Monday, 29 February 2016
Sunday, 28 February 2016
Yes, Blogger managed to remove all the images...again!
I think that someone misunderstood. I LOVE the old Archie/MLJ Mighty Crusaders and 1980s Red Circle Crusaders. I just have not read the current versions. But what an excuse to re-post!
Someone said they could not find my article on the 1960s MLJ Mighty Crusaders. So,presenting for the second time,”Too Many Super Heroes”!
THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS –Too Many Super Heroes?
My first introduction to Mighty Comics and its characters came while purchasing the black and white reprints of Alan Class such as SUSPENSE [you can learn more at -http://groups.yahoo.com/group/alanclasscomics] However, around 1971 I walked into a bookseller that also stocked back issue comics. It was in one box that I found MIGHTY CRUSADERS #4 [April,1966].This comic really hit my button! There were heroes I had never seen or heard of before such as MR JUSTICE, FIREBALL, INFERNO and FIREFLY, BLACK JACK and my all time image favourite: The FOX! Twenty-one heroes, plus two former heroes-turned-villains: HANGMAN and The WIZARD [a cheat here since the Golden Age goody WIZARD turned up at the end to defeat his future evil counterpart!].
Yes, it was Jerry Ess writing but I still enjoy the comic and only now does it read rather inane in places. Paul Are did the art chores and I must admit that Are and Reinman have come in for a great deal of stick over the years but they did the job! I love their stuff and it was only in 2004 that I got a copy of MIGHTY CRUSADERS #4 to replace the one destroyed years before.
Someone, I am sure, will correct me if I am wrong, but the internal squabbling and fighting of the Crusaders pre-empted the Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch AVENGERS team? I know I kept thinking “why can’t they just work together?” but it was still enjoyable –like squabbling kids in the age group the comics were aimed at! It was like your gang, friends but fights breaking out amongst the members.
There was more, though; one thing that always sticks in my mind is the difficulty two of the characters had in private. BILL HIGGINS, aka THE SHIELD, had to constantly get fired for fouling up haircuts and more so that he could get into costume and away –in this aptly titled “TOO MANY SUPER HEROES”, Bill is a removal man who has to fumble and smash a mirror. I always felt sorry for him.
Then there was JOHN RAYMOND, aka THE WEB. Poor John, his wife was somewhat of a nagger but also highly strung. John had to constantly slip away from Rosie, a woman he dearly loved, and leave the dishes to return to adventuring.
Okay, the story was a series of in-fights but there were the villains. I was glad to see the HANGMAN become a hero again in the 1980s Red Circle run. However, his team up with the now villainous WIZARD was interesting. That, at the end of this story,ROY THE MIGHTY BOY appears from the past, followed by the Golden Age WIZARD was a very nice touch indeed.The splash page to Part Three shows a lovely use of blacks by Are and I think the reason this particular issue sticks in my memory is the story and art and the feel of the mid-1960s and the so-called “camp” hero period that ran alongside the imaginative story telling and art of Marvel Comics.
What might the MIGHTY CRUSADERS have been like had Jack Kirby been drawing or even drawing and writing the series?I also sit back and, looking at this and the other MCG titles, wonder why Archie has never tried to pull together this original series, the one of the 1980s and produce an “Essentials” style black and white book?
There are also the appearances of a more cohesive Crusaders team in ARCHIE WEIRD MYSTERIES #3 and 14. What a book that would make!!Never was there ever a gathering of super heroes in a MCG title again. Odd how time plays with your memories but I thought there were far more heroes in this issue!!
If you can get a copy of this comic- do! This is certainly one of my all-time 1960s favourites and I’m glad I managed to find a replacement copy.
That’s a little piece of the comic mind of Terry Hooper!
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Black Tower Comics began in 1984 as a Small Press publisher of A5 (US -Digest size) titles such as Adventure,Presents,Windows and Hanley's Garage. Then came the news, reviews, previews and interviews publication backed up by the mart and mail order service -Zine Zone (later Zine Zone International).
In 2009, with the innovation in publishing of Print On Demand (POD), Black Tower jumped in head first!
One of the first titles to see print in the new comic album format (A4) was The Bat Triumphant! This saw the complete story, begun in Black Tower Adventure vol. 1. William A. Ward's long lost 1940s character once again saw print as he fought a host of enemies in an attempt to reclaim his homeland.
And while The Bat may have fought fist and nail to reclaim his homeland, another 1940s Ward creation, Krakos the Egyptian, seemed far from willing to claim a new Egyptian Empire as promised to him by the Gods. Tackling a number of foes and even encountering the Many-Eyed One, Krakos turned his back on the gods and the final panel of Krakos -Sands Of Terror, delivered a true twist!
Of course, the flag-ship title had to return! And so Black Tower Adventure -eventually reaching new heights when the legendary Ben Dilworth jumped on board! Volume 2 consisted of ten issues. Just look at these covers....
And, with something like 40 years worth of files and investigation reports could all that much delving into UFOs, lake and sea creatures and many other mysteries not result in a book or two...or three? Some Things Strange & Sinister, Some More Things Strange & Sinister as well as Pursuing The Strange and Weird: A Naturalist's Viewpoint set a precedence.
Whereas for decades those involved in "UFOlogy", "Cryptozoology" and "Forteana" declared many mysteries, that photographs were lost "to history" and so on, these three books swiped away the false claims. Alleged lost photographs -found. 'Mysteries' solved by doing actual research work and reading the sources -something others had never done.
And, of course, mention natural history and Black Tower Books broke new ground with that in The Red Paper: Canids.
But not all the prose books covered mysteries and wildlife.
And if there is one thing "Herr Professor" loves it is discovering and presenting long lost UK Golden Age (1939-1951) comic strips and characters from publishers such as Gerald Swan, Foldes, Denis M. Reader, Cartoon Art Productions and others.
Scanned and restored as best as can be considering the poor print quality of the rationing years -especially red, orange, yellow, blue and purple ink printing!
Ace Hart The Atomic Man! The Tornado! TNT Tom! Dene Vernon! Acromaid! Cat-Girl! Bring 'Em Back Hank! Robert Lovett:Back From The Dead and so many other action heroes and humour strip characters -William A. Ward, Jock McCaill and a host of known and unknown creators contribute -either in single volume " Black Tower Gold" albums or all six collected into the 400+ pager -The Ultimate British Golden Age Collection!
Another great love is Centaur Comics from the United States. Right at the very start of the American Golden Age of Comics Centaur had creators who were ahead of the others! Before Plastic Man there was Plymo! Before The Human Bomb there was TNT Todd! Before Green Arrow and waaaaaaay before Hawkeye there was the mysterious red hooded archer called The Arrow! And, to just break your comic mind world there was even a Black Panther -decades before Kirby came up with his character of the same name.
The Eye Sees All. The Owl. The Iron Skull. Amazing Man. The King of Darkness. The Invisible Terror. The Blue Lady. The Shark. Mini Midget & Kitty. Mighty Man. Super Anne. The company may have been short-lived but it's characters -oh boy!
The two volume Centaur Heroes Collection has been compiled into one sweet 140 page comic collection!
Horror. Ghost stories. The twist-in-the tale. Did you think that a publisher who is a big horror comic/film fan would ignore these?
Nope. Each year since 2010, BTCG has published a Tales Of Terror anthology album and 2014s included some fun and spooky lost Swan Comic strips. I mean how can you go wrong -even Ben Dilworth is in these!
The Church Of England has it's own basher of dark forces in the Reverend Merriwether -"God's Demon0-Thumper" as the press billed him. From an ancient Egyptian demon to a village of the damned and Varney the Vampyre, werwolves and a final confrontation with Satan himself -Merriwether pulls no punches and offers no compromise. And in those last few seconds between life and death, Merriwether's mind recalls past cases -thanks to Ben Dilworththe Tall Man of Osaka.
Merriwether: God's Demon Thumper and Merriwether: The Test Of Satan are available as individual comic albums or in one swanky book The Collected Merriwether: God's Demon Thumper.
Oh, did I forget to mention Dene Vernon -British comics' first investigator of the supernatural and strange mysteries? I did? Unbelievable since Gavin Stuart Ross drew the 1948 based Dene Vernon: The Thing Below!
And did you know Ross also drew the two adventures of Victorian mystery man Chung Ling Soo? Chung Ling Soo: The Curse Of The Jade Dragon and Chung Ling Soo: The Case Of The Thames Serpent were two cracking tales of magic, adventure, murder and deception -still available as single comic albums or collected together to form The Adventures Of Chung Ling Soo!
Ben Dilworth is no slouch either! Chung Ling Soo's police "counter-foil" isnone other than old London "Jack" (police man) Inspector Wilberforce and when Dilworth says "Here's a Wilberforce one-off: PUBLISH IT!" you do not argue!
And did you know you can be a Gold Master of Japanese Haiku? Well, neither did I -but guess what? Ben Dilworth is such a master and his Osaka Brutal features his Haiku in English!
Old saleman that he is, Dilworth just keeps on going. He produced Aesop's Fables -a darker version of the childrens tales and then went on to write two well illustrated prose albums looking at spirits and demons -Dilworth's Japanese Yokai and Dilworth's Western Yokai. Osaka and the Yokai books were combined with Aesop's Fables into the one volume The Collected Ben R. Dilworth -though the single volumes are also still available.
Horror comics yes but also some nice illustrated prose from Dilworth in...Dilworth's Horror & Ghost Stories but for the connoisseur those stories were collected together with the Phantom Detective comic strips into The Complete Phantom Detective!
And could anyone forget the sensational Iron Warrior Versus Big Bong:When Giants Fought? But add to that the various Iron Warrior strips from Adventure and you get The Iron Warrior Collection -When Giants Fought! In the 1940s, William A. Ward's creation was to be the most graphically violent comic strip seen until the 1970s. That is some legacy. It continues....with a touch of fun!
In case you are wondering, yes, obviously there are super heroes. Mix in ancient pantheons of gods, giant robot, alien invasion, Lovecraftian dark ones and so much more that the book runs to over 320 pages then you have part 1 of Terry Hooper-Scharf's Invasion Earth Trilogy" or as it is titled Return Of The Gods: Twilight Of The Super Heroes! And epic ending with the words: "Dr Morg has killed us all" -and if you have never read the mind altering counter actuality that is The Dr Morg Trilogy you may be saying "What? Who-?"
And part 2 of the trilogy The Cross Earths Caper ought to get you in the mood for 2015s big 31st Anniversary third part of the trilogy The Green Skies.
If you pass the ESTC (Epileptic Seizure Test Cover) on Dr Morg well, you are fit and healthy enough to read it and to check out all the Black Tower Comics and Books at the online store -see why we are the UKs largest publisher of Independent Comics!