liefelds work was some might argue a little too blatant, to others a "homage".

Nevertheless I have collected some of these titles and did become a fan of Supreme which when handed to the talents of Alan Moore (Watchmen) it did take on a real life of its own.

Recently the mantle was handed to Eric Larsen, but that particular revival didn't last long. Not long at all in fact. If I recall correctly some of the solicitations didn't even get released, but that (cough) comes with the territory of Rob Liefeld often referred to as the "bad boy of comics" which I think is a reference to his temperament.

From my point of view I just find him a wee bit unreliable having ended up with lots of "first issues", "previews" and short lived titles as nothing ever seemed to get completed unless he had the firm hand of one of the major companies watching over him!!!

However of late two of Liefelds creations have been revamped in "Maxi series" that certainly caught my attention Glory (the latter think a sort of Wonder Woman but with a demon father) and Prophet, which had a very "European style to it. I recommend both if you can find copies, as they had small print runs.

Now what about this version?

The solicitation reads:

You are not dreaming. We are trying to communicate with you. Local reality has been reinstalled. Things have gone wrong. The revision has corrupted. Finding Ethan Crane is your supreme priority. We are speaking to you from the ultimate bunker within the structure of multiversal time. Do not trust Darius Dax. We are all going to die. SUPREME: BLUE ROSE. Re-introducing the central Image Comics character, with WARREN ELLIS and TULA LOTAY.

Having read it once I can say its very different to any previous incarnation of this series and I'll certainly be along for the ride.

Highly recommended.

Now Rob on the off-chance that you might read this one day, as a big fan (despite my criticisms of your scheduling) could you please finish that Youngblood story.

Thanks mate!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Fantastic & Terrific: The Odhams line of comics (Part Two)

Following on from launching Pow!, Odhams went on to produce two more comics in their line now proudly called Power Comics complete with Marvel style editorials and news pages with Alf & Bart. The first of the these comics was Fantastic.

Launched in February 1967, Fantastic had a completely different format to Odhams (and other British comics of the time) being very much in a "magazine" format on higher grade paper. It also had a higher page count and of course a higher price, 9d.

Fantastic was aimed at the older child or teenager and consisted mainly of Marvel comics reprints featuring in the first issue the origin stories of Thor, Iron Man and the X-Men. In addition it ran a British strip about a hulk like character in the Missing Link  who later evolved into the futuristic Johnny Future.

Unlike the other comics in the Power line this was not high on my reading list in the sixties due to the easy availability of American comics in newsagents even in deepest Surrey. It is only now as an adult that I've developed an appreciation of this comic (and its sister title Terrific) and have slowly added editions to my personal collection.

Fantastic ran for a total of 89 issues (merging with Terrific as of issue 52) making it a comic not too difficult to collect. Prices on most editions (except those which still bear their free gifts and the slightly more difficult to find Summer Special) are very reasonable.

The final Power Comic to launch was Terrific. Published in the same format as Fantastic it featured the adventures of the Sub-Mariner, Doctor Strange and The Avengers.

However the title lasted under a year (43 issues) before low sales and increasing financial difficulties for the publishers forced Terrific to merge with its' older sibling Fantastic.

The new combined title Fantastic and Terrific went on for a while reprinting the more popular strips such as The Avengers, Thor, Doctor Strange and The X-Men for another 9 months until it was forced to merge with Power Comics only other remaining title Smash & Pow!

Although these titles didn't last long they did provide the template that Marvel themselves would use in the seventies when Stan Lee launched his own British editions of Marvel Comics.

These titles are remembered fondly by those who bought them and are a cheap way of getting to read the early Marvel stories that fans have come to love and enjoy.

Part One of this series on Odhams can be found: Here

Upcoming: Part Three

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy then and now

Marvel Super-Heroes Vol 1 18

The next major Marvel Comics based superhero film Guardians of the Galaxy is due for release at the end of the month (though has already premiered in Singapore of all places), so time for a quick look at the comic that inspired the film.

First appearing in Marvel Super Heroes no 18 in 1969 the group calling itself the Guardians of the Galaxy bears no resemblance to the characters that appear in the current line up. The story featuring Major Victory, Charlie 27, Martinex and  Yondu is also set in the far future. The year 3007 to be precise and the solar system is occupied by a bunch of nasty aliens called the Badoon. They band together to fight back and so a mini comics legend is born.

Later on they pick up a couple of new members Starhawk and Nikki, the latter being genetically engineered to live on Mercury. It was Starhawk though who had the most surprising secret. Starhawk was a dual entity with two beings Satka and Aleta (two former lovers) who shared the same physical space.

The team made a number of appearances in the Marvel universe including a long run in their own title during the 1990s.

Guardians of the Galaxy (1990) 25-A by Marvel

However everything changed in 2008 when British writers Dan Abnet  and Andy Lanning revamped the team concept during their Annihilation: Conquest story line.  Debuting in a new title of their own, the new team consisted of Starlord, Drax the destroyer, Gamora and my personal favourites Groot! and Rocket Racoon.


Now of course there is the moving picture heading to a theatre near you.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Wham! Smash! Pow! The Odhams line of comics (Part One)

One of my earliest childhood memories was my father bringing home the very first issue of Wham! , an anarchic comic that founded the short lived but fondly remembered line of "Power Comics" as they came to be called.

Wham! rapidly became a must read comic for the young boy that I was at the time. The features included the antics of Biff in full colour on the cover, The Tiddlers (a version of the Bash Street Kids) with a twist that teacher was a good mate to the rowdy children (billed as Britain's most popular teacher, Super-Sir!), General Nitt and his Barmy Army and Danny Dare, Dan Dares number one fan! 

Most of all however it was the adventures of Georgie's Germs that was the main attraction. This wonderful little strip told the tale of the battle between Mum and the germs that inhabited Georgie's body. 

Mum hardly ever won the day and Georgie was as dirty as he'd always been.

There were some adventure features such as Kelpie the boy wizard but Wham! is probably remembered most for including adventures of the Fantastic Four, amongst the first appearances of Marvel supeheroes in British comics.

The title, launched to utilise the talents of Leo Baxendale of Beano fame lasted for 187 issues until merging with its' younger stable mate Pow! in January 1968.

The second and most successful of Odhams line of comics was its' sister title Smash!  

Slightly different to Wham!, Smash! carried a higher content of adventure stories, though humour strips abounded. These included Bad Penny, Percy's Pets, The Swots and the Blots (two rival gangs of school children in one class), Grimley Feendish (the rottenest crook in the world) and The Nervs, who lived inside Fatty.

The title also published reprints of Batman newspaper strips (in colour on the front cover), a British created superhero The Rubber Man (think Elongated man of DC comics fame) plus the early adventures of The Hulk. 

This is only comic that I am aware of that carried rival DC and Marvel characters in its pages.

Smash! went on to last 257 issues, though the end of the run was a complete revamp bearing little relation to the Power Comics line of which it had been a part. As we will see in part 3 of this series it was taken over by IPC.

The final title of this particular trilogy of comic goodness was Pow!, home to both Spider Man and Sgt Fury & his Howling Commando's of Marvel Comics provenance, though it did have it's own line of humour with The Group and The Dolls of St Dominic's (think St Trinians and you get the idea).

Pow! only ran for 87 issues, absorbing it's older sibling Wham! with issue 53.

Despite their short lives these titles have become collectible as fans of a certain age (like myself) seek out the nostalgia of childhood in the sixties.

They certainly were among my favourites!

Happy memories.......


Part Two will cover the two other titles in the Power Comics stable: Fantastic and Terrific.

Part Three will look at the demise of Power Comics.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Archie Comics superheroes to go dark?

The old line of Archie Superhero characters has been around for decades. Lest people forget the very first star-spangled hero with a costume based on the American flag with a shield was actually published in Pep Comics no 1 in January 1940, a year before the better known and more successful Captain America of Marvel Comics fame.

They even managed an insect based character before Spider-man (yes I know spiders aren't insects before you write in). The Adventures of the Fly appeared in August 1959. Created by Joe Simon and drawn by Jack Kirby  (creators of Captain America), this was the longest lasting of the Archie line in the "Silver Age" of comics.

Adventures of the Fly no 1.png

Several attempts have been made to revive the line over the years including Archie's own Mighty Comics line in the late sixties which attempted (unsuccessfully) to copy the Marvel Comics way of doing things. Lame stories and wooden characters didn't help, though the hen-pecked Web always amused me even as a kid.

They were revived in the eighties as Red Circle comics, which didn't last long and the characters were licenced to DC comics who launched a younger readers line under the Impact imprint. DC had a second go just before their universe wide "reboot".

More recently Archie tried again with a New Crusaders mini series, killing off most of the (now retired) heroes except the ageing, but agile Shield who saves their children who have powers of their own and begin the quest for justice. Even had a talking monkey (don't ask).

Didn't sell well enough to last. Pity, quite enjoyed it myself.

Now something new is on the horizon for 2015.

USA Today carried the following report:

Archie Comics is getting serious about its superheroes and revamping a classic brand.

Red Circle Comics, an imprint started in the 1970s that was the longtime home for characters such as The Fox, Shield, Firefly, Wizard and The Web, is being relaunched under the new Dark Circle Comics banner. The first round of books is slated to arrive early next year.

The Red Circle brand has some level of burden to it, according to Dark Circle editor Alex Segura. Most comic fans know its history of being rebooted a handful of times in various places, most recently as an all-digital line in 2012.

"With Dark Circle, we want to not only break away from that, but also show fans, retailers and newcomers that this is a fresh start featuring recognizable names and icons with zero baggage," Segura says. "It starts here. You don't need to read anything else."

He has a "dream team" of creators for the new ongoing series, which will feature five-issue arcs and breaks for trade collections.

Some of the names involved are familiar to comic fans, while others are more outside the box, admits Segura, who doubles as Archie's senior vice president for marketing and publicity.

"Dark Circle has an entire library of heroes, villains, worlds and teams that has been basically untapped," he says. "We're bringing together a group of great writers, artists and more to jump in without many rules. We're handing them the keys and telling them to go crazy."

I've always had a soft spot for these characters (go figure) but if they can repeat their recent success of a revamped zombie version of Archie, anything is possible!

Welcome to Howie's World of Comics!

What better way to open a new blog than with the theme tune to the worlds best known and most watched comic book based TV show than Batman with Adam West!

There are a lot of blogs and sites about comics by other "fan boys" (and girls!) out there, but I wanted to write one of my own to share my hobby with others. It is my intention to focus on the comics, characters, stories and companies that I have come to enjoy over the years and will be a wee bit of a personal journey looking at both new and old US and British comics!

You are cordially invited to join me.

For those of you that are not familiar or out of touch with the hobby, most comics are now only available in specialist comic shops (mores the pity)  and some titles need to be "pre-ordered" in advance which is best done through the use of the Diamond Catalogue, a rather weighty monthly tome available from your local shop or mail order company:

Previews Cover-July 14 Back

For those of you in London I recommend 30th Century Comics in Putney, which stocks or can order the latest US comics and has an excellent run of back issues, but also has a substantial stock of old British comics in its basement.

Well worth a visit I assure you!

[the 30th Century Comics shop]

30th Century Comics, 18 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, London, SW15 1JP
Phone: 020 8788 2052