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Wednesday, 30 April 2014
It was in the VIRGIN MEGASTORE in Glasgow where I first laid eyes on the first issue of a brand-new comic by a brand-new publisher in 1981. I just loved the splash page (aside from that seriously dodgy left shoulder and the underwhelming mast-head), as there was just something about the colouring that reminded me of MARVEL mags from the 1960s. Unfortunately, the series never really grabbed me - it was Kirby on autopilot doing just another riff on things he'd done before. I bought the first three issues (I think I got #3 a little while after it had come out, if I recall correctly) and later bought the 1983 Special Edition a year or two after it was released.
CAPTAIN VICTORY & The GALACTIC RANGERS lasted thirteen issues and one special between 1981-'84. It failed to set the comics world on fire, like so many of Jack's post-Marvel comicbooks, proving to many that STAN LEE was not just an important factor, but also an essential one in Kirby's success at the 'House of Ideas' during his first tenure there in the '60s. Interestingly, in Cap's final issue (#13), it was strongly indicated that he was the son of ORION Of The NEW GODS. Given that the new gods had arisen from the twilight of the old (Asgardian) gods, it suggests that Kirby had a predilection for keeping things connected.
Anyway, here's a brief look at some images from the first two issues. Unfortunately, the margin of a name and address label (mine) obscures a small part of the art on the left-hand lower corners of the back pages, but hopefully it won't upset you too much.
Part Two coming soon!
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There's no point in delaying the sad moment any longer. It's time to break out the black armbands and shed a tear or two for the demise of JOHNNY FUTURE. This was his final weekly appearance in FANTASTIC, the fondly-recalled comic for boys back in the 1960s. He had one final fling in the pages of the Fantastic Annual for 1969 and then it was curtains for ol' JOHN FOSTER. (Given just how far in advance Annuals were prepared, the story was probably drawn before the last weekly episode.)
And so we look upon Senor LUIS BERMEJO's awesome and astounding art for the final time - except for occasional revisits to this blog, or in back issues of the periodical in which he originally appeared. Hopefully, some enterprising publisher will see these posts, and decide to reprint the complete collection of ODHAMS PRESS' Power-Pack classics - sensitively coloured for modern readers, with copious notes on the origins and history of the character.
Well, we can but dream, can't we?
Farewell, Johnny - see you in the future!
Tuesday, 29 April 2014
|Images copyright MARVEL COMICS|
It's hard for me to believe, whenever I look at the cover of The ETERNALS Annual at the foot of this post, that I bought this mag 37 years ago. The summer's day I sat reading it in my living-room, in a chair we no longer have, at the side of a mantelpiece that no longer exists, seems as fresh in my memory as more recent events. So much has changed since then, so many friends and family have expired - yet the comic survives, in practically the same condition as when I bought it in 1977. How near it seems, almost as if I could reach out and touch it (if you know what I mean) - it sometimes simply astounds me that I'm now living in a different century to the one in which this comic was published and purchased.
Anyway, that's enough self-indulgent silliness from me for this post, you'll be glad to hear. Now I can unleash the final ten covers of JACK KIRBY's longest-lasting new mag, which he did (amongst others) upon his return to MARVEL in the mid-'70s. To all but diehard fans, his style of writing and drawing was 'out-of-sync' to the way things were then being done by others in the field of comicbook endeavour. Kirby was still 'King', but it was more an honorary title than one that reflected the reality of his then-current place in the scheme of things. Past accomplishments had secured his place in the hall of fame, but they seemed long ago and now others reigned from the throne that had once been his, and his alone. Such is the nature of kingship, alas.
Yet Kirby's immortality is assured. He'll still be celebrated and discussed long after the rest of us are forgotten, of that you can be certain. And while you're pondering that simultaneously sad and happy thought, don't forget to enjoy the cosmic comic covers presented in this post for your personal perusal.
Look at the ad on the last page on this post - the 'FANTASTIC
EXPLOSION!' It was a lie of course. Two comics becoming one is
only an implosion, but publishers ODHAMS PRESS could hardly
admit the truth - can you imagine? "Sad news inside, chums! Due to not
enough people buying TERRIFIC, we have no option but to cancel the
title and move some of the strips over to its sister publication, which is
also ailing. By combining the two readerships, we may be able to
limp along for a little while yet!" Nah, doesn't have quite the
same ring, does it?
So these events were always promoted as something to get ex-
cited about - something that readers 'demanded'. That's why you
can regard just about any claim from any publisher as complete and
utter p*sh, because they always try to put a positive spin on things! They
seldom, if ever, tell you the truth. A comic being cancelled after 75 years is
promoted as a bold new chapter in its history rather than a sad event. Any
whim of the editor is hailed as a response to what the readers wanted. When
The DANDY changed to fortnightly publication back in 2004, the excuse
given was that research had shown that kids no longer had time in their
busy lives for a weekly comic, hence the change to every two weeks.
Meanwhile, better-selling sister publication The BEANO proved
the lie of that claim - week after week after week.
Anyway, enjoy the wrap-up of JF's current adventure - and be
sure to return for the final Fantastic weekly episode - a seven page
single story - on this, the very best blog of its kind (according to
my pal Bob, and he wouldn't lie - I think) in the history of everything!
(H'mm, maybe I should 'big' myself up a bit. Whaddya think?)
Monday, 28 April 2014
|Images copyright MARVEL COMICS|
JACK KIRBY was back - and The ETERNALS were with him! Unfortunately, the comics buying public weren't - at least in any great numbers, as the mag folded after 19 issues and one Annual. Similar to the theories of ERICH VON DANIKEN, the premise also echoed elements of DC COMICS' earlier NEW GODS, in that two races (The Eternals and The DEVIANTS) were at war with one another - with human beings caught in the middle.
It wasn't JK's worst moment, but neither was it his best. At the time, readers could be forgiven for thinking events took place in a separate universe to MARVEL's, apart from a grudging nod in its direction by the use of generic S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and a 'cosmic-powered' HULK android. Jack seemed to be doing his best to keep the MU at bay, and it was left to other hands to fully incorporate his concepts into the rest of the line once he'd left 'The House of Ideas' for the second and final time in his career.
Anyway, Jack Kirby's always worth a look, so let's start the ball rolling with the first ten covers of his longest-lasting 1970s (new) mag for the place he'd helped build, but seemingly no longer had room to accommodate either him or his unique talents.
Don't miss Part Two!
|Images copyright MARVEL COMICS|
From the vast and vaunted vaults of Castel Robsono, comes yet another example of an original comic and its reprint. This time 'round it's The AVENGERS (no longer mighty it would seem, according to the cover) #75, first acquired on holiday in Largs, unless I'm very much mistaken, in 1971. (In fact, I also seem to recall getting #76 on that same holiday, come to think of it.) Oh, but look - the Avengers have been restored to mightiness on the splash page.
You know, having just typed that, I also seem to associate the issue with CORSON'S, a local shop from which I bought a lot of U.S. comicbooks. (It sometimes takes a while for my memory to warm up.) So it may well have been #76 I bought in Largs, but, being a two part tale, my mind would've jumped back to when I read #75, hence my connecting the earlier issue with the same place I bought the later one. The more I think of it, the more certain I am that I got #75 from Corson's in my home town, and #76 in Largs. I can't be bothered retyping it all though - so you'll just have to live with it. (As if you care.)
Down below somewhere (4th image) is the 1981 reprint in MARVEL SUPER ACTION #36, but I can no longer recall exactly where I got it (Glasgow probably), though I'm pretty sure I bought it the year of release as I've had it for absolutely ages. Once again, the reprint comes from the time Marvel had increased the page count in their mags, so it also included the double-page pin-up shown at the foot of the post. I love comparing these type of mags and I'm reasonably sure that the rest of you do, too. Why else would you put up with me?
(The above question doesn't really require a response if you were thinking of being rude, by the way.)