Thursday 26 February 2015

Amazing Spider-Man #6 - The Lizard video review.

Amazing Spider-Man #6, the Lizard
I always insist you can't go wrong with purple and green.

And issue #6 of The Amazing Spider-Man certainly didn't, using those colours to give us one of my favourite Steve Ditko Spidey covers of them all, as we first encountered that swamp-spawned terror of the Everglades; the Lizard.

Thus it is that I must bring you my video review of that very issue.

Can anything match the terror of Curt Connors' reptilian alter-ego?

Only my attempts at video editing, which always give the impression that I've got stuck into it with a meat cleaver.

Sunday 22 February 2015

February 22nd, 1975 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Hark! What's that stopping and starting sound I hear?

Why, it seems to be a song that keeps stopping and starting.

That can only mean one thing. Not that my CD player's broke but that it's forty years ago this week that Cockney Rebel's famously segmented track Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me) leapt to Number One on the British singles chart.

But did the heroes of Marvel's UK department have anything to smile about?

Or were they themselves, like Cockney Rebel, being repeatedly halted in their tracks?

Marvel UK, Avengers #75, Dr Strange

Is this the story where Dr Strange teams up with first the Sub-Mariner and then the Hulk to sort out the whole Nameless Ones saga, with the aid of Barbara Norris? Thus making it a kind of unofficial debut epic for the Defenders?

I've never been sure if Strange was wearing a mask during this era or if he'd just turned his face blue. I always preferred to think it was the latter.
Mighty World of Marvel #125, Hulk

After last week's interruption by the Inheritor, the Hulk gets to do his Conan thing in Jarella's kingdom.
Marvel UK, Dracula Lives #18

It might be a perfectly nice night out but, right now, Dracula's feeling a little cross.

Admittedly, it's not a little cross. It's a middling-sized cross but my joke wouldn't have worked if I'd said, "Dracula's feeling a medium cross."

Granted, my joke didn't work anyway but at least I made the effort.
Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #18

This is another Planet of the Apes cover I redrew when I was a boy, in the belief that I could improve on it.

I believe I was led to do so by having seen a reproduction of the original American version of the cover which was done for one of the black and white mags and therefore painted.

My version wasn't painted. It was in pencil. It possibly didn't look as good.
Spider-Man Comics Weekly #106, The Kingpin

Spidey literally gets the rug pulled out from under him, as the Schemer storyline rumbles on.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

The origin of the Fantastic Four - video review.

Fantastic Four #1 - Origin
Yesterday may have been Pancake Day but today is an even more epoch-making one, as I upload my second video to Sheffield's 38th greatest living blog.

I must admit it was a troubled shoot, stricken by a temperamental star, noisy wildlife and lighting difficulties. But, like a trooper, I battled on and finished it.

So, here it is, a motion picture that's bound to go down in cinema history and be spoken of in the same breath as the likes of Tank Girl and Tommy Wiseau's The Room.

Sunday 15 February 2015

February 15th, 1975 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

By some miracle beyond human comprehension, I survived the recent Friday the 13th with barely a mark on me.

But were our favourite Marvel UK mags able to approach this week of exactly forty years ago with equal insouciance?

Only a trip back in the Steve Does Comics time machine will be able to tell us.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #17

I think we're still doing the Jason and Alexander thing.
Mighty World of Marvel #124, Hulk vs the Inheritor

This is a bit strange. Last week, Marvel UK gave us the Hulk's battle with Psyklop but, this week, it seems they're giving us the Inheritor - rather than the Jarella tale that followed directly on from that previous story. Did continuity mean nothing to these people?
Marvel UK, the Avengers #74, Masters of Evil

For me, this is when the Avengers' great era arrives, as the Masters of Evil make their deadly return.

We also get the origin of Iron Fist, as dealt with in this here post here.
Spider-Man Comics Weekly #105, the Schemer

I'm not sure that's the greatest hiding place for a criminal, what with the danger of hypothermia.

Not to mention that people might get a little suspicious as to why a snowman has a human face and a gun.
Marvel UK, Dracula Lives #17, Frankenstein

What a fool I am.  Only seven days ago, I declared that last week's issue was one of only two issues of Dracula Lives that I ever owned. In fact I didn't own that issue at all. This was the issue I owned.

Thursday 12 February 2015

Incredible Hulk #145 - Call him Colossus!

Incredible Hulk #145, Godspawn
I must confess that, in my younger days, I was quite the fan of the theories of Erich Von Däniken.

Those theories stated, of course, that virtually every building constructed before 1950 was put there by aliens.

Granted, over the years, some individuals have striven to debunk such theories by pointing out that they make no sense and that there's no evidence at all to back them up.

To which I can only reply, "Yah boo sucks. What sort of spoilsport ruins a good theory by inflicting the truth on it?"

Thus it is that issue #145 of The Incredible Hulk has always been a favourite of mine.

In it, our green-skinned hero manages to land a part in a movie - only (after reverting to Bruce Banner) to be kidnapped by aliens bearing a remarkable resemblance to ancient Egyptian gods.

It turns out that, thousands of years ago, they visited the Earth and planted seeds in the desert sand; seeds destined to mature into giant stone monsters that'll fight each other in order to settle some parochial dispute or other.

Incredible Hulk #145, Sphinx
Needless to say, Bruce Banner's not settling for that. As we all know, it's his job to smash everything to smithereens, and he's not letting anyone else get in on the action.

So, he sabotages the activation of one monster (the Sphinx) and then, in his Hulk form, is returned to Earth to fight the other monster (the Colossus) as the aliens flee our world in a panic.

Needless to say, the Hulk quickly deals with the Colossus and then strolls off, bemoaning the fact that nobody wants to be his friend.

Incredible Hulk #145, Colossus
It has to be said that, in the course of this tale, he does sink a ship and murder its entire crew and also destroys a village by accidentally inflicting tidal waves upon it. So you can easily see why he's not quite as popular as he'd like to be.

The fight itself is an odd thing, bearing a noticeable resemblance to the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where the Black Knight refuses to admit he's seriously injured as yet more and more parts of him get chopped off.

Likewise, no matter how many bits of his stone opponent the Hulk smashes to pieces, it carries on declaring that it's still on course for a magnificent triumph. It may not be too bright but it is at least an optimist.

The fight's also a little odd because one of the onlookers bears a striking resemblance to Betty Ross while another looks exactly like her father, which creates a very strange sensation as you read the panels in question.

Speaking of the Ross family, I do believe this to be the issue where the Hulkbuster base makes its conceptual debut, as Thunderbolt outlines his plans for it, complete with its layout which, bizarrely, is clearly modelled on the CND symbol.

Well, Thunderbolt Ross might not like the Hulk (or, seemingly, nuclear weapons) but I do still love this tale even though, as an adult, I can see that the aliens' behaviour lacks a certain something in the logic department. Just why does it take thousands of years for their creations to reach maturity and just why did they bring Bruce Banner aboard their spaceship and then leave him unsupervised so he could wreck their plans?

These are all mysteries.

They're mysteries as great as those of Von Däniken himself and so may find themselves buried forever beneath the sands of enlightenment, never to be unearthed.

But, let's face it, that's the best kind of mystery - the kind that never gets answered.

Sunday 8 February 2015

February 8th, 1975 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Tragically, this blog's eponymous hero is currently laid low by a common cold that fair threatens to tear his sanity apart. But were our favourite UK Marvel mags having a happier time of it exactly forty years ago this week?

There's only one way to find out.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #104, the Schemer

Spider-Man comes up against the Schemer's legendary Light-Fitting of Death.

I'd love to have a light-fitting that can crush my foes to smithereens.

I'm not sure what this says about me.

I've checked the Argos catalogue but they don't seem to stock any.

Life can be very disappointing when you're a grown-up.
Mighty World of Marvel #123, Psyklop

Hooray! It's one of my favourite Hulk stories, as Psyklop makes his first appearance and it all goes a bit Lovecraft.

I think this may have been the first time I ever read a story drawn by Sal Buscema.
Marvel UK, the Avengers #73, Spider-Man and Iron Fist

Is this the one where Spidey and Iron Fist come up against a man who's living his life backwards and therefore getting younger with the passage of time?

Coming only a few weeks after Marvel UK published the Silvermane storyline, Spidey must've been feeling a certain sense of déjà vu.
Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #16

I remember once redrawing this cover, when I was a boy, having decided that I could improve upon it.
Marvel UK, Dracula Lives #16, Frankenstein

This is one of only two issues of Dracula Lives that I ever owned.

Sadly, I can't recall what actually happened in it.

Was a cave involved?

Thursday 5 February 2015

Forty years ago this month - February 1975.

I think we're all excited that today is World Nutella Day. But there are even more thrilling things afoot than that - because today's the day we get to see what our favourite Marvel heroes were up to exactly forty years ago.

Will their lives be filled with nuts?

And will they be giving them a good pasting?

Avengers #132

The Celestial Madonna Saga rumbles on.

And on.

And on.

It's strange but it never seemed this interminable when I was actually reading it.
Conan the Barbarian #47, Goblins

The Goblins strike at midnight. Which is convenient to know, if you don't have a clock handy.

It's nice to think that Conan can time his day entirely by which particular types of creatures are attacking him at any moment. "It's skeletons! It must be breakfast time!"
Captain America & the Falcon #182

A Steve Does Comics No-Prize goes to the first person who can remind me of the names of all the members of the Serpent Squad.
Daredevil #118, Blackwing

I'm totally unfamiliar with Blackwing. I'm taking it from his little, fluttery friends that he was designed to be some sort of Batman type figure?

Fantastic Four #155, the Silver Surfer

The Silver Surfer's causing trouble.
Incredible Hulk #184, Shadows

The Hulk finds himself up against a foe revived from the days of Marvel's monster comics.
Amazing Spider-Man #141, Mysterio

Mysterio is back.

Or is he?
Thor #232, Firelord

I know nothing about this story.

I do however know that Thor's anatomy on the cover is all over the place.
X-Men #92, Red Raven

This is a reprint of the first X-Men comic I ever read, as Red Raven makes his senses-shattering return from obscurity.

Tuesday 3 February 2015

Fifty years ago this month - February 1965.

Hark! What's that thudding noise I hear at my front door?

Is it the sound of impending death coming to claim me?

Why no. It's the arrival of a brand new month!

And that means it's time to take a look at what our favourite Marvel heroes were up to in February of exactly fifty years ago.

Avengers #13, Count Nefaria

Count Nefaria is one of those villains I know almost nothing about.

Come to think of it, other than his name, I do know nothing about him. Every time he used to show up in a comic, I didn't have a clue who he was or what he was about.
Daredevil #6, the Fellowship of Fear

Hooray! Mr Fear makes his debut.

If I was going to be a super-villain, Mr Fear would be near the top of the list of ones I'd choose to be.
Fantastic Four #35, Dragon Man and Diablo

Diablo's back!

And Dragon Man makes his first appearance, as the FF go to university and Reed and Sue get smooching in Lovers' Lane.
Journey into Mystery #113, Thor vs the Grey Gargoyle

Thor reveals his secret identity to Jane Foster.

I bet Odin takes that well....
Amazing Spider-Man #21, the Human Torch and the Beetle

I was never a fan of the Beetle. There was always something a bit too lumbering and slow-mo about him for my liking.
Strange Tales #129, the Terrible Trio

The Terrible Trio look to cement their place in comic book history.

Somehow, I have the feeling they don't quite succeed.
Tales of Suspense #62, Origin of the Mandarin

We get the origin of the Mandarin, which was something of a disappointment to me when I first read it, as it portrayed him as someone who just got lucky, rather than him being a self-made genius.

Is the other tale the one where a load of convicts want to get their hands on the gadgets in Cap's shield so they can use them to escape?

If it is, I seem to recall it's one of those tales where we get plenty of lecturing from Cap about the power of leverage.

Why has leverage never been of any use to me in life?
Tales to Astonish #64, Attuma vs Giant Man

I always had a soft spot for Attuma.

I have a feeling that Giant-Man beats him by deceiving him as to the true nature of the surface world but I can't remember how he did it, or even if he did do it.