Monday, 26 September 2016
For thirty years Warren publishing produced a number of adult orientated horror/science fiction fantasy magazines. The first an arguably the most famous was Creepy which lasted from 1965 to 1885 when Warren finally gave up on the comics business.
This is the earliest edition I have managed to obtain and proved a solid read with no less than seven stories:
Loathsome Lore sees a grave digger flee his relentless pursuers only to end up in the hands of a madman seeking to create an immortality serum taken from his various prisoners. A hunchback takes our fugitive to the dungeons where he meets a vampire, werewolf and others. However as the monsters make their inevitable escape Dr Habeas meets his fate...
Blood and Orchids provides a twist on the tales of vampires that will make gardeners cringe.
That Damned Thing tells the tale of a man accused who claims there is a monster made of a colour that is beyond the range of the human eye, while Moon City introduces us to ravenous dogs on a colony in the moon.
Curse of the Full Moon is a tale of werewolves that contains nothing new but the Trial of Adam Link may bring a tear to your eye as an artificial man is sentenced to death by an uncaring mankind.
Collect these if you dare!
Sunday, 25 September 2016
Trinity #1 (DC)
Francis Manapul (w) & (a)
The trinity of DC heroes Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman back together again for dinner!
With the New 52 Earth's Superman dead the Superman from the previous incarnation of the world is back both in Superman, Action Comics and the Justice League. But does anyone really know him? Lois Lane (Kal's wife from their Earth) has invited Bruce and Diana to the farm so that they can all get to know each other. Bruce as usual is not a very trusting soul and sees this Superman and his son Jon as two potential threats to his world.
And is Lois jealous of Wonder Woman?
The boys and the girls separate for a chat Diana assures Lois that her Clark is not the same man that she fell in love with. As they put Jon to bed and roam the yard there is seemingly a voice coming from the barn.....
A good introductory issue that introduces readers to the new and growing dynamics between the three heroes around which the DC Universe is built.
Doom Patrol #94 (DC)
No credits (w) & (a)
It had been my original attention to review the new Doom Patrol series just launched by DC under their "Young Animal" label. Except there was one problem. I couldn't find a good word to say about it. Self indulgent, pretentious rubbish was all that I could think of and have never been so disappointed by a relaunch of a group of characters that were a firm part of the Silver Age of comics.
So rather than slag it off I thought I'd purge myself of the experience by picking up one of the comics from the original incarnation of the Doom Patrol from back in the sixties.
The Doom Patrol were a bunch of "oddities" consisting of Robotman, a man whose brain had been put in a machine's body after a crash, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Niles Caulder their genius leader who was confined to a wheelchair. They were marketed as "The World's Strangest Heroes".
Originally appearing in My Greatest Adventure #80, the title was soon changed to the Doom Patrol. They were never more than a "second tier" group and their first solo title lasted just 39 issues with a brief 3 -issue reprint revival in the early seventies. There have been several attempts to revive the team including a stint at the older reader orientated Vertigo imprint.
Nevertheless many readers growing up in the sixties have fond memories of this team and this issue is fairly typical fare for the team featuring two stories. The first, The Nightmare Fighters sees the team take on a fake supernatural enemy involving the use of a weapon from one of their deceased foes. The second The Chief Stands Alone is more or less a solo story for Niles Caulder who faces off a villain using a newly weaponised wheelchair he has just invented. All the excitement that a child needed in those simpler days....
Perhaps one day they'll get the treatment they deserve until then there are plenty of back issues to collect from this and other series in the seventies and eighties, though I do not recommend the Vertigo version even if dreamed up by Grant Morrison.
Saturday, 24 September 2016
Superman #209 (DC)
No credits (w) & (a)
The latest issue of Action Comics (#963) starts the storyline Superman meets Clark Kent. Impossible you say? In the current DC Universe Superman has died after his secret identity was exposed in a villainous plot by Vandal Savage the immortal villain always seeking world domination. However there is a twist.
Following the rebooting of DC's fictional universe in Flashpoint (wrongly blamed on the Flash it would seem), the Superman, Lois Lane and their son Jon have all survived their previous worlds decease and are alive and well. The original Superman is now out in the world getting to know his friends and enemies all over once again.
Amongst the mysteries now being explored is the existence of a "Clark Kent" who seems the "real deal" but is not Superman. How is this possible. Well you'll have to follow the current storyline in Action comics to find out like the rest of us!
However this is not the first time Superman and Clark Kent have appeared as separate beings. One of these stories appears back in the late sixties in a story entitled The Clark Kent Monster. Following an incursion by an alien hell bent on Earth's conquest Clark Kent suddenly appears out of nowhere and develops superpowers. This being the silver age it wasn't too difficult to guess that this "Clark Kent" is actually the alien who has managed to steal the molecules that make up Clark Kent. (Don't ask this is the world of comics after all...).
However the world is saved by the one thing that makes up even the stolen identity of Clark. His love for Lois. Superman wins the day again.
Wednesday, 21 September 2016
When Marvel cancelled their short lived Unknown Worlds of Science Fiction magazine they were left with a lot of material, some of which they published in this one-off special in 1976. Unknown Worlds was one of a whole line of a line of black & white magazines launched by the company to capture the "adult" market dominated by Warren with it's famous line of magazine Creepy, Eerie and of course Vampirella.
The magazines made a profit but nowhere near enough to make this line a success and and Unknown Worlds was one of the earlier casualties. Apparently science fiction was a difficult sell. If only they knew what was around the corner in 1977.....
Actually the reason Marvel had trouble was they launched far too many magazines with no les than thirteen on the shelves at one point. This included five Horror Mags. Overkill, something companies still indulge in with crossovers and too many Batman or X-Men related comics.
As a fan of the genre it was a pity there wasn't more of this magazine although some of the varied content did leave a little to be desired. However this special really is well worth reading if you can get hold of a copy.
There are seven tales starting with A Martian Odyssey which just gets weirder as it goes along but very entertaining as we see various impossible and improbable lifeforms on the red planet. This is followed by Journey's End a nightmare world in which a man is imprisoned in a dream by his wife seeking a divorce but doesn't know it.
The Forest of Trees is a story of fear in an unknown world and is a more traditional sci-fi tale with a twist whilst Clete sees aliens exploring Earthly ruins with one turning native to save the last woman. Doesn't end well.
The best story (one which I am sure has been reprinted elsewhere) is Preservation of the Species, a tale of mutants, forbidden love. aliens and a sexless couple until one night Lee sees her husband in the bushes with a native woman. Deciding to enjoy herself Lee dresses as a native and makes love to her husband who has no genitals. The horror is about to begin.
The only naff tale is Sinner which is best skipped but the final story, Arena seems remarkably similar to a Star Trek adventure where Kirk meets the Gorn. Nuff said.
Saturday, 17 September 2016
Creatures on the Loose #10 (Marvel Comics)
Kull: Roy Thomas (w) Berni Wrightson (a)
Having just launched Conan the Barbarian, Marvel decided to "try out" another of Robert E Howard's creations King Kull. This short story featured in one of their (mainly) monster/horror reprint titles Creatures on the Loose.
Set in an earlier era than Conan, Atlantis still exists and Kull is a former barbarian/bandit who has come to the throne of neighbouring Valusia. This short tale The Skull of Silence (it's only seven pages) see's Kull on his way back to his capital but in need of shelter for the night. On spying a castle he decides to seek shelter there despite the warings of his "wise slave" Kuthulus, Kull leads his party to the gates and upon seeing it sealed with a wizards warning decides to go in regardless.
A rash decision as we could all guess as Kull unleashes an ancient evil of silence.
Kull went on to star in a short lived comic of his own. The first ten issues were titled Kull the Conqueror which for some reason became Kull the Destroyer for the remainder of the 29 issue run. Other than attempt to give Kull a black & white magazine (which only lasted three issues), Kull appears mainly as a back up strip in The Savage Sword of Conan, the long running magazine.
Kull never captured the imagination of the comics buying public and remains a very secondary to Conan.
Oh and the back up strip which fills the rest of the pages of the comic is a really corny reprint of monster story involving an alien trying to take over the world after inhabiting s giant steam shovel. The day is saved by an elephant. No really.... read Trull the Inhuman ...and weep!
Friday, 16 September 2016
Haunted #10 (Charlton Comics)
Various (w) & (a)
Horror and mystery anthologies were once very much a mainstay of the comics world and all the publishers had several titles on-going at any one time. Marvel had it's "big panty monsters" (as my local comic shop describes them), DC it's Houses of Mystery and Secrets and even Gold Key published one's featuring Boris Karloff as the host. Charlton comics were no exception and had been continually publishing mystery titles since the fifties.
One of these was Haunted, launched in 1971 the comic featured three or so short stories of varying quality but for the fans of Steve Ditko was certainly one to keep an eye on. Ditko did a lot of excellent work for Charlton, who despite having a reputation for miserly rates of pay did up the dollar to keep him on board.
Having picked this issue up at random I'm sad to say there is none by the man, but it's an average issue much of which readers may have seen in the UK republished by Alan Class who had the licence for Charton's material.
However the first issue sported a real Ditko classic and is reproduced below along with a gallery of other issues from Charlton.
Up until #20 the comic was simply known as Haunted but from #21 gained a "host" whose name became part of the title. Hence Baron Weirwolf's Haunted was born. For some reason the last issue (#75) reverted to the original title. Charlton folded shortly after.
Like all of Charlton's material production standards (including paper quality) were low but they did leave their staff to get on with the job without too much interference.