“Ymir’s Frosty Beard!”: The Weird And Wonderful Realms Of Bronze Age Comics

Because You Demanded It! Brad Gets Lost! But In Which Realm…?

Man-Wolf: “Good Lord! We were on a flying mountain!”

Garth Of Mournhelm: “Calling on yourself already, Stargod? Our world functions on a higher spatio-temporal plane than your own. More things are possible here than you have ever dreamed!” 

Welcome back, True Believers!

Oh, don’t mind the mess.

On this stormy night, your tour guide here is busy supervising his rabble of minions to sort out the multifarious All-Colour delights that have accumulated over this past year. So, what theme for this particular Bronze Age Bonanza? 

During these (dark) times, when most of us would just like to escape, plunging into pulsating pages of fantasy seem the most reassuring answer – why not escape with Brad? Another scintillating variety show has been assembled; mocha and cake await.

Fasten your seatbelts – the awesomeness has been set in an upright position.  

Now, let’s head along the Rainbow Bridge to my all-time fave Otherworldly destination: 

 

Asgard! And – hey! – Olympia too?!

“Thou wouldst hurl skyfire at him who did direct the forging of his son’s own storming-bringing hammer?! Verily, such effrontery doth cry out unto the heavens for punishment!” – Odin All-Father.  

Yes, yes, YES! 

After several months of tracking other cosmic goodies elsewhere, my attention inevitably falls back to the God Of Thunder –

with that legendary run by Big John Buscema especially topping mt shopping list. 

The Mighty Thor is one of my most beloved series; thus, now, more than ever, my scanners have been reprogrammed to seek out anything and everything Asgardian, especially as Thor: Ragnarok-fever gathers apace.

In The Mighty Thor #289 (November 1979) “Look Homeward, Asgardian!” – brought to us by the ever-reliable pen of Roy Thomas, and the ever-exquisite pencils of Keith Pollard – Thor, after seeing his father kneeling before the Celestials, angrily hurls himself at the One Above All. Instead of striking him, he is instantly transported into Olympia. Zuras tells Thor that he has 24 hours to find another solution to the Celestials predicament, before the Uni-Mind will attack. Meanwhile, back in Asgard, Karnilla weeps over the body of Balder, then speaks to Frigga about her not being Thor’s real mother.

Jeez! This is a cosmic soap opera! 

Unlike the sentimental tosh we are bombarded with on the telly, this is all engrossing reading. Its one of those ishs where you are spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting an awesome page to accompany my rambunctious ruminations, but little can compare to the sheer majesty of Odin riding on his eight-hooved steed: Sleipnir to the realm of Olympus: 

And then we move onto:

 

Lemuria.

“I’ve had enough! There is still time before the wizard Athmar Phong returns at dawn… I will not be in his power!” – Thongor.

From Thor to Thongor! 

Sadly, this is the only clever line you will find in this section.

It has been an absolute joy catching up with Man-Wolf – one of the more intriguing characters to initially spark this craving for classic Bronze Age comics. Unfortunatey, the series carrying his adventures: Creatures On The Loose was cancelled, with two episodes of the Star-God epic failing to see the light of day.

Having searched for earlier ishs: #s 11-17 – containing stories featuring Gullivar Jones (a precursor of John Carter Of Mars), we had to make do with a dose of sword-and-sorcery – #23 (May 1973) in the series: Thongor: Warrior of Lost Lemuria is based on “Thieves Of Zangabal” by Lin Carter. Th cover of “Where Broods The Demon!” features the promising blurb: sword-and-sorcery as only magnificent Marvel can present  it!”

At one point during my teens, sword-and-sopcery was all one craved, but even back then – “By Gorm’s Beard!” – trying to get into this particular ish would still have posed such an unwanted challenge. No point in adding the names of the writer and artist – you will not have heard of them. The art is below-average even by Marvel’s lofty standards, and trying to find suitable speech bubbles to quote proved to be an unnecessary chore. At one point, that green monstrosity (depicted on the cover) blurts:

“I weary of this, fleshthing! I have grown bored!”

Jeez, took the words right outta my mouth, Crocface…

Brad would much rather get stuck in: 

The Shadow Realm!

…than have to sit through another ish in this series.

Wonder Man: “I’m sorry, Mr Bertolini. It’s just that being Wonder Man, it’s hard for me to pretend those cannonballs are hurting me when I can hardly feel them.”

Mr Bertolini: “True, Signore Wonder Man, but I hired you because I thought you could a-act. And-a these cannonballs don’t grow on grapevines, neither! That was the seventh take! I‘m-a disgusted. Let’s-a break for lunch…” 

“At dawn today, our surveillamce planes detected what was apparently a… city materializing in the middle of the Mediterranean. We were sent to investigate when…

“…a tidal wave of hugh proportions swelled up and carried us several miles to this island.”

– so explains the confused captain of a US aircrafl carrier who encounters an otherworldly city: the Shadow Realm, reappearing in the ocean two millennia after it mysteriously vanished. 

In 1981, this series consisted of critically-panned fillers, However, during this period, Genial Gene “The Dean” Colan contributed his legendary art. Glad to say that the monumental ish: #211 – in which “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” were trimmed from eight members down to a combo of six – happened to be my very first Avengers mag!

Twenty years later, it is equally thrilling to have tracked down #207 (May 1981); “Beyond A Shadow…” is an astounding tale of science-fantasy. 

Fortunately, already in Italy is my comedic-double-act-of-the-moment: Wonder-Man (making a spaghetti western) and The Beast (working on his tan and letting the local signorinas stroke his blue fur and what-not). Pretty soon, all the Avengers are on the scene. In a touching interlude (spread out across four wonderful pages) Shadow-Lord tells Wonder-Man’s girlfriend that he is a member of an ancient tribe who “gradually learned to control certain forces of nature.” Feared and shunned by others, they – and their powers – withdrew into the obscurity of history.

But!

Sheesh, there’s always one, isn’t there?!

“Over the aeons, we became aware of a seemingly immortal force of awesome destruction – one who could potentially plunge mankind into an irreversible slide to its doom.”  

Such a tragic end: the Avengers are too late to realise that Shadow-Lord was just a Guardian; the real threat (the one he gave up mortalityand his love – to thwart) comes in the form of The Berserker: that immortal force who – having already conquered the world once in the guise of an ancient Roman emperor – no doubt proves his formidable villainry in the much-sought-after #208! 

All this, AND the Beast bedecked in Hawaiian shirt and shades:

“Oh my stars and garters!”

 

And then it goes all mystic as we are swept into:

The Unreal Realm Inside The Orb Of Agamotto(!)

“The slightest touch of my realm dispels life within you! The sizeable rock which smote the other spirit dispatched it almost instantly, as you saw! Even now, the submicroscopic particles always present in space cut through you…” – Death. 

“Inside was a world of unreality, where a prattling caterpillar told me I had ventured too near illusion in my escape from death, dooming me to this shadowy realm!” 

One of the undeniable pleasures to be gained from this hunt for yesteryears’ awesomeness is catching up with Doctor Strange.

Last year – to prepare myself for Bennybatch’s dip into the MCU – getting acquainted with the Master Of Th Mystic Arts seemed like the obvious – and somewhat tantalising – treat.

But!

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

Talk about getting MORE than you bargained for! Steve Englehart’s scripts are a revelation, and – yes! – the realism evoked by Gene “The Dean” Colan’s pencils is just as magical as anything The Master Of Mystic Arts can conjure.

In this study of the transdimensional realms, Ish #4: “Where Bound’ries… Decay” (October 1974) is brought to us by the equally brilliant artwork of Frank Brunner. Here, by using the necromancy of the Orb of Agamotto to help heal wounds inflicted by Silver Dagger, “suddenly, grotesque tentacles shot forth from the Orb, entangling me, drawing me… inside!”  

Blimey! Never a dull moment with Stephen!

In my restless pursuit of Bronze Age comics, who knew that a descent into the horrific Realm Of Death could make for such an engrossing read?

It is amazing how swiftly Doctor Strange has become one of my fave characters in all o’ Marveldom, and – Oshtur be praised! – this ish is a veritable classic, and would grace anybody’s collection (if you can lay your hands on it). 

Galador! And Wraithworld (in the Dark Nebula)

“…For Galactus has said before, and shall say again, that Galactus is supreme unto himself! Galactus is Galactus! That is all any lesser being ever need know!” – (guess who? 😉 ) Galactus

Regular Followers will know the squidgy and sentimental soft spot that Brad holds for ROM: Th Greatest of the Spaceknights, celebrated in this Post. 

The Marvel Milestone recognised as #25 witnessed ROM’s dramatic return to his beloved homeworld. AND is one of the single most amazing ishs to ever pass through these grubby mitts.

But nothing prepared this blogger for what would transpire in #26 – GALACTUS – YES! GALACTUS, the gargantuan World-Devourer – through his despicable herald: Terrax The Tamer, announces that Galador itself has whetted his dreaded appetite! Thus, the Spaceknights assemble to enact one of the Bronze Age’s most epic battles.

Yet it is the extraordinarily impressive #27 (February 1982) that tickles MY taste buds here. Delivered by the consistently-impressive dynamic duo of Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema: “Turnabout is Fair Play!” witnesses th deal that ROM has made: taking the Devourer of Worlds to the Dark Nebula, and thus rid the Spaceknights of the homeworld of their sworn enemy: the Dire Wraiths. 

But!

Wraithworld is unlike any planet Galactus has ever had to deal with before! 

“Rivers of molten metal scar the surface… Ash as black as night sweeps like a pestilence through the darkling sky!” he complains bitterly.

Moreover, vicious acid rain not only eats away at Galador-forged plandanium armour, but the relentless torrents corrode the mighty Galactus himself and melts his Energy Convertor into elemental slag! Having turned his impatient attention to the Black Sun, Galactus is then set upon by a flock of giant Deathwings: “sorcerous conjurations of a galaxy where all physical laws are ruled by magic most black!”

Not surprisingly, this ish holds a reserved place in my collection.

As one elated Spaceknight herein cries out: “Gods of Golden Galador, yes! YES!”  

Starshine: “Will he consume the Black Sun… or be consumed by it?”

Javelin: “Or will both perish in the attempt?”

ROM: “We dare not remain on Wraithworld to find out, Javelin! Not even our cyborg armour would survive the ensuing cataclysm!”

 

Last BUT BY NO MEANS LEAST(!) comes one of those pinnacles of Bronze Age excellence: 

The Other Realm (And Earth’s Moon)

“Yes! Leap at me, carrion! Come be kissed by my shining hand!” – Duna. 

Aha! THIS is more like it!

Marvel Premiere Featuring Man-Wolf #45 offers a more satisfying dash of sword-and-sorcery than that Thongor could ever dare to dream… 

In fact, this is the first-part-of-two that should have appeared in Creatures On The Loose. It is really gratifying to see David Kraft and George Perez re-unite to conclude this classic cosmic ceper from beyond the stars – previous episodes were reviewed here:

The concluding instalment (in Marvel Premiere Featuring Man-Wolf #46) is equally awesome. 

Just seeing Wolfie and his otherdimensional buddies on (flying) horseback jousting in mid-air with the cadaverous horde of Arisen Tyrk is perfect to while away any rainy day. This sums up – in the most groovy manner possible – what Bronze Age comics could deliver at the height of their creative powers.

Mesmerizingly illustrated, this ish not only provides a swell escape from my daily toils and troubles, but inspires me to conjure up my own weird and wonderful worlds. 

On that positive note, here ends this Bronze Age Bonanza!

Keep it cosmic!

“You crummy skeletons think you can pick us off that easily? Eat my fire, bonebags!” – Gorjoon. 

 

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“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. 

 

Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2: The Bradscribe Review

The Difficult Second Album…? 

“It’s unlike the first movie in so many ways. It’s wild, it’s daring…” – James Gunn.

“It’s high on its own supply,” stated one discouraging early review.

But hey! That’s no bad thing, ‘cos Brad is high on believing that Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 is another veritable smash hit for Marvel! Everybody enjoyed the original – this reviewer included, especially captivated by the wisecracking hamster/monkey/puppy, as you can see here.

Rather than copy all that was awesome and entertaining from the original, this sequel attempts to expand – on the largest scale possible! Plus, just about every riotous and rambunctious scene is ram-packed with a delirious spectrum of candy colours.

Kicking off not long after the end of the first movie, our beloved bunch have to deal with a typically gooey reject from the Men In Black franchise for Ayesha, Gold Leader of the Sovereign race. Due to the uncompromising wiles (and winks!) of the unscrupulous Rocket – stealing batteries?! BAD hamster! – they escape with Sovereign remotely-piloted drones (in a wacky swipe at vintage arcade gaming!) darting after the Milano. In a bizarre twist, the Guardians are saved by the intervention of an ancient and mysterious celestial entity, who ends up providing a substantial emotional heft to these chaotic proceedings.

“Now the expectations are very high, so there’s more pressure… I still think we’re going to surpass expectations, but it’s going to be monumentally different…” – Chris Pratt.

You just gotta dig the snazzy ingredients that constitute the Guardians formula: a groovy opening credits sequence; madcap action; quirky humour; and zingin’-an’-a-pingin’ cosmic thrills presented in a whopping great fun and frenetic package!

Well done to James Gunn for creating a script exploring – within such a mainstream blockbuster – the intriguing psychodynamics of family tensions and, in addition, it’s (g)rooted in how the Guardians find the belonging they crave – developing their own adoptive family unit.

Cool to see the Ravagers again, but even better to see Kraglin – one of the first film’s underrated supporting figures! – receive a more meaty role this time around. But praise for Michael Rooker! Another terrific outing for Yondu – who knew this red-finned dude would provide some of this sequel’s funniest and most powerfully moving moments?!

Oh yes, the Stan Lee cameo is hilariousone of his best! And for this Marvel fanboy: a great surprise to see the Watchers as well!

Inevitably, the biggest scene-stealer is the smallest “Guardian”: Baby Groot, in turns a tricksy twig and soppy sapling.

We all want one! Don’t we?!

“I have the biggest fin because I’m the coolest dude. You will see, in the process of the film, how that comes about – Michael Rooker.

Sure, Vol. 2 had no hope of matching its predecessor: an unexpected smash that set the bar so enjoyably high, but it certainly did pile on lots to relish, but…

Let’s get the niggles outta the way.

One of the weakest points of the first movie is now the primary problem of the second. The only viable reason for bringing Nebula back involved developing her character, but – ho-hum, once again – all she can do is bitch and broodher presence here is even more pointless than three years ago…

Again, Zoe Saldana spent more time getting her face painted than being allowed to expand Gamora’s character…

Really wanted to like Mantis, but she came across as too fizzy and fragile. Her interactions with Drax undoubtedly came cursed with the movie’s poorest lines.

Yes! Sylvester Stallone is more unintelligible than ever…

Naturally, there is still more bickering than actual guarding going on, but hey! That just adds to the charm of the whole caboodle.

But please! Spare me the David Hasselhoff-was-Peter’s-childhood-icon crap. And that frickin’ cameo! Jeez, really wanna unsee THAT…

What, you imagined… he was your Dad?!

You got issues, Quill…

“Only someone like me could pull something like this off…” – Kurt Russell.

To think that Pratt’s own suggestion led to the one and only Kurt Russell being cast as Ego The Living Pranet – a quite formidable opponent who, back in the day, certainly kept Thor – even Galactus! “occupied”!   

Not as badass as Snake Plissken; not as cool as R.J. Macready, Russell’s Egoha! love typing that – is nevertheless an unforgettable monster. Thankfully a more substantial antagonist than Ronan The Accuser! Uff, celestials make rotten Dads, but as our awestruck gaze sweeps across that sumptuous vista, you can’t help but think: that is a handsome planet…

Kurt Russell, the star of Stargate, and doughty white-vested hero of Big Trouble In Little China, is an undeniable icon of SF cinema, and thus certainly adds the necessary style and gravitas here.

The interaction between this father and son is engrossing, until a shocking revelation leads to Peter unleashing his Pac of tricks.

In conclusion then, this movie is an absolute blast!

From the dashing 1980 Russell beaming at Meredith (and listening to Brandy), to the gargantuan finale, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 delivers just the right level of energy and escapism to ensure the quintessential cinema experience.

In actual fact: can’t remember the last time a Big Release elicited so many laughs and tears from yours truly!

Even digged that Mary Poppins gag you never knew you needed!

So, many repeat viewings are assured then.

And the tantalising hint from the post-creds indicating the appearance of one of my Top 5 All-Time Fave Marvel Cosmic Characters in Vol. 3 sounds like the next instalment could be even bigger!

“Oh… YEAH!”

 

BRADSCRIBE RATING: 4 Ooga-Chakas outta 5

 

“‘Rocket do this, Rocket do that…!'” – Rocket Raccoon.  

 

No raccoons or sentient trees were harmed in the making of this Post.

 

Logan: The Bradscribe Review

A “Superhero Movie” Like No Other…

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“You must be Wolverine! That remarkable metal doesn’t run through your entire body, does it?” – Magneto. 

“I feel relieved I’ve exorcised my gnawing frustration,” Hugh Jackman said in a recent interview, promoting his last screen venture as the popular mutant: Wolverine. “I always felt we’d never really got to the bottom of this character.”

It is – yet again – that most common of premises: the near future, but for Logan, a future too near for his liking. How did the wise-crackin’, cigar-chompin’, adamantium-clawed, reluctant chocolate milk slurper get reduced to driving limos for hen parties?

What’s more: how the blazes did Brad get roped in to watch this third solo instalment, when the first was barely watchable, enough to dissuade him from sitting through the second?! As a HUGE fan of the X-men comics, this series personally felt like an unfilmable venture, with nobody capable of bringing these extarordinary characters – especially Wolverine and Professor X – to life, but since their stunning debut way back in 2000, they have exceeded my lowest X-pectations – ha!

Well, after preview screenings of ts opening 40 mins back in December, the unanimous praise tweeted as frenetic as fudge, piqued my interest. 

But, of course, this is Patrick Stewart’s swansong as the professor as well as Jackman’s final outing in his most famous role. For old times’ sake, this just had to be watched. 

Just two cinemas in the next town, and only one of those was showing Logan – built in 1911 and restored to its original style (two screens only), complete with a dinky wooden ticket booth (smaller than a phone booth!) plush carpets and ornate banisters, such a gritty, gory and – dare one say it, X-rated – drama seemed quite incongruous lurking within this most handsome and venerable little establishment.

Armed with his torn-ticket and chocolate milk, your correspondent ventured tentatively upstairs to check out the Screen’s drapes.

Oh my, methinks, hope this motion picture is equally as impressive as the decor… 

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“People don’t change, Wolverine. You were an animal then and you’re an animal now. I just gave you claws” – William Stryker. 

The year is 2029, but this is a science-fantasy scenario. If there is any technology, you have to nab it, and the Mex border eerily reflects the desolate and hopeless circumstances of desperate and world-weary people. Charles Xavier is now an elderly shell of his former self. The world’s most powerful brain is deteriorating due to degenerative disease – a very dangerous state witnessed at least twice to chilling effect.

Logan has – rather shockingly – visibly aged since the last time we saw him. His claws bedevil his temperament with Arthritis. And those lacerations don’t heal so effectively like they used to; then again, his most painful wounds cut into him deeper than just his flesh…   

What happened? 

Both Logan and Charles have fallen so far – it’s a looong way from the pristine hi-tech chamber of Cerebro…

Be warned: this Wolverine cuts, slices and skewers in full graphic detail – there are absolutely NO holds barred. Director James Mangold has deliberately set out to show the brutal, ugly and washed-up world of aging “superheroes.”

When you are just about to give this miasmic misanthropy a miss (not to mention these grisly sights makes that choco milk taste really bitter), these adult X-ways are enriched with one of the finest junior performances in recent times – Dafne Keen is sensational as Laura; she is full of surprises and wants to get ahead…

But what really freaked me out – the real milk-spiller – came in the excellent performance of Boyd Holbrook as cybernut Pierce: Good Lord! Honestly, it’s like watching a 17 year old Brad strutting around up there! The resemblance and mannerisms: uncanny! Jeez…!

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Cyclops: “He’s not one of us. There’s no way he’s going to take orders.”

Prof. Charles Xavier: “Give him an order worth following. He’ll take it.”

Logan is far removed from the puerile tomfoolery of Suicide Squad, the underwhelming CG blandness of X-Men: Apocalyse and the hilarious irreverence of Deadpool, although the latter’s unexpected success showed that there is a demand for such R-rated material. Interestingly, this film looks more like a mutant road-trip movie, with two irascible old gits constantly barking at each other. No wonder Laura stays mute, and stares out of the window…

This is my first trip to the cinema since Rogue One – so obviously the next would have to be quite a formidable one. Watching a foul-mouthed Professor X and Logan deriding X-Men comics is worth the ticket price alone.

“There’s no living… with a killing.”

Too damn right.

Perhaps too much for us to view here; perhaps the brutality outweighs the drama too x-plicitly – it will be some time before my second viewing is made.

But it cannot be denied: 

From Wolverine’s opening drink-addled expletive to Laura’s final symbolic gesture, Logan is a powerful piece of movie-making. Jackman’s Logan brought out the cheers, while Stewart’s Charles brought out the tears. 

Logan’s run may be over, but he finishes as the first clear Winner of 2017. 

Well, what would you prefer, yellow spandex?

“Hugh, you were at the National Theatre with Sir Trevor Nunn, you cannot have claws coming out of your hands – this is ridiculous” – Deborra-Lee Furness (aka Mrs. Jackman). 

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“Got anything other than chocolate milk?” – Wolverine. 

BRADSCRIBE VERDICT: Claw-some

4-out-of-5

Origins Of An Ace Oddity: The Blogger Recognition Award!

Yay, Let The Word Go Forth! Bradscribe Is Officially Awesome! 

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“Omnium rerum principia parva sunt [Everything has small beginnings]” – Cicero.

Thanks to Michael J Miller @ mycomicrelief for nominating me for the Blogger Recognition Award!

Michael not only writes consistently brilliant reviews of comic books, but is a superhero ‘imself, having decided to take a stand on the side of Truth and Justice and SPEAK OUT about what is happening to his country. His site is well worth a visit or three! It’s ram-packed with goodies and he’ll be pleased to see you!

It’s always a thrill, and a great honour, to be recognised – and highly regarded – by your fellow bloggers; and it only seems like yesterday when I nominated him for the Mystery Blogger Award!

Personally, February is always the most trying month for me – this year’s has brought its own extraordinary events (best left unmentioned); writing usually pulls me through hard times, but considering how substandard the drafts produced during this past frenzied fortnight are, well… (best left unpublished! – most unlike me, innit?!)

Michael’s unexpected – and uplifting – congrats message this week could not have come at a better time.

Bless yer heart, amigo!

Anyway, here are the rules for the Blogger Recognition Award:

1) Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link to their blog.
2) Write a post to show your award.
3) Give a brief story of how your blog started.
4) Give two pieces of advice to new bloggers.
5) Select other bloggers you want to give this award to.
6) Comment on each blog and let them know you have nominated them and provide the link to the post you created.

Right, how in blazes did all this madness begin?

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“A beginning is a very delicate time” – Princess Irulan. 

Know then that it is the year 2555.

Living in a predominantly Buddhist country, that was what it said on our Buddhist calendar.

You knew it better as 2012. 

Early in that year, after yet another dispiriting reply from a prospective editor – more of a “better luck next time,” rather than an outright rejection – he wanted to see “my blog.” Such a platform had frittered away @ the back of my mind for a few months, but that provided the impetus to get it started. 

Every good writer needs a portfolio of work; without anything in print/online – it was imperative to sort something out. And PRONTO.

But how?

This involved swottin’ up on specific technical gubbins from scratch. Having downloaded the necessary How To files, well…. sheesh, it might as well have been in Lithuanian – none of it made any sense. Weeks – then months – passed and the stalemate had not shifted; it wasn’t until eventually watching a YouTube vid over and over again did the rudiments of blogging finally sink into my stubborn noddle.

And then… hey! Holy Danish inter-lockin’ blocks, Bradman!

Now yer ready, whaddya gonna write about?!

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“Ready are you? What know you of ready…? This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away… to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was. Hmm? What he was doing. Hmph! Adventure. Heh! Excitement. Heh! A Jedi craves not these things. You are reckless!” – Yoda.

Brad won’t fail ya – Brad‘s not afraid. 

In the beginning, my Very First Post irresistibly concentrated on my unique background back then: living on the Gulf of Thailand. A world traveller with 5,000 Followers, producing Posts attaining 300 Likes each, Liked me straight away – instantly providing me with my own initial band of potential Followers to invite over to my site! It took only my second Post: Science Friction to collect NINE Likes – wow, methinks, this bloggin’ lark’s a doddle…

Even @ that initial stage, SF had not become my main focus, but after scant success with other Posts delving into various other beloved topics such as history, coffee and whatnot, SF became the official theme of this blog. Over 150 Posts – produced in three different countries – have carried the Brad Seal of Awe Since 2013. 

When my laptop’s screen went on strike last July, the remainder of ’16’s Posts had to be prepared @ a few Public Libraries in the local region.

One morning, while compiling one of my more ambitious Posts, one crusty, dreadlocked youngling – with skateboard in hand – leaned in, having recognised Arsene: our cute bunny forever immortalised as my Gravatar. 

“Hey, I really dig that site! It’s-” 

Upon seeing me activate my Dashboard, he gawped.

“Blimey Charley!” he chirped in amazement. “You- you’re Bradscribe?!” 

“What, didn’t think I wuz this ridiculously good-lookin’ in real life, huh?” 

After being evicted from the building (hey! you’re not allowed to natter in libraries) we skedaddled to the nearest coffee den.

“I wanna blog, man,” the rapscallion sniffed. “How can I be as successful as you?” 

“Well, two tips must ye learn to become a successful blogger… but first, m’young an’ eager padawan, help yerself to some ginger cake.”

Ah yes, the CAKE – hoo-boy, he LURVES a scrumptious slice a’ sveetness aound ‘ere, doesn’t ‘e, eh?!

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“Okay, first of all, you’re copying me from when I said I had a plan… And secondly, I don’t think you even have a plan!” – Rocket Raccoon. 

“No, really, kid – THESE are the TWO most important essential titbits I reckon ya need:

1). Be a friendly host

“Blog it and they will come!”

Nah, no matter how awesome your writing, there is no way to ensure that any readers will immediately swing by. Remember, MILLIONS of of blog posts are produced DAILY, so you have got to get out there and invite them over. 

And when other like-minded bloggers folla the courtesy of leaving a kind Comment, always reply: thanking them and generating a rapport. So they feel obliged to come back for more. The few times me Comments have appeared on newcomers’ sites, only to be ignored; not surprisingly, they vanished from the blogosphere soon after… 

ALWAYS reply, ya dig?! 

And:

2). DON’T pick yer nose while I’m explainin’ this to ya – jeez, man! 

Are ya done…? Good.

2). Be unique

A hefty proportion of those countless blog Posts are movie reviews – some are so formulaic it’s all too easy to get confused as to which blogger is which. Not only blog about what you love (and love whatchu blog), whatcha write should represent YOU as an individual: your thoughts, your interests, your personality.

In order to stand out from all those MILLIONS, it’s best ta produce something different – something distinctive. 

Be unexpected, unusual and – oh yes -unique. 

And if all else fails, it ‘elps ta offer them something irresistible. Hence, the cake…

“All the best to ya, kid. Good luck…”

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“My name is Max. My world is fire and blood. Once, I was a cop. A road warrior searching for a righteous cause. As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who had more cake… me… or everyone else…” – Max Rockatansky. 

As the rules for the Blogger Recognition Award stipulate no number of Nominees, we’ll go with my lucky number: 7.

So, all you lucky Nomineesmy (whisper it: all-female!) Magnificent Seven– time to stand and save a Mexican village from bandits and be recognised!:

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byhookorbybook

cafebookbean

livingabeautifullife

morganhazelwood

recoverytowellness

wordsforeverything

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Cheers!

ROM: A Post For The Greatest Of The Spaceknights

Two hundred years ago, the evil Dire Wraiths threatened the peace-loving planet, Galador. 

In their homeworld’s darkest hour, a thousand, brave young Galadorians sacrificed humanity itself to become Cyborg Warriors, a last desperate line of defence.

Though hopelessly outnumbered, these Spaceknights triumphed, and pursued the remnants of the Wraith horde across the universe…

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“By The Gates of the Golden Galaxy, what transpires here?! …The plain plandanium doors that were once so foreboding – have been replaced by golden portals emblazoned with the heroic deeds of… myself!” – ROM The Spaceknight.

The Shogun Warriors seems an unlikely source for a life-changing event, but nevertheless, on page 18 of ish #18, there is an ad for (what was then: 1980) the newest kid on the Marvel block – and what a striking page it is too (above; what else could this Post have begun with?): personally, it is one of the most important pages printed in comic book history.

Sometimes, this ish would be kept on top of the pile, just to skim over to that page! The design of ROM The Spaceknight himself turned out to be instantly electrifying.

That was it!  

At whatever cost to life, limb and pocket money allocations, this moppet would stop at NUTHIN’ until ROM soared his way into my burgeoning collection.

Agonizingly, the breakthrough would not come until taking shelter from a sudden downpour in a newsagent whilst on holiday back in 1982 – and stumbling across the unlikely form of…

the ROM Summer Special 1982. 

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“A better question would be: who are you? I would wager that so uncertain are you about everything just now… that you even wonder about your own identity! Are you the real Rom?” – Mentus. 

Essentially, this Summer Special is a Marvel UK reprint of ish #25. 

After two centuries dealing with the Dire Wraith threat on a distant planet called Earth, ROM returns to his homeworld and is amazed to discover how different it looks.

But nothing can prepare him to confront his new foe: himself!

In a fiendish plot, the disenchanted spaceknight known as Terminator has been remodelled to look like the Greatest Spaceknight, thereby luring other unwitting spaceknights back to Galador… to destroy them! 

Therein, we were treated to a fine and sinister turn by Mentus: one of the most menacing – and coolest – comic book villains ever to cross my senses. 

With the aid of Starshine: a female Spaceknight, ROM must attempt to teach their treacherous comrade-in-arms the error of his misprogrammed ways, and persuade him to help them defeat Mentus. 

After 34 years, it remains superlative stuff.

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“I liked the character. And I liked what they did with it. I thought the concept was quite good. It was unique… I almost hate to say this, but it was pretty easy to draw, too” – Sal Buscema.  

Originally called COBOL, he was renamed ROM (read-only memory) by execs @ Parker Brothers: the company that produced the spaceknight as a toy. To “build interest” in their product, they licensed the character to Marvel Comics. 

There, an intriguing background, including his own origins, personality, not just one, but two, love interests, a set of supporting characters –  and villains – were created. With emphasis on his cyborg nature – rather than being just a plain robot – someone who made the choice to sacrifice his human existence (and all the freedoms and relationships that that entailed) to help save his planet, ROM was allowed to develop into such a fascinating character, forever questioning what it means to be human.

“Bathed in the crimson glow” of his “Energy Analyser,” its rays would reveal to his cyborg eyes the wraiths in their deceitful human guise; and then ROM would summon forth his Neutralizer to banish them into Limbo.  

Guess who wanted to do that when he was seven…

Although the toy was a major flop, under the wonder-team of Mantlo/Buscema, the comic developed into its own unique and innovative brand. 

Ingeniously, ROM got woven into the Marvel Universe, interacting with such special guest-stars as the Torpedo, Ant-Man, The Jack Of Hearts and even the Uncanny X-Men!

Many years later, various back issues would be swept up into my gleeful clutches. Naturally, the earliest editions are the best, particular #12, in which ROM must fend off one of Marvel’s most enigmatic heroes: the Jack Of Hearts; while the next ish: #13 saw the fantastic Saga Of The Spaceknights (reprinted in the Marvel UK weekly: Future Tense).

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“I cannot command that you carry on the fight, Rom – I ask! You were the first to volunteer – the first to enter the Hall of Science and go under the laser-knives of the cyber-surgeons – the first to become a Spaceknight!”The Prime Director Of Galador. 

At last! After what seemed like an eternity… he’s back. 

What about this revival of ROM The Spaceknight currently appearing in a specialist stockist near you? Having perused through the debut ish, there are, unfortunately, mixed feelings. 

Yes, Galador’s greatest deserves to make a comeback, but in this incarnation?

The magic that brought the original series to such phenomenal life is simply not there. Perhaps these are early days (early issues) – and this Bronze Age Boy is being a tad unaccepting – but this new series does not do anything for me… yet. 

Unlike other – blatantly juvenile – brands such as Transformers and the Micronauts, ROM The Spaceknight – from his electrifying debut ish in December 1979, up until the cancellation of his series in February 1986 – transcended his simple plastic toy origins to become not only a noble and dynamic comic book warrior, but the Greatest Galador could offer.  

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“Our love can never die, dearest Rom. Go! Finish this war! End the threat of the Dire Wraiths forever, then return and reclaim your humanity!

“I-I will be waiting…” – Ray-na.