Saturday, 19 May 2018

The White Tiger



The White Tiger was another one of those great new superheroes introduced in the Bronze Age that never really got a fair shake. Introduced in Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu, the world's first hispanic superhero basically stole his strip from the similarly themed Sons Of The Tiger, a series that I liked, but one that kind of went south really quickly. So it was probably time for a change, and what better way to do that, than sneak a new character into a failing strip?


Introduced by Bill Mantlo, and with early, early art from George Perez, The White Tiger came along at just the right time for me. Sure, we loved Spidey, DD, Cap etc etc. but they'd all already been around for ages. The chance to get in the ground floor of a new hero was always cool, and The White Tiger was mega-cool.
With a great, impractical costume ( What if it gets dirty? Oh right, it's magic, it doesn't get dirty ) and the wish-fulfillment of just finding an amulet in the street that makes you a Kung-Fu master, it couldn't fail.
Plus Hector Ayala / The Tiger was a poor kid from the ghetto, so he could team up with Power Man AND Iron Fist. That's why he fights another 3rd division hero, The Prowler, in his second outing, and that kind of mean streets of the city, Warriors type of character has always been one of the defining differences between Marvel & DC for me.
Somebody once said that the blaxploitation and Kung Fu B-flicks of the '70's were actually the first superhero movies. Imagine a White Tiger movie at the time, with these covers as the poster.


Then, as so often happens, the writer introduced another character, and fell in love with them to the detriment of the original star, in this case Mantlo's playing-card inspired Jack Of Hearts, who promptly stole the strip out from under The Tiger, just as he'd done to The Sons. I guess it was only fair, as he was only kind of renting space in the story.
And that was more or less it, other than a brief guest slot in the pages of Spec Spidey. I know there's a female White Tiger around these days, but I don't care about that.
Because like most b/w mags, I was only ever able to pick up Deadly Hands when on holiday, so The White Tiger belongs to that summertime pantheon of characters, like E-Man, Peter Cannon & the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, whose adventures I was only ever able to read occasionally, making them somehow more special than they perhaps were.
By the way, I liked it when non-american characters spoke in their own language then translated for us. Nightcrawler used to do that too. Who says comics aren't educational?





























Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Starburst



Hard to believe that, before Starburst, there really was no way the British sci-fi fan could get news about the kind of films we wanted to see. Sure, there was the occasional Planet Of The Apes puff piece in Look-In, and you could occasionally get an imported copy of Starlog if you were lucky, but never with every kind of regularity.
Star Wars changed all that, with every publisher rushing to put out a cheap tie-in with the same 5 or 6 photos from the film you already had in the Star Wars poster mag (or whatever ).
Starburst was better than that, and became instantly indispensable to fantasy freaks everywhere. It had good writers, great photos and it came out regularly.
And in it's early days, under the editorship of the mighty Dez Skinn, it had comic strips. Brian Lewis was all over it, like that magnificent cover there on the 1st issue.
And this oft-reprinted one page gag:


Not to mention this illo, to go with a Harry Harrison short story:


Then there's Dave Gibbons:



And this guy from the 3rd issue. Yes, it could probably do with another page or so to let the artwork breathe, but man, why didn't Marvel give Chris Baker a Weirdworld series to do? And whatever happened to him?



Here's Jim Starlin with a classic, even more reprinted piece:




And finally, what the hell, howabout a couple of sweet ads for comic shops, courtesy of mssrs. Bolland & Bolton:


Monday, 14 May 2018

RIP Margot Kidder



" You've got me?? Who's got YOU?!! "
The coolest, hell, the ONLY Lois Lane worth mentioning, Margot Kidder sadly passed away yesterday.
As I have increasingly, depressingly said many times over the last year or so, there goes another little piece of your childhood.
I remember me & Philbo getting the bus to Cambridge to see Superman The Movie, in a time where was no such thing as superhero films, or even the wildest dream that there ever would be.
And we were both knocked out by how right just about everything in it was, but especially how totally, completely right Chris Reeve & Margot Kidder were.
Margot's Lois was sexy, sassy, smart and cynical, a force of nature even Supes had trouble keeping up with, and if she wasn't my first crush, well, she was only just behind Elizabeth Montgomery & Lindsay Wagner.
So it seems appropriate to post the last regular issue of Lois Lane's Bronze Age run here today, a story which is just as random and bizarre as, well... every other issue of Lois Lane. Just the way we like her. Wouldn't Margot have had a field day playing this one?