Monday, 30 March 2015

Infinity Man and the Forever People: The final issue...

Cover for Infinity Man and the Forever People #9 (2015)

Infinity Man and the Forever People (DC Comics)

Keith Giffen/Dan Dido (w) Keith Giffen (a)

This is on of DC's least memorable series in their "New 52" Universe. In fact if it hadn't have ended with this issue I'd have cancelled my shop subscription. Sales have been very low (hence it's cancellation) and with this the third attempt to revive these creations of Jack Kirby has failed.

Originally part of the "Fourth World" saga that Kirby created for DC after his defection from Marvel back in early seventies, this always was the "weakest link". Other than another unmemorable 6 issue limited run back in 1988 this has been the only other attempt to breath life into these lacklustre characters.

However that said, the best (and I do mean the best) has been saved for last.

Spoiler Alert:

The last issue will have a very small print run so finding a copy might be a wee bit difficult. So I thought "what the hell" and will give the game away as so many of you will probably never get a chance to read it.

The story tells of the last days of the war with Apokolips on New Genesis, home of the New Gods. In a desperate suicide run Izaya (who will later become "Highfather") tries to deliver  a bomb in a desperate attempt to save his planet.

He fails of course.

Izaya reaches breaking point and flees to a remnant of the first "Source Wall" whose destruction led to the fall of the old gods.

In order to secure peace he must make a sacrifice. An exchange of children with Darkseid.

Here he is cleansed of his conscience in order that he might proceed with his ordained destiny.

That conscience takes The Infinity Man.

They are both Izaya.

To be continued somewhere in the DC Universe................

Infinity Man and Forever People (2014) logo

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Marvel Monsters: The Living Mummy

Supernatural Thrillers #10 (Marvel Comics)

Len Wein & Tony Isabella (w) Val Mayerick (a)

With the relaxation of the censorship surrounding the "Comics Code Authority", Marvel were able to launch a variety of horror themed comics. Supernatural Thrillers was a short lived series which featured The Living Mummy in issues 5 to 15.

The basic premise of the story as that some 3,000 years ago N'Kantu a warrior chief who resisted the Pharaoh Amen-Set was punished by being buried alive.In the seventies he came back to life for a number of adventures including at least one "team-up" (with The Thing).

Issue 10 sees N'Kantu walking across the desert contemplating his past. After all he muses to himself, he does not have much else to do. Meanwhile a group of "elementals" plot to gain control. But that appears to be for the next issue.

In this story he sees a female soldier being chased by a tank. He "rushes" or stumbles depending on your point of view to her rescue. Using his body as a shield against their bullets  (the crew have run out of shells) he allows her to throw a grenade which blows up the armoured vehicle.

We then discover she is an Israeli soldier fighting an undisclosed Arab country.

She thanks N'Kantu and wishes him peace as she returns to her people.

Meanwhile a sinister enemy heads to the earthly plane for the next issue.

An interesting little series that I didn't read the first time round. Worth trying out where you can find the back issues from 1974/5.


Saturday, 28 March 2015

Marvel Flashback: Sub-Mariner #37

Sub-Mariner #37 (Marvel Comics)

Roy Thomas (w) Ross Andru & Mike Esposito (a)

This is one of the pivotal issues in the Sub-Mariners solo series from the sixties & seventies. Caught between a rock and a hard place. Namor must choose between saving his realm and beating off another attempted invasion of Atlantis by Attuma.

The issue opens with a seemingly happy scene as Namor finally marries the love of his life, the Lady Dorma. Except nothing is as it seems. In her place is a disguised Llyra, former Empress of Lemuria. Upon the discovery of this treachery Namor's famous temper flares and he declares:

"Let my legions stay back-- that Namor may deal with this harridan!"

Of course there's more treachery afoot as Namor discovers a traitor in his court plotting an attack with Attuma, that comes sooner than expected. This delay leads to the inevitable tragedy.

As the cover declares:

Two loves has Namor!! The Land...and The Lady....And one must die.

Long term Marvelites will know the outcome which shapes Namor for years to come.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Marvel Flashback: Invaders #22

Invaders 22

The Invaders #22 (Marvel Comics)

Roy Thomas (w) Jim Mooney (a)

The Invaders was Marvels band of heroes from World War 2 published in the seventies. This series lasted some 41 issues plus an Annual & Giant Size edition or two and saw the revival of old Timely heroes from the forties.

Most readers will be familiar with Captain America who is still around today and of course the Sub-Mariner, the half human, half Atlantean hybrid who still rules under the ocean waves today. The other characters, with the exception of Union Jack were all around way back then and are mostly long forgotten.

This issue highlights the origin of Toro, the side-kick to the original Human Torch, not Johnny Storm of Fantastic Four fame but an android who "caught fire" when exposed to air.

Marvel Mystery Comics #5 (1940)                    Captain America (1941)

An interesting tale told as the various heroes head back to old Blighty with Toro's life hanging in the balance aboard a British warship. Turns out that Toro is a mutant, as is the Sub-Mariner. And I bet you thought mutants began with the X-Men.

The title was mildly interesting but always had it's limitations.

This issue is pretty representative of what to expect and worth reading

All Winners Comics #4 (1941)

Sunday, 22 March 2015

I am Groot!

Tales to Astonish Vol 1 13

Tales to Astonish (Atlas/Marvel)

Various (w) & (a)

The film Guardians of The Galaxy has made a once minor horror feature a household name. Originally appearing in an old horror anthology published in November 1960 as a one off feature, Stan Lee & Jack Kirby's creation has caught the public imagination.

Obtaining a copy of this issue would be difficult an some what pricey, but there is an alternative. The whole story was reprinted in Where Monsters Dwell #6 in 1970. I managed to pick up a low grade copy for a mere three quid.

Where Monsters Dwell Vol 1 6

As you can see Groot is somewhat more articulate in this story and tells the frightened crowd of his mission:

"Earthlings .. Hear Me. I am Groot. Monarch of Planet X. I come to take an Earth village back to my planet! We want to study you, to Experiment on you".

Charming alien that Groot is.

Of course the military try to stop him and fail.

But wait in a "War of the Worlds" twist he is defeated.

And how?

Termites! Heh.

But like all comic book characters this is never "the end"......

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Marvel Flashback: Marvel Two-In-One #20

Marvel Two-In-One Vol 1 20

Marvel Two-In-One #20 (Marvel Comics)

Roy Thomas (w) Sal Buscema (a)

One of two "team up" titles published by Marvel Comics in the seventies and eighties was Marvel Two-In-One which featured Ben Grimm aka The Thing of Fantastic Four fame. This issue features the Liberty Legion, a minor group of old heroes that hailed from the 1940's.

Going back in time to recover a vibranium cylinder that in the wrong hands could lead to the Nazi's winning the Second World War, the action continues.

The opening sequence has one of the most bizarre of super-villain creations, a rocket powered, rotating flying swastika shaped craft flown by Brain Drain, literally a disembodied brain with eyes. You couldn't make it up.

Oh yeah they did.

This is fiction and add Meranno, a bad guy from Atlantis, Skyshark and Masterman the heroes have a fight on their hands.

Of course the Ratzi's lose as you would expect.

Fun Fact: The Thing doesn't actually have his own superpowers for this adventure and wears a Thing "exo-skeleton.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Marvel Flashback: Marvel Team Up #35

Marvel Team-Up Vol 1 35

Marvel Team Up #35 (Marvel Comics)

Gerry Conway (w) Sal Buscema/V Colletta (a)

"There within the milky depths of the Orb of Agamotto: the one I seek" says Doctor Strange "Only He can aid me Now".

Que for an illustration of Johnny Storm, the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four.

I picked up this issue of Marvel Team Up for the simple reason it is one of just a handful of issues that does not star Spiderman. Hailing from 1975, this adventure is a continuation from the previous issue where Valkyrie of the Defenders has gone missing, and the Doc needs help to find her.

And boy does she need help.

Facing being sacrificed to the old gods by some one off villain, Jeremiah.

Turns out our villain is not what he seems. Hiding behind a masquerade of a mystically powered servant to some unearthly evil, he is in fact a mutant.

Needless to say he gets his just desserts!

Not one of Marvels finest but a fun distraction.

Image result for Marvel Team Up #35

Spidey was in the preceding issue. Must track down one of these days!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Marvel Flashback: Thor #169

Thor Vol 1 169

The Mighty Thor #169 (Marvel Comics)

Stan Lee (w) Jack Kirby (a)

From the golden age of Marvel comics this spectacular issue of Thor penned by Stan "the man" Lee and drawn bu Jack "King" Kirby the two greats who created the basis upon which the fictional Marvel universe was built.

Combine this with Thor and the promise of the origin of Galactus the being that eats planets without getting indigestion and you have a winner.

The cover alone is worth the admission price and the story  not a bad effort at all even though the origin of Galactus goes on to be revised in future stories. In this version Galactus is the last survivor of the great paradise that existed on the planet Taa,  wiped out by an unstoppable space plague. He and others plunge themselves into the heart of the largest sun in the universe.

Somehow one astronaut survives as the ship crash lands and the Watcher complete with a vow not to interfere in the affairs of others allows Galactus to live.

And so the universe suffers as Galactus wakes with a mighty hunger only satisfies by consuming planets with life.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Marvel Flashback: Doctor Strange Annual #1

Doctor Strange Annual Vol 1 1

Doctor Strange Annual #1 (Marvel Comics)

Marv Wolfman (w) P Craig Russell (a)

One of my favourite Marvel Comics heroes is the rather under rated Doctor Strange. I grew up reading the wonderful Stan Lee/Steve Ditko collaborations in his early days as the joint feature in Strange Tales (shared with Nick Fury, Agent of shield) but after the Marvel expansion in the late sixties neither he (or Nick Fury) proved strong enough to retain their own titles.

However every so often the Doc returns in revived series and it was not until 1976 that he got his own annual. Steve Ditko was no longer on the strip but this tome drawn by P Craig Russell really shows how other dimensional worlds should be illustrated.

A very basic and tragic story as Stephen Strange, no longer the "Sorcerer Supreme" sets off to find his beau Clea who has disappeared out of his life. Enter Lectra, Empress of Phaseworld and the double length adventure begins.

A good story with excellent art and worth picking up .

Doctor Strange Annual 1 1976 splash page by Craig Russell

Friday, 13 March 2015

Two previews for May

Previews Cover-March15 Front

It's time to send in orders from the March issue of Previews but for me just a quiet month as only two items caught my attention this month.

DC is releasing the second half of it's be Convergence event and new series will not be solicited until next month. There's 15 "new" comics coming in June but a couple are really only relaunches, I'll take a loook at these next month.

In the mean time Archie comes to..the end?

STK670113 Image

Archie #666 (Archie Comics)

Not content with relaunching it's old superhero line or making waves with excellent Afterlife with Archie and the new look Sabrina, Archie comics are ending the old style Archie himself with amusing numbered issue 666!

The last issue of Archie and his gang, Betty, Veronica Jughead, Josie and the rest comes out this May as the company takes a big risk in changing their core character into something "more modern" starting in June.

I only dip into Archie from time to time, but this issue is bound to sell out quickly especially since they're going the whole hog and releasing a multi-cover edition that links up to form one big image. Just the one will do me.

Talking of Image:

STK671611 Image

Injection (Image Comics)

Warren Ellis (w) Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire (a)

Not content with one Image series, British writer Warren Ellis releases his second on-going comic with Image. Injection is solicited as a mixture of science fiction, mystery, crime, horror and techno thriller (their description not mine) and according to the blurb:

Once upon a time, there were five crazy people, and they poisoned the 21st Century. Now they have to deal with the corrosion to try and save us all from a world becoming too weird to support human life.

OK, I'll give it a try. Warren Ellis is currently also writing the excellent science fiction series Trees for Image, which will shortly have a collected edition of the first story arc released. Worth purchasing if you missed the original comics.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Back issue spotlight: Rip Hunter Time Master #20

Cover for Rip Hunter #20 (1964)

Rip Hunter: Time Master #20

Jack Miller (w) Will Ely (a)

Before Doctor Who there was Rip Hunter whose adventures kicked on in Showcase # before he went on to star in 29 issues of his own comic book. This particular issue published in May 1964 is towards the end of his run and contains the inevitable clash of time travellers with Adolf Hitler.

The story Adolf Hitler's Greatest Secret also stars Mussolini and err.. Napoleon. Well it is about time travel! Whilst out taking film footage of the second world war, the time sphere gets hit and off the intrepid team go to be interrogated by Hitler himself.

Blackmailed into fetching Napoleon from the past to help save the German army from destruction in Russia (yeah I know something not quite right with that idea, but then this is comics).

Obviously the chums all escape but I had to laugh out loud at the scene of Napoleon punching Hitler. Classic.

Might see if I can pick up more of these in the future. Great fun!

Rip Hunter 1Cover for Rip Hunter #16 (1963)

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Back Issue spotlight: Showcase #44 Tommy Tomorrow of the Planeteers

Showcase #44: Tommy Tomorrow of the Planeteers

Arnold Drake (W)  Lee Elias (a)

I picked up my well worn copy of this copy with some trepidation last night as it's not in the best of condition, needing to be read flat on a table. It certainly has been well read by all of it's previous owners since it was published in in January 1963 and worth thumbing through (with care) even now.

This was the second appearance of one of DC's minor characters which I would have thought would have had more success than it did. For British readers who might not be familiar it's sort of a cross between Dan Dare and Star Trek.

This is quite a quaint adventure from the days when science fiction didn't take much notice of science fact. For example you'd need more than an anorak to survive on the surface of Pluto!

A story of two intrepid "Planeteers", the bright one being our Tommy along with his mate a blue faced alien called Vurian.

The plots straightforward enough as the adventure spans between earth Venus Pluto and the asteroid belt. But one has to ask why a huge moon sized brain machine would create a giant mechanical cat to attack Tommy is best left to your imagination.

Perhaps the author went on to write for Archie Comics superheroes they had a reputation for silliness beyond the call of duty.

Still a cracking read if you set aside any question of disbelief.

Here's a couple of covers from some of Tommy's later appearances.

Worth tracking down I reckon.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Back issue spotlight: Action Comics #315

Cover for Action Comics #315 (1964)

Action Comics #315 (National/DC Comics)

A recent purchase this issue of Action Comics represents the kind of superhero story we all grew up with in the sixties. This was published in August 1964 and contains two adventures, the first with Superman the main star of the book with a back up from Supergirl.

The main feature is The Juvenile Delinquents from Alpha Centauri which introduce us to Zigi and Zagi as the wonder around causing mayhem wherever they go. Superman doesn't have a fight on his hands and has to resort to tricking the pair to going home.

He succeeds but as the jet across the cosmos Supes realises that there is a dangerous criminal hidden on their spacecraft and off he goes to retrieve the felon. Will he be on time?

Meanwhile Supergirl is torn between her real parents (now on Earth) and her foster parents now living in the bottled city of Kandor. Yeah i was confused to. The Menace of Supergirls Mother introduces us to the weird and wonderful world of Krypton.

Honestly exactly how much of Krypton did Brainiac manage to fit in that bleeding bottle.

Unlike most DC comics of this era both stories are continued next issue which is a pain since that means tracking down issue 316. Fingers crossed my local comic shop has a copy or it could be a long wait.

Now-must-track-down-this issue:

Cover for Action Comics #316 (1964)

Back issue spotlight: Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #7

Cover for Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #7 (1972)

Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #7 (DC)

Various (w) & (a)

This is one of the lesser known horror titles produced by DC and until I picked this one up had none in my own collection. Introduced (for the first time apparently) by a host called Charity this issue contains three complete stories.

The first features a lost hunter delirious from lack of food and water who seemingly hallucinates about an impossible giant spider until he is "rescued " by the beautiful Elana and taken to her fathers house for safety.

But all of course is not as it seems as our central character continues in his delirium until he makes a fateful choice, but will he make the right one?

The next feature The Immortality Thieves is a tale of sibling rivalry, a youth serum and double betrayal. This is the best of the three tales the others frankly being mediocre even for their time.

The final adventure sees a Count get his comeuppance as you would expect in a little romp entitled The Royal Right.

Serves hi right might have been a better title!

Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansions lasted 15 issues between 1971 and 1974

Cover for Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion #11 (1973)

Oddly the host of the book went on to assist Jack Knight (aka Starman) and eventually married a policeman in Opal City.

Charity O'Dare: Fortune Teller

Monday, 9 March 2015

Back issue spotlight: Blackhawk #191

Blackhawk # 191 (National/DC Comics)

The Blackhawk team were originally introduced to readers in Military Comics #1 published way back in 1941 by Quality Comics. They had a high readership only being out shadowed by the top-sellers Superman & Shazam published by National/DC and Fawcett respectively.

Their longevity was such that Blackhawk was one of just four titles that survived from the forties through to the sixties. No prize for guessing the others were Superman, Batman & Wonder Woman.

However they are long gone, with a modern attempt to revive them when DC launched it's "New 52" being an abject failure. It was cancelled before I gave up on it!

The stories that I remember from the sixties and occasionally pick up a copy for are the usual wacky affairs that gave DC it's trademark for the time. Along with The Sea Devils and the Challengers of the Unknown Blackhawk was great fun!

This multinational team team of adventurers would get them into all sorts of scrapes as this issue clearly shows from it's cover, and for once the illustration actually depicts an event taking place inside the comic. Many covers of that period were misleading, but part of the charm that made me a big DC fan.

There is one amusing scene where the Blackhawks run to the rescue of their leader and find the villain of the story tucked up in bed still wearing his mask.

Worth picking up for a wee bit of nostalgia.

This particular issue was cover dated Dec 1963.

Here's a couple of covers to wet your appetite!

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Chaos: a disappointing return

Chaos (Dynamite Entertainment)

Tim Seely (w) Mirka Andolfo (a)

The latest offering from Dynamite re-introduces the characters of the old "Chaos" universe created and run by Brian Pulido. Originally published as a six issue mini-series, the collected edition reprints the whole story with "extras".

Dynamite has been collecting old comic franchises like some people collect stamps. Some of the revivals have been well done, others not so well.

However sometimes there is a reason a line of comics ceases publication.

Chaos Comics.jpg

The original line of Chaos comics were published between 1994 and 2002, though the most successful of the lines comics, Lady Death went on to be published in two different formats under the Crossgen imprint until that went out of business and is now published by Avatar Comics.

And that is part of the problem. Evil Ernie was linked to Lady Death and she has had to be replaced by Lady Hel, based on one of the old Norse Gods. Doesn't really sit right to be honest.

Frankly not much of the new characterisations sat right with me and having under-par artwork doesn't help.

However there is one ray of hope. Dynamite did publish a mini-series of Chastity which was very good and when thats collected I would recommend it.

This volume has to get the thumbs down.