Sunday 26 February 2017

Logan movie trailer (possible spoilers).

Mere days ago, I rewatched X-Men: Days of Future Past, thanks to some channel or other showing it and, even though I'm still not sure it all makes any real sense, I do - thanks to its likeable characters - still find it enjoyable.

But that sounds like a cue to watch the trailer for the latest X-Men film, which is called Logan which is possibly the least exciting title for a film since John Carter.

Clearly, with it starring everyone's favourite walking cutlery set, it's unlikely to suffer the same box office death as that movie did. But, given that other Wolverine movies haven't always gone down well, just how does it promise to do?

There's only one way to find out.

And that's to press the Play button...

I have to say that's one of the most uninteresting movie trailers I've ever seen. So, basically, it's an X-Men film that doesn't have any mutants in it and seems to have been made by a director who's suicidally depressed. Also, there's a girl in it but we don't know who she is or why she's important - assuming she is important - and she doesn't get to say anything, and it's anyone's guess if there's any decent bad guys in the film or what's at stake or why or how.

On the plus side, it does have Johnny Cash's Hurt playing all the way through it but that does have the effect of making the trailer look like it's nothing more than an alternative video for the song. Unfortunately, that just makes you realise how much more interesting the original video for that song is when compared to the trailer.

Of course, this apparent dullness won't prevent me from watching it when I get the chance, just like I've watched the other Wolverine films. But it doesn't fill me with hope that there's actually anything in the film that'd make it worth watching.

I now sit here secure in the knowledge that it'll get rave reviews from the critics and be the most commercially successful X-Men movie ever; proving once more that, when it comes to judging film trailers, I don't have a clue what I'm talking about.

Thursday 23 February 2017

February 23rd, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Have you ever been grabbed by the Morlocks?

I have.

It was on this very night in 1977.


Because, as part of its ultra-short sci-fi season, BBC One was showing the legendary movie The Time Machine with Rod Taylor.

I love that film. It's one of those I can never tire of no matter how many times I've seen it. I especially like the ease with which Taylor beats up the evil troglodytes whenever they appear. Any other film would have made them super-strong and nigh-on invincible. This one had the sense to make sure they can't stand up to a good old-fashioned punch in the face, giving the film a pleasing action-adventure element that one might not have predicted.

But, of course, Rod Taylor isn't the only one in possession of a time machine. I have one. And I can use it to transport myself back forty years and see what our favourite comics company was offering us in the publications that led up to that very night.

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #20, Captain America

A trip back in time of forty years? It feels more like a trip back in time of seventy five, as the two captains battle the never-ending Nazi threat to our sceptred isle.

Mighty World of Marvel #230, incredible Hulk

I remember this one. If I recall right, the Collector decides to capture the Hulk, the Glob and the Man-Thing.

While it's a perfectly pleasing tale, I was somewhat perplexed that the Glob who features in this tale is not the Glob we know and love from earlier Hulk appearances. How could such an outrage against continuity have been allowed?

Super Spider-Man and the Titans #211

Ned Leeds and Betty Brant get married.

Or they will if that pesky plunderer The Mirage doesn't mess it all up for them.

I seem to recall that this tale makes reference to The Day of the Locust, proving yet again that comics are nothing if not promoters of classic literature.

A great big Steve Does Comics No-Prize goes to the first person who can tell me which unlikely cartoon character appears as a major character in The Day of the Locust.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #123

It's a disastrous week for lovers of all things simian, as we get the last ever issue of Marvel UK's Planet of the Apes comic. Next week, we'll have to get our weekly dose of apes in the pages of Mighty World of Marvel, a home that seems an uncomfortable fit indeed for such a strip.

Tuesday 21 February 2017

Your favourite 1970s DC hero?

DC Comics, Claw #1
A mere month ago, I asked you to name your favourite Marvel hero who was created in the 1970s - and you did just that.

But that means I now have to do the obvious and ask the identity of your favourite DC hero who was created in that self-same decade.

I must admit I have marginally less knowledge of DC's 1970s output than I do of Marvel's, so it's going to be harder for me to come up with suggestions this time round.

I was a huge fan of the 1970s' Spectre, Manhunter and Shadow revivals but none of them were created in the 1970s and the Shadow wasn't even a DC creation, so they don't really count.

On the other hand, DC did give us such idiosyncratic battlers as Swamp-Thing, Kamandi, Mr Miracle and OMAC.

The world of barbarism gave us Claw the Unconquered, the Warlord, Stalker and Beowulf, while the world of Gotham gave us a Man-Bat who wasn't always sure if he was a hero or not.

Admittedly, DC didn't actually create Beowulf, nor was he technically created in the 1970s but I do feel that, like Marvel's version of Thor, he was sufficiently different from the source material to be counted as a new entity.

DC Comics, Kamandi #1
The world of right-on hipness gave us Prez who wasn't a super-hero but he did exist and was clearly a force for good, so I feel duty bound to mention him.

On the female front, DC gave us Black Orchid, Wonder Woman's sister Nubia, Power Girl, Big Barda and the Thorn.

The Legion of Super-Heroes gave us ERG-1 who quickly renamed himself Wildfire, while Wikipedia tells me the 1970s also gave us the similarly dramatically named Black Lightning and Firestorm.

Of all of these, I think I have to go for the Thorn who I don't remember that much about but I always liked the idea of a heroine who only went into action when she was asleep and thus never knew she was a heroine.

But it does strike me, from the above list, that it seems like thinner pickings than Marvel's equivalents from the same era.

Then again, that could just be down to my ignorance and there may be a zillion and one great characters I've not mentioned here.

Either way, feel free to name your own favourite, in the comments section below, because there's nothing the internet likes better than a heated debate about life-or-death matters.

Sunday 19 February 2017

2000 AD - January 1979.

January 1979 was a great month for all lovers of high culture, with The Dukes of Hazzard making its debut on CBS television.

I would comment on the show but I actually can't remember anything about it other than that it was set in America, had a man in it called Boss Hogg and was full of the kind of steering that'd get you sent on a driving refresher course if you did it in Britain.

But The Dukes of Hazzard shouldn't take umbrage at my lack of memory, because another thing I can recall nothing of are that month's issues of the galaxy's greatest comic.

It's true. I must confess that looking at the covers brings no memories to me at all other than the fact that Prog 94 clearly features Judge Cal, the wacky law master I've based myself on ever since he first appointed his goldfish as a judge. I can reveal at last that this is the reason I appointed my budgie as my agent and have thus achieved the literary success that I have.

The other covers bring few thoughts to me, other than that the one on Prog 96 looks like the kind of thing I'd expect to adorn an Alan Class comic. This therefore endears it to me greatly.

A look at ComicVine's 2000 AD entries for the month suggests that, other than the Judge Cal storyline, nothing particularly epoch-making happened in these issues, so I shall merely leave you with the four covers in question and you can make your own mind up about them.

In the meantime, I shall see you on Tuesday for a post that asks a question that has to be answered if comic book loving humanity is to retain its sanity.
2000 AD prog 94, Judge Cal

2000 AD prog 95

2000 AD prog 96

2000 AD prog 97

Thursday 16 February 2017

February 16th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

On this evening in 1977, BBC One was showing Forbidden Planet as part of a very short sci-fi season that consisted of just three films. What the other two films were should become clearer when this feature returns next week and then the week after.

This wasn't the first time I'd ever seen the movie but I have no doubt it had as big an impact on me then as it had the first time I'd clapped eyes on Robby the Robot, the Krell city and the Monster from the Id.

Were the Krell partial inspiration for Marvel's Kree? In the film, Morbius does claim they visited the Earth in the past and implies they played a part in mankind's development, just as Marvel's Kree had.

Clearly, sitting through that film again would have been a mind-blowing experience for me - but was there anything equally mind-blowing in the Marvel UK mags that had been filling up my life for the previous seven days?

There's only one way to find out.

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #19, Red Skull

The Red Skull story that ultimately ran for longer than World War Two itself rumbles on, with what seems to be bad news for our heroes - and we still haven't even reached the issue where I reacquainted myself with the good Captain and his adventures.

Interesting that the Skull's henchmen aren't doing the usual straight-fingered Nazi salute but are providing us with a clenched fist variation of it. This seems odd. I wonder if it was against the rules to depict Nazi salutes on the covers of comics?

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #122

Only one more issue to go before the Apes' comic finally kicks the bucket.

Mighty World of Marvel #229, Hulk vs Abomination

My razor-sharp senses tell me this is the tale where the Abomination is planning to do something with a rocket or something.

Come to think of it, what was he planning to do with that rocket? Although I remember the story, I have no recollection at all of what his plan actually was.

Thinking back on it, it seems to me that it was quite unusual for the Abomination to even have a plan. Wasn't his plan usually just to be pointlessly unpleasant to everyone?
Super Spider-Man and the Titans #210

Hooray! Baron Blood is in the Invaders!

I must confess that Baron Blood was the only thing that came out of the Invaders that ever interested me.

As for the cover, did we ever see the bloke with the metal hands again? Knowing how Marvel worked in the 1970s, I would suspect he was a shoo-in to appear in the pages of Luke Cage at some point.

Sunday 12 February 2017

Forty years ago today - February 1977.

February 1977 was an epoch-making month for comics fans, as IPC's legendary 2000 AD made its first appearance on the newsstands of Britain.

This was awesome news indeed.

But what of the Marvel comics that were being removed from the shelves even as that happened? Could they possibly hope to match it for sheer thrill-power?

Here's where we find out.

Daredevil #142, the Cobra and Mr Hyde

You do wonder how many attempts it can take before Mr Hyde and the Cobra actually manage to kill Daredevil. Given that they once gave Thor problems, he shouldn't be able to stand a chance against them.

And yet, somehow, he humiliates them every time.

Fantastic Four #179

I had this issue, in my youth.

I'm not sure what it says about me but my main memory of it is of The Thing eating a steak.

I also think that Reed Richards may cook and eat a bat creature type thing in it, whilst stuck in the Negative Zone.

But, the Negative Zone? Surely that can only mean the imminent arrival of a certain grasshopper.

Incredible Hulk #208

I have no idea at all as to what happens in this issue but that looks like a Marie Severin cover to me - and quite a dramatic one at that.

Iron Man #95, Ultimo

I've always liked Ultimo, even though I can't remember ever seeing him fight anyone except Iron Man.

Then again, did he once fight the Avengers in one of their annuals? Or am I just imagining that?

Amazing Spider-Man #165, Stegron the Dinosaur Man

This tale was my first exposure to Stegron.

To be honest, I wasn't a fan. To me, he just seemed like a rip-off of the Lizard.

Plus, I thought the idea of him bringing dinosaur skeletons to life was far too silly for the pages of Spider-Man.

Spectacular Spider-Man #3

I don't remember the Lightmaster but I do know that's a very Steve Ditkoesque cover by Al Milgrom.

X-Men #103, The Juggernaut

The X-Men are still having trouble with the Juggernaut.

Still, not to worry, at least they've got leprechauns on their side.

Thor #256, Sporr

Hooray! It's the return of Sporr!

Was this the same Sporr who showed up in the pages of Where Monsters Dwell when I was lad? Or was it another Sporr, who just happened to bear a remarkable resemblance to him/her/it?

Captain America and the Falcon #206, the Swine

I seem to recall The Swine being a very unpleasant individual in serious need of a punch in the face.

I have no doubt he got it.

Conan the Barbarian #71

I genuinely have no idea what happens in this one.

Is that cover a product of Gil Kane and Ernie Chan? I don't think I've ever seen that combination of artists before. I like it. Chan adds a certain texture to Kane's normally pristine pencils.
Avengers #156, Dr Doom

I'm fairly certain I've never read this issue.

I do note the Vision seems to be missing his cape. I have no doubts this will turn out to be a major plot point.

Thursday 9 February 2017

February 9th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

This week in 1977, Don't Cry For Me, Argentina by Julie Covington was reigning supreme at Number One on the UK singles chart. What a lovely song that was - and beautifully sung.

I can think of no link whatsoever between this fact and the existence of Marvel UK, so I shall dive straight into my look at what was happening in the pages of the mags that bore today's date all those years ago.

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #18, Captain America and the Red Skull

I notice this week's cover boasts that it includes the complete colour section of last week's issue. It's not every comic that makes a boast like that.

I assume this is to do with the legendary page order mix-up that occurred last week. We can only assume the Red Skull had sabotaged the printing presses.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #121, Battle

Only two weeks to go before the apes cease to stand supreme.

Mighty World of Marvel #228, Hulk and the Abomination

I seem to remember Luke Cage once coming up against a bunch of robot knights in a castle.

I'm assuming they're the, "Armoured assassins," mentioned on the cover blurb.

But just what were the circumstances that led Harlem's hippest hero to come up against those foes?

I must confess I can't remember.

Super Spider-Man and the Titans #209, Whodunit?

Spider-Man finds himself turning detective as he tries to discover who murdered some scientist or other.

Reader, can you guess who the killer was?

You don't have to. I'm going to tell you.

It was a cheeky computer with a laser beam.

Quite why the scientist gave his computer a deadly laser beam, I have no idea. I mean, yes, I have given my own dear laptop a deadly laser beam but I only did that for a lark and because I know it would never use it against m- -argh! Stop it! Stop it, you cheeky laptop!

Sunday 5 February 2017

Fifty years ago this month - February 1967.

Well, here's a strange thing. In February 1967, Pink Floyd signed their first record deal, with EMI. In exactly the same month, the US space probe Lunar Orbiter 3 sent back the first detailed pictures of the dark side of the moon.

Could this be mere coincidence?

Or is it proof of some cosmic plan beyond our mortal comprehension?

I can only respond to it by seeking refuge in the dim days of the past and hoping the fickle fingers of cosmic fate don't find me too.

Avengers #37

My memories of this tale are highly limited. Was the bad guy some sort of out-of-control computer?

Daredevil #25, Leapfrog

It's an epic day for all lovers of comics, as both Mike Murdock and the Leap-Frog make their debuts in one senses-shattering comic. Who wouldn't want to pay twelve cents to see that?

Well, admittedly, probably everyone wouldn't want to pay twelve cents to see that. I think we can only conclude that Stan was having an off-day when he came up with this issue.

Fantastic Four #59, the Inhumans

The Fantastic Four are busy fighting Dr Doom and his newly acquired cosmic powers but the cover shows us the Inhumans and their escape from the Great Refuge. Truly - whatever the failings of the Daredevil issue - with this tale, Marvel was more than making amends.

Amazing Spider-Man #45, the Lizard is back

I seem to remember that, in this issue, Stan the Man left a speech balloon blank so we could fill it in ourselves.

I'm ashamed to say that, after more than forty years, I still haven't got round to filling it in.

Strange Tales #153, Nick Fury

Can it be the end for Marvel's monocular mayhem causer?

Tales of Suspense #86, Captain America

I have no idea what happens in this one, unless it's the issue where he enters Vietnam in order to rescue a captured America soldier.

Tales to Astonish #88, the Sub-Mariner

I've read this tale online somewhere in recent years but can't recall what happens in it, other than that it may have been drawn by Bill Everett and that some sort of space robot shows up.

Thor #137, Ulik

Hooray! Ulik makes his senses-shattering debut!

I do feel his potential for thuggish menace was never fully exploited outside of this issue.

X-Men #29, the Mimic vs the Super-Adaptoid

It's the scrap I've been demanding for years! The Super-Adaptoid vs the Mimic!

Now we just need the Absorbing Man and Rogue to join in and we've got the perfect recipe for total chaos.

Thursday 2 February 2017

February 2nd, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

I can find no evidence at all that anything remotely interesting happened anywhere in the world in the first week of February, 1977. I shall therefore plunge straight into the Time Stream and see if our favourite comic company was giving us enough thrills to compensate for such real-life eventlessness.

Super Spider-Man and the Titans #208, Sandman

I believe the Avengers story in this issue is the one in which I first encountered the Space Phantom.

Sadly, I got somewhat confused when reading it as a youth and mixed him up with the Space Parasite from the pages of The Incredible Hulk. I therefore was completely baffled by the dramatic change in his appearance, backstory and powers.

Is this Spider-Man tale one of those stories where the Sandman talks like he's just swallowed a thesaurus or is it one of those where he sounds like he wouldn't even know what a thesaurus was if you hit him over the cranial orbis with it?

Were the strange fluctuations in the size of his intellect and vocabulary ever explained?

Mighty World of Marvel #227, Hulk vs Abomination

"Captain Marvel -- More powerful than ever before!"

Does that mean this is the issue in which he gains his Cosmic Awareness?

I still, to this day, don't have a clue what Cosmic Awareness is but I suspect it's something you could only get in the 1970s.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #120

Marvel's adaptation of Battle enters its eighty-nine millionth consecutive week. At this rate, this one battle is going to outlast the Hundred Years' War.

They'd better get a move on. There are only three issues to go before the comic's cancelled.

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #17, Captain America

I am saying absolutely nothing....