Monday, 25 August 2014

The Witching Hour revisited

The Witching Hour  #70 (DC)

Various (w) & (a)

I seem to have developed a bit of "bug" for collecting this title, which in the case of this issue is a moot point as you can see with the cover.

The "main feature" is Drone of the Dying and not for those of a faint heart. If you get attacked by bees in the middle of nowhere, just beware the buzzing in your ears and err... get out of wherever you are!

The other two stories in this book are The Humpty-Dumpty Hobo (just be careful of your plastic surgeon) and The Eerie Secret of File #133. In the latter just be careful you know what you're getting into!

Oh and watch out for Mordred's boyfriend, he might bite.

(Published in April 1977)

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Last days of Smash, Pow and Fantastic (The Odhams comics story part three)

At their height Power Comics had a grand total of five different titles being published weekly. The first sign of problems at their publishers, Odhams came when their oldest title Wham! merged with Pow!

Now the other comics began to merge. The reason for this was quite simple. Money.

It appears that the way that Odhams had kept their accounts (which showed an overall profit on all their operations) hid the fact that the comics line was actually losing them money.  The fact that their prices had been higher than those of their competitors did not help either.

Plus one other crucial factor.

The Marvel Comics features were facing stiff competition from the fact that these were being more widely distributed and easier to obtain in the American colour formats. Something that attracted many readers, myself included at that time.

The two "magazine titles were merged into Fantastic and Terrific, but this didn't last long until it too merged with Odhams  only other title becoming the long titled Smash and Pow incorporating Fantastic with issue 144 in November 1968.

Eventually the comic was renamed Smash incorporating Fantastic, but these were its last days as IPC took the title over and when the licence to reprint Marvel stories expired, changed the comic into a more familiar British boys comic. Simply Smash! 

An anthology of the normal fare found in IPC's line such as Valiant and Lion.

A sad day for Power Comics fans but by then we were all growing up and other interests lay ahead. However these comics remain highly collectible by the generation that grew up with them and if you get a chance do pick up a copy of Wham!, Smash! or Pow!.

They are great fun. And for me hold memories of simpler times long gone

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Into the Multiverse

The Multiversity (DC Comics)

Grant Morrison (w) Ivan Reis (a)

Well that was weird.

Those were the first words to cross my mind as I finished the long anticipated first issue of Grant Morrison's new Multiversity series.

The last of the race of super beings known as the Monitors is trying to gather a team from the 52 universes to save creation itself from .... The Gentry.

Marvel at an inter dimensional ship constructed from frozen music.

Journey into the depths of the DC comics multiverse with different versions of  well known and established characters including a rather amusing take on rival Marvel Comics Avengers on Earth 8 which will introduce you to "cartoon physics" courtesy of Captain Carrot.

Don't ask, just go with the flow.

Morrison's imagination and writing let loose to the full.

Can't recommend enough. 

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Terminal Hero

Terminal Hero (Dynamite)

Peter Milligan (w) Piotr Kowalski (a)

This latest offering from the mind of British writer Peter Milligan makes for uncomfortable reading and is the first in a new series of "creator unleashed" titles from the small but growing Dynamite publishing company.

The theme revolves around the main character Rory Fletcher discovering he has an inoperable brain tumour and is dying from cancer. The use or misuse of an experimental drug provided by his mate leads to him developing strange powers and not all goes well as he begins his struggle with the world around him.

Solicited as a "Mature Readers" title, this story will take you as far away from the apple pie and farm boy innocence that you would expect from the Superman line of superheros as you can get. A highly flawed individual, out of control and feeling betrayed may not be the best person to become a super-human.

Dr Fletcher's use of sex and drugs to help him control his conflicted feelings drags him into a mire that turns into a nightmare as the authorities catch up with him.

Where this title goes next is not certain, but we are being treated to one hell of a story.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Just for the Cover: The Witching Hour #37

Cover for Witching Hour #37 (1973)

The Witching Hour # 37 (DC)

Various (w & a)

Published by DC Comics in 1973, this issue sports the sort of cover that attracted fans to the anthology title that was The Witching Hour.

One of three stories in this edition, No Coffin Can Hold Me was the inspiration for the cover featuring a pretty girl, her boyfriend and death awaiting. Of course there is always the unexpected twist, but no spoilers here....

This fondly remembered comic ran for 85 issues from 1969 until 1978 and had three witches as "hosts".

Cynthia, Mildred and Mordred usually introduced the stories....quite often linking to the midnight theme, so remember to keep your light on.......

Buy issues at your own risk!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The return of Captain Victory

Captain Victory and the Galactic Rangers (Dynamite)

Joe Casey (w) Various (a)

Hot on the heels of a "Kirbyesque" character (see post below), Dynamite Comics have revived one of Jack Kirby's creations from 1981, Captain Victory. The original title was published by the short lived Pacific Comics and lasted just 13 issues (plus a Special if I recall correctly).

Whilst being a little shall we say "unsophisticated", even for the time it was published, it was quite fun and full of Jack Kirby's somewhat creative imagination. With all due respect to the "King", it would have been better had it been scripted by someone else. The overuse of the "exclamation mark" (a common fault of Kirby's writing) grated at times.

Nevertheless it is a series worth getting hold of just for Kirby's artwork. The stories are great fun regardless of any criticism I might have. Perhaps now that Dynamite have the license they might produce an over sized collected hardback for the hardcore Kirby fans, who remain legion.

This isn't the first time Dynamite have published a revival. A couple of years back they produced a six issue mini-series that was actually quite good. Since it had a very small print run, tracking down back issues will be difficult, but they have produced a collected edition which is recommended and still available.

As for the new series (which is apparently to be "on-going") its a reasonable start but in my opinion suffered from having too many different artists, three in all. Maybe it'll read better in a collected edition, but I prefer one artist to do a book.

Since this adventure begins with the "death" of Captain Victory and a couple of "rebirths", including one on Earth, there's much to hope for in this "weird" but interesting story. Joe Casey is a good writer and I'm sure the captain is in good hands.

Meanwhile a reminder of the original by Jack "King" Kirby himself.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Just for the cover alone...


Chamber of Chills # 23 (Marvel)

Various (w) & (a)

When it comes to picking up back issues of comics I do rather have a habit of picking them up at random. sometimes for no other reason than the cover.

This cover certainly caught my eye.

This reprint title from 1976 includes three horror stories including The Face in the Mirror originally published in Mystery Tales # 6.

You'll never want to shave again.....

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

New & Upcoming: Zombies, witches and mutants from the past

Afterlife with Archie (Archie Comics)

Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (w) Francesco Francavilla (a)

One of the most intriguing and entertaining comic series around at the moment is Afterlife with Archie a radical retooling of the classic all-ages comic into more "Buffy" type fair. The premise of the story is that when Jughead's dog (Hotdog) is run over, Sabrina (the witch) uses black magic to bring him back to life. Not a good idea as her aunts try telling her.....,

Unwittingly she unleashes a plague of zombies of Riverdale.

And no-one is safe.

The latest issue doesn't feature Archie and his pals at all. Instead the writers focus on what has happened to Sabrina since the first issue, where she is and who exactly is behind the plague that has left sunny Riverdale in ruins.

No spoilers, just go and get a copy.

While you are at it, pick up the first volume (covering issues 1 - 5) in trade paperback form. Its money well spent.

Every issue is actually well crafted and a joy to read. I just wish it was monthly.

Afterlife with Archie: Escape From Riverdale Graphic Novel PLUS ONE FREE ISSUE

And watch out for the "companion" title Sabrina, due in comic stores in October. There's a preview of the story in Afterlife with Archie and its a very different take (again) on Sabrina. Set in the 1960s apparently its more Rosemary's Baby/ The Omen from the look of it.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina 1 Year Subscription (12 issues)

Then there's mutants from the past.....

Essential X-Men (Panini)

Brian Michael Bendis (w) Stuart Immonem (a)

This is the "first" X-men comic I've purchased in a long time and its in the series of British reprints of Marvel Comics titles by Panini which you can easily pick up in WH Smiths and other good newsagents, so this shouldn't be too difficult to find.

What attracted me was the re-appearance of the younger X-men in their incarnation from the sixties in the present day meeting their counterparts.  by Hank McCoy aka the Beast, he wants to try and stop Cyclops from continuing a "terrorist" rampage with Magneto.

The young Scott Summers (Cyclops) is shocked to find that in the future he kills Charles Xavier, Professor X during the return of the Pheonix saga.

Marvel Girl of course learns of her death.

How this will pan out is not clear at all, especially since I haven't followed the X-Men for several years. But the premise of the story intrigues and with writing by Bendis and art by Immonen it promises to one hell of a ride!

Being a reprint comic and a "100 page special" to launch the new four-weekly series, you get to read quite a good chunk of the story (issues 1-4 of the US edition of All New X-Men). Normally these are 72 page editions so a good way back into comics if you are rusty.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Back Issue spotlight: Giant Size Defenders #5

Giant-Size Defenders Vol 1 5

Steve Gerber (& others) (w) Don Heck (a)

Like most comic fans every once in a while I treat myself to back issues of titles such as Giant-Size Defenders no 5 which I picked up on Thursday. What particularly attracted me to this issue was the crossover of the Defenders with the original incarnation of the Guardians of the Galaxy, who were it should be remembered from the future unlike the team most people will be getting to know through the current Marvel Comics based film doing the rounds now!

The Defenders were always a bit of a "non-team" though with an ever changing lineup. This particular issue sees Doctor Strange and the Hulk in a line up with the Valkyrie and Nighthawk. Like most Defenders stories the plot borders on the absurd with Doc Strange searching for a potential threat to the worlds survival (again) and a one-off villain that turned out to be a mutated eel that was just minding its own business until an alien artifact disturbed its undersea habitat.

Enter the time travelling Guardians and the team up in this extra long adventure (for the time that is, this was published in 1975) and the action begins.

There's also a nice little sub-plot with a twist involving a young boy who wants to be an day! The last panel gives you the reveal.

(Hey I'm not publishing too many spoilers!)

The comic also includes a reprint of Daredevil no 62 of whom I am not generally a fan but you do get to see the character Nighthawk in a rather different light and the art by Gene Colan is excellent.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Grimm Tales of Terror

Grimm Tales of Terror (Zenoscope)

Ralph Tedesco (w) Antonio Bifulco (a)

Horror comics are in short supply in this day and age. A far cry from my youth when both DC and Marvel issued various titles with several short stories complete in each and every edition of such titles as House of MysteryTales of the Unexpected or Strange Tales and their like

There were also horror/mystery comics from a number of other publishers including here in the UK the Alan Class reprint titles, which although published in black and white certainly gave you a read for a shilling.

Horror comics still get published but are in very different formats, usually mini series or graphic novels. Short stories have gone the way of the dodo.

I mention these for a reason. Zenoscope is a small publisher who mainly publish rather shall we say male orientated versions of Fairy Tales. Once in a while they do attempt something different and this is one of them.

The first issue of Grimm Tales of Terror has one complete story. Tales We Tell is not a bad story but would have been better suited to being a "short" story rather than taking up the whole issue. A woman running from her husband. Demons and seeing things she shouldn't.

Doesn't end well.

Frankly a disappointing start but I have placed an advance order (as you have to for small press titles these days) and am more than prepared to give it a few more issues.

Maybe I just wasn't in the right mood when I read this.

And what's that I see in the corner of my eye........