Sunday, 30 October 2016

The Unknown Soldier #250 (DC/1981)

The Unknown Soldier #250 (DC)

Bob Haney (w) Dick Ayers & Gerry Talaoc (a)

The 250th anniversary issue of The Unknown Soldier was a spectacular story that saw our hero turn traitor and ally himself as a personal favourite of Adolf Hitler in his bid for world conquest. The other DC war heroes did not take to this very kindly and everyone sets out to kill him.

Those sent against him include The Haunted Tank, Captain Storm, Johnny Cloud, Madame Sevrin and of course Sgt Rock.

At the same time Herr Himmler didn't trust the bandaged man, with good reason. Did you really think our hero had turned traitor!



The Unknown Soldier first appeared in Our Army at War #168 (June/1966) and went on to star in his own series starting in Star Spangled War Stories #151 (July/1970) until the title was changed and The Unknown Soldier had his own comic.

Sadly the era of war comics was coming to an end. The last issue of The Unknown Soldier was published just 18 months later.


Saturday, 29 October 2016

Dangerman: War Against the Mafia (Top TV/1965)

One of the TV programmes I used to enjoy as a child was Dangerman, the story of a field agent who used amazing gadgetry to defeat evil. This programme lasted four seasons, though the last one was just two shows and left an indelible memory on those who watched it.

Patrick McGoohan of who played  John Drake went on to be "Number 6" in the cult TV show The Prisoner. Many Prisoner aficionado's like to think that Dangerman and The Prisoner are linked with Number 6 actually being John Drake. Who knows.

If you saw the last episode of The Prisoner you'd be as confused as anyone else as to what that was all about but still, great TV that held us in thrall throughout the sixties.

It comes a no surprise that Dangerman had some tie in comics and Annuals. There was certainly a Gold Key series that I was aware of, though it went by the name of Secret Agent for a couple of issues. Not sure why. Copyright problem I assume, much in the same way Steed and Mrs peel were not marketed in the US comics field as "The Avengers" to this day.

I picked this hardback book up from my local comic shop 30th Century comics whose newsletter stated they weren't aware of this edition themselves. Certainly I don't recall it it, but then I would have been just eight years old when this was published.

Best described as a graphic novel this is all comic book adventure unlike the Annual which is illustrated stories and of less interest to me for that reason

There is a a second edition in this series, Kingdom of Fear if you can find it plus a second Annual.

Here's a reminder of the show for all you oldies like me!

Monday, 24 October 2016

Worlds Finest #263 (DC/1980)

One of the titles DC chose for it's "Dollar Comic" format back in the late seventies was World's Finest, the long running Batman/Superman comic. A good choice as the two superheroes were the big sellers from DC and the larger format allowed for the inclusion of other characters in solo adventures who remained without their own comic.

For the most part these were rotating so although Shazam appeared in most, others included in this run were Ditko's Creeper, Adam Strange, Hawkman, Black Canary and Black Lightning. Also appearing were Green Arrow and the much under-rated and underused Zatanna.

Something for everyone. Did I mention Aquaman?


The stories were pretty much standard fare for DC but were enjoyable, though this being an anthology title I can't say every story was a winner. I was generally underwhelmed by Green Arrow, but then wasn't a great fan of his at the time.

The lead story in this issue was a rather sad one and poignant given that these days both Bruce and Clark have sons. Final Secret of the Super-Sons who had often featured in so-called "imaginary stories had a shocking end given their presence in the real world caused disasters.

In place of Shazam! was Captain Marvel Junior who faced up to a group of super-villains that were aging pensioners and after his secret of youth given neither he not Billy Batson had aged in all the time they were in clinky.

These Shazam family adventures were always a highlight for me. When they are done right they really work. Hopefully something will happen in the next wave of DC's current rebirth.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1 (DC)

Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1 (DC/Prestige Format)

Sarah Vaughn (w) Lan Medina (a)

One of DC's quirkier characters was Deadman created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantanio back in the sixties first appearing in Strange Adventures #205 (Oct 1967). Boston Brand , a circus trapeze artist is murdered by an assassin's bullet only to be reborn as Deadman. After spending his early appearances searching for the "one-hooked man", Boston goes on to be a player in the mainstream DC Universe, though never quite popular enough to have a long lasting solo series.

However Deadman has appeared alongside many well known DC heroes ranging from Superman & Batman to John Constantine, particularly in the short-lived but highly entertaining Justice League Dark series a couple of years ago or so. Worth tracking down those are.


The Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love was a gothic love story comic which lasted just four issues back in 1971/72, before transforming into Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion for a further 11 issues until 1974 . An odd merger of genres indeed. Charlton tried the same with Haunted Love in 1973/75 but this also  lasted just 11 issues.


This new Deadman adventure brings together these two genres for a new generation in a "prestige format" for a three-issue "mini-series" and a good story it looks like being.

Hearing a cry for help Boston heads off to Glencourt Manor unaware that that Bernice who lives there can see dead people. Even more mysterious is that Boston finds himself trapped in the house by some power.

Is this a deliberate trap and why can he not possess Sam?

There is a dark danger in this mansion that none may survive as Nathan, Bernice's husband continues to suffer from mysterious headaches. And of course this being a dark story involving love, Bernice is caught between two men. Sam and Nathan.

With good writing by Sarah Vaughn and excellent art by Lan  Medina this one comic adding to your pull list.

Out now.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

RIP Steve Dillon 1962 -2016

One of the all-time great British comic book artists has passed away aged just 54 years old.  According to reports in the wider comics community Steve had been ill for some time but the exact cause of his death is not known at the time of writing.

All our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad and difficult time.

Best known for his work on 2000AD and Preacher from DC comics here's a gallery of some of his work which is a tribute to a well respected artist and comic creator.

Steve Dillon's art will stand the test of time.


Global Frequency 3 Feb "03 pg 12 pan 4 Dillon & Baron

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Superman Family #191 (DC/1978)

Superman Family #191 (DC)

Various (w) & (a)

During the seventies DC comics faced a real crisis and had an "implosion" in which the company had to cut the number of titles back to the basics. However you can't keep good comics down and as they rose from the ashes one of the experiments they tried was the "Dollar Comic", a giant-sized comic with several features and to begin with no ads.

One of those comics was Superman Family which was a merger of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen and Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane but continuing with the numbering of Olsen's solo title. It actually began as a 100 pager, but with lots of reprints, whereas the Dollar titles gave all new stories and art which is what the punters (myself included really wanted.


Although the format eventually became uneconomic these are comics well worth picking up containing charming stories about Superboy, Supergirl, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and even solo tales of Krypto the superdog!

Issue 191 sees a kryptonian exploration machine try to wipe out mankind whilst Jimmy Olsen and the Newsboy legion search for the Guardian. Supergirl teams up with the Doom Patrol and Lois Lane goes in search of a missing baby smashing a baby kidnapping ring at the same time.`

There's also a tale of Nightwing and Flamebird set in the bottled city of Kandor and Krypto is proving to be a man's best friend as he travels in search of the real killer....


Sunday, 16 October 2016

Marvel Feature #1 ft Red Sonja (Marvel/1975)

Marvel Feature #1 (Marvel)

Roy Thomas (w) Dick Giordano (a)

With barbarians all the rage in the mid-seventies it was hardly surprising that Marvel chose to add Red Sonja to their line. Having first guest starred in Conan #23 and subsequently had a solo story in Savage Sword of Conan (magazine) #1 it was inevitable that Sonja would get her won series.

However the first issue of Marvel Feature contains only one original short story, The Temple of Abomination because of editorial mores plus a reprint of her first solo tale (this time in colour) simply entitled Red Sonja.

Both are very passable but the "real" adventures begin in issue two when Frank Thorne take the reigns with his distinctive artwork that we all remember.

Blood of the Hunter is a brutal tale of revenge in which everyone that befriends Sonja ends up dead following an altercation with Rejac the Tracker from whom she steals a solid gold key. An unusual tale where Sonja seemingly prepares to break her vows when she kisses a young(ish) crippled lad but is interrupted by his dying father.

Sonja only just survives the confrontation and then heads off on a quest. Balek awaits!

This version of Red Sonja lasted 7 issues before she got her own solo title.


Marvel no longer hold the licence for Red (or Conan for that matter) and her adventures have appeared in recent years under the Dynamite! label.

A new series with a bargain priced #0 issue will be in stores sometime in December. Just 25 cents, slightly more over here, especially with the falling pound!

Order now, it's bound to sell out.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Stalker #1 (DC/1975)

Stalker #1 (DC)

Paul Levitz (w) Steve Ditko & Wally Wood (a)

One of a number of short-lived DC series in the seventies was Stalker. A tale of a child who kicked out by his "father" (it's not clear what the actual relationship may have been) he survives only to be tricked into slavery by an evil Baroness.

Here after a while rebels against his treatment as a serf and rebels only to face punishment from which he luckily escapes only to be tricked again by the demon Dgrth who in return for giving him warrior prowess takes his soul as payment.

However the price is far too high. Knowing neither joy not satisfaction this soulless man now swears revenge on those who have wronged him.

The Stalker is born .

Lasting just four issues (of which I have the first two) Stalker swears the Baroness will die at his hands in one year and then sets off to reclaim his soul.

Set in a medieval world that is not Earth, this is quite an entertaining little series but went very quickly the way of cancellation despite having top talents involved.

Worth collecting. I'll certainly pick up the final two issues, this is a quite inexpensive comic to purchase. Pity there weren't more.....


Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Claw The Unconquered #1 (DC/1975)

Claw The Unconquered #1 (DC)

David Micheline (w) Ernie Chua (a)

With Conan the Barbarian being such a success over at rival comics publisher Marvel it was inevitable that DC would make an attempt at cashing in on the Barbarian franchise. The series they came up with was quite different to the character created by Robert E Howard in that Claw (real name Valcan) had a demon hand as the result of his father having done a deal with demons, but also had a destiny...

Regretfully this series (not set on Earth but on the same planet as the other seventies series Starfire, the original one not the later member of the Titans that most of us remember) only lasted 12 issues, with a gap between the first nine issues and the final three before it was cancelled. The result of DC's infamous "implosion" which saw the company cut right back to the bone on the number of comics it put out.

A great pity as the story and art is actually rather good. In the first issue Claw see's himself betrayed by a comely wench who unwittingly reveals his demon hand whilst offering her "talents" for sale. First she betrays him to Prince Occula who tries to get the man with the claw murdered but picks the wrong one, then calls on an old god to put our hero down.

Claw knowing he has a greater destiny ahead of him wins the day but makes the mistake of saving the girl who tries to murder him at a desert oasis. His clawed hand stops her as if it has a mind of it's own. She gets left to her fate, alone in the desert..

Claw continues his adventures until he faces an enemy he cannot defeat.

Low sales.

This is a good series which deserved a longer run. perhaps as DC is reborn they might diversify just a little and bring back Claw The Unconquered!


Monday, 10 October 2016

Steve Ditko on Ayn Rand, Aristotle and comic book heroes

Steve Ditko is one of the most famous comic book artists and writers of all time. His work for Marvel, Charlton and DC has led to the creation or co-creation of so many wonderful characters. Doctor Strange's early adventures could not have been presented without his distinct and wonderful art.

A recluse who refuses to give interviews (even Jonathan Ross got rejected) has a very strong philosophy and work ethic. Giving his best wherever he worked, even when with penny pinching Charlton Comics where his horror and mystery stories are a joy to read.

I came across this short video on You Tube where Ditko explains his philosophy towards comic book heroes.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Spawn #266 (Image)

Spawn #266 (Image)

Eric Larsen/Todd Mcfarlane (w) & (a)

One of the few remaining comics from the nineties "boom & bust" period that nearly destroyed the industry is Spawn. Once a top selling comic it rarely surfaces as a best seller these days despite the involvement of top talent and creator Todd McFarlane. I have to confess it's quite a while since I've picked up a copy of Spawn but being a fan of "crossovers" I ordered this (and the issue of Savage Dragon that goes with it) from Previews out of interest.

What I wasn't aware of and you should be if you head off to your local comic shop to pick up a copy is that this issue is in the middle of story arc that began some issues ago. There's a new war on Earth and Ant tells Spawn they need allies. Enter the Savage Dragon.


Now I last picked up the 200th anniversary issue of Savage Dragon so the Dragon here is the son not the original. Where Dragon's gone is a mystery to me... but hey this is comics and there's the added bonus of Ant appearing whose short lived comics run I did collect.


The story as picked up in this issue is straightforward enough Spawn, Dragon and Ant confront Monstress and err..her monsters, get a bit battered but obviously win the day.

Entertaining enough but not enough to make me a regular reader of either Spawn or the Dragon. I'd pick up a new series of Ant though.