Saturday, 20 October 2012

Steve Does Comics has one of its turns.

One of its turns
There've been certain moments in history when it seems the very fate of the world has pivoted on one event; D-Day, the defeat of Napoleon, Pilot getting to Number 1 on the UK chart. And, today it sees another, as I must announce that Steve Does Comics has run out of old comics to review.

Admittedly, this isn't strictly true. I could review Weird Mystery Tales #14 which stands less than ten feet away from me right now. But, despite its doubtless charms, I can't be bothered.

I could of course buy some more comics but I have in recent weeks decided it's time for me to knuckle down and spend more time on my fiction. This of course means less time for other writery stuff. The confluence of these two events means it seems as good a time as any to give this blog a break.

Fear not. Steve Does Comics isn't dead. It's merely comatose, like Aunt May in all those Bronze Age scenes where she'd be spark-out on a hospital bed as Peter Parker sat by her bedside mithering about all the times he hadn't been there for her. This blog shall be Aunt May. I shall be Peter Parker. My wardrobe shall be Mary Jane Watson. I've sellotaped a sheet of paper to it, with the words, "Face it, tiger, you've just hit the jackpot," on it. I can tell you, right now, that wardrobe's looking mighty sexy. In fact, I don't know if I don't like it even more than my chest of drawers which is doubling up as Gwen Stacy.

Thanks for visiting this blog over the last couple of years, and thanks for commenting.

Well, unless you're that spambot that dementedly goes on and on about ugg boots every day in my spam folder. In which case, go away, you terrible spambot. Your ugg boots are the work of Satan.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Who the Hell is Dominic Pine?

Who the Hell is Dominic Pine, Stephen Walker, Liz Sanford, Occult Investigation, eBook,Amazon, Kindle,Stephen Sloan
Hooray! The world of literature is saved, as my latest eBook hits the shelves of Kindle faster than you can say, "Holey Moley!"

It's another adventure for this land's most put-upon occult investigator Liz Sanford, as she finds herself having to bodyguard the idol of millions.

And, right now, it's yours for just 99c or 77p from Amazon.

Thanks to Canadian animator Stephen Sloan for supplying the cover. You can find out more about Stephen at his site: http://www.uponanimation.com/Bio.html

As for you, thanks for your time. And, remember, you don't need one of those fancy Kindle machine-thingies to read it. Thanks to Amazon's free software, you can also download it direct to your PC/Laptop/Netbook.

Who the Hell is Dominic Pine is available from:
Amazon.Com, Amazon UK, Amazon France, Amazon Germany, Amazon Spain and Amazon Italy.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

October 1972 - Forty years ago today.

It's that magical month again.

But will it be trick or treat for our favourite Marvel heroes in October 1972?

Conan the Barbarian #19, Barry Smith

Conan #19 sees a rather lovely cover enhanced by a rather lovely colour scheme.
Amazing Spider-Man #113, Dr Octopus

Dr Octopus is back and causing trouble.
Avengers #104

Is this the one with the Sentinels?

For some reason, I always liked the Sentinels in this Avengers appearance far more than I ever had in the pages of the X-Men.
Captain America #154

It looks like a whole heap of trouble for Cap.
Daredevil #92, the Blue Talon

The sight of Matt Murdock rushing to save the life of someone else dressed as Daredevil brings back traumatic memories for me of Mike Murdock. Will I never know what it is to be free of those memories?
Fantastic Four #127, Mole Man and Kala

I've a strong feeling I've read this story - possibly in the patriotic pages of Captain Britain - but the exact details of it escape me.

It's not that great to see Mole Man back but, if that's Kala I espy, it's certainly nice to see her return. Let's hope she gives Moley a slap and seizes control of his underground kingdom.
Incredible Hulk #156

Hooray! The Hulk's back in Jarella land - and fighting himself.

I know that feeling all too well. I was lucky to get out of it alive the last time I fought myself. If I hadn't caught me by surprise, I wouldn't have stood a chance against my superior strength and weaponry.
Iron Man #51

I detect a George Tuska cover and, for once, an Iron Man cover rings a bell with me.

I still can't remember just what actually happened in it though.
Thor #204, Sif

Great to see Thor and Sif in good, defeatist mode.

Is this the one where Thor's on the quest to the well at the world's end, or am I getting confused again?
X-Men #78, Merlin

Nope. No idea at all what happened in this one.

Is this the same Merlin who once fought Thor? And, if it is, why's he dressed like Shakespeare?

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Fifty years ago today - October 1962.

Hooray! It's October, the only month of the year named after Dr Octopus.

As we all know, magical things were happening fifty years ago this month, with the launch of the first James Bond film and the first Beatles single. Did Marvel manage to keep pace by furnishing us with milestones of equal epochnosity?

Fantastic Four #7, Kurrgo and Planet X

It's one of my early faves as the FF find themselves up against Kurrgo and the dreaded Planet X.
Journey into Mystery #85, Loki makes his first appearance

Thor might have spent too many of his early appearances battling commies but at last he meets a foe worthy of a smack in the teeth from his hammer.
Strange Tales #101, the Human Torch v the Destroyer

I have to admit I've never read any of the Human Torch's solo adventures but I've always assumed they're not very good.

Still, I doubt my lack of support'll stop Johnny Storm from destroying the Destroyer.

Hold on a moment. The Destroyer? What's he doing wasting his time on the Human Torch when he should be off somewhere stopping Thanos?
Tales to Astonish #86, Ant-Man v Comrade X

Planet X? Comrade X? Marvel had more Xs than Elizabeth Taylor.

But Ant-Man again reminds us of the mighty super-hero he is, by being trapped in a prison made of glass.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Great mastheads of our time.

Son of Satan challenges hs father the Devil, Marvel Spotlight #13, John Romita cover
A wise man once told me that, "Life is the name of the game."

His name was Bruce Forsyth and he told me through my television.

But life is also a magical thing, filled with strange coincidences that test the resistance of even the hardest of sceptics.

Only last week I was going to review Marvel Spotlight #13, featuring the Son of Satan. Oh how I thrilled at the thought of raving about Happy Herb Trimpe's artwork and Daimon Hellstrom's descent into Hell to sort out his dad.

As it turned out, there was only one problem with this plan.

I'd already reviewed it.

I'd reviewed it here, way back in August 2010.

How many things have changed in the two years since then. But the one thing that hasn't changed is the one thing I didn't mention in that review.

And that's that the masthead to Marvel Spotlight #13 is almost certainly my favourite comic book masthead of all time. Not only does it feature lettering that practically curls its way out of the cover at you but, on this occasion, and this occasion alone, it shines like Lucifer himself.

My initial plans thwarted, instead of reviewing that issue, I chose to review Monsters Unleashed #11, featuring the not totally dissimilar Gabriel the exorcist. But, in one of those twists of fate that prove there're dark powers at work, in the comments section, Comicsfan said he loved the masthead of that mag and that I should ask you about your favourite comic book masthead.

And, by Captain Kremmen's well-honed beard, that's exactly what I'm doing. You know where the comments button is. Feel free to use it.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Monsters Unleashed #11.

Monsters Unleashed #11, Gabriel the exorcist confronts the waking dead in a graveyard, Frank Brunner cover
As we all know, only a complete and total imbecile would try to review a comic they haven't read for decades.

Fortunately, I'm the man who put the, "Me," into, "Meat-head," and, so, such petty trifles as common sense and wisdom shall never stand in my way.

Like Neptune in Jason and the Argonauts, I shall push those twin pillars of reason aside to let my boat of ignorance bob its way between their clashing rocks. Reader, I will not be stealing a sheep's skin nor fighting an army of skeletons. I have my limits as to what I'll do, even for comic books.

But Sunday was clearly my dad's day for buying not-normal comics. It was on a Sunday that he bought the first issue of Savage Sword of Conan I ever encountered - likewise the first issues of Savage Tales and Vampirella I ever saw.

So, one Sunday morning, he came home from the shops with Monsters Unleashed #11.

Well, I was never going to not be glad to see a black and white Marvel mag - especially one within which dwelt supernatural terror.

The first thing that hit me upon opening it was a one-page feature by Dave Cockrum dedicated to the Creature From The Black Lagoon. As a fan of B-movies and of Dave Cockrum, I was always going to like that one - but it does raise a question:

I seem to remember reading a one-page feature, in a black and white Marvel mag, that was about gorillas and their discovery. If you happen to know what issue of what mag that was in, I'd be glad to hear from you. I'd always assumed it was this one but, checking with the GCD, it would appear not to be.

We also got a letters page that featured a picture of a tiger and some letters about the Man-Thing. Sadly, I can't recall what they said.

But, of course, this was all just the warm-up. The issue's main story was about Gabriel, an exorcist who seemed to have a few problems.

For a one thing, he only had one eye.

For another, he was at war with the forces of darkness.

Fortunately, it all ended happily in a graveyard and may have involved a stone angel. Clearly the spirit of Steven Moffat was strong with this one.

I sort of liked the story but I did have a problem that Gabriel's eye-patch made him look like Nick Fury. Plus, if I remember right, he had a pentacle on his chest which made him a non-super-powered version of the Son of Satan. It was hard to see why I'd want to read about a non-super-powered Son of Satan, given that we already had a super-powered one to call on.

I think Gabriel had a girlfriend who was only his girlfriend because she looked like his dead wife. Clearly he'd been taking advice on how to be a normal person from Hank Pym.

Also, there was a Rico Rival tale about a publisher who'd annoyed a writer and, as a consequence, ended up crushed by a giant book. I always liked Rico Rival, even though I'd sometimes get him mixed up with Alex Nino.

Finally, there was a tale about an escaped giant Komodo dragon on the loose in the city. It was by Don McGregor, which meant it had a certain air of pretention about it. I think he explained in a prose piece that it was a story he'd written years earlier that had been rejected but, with the dreaded deadline doom looming, it had been dusted off and revived.

I also seem to recall it was told in some sort of split-screen type manner. What happened in it and why, I couldn't tell you but we were clearly meant to side with the Komodo dragon.

So, there you had it. It didn't change my life like those early issues of Savage Sword of Conan did - in fact, it was quite disappointing - but it had the forces of evil in it, so I appreciated it.

I now look forward to everyone telling me I've got it completely wrong and the contents of it bore no resemblance to what I remember.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Man-Bat #1. Of missing Niblicks and sneaky sarsens.

Man-Bat #1, Batman leaps off a castle at our hero, Jim Aparo cover
It's the year of Our Lord, Nineteen Seventy Something.

I'm in Lytham St Annes - and I don't even play golf.

What I do do is read comics. And Lytham comes up with the goods as, while there, I get an issue of The Many Ghosts of Dr Graves guest-starring Stonehenge, and the very first issue of Man-Bat guest-starring Batman. Stonehenge is good. Batman is good. Batman and Stonehenge should have a fight someday to see which is best.

Man-Bat may not be so good. He goes, "Skreek!" a lot, has an annoying wife who always seems to be getting possessed, and never has the sense to ask for help from those who could give it.

What I like about Man-Bat #1. Steve Ditko draws it. He draws it with an elegant simplicity that seems fifteen years past its time but can still get by on charm and our fond memories of his work on Spider-Man. He draws Batman without a face, permanently obscured as it is in shadow. He draws a sorcerer who does things with his fingers, as only a Steve Ditko sorcerer can.

What I don't like about it. Apart from Jim Aparo's not quite right cover, nothing much. It's a perfectly pleasant tale.

But the world of Man-Bat seems too insular, composed purely of himself, his wife and Batman.

Baron Mordo seems to have been imported from an old issue of Dr Strange to pester and bemuse our hero. Renamed as Baron Tyme, he makes Mrs Man-Bat kill people.

Still, after winning a scrap with Batman, our hero goes on to triumph by setting Baron Tyme's lair on fire and leaving him to the not-so-tender mercies of the dark forces he once sought to control.

Man-Bat is triumphant.

But only for a while.

For, Man-Bat is destined to only return for one more issue before his comic folds even faster than his wings.

I'm in Lytham St Annes. I have no way of knowing Man-Bat will meet this fate but, somehow, as I sit on a bench reading it, I instinctively know he will.
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