Tuesday, 19 June 2018

The Power Pack of Ken Reid.

Ken Reid collected book form edition Irmantas Povilaika volume 1
Anyone who ever read a British comic in the period from the 1940s to the late 1980s will be familiar with the work of Ken Reid who produced sterling work for the likes of The Beano, Dandy, Cor, Buster, Smash, Pow, Whoopee and Monster Fun. Among his claims to fame was that he co-created Roger the Dodger and Faceache.

But now there's a chance for any Ken lovers to express that love in book form because Irmantas Povilaika is aiming to release a complete official collection of Reid's strips from Wham, Smash and Pow, including the complete Frankie Stein, Jasper the Grasper, Queen of the Seas, Dare-A-Day Davy and The Nervs.

As well as all that, the venture will include unseen sketches, drawings, and facsimiles of hand-written scripts, with introductions by Ken's son Antony J Reid, Beano artist Nigel Parkinson and British comics historian Steve Holland. There'll also be a detailed illustrated biography, covering the years when Reid worked for Odhams Press.

Ken Reid collected book form edition Irmantas Povilaika volume 2
The collection consists of two hard-cover volumes, of 204 pages each and, to raise the money for this venture, Irmantas is now running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. The campaign has just three more weeks to run, so if you want to help the project become a reality, you can find out more at: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-power-pack-of-ken-reid-books/x/18513990#/  and by visiting Irmantas's own blog Kazoop!!

Sunday, 17 June 2018

2000 AD - May 1980.

This is going to be the worst ever instalment that even this feature has ever seen, as I must confess I don't have a clue what happens in this month's issues of 2000 AD, and the covers give few hints, other than that Judge Dredd is still in search of the Judge Child.

Frankly, I'd give up if I were him. It all looks like far too much inconvenience to go through.

But, as regards the rest of the contents, what happened to the good old days when 2000 AD covers featured great hordes of captions that I could comment upon?

Obviously, they're gone.

However, that aside, there is one huge great big thing that leaps out at us about May 1980.

And that's that there were only two issues of the galaxy's greatest comic published that month.

Why was this? Was there industrial action? Did IPC run out of paper? Did they run out of ink? Did they run out of artists? Did they just decide to experiment with  a radical new schedule that involved the comic randomly disappearing from the newsagents for weeks on end?

Whatever the reason, it means there are only two covers available for me to post. So, here they are...

2000 AD Prog 163, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 164, Judge Dredd

Thursday, 14 June 2018

June 14th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

I've got chills and they're multiplying.

It can only mean one thing.

That this week of 1978 was a great one for all fans of Hylda Baker and Arthur Mullard - because it was the one in which You're the One That I Want hit the Number One spot on the UK singles chart before deciding to stay there for practically ever.

Admittedly, it wasn't their version that had achieved the feat, but the success of Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta's version did lead to the existence of that second version which artistically surpassed it in every way, including in the field of raw sex appeal. We can only, therefore, be grateful to Newton-John and Travolta for putting the song on the map.

Things were clearly going swimmingly for Hylda and Arthur but what of our favourite comics company? Could it possibly match up to such triumph?

Seemingly not, as, after several months of it producing five titles a week, it was suddenly back down to three.

Was the proud venture doomed?

Only time could tell.

Star Wars Weekly #19

I don't have a clue what happens in this issue. Given that it shows a monster bursting up out of the ground, I'd like to think the cover's a tribute to the cover of Fantastic Four #1 but, as Chewbacca's not tied up and Han Solo isn't held in the monster's clutches, I suspect it isn't.

Come to think of it, you genuinely could do a recreation of that cover with the cast of Star Wars. Princess Leia could stand in for Sue Storm, Chewbacca could stand in for The Thing, Luke Skywalker could stand in for Johnny Storm, and Han Solo could stand in for Reed Richards. The Mole Man's monster could be replaced with that big mouth with tentacles that showed up in Return of the Jedi.

Mighty World of Marvel #298

Hooray! The Fantastic Four make their universe-shattering return to the comic that had first given them UK life, six years earlier - and they immediately find themselves up against a golden gorilla that won't stop growing.

Admittedly, it's probably not a return to celebrate, as it's only happened because their own title's folded. However, as I never used to get that title and I always got The Mighty World of Marvel, it was good news for me. And, let's face it, me is all that matters.

Not such good news is that The Invaders have made the crossing with them. Why were Marvel UK so determined to inflict them on us? Why?

We do at least get the consolation of the appearance of Angar the Screamer in the pages of Daredevil. Wasn't it this tale which coined the phrase, "The Teardrop Explodes," thus providing a certain British early-1980s band with its name?

That band was, of course, Black Lace.

Super Spider-Man #279, the Hitman Strikes

After two weeks of covers I haven't recognised, Super Spider-Man finally gives me a cover I do recognise, as the Hitman is in town.

Was this his first appearance in the mag or was there an earlier tale that featured him?

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - June 1978.

What worthwhile things do I have to be getting on with in my life right now?

None whatsoever.

And that can only mean one thing.

That it's time for me to yet again discover what Marvel's less high-profile comics were up to, four decades ago.

Doctor Strange #29, Death-Stalker

It does seem a strange thing to see the good doctor coming up against Death-Stalker who, despite his attitude, wasn't, as far as I'm aware, an actual supernatural character.

It also feels strange to see Nighthawk there. Somehow, you always felt like Strange's solo appearances and his Defenders adventures happened in parallel universes to each other, with no prospect of a cross-over.

You also can't help but suspect that a foe who'd repeatedly met defeat at the hands of Daredevil might not be wise to tangle with a full-blown master of the mystic arts.

Godzilla #11, Red Ronin and Yetrigar

It's the battle we all wanted to see; Godzilla vs Bigfoot vs Red Ronin, in the Grand Canyon.

I do love the expression on Red Ronin's face. That look of, "What am I even doing here?"

Machine Man #3, Ten-For

For a moment, I got over-excited and thought Machine Man was up against Thanos.

Sadly, he seems to be up against a villain called Ten-For who, whatever his merits, will, I suspect, never be the main antagonist in a series of Marvel movies.

Marvel Super Special #3, Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Marvel gives us its adaptation of Steven Spielberg's classic tale of alien abduction and potato sculpting.

Marvel Team-Up #70, Spider-Man, Thor and the Living Monolith

I must come clean and admit the only reason I've included this cover is because I remember reading the X-Men's encounter with the Living Monolith in the pages of an Alan Class reprint, and the Liv Mon, as I know him, therefore, gives me warm, fuzzy nostalgic feelings.

Rampaging Hulk #9, the Avengers

Thanks the meddlesome machinations of the Krylorians, we get the first ever appearance of the Avengers, months before their official debut

Despite what's on the cover, no Hulks were harmed during the making of this comic.

I'm also pretty sure the tale takes place in somewhere like Paris or Munich, not the aurora tickled wasteland that the cover depicts.

Devil Dinosaur #3

I don't have a clue what's going on but it's always good to see a dinosaur being swung around by the tail.

Howard the Duck #25, the Circus of Crime

At last, after defeats by the Hulk, Thor, Avengers, Daredevil and Spider-Man, the Ringmaster and his Circus of Crime find their true level.

Fighting Howard the Duck.

If they lose this one, there really is no hope for them.

Marvel Premiere #42, Tigra vs a mammoth

I don't have a clue what goes on in this issue but if it features Tigra fighting woolly mammoths, it has to be at least worth a look.

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Forty years ago today - June 1978.

YouTube's currently offering me videos that prove beyond all doubt that various men in garden sheds have invented perpetual motion machines. That can only mean it's time for me to take flight from such First Law of Thermodynamics thwarting madness and leap once more from the Cliff of Contemporaneousness, into the Ocean of Once-Upon-A-Long-Ago and find out what our favourite Marvel heroes were up to back in the days when the only perpetual motion machine we needed was a nodding duck with a felt beak, drinking coloured liquid from a beaker. Tell kids nowadays that nodding ducks and lava lamps were the only forms of entertainment we had back in the 1970s and they don't believe you.

Avengers #172 Hawkeye returns

Hooray! Hawkeye is back!

Other than that, I can say nothing of this tale, apart from the fact that its villain would appear to be someone called Tyrak, of whom I have never heard.

Regardless, it's nice to see suitably shocked floating heads on the cover.

Conan the Barbarian #87, Stalkers of the Summit

Not for the first time in his life, Conan finds himself up against a giant spider-thing. I have no doubt that, by the end of the tale, it'll be flat on its back, with a sword in its intestines.

In other news, I'm informed that, in this issue, Conan wipes out an ancient race.

Isn't that a bit irresponsible of him?

Fantastic Four #195, Sub-Mariner

Apparently, Sue Storm's involved in sensational solo action. Admittedly, it seems to be solo action that involves the Sub-Mariner, so you could argue that it's not technically solo action at all.

But it's interesting to see that our heroes are up against the Rampaging Retrievers. Presumably, the Larcenous Labradors were too busy to appear.

Incredible Hulk #224, the Leader and his tripod

We don't just get the return of Hawkeye this month. We also get what looks to be the return of the Murder Module.

Bearing in mind that the Hulk took about three seconds to destroy it the last time the Leader tried to use it, you do wonder why the villain's bothering to make a second attempt with it.

But am I right in believing that the Hulk the Leader's up against, this time round, is just a robot, controlled by Bruce Banner?

Iron Man #111

I really don't have a clue what's going on on that cover. But, then, I don't have a clue what's going on inside the comic either.

I do know that the Knights of Wundagore are in it but that the High Evolutionary isn't, except in flashback. The Rigellians are also in it. Madame Masque is in it. Jasper Sitwell is in it. Jack of Hearts and the Crimson Dynamo are in it. How Marvel managed to cram all of that into twenty pages, and how it all fits together, is beyond me.

Spectacular Spider-Man #19, the Enforcers

It's time to tremble with fear, as the Enforcers return. And, this time, they're being employed by the Lightmaster, who's even deadlier than the Viewmaster.

Given their previous track record, I really don't see why anyone would hire the Enforcers to tackle Spider-Man. You might as well hire Jerry Lewis.

Captain America and the Falcon #222, Abraham Lincoln

It's the fight that had to happen! Captain America vs Abraham Lincoln!

I must admit that's the limit of my knowledge when it comes to this tale. Is the Falcon still in the strip? He's credited in the title but he doesn't seem to make the covers anymore.

X-Men #111

This issue, we get the build-up to the return of Magneto, as the X-Men get captured by a man who, I think, turns out to be Mesmero.

Why he doesn't turn out to be Mastermind, I couldn't say but the tale does at least see the return of the Beast to the pages of the world's greatest mutant-based publication.

Thor #272

This month's issue doesn't exactly sound riveting. It would appear that Thor stands around telling some kids about an adventure he once had with Loki in regards to a meeting with the Master of Utgardthall. I don't think they'll be turning that one into a movie, somehow.

Amazing Spider-Man #181

I do believe this issue retells Spidey's origin and has him recount great chunks of his career.

Is this the one where, at the end of it, a cemetery worker steals Uncle Ben's microscope? It was clearly meant to be a heart-warming climax but, as a responsible blog owner, with a duty to the society that reveres me, I really can't approve of stealing the microscopes of deceased uncles.

Thursday, 7 June 2018

June 7th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

It's time to spin your rattle, knock back a mug of Bovril and chant, "Up the Blades!" because, in the real world of 2018, the planet Earth is gearing up for the festival of football that is the Russian World Cup.

And it was no different forty years ago, except it was in Argentina and it wasn't 2018.

That's right. This week of that year saw the start of the 1978 tournament and, on this very night, BBC One was giving us the twin delights of Brazil vs Spain and Scotland vs Iran, both of which ended in draws.

But if those games were indecisive, there's one group of people who are guaranteed never to be indecisive.

They know that the moment evil shows its face, they have to punch it in the gob, with a force that could knock a man's block off.

And those people are the heroes of our favourite UK Marvel reprint mags.

Star Wars Weekly #18

It's another Star Wars tale that means nothing to me, as the ruthless and deadly Space Savages cause what is, no doubt, no end of mischief.

Far more memorably for me, Star-Lord is having a Flight to Cinnibar, which may be Part 2 of his first ever adventure, while the Watcher is telling us about The Coming of the Krills.

I suspect that latter epic is one of those old Silver Age monster stories repackaged as a Watcher tale.

You have to hand it to Stan Lee. Only he'd think it a good idea to name a terrifying alien foe after seafood.

Marvel UK, Savage Sword of Conan #8

I'm not sure if I like this cover or hate it. It's by Kenneth Morris, an artist I must confess to never having heard of.

Regardless, it's another of those instances of a cover that's been dramatically lightened for the UK market, compared to the US original, and has, in the process, lost a large percentage of its sense of drama.

Rampage #34, the Defenders vs Nebulon

Hooray! Nebulon returns to Earth, in an attempt to convert us all to the ways of peacefulness. No doubt, his method of bringing peace to the world will involve the use of wholesale violence.

Meanwhile, Jack Norriss is in the body of Nighthawk, and Chondu is in the body of a fawn.

In retrospect, it could have been worse. It could have been Chuck Norris in the body of Nighthawk. Then we'd all be in trouble.

Mighty World of marvel #297, Hulk vs Stingray

The Hulk's still fighting Sting-Ray. I'm not sure what for. As far as I can make out, this is one of those tales where a hero attacks the Hulk in an effort to try and calm him down before he can cause any trouble.

What kind of insane plan is that?

Super Spider-Man #278, Namor vs Tiger Shark

Spider-Man and Namor are still fighting the menace of Dr Dorcas and Tiger Shark, and I still have no recollection at all of either the story or the cover. Could it be that I never read it? What dread nightmare is this?

Complete Fantastic Four #37, Power-Man vs the Thing

Judging by his somewhat aggressive attitude, I suspect Luke Cage may still be under the influence of the Puppet Master.

More significantly, judging by who he's fighting, I assume this to be the issue in which Benjy takes to wearing the Thing-shaped exo-skeleton that's designed to enable him to do super-hero stuff again.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - June 1968.

A mere two days ago, I studied, in-depth, what the major Marvel mags cover-dated, "June 1968," had to tell us about the state of the world at that time.

But, of course, there were things missing.

And those were the adventures of Marvel's lower-profile mags.

So it is that, thanks to the Incredible Steve Does Comics Randomiser TM, I'm now taking a look at the more noteworthy efforts from that month's lesser lights. Can they possibly compete with the big-hitters?

Doctor Strange #169

As the cover proudly proclaims, at last we get the origin of Doctor Strange!

Hold on a minute. Hadn't we already had that?

More importantly, after all these years, thanks to the Marvel Expansion, the good Doctor finally gets his own mag and Marvel celebrate that fact in fine style by labelling it issue #169, meaning casual readers would never know the significance of the mag they held in their hands. You can't imagine a comics company doing that nowadays.

Captain Marvel #2, the Super-Skrull

Our favourite alien invader finds himself up against the Super-Skrull.

I haven't read this tale in almost forty years but I'm going to guess the Super-Skrull attacks the military base where Captain Marvel works, and Marvel has to protect it while making it look to Yon-Rogg that he isn't protecting it, while also trying to protect his secret identity from Carol Danvers, while the onlooking Una gets all jealous of her.

I could be misremembering but I have a feeling that was basically the plot of every early Captain Marvel tale, with only the name of the villain changing.

More epoch-makingly, was this story the first time we were told the Kree and the Skrulls are ancient and deadly enemies?

Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #1, Jim Steranko

Doctor Strange isn't the only one getting his own mag, because so is Nick Fury.

Admittedly, he already had his own mag, in the form of Sgt Fury and his Howling Commandos but now he has one in his secret agent guise as well.

In retrospect, it does seem remarkable that Fury managed to beat all the other Marvel heroes to be the first one to land two books.

Sub-Mariner #2, Triton

With a certain inevitability, Subby comes up against Marvel's other water-based hero.

I've no doubt a misunderstanding leads to a punch-up.

You'd have thought a punch-up between Namor and Triton would be a somewhat one-sided affair but, knowing Marvel logic, you somehow know it won't be.

Mmmmillie the Model #159

It's a Steve Does Comics first appearance for Millie the Model. I have a feeling that, for a long time in the 1960s, her book was Marvel's best-selling comic.

Admittedly, I may have made that up.

Then again, I may not have.

I'm not sure.

If I didn't make it up, what an outrage it is, therefore, that she wasn't included in Infinity War.

Unless the second movie contains the startling plot twist that Nebula is Millie the Model.

I could kind of see that being true.

Come to think of it, Karen Gillan once played Jean Shrimpton in a movie.

Could this really be no more than coincidence?

The more I think about it, the more certain I am that it couldn't be.

Regardless, I've never read a Millie the Model story. I do note that the cover has an Archie Comics feel to it. I assume that that also is not mere coincidence.
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