Fall In With Brad’s Badass Brigade!

Everybody online… looking good!

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“Get on the ready line, Marines, get some today! Move it out, goddammit! Get hot! Move it out, move it out, move it out! Move it out, move it out, move it out! Aaarrrr, absolutely badasses!” – Sgt. Apone. 

Alright sweethearts, what are you waiting for? Breakfast in bed?! When the going gets tough, the tough go badassing. By definition, a badass is someone tough, uncompromising or intimidating. 

Not like me ta be sittin’ reading a book in coffee shops trying to look remotely intellectual… well, some of the time, but whenever that dreaded bug-hunt should arise, this is the Dirty SF Dozen that this natural-born-leader would want fightin’ by his side…

Dutch

“GEDDU DA CHOPPAH!” – Major “Dutch” Schaefer.  

1. Dutch

Can’t think of a stronger or indefatigable officer than Dutch as the first to get selected.

Many times spent smeared with mud lying in the shadows glowering at my extraterrestrial enemies, it’s so reassuring to learn that this Special Forces team-leader has been there, done that, got the T-shirt, ripped it up and set it ablaze to light up the jungle night.

Dropped into a Central American nightmare – for all the wrong reasons – they have to contend with Adrien Brody the Predator (1987). The Major is tough, dependable and guaranteed always… always to stick around…

The One That Got Away: Blain

A carbon copy of Dutch, plus ‘tache, a Little Richard tape and wisecracks! But despite wielding a six-barreled M134 Minigun, four years before the Terminator got to let rip with one – and sharing my irritation of Alabama ticksBlain got zapped, alas, by the Predator too darned early. 

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“She’ll fight my battles for me…” – Roy O’Bannon. 

2. Imperator Furiosa

This one-armed bandit has literally taken the blogosphere by a storm as big as the one that engulfed the War-Rig and Immortan Joe’s feral band of pursuers. Feisty and determined, the only thing Furiosa lacks is a Y chromosome. It is absolutely fantastic for our favourite genre to be imbued with a new female action hero in the Ripley-mould. So this tough-as-nails, grease-smearing driver automatically earns her place here. Certainly a more honourable path than modelling for perfume bottles. 

And you know she’s been put next-in-line; if me an’ Dutch get completely rat-arsed in a bar in Mogadishu, then she – unreservedly – takes command. THAT’S how highly her performance in Fury Road (2015) is rated at this blog.

Equal opportunities: Brad is all for ’em. Look, most of my Followers are female. (Stop that sniggerin’, there! Knock that shit off, Hudson!) They don’t call me an Officer and a Gentleman fer nothin’ y’know…

The One(s) That Got Away: 

Up until last week, ol’ Max Rockatansky himself would’ve made this List quite easily, but circumstances change, especially when a blistering movie comes out of nowhere to completely obliterate the Action Movie Book o’ Rules.

If you thought you might find Ellen Ripley: Scourge of the Xenomorphs in this Post, then hard luck she’s on leave shooting the fifth Alien movie. See here: 

And if you were expecting Sarah Connor here, soz, but Brad doesn’t do obvious. If he did, none of those impressive promotions (cluttering my desk), nor these medals (glistening in the binary sunset across my ample pecs) would’ve come my way…

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“I like to keep this handy for close encounters” – Cpl. Dwayne Hicks

3. Corporal Dwayne Hicks

The only one of the Space Marines to make it out of the nightmare of LV426 alive – a splendid qualification in my – or any –book. In the gung-ho shenanigans of Aliens (1986), Hicks was the one with coolness and steady nerve to keep what was left of the cast going – it’ll be a pleasure to see him again when Alien 5 finally comes in…

The One That Got Away: Vasquez. 

Another strong brigade-contender sadly obliterated from existence. 

Under NO circumstances, NO badass should EVER have to be trapped with an asshole at the moment they meet their maker…

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…AND THOR!

Son of Odin! Scion of vaunted Asgard! Wielder of the Mystic Mallet: Mjolnir! Protector of- OI! POINT BREAK!! Stop arsing about in that duck pond and get on the ready line!

Fine… as you Asgardian fops are wont to bark: “Hast thou not ‘eard?! Get thee out of yon brackish water! And get thine swanky clobber on…!! Dost ye know what thou art?! Thou art a [EXPLETIVE DELETED].” 

Move it out! Move it out! Move it oww… nuts… Shoulda selected frickin’ Heimdall instead… bah….!

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“You’re in my way, Piglet… I like to get everyone’s attention. That way, I don’t have to repeat myself” – Ham Tyler.

4. Ham Tyler

The original V miniseries became the must-see TV event during that giddy Summer of ’84. It began splendidly, but when bad-piece-o’-work Ham Tyler gate-crashed the scene, spraying Teflon rounds at those lizard stormtroopers with his trusty mini-Ingram machine-pistol, me and me mates just went bananaz! 

This master of covert operations, communications and bad relations aka “the Fixer,” was morally despicable, yes, but thank the stars he joined us in fighting off the Visitors. 

The One That Got Away: Mike Donovan

God love us: since when did TV news cameraman Mike Donovan become a contender for my brigade?! An exceptional heroic character, certainly, a bit of an ass perhaps – some girls at the time remarked that he had a great ass – but he was far too good to be bad…

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“Well, hello Mr. Fancypants! I’ve got news for you pal, you ain’t leadin’ but two things right now: Jack and shit… and Jack left town” – Ash.

5. Ash

Quite frankly, ‘Badass’ is Bruce Campbell’s middle name. How could he not be on this list?!

Transported to John Ford-country in circa. 1300, the Badassery of Ash – in Army of Darkness (1992) – was way too strong for an invading legion of the dead as he led a bunch of primitive screwheads to victory. Perfect material for any brigade then, not just mine – and besides, his boomstick is way bigger than mine… Groovy.

The One That Got Away: Groot

The main reason why Guardians of the Galaxy became the top grosser last year was the overabundance of badassery on display (see No.7). Love that swishing-attack-trick “he” does with his “branches.” At the time of writing, will wait to reconsider his status once he has – ahem – grown up. 

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“How you doin’, Chewbacca? Still hanging around with this loser?” – Lando Calrissian. 

6. Chewbacca

This beloved walking carpet has stood in the shadow of that smuggler for far too long. It’s about time he got the recognition he deserves. Besides, in the spirit of “Let the Wookie win” and all that, if we rejected his entry to the brigade, he’d just go bat-shit bonkers and probably rip No. 2’s arm out. 

More importantly, this crossbow-wielding pensioner from Kazhyyyk has aged surprisingly well, unlike…

The One That Got Away: 

…who looks even more like a scruffy-looking nerfherder than ever before.

Of course, by rights, Han Solo should get an automatic call-up – for ol’ times sake – as demanded especially by thousands of fans – I KNOW, OKAY? I SAW THE PETITION… but suppose we had to march into a detention area. What do you think would happen if this Corellian upstart flagrantly disobeyed MY orders in front of the brigade, eh…?   

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“Quit smiling, you’re supposed to be professional” –  Rocket Raccoon.  

7. Rocket Raccoon 

A considerable faction of the blogosphere know very well my unwavering respect and admiration for this charming, but deadly, character, as you may see here. Judge him by his size, do you?! Ain’t nothing like him, (but he’s in on condition that he does NOT put in a request for No.2’s arm).

Hey, at least he’s not asleep for the danger, awake for the money, like some grunts we could mention…

The One That Got Away: Starlord

Not convinced this Terran thief would be good for morale. Handy in a close-quarters skirmish, expert pilot of the Milano, yes, but he exhibits too much preoccupation with that accursed Walkman.

Plus: we fight as one impenetrable unit, so his measly 12% just wouldn’t cut it…  

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“I saw your dogchips glowing in the dark…” – Rogue. 

8. Rogue Trooper

During the ’80s, from the hallowed pages of 2000AD, came the adventures of Rogue Trooper, the genetically-modified, blue-skinned grunt – the most feared man on Nu-Earth – created by Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons; the zarjaz art on Cam Kennedy’s tour-of-duty was particularly impressive. 

At the very least, Rogue shoulda had his own movie by now – esteemed comics writer Grant Morrison was working on a script as recently as 2011, but that seems to have gotten lost in the notorious development-hell…  

The One That Got Away: Strontium Dog. 

Already submitted a Post featuring this much-venerated Muto bounty-hunter. See here:

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“If I still had legs, I’d kick your ass!” – Ivan Klimatovich. 

9. Hellboy

If this war becomes a living hell, we got one helluva guide to see us through…

Mike Mignola’s unique hellspawned hero: Hellboy was raised from infancy among mortals to fight the assorted minions of darkness, which he did onscreen twice: in 2004 and 2008. Yet another of those whose involvement was deemed unconditional, ‘cos you know, whatever happens, he can promise us two things: 

1), he will always look this good; and

2). he will never give up on us. EVER. 

And just look. At the size. Of that whammer…

The One That Got Away: Abe Sapien

A good swimmer, but – by no means – a badass. 

Anyway, that penchant for bad eggs will NOT be tolerated. The last thing me and the crew need is to be pinned down in a fire-fight… and be stuck with a vomiting raccoon… 

Snake

“I guess I go in one way or the other… doesn’t mean shit to me. Alright… I’ll do it. Give me the pardon paper” – Snake Plissken. 

10. Snake Plissken

Escape from New York (1981) was a bonkers movie, but at least it was one of John Carpenter’s more distinctive efforts. Again, this uncompromising dude has got his own ultra-cool shooter; he rides his own glider; he’s got an eye-patch; his name is “Snake” – what more badassery could you ask for…?  

Luckily, the film also features one of Carpenter’s favourite actors: Lee Van Cleef, who brought his own indomitable range of badassery to countless westerns… 

The One That Got Away: R J McCready. 

Sans eye-patch, but R J McCready was endowed with a more considerable crumb-catcher – in John Carpenter’s The Thing (1982) – as befits a true Arctic warrior…

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“Ooh, gurns, gurns, gurns! C’mon, Sal. The Tigers are playing… tonight. I never miss a game” – Clarence J. Boddicker. 

11. Robocop (1987)

If you have to fight and survive on the mean(est) streets of dystopian and crime-ridden Detroit, you’ll receive automatic acceptance from us, fella. We would have put you higher up the chart, but those submerged memories sound disconcerting…   

Never mind, go get ’em, boy!

The One That Got Away: Robocop (2014)

Totally did NOT want to be subjected to this lame and pointless exercise.

Remake the duds, NOT the classics, please… NEXT!

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“Welcome to the 2oth century, Jack Deth!” – Santa Claus. 

12. Jack Deth

“Jack Deth is back, and he’s never been here before” ran the classic tagline for this mental Blade Runner rip-off. Deth is the 21st century L.A. cop/bounty hunter charged with travelling back to 1984 to hunt down Whistler – the maniac-criminal who can turn people into zombiefied crazies called “Trancers.”   

1984, hell yeah… back then, you see, anyone could make this kinda shit… and make it entertaining. Of course, Deth was “played” by Tim Thomerson, who undoubtedly had printed – and no doubt patented – the T-shirt exclaiming: “Badass For Hire” for his entire career…  

The One That Got Away:

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“Argh… mediocre!” – Immortan Joe. 

For once, we will have to concur with that late, bloated pus-ball…

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And that rounds off my Mother of all Lists. Badass here! Badass there! Everywhere a-oh, okey-dokey then, you know the drill. Lock an’ load… then kick some.  

Let’s rock!!

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The Long Road To Fury Road

How And Why Did It Take 30 Years To Get Another Mad Max Movie?!

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“Every time Heath [Ledger] would come through Sydney, we’d chat about Max. The world lost someone great when he went. Tom [Hardy] was the next to walk through the door…” – George Miller. 

As mad as it may seem, there are other, more alarming and frustrating, ways to spoil a promising franchise than giving a starring role to Tina Turner. In those dark Maxless years that followed Beyond Thunderdome (1985), another instalment of everyone’s fave Interceptor-driving, dogfood-guzzling cop seemed highly unlikely. After Mel Gibson’s impressive directorial debut with Braveheart (1996), Australian master of the post-apocalyptic roadkillfest: George Miller felt that the time was right to return to his beloved dystopian franchise.

During the late 1990s, impressive conceptual art for a fourth movie about the Road Warrior started doing the rounds. It is very pleasing to learn that renowned British comics artist (and Mad Max fan): Brendan McCarthy was involved in these preparatory stages (and even gets a co-writer credit on Fury Road!) but then, the film industry – as well as everyone else – could never have foreseen 9/11. That infamous day not only deflated the American dollar but also drastically inflated Max’s proposed budget.

Unfortunately, not long after, Gibson went, well, mad. His much-publicised troubles with the law forced a “heartbroken” Miller to seek another Max. It is said that in 2006, Miller had intended to offer the lead role to Heath Ledger, and there were serious discussions before said actor met his untimely fate. So, by not getting the Joker, Miller opted instead for… Bane?! 

Honestly, how mad does that sound?! But hold on, ‘cos it gets madder…

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“As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who was more crazy… me… or everyone else” – Max Rockatansky.  

Amid all this kerfuffle, Miller was able – also in 2006 – to direct Happy Feet, an animated sure-fire sprog-pleaser featuring the voice of Frodo Baggins as a dancing penguin… for pity’s sake! Obviously not the form of madness that Rockatansky-fans the world over had in mind…

One of the more intriguing diversions on the way to realising a fourth Mad Max movie came as recently as 2007 in the amazing – and quite unbelievable – form of an ensemble DC superhero movie(!) which Miller was all-too-ready-and-willing to direct.

However, by all accounts, the provisional script for Justice League:Mortal was poor; with a writers’ strike in full swing, it could never hope to get developed. Moreover, the all-too-familiar blight of an uncontrollable budget, and unfavourable Australian tax incentives doomed it further.

If all had gone to plan, Justice League:Mortal would have featured Megan Gale (who makes an appearance in Mad Max: Fury Road) as Wonder Woman, Armie Hammer as Batman, and…!

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Get this – Hugh Keays-Byrne (who plays both Immortan Joe in Fury Road and the Toecutter in the 1979 original) was tipped to play Martian Manhunter! 

Mad? Why, that’s positively insane!!

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“When I came in, there was no script, just… storyboards. So I spent the time just writing a ‘bible of tribal’… The stunt guy and I used to say we were making the last real, live stunt-action film” – Colin “Not Mel” Gibson. 

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Possibly the only sane news to gain from this delirious state of affairs is that – yes! – there will be more pedal-to-the-metal Mad Max mayhem to come!  

“We’ve got one screenplay and a novella,” Miller reveals about our chances of seeing at least two more movies of Mr. Rockatansky(!) “It happened because with the delays [on Fury Road] and writing all the backstories, they just expanded.” Despite all the troubles that beset Fury Road, Mad Max: The Wasteland is definitely a go.

“Fast and Furious 7 is all CG,” dismissed Colin Gibson, Mad Max: Fury Road’s Production Designer. “The cars are shiny and pretty, but there’s not much physics in there.” Hell no, make cars do things that cars can’t do and suspend all belief in one gear-shift? No thanks. Quite rightly, Gibson realised that live stunts, evoking the movie-making of the original Max movies, was in order: “to make it completely real.”

The Australian Outback served as the perfect setting to evoke that grungy post-apocalyptic look for the original movies, but this time, even that could not be guaranteed; Namibia had to step in.

…Namibia?! 

“Part of the problem was we built for the firm, hard ground of Australia,” Gibson explained. “And then it pissed down with rain for two years running, and you couldn’t shoot the desert for blooming flowers and camels fucking each other and pelicans dancing.” 

Yep, as mad as a doof wagon… 

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“No Hard Feelings, Point Break” Or: How Brad Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Comics

About those works that changed my perception of what comics could be… 

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“Of course… You always have to have surprises. You always have to make the reader say: ‘Wow! I never expected this.’ It’s become… tradition” – Stan Lee. 

Rather than bang on about those Avengers for the umpteenth time, and the torrents of comicbook movies we can expect over the next few years – but still keen to write anything comics-related – permit me to break away from the Marvel/DC fold for the moment and gush about some of the best specimens in my collection which – for sentimental reasons, obviously – could not, and never will, be discarded.  

Yes, having had to sift through boxes and piles of my stuff recently, it was only a question of time before these ancient gems were uncovered again…

For the sake of time, space and convenience, just six titles have been selected. In no particular order, away we go! Oh, and you know what? Each one of this not-so-dirty half-dozen would make a great movie…

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Flash Gordon began his exploits on the four-color pages of the Sunday funnies… Not only did Raymond draw the best rayguns, rocketships, and alien creatures, he drew the sexiest women” – Richard Siegel and Jean-Claude Suares. 

What better way to begin than with the Godfather of Sci-Fi Strips? The original Flash Gordon, created in 1934 by Alex Raymond have retained their lustre as sci-fi gold. His art is stupendous; despite becoming an SF artist of some considerable dexterity myself, it was always frustrating (during my formative years) trying (and failing!) to copy some of Raymond’s more dynamic or intricate panels!

It has to be said that, admittedly, the style is unmistakably indicative of the 1930s. That is, by no means, a hindrance; on the contrary, to this eager lil seven-year old, it was more fascinating for that.

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“You may speak to me now. My purple light is on” – General Ironicus.

In 1979, my joyous – albeit short-lived – fascination with Doctor Who began. Having enjoyed each instalment on TV every Saturday teatime, you can well imagine my gob-smacked rapture upon discovering the “Fantastic First Issue” of the Dr Who Weekly, an amazing addition to the immensely impressive wing of Marvel UK. 

The very first story instantly won me over. Doctor Who and The Iron Legion offers an intriguing scenario: where the Roman Empire never fell, but instead expanded its dominion across the galaxy. Simultaneously slaking my thirst for sci-fi and history, it splendidly evokes the charm of the Tom Baker era.

Artist Dave Gibbons may be revered the most for Watchmen, but it is The Iron Legion which – to me – made the greatest impact. Moreover, there’s never been anything quite like the witty and wonderful script by Pat Mills (a personal fave writer) and John Wagner.

And that panel depicting the robot centurion bursting through the shop window is still as sharp and special as when my wide excited eyes first caught it thirty-six years ago!

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“I’m glad that hurt, Jaffar. I pray my kick made you an eunuch!” – Marada The She-Wolf.

Marada, The She-Wolf was an awesome fantasy saga about a mercenary of Rome and her travails against the Mabdhara – a triad of Demon-Lords. She starred in the February and April 1982 issues of Epic Illustrated, then “the Marvel Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction”; she reappeared in Wizard’s Masque in the February and April 1984 issues.

1988 turned out to be a fantastic year: catching up with Classic X-Men, featuring the scripts by Chris Claremont, featuring stunning artwork by John Byrne (republished stories from 1978) and John Bolton (added features of individual X-Men); then, quite unexpectedly, this came into my life.  

Had never heard of “Marada. It didn’t matter. Anything adorned with the talents of Claremont and Bolton was sure to be good. Those issues of Epic Illustrated became essential purchases. The material is so different from the more usual mutant superheroes fare. Claremont writes enthralling dialogue, but through Bolton’s stupendous art, Marada really comes across as a beautiful and feisty protagonist; she deserves mass appeal.

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Hulk 1 Night-Raven by Lloyd 980

“A half-Mohawk boy born in 1900… Night Raven had no powers but was a highly trained fighter and marksman… exposed to a chemical toxin which made him nearly indestructible” – Marvel Database. 

One of the more striking heroes of in my earliest comic-devouring years was undoubtedly the Night-Raven – “Britain’s very own man of mystery.” Apparently, this masked vigilante of the 1930s made his debut in Hulk Comic #1 (March 1979), of which quite a few issues made their way into my collection, but it is in Savage Action – yet another Marvel UK godsend – where my enjoyment of this “faceless, enigmatic nemesis” ensued.  

Its creator: David Lloyd would much later become best known for V for Vendetta. Although my recollections are a little hazy, Night-Raven was always depicted in fedora and trenchcoat, with revolvers in both hands.

One of the few characters created exclusively for Marvel UK, he doesn’t appear to have made much impression on the other side of the Pond, which is a pity. In 1990, Night-Raven: The Collected Stories appeared, but it has never, alas, come into my clutches. Again, last year enquiring at Forbidden Planet – London’s Temple of Geekdom – the “expert” had never heard of this character. Shocking…

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I’ll take you dead or alive. They’re going to kill you anyway – may as well try your luck” – Johnny Alpha.

Johnny Alpha – the mutant bounty hunter with the light eyes and the variable cartridge blaster and electroknux, the most recognised member of the Search/Destroy Agency, whose members are widely known as “Strontium Dogs” – made his debut in Starlord comic in 1978. When that title went defunct, he made a successful switch to the then-burgeoning 2000AD, a British weekly publishing legend throughout the 1980s.

Following the nuclear war of 2150, the society of New Britain had to contend with the spiralling number of mutants (caused by the showers of Strontium-90) in what remained of the population. Forbidden to take normal jobs, “mutoes” had to take on bounty hunting as their only means of survival. In an intriguing plot development, Johnny turned out to to be the son of Nelson Bunker Kreelman, the despised “norm” politician responsible for instigating the anti-mutant laws. 

At first, the gruff style of Carlos Ezquerra’s art did not appeal, but it gradually won me over.

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With The No-Go Job starting in Prog 580 (1988), art duties would be taken over by Simon Harrison (above), who brought a radical new look to the strip.

Johnny Alpha was killed off in 1990, one heckuva bold move considering that he had become the second most iconic character of 2000AD after Judge Dredd.

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“This was it. The night my Uncle Elias and I were going after the Beast. A creature of magic. It could only be destroyed by magic” – Luke Kirby. 

Back to the pages of 2000AD again, and with good reason. Between Progs 571-77 (April-June 1988) something well wicked my way came. Summer Magic was a delightful little seven-part serial about a boy staying with his relations in a traditional English country village during the Summer of 1962. But look beyond Mrs. Birmingham’s homemade dinners and bowls on the green, for an unutterable horror lurks in the forest yonder…  

By rights, it should not have sat alongside the more familiar sci-fi likes of the tech-war of Rogue Trooper, the chaotic chrome capers of the A.B.C. Warriors (a band of Ultrons if you will!), nor the futuristic law enforcement of Judge Dredd, but gladly it did, and made its own marvelous impression.

Just months previously, John Ridgway had come to my startled awareness through the blistering first eight issues of DC’s Hellblazer – John Constantine’s own title. Now here he was working on something equally English and unnerving!

Young Luke must learn the arts of the arcane path before confronting the Beast. And this tale of a boy wizard appeared years before Harry Potter was a glint in JK Rowling’s eye…

This Post will finish with that classic last page from the penultimate episode. At this point, there was barely a hint of the gob-smacking twist that would transpire that following week…

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Thank you, Sherise, for my Second Nomination!

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