Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad - Worlds Unknown #7.

Worlds Unknown #7, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
Apart from Rod Stewart, has there ever been a more famous sailor than Sinbad; that daring explorer who never turned down a chance to tangle with giant eggs?

There are those who'll tell you he was Chinese. There are those who'll tell you he was from the Middle East. There are even some mad fools who'll tell you he never existed at all.

One thing's for sure, all our childhoods would have been an awful lot duller if not for the inspiration he gave to Ray Harryhausen.

But Sinbad wasn't alone in enlivening our youthful lives.

So did Marvel Comics.

And so, when it happened, it seemed only appropriate that the worlds of Marvel and Harryhausen should at last be combined as Worlds Unknown #7 gave us an adaptation of Harryhausen's classic film The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

Golden Voyage of Sinbad - Worlds Unknown #7.
Here's what's going down in Sinbadland. Sinbad is sailing around when one of his men spots a small, flying creature and, for no good reason, tries to shoot it, causing it to drop the strange metal object it's been carrying.

Not bothering to ask any philosophical questions about the ethicality of shooting at things that are doing you no harm, and then stealing what they're  carrying, Sinbad soon finds himself in the city of Marabia where he slaps around the object's rightful owner and then finds himself being recruited by the local, golden-masked king, to help thwart an evil wizard called Koura who, as we all know, was played in the film by the legend that is Tom Baker.

Golden Voyage of Sinbad - Worlds Unknown #7.
Needless to say, for reasons I'm not totally clear about, this sets Sinbad and Koura on a sea-born race to reach an island and learn whatever its secret is.

But that's not before Koura brings the wooden figurehead of Sinbad's ship to life and gets it to steal our hero's charts.

It's at this point that issue #7 terminates and we learn that we're going to have to wait for issue #8 to find out how it all ends.

Golden Voyage of Sinbad - Worlds Unknown #7.
Obviously, we all know how it all ends, because we've all seen the movie.

In fact, we've seen it frequently. Mostly every bank holiday Monday, because it's on TV every bank holiday Monday and has been for about thirty five years.

Therein may lie the adaptation's Achilles heel.

Which is that we've all seen the movie and can therefore directly compare it to the comic.

And it's in this direct comparison that the fatal flaw in the concept of adapting a Ray Harryhausen movie is revealed.

That's that the central pleasure of any Harryhausen film dwells not within its plot and characters. It dwells within seeing rubber models come to life and fight people. Sadly, in a comic, that thrill's lost, as there are no rubber monsters in it, just drawings on a page; drawings of monsters and drawings of people. Hence there's no gap between the real and fantastical elements and the enchantment is lost.

Golden Voyage of Sinbad - Worlds Unknown #7.
There's also the problem that there's very little difference between a Sinbad tale and a Conan tale and, by this stage, Marvel had been doing Conan tales for years - but with the advantage that they weren't tied to a movie script and could therefore make the strip far more dynamic, in the mighty Marvel style, with a freedom that a faithful movie adaptation inevitably lacks.

Golden Voyage of Sinbad - Worlds Unknown #7.It's written by Len Wein, and it's drawn by George Tuska and Vince Colletta and, while the art's not off-putting (Tuska makes things less cartoony than he sometimes does), nor is it particularly gripping. Restricted by the need for faithfulness, the thing does often feel as wooden as Sinbad's murderous figurehead.

In the end, it's not terrible, it's all competently done but it does feel rather by-the-numbers and thus lacks the atmosphere and magic of the movie.

But the main appeal for me lies in seeing Brian Clemens get a first-page credit.

As a producer and writer, Clemens was of course strongly involved in such treasures as The Avengers, The Persuaders, The Protectors and The Professionals, not to mention Adam Adamant Lives and the cinematic oddities that were And Soon The Darkness, Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde and Captain Kronos. And if that isn't enough to make him deserve being immortalised in a comic, I don't know what would be.


B Smith said...

Forget the animated figures, how well did Tuska render Caroline Munro...?

Ant Master said...

"If I choose not too?"

Next panel,

"Er, I think I just said you would have your throat cut"

"Oh sorry, how long do I get to decide?"

Steve W. said...

B, I have to say that the comicbook version bears little resemblance to the real one.

Ant Master, Sinbad is clearly not a man who knows how to take a hint.

Anonymous said...

On that cover, Sinbad looks like he's trying to crap out a pineapple or something.

...loved the movie. Kali...yikes!

Anonymous said...

I once read that Tom Baker was offered the part of Dr. Who thanks to his role in Golden Voyage - have you ever heard that, Steve ?

Steve W. said...

I've just checked on Wikipedia and it confirms that he secured the part thanks to Golden Voyage, although he was already under consideration before that, thanks to having worked with the BBC's Head of Serials, on a show called The Millionairess.

Dougie said...

Do I correctly recall a Marvel adaptation of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, also mid-70s? Anyone read that?

Steve W. said...

I'm not at all familiar with that, Dougie. I wonder what mag it would have been in?

Steve W. said...

I've just Googled it.

And it turns out you're right. It was in Marvel Spotlight and it's posted in its full glory on the following page at Diversions of the Groovy Kind:

Dougie said...

I thought it was one of the Showcase-style one-shot Marvels. Thanks.