Rantin’ And Killraven: What’s HOT On The Bronze Age Comics IN Pile

Madre De Dios! More Mighty Marvel Mayhem!

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“A quest… You humans love quests and epics… romantic notions… absurdities which clutter your lives and distort your base realities!” – The High Overlord.  

NIX OLYMPIA VOLCANO, MARS – DECEMBER 2019

“He had touched the blade of grass… and it turned to red Martian dust beneath his hands. The sand shifts through his fingers now, and Killraven knows for a certainty that the desert he kneels upon is located on the planet Mars. 

“He is alone with that truth – and the truth is staggering!”

But what is truly staggering is that how a comic entitled: War Of The Worlds featuring Wellsian Martians (on giant tortoiseback, by gad!), alien vistas and high adventure on the Fourth Rock From The Sun with a Terran hero bestriding the russet landscape sportin’ thigh-high boots could turn (on?!) out to be so…

disappointing. 

Killraven: ha! Now there’s a name ta die for!

Isn’t it…?

With the right creative team, this should have developed into a hit – at least a cult classic, but no… 

As a fan of all things Martian, hopes that #36 (May 1976) would be a joy to behold were running high, until the reaction was so low. No prizes for guessing that this title was cancelled after only 30+ ishs…

Anyway! Welcome back to the weird wonderful world of Bradscribe – apologies for the delay since the last Post, but things have been hectic around here.

Once more unto the back issue boxes, dear friends!

Undoubtedly the highlight of Summer ’16 involved delving into the treasures of Bronze Age comics – that exceedingly special time from c. 1970 (curiously estimated with the debut ish of Conan The Barbarian of all things) up until the mid-’80s (and the death of Jean Grey?) when some exceptional titles were produced. At the most, taking advantage of the opportunity to catch up with some truly remarkable writers and artists; pleasantly acquire previously unknown titles; and dip nostalgically into editions that used to belong in my bedroom but for whatever outlandish reason got lost in the mists of time has transmogrified into an enjoyable and worthwhile venture. 

For me, the Bronze Age happened to be the best period for comic books. Killraven – for all its faults – demonstrates how experimental and innovative Marvel Comics could be during the 1970s.

Here then are some of the special ishs that have accumulated in my specially-reserved box this past few months:

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“The brute still lives! Such ineffable strength and longevity are almost beyond my experience and bear further study at The Project!” – The Hate-Monger.  

“The first rays of the crescent moon found the blood-red pendant grafted to John Jameson’s throat and he becomes a beast: Man-Wolf!”

Yes, yes, we covered that lupine moonbeast here: but that was too long ago, and quite frankly, he deserves more blogspace – for he is an extraordinary character simply never available on the Southern English newsstands of my youth. And it is a pleasure to finally catch up with his stunning series.

From ish #30, Man-Wolf became the sole principal star of Creatures On The Loose, until being cancelled (with ish #37 back in 1975). Ish #35: Wolfquest (May 1975) is – rip-roaring sci-fi action/adventure at its 70s best.

“David Kraft wrote it; George Perez drew it; you get to read it!” says the text on the groovy front page. There is also an ace cameo from Colonel Nick Fury (one of my all-time fave comic book characters) – “Sonuvagun if it ain’t!” – and Dum Dum Dugan! 

As penultimate pages go, this – the death of the Hate-Monger is as awesome and intense as Bronze Age comic art gets – proudly loaded up here (above).

Can’t help thinking what Perez would have done with Killraven…

And there was no way that Col. Fury’s dramatic entrance could not be included here:

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Nick Fury: “Dum Dum, ya big walrus, quit flounderin’ and folla me!”

Dum Dum Dugan: “Fergit it, Nick – I ain’t goin’ nowhere without my blamed Derby!” 

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Thanos: “Would you believe I’m doing all this out of the goodness of my heart?” 

Adam Warlock: “No, for I perceive that you have no heart!”

Like the BA gem listed above, (The Power Of) Warlock was also cancelled in its prime, but Adam, the golden-hued character himself made such an indelible impression on my infant mind.

More tragically, the original series lasted no more than just 15 ishs. Ironically, Warlock – “By Orion!” – has attained hallowed cult status and is extremely difficult to come by; when my sensors did detect odd editions, the going rate seemed ridiculously high. So finding that immortal classic: Warlock #10: How Strange My Destiny (December 1975) (for a thankfully ridiculously low price!) proved to be an exceptional find.

The first part of the acclaimed Magus Saga in which Adam makes an uneasy alliance with notorious bad seed: Thanos in his showdown with the Magus. It also features Gamora (of Guardians of the Galaxy fame!) and Pip The Troll (who – judging from the letters pages – became a sensation among Marvelites far and wide!)

Thanos – and (let’s be honest) even Pip The Troll – would have swept the floor with Killraven…

As Adam realizes with horror: “My mind is a cesspool of corruption that will someday spawn the Magus” – the Magus is Adam Warlock’s future self!

Blimey Charley, what a humdinger! 

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“25,000 armed Black Knights just to kill four unarmed intruders?! The Magus must be cracking up! Wish I had 50,000 instead of a mere 25,000…” – General Egeus. 

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Captain Marvel: “There’s Titan, Drax – it won’t be long now. But why so silent? What are you thinking about?”

Drax The Destroyer: “About how difficult it may be, once our alliance is ended… to kill you!”

Hankering for more galactic thrills, it seemed inevitable that Marvel’s spaceborn “most cosmic superhero of all” – the original Kree warrior: Mar-Vell – would get snapped up.

Eager to find out more, an excellent additional feature of Warlock #10 – an insert in which Captain Marvel explains the background (and threat!) of his arch-enemy: Thanos. Usefully, it noted #s 25-33 as the classic ishs in which the two legendary characters went head-to-head.

Initially, Marvel Spotlight #2 (featuring Captain Marvel) came into my hands fairly early on during this hunting season. However, Pat Broderick’s art style failed to alight the Bradmonitor. Not to be outdone, a chance was taken with Captain Marvel #59 (November 1978). Despite retaining Broderick’s pencils, The Trouble With Titan actually offered a more satisfying look, mainly because of the special guest star appearance by Drax The Destroyer. 

“By the Lost Horns of Hala!”

The outlandish contents involve Mar-Vell and Drax having to rescue Eros and Mentor from being “menaced by what manner of monsters, only the the Great Pama knows!” And trespassing in the domain of Lord Gaea – and having to fight their way through his hordes of Earth-Demons to escape! Written by Doug Moench – always a reliable choice (so why couldn’t he have worked on Killraven…?)

Have already picked up further ishs, but so far, #s 25-33 are proving to be elusive… 

In conclusion, me lovelies, it should be pointed out that – in a sale, just to be on the safe side! – another ish of  Killraven WAS acquired. And lo, Brad The Merciful steps in to grant the underachievers a second chance, but…

Ha! Guess what?

Despite having a fascinating splash page, #35 (March 1976) is bogged down with an even more confusing plot; moreover, he grumbles, the addition of an insipid Martian character and a deranged, scantily-clad woman spouting interminable gibberish does NOT guarantee rewarding reading! 

So, it’s official then: Killraven is PANTS….

Not gonna let this absurdity distort my base realities!

But heck! Let’s not end on a bum-note.

As Confucius used to say: “If you’ve got time for one more cake, you’ve bally well got time for one more comic!”

Hey! Looks like yours truly has got just the right thing: 

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“Alas, Iron Fist, you have my sympathy. No man should be spurned by a beautiful woman and fall in battle on the same day!” – El Aguila.

Last and – well, really! Is anyone nuts enough to say: “least” to Luke Cage’s face?! – we have Marvel’s very own dynamic duo: Power Man and Iron Fist. 

This is such a nifty break from my usual cosmic cravings, and besides, back in the day, one ish did pass through me grubby infant mitts, but Brad‘ll be damned if he can recall the exact one! Never fear, random back ishs have been selected, and are turning out to be an unexpected fab treat!

#65: “An Eagle In The Aerie” (Oct 1980) is great fun. En route to the Aerie (HQ of Heroes For Hire), Luke and Danny are followed by old adversary: El Aguila and – “Santa Maria!” – half the staff of all-female guards have revolted and all three costumed heroes have to defend the Aerie from all-out assault.

El Aguila leaps and bounds suavely through battle, firing bursts of his biologically-generated electricity through his sword while exclaiming: “Believe me, senoritas, doing this hurts my heart as much as it does your lovely bodies.”

Before Luke and Danny can get a word in, the Eagle escapes in a helicopter, but not before smooching the secretary.

Ah, they don’t make masked men of mystery like that any more…

If only Killraven oozed just half the charm of El Aguila…

Been searching for ish #58 (El Aguila’s initial appearance) but – not surprisingly – it is rare and expensive.

Finally, could not resist including this intriguing lil cameo from another Marvel stalwart:

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Iron Fist: “You’re up early, Luke. How did you sleep?” 

Power Man: “Kept dreamin’ ’bout floods an’ tidal waves.”

Iron Fist: “Sorry about the waterbed.”

Originally, this Post began back in September(!), revised in November, but it has taken the last few gruelling days just to finally launch this draft – well, anything really! – into the blogosphere.

Relieved, rather than pleased, to have accomplished some writing again.

Meanwhile, quite a considerable comics collection has amassed here over the past few months – therefore CANNOT WAIT to discuss, in a flurry of forthcoming Posts, the juiciest finds with you!

So, while the world falls apart, this:

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…is where you’ll find me: the “Leisure Hive” @ Brad Manor. 

Happy hunting, True Believers!

You would NOT BELIEVE what you can get for 60 Portions these days…   

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Electrospective: An Exploration Of Synthesized SF Sounds

Sounds Like We Are Going Into 2017 On A Synthwave

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“I’ll bet any quantum mechanic in the service would give the rest of his life to fool around with this gadget” – Chief Engineer Quinn. 

A New Year = A New Hope?

Brad may be an idiot, but he’s not foolish to believe that the travails of one rotten year are all going to magically dissipate as soon as a fresh one begins, but behold!

Aah, the healing power of music, especially the electronic kind. Having sought to prepare this Post for some time and – considering how hits of yesteryear usually slip back into my post-Christmas playlist every year – here it is!

We have come a long way since the days of Robby the Robot…

The first electronic movie score was used for Forbidden Planet (1956). To create a totally radical Space Age OST, Louis and Bebe Barron invented their own cybernetic instruments to produce: “Electronic Tonalities.”

For TV’s longest-running SF series: Doctor Who, Delia Derbyshire of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop transcended tech limitations by tape-splicing the sounds of tone generators.

In 1972, mechanical experiments in sound texturing were afoot in Germany. Combining backwards guitar overdubs with chiming synthwaves, Neu! launched the subgenre that would become known as Kosmische Musik (dubbed somewhat disrespectfully as Krautrock by a disapproving UK press).

The early 1970s also saw the emergence of the ultimate electro-pioneers and shapers of the future: Kraftwerk. Their man-machine trope and their innovative creation of synthesized instruments for their “robotklang” were as far removed from the mainstream as you could get, but provided the template for electronic musical progression for many years to come.

Other experimental acts in this wonderful Kosmische canon include Popol Vuh and Can, providing their own unique spaced-out sounds.

In 1974, Tangerine Dream practically invented the (definitive?) “sound of “tomorrow” in the phenomenal shape of their fifth studio LP: Phaedra. Brimming with scintillating Moog and glacial mellotronica, the origins of modern techno can be discerned amid the glorious title track (which, remarkably – after 150+ Posts – is the first time its been uploaded here(!); looks like this Spaceman is slippin’ up in his middle-age…):

Could Have Played: Anything by Tangerine Dream, Neu!, Kraftwerk, Cluster or Can et al.

“We are doing intellectual research on electronics… We really like to show how modern, sophisticated equipment can be used today in order to create a futuristic sound” – Edgar Froese.

Could Have Played: David Bowie – V2 Schneider, Neukoln or Moss Green.

“I’m not an original thinker. I am best at synthesizing things… I’d like to think what I did changed the fabric of music” – David Bowie.

Being on Earth, but not being of it resonated with the late, much-missed Starman: David Bowie.

Space travel and aliens (more specifically alienation) rolled recurrently throughout his lifetime (of) achievement. In The Man Who Fell To Earth (1976) he appeared cold, emotionless and detached, because that’s exactly how he felt at that point.

Burned out in the US – both physically and spiritually – Bowie fled to seemingly the most incongruous hideout in Europe: the Turkish sector of Cold War Berlin. The Artist Formerly Known As Ziggy Stardust became very fond of the anonymity it granted him; the music he created during this phase became “some of the most rewarding of my life.”

In collaboration with ambient wizard: Brian Eno, he felt compelled to dabble in soundscapes, encouraged by the possibilities that different sonic textures could achieve.

“I was a big fan of Kraftwerk… and I thought the first Neu! album, in particular, was just gigantically wonderful…” Bowie remarked, reminiscing about this special time in his life.

“I had absolutely no doubts where the future of music was going, and for me it was coming out of Germany.”

Electronic music certainly revolutionizing his approach to music-making. Low and Heroes – both released in 1977 – form distinctive high points in what appears today as such a sumptuous discography.

Bowie’s instrumentals contained the breath-taking results of his Kosmische-inspired aspirations to make “expressionist mood pieces.” The track: V-2 Schneider was an ambiguous homage to Kraftwerk; Edgar Froese’s Epsilon In Malaysian Pale directly inspired Moss Green; while there is a hefty nod to Neu! in Neukoln; and how much of Neu!’s Hero can you hear in Bowie’s landmark single: Heroes? 

Even as late as 2013, nostalgic reflections of his time in Berlin graced the incredibly moving single: Where Are We Now?

Could Have Played: Honestly, we would be here ALL NIGHT going through my eclectic 1977-1984 playlist! Believe me – by Jiminy – the list is endless! (And there ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!)

“To me a career is just like a machine. All the pieces have to fit together perfectly or else the machine will tear itself apart” – Gary Numan. 

With the rise of electronic music during the 70s, SF sounds soared into a whole new system. One of the pioneers of electro: Giorgio Moroder revitalized the career of disco queen: Donna Summer. I Feel Love became the first fully-synthesized (playing no trad instruments) No.1 pop single in 1977.

That same year, Gary Numan also conquered the charts with two classic electronic singles, embracing the SF with his distinctive brand of synthpop and android looks. Are Friends Electric (listen above) – with its roboticized chugging beat – is one of his most enduring classics. To complement the sci-fi vibe, his fans are endearingly known as “Numanoids.”

Up to the end of the 70s, and well into the early 80s, numerous acts such as Ultravox, the Human League, OMD and many others continued the man-machine SF theme and never failed to dominate the charts.

Meanwhile, in the film world, John Carpenter contributed his own distinctive mark on the history of electronica by composing scores for his own films: most notably Halloween, Escape From New York and The Thing. 

Numerous electronic film scores emerged during this period, but probably the greatest masterpiece in this field would have to be the soundtrack for Blade Runner by Vangelis.

Could Have Played: AFX – PWSteal.Ldpinch.D; Orbital – Science Friction; Eternal Basement – Parkhouse; Plastikman – Menak; Mike Ink – Thesis; Jeff Mills – Step To Enchantment; LSG – Hearts;

“Everyone Needs A 303” – Fatboy Slim.  

With the onset of the 90s, electronic music branched off into experimental subdivisions such as house – and of course techno (a mighty subgenre in itself, shortly to get its own post here!).

The whole scene was transformed by one unlikely piece of equipment: the Roland TB-303: a bass synthesizer (with built-in sequencer). DJs and electro musicians in Chicago experimented with this device and created acid techno (which thrived in the UK and Europe as well).

1994-1998 was a particularly innovative time with several artists becoming big names (especially in the Brad household!) with the likes of Jeff Mills, James Ruskin, Sven Dedek, Eternal Basement and Plastikman, aka Richie Hawtin – whose father was a robotics engineer and Kraftwerk fan (ideal background then for the son to make his own mark in electronics!)

Look again to Germany and the Tresor record label offered a quite considerable coterie of the next stage in intriguing artists such as Regis, Surgeon and Pacou. One of the most remarkable producers on the current German scene is Wolfgang Voigt, aka Mike Ink, aka Studio 1. aka Gas etc etc!

In the early 21st century, advances in digital tech allow for more complex soundstructures of diverse techno. Perhaps it is fitting that we arrive at a recently formulated subgenre referred to mainly as retrosynth (or synthwave) which marvellously recreates that analogue 80s style. Of the numerous artists working now, none is more impressive – and best prepared to reach for the stars – than Lazerhawk.

Before departing on my own jump to lightspeed, enjoy this delightful composition which, fortunately, is accompanied by a suitably cosmic vid:

Could Have Played: Burger/Voigt – The Jealous Guy From Memphis; Daft Punk – Moroder;

IN MEMORIAM:

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David Bowie: 8 January 1947 – 10 January 2016

“Something happened on the day he died
Spirit rose a metre and stepped aside
Somebody else took his place, and bravely cried”