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.
Saturday, 8 July 2017
Cover-dated December 1970, Nightmare number one appeared on the newsagents shelves as the first of a short-lived but fondly remembered line of black & white horror comic magazines from Skwald. These were designed to compete with and complement Warrens long lived line of similar comics which were doing very well at the time.
In fact the growth of the black & white magazine market saw even Marvel muscle in, but this was not to last and was directly responsible for Skwalds demise. Marvel flooded the market with titles that just took up shelf space and didn't last very long. Only the eventual creation of Savage Sword of Conan saw that company get any real success. Even Planet of the Apes only lasted 29 issues.
Still all of Skywalds output are worth picking up, though not so easy to find and a bit more pricey but as with this issue plenty of entertainment for your hard earned buck.
There are 7 stories in this 64 page issue kicking off with an early ecological story The Pollution Monsters which despite it's premise is a wee bit corny for modern readers. Master of the Dead follows on with the villain of the piece getting his comeuppance from the vengeful army he raises from their graves!
Of course there are vampires who appear in Orgy of Blood, more "living dead" in the text feature The Skeletons of Doom and don't wish for immortality if you don't want to end up like Mr & Mrs Torrence in Help us Die.
There is vengeance from the depths in The Thing from the Sea, horror from the mind in The Creature Within plus a grand finale with a little twist on the werewolves in The Deadly Mark of the Beast.
Nightmare lasted 23 issues plus one Annual between 1970 and 1975.
Enter if you dare........
Friday, 7 July 2017
Back in the eighties I had virtually given up on British comics more the pity to concentrate on collecting DC & Marvel who were not only booming but readily available in local newsagents. I had tried the Eagle (mainly because of Dan Dare) but had been thoroughly put off by the photo-stories which may well have been popular in girls comics but were certainly not for the boys as the publishers eventually realised.
Meanwhile a cult comic was growing in popularity; 2000AD, home of a very popular new character Judge Dredd. Now I didn't buy this at the time and usually ended up reading my mate Peters copy every week. Even then I usually only read Judge Dredd for some reason most of the other features didn't appeal.
However times and tastes change so today I'm catching up with what I missed including The VC's, Rogue Trooper and yes even Robo Hunter. However there are still a couple of strips of which I'm still not a fan. The ABC Warriors and Nemesis do not appeal.
This issue is significant because it contains the first appearance of Nemesis the Warlock though you don't get to actually see him since he spends the entire episode inside this "vehicle" of sorts. Actually the opening story isn't bad at all but having skipped over later stories my own prejudices remain.
This issue also has episodes of The Stainless Steel Rat and The Mind of Wolfie Smith. Both classics, the latter being a survivor of Tornado which was one of two comics absorbed by 2000AD.
As a "key issue" this costs a little more than the average prog but definitely one for the collection!
Thursday, 6 July 2017
One of the reasons I started blogging about comics was simply because I wanted both share my hobby and write about something other than politics which is the main focus of Howie's Corner, my first and main blog. I had tried putting a couple of pieces up about comics before but unlike the odd "Musical Interlude" they just didn't seem to fit, especially if I started using a lot of illustrations.
So Howie's World of Comics was born and off I went. I make no claims to be an "expert", just a fan from childhood. I love the medium and hope to share some of that magic with other fans and perhaps encourage a few "civilians" to take up the hobby!
Running two blogs was always going to be a bit of a push especially since for a long time I aimed to publish on Howie's Corner daily. I couldn't possibly do both. There were times when that did happen but with lack of time and energy plus added disillusionment I cut back on the politics. I have also cut back here on comics but for different reasons.
The trouble with collecting is that what I buy falls into two distinct groups, new comics and back issues. I have published a few pieces on new comics,especially from smaller publishers where they provide material that can be used. For the most part however I blog about back issues. Herein lies the problem.
For a long time I have randomly collected both British and American comics, but from time to time I get a fad for one or two items and recently have concentrated on collecting black & white magazines from Marvel, Warren and Skywald along with Alan Class reprints and The Savage Sword of Conan.
Currently I have been collecting 2000AD, one of Britain's last weekly comics (the others being the Beano and the Phoenix for slightly younger readers) which I started getting in March and then just got the bug to buy up back issues.
Quite a few actually, with around a couple of dozen, a Special plus a couple of Annuals still to get through. Great stuff, well most of it.
There's also been some technical problems too with illustrations disappearing and having to fix posts. About 80 have been repaired and a few permanently deleted
I've been reading comics since the early sixties with WHAM! #1 being my earliest memory. There have been a couple of gaps in the mid seventies and the nineties but I've always made my way back to the hobby.
Sadly British comics are few and far between these days but the US market is still lucrative even if numbers have declined. So much has changed since I was a child growing up in a small market town in the country. Comics were an essential part of our youth when there was little TV, no computer games or internet let alone all these other modern distractions.
So I hope some posts help bring back those memories or encourage the occasional reader to join up to the fanboy legions.
So apologies to readers on the recent gaps in posting. There's a few new posts on the horizon and I hope you'll join me for the ride.
Saturday, 1 July 2017
Kull Eternal #1 (IDW)
Tom Waltz (w) Luca Pizzari (a)
From the creator of Conan, Robert E. Howard comes Kull, King of Atlantis with gun and binoculars in hand.......
Wait what did I just write?
This story begins in the present day and seems to involve time travel courtesy of some sorcerers mirrors as far as I can work out. Oh and the Serpent people are back.
Kull gets bored, tricked by some wicked harriden and goes off to seek adventure. Looks promising and worth picking up.
Meanwhile lookout in this months Previews catalogue for a Wonder Woman/Conan mini-series. Pre-order now!
A couple of images tweeted by Tom Waltz:
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!