Friday, 20 April 2018

Dan Dare In The Lost Worlds

It surprised me recently, while reading Thrill-Power Overload, the history of The Galaxy's Greatest Comic, to find out that most fans of 2000AD, and a lot of it's staff, never liked the reboot of Dan Dare that ran throughout the mag's early years.
Me, I really liked it. I liked the very first Belardinelli strips, and I loved this, the Gerry Finlay-Day & Dave Gibbons epic we're about to read.
Listen, I've read most of the original Dan Dare strips, and of course, they're beautiful to look at, but they don't mean a thing to me emotionally. The writing is unbelievably dense, and the distance of time can't help but make them a bit of a chore to get through.
THE Dan Dare, the Eagle Dan Dare, isn't my Dan Dare. 2000AD's one is.
Maybe it would've been received better if they'd just called this character something else, because here we have a tough hero taking a bunch of bad guys out on a trip to the Lost Worlds, drawn by Dave Gibbons. What's not to love?

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Conan: Zukala's Daughter

This is my personal favourite of the Barry Smith Conan's, probably because it was the first Conan story I ever read, though at first not in the above UK weekly reprint.

Zukala's Daughter actually appeared first on these shores in the above 1972 annual, a good three years before Conan properly made it to England in the form of his own weekly, so it did take him a while to tread the jeweled thrones of Suffolk under his sandalled feet.
Here, the Cimmerian's like a cowboy hero, riding into town and helping out some beleaguered peasants for a bag of gold. There's also a real fairytale feel to this story, as well as a great monster in the demon Jaggta-Noga, a bad guy with tons of personality, who really should've made a return appearance. Roy shoehorns in the REH poem on which it's based, the young Bazza and the always great Frank Giacoia make an excellent art team, and the whole thing is literally fantastic. Made a lifelong Conan fan of me anyway.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew

Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew! is a weird one, being half a kid's comic, chock full of awful puns, and half a grizzled old comic fan's book, poking razor sharp jabs at well worn comic tropes.

Writer Roy Thomas, of course, was an old lag at this kind of thing, having written every Marvel team ever, as well as being the world's biggest JSA fan, and at times, there's really not that much difference between The Zoo Crew and, say, an average issue of The Avengers. In fact, Roy's clearly having a blast looking askance at the kind of scripts he'd spent the previous 20 years pumping out, as in: Hey, you should see what this stuff looks like from over here!
 As well as Cap, who's...well, Cap, you've got Rubberduck ( Mr. Fantastic / Plastic Man ), Fastback ( Flash / Quicksilver ), Alley Cat Abra ( Doc Strange/ Doc Fate / Zatanna ), Pig Iron ( Ben Grimm ) and Yankee Poodle ( God knows... )

Maybe a couple too many characters there, and the book does feel crowded sometimes, occasionally lacking the lightness of touch this kind of thing needs.
But really, I'm nitpicking. I think we'd all agree, when Roy The Boy's on form, he's really on form, and often the satire hits the target perfectly, like in issue #7, where he takes the opportunity to take out the Cimmerian he spent a large chunk of his career scribing.

Plus, Rascally does have a secret weapon in artist Scott Shaw! ( yep, he spells his name with an exclamation point ) whose Disney through a looking glass style art is friendly, fun and beautiful all at the same time. And, of course, Shaw! did get to bring back his creation from Mike Friedrich's adult funny animal book Quack! gonzo journalist Pointer X. Toxin...

I'm gonna get me a business card that says: Star of Stage, Screen & Underground Comix. I think that's something to aspire to.
Here's the crew taking on every Marvel cosmic bad guy ever, in the form of The Bunny From Beyond!