Thursday, April 26, 2018

Today's Marvel Legends is a free gift issue

It's very rare for Panini's Marvel Collectors' Editions to carry free gifts, - in fact I think it's been several years since the last one, - but Marvel Legends No.23, out today, has a cover mount of a pack of Marvel Trading Cards. (A similar gift was also with last week's Avengers Universe, so they may be given away with other Marvel titles soon too.) It's a good way to attract the attention of kids who have just been to see Avengers: Infinity War!

Here's the info on the latest Marvel Legends...

Marvel Legends Vol. 3 #23. On sale 26th April 2018. FREE MARVEL TRADING CARDS!
76 Action-Packed pages featuring Marvel’s ‘Big 3’ – Iron Man, Captain America and Thor! £3.99!

A Secret Empire Chapter! Captain America, the Hydra Supreme, and ruler of the USA speaks openly about how Hydra are making America great again. (Note, that this tale takes place after the events of Avengers Universe #5, on sale now!) 

Plus, Ironheart is the new queen of Latveria! 

Finally, to reclaim his honour and the hammer of Ultimate Thor, the Odinson battles the Collector and Thanos’s Black Order!

By Nick Spencer, Andres Guinaldo, Javier Pina, Yildiray Çinar, Kevin Libranda, Jon Malin, Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Jason Aaron and Olivier Coipel!
Includes material reprinted from Captain America: Steve Rogers #17, Invincible Iron Man #10 and Unworthy Thor #4!

On sale from WH Smith, selected newsagents, and comic shops.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Preview: Charley's War, The Definitive Collection Volume 2

The next book in Rebellion's Treasury of British Comics line will be the second volume of Charley's War: The Definitive Collection. Hot on the heels of Vol.1 which was released last week, Volume 2 will be published on May 17th.

Volume 2, subtitled Brothers In Arms, will be another chunky softback of over 330 pages, reprinting the classic WW1 story by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun. This edition covers the stories from Battle Action from late 1980 to mid 1982. The horrors of the war continue, and this time we're given the story of a deserter, the British mutiny, and Charlie's encounters with the sadistic British officer Captain Snell. 

When these stories first appeared in Battle-Action, the comic was sadly past its best, but Charley's War was a true gem. Indeed, it would even have stood head and shoulders above the contents of any comic, such was the high standard of the creative team. Pat Mills' dedicated research into the subject matter, combined with his skills of writing a gripping adventure story, made the strip unmissable, and Joe Colquhoun's powerful, detailed, and emotive artwork was the perfect match. 

Back in the day, I was buying Battle-Action solely for Charley's War, and would carefully cut out those pages in order to staple each story arc together into makeshift books. Now that we have these Definitive Collections, better printed than the original comics, I'll be replacing my yellowing old pages with these handsome books.

In short, not to be missed! Here's a preview of the first chapter in Volume 2...

CREATIVE TEAM: Pat Mills, (w) Joe Colquhoun (a) John Aldrich, Mike Peters, Peter Knight (l)
REGIONS: UK, worldwide digital
RELEASE DATE: 17th May 2018
PAPERBACK, 320 pages
PRICE: £19.99 (UK) TBC (US)
ISBN: 9781781086209
Injured in The Battle of the Somme, Charley returns to wartime London and meets a deserter from the French Foreign Legion, Blue, who tells of his brutal experiences of the Battle of Verdun. All too soon Charley returns to the front line at Ypres where the threat from the German army is matched only by the inhumanity of his superiors! In the face of suffering and injustice, seeds of mutiny begin to grow among the ranks… This second volume of Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun’s masterpiece continues to tell the story of an ordinary soldier’s experiences in World War One, including the vibrant re-mastered colour pages from the original comic.

Available in print from: book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond

This week's BEANO...

Beano No.3932 is in the shops today, and comes bagged with gifts. The contents of the comic feature the usual fun-stars and there's another new Big Eggo strip by me. Here's a preview...
What's this? Has Big Eggo finally found his egg? Has Terry Tuff captured him at last? Find out in Beano No.3932, out now!

More Beano info here:

Sunday, April 22, 2018

The debut of BILLY THE CAT (1967)

The Beano's famous crimefighter Billy the Cat first appeared in a 1/4 page teaser ad (above) in the Easter 1967 issue of The Beano (No.1288). His strip began the following week, in The Beano No.1289, dated April 1st 1967. Although this was the April Fool themed issue, there was no mention of that in Billy's debut strip.

The artwork was by David Sutherland, who had been drawing The Bash Street Kids since 1962 (and indeed still draws those Kids today). An excellent artist who is able to adapt his style from humour to adventure. Curiously, there's no origin story. We're not told how William Grange became such a remarkable acrobat or who made his costume and the funny looking customised biker helmet with the whiskers. However, years later, a fan named David Carman wrote his own origin for the character and published it online with the permission of D.C. Thomson. You can read it here:

Presumably The Beano had decided to feature a superhero in their pages because of the success of the Batman TV show, although Billy's premise was closer to that of Spider-Man (running at that time in rival comic Pow!). Billy the Cat became very popular with the readers and ran on and off until 1974, even joined by his cousin, Katie the Cat, for later adventures. He was later revived and rebooted as a slightly older character in Buddy comic in 1981, and you can read that story here:

The Beano has revived Billy the Cat on occasion, drawn by various artists including Wayne Thompson, Nigel Dobbyn, and Laura Howell. With the current popularity of superheroes, and this being The Beano's 80th anniversary year, it'd be nice to see him return again. My choice would be Steve Beckett as artist, as he's another creator who can switch from humour to adventure, and he has that suitable light adventure style that works well in The Beano. 

Will Billy the Cat return? I've no idea, but time will tell.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

New graphic novel from Rachael Smith

Any new comic from writer/artist Rachael Smith is worth a look, and her upcoming graphic novel Isabella and Blodwen, a 200 page hardback, sounds like it'll be another winner. The project is currently looking for funding on Unbound and you can find out about the story, and how to pledge, here:

Coming up in 2000AD...

Thanks to Rebellion for the info on the next issue of 2000AD, on sale Wednesday 25th April, kicking off with a striking cover by the master himself, Carlos Ezquerra.

UK and DIGITAL: 23rd April 2018 £2.75
* NORTH AMERICA: 23rd May 2018 $6.75
* DIAMOND: FEB181725

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: FLAWS by Michael Carroll (w) Staz Johnson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)
JAEGIR: IN THE REALM OF PYRRHUS by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

SINISTER DEXTER: THE DEVIL DON'T CARE by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ANDERSON, PSI DIVISION: UNDERTOW by Emma Beeby (w) Mike Collins/Cliff Robinson (a) Jose Villarrubia (c) Simon Bowland (l)

STRONTIUM DOG: THE SON by John Wagner (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Ellie De Ville (l)
Available in print from: book stores, Amazon, and comic book stores via Diamond
Available in digital from: 2000 AD webshop ( , 2000 AD iPad app ( , 2000 AD Android app ( , 2000 AD Windows 10 app (

Thursday, April 19, 2018

CHIPS 'Happy Gift Number' (1932)

These days, free gifts in comics are usually promoted on the polybag they're kept in. Before that, they'd be mentioned on the front cover, often accompanied by an illustration of said gift in action. Back in 1932, this "Happy Gift Number" of Illustrated Chips didn't show the "Splendid Toy Pistol" it was giving away but the occasion did merit a fancy celebratory masthead. 

As ever, those jolly wandering tramps Weary Willie and Tired Tim held the cover position, drawn by Percy Cocking. I've always liked comics of this period; the storylines are basic and contrived but the art is so full of life and expression. 

The long tradition of British comics giving away toy guns continues to this day, except now they're called "blasters" (never guns or pistols) and they shoot sponge darts. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

U.S. News: Action Comics reaches issue 1000 today!

It's been 80 years since Superman first appeared and it's a double celebration as his original long running title Action Comics reaches issue 1000 today! On sale in comic shops across the USA and UK, Action Comics No.1000 is an 80 page giant and features a choice of variant covers designed in the style of each decade. The UK's own Dave Gibbons has drawn the cover representing the 1950s issues. I'm sure Dave's younger self back in the late '50s could never have imagined he'd one day be drawing the cover for the 1000th edition! 

Here's the info on this issue:

Celebrate 1000 issues of Action Comics with an all-star lineup of top talent as they pay tribute to the comic that started it all! From today's explosive action to a previously unpublished tale illustrated by the legendary Curt Swan to the Man of Tomorrow's future-this very special, oversized issue presents the best of the best in Superman stories! 




•  STEVE RUDE (1930s) 
•  MICHAEL CHO (1940s) 
•  DAVE GIBBONS (1950s)
•  MICHAEL ALLRED (1960s) 
•  JIM STERANKO (1970s) 
•  DAN JURGENS (1990s)
•  LEE BERMEJO (2000s) 

In Shops: Apr 18, 2018
SRP: $7.99

You can see the rest of the variant covers here:

This week's COMMANDO comics...

Direct from D.C. Thomson, here's the news on the four issues of Commando that will be in the shops this week.

Brand new Commando issues #5115-5118 are coming soon! Storm Jerry lines at Messines Ridge, blast Bettys in a Buffalo, tunnel under the trenches with Maori Miners, and defend a Scottish island from an infiltrating U-Boat! It’s all in a day’s work for our Commandos!

5115: Home of Heroes: To Win Just Once

On the 7th of June, 1917, at Messines Ridge, the largest explosion the world had ever seen was detonated. After battering Jerry with artillery fire through the night, the shells stopped just before dawn and the birdsong began. At 3:10am, over 450 tons of explosives went off under the German line. They could hear it in Paris, and they felt it in London. But the battle had only just begun…

Andrew Knighton’s debut issue of Commando treats the First World War with gravitas, perfectly balancing developed characters and white-knuckle action. Accompanied by meticulous interiors from Vicente Alcazar, the intensity of the trenches is felt on every page, especially the prodigious wrap-around cover from Neil Roberts.

| Story | Andrew Knighton | Art | Vicente Alcazar | Cover | Neil Roberts |

5116: Gold Collection: Buffalo Patrol

Dave Kerr just wanted to be an RAF pilot but, even though he was a skilled flyer, he failed every exam. Sent to Singapore along with his pilot friend Patrick Elliot, Dave ran to Patrick’s tent to wake him when the Squadron Leader called in a scramble but found him asleep, pushed to exhaustion. Dave knew what he had to do — he grabbed Patrick’s flying helmet and goggles and ran for his Buffalo!

An unusually vibrant background for an Ian Kennedy cover, the burning orange sets an explosive backdrop for the duelling Buffalo and Betty, preparing us for the aerial onslaught Mira skilfully provides inside.

| Story | Staff | Art | Mira | Cover | Ian Kennedy |
Originally Commando No. 519 (December 1970).

5117: Action and Adventure: Tunnels of Arras

Digging the Medieval tunnels deep beneath Arras in France, the New Zealand infantrymen thought they were tunnelling into Hell itself. With the ground above them frosted, the caverns underneath were icy, but the soldiers made it their own. They knew that after the losses at Verdun and the Somme, their only chance of defeating the Germans above was to dig beneath them. But what if the Germans had the same plan?

First time Commando writer Jason Cobley’s refreshing focus on the New Zealand Tunnellers and the Maori Pioneer Battalion in the First World War is compelling in its detail, including the graffiti and place names marked in the eponymous Arras tunnels, which Carlos Pino details in his claustrophobic, yet homely interiors.

| Story | Jason Colby | Art | Carlos Pino | Cover | Carlos Pino |

5118: Silver Collection: In Trouble Again

When a U-Boat surfaces offshore from a remote Scottish island with nothing but a radio station run by the Royal Signals on it, Charlie Potter of the Intelligence Corps knew their only chance was to fight back. The invading SS waved the white flag, telling the Britishers that if they surrendered they would be spared, but Charlie knew that the Nazis would never take prisoners on to a submarine.

With cover art from Mike Dorey of DC Thomson, IPC and 2000AD fame, the hazy fog and choppy waves surrounding the Scottish island are like something straight from ‘When Eight Bells Toll’. This combined with Mike Knowles tale of trouble seeking anti-hero Charlie Potter and veteran Commando artist CT Rigby’s interiors makes this a classic boys’ adventure comic for any age.

| Story | Mike Knowles | Art | CT Rigby | Cover | Mike Dorey |
Originally Commando No. 2741 (March 1994).

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Review: COMIC SCENE UK Issue:0

It's been several years since the UK had a magazine about British comics. The last one was Crikey! which ended in 2010. Now, Tony Foster has produced a brand new publication; Comic Scene UK, which launched at the Edinburgh Comic Con last weekend.

This is issue zero, with the actual first issue coming out in August. Tony's done a good job here, assembling a group of contributors that include fans and seasoned professionals such as Pat Mills, John Wagner, and John Freeman. This 64 page debut issue features articles that include news on upcoming comics, reflections on comics long gone, and commentary on the industry. 

I would have liked to have seen an in-depth interview or two with comic creators on their careers to date. We don't really get that, but there are quotes and comments from creators about specific subjects. One highlight for me being reflections by Chris Lowder and Steve MacManus on their time at IPC during the Valiant and Lion merger. 

There's a handful of strips too. Marc Jackson brings us Whackoman! while Tom J. Farmer, Jose Rodriguez Mota and Valentina Muzzo present us with Captain Scotland, and Jim Wilkins does Deja Who?

Most of the features only run to two pages, so there's a lot to read in the magazine's 64 full colour glossy pages on a variety of comics. I'd have liked to have seen some coverage of the first half of comics history from the 19th Century to the 1950s but there's always room for that in future issues. Obviously it needs to focus on what people want to see, and in my experience, most fans mainly prefer comics from their own nostalgia, rather than those of the early 20th Century. 

It's an impressive start, and I wish Comic Scene UK every success for the future. I hope readers will give it their support. 

You can subscribe to Comic Scene UK at their website here:

Are you ready for THE VIGILANT?

Dash to your newsagent on August 15th for The Vigilant, - a new one-off comic from Rebellion. John Freeman has an exclusive about it on his blog, so dash there first!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Guest list announced for Oldham Comic Con

Stoke-Con-Trent was good fun yesterday, and you can read a brief report about it on my other blog here:

The next convention I'll be attending will be Oldham Comic Con on 12th May. They've just published the final guest list and it's very impressive! Check this out...

Marc Ducrow 
Lew Stringer
Jessica Lucas
David Roach
The Etheringhton brothers
Steve Austin
Yasmin Sheikh
John Wagner
Carlos Ezquerra
Alan Cowsill
Jay Martin
Chris Sides
Jon Laight
Grant Richards
Lyndsey Green
Jon Scrivens
Dan Whitehead
Tad Kimpton
Joe Glass
Matt Warner
Pete Mckeirmon
Patrick Goddard
Neil Edwards
Dave Taylor
Tim Perkins
Neil 'Bhuna' Roche
Nigel Parkinson
Nika Nartova
Chris Imber
Sarah Millman
Dan Cornwell 
Peter Doherty
John Royle
Ian Richardson
Aly Fell
Neal McClemets
Mindstrain comics
Joe Mathews
Dan Charnley
Katie Whittle
Jenika Loffreda
Sonia Leong
David Leach
Chris J Thompson
Marc Jackson
Staz Johnson 
Tazio Bettin
Dave Windettt
Antony Johnston
Rachael Smith

Find out more at their Facebook page here:

See you there!

STRIKER to return

Adult football comic Striker is set to return as a weekly this Autumn, thanks to the determination of its creator and publisher Pete Nash. It's looking for readers to pledge towards a Kickstarter goal of £32,000, with various subscription offers including digital and print editions. You can find all the details here:

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Coming from Rebellion this week...

There's some top quality work coming up in both 2000AD and Judge Dredd Megazine this Wednesday! Here's a preview of both comics, courtesy of the publishers, Rebellion...

The teenage graffiti artist turned Skysurfing champ returns after a long absence to the Megazine this month - Marlon Shakespeare, aka Chopper, is one of 2000 AD's most enduringly popular characters and his return features psychedelic art by Brendan McCarthy, who helped define the character's second age in the epic Oz.

Also this issue, the usual bagged graphic novel is replaced with a special monograph on Nemesis the Warlock by 2000 AD editor Matt Smith which examines the ideas, influences, and impact of Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill's alien freedom fighter!

UK and DIGITAL: 18th April 2018 £5.99
NORTH AMERICA: 18th May 2018 $13

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: KRONG ISLAND by Arthur Wyatt (w) Jake Lynch (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

THE RETURNERS: IRMAZHINA by Si Spencer (w) Nicolo Assirelli (a) Eva De La Cruz (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

CURSED EARTH KOBURN by Rory McConville (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Simon Bowland (l)

CHOPPER: WANDERING SOUL by David Baillie (w) Brendan McCarthy (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

DREDD: THE DEAD WORLD by Arthur Wyatt & Alex De Campi (w) Henry Flint (a) Chris Blythe (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

BONUS STORY: RAZORJACK - THE GLIMPSE OF SUMMER by Michael Carroll (w) John Higgins (a) Sally Hurst (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

Features: New Comics: 2000 AD Regened

BAGGED GRAPHIC NOVEL: Nemesis the Warlock: A Monograph by Matt Smith


UK and DIGITAL: 11th April 2018 £2.75
NORTH AMERICA: 11th May 2018 $6.75

In this issue:
JUDGE DREDD: FLAWS by Michael Carroll (w) Staz Johnson (a) Abigail Bulmer (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

JAEGIR: IN THE REALM OF PYRRHUS by Gordon Rennie (w) Simon Coleby (a) Len O'Grady (c) Ellie De Ville (l)

SINISTER DEXTER: THE DEVIL DON'T CARE by Dan Abnett (w) Steve Yeowell (a) John Charles (c) Annie Parkhouse (l)

ANDERSON, PSI DIVISION: UNDERTOW by Emma Beeby (w) Mike Collins, Cliff Robinson (a) Jose Villarrubia (c) Simon Bowland (l) 

STRONTIUM DOG: THE SON by John Wagner (w) Carlos Ezquerra (a) Ellie De Ville (l)

Friday, April 13, 2018

Review: The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine No.1

Even 50 years on, The Prisoner TV series remains one of the most remarkable and unique programmes in television history. Although only 17 episodes were produced, its combination of spy thriller, satire, and social allegory has never been equalled and is still very relevant. A powerful, screen-dominating performance by its co-creator and lead actor, Patrick McGoohan, added to its appeal. All in all, the mixture won over a legion of fans who remain fascinated by its appeal even today. 

There was never a comics adaptation of The Prisoner back in the 1960s. Perhaps it was considered too esoteric, or perhaps because of its short run it wasn't considered worthwhile. Marvel Comics did intend to publish a Prisoner comic in the 1970s, but the project was abandoned before completion. (The pages will soon be published in a collection from Titan Books. See here for more information.) DC Comics published Shattered Visage, a four-issue Prisoner sequel in 1988, but the concept hasn't returned to comics... until now. 

London based Titan Comics are launching The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine on April 25th, the first issue of an all-new monthly series. It is written by Peter Milligan (from a plot by David Leach, who is also the editor) and illustrated by Colin Lorimer (with colours by Joana Lafluente). My first impression was that I was pleased that this professional comic hasn't followed the route that so many "fan fiction" Prisoner stories have, of presenting "untold" tales of Number Six. Titan have wisely chosen to present us with a new lead character, with a setting that's firmly in the present day. An excellent move because now we have no idea what to expect. There is a hint though that it is connected to the original series.

While the TV series never really clarified what Number Six's profession was, (because he was intended to be an everyman), our new hero is most definitely a spy, and we're given quite a bit of backstory on him. The TV series had a fast paced opening that got the protagonist into the Village within a few minutes. This new comic takes the whole issue to get there, but the pacing is still fast and intriguing, and sets up plot elements that will no doubt be relevant to the whole series. 

Some of the most distinctive aspects of The Prisoner TV show were its satire and humour. That's not really evident in this dramatic and intense first issue, but I hope we'll see glimpses of it in future issues once our hero explores his new surroundings. 

If this first issue is anything to go by, The Prisoner: The Uncertainty Machine should appeal to fans of the series as well as to new readers unfamiliar with the franchise. Superbly written and drawn, it's a strong debut issue that has certainly hooked me, and I'm eager to see where the story takes us next. We want information...

Issue No.1 will be available from comics speciality shops on April 25th, with a range of variant covers. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

See you at Stoke-Con-Trent!

One last reminder that I'll be one of the many guests at Stoke-Con-Trent this Sunday, 15th April, which takes place at Staffordshire University. It's a multi-media comics and entertainment event so there'll be guests from TV and comics and more! 

The full details are at the website. Hope to see you there!

Here's the full list of comics shows I'll be at this year....

Staffordshire University
Sunday 15th April 2018

Saturday 12th May 2018

Saturday 26th May 2018

Fab Cafe, Manchester
Sunday 3rd June 2018

South Manchester
9th June 2018

Saturday 23rd June 2018

To be announced:
27th - 29th July 2018
More info soon.

To be announced:
18th, 19th August 2018.
More info soon.

To Be Announced
1st/2nd September 2018
More info soon.

ICE 2018
Saturday 15th September

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