In The Mighty Jungle, A Fearless Bunny Will Not Rest Until The Awe Of Yore Has Been Found…
“Permit me to sneer, Warlock! — Has one who has purity like unto a god — Yes, and innocence, too — Has he found a lasting good upon this planet? Speak truth now! Have you?” – Man-Beast.
The galactic hero patrolled an alien world in a landspeeder. An evil, slit-eyed droid pursued him.
His hair was definitely black; his outfit? Maybe black. His adventures certainly did not appear in colour, but unmistakably graced a UK comic. Probably Marvel UK?
Who the blazes was he?!
Despite providing a thrilling read, over 35 years ago(!) his name, and – more crucially – the name of the comic in which he starred have – to my complete dismay – completely escaped me.
This Summer, reminiscing about the earliest comics to bring me inestimable pleasure so many moons ago has motivated me more than ever to track some of ’em down.
It’s now or never.
Shut out all 21st century distractions. Cast my mind back to the “Golden Age” of 1979-82 and try and work out the identity of that, and other, lost classics.
Marvel UK produced so much fantastic stuff during that period. Most notably, the bulk of their material happened to be b/w reprints of good ol’ American colour originals. Yay, ’tis through this cheap yet cheerful, and undeniably invaluable modest medium that much of my exploration of the Marvel Comics Universe gained momentum.
Perhaps the most entrancing (re)discovery from my trawl through the comics of yesteryear was Star Wars Weekly – a title reprinting the ongoing adventures of Luke Skywalker, superbly illustrated by comics legend: Carmine Infantino – enjoyed so much back in’79. However – inexplicably, and despicably! – not a single ish survived the cull that swept through the Bradhouse one fateful Winter’s day long ago.
Now, in 2016, a dozen ishs were laid out high along one shelf of one specialist shop in London. You had to ask the ass(istant) just to TOUCH them.
One cover in particular leapt out at me – it looked SO familiar! The cover blurb stated that it also featured: Starlord, Guardians Of The Galaxy and Tales Of The Watcher. When the Guardians Of The Galaxy movie came out two Summers ago, this team didn’t ring any bells, and yet! They had been a part of my infancy… and yours truly hadn’t even realised!
Back then, you see, those Guardians did not consist of a gun-toting raccoon, nor a talking tree. Peter Quill spacefared all by his lonesome, in his own strip, not as the leader of the Guardians. Heck, he wasn’t even associated with them neither!
As for Tales Of The Watcher, well…! Get all choked up whenever catching that title – this character had such a captivating effect on me, cos when producing my own first comic book (at the tender age of 6, no less!) it was named: “The Watcher.”
Was this the ish in my possession 37 years ago?! Was that galactic hero set to reintroduce himself to me there and then? Was it, perhaps, Starlord himself?!
Just had to open the polythene bag and find out.
Took a deep breath.
Turning over the front cover, a tingling burst of happy memories might flood my senses…
This Starlord looked completely different. And that mysterious cosmic figure was nowhere to be seen…
My quest must resume… elsewhere.
Never fear, thrill-seekers! A most unlikely target HAS been acquired!
“The reptilian speaks more truly than you, Man-Beast! My eyes see not the humble robes of my guide, who called himself The Prophet — but the gaudy royal cloth of one who would subjugate this Second Earth!” – Adam Warlock.
Future Tense (a sci-fi Weekly launched in November 1980) never – strangely enough – found its way into the Bradhouse.
At long last, a whole crate of original editions were located at my local comics emporium! Bought two editions: opened up the one dated: January 28 1980, and turned to the final story: And Men Shall Call Him Warlock.
The golden-skinned protagonist known as Adam Warlock is another of those numerous warmly-received, yet dimly-remembered comic characters to have danced giddily across my retinas over three decades ago.
And what – in a gloriously dramatic splash page – is gloating imposingly on the steps of his subterranean stronghold on Counter Earth (“Like our planet, but exists on the other side of the Sun!”) with a captured Adam at his mercy?
Why, ’tis Man-Beast isself!
This humanoid creature with the head of a wolf may have been one of the more obscure oddities to emerge from the mighty Marvel Comics Universe, but – blimey Charley! – made a HUGE impression on me way back when, even though he has lain dormant in the dark recesses of the Brad mind for far too long.
If he regularly appeared in Warlock, then here – lol and behold – is where he first came to my gobsmacked attention.
Garth The Hunter: “Nurse your wounds, stout one — and leave the fighting to me. Perhaps that bite’s taught you the error of your brash and vociferous ways! — Though I doubt it –”
Gorjoon: “Suck an egg, blondie!”
Funny how something you had never even considered looking for turns up out of the blue when you are busy browsin’ for something else…
A more concentrated scope around my local comics emporium again last week brought to light some very interesting titles, including one title that almost made me jump!
Good Grud! Could not Adam-an’Eve that it was just lying there in wait for me!
As Man-Beast played a profound role in the first of my comic-collecting, so, apparently, did Man-Wolf, aka John Jameson (the son of Peter Parker’s Editor: J. Jonah Jameson).
And so ’twas: Man-Wolf #36.
The cover: a shirt-ripped lycanthrope-hero trapped in space set my arm hairs on end – a startling image not seen for 35 years!
THIS is a major blast from my past, rediscovered:
“I’ll folla ya in the Sky Sled — It wuz the first thing we secured in the attack! Once we git there, though — yer on yer own” – Nick Fury.
And yes – deep joy!
This particular ish just happens to feature Nick Fury, Director and Top Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., albeit in a minor supporting role. The writing by David Kraft is top-notch, and the art – supplied by George Perez and Frank McLaughlin – is so small and meticulous that up to ten panels per page is per usual.
John Jameson’s curse materialised in the form of the Moonstone.
“It affixed itself to my throat,” the soldier-turned-astronaut recalled bitterly. And, since then, whenever a full moon appears, it transforms him into “a nocturnal grotesquerie, a lurking brute unleashed by lunar radiation.”
It may not cause a colossal ripple across the the fabric of spacetime, but within the perpetually awesome and award-winning Bradmosphere, this find is positively stupendous!
This stage of the expedition, my fellow thrill-seekers, has revealed not one, but two, faves once trapped on the distant shores of hazy recollection. Ah, so glad…
But what of that dark-haired cosmic hero mentioned at the beginning of this Post?
Alas, nobody can tell… yet.
Perhaps he has resurfaced on another side of the Marvel Comics Universe – rebooted and rebranded – in a completely unidentified guise. Such is the trend in comics these days, he is now likely to be a woman…
No doubt The Watcher has noticed – to considerable bemusement – my plight. Nothing gets past him…
Nevertheless, undaunted and undeterred, this bunny ventures even further into the macrocosm that is this jumbled and overloaded mind.
To unleash other long-forgotten thrills from yesteryear.
To delight you, dear reader.
Keep It Awesome! 😉