Monday, 24 July 2017
Photo: 2000AD Shop
Scratched by a leopard being treated for a rare disease with a radioactive serum 13 year old Billy Parmer develops amazing super-powers. Donning a homemade costume Billy takes up fighting crime in the form of Cat-Man, a burglar in a small English suburban town.
Billy also has to deal with school bullies and a revolting "Uncle" who make his life a misery. On top of that the local newspaper the Selbridge Sun tries to make him seem a threat to the good folk of the small market town.
On the face of it so much seems owed to a certain character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko so many years earlier. The difference being the hero is around 13 and appears in Buster, a comic aged at 7 to 12 year olds.
First appearing in Buster in March 1976 Billy went on to feature in over 450 2-3 page episodes until 1985. This volume features the early stories and is a cracking read for all those who either read it first time round or love to read old British adventure strips.
Published by Rebellion (best known for 2000AD) this is part of a continuing series of reprints which will include The Dracula Files (from Scream), a second volume of horror from girls weekly Misty and Faceache a humour strip from Jet and Buster!
Current titles can be ordered here: https://shop.2000ad.com/catalogue/graphic-novels/treasury-of-british-comics
Sunday, 23 July 2017
Arak: Son of Thunder #1 (DC)
Roy Thomas (w) Ernie Colon (a)
I hadn't read this comic since it first came out back in the early eighties so couldn't resists picking a copy of the first issue when I saw it on display in my local comic shop. This was an unusual title featuring a Red Indian" in Eighth Century Europe with lots of sword and sorcery. How so you may well ask.
This issue contains the origin of Arak (not his "real name") when a Viking longship comes across a young red-skinned boy nearly dead in a sinking canoe in the ocean after having sailed to far to the west as the result of a storm. Adopted by his rescuers young Arak as they name him grows to join their plundering crew.
However destiny has other plans for Arak as he joins the service of the witch Angelica and uses a Christian icon to slay her serpent.
The adventure is afoot as Arak, more humane and noble than his fellows decides upon a journey to seek answers at the court of Carolus Magnus, King of the Franks.
This series lasted 50 issues and was a brave attempt by DC to create a character to compete with Conan and other barbarian adventurers of the era. I like this one.
Saturday, 22 July 2017
This was the penultimate issue of of the short lived Monsters Unleashed title though readers at the time would not have known that this line of magazines was under threat. Marv Wolfman in his editorial boasted that the Marvel black & white magazine line had expanded to no less than 15 titles. Quite a lot. Most were about to go down starting with Haunt of Horror which had just published it's fifth and final issue.
This is an average issue containing nothing particularly special though both the Frankenstein's Monster and Tigra stories were a solid read. The third story about a Japanese fisherman and his love for a mermaid was nothing new.
However Frankenstein meets a woman who doesn't treat him as a monster and she enlists his aid to save the President from assassination. A sad ending is involved so have yer hanky ready.
A woman and a vampiric rat with a symbiotic relationship confront Tigra who just happens to be in the neighbourhood when strange disappearances and murders start taking place. Tigra is a sort of a werecat for newbies to the scene. Always had more potential than she got. Joined the Avengers for a while I believe.
Other appearances of Tigra & Frankenstein in colour.
Sunday, 16 July 2017
Launched in 1978, Star Lord was a companion title to 2000AD but printed on better quality paper! The first issue saw the introduction of a character who was to far outlive the comic itself, a certain Johnny Alpha, The Strontium Dog.
There were a number of very strong strips in the first issue, Planet of the Damned set inside the Bermuda Triangle with all sorts of weirdness going on. Timequake comes up next where a simple act of smuggling an assassin into Israel sets off World War Three and changes the future. Those responsible? An alien race called the Droon. Who can stop them? None other than Brooker the smuggler himself.
Then there's Ro-Busters a favourite for many readers but not me I'm afraid.
The second issue saw the start of Mind Wars a cracking piece of science-fiction about two siblings given extraordinary powers by an alien race determined to defeat mankind.
Strangely and sadly Star Lord lasted a mere 22 issues before it was swallowed up by 2000AD, a decision taken despite Star Lord selling more than the main prog itself. The cost of production appears to be the main driver for this decision.
There are also three annuals and one summer special.
Saturday, 15 July 2017
Pocket picture libraries were all the rage when I was a kid but most of these were war adventures with some westerns for the boys and of course the girls had their own which I never read, obviously! However there were one or two of other types available but this horror series is entirely new to me.
Nightmare Suspense Picture Library is a horror series and I just had to pick up the first issue when I saw it on sale in my local comic shop. The feature, The March of the Boneless Ones is set in rural Derbyshire sees cannibalistic fleshy things emerge from caves and start eating people and animals threatening to engulf the whole of the UK if they are not stopped.
The army fails to halt the monster advance with either flame-throwers or artillery. Time is running out.....
As far as I can find out this comic lasted 16 issues in 1966/67.
Worth picking up if you find a copy.
Tuesday, 11 July 2017
Britain's most thrill packed week went from strength to strength in the early eighties and prog 300 appeared in January 1983 with the first of seven micro-part works containing a facsimile of Prog 1. Whether any fan actually cut up his (or her) copy remains unknown!
Still 2000AD had really got into it's stride by this issue and featured Sam Slade Robo Hunter in the entertaining (but at the same time annoying) multi-part adventure Play it Again Sam whereby the robots of Brit City were under attack from the Human League.
Harry Twenty on the High Rock follows with a tale of political dissidents and convicts being imprisoned without hope of escape in a satellite orbiting the Earth. In this issue Harry makes it back planetside, but for how long remains to be seen.
Judge Dredd appears in the ultra-violent Shanty Town situated outside Mega City One where survivors of the Apocalypse War remain forgotten by the authorities. Crime of course is rampant. Body parts anyone?
There is the one off Time Twister tale from Tharg called This is You Death and the issue ends with part 10 of the epic Rogue Trooper story Fort Neuro.
Sunday, 9 July 2017
Charging from the pages of 2000AD came Judge Dredd in his own annual. Issued in 1980 (British annuals always had the date a year ahead to give them a longer shelf life) this book demonstrated the growing power of Dredd amongst not just kids, but older readers as well
Published with much slicker paper than it's parent, this became the format used for future 200AD annuals and although these volumes became slimmer they were of much higher quality than their predecessors.
There was plenty of colour too. The first story Pinboing Wizard certainly showed Dredd at his best and most absurd simultaneously. Other Dredd stories Compulsory Purchase and The Fear that made Milwaukee famous also appeared in full colour. Dredd eventually laying down the law not just to perps and muties but "ghosts" as well!?!
This volume is actually well worth picking up. The very first Dredd story is reprinted along with a text history of the character and an art sequence showing how Dredd's appearance evolved into the one we are all familiar with today.
Dredd first appeared in Prog 2, but didn't actually turn up on the cover until prog 10.
To my regret I was given a signed copy of this by a girlfriend when it came out. Lost now, so this had to be repurchased, unsigned this time. Never mind, just glad to have a copy!
There are 11 annuals and four "yearbooks" to collect.