Friday, 9 December 2016
Van Williams the actor who played the Green Hornet in the 1960's TV show has passed away at the age of 82 according to a statement issued by producer Kevin Burns.
The Green Hornet was very much a show in the sixties "camp" mode but never quite caught the imagination of the public in the same way Batman with Adam West did. Nevertheless this is a fondly remembered programme by those who are old enough to have seen it.
His sidekick Kato was played by Bruce Lee.
One of the more memorable scenes from the show include the following sequence where the Hornet and Batman face off. According to Van Williams Bruce Lee was mighty pissed of the fight ended in a draw and Burt Ward who played Robin was worried that Lee might well "let loose" during the filming.
Rest in Peace.
Wednesday, 7 December 2016
Flash Gordon #14 (Charlton Comics)
Sal Gentile (w) Pat Boyette (a)
These days when most people think of Flash Gordon the 1980 film with Queens wonderful music always comes to mind, but Flash goes back much further than that rather "campy" but wonderful adaptation. which actually originated as a comic strip in 1934!
Photo: Fair use
Flash Gordon went on to be a film serial shown in cinema's between 1936 and 1940 and Radio adventures in 1935/36. There have been a number of comic books over the years but it is this one with which I am familiar.
This comic published in the sixties started with King Features in 1966 and ran util the licence was picked up Charlton in 1969 with #12. However Charlton only published 7 bi-monthly issues until 1970.
The comic was reborn as a Gold Key title in 1978, and subsequently Whitman who adapted the 1980 movie across three issues. The comic ran for a combined total of 37 issues.
In #14 Flash is forced to travel to to The Land of of Witch Queen to rescue Dale after a plot to overthrow King Barin involving a gang of lookalikes who orchestrate events. The story recreates the wonderful world of Mongo and it's various races as we see particularly in #15 when Dale is kidnapped again and taken to the unexplored continent.
These comics are great fun and reflect the age when adventure was more swashbuckling and heroic than gritty and ultra-violent as a lot of comics can be these days.
Worth picking up. I may look out for the other publishers of Flash Gordon at a later date!
Tuesday, 6 December 2016
Thor was one of Marvel's headline superheroes whose adventures could easily be turned to a more mature audience with just a small effort given the violent nature of the Asgardian world. This story sees Thor and his mischievous half brother Loki sent on a quest to retrieve a dangerous gem for Odin, the all-father and King of the Gods.
But not all is at it seems.....
Loki is his usual duplicitous self, after all he is the God of Mischief. However the pair get sidetracked by the sorceress Shamballa who tries to seduce Thor whilst selling Loki to the gnomes for slave labour. Thor saves his brother and the pair continue their journey to the Cavern of the Screaming Skull.
Here the fight is with Titans of Greek Myth and then a monster inside, the final Guardian. Needless to say Thor completes the quest only to be betrayed by his scheming half-brother, though not for long.
The gem is destroyed and our heroes have to return empty handed.
However Odin has been watching and is not displeased even though he knows Thor is covering for the treacherous Loki. Odin has decided who will succeed him to the throne.
The back-up feature tells a tale of Hercules in ancient Greece with Jason of "Golden Fleece" fame. Both sent on yet another quest by the wicked King of Pylos.
Marvel had intended to give Thor his own black & white magazine and even advertised subscriptions though cutbacks meant the title never appeared. Thor did get one further outing in Bizarre Adventures a few years later.
Monday, 5 December 2016
Yang #1 (Charlton Comics)
Joe Gill (w) Warren Sattler (a)
During the seventies martial arts became a popular genre in films and on TV so it was hardly surprising that the comics industry muscled in with a number of titles. Marvel produced Shang-Chi Master of Kung Fu and Iron Fist in both "four colour" and black & white formats. DC had the very short lived Karate Kid.
Not to be left out Charlton comics came up with Yang which lasted over two years with 13 issues, not a bad run for them. Set in the 1890's Yang tells the tale of Chung Hui who whilst trying to avenge the death of his father is taken into slavery and sold to unscrupulous railroad men as a navvy.
Easily taken in by the beautiful daughter of Captain Keegan twice, Yang learns the hard way about the world of evil. How their relationship develops however is something I will see as I collect further issues of this quite interesting comic.
Yang does eventually escape to engage in a struggle against the evil. The Yin to his Yang.
Here's the opening pages of the first issue to give you a flavour.
And a cover gallery.....
Sunday, 4 December 2016
Ghostly Tales #110 (Charlton Comics)
Various (w) & (a)
One of the genres that Charlton were consistent in output with were their range of horror/mystery titles. Ghostly Tales was one of several long running titles that formed the core of their publications. Like all of these anthology comics (as with any publisher) the contents were varied and whether the stories were any good was really up to the reader. In Charlton's case quality was, shall we say variable in terms of art and writing.
As I've often pointed out Charlton were mean with remuneration for their creators but despite this there are some gems to be found. In particular this series has a lot of issues with very high quality covers of which this is one. That it illustrated cats was a bonus, for me anyway!
In fact this vaguely relates to the one good story in this issue, The Man Who Hated Cats written by Joe Gill and drawn by the great Steve Ditko. There's a reason the previous sole inhabitant of this small Island kept the cats and treated them well, so killing them off is not a good idea. The clue should have been in the name, Raton Island!
The other two tales One Night in The Bayou and El Tigre Lives are standard stuff and instantly forgettable, the art on the latter story being somewhat sub-standard in my opinion.
Nevertheless these comics are worth picking up when you find them as there's usually a tale or two worth reading. Much of the earlier stuff appeared in Alan Class titles in the UK.
The first issue was actually #55! Issues #1 to #49 were published as Unusual Tales and #50 to #54 as Blue Beetle, the Dan Garrick version).
The final issue came out in 1984 as Charlton finally gave up publishing comics.
Saturday, 3 December 2016
Marvel launched Kull and the Barbarians as a magazine sized comic for older readers on the back of the success of The Savage Sword of Conan. This title features three other Robert E Howard creations; Kull, Red Sonja and Solomon Kane but sadly only lasted three issues.
The main feature Kull the Destroyer sees the former king sail across the seas to his former home of Atlantis in search of an army with which to bring down Thulsa Doom, the demonic mage who had usurped his throne. His only companion a loyal (and slightly irritating) minstrel. Stooping off at an island Kull sees a possible future. Trouble is that as he finally arrives in Atlantis (an finds a seemingly quite advanced civilisation the story ends.
A fourth issue is advertised but never appears.
Red Sonja meanwhile attempts to rescue a traveller and finds the captive is the man she has been seeking to get revenge on for the murder of her family. Key a flashback to her origin.
Trouble is her nameless target has lost his mind after being tortured and revenge seems pointless. Sonja moves on with her life.
Solomon Kane allies with non-Christian magic to defeat an enemy to defeat vampires in Africa. Kane of course reappears as a backup in Conan from time to time.
Kull never achieved to popularity of Conan despite being set in the prehistoric world that came before our heroic Cimmerian. This magazine probably fell foul of Marvel's swamping the magazine market with too many titles,
Sunday, 27 November 2016
Dan Dare: The 2000AD Years Volume 2 (Rebellion)
Various (w) & (a)
At long last the second and final volume of the adventures of a resurrected Dan Dare, 2000AD style has hit the shelves and well worth the wait it was. A rather weighty tome which not only collects all the stories from the comic itself, but also the material from the annuals! Pricey at thirty quid but collecting the original comics would not only cost more but may prove time consuming and difficult especially if like me you only want the Dare stories.
This volume collects Dan Dare from 2000AD Progs 52 to 126 plus material from the 2000AD Sci Fi Special 1979 and the 1979 & 1980 Dan Dare Annuals.
Dare faces up to continuing threats across the galactic area known as the "lost planets including telepathic aliens, a nightmare world, icebound space squids and even a mutiny from his own crew. But the bulk of the book is devoted to the return of the evil Mekon.
Sdaly this version of Dan Dare comes to an end though Dare or at least his great grandson will reappear in the relaunched Eagle done in a much more "traditional Style".
But fear not Though the Eagle is no more Dan Dare returns in comic form. Look out for it in Previews next week from British publishers, Titan Comics.