“He’s A Friend From Work!”: The Joys Of Marvel’s Shared Universe

Asgardians Of The Galaxy!

Thor: “We’re the same, you and I. We’re just a couple of hotheaded fools.”

Hulk: “Yes, same. Hulk like fire, Thor like water.”

Thor: “We’re both like fire.”

Hulk: “Hulk like raging fire. Thor like smouldering fire.”

So much has happened since Brad last saw you!

Firstly, last week proved exceedingly exhausting – both physically and mentally. Writing has been so-so: reasonably good stuff, but not to my “usual” mind-blowing standards – been writing my wrongs, so to speak – ha! 

Actually, my creative output in the meantime has concentrated on my artwork – some extraordinary prelims and portraits produced; need to find the most effective means to publish them online! 

The most obvious reason keeping me away from you, my lovelies, involves Marvel comic books. Had two more successful shopping trips – rare interludes of bliss amidst the draining monotony of 21st century “life.” 

And typical! Stay offline for just one day last weekendreturn to technology to find a veritable stream of sensational stuff from San Diego Comic Con. By far the most amazing reveal came in the form of the second trailer for Thor: Ragnarok: 

Okay, so fart and furious fanboy here is a HUGE Thor fan – thus, naturally he believes this IS going to be one of the best Marvel Studios blockbusters ever. Looking at it calmly from a neutral perspective… BY THE BRISTLING BEARD OF ODIN!! ‘Tis STILL going to be a Winner!!

It will see the God of Thunder team-up with the Green Goliath. Incidentally, this is a pipping pairing that one could never have envisaged back in the day, nor has it emerged this past year during my valiant pursuit of Bronze Age comics. And yet this couple of hotheaded fools look like they could be a winning combination. Also, we are assured of a cameo from Bennybatch as Doctor Strange! Never has the old saying: “The more the merrier” been so apt! But this is in keeping with the spirit of sharing and co-operation that abounds in the original comics.

Embarking on this research to find out what history this Odd Couple had enjoyed together turned up some intriguing results well worth… sharing! 😉

This Post offers just a mere fraction of the degrees of collaboration to be discovered around the Marvel Comics Universe. 

Come and enjoy the ride, fellow Marvelites!

“Yes, Hulk was Avenger once… Didn’t like it…” – Hulk. 

In Defenders #10 (November 1973) The Avengers Vs. The Defenders Chapter 9: Breakthrough! The Incredible Hulk Vs. The Mighty Thor, both Hulk and Thor have arrived in Los Angeles, determined to find the Evil Eye. This signals the arrival of Dormammu: one of Dr. Strange’s demon foes.

Only the intervention of both afore-mentioned combined super-ensembles could break them apart!

Just before these details could be frantically jotted onto my shopping list, so it didn’t come as any surprise to learn that this ish is ultra-rare – going for ridiculous three-figure prices on e-bay.  

So, as you can see, once Hulk starts talking in the comics, he don’t ‘alf rabbit! Brad may look stoopid but even he is not daft enough to try and tell the big green fella to shut his cakehole…

 

We couldn’t finish this particular segment without a mighty THROOM!

Puny god…?

 

Spider-Man: “Iron Man!! I should have guessed! You’re Tony Stark’s bodyguard, aren’t you?” 

Iron Man: “That’s right, Spider-Man! What was all that ruckus I heard? What’s going on here??”

Earlier this month, in the surprisingly very entertaining Spider-Man: Homecoming, we were treated to the goofy Queens teen getting the mentor-treatment from Tony Stark/Iron Man.

Undeniably, Spidey is Marvel Comics’ most iconic figure, albeit one that admittedly never chewed up my pocket money. Deluged by sequels and reboots in recent times, it is now hard to imagine that the eternally youthful webslinger had to begin somewhere. And so it was, the very first ish of Spider-Man (March 1963), the young webhead received supporting turns from the well-established Fantastic Four. 

A great way to get acquainted with as many Marvel characters as poss – particularly upholding that Marvel spirit of collaboration –involves Spidey‘s second regular series: Marvel Team-Up (commencing in 1969), in which he was accompanied by a different Special Guest Star in each ish.

Marvel Team-Up #9 (May 1973) The Tomorrow War! features Spidey’s first and most memorable collaboration with the Armored Avenger. 

Never a dull moment at Avengers Mansion! When the awesome abode is enveloped in a mysterious energy barrier, both Iron Man and Spider-Man go to investigate. After unsuccessful attempts to breach the barrier, a portal appears and the two heroes travel into it. Finding themselves transported to the 23rd Century, the two battle all manner of futuristic weapons. With the aid of Zarrko, the Tomorrow Man, they have to fight off Kang the Conquerer: a regular Silver Age Avengers foe.

However, following intense analysis, your correspondent still cannot fathom why Spider-Man is hyphenated, but Iron Man isn’t…

Nick Fury: “Stark – what about that little item I asked ya ta whip up fer S.H.I.E.L.D.?”

Tony Stark: “It wasn’t easy, Colonel, but I think I’ve got it! Do you want me to have it sent to your weaponry section?” 

Nick Fury: “Naw – just put it under yer pillow’n maybe the good fairy’ll letcha make a wish over it. What in blue blazes do ya think I want, Mister? Git it over ta me on the double, hear?” 

Isn’t it marvellous 😉 how some of Marvel’s best ishs could emerge from the most unlikely sources?

Even when Brad was, oh, about that high, The Silver Surfer held zero appeal: no groovy costume. And: zooming through the cosmos on a surfboard? Even when you’re SIX,  that concept sounds/looks bloomin’ bonkers.  

However!

Put that concept to the indomitable creative duo of Stan Lee and John Buscema = the thrill-power intensifies!

In #17 (November 1973), willed by Mephisto to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D., the Surfer has to confront Nick Fury, but along the way there are enjoyable cameos from Tony Stark and the Fantastic Four. Having vowed never to harm humans, the Surfer’s reluctance to engage in combat convinces the Earthbound heroes that a higher force is at work; thus, a truce is established which thoroughly dischuffs Mephisto no end!

Again, this classic tale could only have reached my collection via much cheaper, more accessible means: a reprint in a Marvel UK Weekly (working on a full study of these obscure titles for a forthcoming Post!)

J. Jonah Jameson: “I was afraid of this – the story about an alien on the loose has created a panic! But I felt it was my journalistic duty to print it! It didn’t hurt sales any, either! No one can dampen my mood tonight! …Except him!” 

Spider-Man: “The ol’ Spider-senses are tinglng a bit… but nothing like a deadly creature from outer space!”

Daredevil: “My hypersenses cannot pinpoint it!”

Captain America: “Is there really an alien wreaking death and destruction throughout the city or are the media acting irresponsibly?” 

Edwin Jarvis: “Are you not going to join the hunt for the alleged alien, sir?”

Iron Man: “No, Jarvis, the sight of a man encased in armor might be mistaken for the “robot-alien.” I don’t want to add to the panic.”

A random rummage through my own Bronze Age comic collection soon presents an example where multifarious members of Marveldom united to see off an alien threat (in, you know, that hub of extraterrestrial entanglements: downtown Manhattan).

ROM #23 (October 1981), sees the Galadorian Spaceknight himself regarded as the threat(!) Having convinced two local enhanced individuals that the real menace exists in the malevolent, shapeshifting forms of the Dire Wraiths, (in Power Man and Iron Fist #73 – reviewed here) the terrific trio have to convince Reed Richards, the security system @ Baxter Building (the F4’s HQ) – not to mention the National Guard! – that this plandanium dude is actually an honourable ally. 

In a staggering feat of generosity and goodwill (the likes of which yours truly can only dream of during working hours), Richards lends the Spaceknight a captured Skrull spacecraft so he can return to his home planet: Galador. As he departs, he utters the same line that Brad would say unto you, dear Follower:

“You have all shown me a side to humanity I have seen too seldom in my time on Earth. I cannot find the words to express my gratitude.”

“Soundlessly, the Skrull saucer bearing Rom lifts off from the Baxter Building.

“Farewell, my friends.”

“Soon, it passes beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

“Farewell, Earth.”

“Then there are only…

“The stars!” 

“…And beyond.”

 

By The Great Nebula!: My Bronze Age Comics Collection Has Outgrown Its Own Containment Vessel!!

Stop! Zap-Hammer Time! 

“You scoff, man of the Kree. What would you say if I told you that an Earthling had knowledge of the Omni-Wave?! A weapon capable of obliterating entire solar systems. And that woman knows how to build one!” – Ronan The Accuser. 

“And as the giant ship leaves the Earth’s atmosphere, the port through which she entered seals with a crackle of alien energy. 

“While deep within the awesome vessel: 

“Well, Johnny, I’ve always wanted to be on your show, but where are Doc And The Band?”

Yes!

We return, True Believers, to the bulging batch of bloomin’ bountiful Bronze beauties that constitute my ever-expanding Bronze Age comics collection!

And lo!

‘Tis a day upon which to rejoice! It is a year ago to the day since this collection began! So many excellent ishs have graced the substantial box recruited to stock them, but, in truth, some now lie scattered around the Drawing Room, straight through my Inner Sanctum (not surprisingly), and here, sprawled across my desk within my Control Centre as these words were frantically typed.    

Please don’t worry about that loud scraping you can hear in the background – have set me minions to work rearranging these gargantuan piles of Bronze Age awesomeness! 

So, where to begin?!

Ah, what the hey, this survey’s too good t’miss!

“I want an education. A chance to be all I could be – huh?!? Air force-? Well, why the heck not?!” – Carol Danvers. 

“The Millennia Bloom flares to life within the Crystal Cell, its gentle coruscating light painting Ms Marvel in rainbow colours…”

Welcome to the Bronze Age, man!

As previously mentioned on these Posts, Ms Marvel has proved too much of a hit-and-miss title for me. Fortunately, however, upon learning that the art for #19 (Aug 1978) was done by Carmine Infantino, before you can say: “Love me, love my zap-hammer,” it had taken a coveted place in the Bradscribe Prestige Collection i.e. top of the pile.  

The cover teases a cameo by Captain Marvel, but a dramatic intervention by Ronan (“You called me boy!”) the Accuser ups the thrill-power quite considerably. When wicked villain: Supremor subjects our heroine to a mind-probe, we are treated to a sensational biography of Carol Danvers: from her father letting only her brother go to college; her rebellion by joining the USAF; becoming NASA’s Chief of Security where she meets Captain Marvel; and being genetically reconstructed inside the Psyche-Magnitron by accident (in that inimitable Marvel way?).

And – oh yesstay one step ahead of Ronan’s zap-hammer… 

The Vision: “Even I, since Wanda, my wife, departed on extended leave, have felt an uncharacteristic emptiness, a gnawing. Almost… almost as though I were a bridge without a shore.” 

Jocasta: “Why, Vision, that’s lovely! It’s almost poetic!”

The Vision: “What? No! It’s not! Poetry is a human folly! And I… AM NOT…

…HUMAN!”

Well, bless my zap-hammer!

One of the indisputable joys of Bronze Age comics just has to be The Avengers. 

Constant changes of artists may have condemned Ms Marvel to a premature cancellation, but the ploy actually benefitted Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

Ish #194 (April 1980) offers a superb script by David Michelnie and ace art by George (Man-Wolf!) Perez, the condition of my ish is immaculate – surely, no other mitts have touched its pages these past 37 years! (Wake up – smell the mint). 

As a big fan of The Vision, his extraordinary character is developed very well here. And truly, one of the inestimable delights of this era is catching up with that forever-entertaining double act of Wonder Man and The Beast:

“These refreshments should be sufficient for the Avengers’ Conference. Though I do hope Master Beast will let some of the others try the banana cake this time” – Jarvis.

Drone R-II: “Is Galactus not awe-inspiring? Wil it not be an honor for you to serve him, even as I serve him?” 

Dazzler: “No! It will not be an honor! The only honor I want is a gold record – but then, that‘s not cosmic enough for you to understand.”

Ships computers have homed in on the being you seek, Master. Subject is located on the third planet of the Sol system: Earth. She is called Alison Blaire. Also… the Dazzler.”

Having dismissed the Dazzler – and she was a sensibly-dressed lass too! – ’twas not long before she made a triumphant return to the shopping list of Brad The Merciful. 

You only have to slip in the name of GALACTUS and yours truly will be guaranteed to snap it up!

In Dazzler #10 (December 1981) the genetic mutate who can convert sound energy into light is commanded by that colossal Devourer Of Worlds to venture inside a black hole and return his estranged treacherous herald: Terrax The Tamer to face the wrath of Galactus!

It impressed me so much that we are now on the lookout for Dazzler #11!

“And now, I know ye all would know how ’tis that a mere mortal became a new, more powerful incarnation of Thor himself!” – Loki. 

Since being overawed by that Thor: Ragnarok trailer a couple of months back, Hera – the Goddess of Death from Niffleheim – has been on my mind.

As the incomparable John Buscema’s penultimate ish as awesome artist, The Mighty Thor #277 (November 1978). “Time of the Trolls” sees the God of Thunder bereft of Mjolnir – nay! naught e’en a zap-hammer doth he hath!! – as he confronts the hordes of Hela.

In addition to some ultracool scenes with Hela, there is a suitably sinister turn by that ne’er-do-well God of Mischief: Loki. 

It won’t startle you to learn that Thor #278 has also swiftly swung into my possession! 

“Not bad, folks. I’ve seen some heavy stompin’ in my time… but this takes the cake. Hey, One-Eye, we got what we came for, right? That princess chick? How ’bout we head on home while we got the chance?” – Wolverine. 

Can’t complete this Post without including my fave team: the X-Men.

The now-legendary Claremont/Byrne run can go for up to TWENTY POUNDS EACH; the Classic X-Men series commenced in 1986 to reprint the earliest stories also featuring sterling artwork by Dave Cockrum – but even those ishs are now difficult to find. 

#14 (October 1987, but reproducing work first published in 1978): “Where No X-Man Has Gone Before!” sees our beloved mutants cast through an alien stargate to the other side of the galaxy where they must combat Gladiator and his gang of praetorian guards (i.e. more “costumed creeps”). Cyclops et al are aided in their struggle to free Princess Lilandra by – oh yes!the Starjammers. 

This series excelled because, in addition, each ish included a bonus story pencilled by John Bolton. The extra tale presented here: “What Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of…” is one of the best, with a lone Lilandra making a perilous spaceflight to reach Xavier…

Professor Xavier’s students have long held a special place in my heart (as well as my archives!) It has been an absolute blast catching up with this particular series – one of the main reasons why this belated Bronze Age quest set out in the first place.

And lo, they did NOT NEED zap-hammers to become legends… 

Phantastisch! Eat your heart out, George Lucas. This is a real Star Wars!” – Nightcrawler.

“Incredible! The body of one is so powerful, so dense that even the rays of the Analyzer cannot penetrate it, and the other one pulses with strange power… a force that is somehow concentrated in the brand on his chest” – ROM. 

Still actively seeking back ishs of Power Man and Iron Fist! 

Incidentally, the (mis)adventures of Marvel’s most boisterous boys were handled brilliantly by one of the few women writing comics at that time: Mary Jo Duffy.

Aha! When you can get three Marvel legends for the price of two – especially in the amazing classic that is #73 (September 1981) – you don’t hang around! “Wraith, Colour And Creed” begins with ROM: Galador’s Greatest Spaceknight rampaging through the terrified throng of Times Square, zapping (with his Neutralizer, NOT a hammer!) a select few, while sparing others. Just doing his noble duty, banishing DIRE Wraiths to limbo, of course, but as far as Luke and Danny are concerned, this is a “murderin’ tin man” and they’ve “gotta score t’settle.” The way in which Rom ultimately convinces them that he is indeed one of the good guys is superb.  

The guest pencils by Greg La Rocque are fab, while – as usual – Mary Jo crafts a splendid yarn. 

Ah, some great times were had back in the Bronze Age – still the BEST era for comics imo. 

Tell me: in the glossy Marvel mags of today, do Steve “Hydra” Rogers, Kamala Khan – or even the female Thor for that matter – wield a mighty zap-hammer?

Nah, thought not. Brad rests his case… 

“Birds… They turned into flippin’ birds an’ flew away. I saw it. If what Rom’s sellin’ us is straight, anyone I know could be one’a them things… anyone… Birds. Jeez…” – Luke Cage. 

 

The Unusual Suspects: Getting To Grips With The Guardians Of The Galaxy

Puttin’ The Groot In…

“This may not be the best idea…” – Rhomann Dey.

I can’t stop this feeling, deep inside of me…”

In other words, the sheer anticipation of waiting for the release of one of the MCU’ s finest…

Back in the Summer of ’14, when Guardians Of The Galaxy – Marvel Studios’ biggest gamble, featuring a bunch of unknown misfits – defied all odds to become the most successful (and our favourite!) movie of the season, but we were crestfallen to learn that we would have to wait THREE YEARS for the inevitable sequel.

Now! Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 opens next week, but here in the UK tomorrow.

Eager to learn more about this cool cosmic combo – especially during these past few months – this blogger did what he does best: research. Was amazed to discover that, once upon a time, the Guardians HAD been a part of my infant reading time, although they existed in a different guise.

Very different…

“Drop the leg and return to your cell!” – Kyln Prison Guard.

The original Guardians Of The Galaxy made their debut in the Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (January 1969), written by Arnold Drake and illustrated by the incomparable Gene Colan. They later starred in Marvel Presents #3–12 (Feb. 1976 – Aug. 1977), and were – apart from a certain Yondu Udonta – completely unrecgnisable from the irascible yet intriguing gang we embraced in the 2014 movie.

Their adventures took place in the 31st century in an alt-time-line of the Marvel Universe on Earth-691. Consisting of Charlie-27: a soldier from Jupiter; Martinex: a crystalline Pluvian; Yondu: Last of the Zatoans of Centauri IV, with a large red fin protruding from the back of his head; Starhawk: an anti-hero, aka Stakar of the House of Ogord; and Nikki: a genetically-engineered Mercurian girl. They were led by Major Vance Astro (who just happened to be an astronaut from 20th century Earth!)

Strangely enough, these earliest strips were reprinted in (Marvel UK’s) Star Wars Weekly (1978).

In later, sporadic appearances, they were aided in their ongoing struggle against the Badoon by such legends as Captain America, The Thing and the Defenders.

The Guardians we know and love from the movie did not make their comics debut together until 2008, although each character had made separate appearances much earlier.

Confusingly, Starlord also emerged in those same ishs of Star Wars Weekly, but with his own separate (reprinted) strip, illustrated by the great Carmine Infantino.

“Do you got any other cute little buggers like this one? I like to stick ’em all in a row on my control console” – Yondu Udonta.

“What matters is telling a great story,” director James Gunn explained while discussing the eight-month writing process from which this sequel came to fruition. Encouragingly, he describes Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 as a continuation, rather than a replication of what thrilled us first time round.

As you have probably surmised by now, Brad digs his SF quotes, and James Gunn (and Nicole Perlman!) did us proud with a cracking script full of witty and wonderful lines. So, naturally, one expects Vol. 2 to exude the same levels a’ fun and energy.

And then some…

“Some of our sets at the end of the film are over a trillion polygons, which is by far the biggest visual effects of all time…”

Fortunately, early Reviews sound promising. What sounds really encoraging is the development of most, if not all, main characters, plus the introduction of a few interesting new faces, such as Mantis and Ayesha. Considering how all Gamora did during her big screen debut was just twist and shout, it would be great to see her do something more substantial. Also, one of the faults of the first film – Nebula barely making her mark on proceedings – will be rectified this time as she now appears as a new member of the team!

Oh, Kurt Russell?! Whoa, this Post is already brimming with plenty a’ awesomeness as it is – phew! (This icon will be blessed with his own Bradscribe Post, possibly as early as next week!)

Yes, of course – and this goes without sayin’ – Baby Groot is just TOO ridiculously cute! Got Groot gifs gracing me Media Library already – and that ain’t a bad thing!

All in all, be prepared to laugh loads.

And cry buckets…

Last – and by no means least – you know what the MCU is like regarding its post-credit scenes: Vol. 2 has five – yes! Count ’em: FIVE!!post-credit scenes!

And who thought three years ago that we would be speculating as to who Sylvester Stallone – yes! Sylvester Stallone! – would be playing in Vol. 2? Supposedly he will feature somewhere among this special quintet of extras…

With Kurt Russell confirmed to co-star, people got excited over a potential Tango And Cash reunion.

Not so, laughed Gunn. “I think the more important relationship is between Stallone and Michael Rooker” he confirmed. “So [Vol. 2]’s more of a Cliffhanger reunion.”

Cliffhanger, eh? What better way to leave us on tenterhooks…

“Hooked On A Feeling! Blue Swede! 1973! That song belongs to me!” – Peter Quill.

It’s all a bit a’ fun…

So, the long-awaited Guardians Of The Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 2 Soundtrack was released this past week. Three years ago, just like everybody else, yours truly compiled his own list, trying to predict what Mummy Quill’s Awesome choices might be.

After rackin’ me mental jukebox, and twistin’ the Power Cosmic, these records (having been locked away in the vaults @ Brad Manor for the past three years), are what Brad came up with:

 

  1. Blind Faith – “Can’t Find My Way Home”
  2. Bob Seger System – “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”
  3. Cream – “I Feel Free”
  4. Fleetwood Mac – “The Chain”
  5. Free – “All Right Now”
  6. Golden Earring – “Radar Love”
  7. Jefferson Starship – “Miracles”
  8. Pilot – “Magic”
  9. The Rolling Stones – “Time Is On My Side”
  10. The Steve Miller Band – “Take The Money And Run”
  11. Sweet“Hell Raiser”
  12. T. Rex – “Cosmic Dancer” (or “Life’s A Gas”)
  13. Thin Lizzy – “The Boys Are Back In Town”
  14. Traffic – “Dear Mr. Fantasy”

 

So…

1 & a half out of 14 – not bad, huh?

Personally GUTTED that no T. Rex track made it.

Come on!

Cosmic Dancer describes Peter perfectly, doesn’t it? But after the big reveal of who/what his Dad is, Life’s A Gas came to mind: “I could have loved you like a planet” – eh, eh?!

The Steve Miller Band was a crafty choice – in Peter’s case it’s: Take The Orb And Run – ha ha!

The Boys Are Back In Town could only be played in a sequel – thought that number would be an obvious choice…

And as for Jefferson Starship: that IS the tune Peter and Gamora dance to… surely?!

Hey, hey, see how it all works together? Ha, ha, not just a pretty face, me!

Okay, so the rest of me – espesh my (woeful) powers of prediction – s’outta place. Maybe should have plumped for this one – it’s probably the standout track of this compilation:

“I can’t believe I’m taking orders from a hamster…” – Denarian Saal.

 

“I live for the simple things… like how much this is going to hurt! Yeah, writhe, little man…” – Rocket Raccoon.

Doctor Strange: The Bradscribe Review

Open Your Eye…

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“It’s Strange” – Doctor Strange.

“Maybe, who am I to judge?” – Kaecilius. 

When you’re strange, faces come out of the rain.

When Bennybatch is Strange, Marvel go ALL OUT to make the fourteenth – and latest – entry in their formidable Cinematic Universe: Doctor Strange, a spectacular and one-heckuva-trippy outing. 

Straight after the new, enhanced Marvel Studios logo is unveiled, we are led on a blistering ride of energy-harnessing and reality (re)shaping.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a long way from Holmes in the role of arrogant neurosurgeon Stephen Strange, whose self-centred world comes crashing down around him after losing the use of his hands in a horrific car accident. He is advised to travel to Nepal, where answers of a mystic kind can be attained… providing he foregoes his stubborn defeatist attitude that “this material universe is all there is.”

Cumberbatch has the right look, mood and elocution to create this extraordinary character – no wonder the studio upheld production until he had completed his Hamlet sting in London’s West End!

Having got over initial reservations concerning visuals designed TOO closely to the aesthetic originally concocted for Inception and The Matrix, such scenes as soaring through the multi-dimensional vortices and the confrontation with the dread Dormammu are suitably good fun.

“Have you seen THAT at a gift shop?”

Fortunately, complementing the impressive visuals is a really snappy script: bold, intellectual, coherent and invariably humorous. 

For a handy intro to this character, see here:

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“You’re a man looking at the world through a keyhole. You’ve spent your life trying to widen it. Your work saved the lives of thousands. What if I told you that reality is one of many?” – The Ancient One. 

Much controversy centred around Tilda Swinton’s casting as The Ancient One. Changing the ethnicity to Celtic (?!) was (ahem) strange, but when you consider that the original setting for all those mystic arts was switched from Tibet to Nepal so as to appease the Chinese box office, it all becomes so painfully politically “correct.”

By the Rings of Raggadorr, the Power of Yen conquers all it seems. Business is – annoyingly, regrettably – business. 

Wong (Benedict Wong)his forever-faithful, forever-making-tea manservant from the comics – has been upgraded to Head Librarian. Amazingly, the titular role and the librarian are both played by top British thesps who share the same forename: Benedict – how strange!

Kaecilius – as noted before, is a character NOT found in the comics. Maybe he is not given as many memorable dastardly moments as we would like, but hey! The fact that it is played to sinister perfection by Mads Mikkelsen, possibly my – and your! – fave villainous character actor provides enough reason to rejoice.

And when you’re starting to wonder how this visual treat ties in with the rest of the MCU, there IS the honorary Stan Lee cameo – that is hilarious! To help bring further MCU relevance to these proceedings, Wong helpfully states:

“The Avengers protect the world from physical enemies… we safeguard it against more mystical threats.”

Too right, Wong!

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“Steve Ditko is one of the greatest Marvel artists in history… We are now able to take his trippy comic panels and have the technology to put that into big 3-Dimensional space on a movie screen… it’s amazing” – Kevin Feige. 

Okay, let’s get the most annoying problem (which applies to too many movies these days, not just Doctor Strange) out of the way first.

As is all too painfully predictable in modern cinema these days, Rachel McAdams has woefully little to do here, worryingly described as the “love interest.” As is so often, her “appearance” is reduced to insipid underdevelopment. And Stephen shows little Interest anyway. Yet again, we are left wondering what necessitated her inclusion at all…

It would have been really groovy if Martin Freeman’s American character from Cap America: Civil War had made a cameo somewhere here! Talk about opportunity missed…

Once again – as expected, Vishanti be praised! – Marvel has produced another great hit. It’s well worth checking out. Remember to stay for the post-cred scenes; BOTH are impressive – one features a cameo from one of Marvel’s well-established heroes (Hint: he does NOT like tea!)

As for me, multiple repeat viewings are assured – while you go and enjoy this one, Brad will be pleasantly coming down. Preferably with tea.

No mushrooms! Just tea. With a little honey. 

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BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: 

4 Eyes of Agamotto out of 5 – hey, four Eyes is nothin’ ta snigger at!

Strange Love: Meditating With The Master Of The Mystic Arts

Strange Days Have Found Us;

Strange Days Have Tracked Us Down…

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“The realms of imagination are misty places to be sure, and their relationship to the… horrors of mankind have been given substance in DOCTOR STRANGE… A comic like this doesn’t come along very often… Its depth and underlying richness leaves it virtually alone in the field” – Ralph Macchio. 

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

How strange! 

The top minds @ Marvel Studios have, in their infinite wisdom, deemed it imperative to give us a movie featuring Doctor Strange: one of the most unusual characters from the extensive Marvel canon.

Being a Master of Arts myself (MA Hons. Archaeology) – ha, yes! Not just a pretty face, me! – with my trusty Trowel of Destiny, yours truly is perfectly qualified to dig through the ancient tomes and extricate musty reams of esoteric knowledge to elucidate some of the best – albeit the most extraordinary – stories featuring the Sorcerer Supreme, to prepare you for the forthcoming movie. 

Created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the character made his debut in 1964, in Strange Tales #110, with his origins tale appearing in #116. The first volume of his own series began in the 60s, but, after a poor run, it was relaunched in 1974.

Once, Dr. Stephen Strange had been “a worldly man, seduced and jaded by material things. But then he discovered the separate reality, where sorcery and men’s souls shaped the forces that shape our lives. 

“In that instant, he was born again – a man who left us behind, as he strove to stand against those wretched DC movies the unseen subtle perils hovering thick and black around our fragile existence.”

From within his Sanctum Sanctorum, defending our dimension from the kind of malevolent threats we like to pretend only exist in our worst nightmares; he is aided by copious cupsa tea specially prepared by his ever-faithful Chinese manservant: Wong. 

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“You have saved me, Dr. Strange! I am Eternity! I am life beyond limits – beyond death – beyond end! In short, I am what you see before you: the Universe!” – Eternity.  

In recent weeks, the tale: Spawn of Sligguth (from Marvel Premiere #4, 1972) came into my eager possession. By the Flames of the Faltine! Goodness knows how, for this mini-series from 1972 seems to be extremely rare. The plot was the work of Rascally Roy Thomas and the art supplied by the Bashful Barry Smith.

The first eighteen ishs – written by Stainless Steve Englehart and drawn by Genial Gene Colan – are generally regarded as the Sorcerer Supreme’s most superlative run; so far, ishs # 6, 13 and 17 have been obtained, and their level of intellect and sophistication in storytelling is most impressive. Although the initial concept was all Ditko’s, Colan’s style enhanced the mystical nature of this material. Mere kids stuff it most certainly is not! 

Towards the end of the ’70s, Doctor Strange had become a member of the Defenders, the non-team consisting of Valkyrie and Hell-Cat. Through the tail-end of the 1970s, and into much of the ’80s as well, Roger Stern held sway.

Don’t worry if some of these classics are inaccessible in this dimension. Last year, Marvel resurrected the title and gave the “20th Century’s most powerful sorcerer” 21st Century makeover. Despite being more groovy than mystical, it is one of the more entertaining titles to emerge recently – the cover for #003 (see end image!) always cracks me up. 

For more of my magic-related comics stuff, see here: 

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“One thing you have to say about Marvel is: they are not at all enslaved to the source material, but they are, I think, very good at recognising what made each particular comic great” – Scott Derrickson. 

By the Blessed Beard of Bennybatch!

How Strange… is this?! 

We are just weeks away from the latest release in Phase 3 of the Marvel cinematic juggernaut. 

Having been afflicted with the double trouble from DC/Warner already this year, my expectations for comic book movies have now hit an all-time low – a situation that grates upon me like a spell of dread Dormammu.  

But- curse me for a novice! No need to fret, Dear Friends! 

Are we not in the ever-capable hands of the mighty Marvel Cinematic Universe?! The last time they took a notable risk with such obscure material, they gave us Guardians of the Galaxy and look at how well that turned out!

From the look of the latest TV spots and exclusive clips,  the direction of Scott Derrickson appears to be quite capable. It seems most unlikely that you could get a more ideal actor than Benedict Cumberbatch to bring the Sorcerer Supreme to corporeal – and ectoplasmic – life!

To watch Sherlock shouting: “By Raggador’s Ring!” should be really fab!

The villain: Kaecilius does NOT appear in the comics, but no need to summon forth the Eye of Agametto to realise that in Mads Mikkelsen we should be assured of a well creepy turn.

May the power of the eternal Vishanti grant us a highly enjoyable outing to our respective local popcorn parlours come 4 November (or 26 October if you happen to stay on the tea-drinking side of The Pond)!

…And – Demons of Denak! – may it dispel whatever dark force that burns the back of my mind incessantly like the Crimson Crystals of Cyttorak, causing such grim foreboding at this ungodly hour. 

Speaking of tea, fancy a cuppa Jasmine?

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“Eh? What…? Tea, you say? I have been deep in meditation, lost in the vapours of the Cauldron of the Cosmos, for too long… 

“My thoughts are still unfocused… But I believe a soothing cup of tea would be just what I require. You sense my needs as always, old friend” – Doctor Strange. 

From All-Star To Dawnstar: Recent Vintage Acquisitions Read And Reviewed

The Quest For Classic Comics Continues…

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“Silence, please, everyone! I’ve been a little worried about how to tell you this … but, in my identity as Carter Hall, I’m going to enlist in the US Army!” – Hawkman.

And with this bombshell, so begins “Never Step On A Feathered Serpent!” the fifth issue of All-Star Squadron, a title whose debut ish (in September 1981) – with its mix of of superheroes and World War II history developed into an unputdownable phenomenon in the Bradhouse. 

My only regret is that (apart from #10, ten years later), no further ishs could be found.

Staying in the UK on extended leave, belaboured over the bonce by the Mace of Nostalgia, yours truly set aside this Summer to finally track down those comic classics from the so-called “Bronze Age” that eluded me all those moons ago, as well as checking out previously unseen titles. 

Three months ago, perusing the back ish departments of some handy awemongers’ emporiums in London, the ball started rolling with the purchases of All-Star Squadron, #s 5 & 7.

Was it a good start?

  • Squadron scrambled, or brain scrambled?

Amazingly imagineered by the invincible creative team of Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler, its reserved status in my collection is well-assured! But equally astounded at how this ish could have slipped past my Radar of Ninth Metal back in the day…

#7 is equally compelling, with the introduction of the Nazi costumed super-villain: Baron Blitzkrieg! 

Already looking forward to snapping up further ishs of this great title!

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“I’ll have to hit-and-run – use my speed and Kree-training to counter his brute strength – and try to wear him down!” –  Ms. Marvel.

Ms. Marvel #15 (March 1978)

“Carol Danvers a woman who had it made – until the day radiation from an exploding alien machine gave her the skills and powers of a Kree Warrior, plus an uncanny Seventh Sense – transforming a human woman into… a heroine!”

With a proposed Ms. Marvel movie in the works, now would be a good time to catch up and get to know her – if anything, isn’t everyone curious to find out what radiation from an exploding alien machine does to you? Moreover, this Seventh Sense – it sounds groovy! – could we have some?

The woman with the Kree powers must battle Tiger Shark. This villain looks supercool on that dynamic cover (see above) and makes for a mighty antagonist inside.

The script is provided by Chris Claremont – always a big plus in my book! 

But when you consider the premise: woman in leotard is punched and has cars hurled at her by lunatic dressed as a shark… 

  • Marvelous, or Ms. Fire? 

Despite this dodgy premise, this ish is fab; the art by Mooney & DeZuniga is great, and there is a craving for more of this title.

Please note: his captive (who turns out to be the cousin of Namor – y’know: The Sub-Mariner!) is actually fully-clothed during the few panels in which she appears, so no fish-scale bikinis or strategically-placed hubcaps herein…

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“The thing is: that’s my Mom up there! What’s come over her since she won the Earth election?” – Colossal Boy. 

Legion of Super-Heroes was a title hugely enjoyed as a nipper. Now, an irresistible curiosity to find out what other ishs looked like spurred me on. #273 was the ish selected. 

Such characters as Wildfire and Tyroc were as cool as fudge, while others such as Bouncing Boy and Matter-Eater Lad(!) made the title unintentionally hilarious. 

One member of the Legion of Super-Heroes stood apart from the others: a graceful figure with a stunning pair of wings, her name was Dawnstar – or as her co-Legionnaire: the blond, green-skinned Brainiac 5 called her “Dawny.”

Hey, just be thankful this Post was not entitled Finding Dawny jeez, that sounds as corny as heck…!

  • So, Legend, or just leggo…?

What a swiz – she’s not in it! 

Undoubtedly, this is a compelling epic, bristling with drama!; intrigue!; the craziest super-cozzies you will ever see! And the story-line involving a revered Legionnaire framed for murder, wasn’t bad, but considering the immensity of the issue, and a high turn-out, where was the yellow, tassled one?

By the Black Nebula! It feels like your correspondent has been stood up…  

That other strong fave, Wildfire, barely got a look-in either.

Its been great to look at art not seen for 35 years – one or two other ishs will certainly be tracked down…

Even if it is just to see her again…

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“I am Gaius Tiberius Augustus Agrippa! I am power! – What kind of beings are you? Is all the world now the domain of monsters?” – 

During online research for comic art a few years back, my trail led to pages for an ish of Fantastic Four. Although not a fan of this so-called “World’s Greatest Comic,” both pen an’ pencilling duties for #241 (April 1982) belonged to the legendary John Byrne.

In “Render Unto Caesar,” S.H.I.E.L.D. has detected a mysterious power source emanating from the interior of Africa. With the aid of the Black Panther, the Fantastic Four go to investigate and discover – “Jupiter!” – a being, once a soldier in a distant outpost of Emperor Caligula. Almost two millennia ago, he stumbled upon alien technology to create a fabulous city, more splendid than the Roman Empire at its height.

He even neutralises the Fantastic Four’s superpowers. Irate at being selected to be his “Empress,” Sue Storm removes his golden helmet, only to find that- ha! Well, don’t let me spoil it for you! 

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  • Really Fantastic, or just a 4-letter word?

When this Summer of nostalgic comic-collecting set forth, a mental note was taken to look out especially for this one.

That priority was well-rewarded. 

Yes! Fantastic by name – undeniably fantastic by nature. With terrific guest-star appearances by Nick Fury and the Black Panther – two characters high on my Wanted list, this story: “Render Unto Caesar” is an absolute classic.  

Particularly enjoyed the amusing nod to Raiders (above), a light moment that presents its creator perfectly at the height of his enchanting powers.  

Feel the Byrne!

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“The X-Men would have trained me to use my mutant abilities more efficiently… If only I had joined them when I had the chance!” –  Dazzler.

Dr. Doom happened to be one of those characters sought after 30+ years ego, but never got him – could not find the relevant ish of the Fantastic Four that featured him.

Dazzler was a cult figure – “gifted” with the ability to convert sound into dazzling light – who got her own solo series.

The Monarch of Latveria guest-stars in #s 3 & 4. Ended up picking up the latter (it has a slightly more thrilling cover).

  • So, truly dazzling, or just dazzled off? 

Nah, this is not one of my better purchases.

The art by Frank Springer is good enough, but the prospect of a cutie mutie (…on frickin’ roller skates, fer cryin’ aht lowd!) never excited me even way back when yours truly was cute an’ supple enough to arse about with frickin’ roller skates. 

White flares are no match for a yellow, tassled cozzie. Any day… 

Good Grud, this is precisely the sort of infantile mag a chap of my age should not be bothering with – so will sell this on asap!

Hang on… 

If a character as lame as this could get her own series… and a popular fave such as Dr. Doom – or Dawnstar, for that matter! -couldn’t, well… 

Undeterred, my quest – delving further into the dense jungle of back issues – continues… 

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“This is one time… all the words in the Universe aren’t enough…” – Dazzler.

The Hunt For The Man-Beast: The Bradscribe Expedition To Find Lost Comics!

In The Mighty Jungle, A Fearless Bunny Will Not Rest Until The Awe Of Yore Has Been Found… 

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“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…

But no… 

This Starlord looked completely different. And that mysterious cosmic figure was nowhere to be seen…

Curses…!

My quest must resume… elsewhere. 

Never fear, thrill-seekers! A most unlikely target HAS been acquired!

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“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 1980never – strangely enough – found its way into the Bradhouse.

…Until now.

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.

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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: 

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“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!

Huzzah!

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.

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Keep It Awesome! 😉