Monday 30 January 2012

The Gauntlet Of Fate

This is a strip i've kinda ignored up till now, which is a bit unfair, so let's have a look now shall we?
The premise of the tale is that the Gauntlet drifts from owner to owner down through the centuries, bringing "justice to all who possessed it - the good or the bad".
I've always thought of it as being in the vein of the Amicus anthology films of the 60's and 70's which had a linking device (usually Peter Cushing) to tales of folk getting their just deserts.
And that's really strong here, as the tale is set in a second-shop that's the dead spit of Mr Cushing's one in "From Beyond The Grave".

The Gauntlet has been found by a tramp, who tries to sell it to the shop owner, "Ebenezer Mold" who, the caption tells us is "a sharp and miserly character". Really, with a name like that? No way!
Anyway, the old scrooge recognises the Gauntlet as being about 16th century and worth at least a hundred pounds - but only gives the tramp five bob.
So, that's the die cast, we know he's gonna cop for it and the fun is in waiting to see just how.
We don't have long to wait: at the stroke of midnight the Gauntlet comes to life, bursts out of the safe, plays a harp to wake the old codger, drops a stuffed crocodile on him, pushes a samurai suit at him, then ends the torture by plopping itself onto the hand of an upright skelton to point and accuse the miser.
Brainbox that he is, he decides if he wears the glove he can control it.
No way - the Gauntlet makes him dust and clean the antiques and shop, then write out bargain price price tags and open up the shop.
And stands there helpless - but not actualy saying anything to the customers - as everything in the shop is bought from him.
With the shop cleared out, with no profit made, the really rather unrepentant bloke chucks the Gauntlet into the dust cart passing.
And that's it. A fun little tale, but not exactly a memorable one.
Couple of other things to note from this issue of Thunder dated 21st November 1970:
"Fury's Family" is one of those strips i was never fond of, really not liking the main character and, especially, the odd, bizarre one colour colouring it always had, which really detracts from the really rather nice moody art:

Still, one thing i did gain this time is that, in true Skippy The Bush Kangaroo tradition, i now know that "Mikka Mikka Mikka!" is chimpanzee for "The winged one's want my help? They tell of a horned animal in trouble?" and "Twee Chwweek! Trikka!" actually means "A wounded deer".

Thanks for that Fury.
The other thing is "Black Max", which has the usual cliffhanger ending but, for once, isn't too fantastical or silly, with real tension as Tim struggles to escape the Giant Bat but then being shot by Max and falling into a huge crater.

Lovely stuff.

Saturday 21 January 2012

The return of Charlie Peace

The "Caballistics Inc" spin-off series "Absalom" is by far my top thrill in the Prog at the moment and its just been notched up another peg by mention this week of Charlie Peace.
Writer Droid Gordon Rennie has been known to drop in references to other realities in his tales before, and them being often the odd sentence dropped in in passing and never refered to again making them more inticing - such as "Hobbs End" and "the Yetis in the Underground" in "Cabs Inc".
So its no surprise really to see it happen here, as we find that the Victorian villian who was transported to the 60's in "Valiant" and then "Buster" didn't do so by means of an accident with a time machine but by using the London Stone in the same way the baddies in this latest tale are.
Excellent stuff.
Guess it would be too obvious for the fella to pop up though. But if he did, would he be like his original incarnation, or his modern "Albion" version?

Tuesday 17 January 2012

POW! annual 1971 - #8 - Chet Blair

In at number 8 and i've no idea why.
Chet Blair was born a Sioux, has just finished college and is just about to start his career as a lawyer.
Even before the events that turn him into a hero, things are afoot - as he walks he's got "... a certain pride in his dark eyes, a kind of lazy freedom in the way he moved".
Sounds like me when i've had a few.
And he's pondering too - "Forget the past, i guess. I'm no longer a Sioux - just another American lawyer." and he wanders on, remembering "... green plains, rolling hills, winding rivers under a wide sky"
Blimey, makes you wonder, if he misses his previous life, why did he leave it?
We've no time to find out, as he finds himself caught up in a gunfight between criminals,gets mistaken for one of them and legs it.
Figuring he needs to find one of the guys to clear his name, he goes back to his apartment, where he has his Sioux togs hung up in the wardrobe.

With no reason given, other than he must use his Sioux training, he gets into it and "the man known as Chet Blair vanished and another man took his place."
No, that's still Chet but in a different outfit. With no mask. He hasn't even given himself another name.
And off he goes round the city dressed like that, carrying axe and bow and arrows.
And no-one notices.
We've then got three pages of tedium, as he tracks down the baddies and makes friends with a bloke from the FBI.

It ends with him turning down a crimefighting job to be a lawyer and its kinda left open-ended in case the character got his own series.
Which he didn't.
Which is no surprise.
Baffled why i voted him above Mr Tomorrow. can only think maybe at that time i was into the Lone Ranger and the guy was kinda like Tonto.

Saturday 14 January 2012


Had to pop down and check out a possible fault with our copy at work today.
So i'm stood there waiting, and the setting is the Somme, just minutes before they go over the top.
"Blimey", thinks i as the Sergeant wanders down the line giving the troops a final pep talk, "he's just like the Sarge in Charleys War - just minus the pointy moustache".
Think it again when the hero appears, and his demanour just from that brief section i saw didn't 'arf scream Mr Bourne.
And then we have a snobby, arrogant, junior officer.
And a mate of the hero who both in looks and character is the dead spit of Ginger.
And when they do go over the top, there's the "whizz-bangs" i know from the strip, there's the no-mans land EXACTLY like i've seen in Battle and, when they get to the German lines, there's even a dead German in the gas mask giving Charley, er, the hero a scare.
Like i say, blimey.

Sunday 8 January 2012

A new Someone Old, Someone New

Very, very pleased to report that Carl Critchlow has stepped up to the plate and contributed to my little project.
Just follow the link on the right here for more.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

This week in... 1976

I thought i'd start a feature that i've been doing over on my Bat-Blog:

That is, to take a look at an issue from this time yonks back.
So i'm starting with this issue of Battle as it has one of my favourite ever covers from that title, courtesy of Mr Carlos Ezquerra. If only what he did here continued inside...
Before we get to that though, the main thing of note is:

A for once interesting tale of "D-Day Dawson". Too have often they're reptitive, standard war tales with the story's hook of the hero having the shrapnel near his heart and not knowing how long he's got, more often than not making him out to be a winging, moany trooper.
Here though we have a classic, barmy notion of causing our hero a dilemma, worthy of Adam Eterno himself - the squad have to infiltrate this German castle to nab samples of the scientists latest creation, mines that explode if any metal goes near them.
So the guys take off all their nailed boots, braces, knives, guns, coins etc.
But, what's Dawson to do? If he steps inside, the shrapnel that no-one knows about would be sure to trigger the bombs. They think he's running away but, good for him, he stumbles on the scientist, dispatches him with a jar of gas and all ends happily as his comrades escape with a couple of the mines.
The other thing of note is "Rat Pack".
Its interesting in that there's a heck of lot happening and the treachery of Taggart's team really comes to the fore here, with Dancer repeatedly trying to bump him off in the tale:
The team is sent to Devils Rock, a one-time French prison island and stepping stone for the Allies invasion of North Africa, and they have to check it out beforehand.
They rapidly find there's a similar German convict team guarding it.
Dancer threatens to shoot Taggart if he doesn't surrender.
They surrender.
They learn of "The Serpent Latitude 42", a torpedo that will attack the approaching fleet.
They're put in prison but Dancer bluffs the guards in letting them out by threatening them with a gun he made out of soap he found in the cell (yes really).
They escape to the beach and find an old convict message carved on a tree letting them know there's a buried raft there.
Once underway, Dancer holds a knife to Taggarts kneck to make him sail towards Spain, where he plans to join their Foreign Legion.
But wouldn't you just know it? Taggart realises they've sailed to lattitude 42. At just the moment the torpedo comes along.
So, the raft stops the deadly device, they're in the water and Dancer's finally had enough and swims over to Taggart to finish him off.
And its at that point the shark arrives.
Should be exciting stuff but he's only there for one panel as Dancer stabs him and "The beast, shocked and wounded, turned away".
Then they're picked up by the Allies.
Sure did rush along, but the sharks a huge disapointment, being only there for a moment and the art is nowhere near what Carlos had promised on the cover:

But its a neat tale nevertheless.
Two "AIEEE!"'s in "Rat Pack" from two German guards (unless its the same guy being very unlucky)
The same expletive from a Japanese guard in "Merril's Mauraders"