Just bought a bunch of Lion & Thunders off of the 'Bay real cheap - 99p - as they're in pretty ropey condition, covers and page edges pretty rough:
But the insides are okay, so i'll be taking a look at each in turn shortly.
First issue is, spookily, from this week 39 years ago and features one of those rather naff covers, where it looks like the figure is an englargement from a panel, rather than a specially created piece. Here the Spider's coloured yellow, which i've seen done before, but just doesn't look right at all:
The mix inside is the usual affair - true classics alongside not so memorable fair. I'll skip by "Spellbinder", prefering as i do, Catweazle and have a quick look at "The Team Terry Kept In A Box". A story i don't remember at all and have never seen an article on anywhere, its a textbook example of tales from these times - take a conventional strip theme (footballing) and add a fantasy element, here Terry Turner finds a box of 3D photos of a football team, which come alive when he turns a knob on the Viewmaster-like device. Hmmmm... So he can summon footballers. Who then play football. Think i'll move on.
Next thing of note is another strip i don't remember, and is SO bizarre that i had to reread the opening text twice before it sunk in just what i was reading. "Marty Wayne. He's Heading For Fame!" has this premise (and i'm not making this up, promise): "A lull in work for MI6 had given Marty the chance to concentrate on his showbusiness career. He was presently appearing in a TV show called The Impersonators". Yep, a spy hasn't got much work on, so becomes an impersonator on the telly? My heads threatning to implode at the sheer lunacy of the notion, only held back by being distracted by the awful, awful art. No idea who the culprit is, but i recognise him for being the same guy responsible for "Dredger" going down the pan over in "Action" when the first artist left:
"Adam Eterno" art is always fantastic but after that tosh, its elevated even higher. Its not too good a tale though - our hero is helping a guy trying to get inheritance back and there's a bit of highwayman action, but its pretty standard action, with no outrageous set-pieces the strips famous for. Until we get to the last panel and Adam, surviving all manner of tortures, shrugs off the thought of being garrotted until up pipes one of the torturors: "Use the garrotte! The GOLDEN ONE kept for traitors who are high-born!" Gulp goes Adam
Another strip i don't remember, "Lost In Limbo Land", another outrageous premise - Barry Smith is reading a book on Norse Mythology when he's hit by lightning and transported to the realm of Norse Gods and Monsters. Don't recall it at all, but the arts interesting, coming across as a cross between Lopez and Eric Bradbury:
Last up is "The Spider versus Spider-Boy", which i've already covered before.
"AIEEEE!" WATCH: Nowt
Bit of an aside here, but we were in Brighton yesterday and popped into Marwoods, a cafe my Sister has been on at me for ages to visit as "its right up your street".
Boy is it - great food, great staff and great atmos, brought about by the tons of retro goodies strewn all over the place.
Real fun to eat my Ken Dodd fry-up while reiminiscing over this toy, that toy, that phone, that picture etc etc.
And a nice bunch of comic art too.
Highly recommended if you're down that way.
Finally, finally got me mitts on this issue and what a corker of an edition to mark the end of this first phase - a double sized issue with a VERY nostalgic cover strap line: "Don't miss Hook Jaw - he won't miss you!".
Ah, its like its 1976 all over again.
Having a read of the bumper episodes, "The Devil's Hertitage" pips "Age Of Heroes" to the post for favourite new tale this time and i'm guessing its down to me reading a lot of "Blake & Mortimer" just lately and "Devil's" does seem similar in tone and art style.
Hoping this'll be released as a graphic novel at some point, as i'd like to read it all in one go, in one edition.
Of course, best of the bunch is "Hookjaw" and, as usual, there's the multi-level joy of (A) reading it in a just-bought comic, (B) on lovely glossy paper, (C) taking the tale as presented, (D) comparing the new coloured strip with the old B/W, (E) comparing script changes.
So, what's of particular note this time round?
Well, in the first of the two episodes here, we've this classic sequence, with the shot of diver "Pat Mills" floating away with his guts all gone being one of my Top Five Action iconic moments. How i used to pour over and studying this page, morbidly fascinated by it:
Move forward 35 years and there's been changes to just this one page: "Pat Mills" is now going under the name of "Matt Hills" (why? Did Pat object after all this time?. The explanation of how a squid "drinks its victims alive" has gone in favour of it having just a razor beak, which doesn't make sense now in the art: Pat/Matt is hollow - where'd his insides go? And there's a bunch of script changes, which i can see the sense in - reading an old copy from back then, that style of script certainly suits as its a product of its time ie explaining everything and real gung-ho out-bursts. But the new script is tailored for the new reader reading a new comic. Which is fair enough.
The other episode i'm most pleased about as, not only does it have another iconic shot on panel 1:
But the rather underwhelming outburst of the guy being eaten ( i make more of a fuss than that when i stub my toe) has ben replaced by a very close to home "AAIIEEEE!":
John had let me know it was coming yonks back and i was chuffed to bits to see it then, even more so now to see it in print.
I am a happy bunny.
Also of note here is what i was on about re the scripts - the originals look really rather corny compared to the much more naturalistic replacements.
So, a all in all, a good end to Phase 1. Shame there'll be no more Hookjaw in Phase 2 but (A) its not that far away before the art takes a serious nose-dive in quality, as does the script, so maybe its for the best, (B) We get Dredger instead - ahugely under-valued character. And i can't wait to see Carruthers severed head come out of that box in colour.