How do you pronounce, "Maggia?"

Krotagg! Who is he? What is he? Why is he?

Friday, 9 December 2016

First Official, "Spider-Man: Homecoming," trailer!

Hooray! Marvel have released the first official trailer for Spider-Man: Homecoming. And, with skills to match any super-villain, I have, by some means, managed to steal a copy and smuggle it onto this site.

Well, OK, I admit it, I found it because Edo Bosnar pointed it out on the Back In The Bronze Age blog and I simply followed his link. Thank you, Edo.

My first thoughts are that it all looks fun and lively and it's good to see Spider-Man integrated into the Marvel Universe for the first time in cinema history.

Not only that but Aunt May manages to get through the trailer without having a heart attack. I am, though, somewhat disappointed by the shortage of Marisa Tomei in it. I hope this isn't reflective of a lack of screen time for Peter's glamorous granny in the actual film.

Spider-Man looks and sounds like he should. I especially like the underarm webbing when he, "flies." That takes me back to my early comics-reading days.

Is that person with the wings the Vulture? If so, I'm not convinced about the design for him, though I accept it must be difficult to get the Vulture right on screen. Just showing him as an weedy, old, bald bloke might, admittedly, provoke more amusement than awe amongst a theatre audience.

Liz Allen looks rather fetching (I'm assuming she is Liz Allen and just not some random girl who just happens to be called Liz).

I do worry there's a lack of angst in the trailer and that the tone might be a little too knowing and too flippant. After all, where would Peter Parker be without monumental levels of self-pity?

Most of all, I love that it uses Time to Pretend by MGMT all the way through, because I've always been a sucker for it.

Those are my thoughts. You might have others. If so, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

December 8th, 1976 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

On December 8th, 1976, BBC Two was showing its awesome gift for showmanship by broadcasting Simple Science, in which Pat O'Sullivan was reportedly showing us all how to use basic ideas to get rid of the, "Zones of Discomfort," in our living rooms.

No doubt this was the BBC's biggest ratings blockbuster since the Sunday morning thrill-fest that was Trade Union Studies.

Well, I'm no expert but I'd suspect the best way to get rid of zones of discomfort in our living rooms is to make sure there are no super-villains lurking in them.

And, fortunately, forty years ago, in the UK, we had a whole slew of super-heroes looking to do just that.

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #9, Dr Synne

Captain Britain certainly looks to be in a zone of discomfort - and it'll clearly take more than even the powers of Pat O'Sullivan to get him out of it.

I know nothing of the Demon-Creatures of Dr Synne but I do know the one on the right's a dead ringer for one of the monsters Dr Strange came up against in that prolonged Shuma-Gorath epic whose beginnings I reviewed over two years ago.

I seem to remember it lurking in the sea, off the English coast and having had a doorknocker made in its image.

You know you've arrived as an occult menace when you have a doorknocker made in your image.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #112, Battle for the Planet of the Apes

Speaking of Zones of Discomfort...

I'm not sure if the cover's a reference to the Beneath the Planet of the Apes adaptation which the comic relaunches this week, or Battle For The Planet of the Apes which it's also running at the same time. By a disturbing coincidence, both strips feature a trip to that very area in this issue.

Super Spider-Man and the Titans #200, Spider-Slayer

Can this be true? Can Super Spider-Man really now be Britain's Number One comics weekly? Has it officially surpassed the Mighty World of Marvel comic that spawned it?

Mighty World of Marvel #219, Toad Men

At last, Luke Cage faces a menace that I can remember.

I seem to recall Mace being what John Lennon would no doubt have labelled, "A bullet-headed, Saxon mother's son," armed with a great big William the Conqueror style mace where his hand should have been.

From what else I can recall, such an implement turned out to be not much use for swimming, especially if your helicopter's just crashed into a river.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Fifty years ago this month - December 1966.

December 1966 wasn't a good week for those who liked to stay alive, as it saw the death of Tara Browne, London socialite and heir to the Guinness fortune, who died in South Kensington after ignoring a red light and crashing into a parked lorry. While that might have been a tragic occurrence, it might not sound a historically significant one, until you realise it was the event which inspired the first verse of the Beatles' A Day in the Life.

Elsewhere, Walt Disney died and - despite urban myths claiming that he's cryogenically frozen and awaiting revival - was cremated.

But they weren't the only ones to depart this world in that month, because legendary music show Ready Steady Go! was broadcast for the final time, with its last performers being The Who.

Does this mean that month was all about departures?

No - because in this month of 1966, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly made its debut.

But what of the good, the bad and the ugly of the comics world? Just how were they getting on in the month that featured that cover date?

Avengers #35

I'm trying to recall what the big change in Goliath is. Is it that he regains his ability to change his height?

Is that the Living Laser on the cover? I do hope it's not his light that's failed or it's not going to be much of a story, with the Avengers having to spend twenty pages fighting a non-super-powered man who has no weapons.

Daredevil #23, the Gladiator

I believe this is the one in which our hero has to fight the Gladiator, for the entertainment of the Maggia, and the Gladiator reveals himself to have a surprisingly honourable streak - one that I can't remember ever surfacing again.

PS. Don't forget to vote in our all-important Maggia poll which you can currently find at the top of this very page.
Fantastic Four #57, Dr Doom steals the power of the Silver Surfer

Does that cover mean we've reached the epic in which Dr Doom steals the Silver Surfer's powers and goes on a global rampage?

I love that story. How could I not love it? After all, without it, we'd never have had that unbelievably brilliant second Fantastic Four movie that everyone loves.

Amazing Spider-Man #43, the Rhino

My main memory of this story is that Mary Jane gets to dance to records and the Rhino's clothes fall off. These two events are not related.

Strange Tales #151, Nick Fury

I have no idea what's going on in here.

Tales of Suspense #84, Captain America vs the Super-Adaptoid

Hooray! The plain old Adaptoid becomes the Super-Adaptoid!

Like all villains who can copy the powers of their opponents, the Super-Adaptoid was remarkably useless at taking advantage of his seemingly unbeatable abilities.

Tales to Astonish #86, Sub-Mariner

Krang's up to no good again.

Exactly what no-good, I couldn't say.

Aren't he and Dorma the wrong colour on this cover?

Thor #135, The Man-Beast looms over our hero

One of my favourite Thor stories is in full swing, as one of my favourite super-evolved wolf villains is still causing trouble.

X-Men #27, the Mimic is back

As I've mentioned before, my knowledge of the Mimic comes entirely from reading that issue of The Hulk in which he appears. Therefore I can offer few thoughts about this tale, other than to wonder what would happen if he had a fight with the Super-Adaptoid.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

December 1st, 1976 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

On the first of December, 1976, two events occurred that rocked Britain to its very foundations.

The first was that the Sex Pistols (and Siouxsie Sioux) achieved TV immortality when they said naughty words on Bill Grundy's early evening TV show.

The other was that Kevin Keegan fell off his bike in Superstars.

Talking-Head nostalgia shows would have us believe that the former of those events had the greatest impact on the British public at the time but my memory is that, the next day, everyone was talking about the Keegan incident and no one at all was talking about the Sex Pistols one.

This is hardly surprising, as one was transmitted at peak viewing time on national TV and the other was only on local television and therefore couldn't have been seen by around ninety percent of the people who claim to have watched it at the time. Presumably they're also the five million people who were at the Sex Pistols' first gig despite it having been in a venue that only held one man and his dog.

Either way, with such trauma in the air, we clearly had no choice but to seek respite in the world of super-heroes.

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #8, Hovercraft driving up the wall of a building in Regent Street, London

What's this?

Hovercraft can drive up walls?

Now that I know this, it makes me wonder why they've never caught on with the public. I'm going out to get one, right now. Come to think of it, I have a hover mower. I'm going to see if I can use it to mow my ceiling.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #111, Battle for the Planet of the Apes

They're still battling for The Planet of the Apes.

It looks like someone's going to have to tell that chimp that at least one human's already reached the guns and he seems to have nabbed virtually all of them already. Those sneaky humans.

Super-Spider-Man and the Titans #199, the Vulture kicks Spider-Man in mid-air, above New York

It's an epoch-making moment in human history, as Super-Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes merges with The Titans to give us what promises to be the greatest comic in the Universe.

I believe this is the issue in which Peter Parker sets out to discover if he's a clone or not.

Fortunately for us all, he soon realises he's not, and that's the end of the matter and it's never mentioned again.

Mighty World of Marvel #218, the Hulk vs the Toad Men

The Hulk's still sorting out the Toad-Men.

I have no memory of Diamondback at all, though the name rings a bell.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Your favourite comic book martial artist.

Shang-Chi, Master of Kung-Fu
As you may know, I'm something of a master of the martial arts, able to snap street lamps in half with a single kick of the foot.

"But how did you, a humble blogger, acquire this awesome ability?" I hear you ask.

It's simple. It's because I paid very close attention to Dr Who whenever Jon Pertwee demonstrated his remarkable expertise at the little-known skill of Venusian Aikido. How I gasped as Sea Devils, Ogrons, Daleks and assorted other monsters fell before his fists of death.

Granted, when you've seen a man of advancing years cheerily beat up a horde of Sea Devils, it does tend to undermine their aura of menace but such is the fate of the Sea Devil.

Still, there were other martial artists in my childhood.

And those martial artists filled the pages of my favourite comics.

Cashing-in on the early 1970s' Kung Fu craze, Marvel Comics gave us the likes of Shang-Chi, Iron Fist and the Sons of the Tiger.

But they had more martial artists than even that. They also had Mantis and Karnak. Captain America was always going on about his Judo skills. Even the distinctly non-physical Dr Strange was a martial artist, although the only times I can remember him using such skills was in one particular fight with Dormammu, and in his first meeting with Mantis. I can't help feeling that being flung around by a string of Judo throws is an indignity that no artist or writer should ever inflict upon Dormammu but, upon the receiving end of them, he nonetheless was.

Mantis vs the Avengers
Not to be left out of this high-kicking action, DC had Karate Kid, while Batman was supposed to be supreme in every fighting skill going - though I refuse to believe you can properly practise such things while wearing a cape. If I remember rightly, the revived Manhunter was a master of Ninjutsu, while I seem to recall that, during her de-powered era, Wonder Woman suddenly gained a mistressy of such skills.

Meanwhile, Charlton Comics had Yang who bore no resemblance at all to TV's Kwai Chang Caine. It was, no doubt, pure coincidence that he was a Chinese Kung-Fu expert who lived in the Wild West and kept fighting cowboys.

Dr Strange Judo throws Dormammu
All of this raises the question that's obvious to anyone who's desperately trying to find something to write about on his blog on a Sunday evening - and that's who, of this power-punching pantheon, was my favourite?

Well, Yang was indeed too similar to Kwai Chang Caine for comfort. He also liked fighting far too much. We all know that a true martial artist only fights when he has to, whereas Yang clearly couldn't wait to get stuck in. Mantis was annoying. So was Moondragon. Although I read plenty of Legion of Super-Heroes tales as a youth, I can't remember Karate Kid ever actually doing anything. I refuse to believe that the likes of Batman and Dr Strange were as good at the martial arts as they claimed to be. Meanwhile, if the Sons of the Tiger were really any good at fighting, they wouldn't have had to gang up on foes in order to beat them. Therefore I have to put it down to a choice between Shang-Chi and Iron Fist.

The fact that Iron Fist never seemed to be able to beat anyone without using his Iron Fist power suggests he can't have been that good at fighting. Therefore, I have to go for Shang-Chi who never needed to resort to such cheating in order to triumph over all odds. Not only that but he did it while wearing his pyjamas and he'd always make sure to give us a good chunk of home-grown philosophy while he was doing it.

But that's just my verdict. Who was your favourite comic book martial artist of your childhood, and why?

Thursday, 24 November 2016

November 24th, 1976 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

On November 24th, 1976, BBC One showed the episode of Last of the Summer Wine that went by the title The Kink in Foggy's Niblick.

This isn't very exciting news but it did introduce me to the word, "Niblick," and is the only Last of the Summer Wine episode whose title I can recall. So, whatever people think about the show, it did at least, for one evening, enlarge my vocabulary.

Well, my vocabulary may have been enlarging but, at that very moment, Marvel UK was shrinking, as one of its magnificent comics was about to breathe its last. Reader, can you guess what that comic was before I reveal it?

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #7, the Hurricane

I must confess to being somewhat curious. Where exactly is the Hurricane meant to be on this cover?

Is he in the plane's cockpit?

If so, how come he's facing the engine? I'm no aviation expert but I'm pretty sure planes don't have their engines in front of their windshields.

On the other hand, is he in the airport's control tower?

If so, how's he controlling the plane's engines? I'm no aviation expert but I'm pretty sure Concorde didn't work by remote control.

This is the sort of nightmare mystery that'll keep me awake tonight, worrying about it.

Speaking of mysteries, I wonder just what story the Howard the Duck pull-out comic featured.

Marvel UK, The Titans #58, final issue, Avengers vs Sentinels

This is it, the last ever issue of The Titans, and I for one will be sorry to see the back of it. In its fifty eight issues, it gave us an eclectic mix of strips that didn't always quite seem to know where they belonged.

One strip that had totally lost all sense of where it belonged by this stage was The Avengers, which, in the space of just months, had managed to move from its own comic to The Mighty World of Marvel then to The Titans before being shunted off into Spider-Man's comic. The world's mightiest super-team must have not known whether they were coming or going by this point.

Despite all that, I loved this Avengers tale and remember it revealing that the Vision was an android of several decades vintage, thus letting us know there was a mystery to his origin that we'd never previously suspected.

Is the Hercules solo story the one where he fights Typhon whose axe is stuck to his hand?

If so, I remember that one.

If it isn't, I probably don't remember it.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #110, Battle for the Planet of the Apes

Hold on a banana-peeling moment! If I recall my Battle for the Planet of the Apes lore, Isn't it Aldo the gorilla who chases Cornelius off the tree - not some random human? What is this madness? It's the kind of mystery that'll keep me awake tonight, worrying about it.

Super Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes #198. the Jackal meets his fate

It's the Spider-Man story the whole world loves because it launched the Clone Saga that everyone still recalls with such fondness.

It also gave us the death of Professor Warren. I don't have a clue if he's still dead or not. I'm sort of hoping he's alive again and has learnt the error of his ways.

Mighty World of Marvel #217, Conan the Barbarian

Oooh! I remember this one! It's the one where Conan comes up against what are effectively a trio of super-villains.

Somehow, the idea of Conan fighting super-villains just feels wrong, even if there's no good reason why he shouldn't.

Was The Tribune from the Daredevil story that man with the hammer who liked to sit in judgement on people and then find them guilty whether they'd done anything wrong or not? I remember him being a little unhinged and certainly not an example of the Judiciary at its finest.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

2000 AD - October 1978.

October 1978 was an epoch-making month for 2000 AD, as it merged with its sister comic Star Lord.

While it was a shame to see the latter title fold, this was still a matter of some pleasure for me because it meant that, as well as the adventures of Judge Dredd, I could now keep up with the action-filled excursions of Ro-Busters and Strontium Dog.

On the other hand, it did spell curtains for Dan Dare and Ant Wars, both of which were dropped to make way for the new strips.

But the merger wasn't the only thrill that lay in store for us that week because not only did we get to see the return of original 2000 AD stalwart Flesh but we were given a chance to win a Sinclair Mini TV!

Tragically, I never knew anyone who had a Sinclair Mini TV and I don't have a clue whether it suffered the same fate as the Sinclair C5 or if it matched the success of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

I did know at the time, though, that its hand-held nature clearly signalled that it could only be a matter of time before we were all wielding Space:1999 style communicators.

And, Reader, I was right. Even as I speak, I'm wielding my Space:1999 style communicator while firing my Moonbase Alpha style laser-stapler. The power of people in the 1970s to predict the future was genuinely astounding.

2000 AD, Prog 85, Judge Dredd

2000 AD and Star Lord, Prog 86, merger issue

2000 AD and Star Lord, Prog 87, Flesh

2000 AD and Star Lord, Prog 88

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