What I thought of Marvel Two-in-One #3

1970’s Marvel comics are a source of joy and derision. Sometimes both. One of those titles I’ve grown fonder of over the years is Marvel Two In One, one of those titles Marvel, and DC, published where a ‘big name character’ (Spider-Man, Batman, Superman) would team up with another hero in normally, a one-off adventure. Marvel Two In One featured the Fantastic Four’s Thing, a bit of an oddity as although the Fantastic Four sold well in the early 70’s, the idea of sticking The Thing as the ongoing character in a team-up book today seems daft.

These titles also allowed new writers to play around; in this case Steve Gerber was allowed to play with Marvel’s characters and in this issue he throws in Mr. Fantastic as well as Daredevil and the Black Widow.

These comics tended to follow a certain formula. Something would happen to bring our heroes together, they’d argue/fight and then team up to fight the main villain and the story would be wrapped up in 20-24 pages. In this case Daredevil wants his billy club back.

At this point Marvel was building its universe up to the point where any comic would reference any number of other Marvel titles.

This however is a Steve Gerber comic. This means after the soap opera superheroics we get a large chunk of political content which looks amazing even today.

Then it gets insane when Adolf Hitler pops up and he’s hip to the 70’s.

At this point The Thing and Daredevil have a sort-of-fight for the sake of a fight.

After some banter, The Thing and Daredevil team up, fight the bad guys and end up saving the Black Widow who is being controlled by the aforementioned bad guys.

There’s no end here, just a promise of continuing the plot in that month’s issue of Daredevil which seems a cheat but remember these comics were cheap. Kids had a load of disposable income and could buy all the titles they could which is at least what I used to do.

Marvel Two In One is a relic of a bygone age of fun, disposable comics, albeit one with some frankly bizarre political commentary from a writer who at this point was finding his voice as well as his feet in an industry where comics were disposable. Some good, solid Sal Buscema art makes the issue a joy of nostalgia though nothing here is overwhelmingly outstanding, just solid superhero comics that’s fun which is all that matters here.

 

Let us not forget the Alt-Right are the bad guys

Milo Yiannopoulos is a member of the ‘alt-right’ and is yet again in the news as some students at Glasgow University thought it’d be a jolly wheeze to nominate his as rector of Glasgow University. This has understandably provoked a reaction as we should remember when someone says they’re ‘alt-right’ they’re really Nazis.

‘But Milo is gay and can’t be a Nazi‘ some of you will cry. That’s bollocks. It is perfectly possible to be gay and at the same time hold neo-Nazi beliefs as Yiannopoulos isn’t the only example of the new strain of neo-Nazis who are contradictory in nature so we need to remember this piece of advice…

If it looks like a Nazi, talks like a Nazi and acts like a Nazi it probably is one. Lets not forget that in the years ahead…

Time to think about the future.

As Jack Nicholson once said, ‘think about the future’.

hqdefault

After a year of recovering from a stroke and now being in remission from cancer I’m faced with not quite a Year Zero reboot, but more or less a soft reboot of my life and that’s actually a wonderfully empowering thing. So I’m undergoing physio to get better after the stroke and the slipped disc though I’m in some agony after last week’s session after seeing some older chap in his 80’s smash the cross-trainer. Refusing to let my competitive streak stay quiet I decided to try to smash his time which has broken me but this is all good as it helps make me better for the future.

And what do I do in the future? A month ago I wasn’t sure. I was looking at a number of things but over the last month things have coalesced into a few things. I’m still signed off work and expect to be so until probably Easter and then I’ll be fit and able to work, at least for a while as I’ve decided to get myself back into comics. Specifically retail. There’s a large hole in the market here in Glasgow and I intend to fill it. Mainly the issue is the comic shops in Glasgow areĀ  not really comic shops but instead are selling merchandise (toys, lots and lots of toys), don’t prioritise comics (and I don’t just mean superhero comics but the wide range of comics) or are just rank-smelling dens of shite. There was an idea I was juggling around for a shop in Bristol (where there’s also an open goal in terms of a good comic shop) a few years ago but that was rudely stopped when family problems got in the way. That idea (and business plan) can be tweaked for Glasgow.

This means I’m looking to build up stock to supplement my own collection and although I may well take a job just to pass the time until I get the full plan underway (being signed off sick and doing nothing all day is tediously boring) I’ll look to do the marts and conventions soonish once I’ve built up enough of a stock. There’s a few things to sort out before then and of course, I need to be declared fit and able to work which as said I don’t expect this side of Easter, which to be fair is quite impressive considering my near death experiences in the last year or so.

Which means there is a future. A year ago I didn’t think I’d get past the summer. Now I’m planning for what I hope will be for the next decade and longer. It’s been amazingly quick in terms of recovery, but perhaps less of the cross-trainer in the weeks to come…

Hope lies in the proles

crowdThe Northern Ireland elections are normally something people in the wider UK totally ignore as after all, there’s no spectacular shots of violence for editors to run, but this one this year has been of special interest in the wake of Brexit. Unionist parties have taken a kicking while other parties have been united in their opposition of Brexit which has paid dividends at the ballot box. Effectively people from the various communities put old divisions behind them for a united cause.

In the meantime Theresa May comes to Glasgow for the Scottish Tory Party conference talking of ‘our precious Union’ after last week where Labour came to Scotland to call former voters ‘racists’. So we’re not in an official Independence referendum campaign but we’re certainly in the warm-up phase where lines are being drawn though this time Northern Ireland is lurking offstage to the left waving and throwing paper planes at the back of Theresa May’s head.

At the heart of this there’s a fear from the Unionist side that perhaps the ordinary people (the same they pretend to speak for) are turning from the old myths of a United Kingdom that works for all and instead, are looking at alternatives. In the case of the Northern Irish election and the prospect of a second referendum it’s about people tired of an outdated Unionist ideology trying to make a better future that isn’t steeped in myths of British unity that really, is about a British state that serves a few and makes serfs of many.

For Northern Ireland to move forward to whatever future lies ahead and for Scotland to have a second referendum that’s won it will be people from all backgrounds, race, religions and nationalities that will give birth to hopefully a better future. In the midst of all of what’s going on we’re seeing little glimmers of a better possible world forming that stands aside from the hate and bile of blood and soil nationalists like Theresa May.

The dead places of Glasgow fascinate me

Glasgow has the third oldest underground network in the world.The subway has been around since 1896, and is nicknamed ‘the Clockwork Orange’ due to the fact the line goes in a simple circle on subway maps and the trains are bright orange. I’ve recently returned to Glasgow after 28 years away and the subway still smells and sounds as it did when I was a child, but like any underground network it’s shrouded in ghosts.

glasgowsubway1

Descending into the subway is like any other in the world. You enter a subterranean world where the world above melts into a world where it seems Morlocks could lurk round every corner as the world above vanishes behind you.

glasgowsubway2

Once underground you enter a world of smells and sounds like any other.

glasgowsubway3

The subway in places links up with Glasgow’s railway system, some of which is also underground, and is also, very, very old. Some stations over the years have died leaving only their grafftii-strewn corpses to be hidden by darkness and twilight, not to mention nature reclaiming what was once hers.

glasgowsubway4

One of those stations is the Botanic Gardens. As a kid I used to explore it with the bravery only children can have in delving into places which you shouldn’t.

These places are haunted by the past, and hounded by the present. They exist as shadows of time lost with only a sign to remind people what lurks nearby.

glasgowsubway5

Dead places fascinate me. They make me think of what people did in them then before being reclaimed. They make me wonder what might happen to the world if we let nature reclaim everything as opposed to the odd station and building here and there. It fascinates me just how quickly dead buildings are reclaimed.

These places are haunted, not by ghosts of the scary kind but by ghosts of our imagination. I adore these places but even so, they’re not for the faint-hearted…

What I thought of The Dregs #2

thedregs-2

The first issue of this rather surprisingly good comic from Black Mask dealt with gentrification and the wealthy literally turning using the homeless into meat. Sure there’s a mystery wrapped round this core plot but the message creators Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler and Eric Zawadzki are putting forth.

thedregs5

We pick this issue up with our protagonist Arnold, being prepped for dinner, but without giving too much away he escapes (after all, the series would be quickly over) and we have the story propel itself onward as we’re reminded we’re being told this story through the eyes of a homeless man.

thedregs6

It gets a bit Singing Detective which is fine; drawing from Dennis Potter is something the likes of Alan Moore has done in the past.

thedregs7

After the gorier first issue this one takes us deeper into the mystery, but for us as readers we know why the homeless people are vanishing, just we don’t know exactly who as yet is responsible for this.

thedregs8

The Dregs really is a pleasant surprise. A good script trying to say something more than superheroics or fantasy, and some fine art clearly influenced by European styles.

thedregs9

This is great stuff and does things with the medium few other monthly comics do. If you’ve not tried this then I urge you to give it a look.

Calling Scottish independence supporters ‘racist’ is depressing and pathetic

The last few days has seen some serious ramping up of rhetoric in the debate over Scottish independence with Saddiq Khan’s comments about Scottish independence supporters being racists. As has been pointed out, Labour don’t get to occupy the moral high ground here and yesterday saw a remarkable article published in the Guardian written by Clare Heuchan which stated that there was clear links between Scottish independence and racism who has flounced off Twitter after ‘fearing for her safety’.

Truth is she was exposed online as a Better Together supporter and a very devout British nationalist.

heuchan1

heuchan2

heuchan3

Now if Heuchan is being abused that’s to be condemned and those who fire racist and sexist abuse need to be prosecuted, but that’s a different thing from the article which she wrote which isn’t objective, plays into Khan’s frankly cowardly rhetoric (and he should know better) and seems to clearly be part of how bad things have got where at least people who supported independence were love-bombed rather than called ‘racists’ for wanting self-determination and a better place to live.

Heuchan is however right to say Scotland has a history of racism. Scots of Irish descent over the centuries have had to deal with that (not that Heuchan even touches on that as you’d expect from someone defending the British state) but as Paul Kavanagh points out here, Scots come from a position of coloniser and colonised. It was not just morally dishonest for the Guardian not to divulge her political intelligences but it makes it clear that the ‘Nats are racist’ angle is being played up now in an attempt to not just alienate potential independence supporters, but in the case independence is actually won it’s an attempt to leave social divisions that future Scottish governments may have to face.

Yet here we are. It is clear a positive case for the Union will not be delivered and people like me will be painted as drooling English-hating racists who want some sort of Rhineland of Northern Europe. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I never used to think Scottish independence viable, or desirable. I thought that although the UK was a corrupt state with a terrible imperial past, the union was the best way to protect the most vulnerable. Upon closer study of what was happening in Scotland while I was still living in Bristol showed me that independence wasn’t about ‘flag-waving nationalists hating the English’ but something else more akin to a movement for self-determination and gaining political power for people in Scotland. The fact it’d land a mortal blow on the British state which, hopefully, change things for people across the UK. Independence for Scotland for me is about a political solution to people’s problems as well as ending something I think is broken and that serves nobody but the few. I remain of the opinion the independence movement is a rich and diverse one.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t bigots and arseholes there who do hate the English. As in any movement there are extremes, but it seems the extremes of the independence movement are generally people likes the Scottish Resistance; a loopy fringe. The extremes of Unionism are the Orange Order, the EDL/SDL, Britain First and every blood and soil nationalist fit to wave a Union Jack. The latter is barely reported in the Scottish or UK media in terms of the abuse they fire out in this argument. People like Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and various other figures in the independence movement (while the Claire Heauchan story broke an SNP councillor has been talking about the abuse her and her children have been receiving) and SNP are regularly abused and threatened with rape and death but there’s a lack in equivocal reporting.

Of course many people outwith Scotland do look past the bullshit and make their own minds up. Here’s and example from Barney Farmer, the writer of The Drunken Bakers in Viz Comic.

barneyfarmerbrexitindy

The EU referendum saw an MP murdered by a member of the far right. The Scottish independence referendum saw isolated incidents ranging from the egg thrown at Jim Murphy to far right thugs rioting in George Square on the 19/9/14.

Last November I moved back to Glasgow after 28 years of living in England to recover from a stroke and finish my fight against cancer, so I’m here in Glasgow recuperating for a few months. I’ve fine-tuned my opinions on Scottish independence to the extent where I firmly believe it offers a final last chance to save the people of Scotland from the insanity of Brexit, but at the same time I’m going to pull up any Indy supporters being racist or sexist arseholes. I also don’t have time for those wanting UDI as that isn’t going to convince those reluctant to become independent that we’re democratic and I refuse to believe every Unionist is a flag-waving lunatic spitting out hate as that’s just as bad as what we’re accused of as Indy supporters. I just want a better Scotland for people living here and I don’t care where you’re from or what race or religion you are.

As we get nearer Brexit actually happening the stakes are ramping up. Unionists will be using every single dirty tactic under the sun and those firing out accusations of ‘racist’ while they themselves can’t recognise what they are is a depressing development as it diminishes actual victims of racism, and indeed, skims over the real issues Scotland has to deal with in regards religious bigotry and the racism that sadly lives everywhere.

We’re at a crucial phase in history. Brexit takes the UK down a hard right path where human rights become a thing of the past and the most vulnerable (and for now, that includes people like me) are having their lives threatened by a cruel Tory government and there won’t be a left wing paradise coming from Corbyn’s Labour who seems to glory more in ‘The Struggle‘ than actually wanting things to be done. I want a better world, and for that to happen we have to start small and convince other countries it can be done and for me, the only way to do that in these islands is Scottish independence breaking the British state and not just providing Scotland with self-determination but hopefully people across the UK realise the issue and themselves demand real change rather than a soundbite.

However calling people who believe in a better world ‘racist’ for wanting where they live to be better is a pathetically low, not to mention, cowardly, tactic. It’s a tactic designed to provoke as we’re at the stage where the British state will quite literally do anything to preserve it, which with no campaign actually started as yet is worrying as to how low this will go.Independence supporters need to not take the bait and remain above this, but at the same time we shouldn’t let it pass without comment and this for me is about putting this into my own personal context. I’m not a racist. I want Scottish independence. I find those equating both to be cowards and liars but I want to speak to people either unconvinced, undecided and even Unionists in debate rather than sit there spitting out hate which solves nothing apart from giving these diehard extremists exactly what they want. We need to rise above that and carry on positively or we’ll not get that glimmer of a better Scotland for all of us living here.