Friday, 30 June 2017
Star Spangled War Stories #125 (DC)
No Credits except Joe Kubert (a)
One of DC's oddest war comics was Star Spangled War Stories which featured adventures set in the War that Time Forgot where (mostly) American soldiers would find themselves on an Island/alternate dimension where the Dinosaurs still roamed and all hell was let loose.
These were quite exciting tales for us young kids at the time but with age the stories become full of holes. For example in this issue a Tyrannosaurus Rex is manhandling a tank and chewing it up. It's tiny arms could not have done that let alone not get blown to bits by a cannon. I mean really.
Oh and this one also features a member of DC's original "Suicide Squad" babysitting a Robot GI. You have been warned!
Still despite the blatant nonsense these are quite entertaining little tales and was obviously quite popular running from #90 (May, 1960) until #137 (March 1968).
Great fun and worth picking up from time to time.
Thursday, 29 June 2017
Captain Marvel #15 (Marvel Comics)
Gary Friedrich (w) Tom Sutton (a)
One of my favourite all time Marvel heroes is none other than Captain Marvel himself. Not the first character with this name, Fawcett had a top selling superhero called Captain Marvel way back in the forties but had ceased publication due to a lawsuit with National Comics (DC) way back in 1953. This presumably was why Marvel were able to use the name.
Originally appearing in Marvel Super-Heroes #12, the good captain, a rebel from the planet Kree became an important part of the Marvel Universe. This issue picks up in the middle of a story featuring the rather all-powerful, all-seeing Zo. This cosmic entity needs Mar-Vell briefed of a mission of great importance that Zo wishes him to carry out.
Since this involves the destruction of the Kree homeworld Captain Marvel is not at first impressed but when the need for his homes destruction is explained, off the good Captain goes.
Why these "cosmic entities" need others to do their dirty work is always a mystery but then we wouldn't have a story otherwise, which leads me to the problem.
Got to find the next issue to see what happens.
Wednesday, 28 June 2017
Issued in time for Christmas 1980, the annual cover dated the year ahead as was the practice of British comics publishers this was the fourth 2000AD book to hit the stores. Despite it's futuristic promise this was still a bit on the old fashioned side with lower quality paper than the Judge Dredd Book I picked up recently.
Nevertheless there is some good stuff in this book in between the text stories and reprints which take up far too much space in this edition if you ask me. Never mind. Tharg's Future Shocks featuring The Mumps from Beyond the Moon shows exactly how careful one must be when taking your progs back in time! Robusters appear in an untitled story of Droids, bravery and an Aunt who should be obeyed.
Aliens get their comeuppance in The Man From 2000 and playing games are not always as they seem as Duel in the Dunes displays.
The reprints are shrunk too much to fit the format and whilst I have no idea where Smokeman comes from, it was rendered virtually unreadable due to the size of the print. Showing my age? Perhaps! Same problem with Guinea Pig which wasn't worth the effort.
Better off with Judge Dredd in the sad story The Case of the Urban Gorillas. Yeah apes gone terrorist.
Ok so a mixed bag this one. I will try out a couple more. There are 14 hardback annuals to choose from published between 1978 and 1991.
Monday, 26 June 2017
Although Scream! only lasted a mere 15 issues between March and June 1984, it did produce no less than 4 Holiday Specials and there was a fifth that went under the title of Spinechillers for reasons unknown to me anyway. I was lucky enough to pick up the second of these recently and I have to say these are worth picking up even if not on the cheap side.
With a cover featuring everyone's favourite vampire and a story inside to match theres plenty of scare and thrills to be had inside such as Tales of the Nightcomer, Demon of the Deep, Ghostly Games and Mother Haggards Helpers.
The reasons for this comics demise lay in poor timing due to industrial action and ended up being merged with Eagle where Max, the Computer with The Thirteenth Floor became a regular feature as did Monster the latter being reprinted in it's entirety by Rebellion recently.
I've said this before and I'll float the idea again Scream! would have made an ideal companion for 2000AD. Perhaps now that Rebellion have the rights they could consider a monthly or fortnightly comic.... just saying!
Sunday, 25 June 2017
The seventies were a great era for black & white horror magazine publishing. Skywald joined the fray with three titles of which Nightmare was the first later being joined by Psycho and Scream. Launched in 1970 Nightmare was given it's first (and only) Annual in 1972.
This edition contained eight stories of gore and terror to entertain the reader in the dark hours of the night. The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde kicks off the annual and is a passable adaptation of the well known story. Better fare appears in Beauty is Only Blood Deep as a noble discovers when she bathes in and drinks the blood of a poisoned virgin.
A revolting story of partial cannibalism is up next in Limb from Limb from Death. Stranded in a desert with no food and little water the only way to survive is to chop bits off you fellows and make a pact on rescue.
Alone is a tale of revenge and hypnotism that goes terribly wrong..for one of those involved. A rather daft tale follows next in And If a Fiend Comes Calling which seems to have no rhyme nor reason but at least the final tale The Day The Earth Will Die makes sense after a couple of beers anyway.....
Nightmare went on to last just 23 issues, with Skywald pushed off the stands by Marvel and Warren. Other issues of the magazine simply became "Summer Specials" or "Winter Specials".
Sunday, 18 June 2017
Photo: By Source,
I was sad to hear that Stephen Furst who played Vir Cotto in the superb Babylon 5 series died from a diabetes related illness. He was just 63.
His role as the centauri Ambassador was central to the plot throughout the five year story-line and eventually Vir became Emperor.
Although Babylon 5 developed a wide following on TV that so many of us became part of, the series did not develop much of a spin-off in the comics world with just the one short lived title from DC Comics.
Stephen Furst (Born Feuerstein) battled with obseity and diabetes all his life and became an activists for various health causes including the American Diabetes Association.
Rest in Peace.
Sunday, 11 June 2017
The recent publication of 2000 AD's 2000th issue and the subsequent fortieth anniversary edition has renewed my interest in this comic which was previously restricted to Judge Dredd reprints. I picked up a copy of 2000AD #200 and a few issues around that number to get a flavour of what the comic was like way back then.
Of particular interest was what turned out to be the origin story of Johnny Alpha, the Strontium Dog. Told over several issues with a gap ( I haven't reached the conclusion yet) this is useful for those of us not familiar with Strontium Dogs world. The target of Johnny Alphas bounty hunting turns out to be none other than Nelson B Kreelman, former fascist dictator of the UK and Johnny's father!
Next up was The Mean Arena, one of those semi-sporting violent game strips so popular at the time but not my cup of tea so I've been skipping this whenever it appeared.
Return to Armageddon proved to be a quite brutal strip. An immortal man who could not die being tormented in a freak circus by punters trying to kill him. This was for kids? Good story as it went on though this was part 16 or something like that. Worth persevering with over subsequent issues.
Then theres' Judge Dredd vs Pirates. Well what else could you ask for? Meanwhile Tharg has a party and part 23 of The Meltdown Man concludes the weekly edition. Think Kamandi and you'll get the drift. Thumbs up on this one.
There's more of the same in the zarjaz 4th Birthday issue! Includes the first part of The Day They Banned 2000AD. Fear not Earthings the villains of this plot did not get their way!
Saturday, 10 June 2017
Photo: by Alan Light
Adam West the actor who played the Batman in the camp TV series in the sixties has passed away aged 88 after a battle with cancer his family announced today. The Batman TV show which ran for 120 episodes over 3 seasons has been continuously repeated around the world to this day making Adam a household name, recognisable to both young and old.
The Batman show attracted all the great talent of the day from Vincent Price and Eartha Kitt to George Sanders and Milton Berle.
Mr West will be remembered as a good sport who never took himself too seriously and was able to appear in modern TV shows such as the Big Bang Theory and Family Guy.
He will be missed by not just his family but his legions of fans around the world
Friday, 9 June 2017
King Conan #1 (Marvel Comics)
Roy Thomas (w) & John Buscema (a)
Conan the Barbarian was once one of Marvel comics hottest properties, albeit on lease from the estate of Robert E Howard the characters creator. In 1980 Conan already had a successful four-colour comic and was the star of the most successful black & white comic magazine ever published Savage Sword of Conan. It was hardly surprising that Marvel added a third, albeit quarterly title to the roster.
Launched with a cover date of March 1980, King Conan was a "giant-sized" all new comic costing 75 cents, the price of an Annual way back then. This featured Conan as the King of Aquilonia married to his queen Zenobia and had a son, Conn some twelve summers of age.
This first adventure sees Conn lost in the woods and captured by the hag-witch of Hyperborea and used as bait to entrap Conan before a cabal of mages including the dreaded Thoth-Amon.
Under-rated by his enemies (except for Thoth) the sorcerers get their comeuppance as you would expect.
This series lasted 19 issues before having the title changed to Conan the King (no idea why) and was published for a further 36 editions until 1989.
Monday, 5 June 2017
Even mere mention of the word spelled fear to those of us who lived through the late seventies. Yes we all knew it was a giant plastic shark but along with the terrifying theme music it was enough for our girlfriends to hang on to us for dear life...or was it the other way round?
And so inevitably the genre made it's way through comedy and eventually to comics. Warren produced this special edition of water-themed horror to both entertain and horrify.
There are six stories in this issue, the first two of which run from one into the other and feature a young man called Brock who hangs on to his wife's heart..literally.
The third feature A Boy and his Thing is a reprint and I have the issue where this first appeared though for the life of me can't remember which one! This story has a monster the size of which beggars belief. Would you want one as a pet?
Water Babies comes up next as the issues colour feature and is a story of family, slavery and man's injustice to those around him. May even bring a tear to your eye. The monster is sometimes just very human indeed.
The Seven Sisters of the Sea sees revenge doled out to pirates and one in particular. It's just a story....right?
And to end there is a time travelling adventure, Alternate Paths that sees warnings ignored, egos to the fore and the end of things as they were. Anyone mention Atlantis?
Oh and just for fun here's the trailer for that film...... Jaws.
Don't go into the water!
Sunday, 4 June 2017
One of the "new wave" of British comics Battle which ran from 1975 to 1988 produced seventeen editions of the inevitable and much loved "Holiday or Summer" specials that helped pass the time during the long summer holidays. Well not so long for oldies like me who got just a couple of weeks by the eighties due to a little thing known as work.....
Nevertheless these editions which contain a mixture of new and reprinted material are still a great read and worth picking up when you can find a copy. Not cheap, but worth every penny. The 1988 Holiday Special is also printed on a higher grade of paper so is in better condition than equivalent "newsprint" specials.
Battle had itself ceased publication in January of that year being subsumed or merged with Eagle, but publishers kept the title alive for specials and Annuals for a little longer the last one hitting the stands in 1991.
All the favourites are inside. Johnny Red, the Hurricane pilot on the Eastern Front in no less than two adventures. There's Charlie's War, Rat Pack and Storm Force plus a few extras. and features.
A fondly remembered comic with great art and stories.