What I thought of Marvel Team-Up

Comixology had a ridiculous sale recently where Marvel trades and masterworks were a fantastic 69p per book so I filled my boots and got all the Marvel Team-Up masterworks. For the uninitiated, Marvel Team-Up was an extra Spider-Man book which featured a ‘special guest star’ each issue, so the issue would normally start with Spidey swinging around New York bumping into a fellow hero and then both team up to fight a baddie.

Essentially most of Marvel Team -Up was fight scenes.

Early issues featured the Human Torch as the guest, but the series moved away from the idea of a fixed guest hero from issue 4 when the X Men appeared as guests at a time when their own book was in effectual limbo reprinting older adventures, however MTU acted within a parallel continuity linked to the the other Spider-Man book.

Those early issues featured some nice art from Ross Andru, but for me it’s the Gil Kane issues that stand out. His Spidey is sadly underrated and MTU allowed his to have fun with the then growing Marvel Universe.

These are superhero comics from a simpler time when the worst thing that would happen to Peter Parker was forgetting a date with Gwen Stacy, or he was on a crap job for The Daily Bugle.

The most stress yoj’d get as a reader is hoping the next issue would feature someone good, or even better, one of your favourites. Marvel Team-Up has returned several times over the years but nothing cries nostalgia as much as that first run of 150 issues. If you are a fan of 70’s superheroics then get yourself these books because they’re an utter joy.


From the New Gods to the Avengers

If you’re a superhero comics fan of any description then today is an amazing day because the New Gods; Jack Kirby’s masterpiece of fantastic imagination, is being made into a film by Ava DuVernay. A lot of people, including people who read comics and are part of the ‘Geek’ boom don’t realise that the New Gods are the well in which much of what is here now comes from. No New Gods and Star Wars is very, very different. No Darkseid and comic book villainy is very different. There’d be no Thanos for a start.

A New Gods film done right could be astonishing as Jack KIrby’s imagination has barely been represented to its full potential on the big screen, however with the Avengers: Infinity War trailer you can see little bits of Kirby there, not to mention Jim Starlin who created Thanos.

If I was 14, I think I’d be unable to walk after watching that trailer as it really is more or less everything I’d want to see in a superhero film.  I mean, Capitan America taking on a cosmic baddie like Thanos is a Jim Starlin classic moment.

Which will be something we’ll see on the cinema screen.

So, strap on a new pair of underpants and get set for a 14 year old fanboy inhabiting a middle aged man’s dream…

The ”neo-Nazi” who organises comic conventions

The Scottish politics website A Thousand Flowers revealed information in regards Andy Kleek, the organiser of ”Comic Con Scotland’‘ to be held this November in Edinburgh. Essentially, Kleek is a supporter of the EDL, Stephen Yaxley-Lennon AKA  ‘Tommy Robinson’ (who is such a wussie he blocked me on Twitter for this) and all they stand for.

To quote the site;

In August 2017, the anti-racist campaign group Hope Not Hate exposed Kleek as having attended a rally organised by Robinson last June to stir up division in the wake of the Manchester attacks. The event saw hundreds of far-right thugs descend on Manchester city centre, clashing with police and forcing a Sikh group running their regular stall providing food to homeless people to flee in the face of racist abuse.

The full story, along with screenshots is here and I advise you to go there and read it if you plan to attend, or exhibit at the show in November, or if you plan to attend the Harry Potter themed event he’s organising in Edinburgh. I should also make it clear that this event is not the Edinburgh Comic Con held in April. I’ve got nothing but praise and support for that show, and I’m disappointed that people have vandalised posters advertising one of the better shows of this type in the UK.

There are several issues here. First one up is whether you as a consumer want to give money to an event that may fund the activities of an alleged neo-Nazi. I tend to trust what the guys at Hope Not Hate do, and if they’ve provide proof then the word of Nick Lowles and his team (and in the spirit of full disclosure I should say I’ve fed them information in regards a case in the past) then that’s enough for me. Your money, your choice. I’ll keep mine in my bank account.

It is your moral decision what to do here.

Next issue is this, again quoted from A Thousand Flowers;

Comic cons have emerged as a cash cow for events organisers over the last few years with huge public interest in sci-fi, fantasy and comic books, fuelled by recent on-screen hits. Unlicensed Harry Potter themed merchandise and events have also – as anyone who has visited Edinburgh’s Old Town over the last year can testify – become a magnet for those looking to cash in.

Over the year in the UK there’s literally hundreds of comic conventions. I can remember when there was only one big one, and a handful of smaller marts. At one point 20 years ago it looked for a while that the unbroken run of large comic conventions that started in the UK in Birmingham in 1968 was to end. Then Iron Man came out in 2008, and the rest as they say is history.

We’re in a bubble right now. I don’t think it’ll ever return to the days where a handful of us sat in a hotel bar in Manchester considering how to keep the British convention going, but at some point things will go ‘pop’ and a lot of the dodgy show organisers will head off back to whence they came as will some of those selling stuff to cash in on the ‘geek’ boom. Again, it is your choice to do with your money as you will but if I was Kleek I’d perhaps make my logo less reminiscent of this one.

So to sum up. It seems the organiser of a comic con in Edinburgh has a less than pleasant set of political beliefs, which I disagree with but it is his right to hold. However I can choose not to support his events, and I can also make it so folk who read this blog make the same choice.

Again, you are the consumer. Choose wisely.

What I thought of Black Panther

I made it through the snow and ice to see Marvel’s film version of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee’s Black Panther character.

First appearing in Fantastic Four #52, T’Challa, the Black Panther, was the first black superhero Marvel produced at a time when mainstream comics didn’t have black characters, though KIrby and Lee had already introduced a black character into their Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos title.

The film draws heavily upon Kirby’s vision of a futuristic African nation that developed entirely independent of Western influences, while the portrayal of T’Challa (played by a solid Chadwick Boseman) sticks firmly to the comics as opposed to Marvel’s film heroes jokey, wise-cracking style.So The Black Panther is a noble, stoic leader, and unusually for a Marvel film, the villain, Killmonger (a great Michael B. Jordan)  actually has a background not to mention his main motivation (that Wakanda is letting the world down by not sharing it’s technologies and resources) is right, but his method to rectify this (starting a global war) is what makes him a villain.

Apart from the Kirby vision, director Ryan Cooglan heavily draws from the Don McGregor run on Black Panther in the 70’s to create one of Marvel’s best films. Though it does come with issues which mainly consist of trying to have a film with a different look and vision crammed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe which has become an impressive sausage machine pushing out hit after hit.

When the film has Jordan’s Killmonger in it, there’s a moral and intellectual heart in Black Panther; when it doesn’t then it’s a good superhero film not as bad as say, Iron Man 2 but not as average as Ant Man. Take Jordan and the moral argument his character brings, and we’re facing another Marvel film where the baddie is the same as most Marvel baddies. Black Panther manages to pull itself out of Marvel’s formula for much of it’s length, though there is a predictable, but fun, big fight at the end.

As a film it doesn’t hit a Logan, or a Dark Knight level of pushing out of the superhero ghetto but it gets close and considering that Marvel’s next film is Avengers:Infinity War, there’s not going to be much subtlety in the MCU until that film is out the way. Black Panther manages to engage once a meandering first 45 minutes or so setting things up is out the way so this isn’t one of the best films ever, but it is a very good superhero film that if possible, should be seen on a big screen.

Come to Rutherglen Comic Con this Saturday and buy comics from me

This Saturday at Rutherglen Town Hall, in (oddly enough) Rutherglen, is this year’s comic con.

So if you want some Alan Moore Swamp Thing’s, or some godforsaken Doomsday Clock comics, or what little Black Panther related comics I’ve got left after the buzzards on Ebay stripped me bare, then come on down on Saturday. I’ll be near local artist Gary Erskine who’ll be drawing comics I assume.

Anyhow, come spend money on Saturday!

A quick word of appreciation for The Rocketeer

One of the joys about picking up collections of comics is finding the gem in the rough. This time the gem wasn’t the most expensive item, but The Rocketeer graphic novel.

Written and drawn by the late Dave Stevens, this is a comic that has a core cult following but in the history of 1980’s comics that changed how the industry works, not to mention how comics were perceived by people outwith our little comics ghetto, The Rocketeer never gets a mention.

Originally published by Pacific Comics, The Rocketeer was the first big success of the then small, but growing, independent scene that was taking advantage of the expanding direct market. Stevens was a genius and is also the man most responsible for the Bettie Page revival in the 80’s.

The Rocketeer helped prove independent comic publishers could have a hit, and proved creators didn’t need Marvel or DC to be successful. Sadly Stevens was a tad, well, slow, so it took years to get his story out but it was worth it as it is a work of art with every panel a clear labour of love.

Stevens even managed to get his character onto film with a perfectly respectable and even underrated film adaptation in 1991.

Since Stevens untimely death other people have attempted to carry on the story with IDW publishing some decent story but they’re nothing like that original Dave Stevens story which remains, and always will be, a complete joy.