Saturday, 24 January 2015

Action 7th August 1976 - vicious



We all know Action, yes? We all know about the thrills and the violence and the, er, action and how great and groundbreaking and different it was.
Well, i've just gotten this issue to fill in my collection and re-read it for the first time in nigh-on 39 years and was quite taken aback at just how nasty and vicious some of the strips were.
Now, i'm no prude, you'll know if you've been here for a while what a fan i am of the comic and how it pushed all the right buttons for me back then, and to this day. But here, it just doesn't have the excellence of past issues and seems to be focussing on the outrageous over originality.
Lets look at some cases in point.
After the glorious cover we go straight into "Dredger" and here he is being briefed by his M-style boss, who's hidden in the shadows in a very Blofield way. I don't remember him, nor him being hidden like that and i don't know if anything ever came of it but, really, that fact and the novelty of the speech balloons with their straight lined tops and bottoms really are the best things about the strip:



Its some piffle about a US politician setting up another politician for a fall, which Dredger susses out really quickly and could've arrested the crokk pretty easily. Instead we get a couple of innocent CIA men killed for just doing their jobs and the baddie is dispensed with thus at a function:



Next up is "Greene's Grudge War" and its the usual thing for boys comics of the time, the hook of the story being played out exactly the same each week slightly differently. So we get, yet again, Greene seething over Bold, trying to do something to set him up for a fall and failing. But the artwork by Belardinelli is his usual top-notch work:



"Hell's Highway" was the usual plod, with standard action scenes:



And then we get to the centre colour pages and "Hookjaw" and unfortunately we're in the middle of the island resort story. Which not only means rubbish story, but truly rubbish art. Still, we do have a bonkers moment, with a lovely panel being my highlight of the issue - the bloke who's made a remote control, full size, great white shark (as you do) swims out to try and stop Hookjaw eating it (why would he?) and lovingly gives the dorsal fin a cuddle:



Next we have "Hellman". This used to be my second favourite strip, but that was when we had fantastic art by the like of Mike Dorey on it. But such talent has long gone and, boy, does it show.
Anyway, we have another staple of boys comics here, a plot device crudely dropped in at the start which you just know (even as a nipper) will be important later on. In this case, the Nazi's lovingly looking after their flag:



As i say, decent art had long gone by now. The splash page made a big deal about which of the three types of tank will be victorious in the battle, but just look at what we get for tanks - all three types just look like shoeboxes with guns stuck on. Go back and compare with the Belardinelli page for a contrast:



When we get further into the story, the unpleasentness is back - tank crews being burnt alive:





And, wouldn't you know it, the petrol-sodden SS flag being useful by being thrown on the flamethrower unit to burn them alive too:



The violence is even in "Look Out For Lefty", where the football is being used like a guided missle:



But the issue ends on a quirky note - if you've ever wondered what a badly damaged cyborg sounds like as he limps away, now you know, courtesy of "Death Game 1999":



So, a strange old issue then, would've been a pretty duff one if it wasn't for Massimo's art and the guy hugging a fin.

"AIEEEE!" WATCH:
An elongated "AIEEEEEE!" from the Nazi tank and again from under the burning flag in "Hellman".
The almost there "AWWWWEEEEEE!" from Rico the Cyborg in "Death Game 1999".



Monday, 12 January 2015

Lion and Thunder 24th July 1971 - educational



Lion and Thunders cover feature of "The Mighty Ones" featuring all manner of massive, gigantic, impressive and, er, mighty things now turns to the shrew.
Yep, the humble shrew. Words like massive, mighty and impressive don't exactly spring to mind when considering the lil' fella but, according to this cover, if one was tiger sized it would be the most feared and ferocious animal on the planet.
Really?
Well, yes - apparently not only does it have a "shark jaw", it can eat an animal ten times its size and eats more than its own body weight every day.
Turning the cover stunned from that revelation, nothing else really matches.
Black Max is a bit of a so-so episode, but we do get one of those classic pages with a massive amount going on in each panel of the page, along with a terrific portrait of Max, clearly showing his Boris Karloff insperation:





Adam Eterno starts off with the Big Guy landing in the time of the Caveman, finding it out by being flattened by a mammoth:



And for three pages we get the standard routine of Adam taking sides in two warring factions, but now with more bear skins, and looks like it will play out in the usual manner we've become accustomed to.
Except at the end of page three, the bad clan pull laser guns and start mowing folk down. Adam might be a bit dim but recognises a "ray gun" when he sees one and, turning the page, we find out why - aliens are behind it all. For me, this is the first time a SF concept has featured in Adam Eterno other than the time travelling angle, and it'll be interesting to see where this story goes and if its a one-off.




"AIEEEE!" WATCH: Finally! A not-quite-there "AAIEE!" from a right drama queen of a caveman, who expells it at the sight of the mammoth landing on our hero.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Black Max loses, Adam Eterno wins.



Lion & Thunder, 22nd May 1971.
Again, a pretty duff episode of Black Max - lots of taking off, landing and taking off again, with not much else. Apart from the fantastic notion yet again, done with seemingly no sense of irony whatsoever, of Max storing his massive Giant Bat in the very slim, narrow rear fuselage:



The rest of the issue has the customary for the period titles: "Carson's Cubs", "Spellbinder", "Fury's Family" etc, and sometimes there's something in them to make me take note, but not here.
Not the case with "Adam "Eterno" - a terrific mid tale episode that finds the fella in 11th century Europe, falling off a cliff after being shot in the leg by a golden arrow. Being helped by a boy living out in the woods, he learns that the area is being stricken by more and more savage wolves, with tales of a man leading them.
We then get this fantastic two panel study of Adam, possibly the best i've ever come across, where the penny starts to drop for the guy - can you guess where this story might be leading?



Next up, we get some just stunning black and white, dead moody artwork along the way to the patently obvious who is the bad guy cliff-hanger, which has the very rare sight of Adam being threatened by a non-gold menace:



"AIEEEE!" WATCH = Still nothing



Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Thunder - 12th December 1970 - Black Max revisited



Okay, here we go again back with the Bad Boy, and really the only thing that looks like reading in this issue.
And even then, Black Max isn't exactly up to scratch - four pages given over to Max pining that his Bat is wounded and in no fit state to go after the cursed Wilson, Wilson pining that he can't find Max, while a crashed German airmen discovers the Bat, gets shot by Max for discovering it, is witnessed by Wilson, who goes back to his base and nicks a bomber to return and kill them both.
The above reads more exciting than it actually is.
Biggest thing of note, is this strange depiction of the Bat's face - its gone from that long, almost cat/bat-like appearance, to something more real bat-like.
AIEEEE!-WATCH = Zero.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A Thundering return

Paid a visit to always rather lovely 30th Century Comics in Putney on Saturday, while on a weekend in London.
Went there with an express aim to fill in some more gaps in my ongoing quest to have the whole saga of "Black Max".
So, came back with this Thunder from 1970 and three Lion & Thunders from '72, and looking forward to returning to the fella, checking out "Adam Eterno" and seeing what else these issues have to offer.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Pow! Annual 1968



Thought i'd take a punt on an annual that i don't remember to see if there were any hidden gems to surprise and delight me.
Wish i'd not bothered with this one.
The original, UK sourced strips were pretty darn forgettable, with characters that aren't mentioned really these days - and you can see why.
Of real interest though are the US reprints, including this Spider-man strip, in very basic colours, that i remember from my Mighty World Of Marvel days:



And this Nick Fury, with appallingly garish colours:



And this Fantastic Four episode, which again i remember from my MWOM days, but for some reason the colourist has decided to do the Thing in white. Odd. Its not like he didn't have orange - its there on the wall in the next panel:

Saturday, 1 March 2014

What i was reading 38 years ago - Battle 28th February 1976

So i've had a look through my boxes to find an issue of something that was out this week way back when, and i've gone with this issue, sporting a pretty average cover:



And the inside was pretty average too. We're a couple of weeks into the run of "Action" here and, even though i don't recall it, i just know what's in these pages here would've paled completely to what i was experiencing in the other title, especially as i'd buy both and read both at the same time.
Anyway, of note for me these days is the historical retellings that "Battle" did so well, this time helped by the beautiful art of Mike Dorey:




And, of course, Major Eazy. A fantastic read at any time and this tale of the fella going behind enemy lines to play cards with the Germans is in his reprint edition. But in the actual comic we get get the colour spread - and what lovely subdued colouring, which wouldn't look out of place in modern comics now:



"AIEEEE!" WATCH:
A short "AIEEE!" from a shot Japanese soldier in "Merrill's Marauders".
Its a "AIEEEE!"-fest in "Cold Steele". Possibly the most of them i've ever seen in one strip. We get:
a spot-on 100% "AIEEEE!" from an ambushed German,
then an even bigger "AIEEEEE!" from the bloke in the next truck.
Then another spot-on "AIEEEE!" from a snipered Englishman.
We're back with the shortened "AIEEE!" from a bayoneted German,
then his mate gives out a AIEEEEE!",
and we finish with another friend finishing the tale with another 100% "AIEEEE!".
"The Bootneck Boy" gives us the final batch with two extended's - a AIEEEEE!" and a "AIEEEEEE!"