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!"







Tuesday, 25 February 2014

POW! annual 1971 - #4 - Norstad Of The Deep

Back to this here Blog and back again to one of my favourite reading pastimes - going back to the font that is my all-time annual ever.
You may recall that, back in 1971, i'd numbered all the characters in the two page frontispiece in order of my fondness of them.
We're at Number 4 now and its odd, given my fondness for 50's SF both now and back then, that the fella didn't rate higher, as its a plotline that could've come from back then easily. And i could see Ray Harryhausen doing the stop motion work for him, in much the same way that he did for the Ymir.
Anyway, opening page finds the Big Bad Guy ruling over his undersea kingdom, bullying his subjects and an articulate, eyeballed jellyfish race called "Celebes" used as slaves:




By the end of page one he gets a warning from his son that he's treating everyone too harshly, and by the middle of page two the mutiny is in full force, despite the threat of Norstad feeding them "to the clams" and off he's bunged into an abyss (note an early appearance of a stunted "AIEEEE!" here):



Down, down he goes and, upon landing, he finds he's lost all his strength from "the sickness of the depths". What sickness? Its sure not the immense pressure down there as he seems to move around okay. This panel here of him being frightened by a squid is the first example in this particular strip of one's i used to study over and over and be fascinated by:



Meanwhile, up on the surface, fearless underwater explorer Mike Carter is searching that very abyss we now know is called "The Valley Of No Return" in his bathysphere (which they make a point of calling The Bubble. For no reason whatsoever).
Having a close encounter with Norstad, Mike accidently turns the radio up too high, the clot, which makes him pass out. At that point, the radio waves also give Norstad his strength back:



And that becomes the jist of the story - all the while Mike is awake, Norstad is weak. When he's asleep or stunned, Norstad is at his full strength. No explanation is given for just how this happens, just the stock answer of "somehow".
Anyway, two more indelible images soon come along - Norstad punching a shark to death, and his return to his kingdom only to find the jellyfish have taken over. LOVE that shocked look of the jellyfish as his table is turned over:






Soon he's off to "kill the human whose brain-power i have, so i don't loose it again!" and comes ashore in a very "Beast From 20,000 Fathoms" way, wreaking havoc until he finds The Bubble. But, wouldn't you know it?, Mike wakes up just as he's about to crush the craft, resulting in my last favourite image as he peers in through the window:




The story is then over and done with very quickly - he jumps off the ship and is immediately depth-charged.
The say he's dead but we don't see it happen and no body is shown. Whether that's just how it was, or if there were plans to bring him back should this first story prove to be succesful, i don't know.
Reading the story again,its great, great fun aand they sure don't write them like this any more.

"AIEEEE!" Watch:
Surprisingly, this early on in the decade, we have more than one:
The afore-mentioned "AIEEE!" from Norstad.
And the shorter "AIEE!" as he flees the squid.



















Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Charley's War - Hitlers Youth



Been a while, and i'm sorry for that - life lately has meant that reading really hasn't been on the agenda.
I'm back with a quick mention of this volume of Charley's War. Its been out for a couple of years now, and its been on the "Must Buy That Sometime" list since that, but other things tend ed to get in my sights first.
But i was up at Forbidden Planet at the weekend and they had this reduced and signed by Pat Mills too.
I don't usually mention this superlative strip here, as i figure it'd be kind of crass to feature on such a frivolous Blog.
But reason for including here is a guest appearance and mention of my all-time favourite British Boys Comic character, Black Max:



I'd be thrilled to read and see him here, but its a double thrill in that the Chris Weston version shown is actually a commission i asked Chris to do for me.
Here it is in the flesh:



And while i'm at it, here's his take on the Spider that he did for me too: