Jailhouse Crock: Escape Now, Hug Later

A New Intern @ The Old Outpost

Andy Dufresne: “You know what it’s about? You’ll like it, it’s about a prison break.” 

Ellis Boyd ‘Red’ Redding: “We oughta file that under “Educational” too, oughten we…?” 

 

Lock Up!

Following a hefty bout of blockade-running around Planet Tumblabungla, Brad Company got caught in a nasty ambush on Droopy’s Heights.

On the other side of this theatre of inter-galactic war, Brad Fartlighter awakes to find himself – sans Companytrapped in the harsh prison complex of Sandler’s Slammer on Ajövő Világában, in the Wotchagonnado System, one of the misbegotten outer worlds of the Zandokan Empire. 

Talk about an insufferable dive: Mexican food is NOWHERE to be seen on the menu and the local constabulary have struck the word: ‘escape’ from the local vocabulary… 

 

“Hiya fellas, ‘ow ya doin’?” Brad slurred groggily, massaging the wincing pain at the back of his noddle.

A typical pair of scheming, thoroughly-nogoodniks stood by the bars of what looked like a grotty litle prison cell. The shortest, most brutish-looking miscreant stepped forwards.

“I am Warden Mal Praktizz. I will be your host for this – the final day of your pathetic, misspent life…”

The Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger looked around in confusion: “Wha’…? No par’y, then…?”  

“‘Fraid not, Fartlighter. You will find no donuts in this institution…”

Woddafuj Wuzzat, the Warden’s twisted right-hand man, leered at your hero: “NO donuts – no HOPE! NOBODY can save you NOW, you rebellious… rebel…!” 

“Okey-dokey, Bright-Eyes…” the Warden spat impatiently. “Leave the monologuing to me, capisce? Hmm… they warned me about your… flippancy, FartlighterYOU are quite possibly the WORST Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger I have ever seen. Really, this does NOT look good for you, jackass… The Zandokan Provincial Council have already found you GUILTY of crimes against the Empire. At Dawn tomorrow, you will be executed! Do you have anything to say?”

“Oh, you BET the blue blazes I do, fella!”

“Very well, Earthman, OUT with it…” 

“I ‘AVEN’T ‘AD ANY CAKE FER FOUR’Y-EIGHT ‘AHRZ, AN’ I’M STARTIN’ TA MOULT…”

“Can you believe they call us criminals when he’s assaulting us with that haircut?” – Rocket Raccoon. 

“Welcome…!” announced Graf Masvoodler – that shifty scavenger from Shakatak – as Brad was flung unceremoniously into Cell 21-87. “…to the Imperial Home For Stray Moofmilkers, Mr… erm- by Dyzan! It’s YOU… isn’t it?! How did you end up all the way out here, Commander?!”

“Same as th resta’ yas… I got caught…”

Your hero found himself in a larger, but equally grotty cell. Apart from Graf, it was occupied by two other, very different, humanoid aliens: a scowling, purple-skinned being looming a full head taller than everybody else, and a fidgeting, green-skinned bounder. Brad became aware that the latter stared at him rather too impudently. 

“‘Ey, Earthman!” smirked Thurston Satnavbenda, that mischievous mercenary from  Szoldos. “Come ‘ere! I’m gonna redecorate this cell with yer-” 

“Oh yeah?! See this, Fudgeface?!” Brad gleered, waving a clenched fist between them. “ONE swipe from this an’ I’ll break EVERY bone in it! So jus’ BACK ORF-!”

“Now, NOW! That’s enough hoity-toity!” Graf interjected. “Stow that attitude, Thurs! Don’t you know who you’re talking down to?! This is the Cakecharmer himself: Brad-“

Fartlighter?! What, legendary Battleforce Commander? Leader of the notorious Brad Company… all the way out here?!”

“Yayep! I am that person; I am him, I am he…”

H-Hero of Revlon…?!” Thurston gawped, dropping to his knees in shock. “D-D-Defender of Zamora…?!” 

“In full effect, fella,” Brad replied nonchalantly, reaching down to pull the shocked admirer back to his feet. “Git OOP, ya wazzock. I’m not the Pope…” 

The Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger turned to the tallest inmate: “An’ you! I bet yer in ‘ere fer makin’ dodgy pies-“

“Rengeteg van hátra!” the alien grumbled.

“Oho, well, we both know that, but-”

“Egyet fizet kettőt kap!”

“That much, huh…? Who the blazes is this fella…?!”

“Oh, don’t mind him, that’s just Tummhenkkz – he’s one of those Kadaars from Kajta-Flajka-“

Oh, one a’ those, is ‘e? ‘Oowould ya Adam-an’-Eve itdoesn’t speak a frickin’ word a’ English – tha’s gonna be a real bummer once we break aht-“

“Break… out?!” Graf laughed incredulously. “Oh no-ho-ho! You don’t understand, Commander. Absolutely NOBODY has broken out of here in all the DECADES this lousy institution has been in op-“

“Well, whoopee-doo, lucky fer you, cootchie-coo – I’m a COMPLETE nobody so this should be a doddle…” 

“Hogy érted, nem viselsz nadrágot?!”

“Whoa, took the words right outta me mahf, fella…” 

“He’s right! We’re going to need to distract the guards! But how…?!” Graf shrieked.

Brad let off one of his trademark snarky grins: “Easy peasy, fellas – I got jus’ th bunny…”

Carla: “But Captain! They need your help!”

Captain Kremmen: “Well, they can’t have her! Besides, she only comes twice a week…” 

“Okey-dokey, kiddies, it’s like this…” the Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger scratched his straggly crumbcatcher in pensive mood.

BUT! At that very moment:

“RIGHT!” roared Tendril Soggisox, Captain of the Guards, as he loomed up outside the cell. “Which one of you bums is Fartlighter?!” 

“Well, obviously…” Brad drawled, approaching cautiously. “‘E’s the only one in this nick wiv migh’y fine cheekbones-“

“Oh, YOU, y’mean? Doesn’t matter – you all look a sorry sight to me. You will come with us – the Administrator wishes to interrogate you-”

“Huh, do ya mind?! We’re still in the middle a’ ‘atchin’ our escape plan, ya see…”

“…Ha! Cute. NOBODY is going to escape-!”

“Ooh! Fancy me chances then, do ya…? Cool!” Brad winked.

“Uff, that’s ENOUGH a’ this banter. We will stall no further- Guards! If you please…”  

One more tedious frogmarch to another decrepit part of the complex later…

++BRING IN THE EARTHLING!++ 

– hollered Denny Dethlok, a lofty, nasty-looking cyborg – half his face encased in galamantium steel, his eobham-chrome hips creaking ominously as he marched into the interrogation room. Guards burst in, dragging Brad into the seediest dentist’s chair in the galaxy. 

++PREPARE TO BE CATALOGUED, ENEMY OF THE EMPIRE! ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS TO BEST OF YOUR ABILITY!++

“Ooh, goody gumdrops, quiz-time! Groovy. Fire away, fella.”

FULL NAME?!++

“Brad Burri’o Fartligh’er.”

++AGE?”

“32.6 years-BWHAHAHA!”

++SEX?!++

“‘Ere, steady on, Cassie Nova! We only jus’ met! Ain’tcha gonna woo me first wiv flahs an’ choccies?!” 

++ARE YOU PREGNANT?++

“NOT YET! Slow DAHN, willya?!” The Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger lifted his jacket in disgust: ‘Ave a butcher’s at me abs, ya dozy stainless steel nerk. Do I LOOK like I got a bun in the oven?! Fer goodness sake, flamin’ Nora…”

++BIRTH ORDER?++

“‘Eadfirst, wunnit? Whaddya think?! What kind of cockamamie questions are th-”  

++ANY DEFECTIVE ORGANS?++

“You betcha – me Roland keeps playin’ bum notes…”

++ARE YOU DISABLED?++

“Jeez, I’ll disable YOU in a minute, fella! Right, I’ve jus’ abaht ‘ad ENOOF a’ this – I’m outta ‘ere…”

Thoroughly dischuffed, Brad shot to his feet and lunged back to the door: “Bein’ stook in me cell wiv that gaggle a’ goofballs is preferable ta this loada’ cobblers…”

But the guards shot back in, fully-charged stun-batons waving manically in front of his ridiculously good-looking features.

++HMM, SUBJECT: S.K. SYSTEM BEING – NON-COMPLIANT TO OFFICIAL PROCEDURES-++ 

“Huh, story a’ me life-“

++SILENCE, EARTHLING!++

“Uff, cyborgs…” 

++INTERROGATION TERMINATED. GUARDS! RETURN RECALCITRANT SUBJECT TO HIS CELL++

Denny stormed out of the room, his circuits overheating in frustration… 

“What’s wiv these barmy questions anyways…?” Brad huffed as the guards escorted him out sharpish. 

“Testin’ your suitability, rebel-scum!” Tendril muttered. After your execution tomorrow, your organs will be relayed to the Imperial Medical Division for clone-development-“

“WHOA, reverse thrust, fella! NOBODY gets ta fondle me organs except-“

GYAARRRGH!!” the Captain abruptly screamed, then collapsed unconscious to the ground.

As the second guard slammed ferociously into the wall, Brad peered over his shoulder to gawp at a colossal alien being in military fatigues. Its pointed ears twitched excitedly; a big, dopey grin spread across its oversized canine-like face. 

All of a sudden, it flung its mighty arms around your hapless hero. 

“Oh moy Commander!” it boomed ecstatically. “Thank the stars! Oi’ve found you…” 

“Stone the flamin’ Porgs!!” Brad hollered aghast. “BARBY?!” 

“Oi would folla Commander Fartloighter anywhere. Oi wouldn’t betray ‘im fer all the custard in the galaxy” – Barb Degoya. 

“GerrORF, ya big softie!” Brad grumbled, struggling to prise himself out of the Rontavahrian handyman’s pincer-like grip. “What the blazes are ya doin’ all the way aht ‘ere?!”

“Oi came all this way to rescue you, moy Commander-” 

“Didya?! Aww, bless yer ‘eart, Barby… but- but ‘ow didya get in?!”

The Rontavahrian cracked his knuckles; the Earthman gulped. 

“Yikes, I migthta’ known! Always a brute force ta be reckoned wiv, eh?! Good on ya – glad yer on ahr side! C’mon Barby, let’s go par’y-! ‘Ere – ‘ang abaht… I’m forgettin’ some’t…”

Brad raced back inside; Barb jogged apprehensively behind his Commander, clamouring for an explanation.

They arrived at Cell 21-87.

Graf bolted upright on his bunk, staring in consternation: Welcome… back, Commander? What, no guards…?!” 

“Nah! Mostly useless ayways. Chop-chop, Thurs! Tummy! We’re breakin’ AHT!”

“You- you come back… for us?!” Thurs spluttered in disbelief. “Bless you, Brad! Er- who’s your Rontavahrian friend?”

“Our best chance ta escape! Meet Barb Degoya, the best buddy ya could ‘ave in a tight spot! Stand thee back, fellas! ‘E’s gonna rip the door orf its ‘inges – mind yer toes…”

The show of gargantuan strength gobsmacked them all.

“Abbahagyja, a köldökem a tűz!”

“‘Ell yeah! Ya can say that again. It must be all that custard ‘e gobbles… Well, dahn’t jus’ gawp there, amigos – C’MON!”  

They raced straight out the main gates; the guards still lay out cold. Onto the harsh Swiftayla Wastes they emerged, shivering in the treacherous cold, and gasping in the thin air. 

“Over this next ridge, Commander!” Barb panted. “Oi got a ship waiting…”

“Excellente! Good lad! Er… oo’s ship, Barby-?”

“….“Borrowed” from Boba Boxanuggetz-“

“Boxanuggetz-?! That charmless nerk?! ‘E NEVAH let’s ANYBOD borr- uff… Blimey Charley, Barby…!! I’ve only jus’ broken aht a’ prison, an’ ya expect me ta fly orf in an ‘ot crate?! Bloomin’ marvellous this is – ‘ow’s me muvva gonna ‘andle all this?!”

“Soz, Commander, Oi-” 

“‘Ey, Brad’s Rontavahrian sidekick!” Thurston suddenly chirped. “Didya bring friends…?” 

Both Brad and Barb spun round in confusion. 

To their horror, on the opposite ridge, stood Brad Company’s rivals: the notorious Oprah’s ‘Ombres – the meanest and most merciless combo this side of Scarif, led by their moronic mauler-in-chief: Captain Korsten Kronsteen.

As if losing an eye and a leg during this war wasn’t bad enough, the Cap looked close to losing his patience…

“Well, well, blinkin’ ‘ell! WHOA no!” he growled, training a particularly vicious pulse rifle at… guess whose cheekbones…? “This dipwit ain’t NO CHUM a’ ours! What the blazes are YOU doing all the way out here?!”

“Ah jeez…” Brad cried. “If it ain’t one nerk it’s anuvva…” 

Princess Leia Organa: “Looks like you’ve managed to cut off our only escape route.” 

Han Solo: “Maybe you’d like it back in your cell, your highness.” 

“Goldarn it!” Captain Kronsteen snapped impudently. “That’s all we needanother nut ta fall outta the stoopid tree… Well, what kinda Mickey-Maus-mission are ya on now, BattleFARCE Commander Jackass?!” 

Well, Captain Crotchstain, it’s kinda like this…”

“Hush up! I don’t wanna know. It’s alright fer you dashin’ ‘ero-types – arsin’ about ‘ere, a bit a’ sabotage there – then ponse back ta base fer cake an’ medals. Us grunts…! Goldarn it – us grunts are the ones doin’ ALL th real ‘ard work of trying ta destroy this rotten Empire-!”

“OI, Kronst!” Barb bellowed. “You can’t talk down to the Commander loike that!”

“Oh, is that so… Fido? An’ YOU can’t talk back ta ME like that – hey, Jackass! Ever thoughta’ keepin’ yer dozy doggy on a doggone LEASH?!”

Barb thrust forward, snarling through his fangs, but Brad held him back: “An’ ya don’ wanna talk ta this big fella like THAT! You should see what ‘e did ta some a’ Sandler’s guards… blimey! It’s jus’ like ya: NOT a pret’y sight!”

“Seein’ as the ‘Ombres an’ I came all this way, Brad – an’, heh, this sector is never monitored anyway – we oughtta deal with you… here and now, once an’ fer all…” Kronsteen drawled. “But we’re here on behalf uv… a certain Boba Boxanuggetz – seems like yer DARN DAWG ‘ot-tailed it in ‘is prized cruiser: the Mapother IV. 

“Let me explain!” Barb protested to the enraged Captain. “Oi pleaded with Mr. Boxabut he steadfastly refused to co-operate…”

“Yo, that sounds like the Boba I know an’ not love…” Brad blurted.

Oi assured him that Oi WILL return his ship, once Brad is safely returned… It was on the spur of the moment…” 

“Ya dig spur of the moment, boy?!” Kronsteen leered. “I’ll give ya spur of the moment…

And with that, he swung his pulse rifle menacingly at the startled RontavahrianA deafening shot rang out. Then another! And another?! 

A bunch of Sandlers’ guards had regrouped and were streaming out of the main gates, blasters blazing; th ‘Ombres returned fire.

In the confusion, the good guys scarpered off the battlefield.

“Hey, you guys!” cried Graf. “If we stick close to the hero from Earth, we CAN’T get hit!” 

Kronsteen hollered some furious curse after them, but fortunately his expletives were drowned out by the laser barrage.

Huffing and wheezing, the desperate band reached the Mapother IV. 

“I would like to extend my gratitude to Commander Fartlighter and Barb Degoya for breaking us out of that hellish place…” announced a peculiar voice.

“Eh?!” Brad frowned. “Who in blazes said that…?”

The Kadaar gingerly raised his hand.

“So ya DO speak English…! Tha’s a neat twist. But why didn’tcha-“

“I figured: they can’t interrogate me if I pretend that I can’t… After all, what are the chances of finding a Kadaari interpreter-“

“All the way out here…” the others interrupted in unison.

As Barb took the helm and engaged the Mapother’s engines, the free fellas settled back to enjoy the flight to somewhere-infinitely-more-groovy. 

“Okey-dokey then – before we take orf, Tummy, there’s some’t I’d like ta wish ya…” 

Brad stood upright and – giving a flawless Kadaar salute – announced: Három herékem van…”

“Impressive. Most impressive… Apart from not conjugating the verb properly that’s… not bad for a… human. I will return the sentiment: The “very besta’ luck” to you TOO, Commander… …”

 

That’s right! That’s right! We bad! Uh-huh, that’s right, we don’t want no shit either!” – Harry Monroe.

“The guards have managed to quell the… trouble outside the gates, sir,” Woddafuj babbled, trying to appease the irate Warden. 

Mal Praktizz and his goons assembled outside Brad’s cell.

“Very well, dipwit! You may have bamboozled my guards, but you’re NOT gonna fool Warden Mal Praktizz!”

“Oh… he already has, sir…” Woddafuj moaned, surveying the cell in dismay.

“What are you talking about?! Stand aside! Let me see-” he blurted, shoving his right-hand man off to the left, and froze in astonishment at the EMPTY cell.

“OH MY SWEET VIN DIESEL…” he wailed, realising, full well, that: “That Earthling really gets on my-“

“My goodness… That’s got to be the best Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger I’ve e’er seen…” Woddafuj shook his head in utter astonishment.

“So it would seem…” Mal shook his head in utter dejection. “GAH! Zan Doka will have MY HEAD for this… AOW FUDGE! SOUND THE ALARM!!” 

 BRAD FARTLIGHTER WILL ESCAPE RETURN!

 

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Unbelievable Bronze Age Bargains! But At What Cost?

SO Many Comics Purchased With So Few Pennies!

Carol Danvers: “You startled me. I didn’t hear you approach.” 

Wolverine: “No one ever does.”

For too long, True Believers, this site has been bereft of a Bronze Age Bonanza. 

Well, long for such a Post no more! Thought it would be a swell idea to get one rattled out this weekend.

But it still took this long to make it work!

New additions continue to enrich the Bradscribe Comicbook Collection each month, but keeping up with writing about them is a completely different matter – don’t know why these Posts should prove so strenuous to write up…

The Post that would have appeared here has been withdrawn to my Dashboard for the umpteenth time, while numerous ishs for this Post came and went before settling on the following frantic finalists. 

As these examples set out to prove, cheap doesn’t have to mean nasty…

 

Corsair: “Callous as it sounds, Cyclops, all of that is negligible, even expendable. You worry about a few score lives. I’m trying to save a world. This world.” 

Storm: “You are correct, Corsair. It is callous. And cruel… and inhuman. 

Corsair: “Then, I guess, so am I.” 

Let’s start at the zenith of my most startling recent acquisitions:

The Uncanny X-Men is arguably the most expensive series to bedeck the boxes of back ish basements. However, through sheer good fortune – the likes of which only ever happens to other people – one of these fine editions stumbled into my possession with a price SO unbelievable, you’d think some cheeky fella had tagged it on as a prank. 

#154 Reunion (February 1982) begins with Cyclops and Storm, innocently enough, playing handball with their powers. Hurtling Earthwards, a Shi’ar space vessel crashes into the pond on Prof Xavier’s estate! Both X-Men dive in and rescue Corsair – leader of the Starjammers – from the wreckage.

Hot on Commander Christopher Summers’ heels is a tempest of arachnid-like Sidrian hunters. Storm “generates an incredible, irresistible vortex” to banish them, but succeeds only in trashing Xavier’s Mansion! Unlike Brad, she paid a hefty price! 😉

Although this terrific trio escape in one of the Blackbird jets, the Sidri converge into a ship, “as big as a skyscraper!” according to Air Traffic Control and chases them across Manhattan’s East River!

Chris Claremont and Dave Cockrum at the top of their game.

‘OW MUCH?!: 

FIFTY PENCE?!

Yeah-heh-hes!! 

How can ANY ish of a series that is regularly marked between £10-30(!) pass into my eager mitts for so few pennies?!  

The wraparound cover had fallen off this copy’s staples, but the Claremont/Cockrum goodness remains unblemished…

 

Thor: “Tell me, monster – art thou the madman or the madman‘s slave? And more – how didst thou appear so suddenly… like a ghost from out of the air?”

Ego: “Know this, godling, I am no ghost, but Ego personified! My flesh is the flesh of this planet – my body, the stone at your feet! This form exists because I created it – so that when I crush you, I may see your pathetic face!”

Ego The Living Planet! Has gone mad?!

Why else would Thor(!) join forces with the despicable Galactus(!) to try and stop him?! With the awesomeness for this classic mind-boggling saga ascending beyond measure, so, alas, the value had to rise in accordance.

When first reading this storyline last year – reprinted as Essential Thor Volume 7 – just the thought of ever owning a single instalment – in all its original colourific glory – seemed beyond even my grandest schemes. 

And yet…! By the Flames of Ragnarok!!

In the right store at the right time: “he just stood there, staring at the cover for what seewed an eternity – at its price for a whole lot longer…” 

The Mighty Thor #227 In Search Of… Ego! (September 1974) begins with Odin himself(!) at a loss to explain how his beloved son and heir could be colluding with “the most dangerous entity in all space and time?!” It is through the Allfather’s curiosity that we pick up the threads to the story so far – brilliant narrative device by Gerry Conway. Side by side with Hercules and Firelord, this most unlikely fantastic four proceed to destroy the Mind of Ego!

From the enthralling splash page to the explosive cliffhanger, this is Big John Buscema at his pulse-pounding best. 

This ish has prized possession written all over it (probably why the price was so ridiculously low, ho, ho!) 

“I’m certain you now fully comprehend the danger, Asgardian. If such energy were to be applied against the stars of this galaxy… we would all perish” – Galactus.

‘OW MUCH?!: 

Considering how some unscrupulous ‘erbs have tried to flog this very ish online for three-figure sums, yours truly managed to pick this up for only TWO POUNDS(!)

Madder than the Living Planet itself, baby…

 

“Never in my wildest imaginings could I have filled a world with so strange a mixture of folk as I’d found on the Mars of the long-dead past – but this wasn’t my imagination… and most of those “folk” would dearly love to see me dead” – Gullivar Jones.  

Creatures On The Loose is an important series in my collection for Man-Wolf features as the star attraction of its final seven ishs. 

Earlier editions are intriguing for giving a home to Gullivar Jones. 

Gullivar who…?

Some SF aficionados argue that Edgar Rice Burroughs – to put it politely – “borrowed” this character in order to produce his more popular John Carter of Mars. Nevertheless, Marvel adapted both of these Red Planet adventurers; while John Carter back ishs are easy to find, Gullivar like the original novel – is extremely rare. But new stock in one of my regular comic book emporiums (just in time for the January Half-Price Sale!) included a few Creatures back ishs featuring this character.

#19 The Long Road To Nowhere (Septemher 1972) offers artwork by Gil Kane – one of my favs! – Jim Mooney and Wayne Boring, but the writing fails to impress (finding decent dialogue to quote turned out to be an unexpected task). Also, this story is too short (it only fills half this ish); the rest of the pages are taken up by two short fillers – while the first includes art by Jack Kirby(!) it is a substandard alien-invasion-of-Earth story.

After an impressive splash page (see below!) the quality of this ish rapidly plummets with each turn of the page…

‘OW MUCH?!: 

£2.50 – but would further ishs in this series be worth my time and money…?

 

“At once, should one of those guardsmen become unnerved… a stray bullet could plunge all eternity into irreparable chaos! And by the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth that must not come to pass!” – Doctor Strange.

The Defenders – that so-called non-team featuring the Hulk, Doctor Strange and Valkyrie – has been a rather hit-or-miss series. It is an absolute delight, though, to state that  #26 Savage Time! (August 1975) is a classic. Not only does it featurespecial-guest-star appearance by the (original line-up of the) Guardians of the Galaxy(!) but – thanks to an enticing script by Steve Gerber – it incorporates a staggering 1000-year history of the future, including a single-panel appearance by Killraven.

You’ll be happy to learn that the rebellion against the Techno-Barons comes to a triumphant end with the execution of the tyrant Kwaal in 2525. Well, whoopee-doo! Any excuse to order more cake 😉

All this action, adventure – and future-history – is brought to furious fruition by Our Pal Sal Buscema. 

“What you’re seeing is a genuine U.F.O., a ship presumably of extraterrestrial origin… 

“It seems the pilot of this spacecraft has survived the ship’s plummet from space and is concealing himself inside.But perhaps the most puzzling aspect of the ship is its insignia. For inscribed in English on the hull are the words: “Captain America”…

Hard to believe that not all Defenders ishs are up to this standard… or down to this price!

‘OW MUCH?!: 

FIFTY PENCE!

(The bottom half is badly crumpled, but after sitting beneath a pile of other distinguished members of the Bradscribe Collection, it no longer makes crinkling noises when you turn the pages!)

 

Sir Lyan: “Board, man of metal – and do not be brave if you value your life! My blaster is set to kill!” 

Iron Man: “You have nothing to fear from me – I’m no friend of the colonizers! (Besides, I think I’ve figured out a way to recharge my deplted power!)”

What a genuine – and totally unexpected! – pleasure to welcome Iron Man to the Bradscribe Collection! Hey, if the plot goes cosmic, then any title can make it in there!

Iron Man #111 The Man, the Metal, and the Mayhem! (June 1978) continues th unputdownable cosmic adventures of the Knights of Wundagore – those fabulous man-beasts created by the High Evolutionary – and their ongoing resistance against those diminutive would-be world-conquerors: the Rigellians. 

Having been beamed aboard a Rigellian scavenger ship “whose size beggars our poor mortal powers of description” belonging to Fleet Commander Arcturus and his crummy crew of unruly observer-munchkins, the Armoured Avenger finds himself trapped inside an inter-galactic war. Suspecting he is a Rigellian robot, tke Wundagorians shoot ol’ Shellhead down to Wundagore II. There, he gains the trust of the walking, talking beasts. 

For me, personally, this is a great ish as Tony is joined by Jack of Hearts, one of my very first favourite comic book characters and, arguably, the owner of the most elaborate costume in comic book history. Much like Spider-Man in last Summer’s Homecoming movie, Stark acts as mentor to the young Jack Hart throughout ishs: 103-113.

And, as both sides also make significant cameos in The Mighty Thor as well, this bunny can’t wait to catch all these other ishs – at an agreeable price… of course! 

Fleet Commander Arcturus: “A lovely planet! Alive with everything one could ask for! A perfect planet for settling at least some of our fleet!”

Observer YJ18: “Fleet Commander, no! What of the oath sworn to the Asgardian: Thor…?!”

‘OW MUCH?!: 

ABSOLUTELY FREE!

WHAT?!?!

Yes, priced at £3 – same as all the other Iron back ishs, my friendly neighbourhood awemonger deducted it from my bill in recognition of frequenting his establishment after all these months. 

Also: ’twas the night before Christmas! 😉

Cheers!

Black Panther: The Bradscribe Review

Hero. Legend. King. (But No Spoilers)

“Big movie, big world… I had great confidence in this story that [Ryan Coogler] was trying to tell about Black Panther, and this universe… that he would make something notable and beautiful” – Angela Bassett.  

“So, you like cats?” 

Oh, YES! We love ’em! Especially the big, black and bossin’ kind like the Panther on glorious show here!

The story picks up straight after the events of Captain America: Civil WarIn the wake of King T’Chaka’s death, T’Challa returns to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation of Wakanda to tackle his own with-great-power-comes-great-responsibility-thing, fending off challenges to his sovereignty – cue some stunning waterfall fight sequences.

This character is rapidly becoming one of my favourite comic book characters, and this movie could not have arrived at a better time. Ryan ‘Creed’ Coogler has created an amazing African adventure.

As the 18th(!) MCU movie masterwork, in addition to the usually reliable fantastic fare of gobsmacking action, furious car chases, overwhelming drama, Black Panther instantly carves out a unique and distinctive niche within the MCU. In addition to its predominantly black cast, there are more strong female characters than any other recent blockbuster; moreover, it succeeds – thanks to first female Oscar-nominated cinematographer Rachel Morrison – in looking and feeling as magical and mysterious as the continent on which it is set for most of the duration.

Tell you the truth: while initially setting out this Review, the star-rating was loaded before any of this text, so certain that this cat would not – and could not – disappoint!

Looking around and seeing a majority of black cast is something I haven’t had too many opportunities of being a part of. That’s another level of like, “Wow, this is crazy, man” – Michael B. Jordan. 

Writers Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole have crafted an enjoyable script, imbued with plenty of groovy lines to keep this quote-crazy critic jolly for ages. 

The production design – by Hannah Beachler – is suitably endearing; had to look up the genius responsible for costume design – Ruth Carver has created some stunning, quintessentially African threads here.

And wow – there are more scintillating performances here than you can shake an assegai at! We could be here all night discussing individual roles, so let’s talk ahout a select few.

Reigning supreme is Chadwick Boseman, allowed to reprise – and expand – his cool and dignified turn in Civil War to fantastic effect here. Danai Gurira is simply breath-taking – especially in one of the best MCU action scenes (set, unexpectedly in South Korea?!) we will ever see – as General Okoye, Chief Of Security. Can’t forget Lupita Nyong’o as superspy Nakia – even her ear-ornaments were hypnotising! 😉

After being needlessly wasted in The Last Jedi, it is SO GOOD to watch Andy Serkis being deliciously duplicitous and distasteful as token-white one-armed-nogoodnik Ulysses Klaue. His Afrikaans accent is just as entertaining as Martin Freeman’s hilarious American accent!

What’s that?! “Museum Of Great Britain?” Ha ha! Only in the Marvel Universe! 🙂

Michael B. Jordan creates an intriguing – and yet startlingly relatable -antagonist; not so much a villain, but a frustrated soul who fights for what he believes is rightfully his. 

Got to give a special shout-out to Letitia Wright as Shuri – superb and funny as the scene-stealing cheeky younger sister: 

“…It sounded too good to be true. I didn’t know a lot about Black Panther – it felt exciting and fascinating and amazing. Being a Zimbabwean American, my interest [is] in bridging the gap between two places. To actually become part of something that does that is unprecedented…” – Danai Gurira. 

Yes! Wakanda looks every bit as enchanting and exhilarating as hoped – for once, CGI has been put to such stupendous effect. 

It’s baffling when you consider that Warner/DC are incapable of producing a decent comic book movie to save their skins, and yet Marvel Studios continue to excel – almost flawlessly – with each of these quality productions!

My only niggle?

(Apart from that CG-armoured-rhino?): two important elements, vital to the MCU, failed to materialise as expected (if mentioned here, they would probably spoil your expectations/enjoyment too!) Watch out – as always – for that inevitable Stan Lee cameo! (Incredibly, he, and Jack Kirby created Black Panther 52 years ago!). And – oh yes – you know the drill: STAY for both post-credit scenes. (Only a lucky quarter of what had been a packed popcorn parlour remembered to remain and enjoy the second, charming scene!)

Grab as many return tickets to Wakanda as you can get your paws on, True Believers – trust me, this is one Afro-futuristic wonderland you’ll want to keep revisiting time and time again!

Happy, and confident, to report that my first trip to the cinema this year is looking also like a sure-fire contender for Best Movie of the Year. 

No, have not forgotten about Thanos  undoubtedly Avengers: Infinity War is set to blow us all away, but on a much grander scale!

2018 is shaping up to be such an awesome year! 

And, in answer to your question, Danai Gurira should play me in the film of my life. Have no doubt that Ryan Coogler could make someone reading comics and eating cake for three hours into a mesmerising masterpiece as well!

Wakanda Forever!

 

BRADCSRIBE VERDICT

“He really is a groovy cat,
And what a gentleman, a scholar, what an acrobat!” 😉

 

Panther Tracks: The Rough Guide To Wakanda

This Is NO Rinky-Dink Panther…

“Strange! Though we’ve never met, I have a feeling about you. Why do you search my face so intently?” – T’Challa.  

“The tracks are gouged deep into the snow as if seeking permanence against an umpermanent environment. The Panther moves as the great cat, stalking impulsively…”

“Jungle Action was a collection of jungle genre comics from the 1950s, mostly detailing white men saving Africans or being threatened by them,” recalled writer Don McGregor. “I voiced a lament that I thought it was a shame that in 1973 Marvel was printing these stories, and couldn’t we have a black African hero…” 

He remembered that back in 1966, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had introduced an African superhero called the “Black Panther” – none other than King T’Challa of the secretive state of Wakanda – in Fantastic Four #52 (July 1966) so planned to make the title the Panther’s own. 

Hard to believe now, but giving a black character his own ongoing series was deemed to be such a risky move back in 1973. Although Jungle Action was cancelled after only 26 ishs, with McGregor‘s amazing writing – plus art by Billy Grahamit has become a cult classic. 

Anyway, ever since this character bewitched me in an extraordinary ish of Fantastic Four – #241, Render Unto Caesar! April 1982; reviewed here: – at the very beginning of my quest for Bronze Age awesomeness eighteen months ago, knowledge of this king and his country has been duly sought.

The most crucial point to bear in mind is that in the Marvel Universe, as Earth‘s solitary source of vibranium – the most precious, but least understood, mineral of all – Wakanda has become the most scientifically and technologically advanced country in the world.

Lee and Kirby may have brought the Black Panther to life, but McGregor can be credited with not only developing T’Challa’s character but creating the cultural and geopolitical entity that is the kingdom of Wakanda. 

And what a truly marvellous country it is too!

 

Wenzori: “Watch out, Jakak! It‘s that panther-devil ! Get out of my way and I’ll sear him in half!”

Jakak: “But how can it be him, Wenzori? We were with Killmonger when we left him for dead… left him for the wolves of the mist to devour!!”

“The ruby lasers infrared scope changes the night into weird, surrealistic shapes. The sleek, pantherish figure becomes an abstract being against a spectral icescape. It is easier to kill an abstraction than a human being!”

Jungle Action Featuring: The Black Panther is a phenomenal classic title.

The story arc: Panther Rage – unravelling from #s 4-26 (1973-76) is regarded by comic historians as the very first graphic novel, and one of the masterworks in an age brimming with experimental and groundbreaking comics.

Recently – on my last few expeditions into the capital – this series his eluded even my superior tracking skills. Did manage to find a collection of back ishs in excellent condition, but they were going for extortionately-high prices…

However, only last month, a single copy of Jungle Action ish #13 (January 1975) emerged @ my local awemonger’s emporium. The God Killer is an intriguing story; much of the action takes place on an icy tundra – can this really be the heart of Africa?!

Page 14 is just sensational; here is Billy Graham’s original pre-colour draft:

“It was almost like a mythical place to us – to a lot of us, as African-Americans. And that was a very big deal for me to be able to tell this story” – Ryan Coogler.

“There are two major religions in Wakanda. T’Challa wears th sacred attire of the Panther religion. It is torn and crusted with blood and sweat, but it is no less sacred a garment. 

“The regal, savage beings that congregate below him are the foundation of  Wakanda’s second religion. They have the stature of gods… the awe-inspiring White Gorillas!”

Undoubtedly, Wakanda is a deeply spiritual place.

In ancient times, the panther goddess Bast bestowed the power of vibranium to the very first Black Panther, granting himand all his descendants – super-strength and enhanced agility.

Fast forward to 2016, and what appeared to be a baffling appointment: National Book Award winner: Te-Nihisi Coates to write the current manifestation of Black Panther.

No worries, it has become a critically-acclaimed, unputdownable success – highly recommended. Not to be left out, your correspondent was glad to pick up #17 (October 2017) and yes, that is Storm of the X-Men sharing the cover. They were married, (until the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover forced T’Challa – as High Priest of Wakanda – to annul that union.)

Rather helpfully, Te-Nihisi included a map of Wakanda. Landlocked, and seemingly impenetrable from the outside world by the mountainous Jabari-Lands to the northwest and the sprawling Lake Nyanza to the east, any outsider would, nevertheless, recognise its big and bustling cities (known in the Wakandan tongue as ‘Birnins’) sprawling into the jungle and touching the sky with super-sleek skyscrapers.

All seven Birnins are named after the greatest Panthers in antiquity, and each actually resembles a fortress, rather than an urban area. The Panther Throne is set in Birnin Zana (th Golden City), while the spiritual centre of the country lies to the south of Birnin Bashenga. 

Mena Ngai (The Great Mound) is where the vibranium lies – hidden in plain sight…

“Move! Or you will be moved!” – Ayo.

“The sun never penetrates Serpent Valley! It is banished from the lush, primeval interior by the dense cloud forest that has been the only “sky” this land has ever had…

“Erik Killmonger maintains his brisk, tireless pace. The others sweat profusely, but Killmonger’s brow remains dry and he seems not to notice the sweltering vapour…”

Before signing on to make the 18th MCU movie, writer/director Ryan Coogler informed Head Honcho Kevin Feige that he would have to travel to Africa to be able to effectively create an amazing African adventure. 

Although Wakanda is a fictional country, it was deemed imperative that the essence of Africa – its sights, sounds, smells and tastes – be represented in all its stirring vitality on film. Ryan spent several weeks (alone) in various locations in South Africa.

Was he able to capture th essence of Africa on film? 

“We’re trying to explore that through every means of communication. Through the music. Through the language. Through clothing. Through production design. Through the structures of the building and the colour of walls. And through the ugly stuff too. Through conflict. Through weapons.

“It’s all those things. We tried to look at both sides, and as you would with any human being or human society. 

“You know what I’m saying?”

Judging from the ultracool clips we’ve glimpsed so far, the movie looks every bit as cool and colourful, exciting and emotional as any of the MCU’s finest entries. Besides, how can a movie set in a highly-advanced Afrio-futuristic wonderland where the Monarch of the Panther Throne is protected by a crack troop of female bodyguards: the Dora Milaje (see above!) NOT be awesome?! 

“He has not spoken for 24 hours, and the words come from blistered lips, deeply split by the glacial cold. Dried blood is on his tongue, and speaking has ripped the healing wound open. Fresh blood spills into his mouth. 

“He wonders if they have understood one word of his clever repartee…”

Blood and death? Is this all I am to hear for the rest of my days? Could you not find pleasure in the act of love… or have you become so perverted that you find excitement and entertainment only in brutality?” – The Black Panther.

 

“Mad As The Snow”: Brad’s Winter Wonderland

Out Of The Bewilderness – In From The Cold

Phil Connors: “Come on, all the long distance lines are down? What about the satellite? Is it snowing in space? Don’t you have some kind of a line that you keep open for emergencies or for celebrities? I’m both. I’m a celebrity in an emergency.”

“Flights cancelled as snow expected to hit most of UK in coming days.”

So, you think Brad has been away? 

Haven’t had the opportunity to go anywhere, but now comes confirmation from the Beebitsy Nooz that he won’t be able to get out of his own gaff anyways – gah! 

Here he is, stuck indoors, wrapped in his big, fluffy dressing gown, huddled over his laptop, trying to bang out something legible.

With the Winter Olympics under way on the other side of our crazy planet, now is the time to chill out (hyuk hyuk!) in style!

Not really…

As long as one can remember, snow, ice and all-things-wintry have filled me with dread.

To counteract this, my SF attention has always naturally gravitated towards the more humid climes of Arrakis, Tatooine or anywhere else just as cosy. But with temperatures plummeting, let’s sift through my wintry reads – see what can take my mind off the despicably low temperature… 

This cool classic – from criminally underrated ’90s band Kitchens of Distinction – helps me to focus:

“Oh, really, you’re cold?” Han Solo.    

The icy wind is positively galeforce owtside tonight, seething and whistling up and down the chimney beside me as these words are typed.

Thc SF genre is (ahem) snowed under with numerous icy reads. The following titles are the frosty tomes lined up from the darkest recesses of the Bradcave to accompany my copious mugs of hot chocolate over the next few nights:

Always been enchanted by the cover (Ian Miller at his striking best!) of The Anvil of Ice (the first volume in The Winter of the World trilogy by Michael Scott Rohan. The story of a struggling civilization threatened by a deadly ice age and a young boy who discovers a power that could determine the fate of the world has taken AGES to find. (Goodness knows how long it will take to track down the other two volumes!)

ICE by Anna Kavan is a fifty year old masterpiece that, unbelievably, hardly anybody knows about. Set in yet another apocalyptic wasteland – except this one is frozen – “a nameless narrator searches for a silver-haired girl seeking to free her from captivity before the ice closes in.” 

Covering now-topical themes such as climate change, totalitarianism and feminism, it may “remain as resonant as it ever was,” but its low profile prolonged its obscurity. This year, however, a 50th Anniversary Edition has been published, and my Library reservation should be due any day now.  

Mother of Winter is an acclaimed instalment in Barbara Hambly’s Darwath series. As the world grows increasingly colder, and a strange fungus that causes madness spreads, Ingold the wizard and Gil the swordswoman travel to the mountain known as the Mother of Winter to confront the mages who may be responsible.

Inevitably, any winter-themed round-up would not be complete without A Song of Ice And Fire. My copy of Book One: A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin has been started two or three times – perhaps this month will be freezing enough to influence its completion…? 

Yagya will always be my most dependable producer for top ambient dub-techno – Aðalsteinn Guðmundsson can do no wrong. 

With his Rhythm of Snow album, it really was difficult to decide which Snowflake to select, so plumped instead for this track – it comes with a still image more wintry than anything accompanying that aforementioned work!:

“It wants to freeze now. It knows it’s got no way out of here. It just wants to go to sleep in the cold until the rescue team finds it” – RJ MacReady.

The closest literary equivalent to John Carpenter’s The Thing, (in my possession) happens to be H P Lovecraft’s cosmic horror classic: At The Mountains of Madness. In the wastes of Antarctica, explorers discover a mountain range higher than the Himalayas which border a city built by the Elder Things – and they’re not alone…

The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge tells how the planet of Tiamat, has only two seasons: a long Summer followed by a long Winter. This change of seasons marks a change in regime, but the Winter Queen plots to keep her power by creating clones of herself, but one of them has plans of her own… 

And in the month when we lost one of the grandmasters of the genre: Ursula K. Le Guin, we cannot forget possibly her most famous novel: The Left Hand of Darkness. This masterwork is set on the planet Gethen (Winter), in the midst of an aeons-long Ice Age and covered in glaciers. Its inhabitants can choose – and change – their gender. A lone human emissary comes to facilitate their inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization, but “he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.”

And, although it is not SF-related, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is suitably snowbound enough to guarantee a ritual browse-thro during this season every year. Not only a narrative of a murder investigation (not normally my mug of hot choccie!) it remains an astonishing – and always-inspirational chronicle – of the Middle Ages. 

Will leave you now with one of the most awesome ambient techno tracks.

The fantastic Substrata album (1997) by Biosphere evokes such a chilly Arctic feel that when it came to compiling this Post, this happened to be heading the provisional Tracklist. Those incredible drones you can hear are Nordic fjordhorns. 

It’s best to wrap up warm with a steaming mug of hot choccie.

And a good book. Or three. 

Cheers!

Hot chocolate is like a hug from the inside”  

 

🙂