Friday 27 September 2013

The most forgettable comics I have ever owned, Part 8: Werewolf By Night #31 .

Werewolf by Night #31
It's a strange thing that I've always thought I wasn't interested in Superman when I was a child but, in retrospect, I must've been because I had great piles of his comics.

In fact I probably had more Superman comics than those of any other hero.

Likewise I don't remember being any great fan of Werewolf by Night - seeing Jack Russell's furry alter-ego as little more than a watered-down Hulk. I was also unimpressed by his lack of actual powers. It seemed to me like he was no more use in a punch-up than anyone else was. My God, he didn't even have purple trousers to keep us entertained with.

But a quick look at the Grand Comics Database reminds me that I must have loved him because I had a whole bucketload of his issues.

This may make some sense. After all, who of us hasn't at some point wished we could transform into a wolf-monster and go on a nocturnal rampage? I know I have - and surely I can't be alone in that?

As for the comics, mostly my razor-sharp intellect recalls them. But, one I'd totally forgotten ever owning was issue #31. Bearing in mind its rather dramatic Gil Kane cover, this slippage of memory seems rather remiss of me.

Sadly, seeing the cover does nothing to stir memories of what happens within. I gather from the cover that it all gets dramatic and that children are involved. I assume there's snow. I assume the full moon rises. I assume Jack Russell turns into a werewolf. But beyond that? Who can know?

Well, probably someone who can remember it can know.

But that's not me and so I remain as blissfully ignorant as Jack Russell always did upon awakening after his latest escapade.

Sunday 22 September 2013

This week, I have mostly been reading...

"Steve!" I hear you cry. "What have you been reading lately and when are you going to review it?"

Well, I've been reading quite a lot lately - and I'm going to be reviewing almost none of it.

This isn't because a strange new wave of apathy has swept across my living room. It's because most of the comics I've read lately, I don't have anything to say about that I've not said about other issues in their respective series.

For instance, much as I love Charlton's Midnight Tales, I can't think of anything to say about issues #5 and #12 that I didn't say in my reviews of issues #8 and #9.

Therefore, in the absence of fresh new opinions, I'm going to give you a quick round-up of what I've been looking at.

Defenders #45, Red Rajah

It's the second part of the Red Rajah saga, as the girl Defenders take on the boy Defenders and make a better job of it than the boys ever did.
Jungle Action #6, the Black Panther, Panther's Rage

Don McGregor's Panther's Rage kicks off with T'Challa returning to Wakanda, only to find everyone's a bit fed-up of him.
Justice Inc #3, The Avenger

Jack Kirby's short-lived take on the Avenger gives us men turning into monsters, as the Avenger gains a new sidekick and strikes a blow for racial equality in the pulp era.
Marvel Premiere #2, Warlock, Rhodan

It's like a cross between The Man Who Fell To Earth and Whistle Down The Wind, as Warlock arrives on Counter-Earth and promptly gains a bunch of disciples.

Gil Kane's art's fabby but Roy Thomas lays on the religious allegory so hard it's like being run over by a copy of the Bible.
Modnight Tales #5, Professor Coffin and Arachne

It's more winningly quirky pleasantness from easily my favourite Charlton series, as Professor Coffin and Arachne have a Hellbound diversion.
Midnight Tales #12, Arachne and Professor Coffin, Charlton Comics

And they're back again.
The Shadow #7, Frank Robbins

Reading The Shadow was the first time I ever liked Frank Robbins' artwork.

Here, the scarf-tastic super-doer finds himself mixed up in showbiz shenanigans.
The Shadow #9, Joe Kubert

With Frank Robbins still in charge, the Shadow's up against a smuggling operation at Niagara.
The Shadow #11, The Avenger

It's the Shadow vs the Avenger in the battle to see whose comic's going to be cancelled first. While the strip's still here, there's plenty of lovely E R Cruz artwork to savour.
The Shadow #12, Mike Kaluta

More E R Cruz on the inside and a classic cover by Mike Kaluta on the outside, as the Shadow finds himself up against a town full of Satanists.

Or does he?
Special Marvel Edition #16, Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu, Midnight

One of my Kung Fu faves, as Shang-Chi finds himself up against his best friend Midnight, from the era when Jim Starlin was still on the art and proving there was more to his repertoire than being Cosmic.

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Sheffield's Most Wanted. Part 17: Batman #259.

Batman 100 pages, The Shadow
Yes! Yes, Mr Cover Designer! I CAN spot Bruce Wayne in that picture! He's clearly the man in the scarf, holding the gun and looking a bit miffed at everyone. I am me and I demand my prize!

If there was one 1970s Batman story I wanted to read more than his team-up with Manhunter, it was his collaboration with the Shadow. I wanted to be Batman. I wanted to be the Shadow. I also wanted to be the Spectre but I'd have to die to be that, so I was happy to settle for being either of the other two. Therefore how could I not love them being in one story together?

Actually, were they in one story together? Nick Cardy's cover for Batman #259 leaves it in some doubt as to whether DC's nocturnal knights would ever meet.

Sadly, I never got to find out because I never got to read the comic. But what a magnificent treat I have no doubt it was.

But let's be honest, who cares about  the Shadow and Batman? One look at that cover tells us what we really want to see - the feature where DC unveils new costumes designed for Robin by me the readers.

Bearing in mind the less-than-stellar costumes I the reader inflicted on poor old Supergirl when given the chance to design new costumes for her, one can only shudder at what nightmares I the reader inflicted on Robin, bearing in mind he wasn't necessarily the most dignifiedly attired man in the first place.

Sunday 15 September 2013

The most forgettable comics I have ever owned. Part 7: Secrets of Haunted House #1.

DC Comics, Secrets of Haunted House #1
It's time once more for me to delve into the Amnesian Fields of History as I struggle to recall yet another comic I'd totally forgotten I'd ever had until the internet reminded me.

And it's another one there's no excuse for me forgetting.

After all, not only is it issue #1 of a brand new horror title from DC but it features a rather spiffing cover by Luis Dominguez, incorporating the obligatory cowering children he and Nick Cardy so delighted in giving us on the front of so many horror mags.

What was in this issue?

Straining my magnificent brain, I have the notion that one of the tales within featured someone finding a small sea monster, whilst out fishing. What happened after that, I couldn't even claim to be able to elucidate upon.

Upon rediscovering this cover, I assumed Secrets of Haunted House must've been a short-lived title and a case of inflicting one horror mag too many on a saturated market but, according to the Grand Comics Database, it lasted seven years, which was a pretty good innings for a DC title launched in the mid-1970s.

So, all I can do in response to such an error is apologise to both the comic and to the fishy gentleman on its cover and hope that neither of them come looking for me.

After all, unlike the cowering children of the world, I have no rowing boat to hide beneath.

Friday 13 September 2013

Adventures By Moonlight.

Stephen Walker, Adventures By Moonlight, short story collection
Hooray! Adventures By Moonlight is my new collection that gathers together all the short stories I published in 2011 and 2012. It also features a specially written story called Adventures In The Moonlight, which I like to think of as the tale that Robert E Howard never dared tell.

That means it's packed with 71,000 words of supernatural doings and occurrences. Thrill to the adventures of occult investigator Liz Sanford as she battles with the forces of darkness - and with her own workmates. See a Victorian super-sleuth who refuses to follow the script. Find out what happens when a metaphorical being loses her lucky hand. All this and a whole lot more besides.

Features the stories:

You can download Adventures By Moonlight from:
Amazon.Com, Amazon UK and all other good branches of Amazon.

Tuesday 10 September 2013

The Top Ten Jim Aparo Spectre Adventure Comics covers.

Hooray! This is going to be the easiest Top Ten I've ever put together - mostly because Jim Aparo only actually did ten Spectre Adventure Comics covers.

It's also going to be easy because I'm not going to bother putting the covers in any kind of order, other than that in which they were first published.

This is because many long-term readers of this blog'll already know what my favourite is. A strong hint would be that it's got plenty of purple in it, proving the Incredible Hulk was right all along and that, in the world of comics, purple and green really do go together.

Adventure Comics #431, Jim Aparo, the Spectre
This was my first exposure to the Spectre. I can even tell you where I got it; a newsagents near Blackpool Pleasure Beach. It was run by a woman with light hair. I don't know what she was called. But how I thrilled as the cowled crusader melted one villain and reduced another to a skeleton.

Adventure Comics #432, Jim Aparo, the Spectre
 This is one of the few Aparo Spectre stories I never had, and can thus tell you nothing of its contents.

Adventure Comics #433, Jim Aparo, the Spectre
I didn't have this one as a child either. I have, though, read it since. Actually, I can't remember just what happens in it but have no doubt that had I read it when I was ten I'd be able to regale you with exactly how the villain meets his fate.

Adventure Comics #434, Jim Aparo, the Spectre
You can't go wrong with killer shop window dummies - and the Spectre didn't either. The villain thought he was Billy Big Potatoes but soon found himself as roasted as a spud.

Adventure Comics #435, Jim Aparo, the Spectre
Thanks to the twists of Fate, I had two copies of this. I do believe it's the one with the legendary buzz saw sequence.

Adventure Comics #436, Jim Aparo, the Spectre
The Spectre finds himself up against a gas-happy would-be Nazi. Needless to say, gruesome deaths soon follow.

Adventure Comics #437, Jim Aparo, the Spectre
 I've not read this one since childhood but I do recall it introduced me to the word, "Barracuda."

Adventure Comics #438, Jim Aparo, the Spectre
I've not read this one since childhood either but I suspect a museum may have been involved - and stuffed gorillas.

Adventure Comics #439, Jim Aparo, the Spectre
It's time to gasp in horror as Jim Corrigan suddenly finds himself alive again. But for how long?

Adventure Comics #440, Jim Aparo, the Spectre
I didn't have this one either. As it wrapped up the storyline from the previous issue, this was a matter of some concern to me. Happily, I've since read it and am happy to reveal that normal Spectre service is soon restored.

Sadly, after this issue, the Spectre was replaced in the comic by Aquaman. Oh the indignity of it all; to be supplanted by a man who's never melted a villain in his life.

Sunday 8 September 2013

The Most Forgettable Comics I have Ever Owned. Part 6: The Destructor #3.

Atlas Comics, Destructor #3
Any long-suffering follower of this blog'll know I was quite the avid collector of all things Atlas in my youth.

In retrospect, why this was, I have no idea - bearing in mind most of their output was often as uncharming as it was derivative.

I suppose it must've been purely down to the fact they were a new company and that to be in there at the start felt like it must've done in the 1960s when Marvel first started to take off.

Sadly, Atlas never did start to take off and, famously, all their titles were gone within four issues.

All of which brings me to my latest forgotten comic because, up until the wonders of the internet, I'd totally forgotten I'd ever had such a comic as The Destructor #3.

Why I'd forgotten, I don't know, as all their other titles had stuck in my mind long after they'd been thrown away. Even Police Action had lodged in my hippocampus and that didn't even have super-heroes in it.

My negligence is even odder bearing in mind The Destructor was drawn by none other than Steve Ditko.

I must confess that Steve Ditko in the 1970s posed a problem for me. I always wanted to like his work in that decade because of my love for his Marvel output of the 1960s. Who couldn't love his work on Spider-Man and Dr Strange? Why, the man deserved to declared a legend purely for the way he drew trousers, let alone anything else.

But. even as a youth, I couldn't get round the fact that, by the '70s, his work seemed increasingly dated, not to mention looking flatter, more juvenile and less detailed than it once had. Even his trousers didn't seem as good as they once had. This meant I picked up every comic drawn by Steve Ditko in that era hoping it'd be drawn the way he'd used to do it, only to be disappointed when it wasn't.

Was this the reason I totally forgot about The Destructor? Or was it just there was something inherently unmemorable about him? I don't know. I can't remember him and therefore can offer no opinion about him.

Then again, maybe there wasn't anything unmemorable about him. Maybe the fault was entirely my own.

Thursday 5 September 2013

Forty years ago this month - September 1973.

Surely the best story of the week has to be the new skyscraper in London, whose reflected sunlight is so concentrated it's actually melting cars. As a would-be super-villain, how I've always longed to own such a building.

But let's face it, no story could be better than the ones Marvel Comics gave us every week in the 1970s. Melted cars? Why, their concentrated drama was enough to melt the human brain itself.

Avengers #115

Except in this case.

It's one of those rare Bronze Age Avengers tales I don't like, as the world's mightiest heroes have ridiculous amounts of trouble against a bunch of people who live beneath Wolverhampton or somesuch. If only Slade had turned up, that would've given proceedings the extra bit of sparkle the tale clearly needed.
Captain America and the Falcon #165, Yellow Claw

As anyone who's read my legendary novel Fatal Inheritance (available from all good online bookstores) knows, you can't go wrong with giant spiders.

Sadly, I suspect the Yellow Claw does go wrong with them and that Cap and his plucky sidekick will ultimately win the day.
Conan the Barbarian #30, Nergal

I've not read this one. Would the title mean it's an adaptation of Robert E Howard's The Hand of Nergal?
Daredevil and the Black Widow #103, Spider-Man and Ramrod.

I read this one on holiday in 1978. After all those years of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer, suddenly being exposed to Don Heck at his less-than-best convinced me it was the moment Daredevil as a strip had died.

Fortunately, I was wrong. I'm glad to say the strip recovered and had many a happy year ahead of it.

Fantastic Four #138, Miracle Man

I first read this in Marvel UK's wonderfully misconceived Complete Fantastic Four which each week reprinted an entire FF tale, meaning it was using-up material four times faster than it was being created. Disaster was sure to follow.

Still, it was good to see the Miracle Man back. He was always one of my favourite FF villains, if only for his moustache.
Incredible Hulk #167, Modok

The Mighty World of Marvel reprinted this during the wilderness months when it wasn't available in my local newsagents.

Fortunately, I've since read it in one of the Essential Hulk Volumes and, like all Hulk tales from this era, it's well worth a read.
Iron Man #62, Whiplash

I have no memory of having read this one. I do wonder if the helpless woman who showed up on virtually every Gil Kane cover was the same woman every time? By this point, Marvel's heroes must've been sick of having to rescue her.
Amazing Spider-Man #124, Man-Wolf

Hooray! It's one of my faves, as the Man-Wolf causes all kinds of trouble for Spidey and JJJ.
Thor #215, Xorr.

I believe this is the one where Thor fights a giant, stroppy crystal, with the somewhat mercurial help of Mercurio.

I've never like this tale because I've never liked to think of Karnilla being trapped and helpless inside a big, evil crystal. Treat Karnilla right, you awful comic book creators!

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Fifty years ago today - September 1963,

As all sports lovers know, yesterday the football transfer window closed with a bang. Many were the comings and many were the goings. But I think there's one thing we can say for certain; that, in the world of fifty years ago today, Marvel's own superstars were staying put. Not for them the abandoning of their familiar stomping grounds to pursue money or trophies. No, they were happy to stay where they were, going in 50/50 on every wrong-doer they encountered.

But, hark, what's this? A little birdie tells me that, even here, there may be new arrivals...

Avengers #1, Loki

Like Tottenham Hotspur, Marvel puts together a brand new team, as The Avengers make their debut.
Fantastic Four #18, the Super Skrull

One of my favourite villains also makes his debut, as the Super-Skrull shows up.
Journey Into Mystery #96, Thor vs Merlin

Presumably feeling a bit bored before he thinks of filling his time by creating Captain Britain, Merlin shows up to cause all sorts of trouble for Thor.

I love that happy, smiley Thor pic in the cornerbox.
Amazing Spider-Man #4, the Sandman

Sandman makes his first appearance before suffering the least dignified defeat ever inflicted on a super-villain.
Strange Tales #112, the Human Torch

I don't like to tell a man how to do his job but is the Eel really sure it's a good idea to stand so close to an impending nuclear explosion?
Tales of Suspense #45, Jack Frost

Pepper and Happy make their debut.

So does Jack Frost.

Sadly, only two of those three are destined to make a long-term impact on the strip.
Tales to Astonish #47, Ant-Man and the Wasp

I really don't have a clue what's going on now. A super-villain is defeating Ant-Man by playing the piano at him?
X-Men #1, Magneto

Yet another pulse-pounding team makes its entrance, as the X-Men show up to fight Magneto.

Right from the start, we can tell how powerful Magneto is because it's made clear that even snowballs can't stop him.

That really is one tough hombre.

I wonder who'd win a fight between Iceman and Jack Frost?