Saturday, 27 September 2014

The House of Secrets

House of Secrets # 97 (DC Comics)

Writers/Artists (v)

DC Comics published a number of horror/science fiction story anthologies of which House of Secrets was one of the longest running. Like all anthologies the stories varied in quality, but were generally a good read. The cover story The Curse of Castle Morby was standard fare as were most of the others, though the two pager The Day After Doomsday did amuse.

This particular issue was a 52 page 25c edition which was a disastrous format for DC as they priced themselves out of circulation. The format didn't last long and in some titles the use of reprints to fill the pages didn't always appeal to those of us wanting something new, which Marvel was certainly delivering at the time.

Funnily enough the first copies of this title I purchased as a child did not contain horror stories at all. Like many similar comics, House of Secrets was publishing "super-hero" stories.

House of Secrets v.1 77

Eclipso, later to become one of the major villains in the DC universe along with the somewhat lame and long forgotten Prince Ra-Man shared House of Secrets in the mid sixties. Really only worth tracking down if you are a bit of a DC completest.

One major character that did make a first appearance in House of Secrets #92 was the Swamp Thing, revamped, re-imagined and still going in DC's "New 52" Universe.

Finally of course House of Secrets, like most of these comics had a host Abel, who would introduce the stories.....

Those were the days...

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes

Multiversity Society of Super-Heroes #1 Spoilers #1

Multiversity: Society of Super-Heroes (DC)

Grant Morrison (w) Chris Sprouse (a)

The second chapter of the multi-universe adventure from the pen of Grant Morrison continues. This time on an earth with "pulp" orientated heroes led by Dr Fate, a magical adeneturer who lives in a windowless tower in down town Manhattan. 

Throw in an all-female team of Blackhawks, a cocky young "Atom" (based on the JSA template), a devilish Green Lantern and Immortal Man and off we go. Morrison's use of "Anthro" as the Immortal Mans original identity (a Joe Kubert creation from the 1960's) and you have this earths counterpart to Vandal Savage.

Did I say Vandal Savage, oh yes he appears to as two worlds collide in space as the gap in the "Bleed" weakens and our savage villain goes off in search of conquest.

A war ensues.

With art by Chris Sprouse this was a joy to read and it doesn't end well. There is clearly more to come as the call goes out for the "super-people of other worlds" to fight, and god help those who have none.

Next month we move to a world of spoilt super-brats if the cover and solicitation is to be believed,

Highly recommended.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Batman "prequel" Gotham on Channel 5!

Channel 5 will begin broadcasting Gotham, the prequel story to the Batman franchise later this "autumn". No date set yet (begins in the USA on September 22nd).

Meet the young Bruce Wayne, James Gordon and Penguins mother?


Being a big fan of Smallville I'm really looking forward to this

Monday, 15 September 2014

Alan Moore goes Crossed (X-Rated comic)

Crossed One Hundred (Avatar Comics)

Alan Moore (w) Gabriel Andrade (a)

There is no hope...there are only the Crossed....

And so we journey to the world of the Crossed created by Garth Ennis (Preacher) who has gone one stage further with the zombie franchise and given us not mindless flesh eaters but victims infected with a virus that brings out the worst of humanity.

And I do mean the very worst depravities and horrors lurking in the sub-concious of all humanity.

Nothing is left to the imagination in a series which explores the very worst of man kinds base instincts and err brought out in gory colour by the artists imagination.

This fortnightly comic will shock and horrify you to your core and is not for the faint hearted.

All the current story lines are now available in collected editions to terrify you before bedtime.

There's even a special one off 3D edition. Yikes!

And now Alan Moore (Watchmen) is to bring his talents to the world of the Crossed in a six issue miniseries set 100 years after the original outbreak.

Set for release in December.

Be prepared for the Crossed order your copy now!

Oh and did I mention ground zero was in the UK...........

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sabrina's Chilling Adventures (1972)

Chilling Adventures in Sorcery (Archie Comics)

Various (w) (a)

Later this month we will be treated to a new and "non-canonical" version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch which is set in the sixties and looks more like Rosemary's Baby than Archie Comics usual fare. This has been launched as a sort of companion to Afterlife With Archie which is probably the company's biggest success for years.

With this in mind I thought a quick look at a previous attempt at using the likeable Sabrina character in a more "horrific" role. The fact I finally managed to get hold of a copy of the second issue (there were only two) was a further incentive.

These are your standard horror stories of the time (seventies) with Sabrina as the host of the book. The main difference with other companies output was the art was very much "in house Archie style" and I would have thought should have lasted longer. As a collector I certainly wish they had done.

All the stories are entertaining, though the second issue was better in my view, but alas that is all there is so if you see a copy grab it!

From the "third" issue the title was transformed into a "standard" but high quality horror title as part of the short lived Red Circle comics line. Some of these tales are currently appearing as backup stories in Afterlife with Archie.

In the mean time don't forget to watch out for the new Sabrina....... can't wait meself!!!

Saturday, 13 September 2014

New: Wild's End and Annihilator

Wild's End #01 (Cover A)

Wild's End (Boom! Studios)

Dan Abnet (w) I.N.J. Culbard (a)

This six issue mini series caught my attention in part due to the writer Dan Abnett who has written quite a few good tales for the big two comic companies not least of which is Guardians of the Galaxy, now a major feature film. Small publishers are more concerned these days with producing good self contained stories rather than trying to build the kind of "shared universes" that Marvel and Dc use for their characters.

Wild's End is set in rural England in the thirties apparently and in in world where animals replace humans this is a comic that should be shared with younger readers, but is entirely suitable for "older audiences". The basic plot of the first issue sees the local poacher Fawkes (a Fox) getting pissed in the middle of Hightop Wood sometime after Midnight. Enter a shooting star (that hits the ground) and off we go.

On the face of it it seems to be a kind of War of the Worlds with funny animals, except they behave like normal people. And pity Mrs Piggy or whatever her name is for trying to shoo an alien device out of her kitchen. Doesn't end well.

Enter an old sea dog (literally) and the local villagers set off to find out what the threat is.

Great fun.

Annihilator (Legendary Comics)

Grant Morrison (w) Frazer Irving (a)

At the more "mature" end of the comics spectrum comes this latest tome by Grant Morrison who's other comic Multiversity is proving a hit over at DC Comics. I'm not familiar with this publisher and nearly overlooked it when going through the Previews catalogue. However I'm pleased that I gave this odd but entertaining sci-fi tale a try.

Simply put writer Ray Spass decides to buy a house with "haunted properties" to help inspire his obviously ailing career. His other inspirations include alcohol, drugs and prostitutes as he develops the first chapter of his story.

Then fiction becomes life. How is this possible.

No spoilers, just read, you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

DC Comics: Five years later......

Futures End (DC Comics)

Writers/Artists (various)

The future of the DC universe is explored in this weekly series which takes place "five years later" than the current line of comics are set in. For those of you who may not have picked up any DC comics for a while you will find that there have been considerable changes to the characters and settings as a result of a storyline called Flashpoint, which "reset" their entire comics line.

 For starters Superman is not in a relationship with Lois Lane (though that will come we have found out) but is having a public affair with Wonder Woman. There are no less than three "Justice Leagues", one of which (Justice League Dark) is an entirely "magical" set of heroes and anti-heroes like John Constantine whose adventures have been toned down somewhat so he can be put back in the comics mainstream.

Superheroes have only been "around for five years" or so and there remains a wee bit of suspicion from Joe ordinary towards many of them.

This particular story sees the introduction of the futuristic Batman Beyond into the DC universe. He's travelled back into the past to save us from Brother Eye apparently. This isn't the only threat around. We discover there has been some kind of war involving Earth  Two and many of their heroes remain in custody or on the run.

Starting with the death of Stormwatch, the Wildstorm team now integrated into DC proper the adventure takes a turn with the apearance of Frankenstein and company going to find out what happened.

Did I mention Brainiac?

This months editions of DC comics are all set in the Futures End time line and are sold in two formats, normal and 3D as this illustration of Action Comics hopefully shows.

Each week this month we'll see what the future may hold for our heroes as each title highlights what has happened.

Its not good news for Aquaman......


...arrested by his wife Mera for treason?

This storyline is far superior to DC's previous attempt at a line-wide crossover under the Forever Evil banner.

Gets a full five stars from me!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

The Woods

The Woods Vol.1 TPB

The Woods TPB Vol 1 (Boom Studios)

James Tynion IV (w) Michael Dialynas (a)

Its the last day of High School, everything to look forward to for the summer right?

Well no. Otherwise there wouldn't be a story to tell for starters.

There's a flash of something and the whole building, students and teachers are no longer in Kansas. They have been transported to another world. The two moons give it away really. Other than an odd alien artifact on the edge of the woods, there's nothing to tell them where or indeed when they are.

Panic, fear, you know the drill in a teen movie, it's all here. The geeks, the jocks and of course our heroes, well of sorts any way.

You just know that when the little girl who gets comforted and told there are "no monsters here" is going to end well.

It doesn't.

Mix science fiction, Lord of the Flies and of course monsters here you have a story that actually would make quite a good movie. Maybe even a TV series.

Add to the fact this collected volume of the first four issues is at a low introductory price and you have a hit on your hands from this small publisher.

It also comes out as issue no 5 also hits the stands.

Highly recommended.

 The Woods #05 (Cover A)