Electric Dreams: On The Crest Of A Synthwave

Radder Than Rad Retrotastic Raves!

Dr. Egon Spengler: “Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.”  

Dr. Raymond Stantz: “Total protonic reversal.” 

Dr. Peter Venkman: “Right. That’s bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.” 

“Rubbish!” shout the disgruntled 21st century masses, unanimously disenchanted with what is laughably termed the “music” industry, woefully bereft of originality, personality or talent…

But!

As just one of those restless peeps, you can count on Brad to sift through the monotony and find sounds that reinvigorate the soul. 

Synthwave – otherwise known as Retrowave, Futuresynth, etc. – a genre of electronic music influenced by ’80s film soundtracks, drawing heavily from such esteemed names as Froese, Carpenter, Moroder, et al does it for me.

Take this first eargasm for instance; who does it remind you of?

About half a dozen ’80s synthtastic sounds come to mind – and you know that’s no bad thing!:

“Death is a primitive concept. I prefer to think of them as battling evil in another dimension” – Grig.

Elliott: “He’s a man from outer space and we’re taking him to his spaceship.”

Greg: “Well, can’t he just beam up?

Elliott: “This is reality, Greg.”

Already, there is a snazzy nostalgic feel to this Post – hope it lasts…

It’s amazing – not to mention really gratifying – to learn that so many artists have been profoundly inspired by the ’80s.

You know that feeling when you’re writing, listening to music to spur on that creative process and then – all of a sudden – something so awesome comes on that grabs your attention, making you just stop everything and go back to search who/what is responsible for producing such a pleasant interruption? 

This is that track!: 

‘”More human than human” is our motto’ – Dr. Eldon Tyrell.

Here he is: the (reasonably cool) writer, drafting Reviews and concocting wild and wonderful scenarios in the name of science fiction. 

And yet all you end up with is the music he’s been listening to!

Oh well…

This next groovy number pulsates with such 80s flair – sounds like it has been lifted from one of those ultrahip TV shows one would settle down to on a Saturday evening back in the day. Instead, it comes with clips from a hilariously duff 80s movie. Not sure: looks like it could be American Ninja? Or American Ninja 2? Or American Ninja 3? Or who the blazes is taking notes @ this time of night anyway?! 

As you will hear from the opening scene of this vid, my propensity for causing trouble is LEGENDARY:

“Now use head for something other than target” – Mr. Miyagi. 

In order to acquire new synthwave grooves, a number of Best of Retrowave compilations – gleefully referred to as 80s Revival Mixtapes! –have positively soared through my headphones these past few weeks.

Fortunately, the variety and ingenuity of these artists, all vying to (re)capture those special 80s vibes have mostly impressed. 

The opening track of one such compilation ensured its place here on this Post.

Lo! This is the stellar song that Brad does his aerobics to at the crack o’ dawn!

Ya gotta burn it ta earn it, lov…

“On the other side of the screen, it all looks so easy” – Kevin Flynn. 

Having fun? 

That’s what matters in this sector of the blogosphere.

One of the more prominent Retrowave artists to leap promisingly into my Daily Playlist is Timecop1983. 

Nice tag – one of my all-time fave years as well!

On the most recent album: Journeys, the opening track just happens to be Dreams. You know you’re onto a Winner when you can’t get further than the opening track!

This is gorgeous: 

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it” – Ferris Bueller.

Modern pop culture should not have to be so turgid!

In order to find a “way forward,” we must settle for a distinctly “retro” solution. That’ll do for the moment! 

Hope you’ve enjoyed listening (dancing?!) to these Electric Dreams as much as my time was joyously spent compiling this Post. There will certainly be plenty more forays into Retro/Synthwave playlists this Summer as my writing sessions – that novel and a few short stories! –intensify. And you can trust me to share the best tracks with you!  

More than anything, these retrotastic grooves offer a warm and cosy reassurance that truly talented souls ARE out there. 

And producing lots of good stuff!

Build neon portals, NOT walls, etc. etc. 

And you know what they say: the sequel promises to be even better… 😉

Hey! Here’s one for the road: 

Keep your eyes on the WHEELS!

“Well always be together
However far it seems
(Love never ends)
Well always be together
Together in Electric Dreams” – Phil Oakey.

Mind Your Head

 

The Good, The Brad And The Spoiler

Brad Day @ Black Rock – How To Deal With The One Who Gave It All Away…

continued from: The White Lion And The Dessert Rats

“Every gun makes its own tune” – Blondie.

Spoiler, ALERT!” cried Touche Turtleneck as the security breach signal rang out.

Damnation and blast!” raged Major Spoiler“He’s here!”

The disgraced Galactic Defence Militia officer stared intensely out of his office window on the 14th floor of Black Rock Block. Here, in one of the more seedy districts of Duggan’s Run Spaceport on Beta Lugosi, torrential rain lashed down relentlessly.

Touche and his gang of hoodlums – who had been hanging around in the office most of the day, just for this moment – drew their blasters and rushed to the door.

JarJar Kushner, the Major’s twisted right-hand man, sitting languidly at the desk, his heavy, ultrawornout boots perched impudently on the blotter, snapped at them:

“Watch it, idiots! This is no ordinary cake-scoffin’ bum we’re dealing with here! He’s good… even by my standards… And for pity’s sake, watch yer backs, he could be anywhere!”

They nodded and piled out, marching off down the hallway.

The two remaining villains listened to the monotonous clatter outside until Spoiler spluttered:

“Do you think he will catch me…?”

“Oh yes, most definitely…”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I am… ‘cos I already ‘ave…”

“Wha-?!”

With one deft flick, the henchman tugged off his black ponytail to reveal a beautifulbut rapidly thinning – mess of blond hair; a device behind one ear was deactivated, and a holographic mask removed to reveal far more agreeable cheekbones. 

“Stone the bloody crows…! YOU!” the Major barked.

Yeah, me…” the Commander growled. “Told ya ‘e could be… ANY… where…”

“You smell like a pig already. Let’s try not to make things any worse” – Corporal Wallace.

“Spoiler… sheesh, you gave away too many Militia plans to the Empire, and now ya- ‘EY! Move away from that cabinet, Major… Disaster… Ah ah! ‘Ands where I can see ’em, fella…

Brad sprang to his feet and glared at the disgraced officer.

“Patheticlong ago, you had potential… Now, Brad, you’re nothingJust a dumbass with a blaster…”

“Quite a dumbass thin’ ta spout, seein’ as the blaster is trained right on ya…”

“Doesn’t matter. C’mon, Fartlighter, you’re kidding nobody – you’re too much of a wholesome hero to just blast me away… like that. No, it doesn’t matter what prison barge you send me to, I can enjoy the last laugh, watching… what unfolds… What does it feel like to be the Most Wanted Man In The Galaxy?”

“Fine an’ dandy, baby. Comes with the territory… o’ bein’ a galactic ‘ero. ‘Ad ta split Bitumen ‘cos the belly dancers couldn’t queue up in an orderly manner…” 

“No. Not that. Do you realise that the Empire has slapped a bounty on your “really ridiculously good looking” head? They were offering 20,000 creds-“

“Why, that’s despicable! A measly 20,000 creds?! Me pecs alone are worth a lot more than that-“

“Shut it. I said they were. Obviously, you’ve been too busy “saving the galaxy” to check your Notifications – they’ve shanked the bounty up to 50,000 creds-“

“Goody gumdrops! Sounds abaht right…”

Brad wiped the smirk off his face; his abrupt ashen-face seemed to take the officer aback.

“How much did it cost ya?” the Commander snarled, “…To direct those Zandokan cruisers ta intercept us?!”

“Oh, that was… free of charge! It was a futile move, anyway! You’re the “good guys”despite impossible odds, you always, insufferably, inconceivably, get through unharmed-“

“MITCH DIDN’T! He wuz wounded during the surprise attack. Me Company managed ta get ‘im to a med-unit on Epsilon, but he-”

“Hmm? I don’t recall- Which one is Mitch?” the Major frowned.

“Mitch Quintana, our newest… and youngest member-“

“Ha, yet another cocky young whelp, no doubt! Never heard of him – how young?”  

“Jeez! As sensitive as an earthquake, ain’tcha, fella?! Damn you… he was only 19-“

“Ah…! Same age as you when I took you under my wing twenty years ago-“

“No… NO! Don’t go there…” 

“…And made you into the leading man you are today. No worries! The boy will pull through – it’s in the script, right?! He will, most likely, turn out to be just as annoying and indestructible as you – ha!”

“Nah… we just got back in time… to watch ‘im pass away…”

“Aww! Where did he die…?”

The Commander held up his arms, and croaked dejectedly:

“In these…”

“Hey, amigo! You know you got a face beautiful enough to be worth $2000?” – Mexican Bounty Hunter.  

“Heh, are you the golden-haired angel sent to watch over me?” Major Spoiler remarked in disbelief.

“Nah… no such luck. There ain’t no songs o’ praise reserved fer… moofmilkuz like you…”

“Ha, cute… What did u do with Kushner?”

“‘Oo…? Oh, that useless scrote. Flung ‘im in the basement, din’I? Funnily enough, I don’t think ‘e belongs anywhere else. Blimey, ‘e’s a waste o’ space even dahn there…”

“Uff, hilarious… You know, in a strange way, I’m actually proud of the way you assembled that pathetic bunch of losers…”

“Me Company, ya mean…? Twen’y years ago, ya used to be a good mansomeone ta look oop ta – jeez, what the blazes ‘appened?!”

“I got wise! Listen to me for once, Brad! You, your Company; the Militia; Rajendra’s Free Fighters – you’re ALL finished. The last remaining Federation Planets WILL fall to Zan Doka and the Empire will prevail – the one true light in a moribund galaxy! Let me take you to the Emperor; he will grant you anything, and you can savour the fruits of the Zandokan Empire, as well as I! At last, your miserable existence will have a sense of purpose…! Just think of the immeasurable power we shall wield… Come with me. It is the only way!”

“Uff, spare me… I’ve just about ‘ad enough of yer insuff’rable monologin’…”

Spoiler spat sarcastically: “Aww, I hate to see you suffer… so much, Commander!”

“Fine,” Brad snapped back, levelling his blaster between the startled officer’s eyes. “Then lemme put ya outta yer misery…”

“No, wait! It’s-!”

“Waitin’s over. Adios, pret’y boy…”

.

When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk” – Tuco.  

KERR-RAAAAASH!!

The shards of the shattered plexi-screen mingled with the shower as the ex-Militia officer’s body hurtled to the street below. The Zandokan sentries stood aside and simply averted their gaze away from the sickening impact. Upon reaching the foyer, Brad had just readjusted the wig and realigned the mask. He stumbled out of the elevator, desperate to erase from his fevered mind that hard day in the office…

Spoiler’s gang congregated by the revolving doors, adding the mess on the street to their Instagram accounts.

Touche came running up, all-flustered.

“Mr. Kushner! The Battleforce Commander-turned-blogger is still in the building?!”

“Aye affirmative, that ‘e is, dipwit! If ya ‘urry, ya might jus’ catch ‘im!”

The hoodlums dashed back up the stairs.

Two of the Zandokan guards marched towards Brad, but, in character, he managed to keep composed.

“Secure the area!” he barked, putting on his nastiest authoritative voice. “Make sure the Earthling does NOT leave the building!”

The guards nodded in their usual, slavishly obedient way.

And – just like thatthe Earthling left the building…

“I think his idea was that I kill you. But you know the pity is when I’m paid, I always follow my job through. You know that” – Angel Eyes.

Around the corner, Brad tore off his accessories for the last time and chucked them furiously into a bin.

Over the deafening din of the monsoon, he opened his earpiece and hailed the Calista.

“‘Ey, whassup, mate?!” the Chief chirped.

“Uff, stow it, ‘Arris – I’m not in the mood.”

“Did ya do it…?”

“Yeah, wha’s done is done-“

“‘Eyyy, attaboy, Commander! The ‘ero strikes again, eh?!”

“Nah, far from, Chief… this ain’t NUTHIN’ to celebrate. This… this wuz bang out’a order…”

“Ne’er mind, eh? Got gateau fer ya an’-”

“NAH… dahn’ wan’ any cake…”

“WHA-?! Is that Brad?! ‘Ere, Kushner ya div! Givvuz our Commander back NAHW, ha ha ha!”

“…This ain’t no laffin’ mat’er, Chief… I’ve gone ta this vile dive ta terminate me ol’ superior officer…! Not only that… he wuz a fellow Englishman… This ‘ole thing… ugh… Jeez, it stinks to ‘igh bleedin’ ‘Eaven… This is NOT wha’ savin’ the galaxy wuz supposed ta be abahtTough ‘ero?! It’s really tough tryin’ ta be one… Gawd, this is pants…”

“…’Ey, Brad, ‘e ‘ad ta go, mate… ‘E doublecrossed uz all… nah one coulda done wha’ you jus’ done…  Kudos to ya, fella… Some good hasta come from this – it’s jus’ gotta… I-I know whatcha goin’ through right nahw-“

“Tha’s jus’ it, fella, ya dahn’t. ‘Ope ya nevah havta, an’ all…  Gotta bit’er taste in me mahf that ain’t gonna shift, an’ a lump in me soul that ain’t NEVAH gonna lift… …

“‘E wuz… dammit – ‘e wuz the one who made me Battleforce Commander in the first place…! Rot ‘im… … …”

 

“Sooo… … … ya wanna come back nahw?”

“Nah… thinkin’ o’ openin’ a resort dahn ‘ere…”

“Wha-?! Really?”

“O’ course, bleedin’ ‘o course I wanna come back!! An’ I’m gonna be one ‘elluva soggy moggy if I stay aht ‘ere much longer! Beam me oop now, ya donut…”

BRAD FARTLIGHTER WILL RETURN

 

“Oh Globbits!”: It’s The Bradscribe Video Show!

“Where The Blazes Has That Brad Got To?!”

“He’s Stuck In An 80s Vortex!”

“What, AGAIN?!”

“Eighties – I’m living in the Eighties
Eighties – I have to push, I have to struggle
Eighties – get out of my way, I’m not for sale no murr!” – Killing Joke.

Yes, again!

Welcome to my very own neon sanctuary, which – not that surprising to all those who know an’ love Bradscribe oozes with positive 80s vibes.

A cavalcade of classic 80s pop can get me out of any daggy, uncreative mood. After a few weeks stuck in a rut – unable to make ANY of my writing dance, or fly, in my usual inimitable groovy style – various vids were activated and bingo! – it has worked! My reviews, articles – even my fiction! – are now back on track.

Instead of banging out that intense piece about dystopian SF – besides, it’s a wet and dreary Bank Holiday Monday out there – thought it best to spread this feelgood factor. In this Age of Outrage, we could certainly do with MORE FUN and nostalgia!

This is not the first time this site has delved into Neon Nostalgia and it won’t be the last!

Not only could you listen to the best pop music – on your own Sony Walkman of course! – the 80s also offered the best videos, the best movies, the best telly shows, the best candy etc. etc.

For those of you too young to remember the Golden Age of the music video (or never around then) no worries! Let this selection of some of my faves – with my blessings – be your gateway. 

No need to get your deely-bobbers in a twist! Help yourself to a Curly-Wurly!

Just pull your jacket sleeves up, stick your ghetto-blaster in the air and away we go!

“You’re too shy shy hush hush eye to eye
Too shy shy hush hush eye to eye
Too shy shy hush hush eye to eye
Too shy shy hush hush hush” – Kajagoogoo. 

One of the most distinctive synthpop groups of the 80s was Ultravox – always been fascinated by that snazzy sci-fi name!

They had several classic vids, but this was the best ‘cos it was the most exciting.

Great camaraderie among the group in this highly adventurous vid; plus, the director has even wrangled a way to include Midge Ure’s addiction to hang-gliding as well – huzzah!

You do realise that between 0:30-0:39 you will witness the Greatest Moment in Pop Video History:

“Say, we can act if we want to
If we don’t, nobody will
And you can act real rude and totally removed
And I can act like an imbecile” – Men Without Hats.

And they say that back in the day this fella was a heartthrob? Wild Boys? Too wild fer me, man…

Still, a darn sight better than the talentless cretins the “music industry” foist upon us nowadays, but hey! Promised there would be NO argy-bargy on this Post.

The only mildly offensive material you may encounter here is a very dodgy shoulder pad or two.

You really couldn’t get anyone less offensive than Kate Bush.

Despite being perceived as a tad uncool back in the day, this video has always affected me in a good way. Part of the charm here is a wonderful cameo from Donald Sutherland, and guess what!

Managed to accompany this vid with a gif from cult classic teen vamp shocker:The Lost Boys, which features Donald’s son Kiefer.

Ha, Brad amazes even himself sometimes!

“You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round, round, round” – Dead Or Alive.

Look at this!

With spiky blond hair and bum fluff, THIS is EXACTLY how Brad looked in 1987!

Seriously!

Even at college, the most common thing people in the street asked me happened to be: “Could I have your autograph, Kiefer?”

In 1985, the Sisters of Mercy were a standard dark Goth band, but with the breakthrough Floodland LP in 1987, they became a bigger and better phenomenon. With a steady stream of hit singles, each came with its own elaborate video.

Here, with Dominion, we see what 80s videos excelled at: amazing photography, exotic location shots and iconic moments. This is the most unlikely place to find a saxophone! But then again, anything and everything could work during the 80s.

Here, Andrew Eldritch never looked cooler.

And Patricia Morrison never looked hotter. 

“Karma Karma Karma Karma, Karma Chameleon
You come and go, you come and go
Loving would be easy if your colours were like my dream
Red gold and green, red gold and green” – Culture Club.

Dominating BBC TV schedules every Thursday night used to be Top Of The Pops.

If a pop group wanted to boost sales they could do no better than be featured on this show. Sure, all appearances were mimed, the presenters would sometimes bombard audiences with the most appalling puns, and the audience invariably consisted of morons who believed that hogging the cameras was the ONE aim in life, but it became – undeniably – a National Treasure.

Loved the exotic Eastern sounds of Blancmange’s Living On The Ceiling. Fondly remenber this as one of my all-tive fave TV moments, and feeling aggrieved that (being, at that time, without a VCR) there would never be another chance to watch this ever again…

“Buying bread from a man in Brussels
He was six foot four and full of muscles
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a Vegemite sandwich” – Men At Work.

Now, something to enrich your viewing pleasure!

My American friends will be unaware of this lil gem – the main reason why Brad hardly did any of his school homework! Or his chores! (Whatever they were…)

“Cthulhu for kids” as one bright spark remarked. The narrator: Willie Rushton was a talented writer/satirist and his distinctive voice worked perfectly.

Who needs CGI  when you can do wonders with plasticine?!

With the revelation that Drut spelt backwards is turd, the hilarity lasted for WEEKS – aah, happy times…

“I feel peculiar…”

“Hold a chicken in the air
Stick a deckchair up your nose
Buy a jumbo jet
And then bury all your clothes
Paint your left knee green
Then extract your wisdom teeth
Form a string quartet
And pretend your name is Keith” – Spitting Image.

With film reviews, comic round-ups, fiction, and now 80s Club Nights (WAHEY!!) you can’t deny that Brad is one groovy gaff at which to hang out!

Whatever lousy mood you may find yourself in, trust me, put on this next vid by the Thompson Twins (hey, there’s three of ’em, ha!) and a big, contented grin will always be guaranteed.

“Dance, boy; dance, boy!”

“Wake me up before you go-go
Don’t leave me hanging on like a yo-yo
Wake me up before you go-go
‘Cause I’m not plannin’ on going solo” – Wham.

 

And how could we end this Post without including Bill Murray?!

Honestly, it was either him or Molly Ringwald… 

“I ain’t afraid of no gif”

 

Well, what vids did you/do you enjoy the most from the 80s?

 

Fantastic Beats And Where To Find Them: Vol. 2

More Manic Music Monday!

“There are two types of beings in the universe: those who dance, and those who do not” – Drax.

Welcome back, hotsteppers!

The beats continue on Bradscribe.

Seeing as cool stuff tagged as Vol. 2 are the in-thing @ the mo (and the first edition of this innovative Post turned out to be a party that none of you wanted to leave) here we are with Fantastic Beats Vol. 2!

Now its over to my lovely assistant to activate the sooperdoopersoundsystem:

“On my planet, we have a legend about people like you. It’s called Footloose. And in it, a great hero, named Kevin Bacon, teaches an entire city full of people with sticks up their butts that, dancing, well, is the greatest thing there is” – Peter Quill.

We start with Freax aka Sascha Fox.

Another of the acts pumping through me headphones whilst living in more tropical climes a few years ago. These platters would invariably get me into the necessary creative frame of mind. Among several enjoyable floor-fillers, one could not stop playing Pum Gun Trax.

Just recently, a second version of such Trax has come to my attention. And it is more mental than the first! Presented with the choice of Vol. 1 or Vol. 2, well, be trendy and plump for Pump Vol. 2!

“I am Groot? I am Groot? I am Groot” – Baby Groot.

“NO! That is the button that will kill everyone! Try again!” – Rocket Raccoon.

Next up is Robert Gorl – once one-half of the 70s electro outfit: DAF (Deutsch Amerikanische Freundschaft) – this synth-disco rebel branched out on his experimental own during the 80s and 90s.

For me, the highlight of his lo-fi output came with The Right Side Of Reason collaboration with Karl O’Connor (aka Regis – featured in my first Fantastic Beats compilation) and the Sexdrops – oof! goodness! – LP in 1998.

Is this really the same Robert Gorl who recorded Darling Don’t Leave Me with Annie Lennox?!

Back then, this is what the future sounded like:

“THE MELODY IS PLEASANT” – Gamora.

It’s amazing to hear what some techno producers can do with other people’s compositions. It just happens that the next two stunners selected for your headphone-pleasure are remixes.

Tell you what: it’s not all doof-doof-doof! around here ya know!

Polar Inertia delve into deeper, more intriguing soundscapes, and here they formulate a more sophisticated sonic gem.

While concentrating on my more cosmic fiction, this is one of the pieces guaranteed to generate the required far-out feel.

Especially late at night; pulls me in every time…

“What are you doing?” – Ronan The Accuser.  

What we have next on today’s show is an old fave, greatly enhanced with a new version.

Luke Slater is one of the UK’s most significant Techno producers. Remember back in ’99 getting my mind blown by his Freek Funk album (on the John Peel Show – where else?).

One of his numerous side projects is Planetary Assault Systems. A group of leading producers were invited to take a PAS track and give it their own unique remix treatment. The following is by far the outstanding track on The Light Years Reworks: the subsequent compilation album.

Don’t know who Lucy is, but – whoa! – he’s got such an infectious groove going on here:

“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!” – Yondu Udonta.

Last – but by no means least – the next great video happened to be a nifty lil number only discovered during this past week. Honestly, there is such an invigorating and feelgood vibe to this groove.

(Be careful: this vid – the only one available where you’re not staring @ the record label for six minutes – contains flashing images).

The track itself begins @ 0:25:

“You need my what?” – One Legged Prisoner.

In case you were wondering how Brad has managed to hone his own brand of distinctive awesomes on this site, it’s by being moved – and motivated – by stuff like this.

Music is – and can be – a major beneficial accompaniment to such a gruelling activity as creative writing. Music technology has progressed so remarkably. Beyond the machines though, what matters ultimately is the music.

Only in the last twenty years have digitised sounds exuded a higher form of quality and finesse.

And made this funny bunny wanna dance even more…

Roll on Vol. 3…

 

“Of Star-Gods And Sales Figures”: The Short-Lived Comic Books That Live Long In The Memory

Another Frenetic Excursion Through Bronze Age Awesomeness. 

creatures-on-the-loose-37

“Easy with that pig-sticker! You and your buddy ought to be more discreet about where you have spats…” – E. Hammond Preiss.

“Not quite a year ago, I composed a brief text feature on the letters page as an introduction and I’m writing what amounts to an epilogue.”

So wrote David Kraft, in an Editorial, snazzily titled: “Of Star-Gods And Sales Figures,” effectively announcing that this: Creatures On The Loose Featuring Man-Wolf #37 (June 1975), would be the final ish.

He explained how: “Sales, of course, are generally the deciding factor. But not totally.”

Apparently, despite “doing well on the newsstands,” it hadn’t been doing well enough. Kraft explained that granting J. Jonah Jameson’s hairy star-cursed son his own book was given “very serious consideration,” but at that time, Marvel had already laid extensive plans to launch a variety of new series.

Wonder if any of them reached the heights of Man-Wolf?

With Kraft‘s script and George Perez’s art, the final ish of Creatures On The Loose is a rip-roaring yarn.

It’s only fault?

Who knows if the savage progeny of the moon managed to land the spacecraft and save his friends on the last page…?

And now, we take a rare venture into DC territory – from Man-Wolf to Ironwolf – hey, get that symmetry!

“You’re no better than the Empress – you’re worse! At least she doesn’t hide her evil behind fine words and gracious hospitality!” – Ironwolf.

The tenth and final ish of DC’s Weird Worlds: Ironwolf #10 (November 1974), features an Editorial called: “Weird Words.” It states that despite being both a critical and commercial success, this title has to close – why?

“In a word: Ecology.

“For years, we’ve been publishing stories in the comics, warning of impending shortages of vital materials… The problem is real. One proof is that there will me no more Weird Worlds. We can’t get enough paper to publish it. Simple as that.”

Hmm… your correspondent is NOT convinced.

This “serious paper shortage” does not appear to have affected all the poor and underwhelming titles churned out – by both DC and Marvel, not to mention other indie publishing houses – during the intervening four decades (thus justifying my love and belief in Bronze Age books).

This particular ish – featuring Ironwolf: a sword-wielding adventurer in the John Carter of Mars mould – has lots to commend it, especially lively art by Howard Chaykin. The story is pleasing galactic fun, enticing enough to make me hunt down further ishs – there are only nine of them, so it shouldn’t be an extensve hunt…

“Fool! My defensive screens can easily neutralize your pathetic attack. Can you do as well against my ionic sword?” – Salia Petrie.

“She’s forcing me into a corner and if her sword punctures the copper foil skinsuit under my costume, I’ll age a thousand years in a second!” – Vance Astro.

The third selection in this eclectic mix also happens to be the final ish of a classic title unfairly terminated much too soon.

Three reasons drew me to Ms. Marvel: a woman as the central character; news of her own forthcoming movie; and perhaps the most obvious excuse: it was written by Chris Claremont – the same auteur responsible for making The Uncanny X-Men such a stupendous – and enduring – series.

After acquiring both impressive and disappointing mags in this series, this ish: #23 (April 1979) is one of the best in the series. Abducted by The Faceless One and taken to the space station known as Drydock, she finds Salia Petrie – a fellow NASA colleague whose mind is being controlled by the cosmic villain.

And there is a cameo appearance by Vance Astro, leader of the Guardians of the Galaxywho will be all the rage in cinemas again next month!

Actually, it is not that difficult to see why the fate of this particular series was sealed: apart from the constant change of artist – always not a good sign Carol Danvers’ drastic change in costume appears to have been a desperate misjudgment. Moreover, being terminated in 1979, alas, meant that female-led series still had a long way to go before achieving mainstream acceptance…

“You people kidnapped me, you seek to destroy our planet… Do you expect me to show you mercy? If so, forget it, fiends. There’s nothing I won’t do to stop you. Nothing!” – Dejah Thoris.

“I have never been one write letters to the editor. However, something has come up that I cannot let pass. Simply put, the termination of John Carter of Mars, Warlord of Mars is an injustice,” stated one disgruntled reader, printed in #26 (August 1979) – the penultimate ish.

On the strength of this exciting – and yet moving – mag, other copies have been sought this past few months. It was truly a great expedition when #7 (Decemper 1977) came into my possession, and at a reduced sale price too. A keen John Carter fan for most of my life, Marvel did a fine job on this series.

This particular ish just happens to be blessed with the pulsating pencils of Gil Kane. And its title: Dejah Thoris Lives promises a suitably feisty appearance by one of science-fantasy’s most iconic princesses. In the hands of that other exceptional Wolf: Marv Wolfman, this ish does not disappoint!

Again, it is such a shame that this brand of awesomeness was ultimately defeated by the crass excuse of “poor sales.”

1979 was one of my favourite years; and yet it seems to have been less than favourable as far as comic books are concerned…

“Awwright, ya flap-eared yahoos! Everybody git your tails inside an’ git them fishbowls off!” – Nick Fury.

Know you this: Nick Fury is one of my all-time fave Marvel characters. It has been an absolute pleasure tracking down the work of the legendary Jim Steranko, arguably the greatest artist to bring this deadly Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. to bold and wise-crackin’ life. You’d think that he would have no trouble saving an experimental title like What If? from the dreaded sales figures curse, but no…

Stan Lee presents: A Stunning Saga Of An Alternate Reality, indeed!

#14 (April 1979) boasts the incredible question: What If Sgt. Fury Had Fought WWII In Outer Space? On the morning of 7 December 1941, the Pearl space station is attacked by a squadron of “crummy Betan lizards.” Such a bizarre premise proved too irresistible; plotted by Gary Friedrich, drawn by Herb Trimpe – and narrated by The Watcher of course! – this special bumper-sized edition is certainly unputdownable stuff!

All the ishs featured here hold reserved places in my ever-expanding Bronze Age collection, although it is a shame that that it is their ephemeral nature that link them together. Ironically, the discontinuation of these titles has bolstered their value – not to mention made them more difficult to come by.

At the end of the day, sales figures proved to be far more effective at crushing heroes than any nefarious plan concocted by the most devious costumed supervillains.

Thankfully, David Kraft and George Perez were allowed to produce the two concluding episodes of the Star-God Saga in a couple of ishs of Marvel Premiere four years later.

Kraft ended that editorial in 1975 by stating: “Doing this series has been a lot of fun for all of us here, especially George and myself, and we hope that you’ve gotten some entertainment out of it along the way.

“We’re only sorry it had to end so soon.”

“I knew one of you super-creeps was responsible for this! Good or bad – you’re all the same…! You’ve got to be stamped out – no matter what the cost! And if J. Jonah Jameson has anything to say about it, you will be!” – J. Jonah Jameson.

 

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.