Friday, 29 January 2016

The Thing & Man-Thing... Together!

Ok, so Steve Gerber's gotta figure out a way to get Benjy & Manny together for the inaugural issue of Two-In-One. Hey, what if ol' Ever Lovin' Blue Eyed gets annoyed that another monster's stolen his moniker? Huh? And double huh? Couldn't he just be in the Everglades collecting rare plants for Reed or something?
Well, I guess even Gerber had the occasional off day.
Once past this fairly shaky start though, this is more fun than should be strictly legal, as Steve brings in the more complicated than he first appears Son Of The Molecule Man, dispenses with the obligatory team-up fight scene in less than a page, puts in a needlessly creepy scene with a ( sort of ) Reed, and is much more interested in the two man-monsters reverting to their human selves.
And doesn't Ted Sallis take the news that he's been a galumphing man-beast for the last couple of years well? Me, I'd be screaming like a maniac.
Still, how typically Gerber that our heroes win completely by accident. And the art's by Gil Kane and Joe Sinnott, which is pretty much as good as it gets.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

The Spider

The Spider was a truly great character in British comics, one of the darkest and weirdest heroes of an era where every hero was dark and weird. He was introduced with no backstory or explanation, just sold to us as a master criminal who was so convinced of his own genius, he took to battling other criminals he considered beneath him.
Was he an alien? A mutant? A young Basil Rathbone?

We didn't know, and his mystery was always part of his appeal. But the stories he appeared in have a couple of problems, for me. Firstly, they mostly consisted of The Spider fighting low-rent villians like The Android Emperor, Mr. Mysterioso and The Exterminator, none of whom were a match for the self-appointed King Of Crooks, and secondly each episode consisted basically of he and each bad guy trading boasts as to who was more powerful.

And there was the fact that each tale usually went on way, way too long. But then these stories were never meant to be read en masse, but week by week, and were clearly made up on the fly. Not that I noticed any of this as a kid, of course. All I knew was that The Spider himself was always cool, fun and a little bit scary. Plus, there was some incredibly unsettling imagery in this strip. Like this:

And this:

And as if all that wasn't enough, he was mostly written by no less a name than Jerry Seigel.
Here's a done in one tale that sidesteps those issues, from the 1977 Valiant annual, as The Deathmaster unwisely challenges our anti-anti-hero to a duel to the death. The pitiable fool. None can challenge the might of The Spider!

Monday, 25 January 2016

The Persuaders

Why were opening credits on TV shows so great in the '70's? The Persuaders had a title sequence so great that me and my irksome younger brother used to pretend it was about us, with me as Yank rough diamond Danny Wilde ( Tony Curtis ) and he as upper class action man Lord Brett Sinclair ( Roger Moore ). If we'd have had photoshop in those days we'd probably have made our own version:

The Persuaders was a souffle of silliness, coasting by easily on the joint, effortless charm of both leads. Curtis, in particular, was a master at getting the audience to share the joke with him.
The subsequent comic strip was a mainstay of Countdown and TV Action, and was mostly drawn by the great Frank Langford. But here we have, weirdly, Jose Ortiz stepping in for a one-off. I say weirdly because, great artist though he is, and great piece though this is, I don't know as I'd've chosen him for a piece of froth like The Persuaders. Maybe it's all those Warren horror stories of Ortiz' in my head, but it seems like miscasting to me.

Here's the more appropriate Langlord, with Danny & Brett getting involved with a South American revolution, and finding time to join the circus. Anyone who's ever wanted to see Tony Curtis dress up as a gorilla, your time has come.