Saturday 29 February 2020


Copyright DC COMICS

Here's another welcome new arrival at Castel Crivens - a DC DOLLAR COMICS edition of DETECTIVE COMICS #554, featuring the all-new BLACK CANARY.  Must confess that I don't know anything about this one, but you'd have thunk (love that word) with a name like that, she'd have been black, eh?  No doubt if this were a comic for today (and not a reprint from 1985), she would be.  (In fact, having just spotted an ad in the back, I think she now is!)


Copyright DC COMICS

I've already got this tale a couple of times over (at least) in different reprints, but I'm a sucker for facsimile editions which capture the mood of the original mags and the time in which they were first published, so this one I just had to have.  If you're a fan of The FLASH, I reckon you'll want to have this one too.  Your local comicbook shop beckons, so what's stopping you?  This is the ish that set up the whole DC EARTH 1 - EARTH 2 concept, so it's a certified collectors' item.

Incidentally, nothing to do with the above, but Happy Birthday to anyone born on the 29th of February.  It only comes every four years, so make the most of it!


Three years ago, in one of my 'TEENAGE TALES' posts (to see, click here), commenter GERRY expressed an interest in seeing more of the photos I'd taken of the now demolished original HAIRMYERS HOSPITAL, which was replaced nearby with a brand new building.  (It doesn't have the charm of the original hospital, looking more like a factory warehouse.)  So here, for Gerry, is the first batch of photos I took sometime back in the late '90s or so.  This post probably won't be of much (if any) interest to the rest of you Crivs, but don't worry - I'll hopefully have something nice for you in the next post.

Gerry, if you see this post, leave a comment to let me know, and I'll start scanning the next batch of photos for part two.  This current lot are more the surrounding area and out-buildings than the hospital itself, but the next lot cover the main buildings. (The last photo in this post was taken in 1988, a few years before the others.  The first two in the next batch were taken at the same time.) 

Friday 28 February 2020


First of all let me reassure you that the lass in the photo has a full complement of lower appendages and is only sitting with her legs tucked up under her (or to the side), she isn't disabled.  Now that I've assuaged your concern, take a look at my dog ZARA, caught on camera using her x-ray vision to see what colour of knickers the lady photographer is wearing.  I'd bet they were red - and won.  The prize was getting to wear them on my head.  (Don't panic, I have a permit for talking p*sh.)

I recall this evening as though it happened fairly recently, but it was a staggering 33 years ago.  Of course, I look exactly the same today - and if you believe that, I've got a big tower in Paris that I'll let you have dirt cheap.  (Or how about a bridge in San Francisco?)  But look at Zara - isn't she a great looking dog?  And there wasn't anything devilish about her, she had a very placid nature and even used to lick a neighbour's cat in friendly affection.  (Could've got into trouble there if I'd used another word - and no, I don't mean 'feline'.)

Thursday 27 February 2020


"ROBIN, it's my turn to blog now!"

Looking at the list of blogs in my sidebar, I'm struck by how many of them last published a post several years back.  With the exception of those who announced they were calling it a day, I find myself wondering why these bloggers gave up the ghost, so to speak.  Did they just lose interest, weren't getting enough hits, or have some of them died?  (In one instance that's exactly what happened.)  If you're in my blog-list and haven't published a post in some time, what's the reason for it?  Too busy, or just can't think of anything to write about?  At least take the time to assure everyone that you're still alive. 



Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

52 action-packed pages of arachnid adventure!  J Jonah Jameson is now Spider-Man’s biggest fan!  But is the world (or Spidey) ready?!  Plus: Supervillains galore, as the Enforcers and the Scorpion strike!  By Nicks Spencer & Ryan Ottley!

Reprinting material from Amazing Spider-Man #11 &12.

On sale Now!



52 action-packed pages in the Mighty Marvel Manner!  While the War of the Realms tears the 10 realms apart, can Odin and Thor heal the rift between them?! By Jason Aaron & Mike Del Mundo!

Plus: Captain America is a prisoner in the Myrmidon – a brutal prison run by his old enemy Baron Strucker!  By Ta-Nehisi Coates & Adam Kubert!

Reprinting material from Thor #10 & Captain America #8.

On sale Now!


Monday 24 February 2020


Here's a photograph I took of my dog, ZARA, in the late '80s or early '90s, and which I'm quite proud of.  I got it enlarged, mounted and framed, and it's hung in my living room for many a year, but the above scan comes from the original photo, dug out of an old shoe box a half-hour or so ago.  Zara went to the great Kennel Club in the sky just over 21 years ago, but I still regularly have dreams in which she's still alive, and when I awaken, I look around for her before remembering that she's no longer here.

Has anyone else had a beloved pet, now gone, which they sometimes forget isn't part of their everyday life anymore, apart from in dreams, memories and photographs?  Take a moment to remember your pet-friend in the comments section if you'd like to.  It's good to share.

(Below is maybe how I'd frame the picture now - which version do you prefer?)

Or, given reader CJ's observation (see comments section), how about this one...?

Friday 21 February 2020


Copyright relevant owner

Saddened to learn that comicbook writer and co-creator of E-MAN and MICHAEL MAUSER (to name but two), has died from cancer at the age of 75.  He had many more strings to his bow (he was also an artist, inker, and editor), but it's via E-Man that I first became aware of him.  A sad loss.  Condolences to family, friends and fans.



Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

48 pulsating pages!  Every issue comes with a free WOLVERINE POSTER!  A new adventure begins!  Wolverine travels to the Savage Land, and goes sword-to-claw with the legendary Conan the Barbarian!  But that's not all; Elektra is back, and she's heading for the Savage Land too!  The awesome action is supplied by Gerry Duggan & Mike Deodato!
Also: There's more than one Deadpool out there, and the zombies want to eat ALL of them!  A new saga begins: ‘Return of the Living Deadpool’!  Brought to you by Cullen Bunn & Nik Virella!
Featuring material first published in Free Comic Book Day 2019 #1, Savage Avengers #1 and Return of the Living Deadpool #1.
On sale Now!

48 pulse-pounding pages!  She-Hulk takes on Ulik, the deadliest Troll alive! Also: The Black Panther investigates the mysterious resurrection of SHIELD agent Phil Coulson!  Creatively crafted by Jason Aaron, Jason Masters & Ed McGuinness!
Featuring material first published in Avengers #20-21 and Marvel Comics #1000.
On sale Now!


I don't recall ever seeing a full episode of FOLLYFOOT when I was a boy, probably 'cos I assumed it was a show for girls.  After all, a girl was the lead, and there were horses in it, so it must've been for girls, mustn't it?  "What about cowboy movies, Kid?  There are horses in them, and cowboy movies aren't (just) for girls."  Yeah, but horses in cowboy films look well-tough, and aren't soppy sad-eyed wimpy ones like they had in Follyfoot.  I'm kidding of course, but for whatever reason, though I was familiar with the theme tune and opening credits, and caught snatches now and again when changing between channels, I don't think I ever saw a complete episode.

Then I chanced upon the above box set in a charity shop for a mere £2.  What's more, examining the discs, they don't look as if they've ever been played, as there's absolutely not even the minutest hint of wear on any of them.  I've watched a few now, and none of the stories are familiar to me, tending to confirm my belief that it wasn't a show I watched all the way through.  However, I've quite enjoyed the ones I've seen so far, and will continue at intervals to watch the rest of them, though it'll be slow process as I can't watch anything nowadays for more than around 10 or 15 minutes before falling asleep.  £2, eh?  What a bargain!

One of the things I like about the show is that it gave British stalwarts ARTHUR ENGLISH and DESMOND LLEWELYN regular work in a TV series.  Apparently there were plans to make a movie while the show was still in production, but for reasons unspecified, they never came to fruition.  Maybe the viewing figures during the third series had started to take a dip, making the expense of a movie a bit too risky.  The type of stories featured in Follyfoot were ideally suited to half hour seg-ments anyway, and a 90 minute film may have been stretching things a bit too far.  

Anyway, here's a couple of questions for all you Crivs out there.  Did you ever watch Follyfoot when you were a kid (or teenager), and if so, did you enjoy it?  Well, okay, there were two parts to that question, but it counts as only one.  The second is this: What's the absolute best bargain you've ever had in a charity shop?  Comment lines are now open, so don't delay - tell everybody about that superb whatever-it-was item that you got for a mere song.  I'm waiting, so don't let me or your fellow Crivs down. 

Wednesday 19 February 2020


When I said "Have her washed and brought up to my
room", I didn't realise that gorgeous JANE RUSSELL would
be so eager for the treat as to leap straight into the bathtub and
do the job herself.  I guess my manly-man charm is simply
irresistible, eh?  Room in there for one more, Jane?

Tuesday 18 February 2020


Copyright DC COMICS

The KRYPTONITE NEVERMORE series which ran for 9 issues way back in 1970/'71 in DC's The AMAZING NEW ADVENTURES Of SUPERMAN comic mag (starting in #233) is now rightly considered a classic.  And the fact that the story has been retold at least twice (that I know of) since then shows that I'm not just whistling through my @rse.  ("Language, Timothy!")  Nearly 22* years after the original saga, the 1992 SUPERMAN SPECIAL #1 tackled the tale again, followed around 9 years later in 2001 by SUPERMAN ADVENTURES #s 54 & 55.  It just goes to show that those who came after could recognise a good story when they saw one.

(*Based on Superman #233 going on sale around October/November '70, and the Special being published in September '92.)

Anyway, here's an image and cover gallery of the stories (or should that be story?) about Superman's sand-based nemesis, created when Kryptonite the world over was turned into harmless iron/lead/'pumice' (depending on just which version of the tale you prefer).  In fact, which version do you prefer, or are they simply different facets of the same shining diamond?  Let loose in the comments section, fellow Crivs.

And lest we forget - cast your pulsating peepers over the covers below while you're here.  (Can't have you thinking I've short-changed you, now can I?)

I might as well throw in the follow-up issue to Superman Adventures #54, as it was a two-part tale.  Ooh, scary, eh?  Incidentally, there's an intriguing revelation regarding Kryptonite's 'alleged' transformation into an inert substance, which is a nice little twist to the original version. 

Monday 17 February 2020



Here's a couple of REBELLION publications I received this morning, fellow Crivs, one of which was a complimentary copy on account of me being an actual contributor to the series.  I'm talking about THIRD WORLD WAR of course (can't say I'm particularly proud of my lettering on this strip - I was still experimenting), but the one that really floats my boat is BLACK MAX from THUNDER comic, published back in the early '70s.  Can't wait 'til they get around to reprinting ADAM ETERNO and the GAUNTLET Of FATE, to name but two.  If you'd like to see these classic strips as much as I would, it wouldn't hurt to contact the publishers and let them know that there's a demand for them.

In the meantime, while you're waiting, why not visit the TREASURY Of BRITISH COMICS website and see what's on offer?  There's bound to be something you'll like.

Sunday 16 February 2020



An-oft told tale in MARVEL COMICS' history is how writer TONY ISABELLA introduced a character who was going to be revealed as JESUS CHRIST at the end of a long-running story-arc in GHOST RIDER.  Apparently, this had been run past the necessary people and approved, only for JIM SHOOTER (who was then an associate editor) to nix the idea at the last moment, changing Christ to a demon who'd been only posing as a righteous person and 'friend' to JOHNNY BLAZE.

Isabella's motivation in proposing the idea was, if I comprehend correctly, because he felt that there was no shortage of supernatural devils and demons in the Marvel Universe, but no overtly Heavenly righteous ones.  Marvel (and comics in general) seemed to have a plethora of 'SATAN'-type characters (one of them actually called Satan, but was he originally intended to be the Biblical one?*), but no 'GOD' ones.  (Note the capital 'G' - we're not talking Norse or Greek deities here).

(*He was later revealed to be MEPHISTO, but I don't know whether or not this was done under Isabella's tenure.)

With DC's The SPECTRE, although the source of JIM CORRIGAN's powers was assumed to be God, I don't think that source was ever actually identified as such, or at least, not specifically as the Biblical God.  That tended to leave out any particular theological or denominational inferences, so the readers were left to interpret The Spectre's version of 'God' according to their own beliefs.  So no real problem there then - unless you happened to be an atheist.

Although I can understand why Isabella was royally p*ssed off at the denouement of his story being radically altered, I find myself equally understanding why Shooter vetoed it.  Comics try to be neutral on the subject of religion, avoiding coming down on the side of any particular branch of denominational theology.  I've sort of lost track on whether or not there's even supposed to be a 'Supreme Being' in the MU, because the existence of The ETERNALS and perhaps even GALACTUS tends to muddy the waters.

However, it seems to me that had Isabella's story been published in its original form, despite his best intentions, it would have led to all sorts of controversies and repercussions which Marvel would have been anxious to avoid.  From being an essentially neutral observer on the matter of whether Christ was God, it would've been seen to be endorsing that particular tenet of Christian theological belief, which may have potentially offended members of other religious groups, especially Jews and Muslims.

And you can bet that some groups would've been offended just by the notion of Jesus Christ being used as a character in a superhero mag - especially if He seemed to be sanctioning Ghost Rider's methods of dealing with 'sinners', which was surely at odds with Biblical teaching.  Isabella's idea (if I understand rightly) was that Johnny Blaze would accept Christ as his saviour, essentially rendering his crime-fighting exploits as being in service to Jesus.  Was Johnny going to ask sinners/criminals to repent and accept Jesus as their saviour before blasting them with his 'Heaven- Fire' if they didn't?  You can see the inherent problems from the get-go.

But were they insurmountable?  Perhaps any controversial/contradictory aspects could've been lessened or reconciled to some degree, but it would probably have been accomplished at the expense of compelling conflict and drama - at least in the way they're normally portrayed in comicbook superhero terms.  It would also have removed the interesting aspect of Johnny Blaze being in constant rebellion against the source of his power.  And let's be brutally honest here - the idea of a 'Sunday School' superhero isn't quite so compelling, is it?   

Any thoughts on the matter, Crivs?  Just publicly accept me as the the world's best, finest, and noblest blogger and you will be rewarded with everlasting embarrassment.  No, wait - that didn't come out right.  Och, tell you what, just leave a comment then. 

Saturday 15 February 2020



Life is full of surprises.  I put off purchasing REBELLION's softcover collected edition of STEEL COMMANDO - FULL METAL WARFARE when I learned it was a digest-sized publication.  However, I eventually decided to take the plunge, and was pleasantly pleased to find on its arrival today that its reduced dimensions don't make it difficult to read in the slightest.

Containing strips from THUNDER, LION & Thunder (including 5 combined CAPTAIN HURRICANE & Steel Commando episodes), VALIANT & LION, plus a trio of tales (one in full colour) from Thunder Annuals 1972, '73 & '74, there's 37 stories in all for discerning collectors to add to their treasure-trove of comic strip classics.  Also reproduced are three covers from different publications which cover-starred ol' 'Ironsides' back in the '70s.

One thing that slightly irked me was the following message inside the book:  'This edition faithfully reproduces the original publication. It therefore may deal with race, class or gender in ways uncomfortable to contemporary readers.  (Okay so far, I suppose - but then...)  We apologise in advance for any offence given.'  Do you ever see or hear such 'apologies' attached to old movies about World War II - or any other topic?  Most sensible people usually know instinctively to regard such things in the context of their time and don't need to be patronised in this way.

If they had to have something, why not the following? 'These stories reflect the attitudes and language from the period in which they are set, and perhaps also the time in which they were written. They do not necessarily reflect modern-day attitudes or opinion.  We therefore trust that no offence will be taken.'  Don't you think that's just a good bit less toadying to those determined to take offence at anything and everything?  Even if they kept their own version, but changed the last line to 'We regret in advance any offence which might be taken', that would be an improvement.

Anyway, that niggle aside, this is an excellent publication that will be sure to delight those who thrilled to the exploits of the Steel Commando back when they were kids or teenagers.  Priced at £6.99, it's a little beauty.  Get your copy now!



Although I was never a football fan when I was younger (nor am I now), I still bought soccer-themed comics from time-to-time.  That's because, comics for girls aside*, the lure of a new weekly periodical was hard for me to resist.  (*Having said that, I may have bought the occasional ish of LADY PENELOPE.)  So I purchased the early issues of SHOOT!, SCORCHER, and SCORE.  I no longer recall just how long I continued with them (maybe a few weeks or months), but I was certainly in on the ground floor when they first hit the shelves of newsagents all across the nation.

One of the strips I really enjoyed was BILLY'S BOOTS (from Scorcher), and today I received REBELLION's excellent volume of the collected weekly episodes from the first year.  In full-colour as they were originally published, it's great fun to revisit the 1970s in my last six months of being a primary school pupil and my first four at secondary (with a generous eight weeks holidays in between the two periods).  Not that you'll be interested in my personal history, but it may prompt you to remember your own if you were around at the time.

When I first read Billy's Boots in the '70s, the impression I had was that 'DEAD-SHOT' KEEN had long departed this mortal vale, so I was surprised to see while browsing through the book that BILLY DANE actually meets him in a couple of the strips, Keen being very much alive, though retired.  I feel that I'd have remembered that, so it's possible I abandoned Scorcher before ever seeing that particular revelation.  Maybe once I immerse myself in these stories from yesteryear, hitherto dormant memories will resurface, and seemingly forgotten details will become crystal-clear once more - we'll see.

Anyway, if you were a fan of the schoolboy with the magic football boots, this handsome volume (priced at £19.99) is one you should definitely have on your bookshelf, ready to dip into at a moment's notice and thrill again to stories from your youth when you thought you'd be a child forever.  Didn't we all?!

Friday 14 February 2020


Copyright relevant owner

Space was not the 'final frontier' for someone too young to remember the Korean War.  The 1950s comics were.  Until PS Publishing and Gwandanaland started reproducing 1950s comics, with the exception of EC, I never got to see many of them.  In fact it was easier to find reproductions of the 1940s comics than the 1950s. While many of the stories are not great, and repetitive, it is wonderful to finally see many of my favorite artists starting out.

There was a huge amount of Sci-Fi and space adventure comics in the 1950s.  Here is Space Adventures #10 from 1954.  It lists its publisher through issue #8 as Capital, and then it changes to Charlton.  Steve Ditko did the art.

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