Saturday, 31 December 2011

Top 10 Films of 2011

What a year for films it has been and 2012 looks to be as good if not better with the likes of The Dark Knight Rises, Prometheus, The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman and The Hobbit to look forward to. There are some films that are missing from the following list because either; a). I didn't get to see them in time but I'm sure would have made it, b). They weren't good enough c). I forgot about them. (yes I know The Adjustment Bureau isn't there but if it was a top 20 it would have been no.11)  But for now I'd like to share my top 10 films of the previous 12 months, let me know what you think!











Thursday, 29 December 2011

Top 10 Comic Covers Of 2011

Once again it's that time of the year where I like to look back over the previous 12 months and compile lists of my favourite things. First up is my favourite comic book covers of 2011 (some of them have even entered into my favourite covers of all time).

Action Comics #1 - Rags Morales & Brad Anderson

Severed #3 - Attila Futaki

The Shade #1 - Tony Harris

Swamp Thing #1 - Yanick Paquette & Nathan Fairbairn

Animal Man #1 - Travel Foreman

Moon Knight #5 - Alex Maleev

Uncanny X-Force #19 - Rafael Grampa

Daredevil #1 - Paolo Rivera

Batwoman #2 - J.H. Williams III

Detective Comics #880 - Jock

Monday, 12 December 2011

Action Comics, No. 434

Written by - Cary Bates
Pencils by - Curt Swan
Inks by - Vince Colletta
Cover by - Nick Cardy

Well, it's been a while (almost 4 months) since my last blog entry, and what a busy 4 months it's been! It's nearly Christmas now and the bad weather is finally here to stay, so what better way to spend these dark cold nights than wrapped up in some classic comics! I absolutely love the image on the front cover of this issue which depicts Superman (not Clark) squirming in a dentists chair as the dentist tugs away at one of Superman's back teeth; my favourite part is the female nurse in the background close to feinting. Some of my all-time favourite covers are from DC's Action Comics. There seemed to be periods where there would be a good run of covers for a few issues and then some not so good; I guess it was all down to the particular team that was involved in the book at the time as the turn-over of talent was fairly quick it seems. 

This is issue 434 of Action Comics from 1974 and the title of the story is 'The Krypton Connection'. The premise of the story is Clark is tricked into eating chocolate that gives him super-toothache. Lois takes him to a new dentist that is handily working out of the building next-door to the office. Once in the chair he is sedated with gas to which he expects no effect but somehow he is knocked out. Lois then notices that the woman working in reception is the same woman who delivered the chocolates to Clark. When confronted, the woman blasts Lois with a 'Memory Extinguisher' and sends her on her way. Whilst sedated Clark hallucinates visions that explain who the dentist and his assistant are; they are Dr. Xadu and his wife, Emdine Ze-Da. They then proceed to brainwash Clark into wanting to destroy the world.

One of the quirkier moments of the comic that I enjoyed was just before Clark ate the chocolate, he finds on his desk a machine gun. He picks up the gun and immediately it starts to glow, then a burst of different colours fill the panel to which Clark exclaims "Great scott!". Just then a guy called Steve Lombard (sports presenter) pops his head around the door and explains that it's a novelty item called a 'Razzle Dazzle Gun' that "shoots out psychedelic streams of light! All it takes to set it off is the body-heat of your hand!". Bizarre!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Green Lantern: Willworld

(re-issue cover)

Written by - J.M. DeMatteis
Art by - Seth Fisher

Green Lantern: Willworld was originally published by DC Comics in 2001 and has just recently had a reprinting. Willworld is the story of how a young Hal Jordan came to master the use of his power ring, set in a world created entirely by the imaginations of other Green Lanterns.

The story was originally developed from artwork by Seth Fisher after he pitched ideas with some concept art to Joey Cavaleri; it was decided that the art style would be the starting point for a Hal Jordan story. Seth Fisher stated that, " I wanted a writer that would shrug off some of the spandex clich├ęs that I was worried could limit my art, but still tackle the fantastic. I wanted it to be surreal and yet grounded at the same time.", he also went on to say, "We wanted a book where I could squeeze my imagination for everything it was worth and 'Green Lantern' just seemed to have the most potential that way."

(original cover)

For me, Green Lantern: Willworld, is almost certainly all about the art; it is the driving force behind the story and the characterisation. That's not to say J.M. DeMatteis' writing isn't up to scratch; in fact the writing perfectly compliments the imagery and brings a subtle level of humour that is required to guide the reader along. The world that is created by Seth Fisher is Green Lantern crossed with Alice in Wonderland and Yellow Submarine viewed with a head full of mescaline; a surreal psychedelic playground combined with mind-boggling quantum physics.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Eclipse Monthly, No.5

Story, Art and Cover by Doug Wildey

Eclipse Monthly is an anthology style comic printed in full colour by Eclipse Comics, Issue #5 was published in 1984 and features two stories; the first is 'The Masked Man' by Barney McAllister and the second (and the one I'm more interested in) is called 'Rio' by Doug Wildey.

Douglas S. Wildey was born in 1922 in New York. During World War 2 he was stationed in Hawaii, where he began his art career as a cartoonist for the base newspaper. Following the war he freelanced for the magazine and comic book company Street and Smith Publications. He then went on to draw mainly Western Stories including Buffalo Bill, Gunsmoke and Indian fighter; it seemed at this time, Wildey had produced work for almost every publisher except EC (the good one).

In 1952 Wildey and his family moved to Tucson, Arizona. In 1954 he began to produce work for Atlas Comics (a forerunner of Marvel Comics) which were mainly composed of Western stories. Around this time his work also began to appear in some Atlas horror-fantasy comics such as; Journey Into Unknown Worlds, Marvel Tales, Mystic, Uncanny Tales, Mystery Tales and Strange Tales.

In 1964 Doug Wildey became involved in the creation of the Hanna-Barbera animated series 'Jonny Quest' which ran for one series until 1965. Following this, Wildey returned to comics drawing mainly western stories for many more publishers, including the following story 'Rio' which is from 1984.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Astonishing Tales, No.2, Featuring Ka-Zar and Dr. Doom

Written by - Roy Thomas
Art by - Wally Wood
Letters by - Jean Izzo
Editor - Stan Lee

Published in October 1970 by Marvel Comics comes 'Astonishing Tales' which, initially, featured to stories per issue at 10 pages a story. Featured in Astonishing Tales #2 is 'Ka-Zar' the jungle lord, and 'Dr. Doom' the master of menace. The Ka-Zar story is written by Roy Thomas with art by legend Jack Kirby. However, it is the Dr. Doom story I am most interested in, which is again written by Roy Thomas but this time the art is supplied by Golden Age master Wally Wood.

Wallace Allan Wood started drawing comics from an early age and claimed that following a dream in which he found a pencil that could draw anything, he knew early on what his future held for him. Wally Wood is probably best known for his work during the 1950's that he did for EC comics, particularly his work on Weird Science and Weird Fantasy (science fiction comics that he himself convinced EC publisher William Gaines to produce). Between 1957 and 1967, Wood also created a host of cover images for great science-fiction writers such as; Isaac Asimov, Jack Vance, Jack Finney and Philip K Dick.

Throughout the silver and bronze age, Wood created art for many different publishers including; Marvel, DC, Warren, Avon, Charlton, Fox, Gold Key, King and Atlas. It was during this period that Wally Wood pencilled and inked issues #5-8 and inked #9-11 of Marvel's 'Daredevil', which established Matt Murdoch's distinctive red costume.

Continuing from the previous issue, Prince Rudolfo (leader of Latervia) has escaped from his cell, Dr. Doom confronts him and reveals that he knows he's isn't the real Prince but a robot clone; a Doombot then destroys the robot. In a cave, the real Prince Rudolfo plots to overthrow Dr. Doom and take back his kingdom with the help of an alien creature known as the Faceless One...

Friday, 12 August 2011

Miracleman, No.1

Written by - Alan Moore
Art by - Gary Leach

In 1939, writer Bill Parker and Artist C. C. Beck created the character Captain Marvel; he made his first appearance in Whiz Comics #2 (1940). Captain Marvel is the alter ego of Billy Batson, a young radio news reporter who was chosen by the wizard 'Shazam' to be a champion of good. By speaking the wizard's name, Billy is instantly changed into Captain Marvel by a bolt of lightning which gives him the power of six legendary figures. In Grant Morrison's book 'Supergods', Morrison states that, "If Superman was science fiction, and Batman was crime, Captain Marvel planted his flag in the wider territory of pure fantasy." he continues, "His origin story detailed an out-and-out shamanic experience of a kind familiar to any witch doctor, ritual magician, anthropologist, or alien abductee." (p.31)

Based on sales figures, Captain Marvel was the biggest selling superhero comic of the 1940's, out selling the likes of Superman and Batman by quite a margin. It was only in 1953 that publication ceased due to a copyright infringement suit by DC comics that Captain Marvel was in fact an illegal infringement of Superman. It is from this point onwards that the history of the original Captain Marvel became embroiled in lawsuits and litigation. 

Originally Len Miller & Son had been publishing reprints of the original Captain Marvel series in the UK. When the run came to an end following the first legal battle, they turned to Mick Anglo to continue the series in which he created the character Marvelman, which ran from 1954 until 1963.

Next to step up to the plate was Alan Moore in March 1982 which was published in Warrior magazine; a collection of stories by various authors which also featured Moore's 'V For Vendetta'. Marvelman continued up until issue #21, August 1984. Eclipse Comics then picked up the title in August 1985, reprinting just the Marvelman stories over 6 issues. However, the 'Marvel' trademark was now owned by 'Marvel Comics' and so when it came to reprinting said issues, the name had to be changed once again to Miracleman; each story having all it's titles and references changed to read correctly.

Following the reprints in issue #6, Moore wrote 10 further issues up to issue #16. Towards the end of the run the story heads into very dark territory, arguably some of Moore's darkest work. Following Alan Moore came Neil Gaiman's run which later fell into further legal disputes over ownership which went on for many years.

In the first issue of Alan Moore's Miracleman there are four stories entitled; 
Chapter 1: 1956, 
Chapter 2: 1982 Prologue - A Dream of Flying, 
Chapter 3,
Chapter 4: When Johnny Comes Marching Home

The first chapter is a retelling of an old story that features the Science Gestapo who travel back in time from the year 1981 to wreak havoc on the earth, and so Miracleman and Young Miracleman head into the future to the point just before the Science Gestapo travel back to stop them. The final page of this story features a quotation from "Thus Spake Zarathustra" by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche which reads "Behold, I teach you the Superman: He is this lightning. He is this madness.", which is placed over an ominous zoom in to Miracleman's eye.

Chapter 2 starts in 1982 and Michael Moran no longer remembers who he once was but keeps having severe migraines and reoccurring dreams that frighten him but doesn't know what they mean. Whilst reporting on the opening of a new power-station in the Lake District, it is sabotaged by terrorists trying to steal plutonium. Michael's migraine worsens and is doubled-up on the floor; just then he sees the word atomic reflected in glass which reads 'cimota' (or kimota). It this word that brings it all back to him, he says it out loud and is instantly transformed into Miracleman.

Chapter 3 deals with Michael coming to terms with his forgotten history and trying to convince his girlfriend Liz that he's telling the truth.

In chapter 4, Michael realises that his old friend and sidekick Johnny Bates is still alive. They meet up and discuss the past, Michael finds it hard to believe how Johnny lost his powers and tests him which reveals Johnny was lying and he is still Kid Miracleman.