The Mighty World of Marvel UK

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Marvel comics have been publishing since the 1960’s and their shared universe has enjoyed countless successes both in print and on screen, but starting in the 1970’s Marvel was to find a niche 3000 miles from home with the origin of Marvel UK.

Marvel UK was originally intended as a vessel for reprints of earlier american comics already printed by Marvel, which were either anglicised or censored in some way to make them more palatable to the British market. This changed in 1976 with the introduction of Captain Britain Weekly. A new anthology style magazine featuring the exploits of the eponymous Captain Britain as the main feature and then made use of reprint material from Marvel’s american back catalogue to fill the rest.

By the end of the 1970s Marvel UK had been given the go ahead to create a whole world of new characters as well as having obtained the rights to a number of classic science fiction properties (Doctor Who, Transformers and Star Wars among them) and by the end of the 1980’s Marvel UK had made the move to printing the american format of comics that has become the industry standard (the only notable exception being 2000ad and its sister publication the Judge Dredd Megazine). But it was in this era that Marvel UK created some its best properties and that what this piece is going to look at now.

Captain Britain  

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Captain Britain was Marvel UK’s first attempt (and truthfully most successful attempt) at creating their own original content originally running for 39 issues Captain Britain proved both a hit with UK readers, but was later brought into the mainstream Marvel Canon becoming a member of Excalibur (along with various X-men) and serving as an Avenger,  as well as having his own US title in the late 2000’s.

Deaths Head/ Deaths Head II 

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Deaths Head was a robot bounty hunter from the future, he featured in the Marvel UK transformers, and made appearances in Doctor Who Weekly, and was eventually given his own title which lasted 10 issues. The Character was then revamped and became Deaths Head II (whose series last 16 issues). Deaths Head has remained a fan favourite, making cameos throughout Marvel comicdom to this date, whilst Deaths Head II was seen to be unpopular and lacking the originals charm and fanbase.

Dragons Claws

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Set in 8162 it follows The Claws a team of players in the mysterious game, along with their leader Dragon, as they try to win and stay ahead of the machinations of the  National Union of Retired Sports Experts. Lasting 10 issues this was Marvel UK’s first attempt at a US style format of comics.

Dark Angel

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Originally Hell’s Angel, but quickly changed to Hell’s Dark Angel and then simply Dark Angel following the threat of legal action from the biker gang the Hell’s Angels (who knew bikers could be so litigious?) was a 16 issue series that highlighted the life and adventures of Shevaun Haldane Hell’s Dark Angel. In the Middle Ages, a group of sorcerers were granted immortality by  Mephisto in exchange for a steady stream of sacrifices. One of these men, Ranaulph Haldane, was Shevaun’s father  When Shevaun was 21 years old, Mephisto killed her father for betraying him. Shevaun then saw the Angel of Death arrive for her father. The angel placed a fragment of the universe itself within Shevaun, and gave her a suit of body armour to control her powers. She used these powers to atone for her fathers sins, and begin repaying the debts that he owed the world.

Knights of Pendragon

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The Knights of Pendragon were formed to be agents of the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The Knight is in ageless conflict with the Bane, an unnatural destructive force of warfare and winter, led by the Red Knight, the Green Knight’s adversary. The Green Knight invests power, to various groups throughout British history, to protect nature; one such group were the original Knights of the Round Table; the Knights of Pendragon are a modern-day incarnation. The Knights of Pendragon had two series (18 and 15 issues respectively) and team members of made sporadic appearances in Marvel US Titles over the last 20 years.

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The Best Pulp Sci-Fi Heroes

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Pulp Science Fiction has been a mainstay for literature, comic books, and the silver screen for almost a hundred years and has given many great adventures of daring do set throughout time and space, and sometimes even further. And whilst there is a strict formula for the delivery of a great pulp story, that often rings the same, that doesn’t make them any less fun, so here are some of the best from the last 100 years or more.

Flash Gordon

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originally created by Alex Raymond in a comic strip in 1934, Flash Gordon has been show in comics, radio serials. films and television and has even been adapted to the stage on numerous occasions, and even forms the basis of a Queen album. The stories generally tell the tale of the Earth man Flash Gordon as he is transported to the planet Mongo to lead revolution on the despotic rule of Ming the Merciless.

John Carter 

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A confederate soldier wakes up on the planet Mars, Joins a revolution against a despotic ruler and falls in love with a princess, are you starting to see a pattern here? Originally appearing in Edgar Rice Burroughs 1912 story a Princess of Mars, John Cater has appeared in novels, short stories, comic books and screen adaptations for over 105 years.

Adam Strange 

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Human Archaeologist Adam Strange is transported to the planet Rann where he falls in love with a princess and leads the revolution to put the princess in power and then in a twist is transported back to earth to pine, until it happens all over again.  (Seriously have you noticed the pattern here).

 

 

 

30 Comics To Read Before You’re 30 Part Three

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In Part One and Part Two we have got through two thirds of the comics that I recommend you check out before you reach 30 years young, here is the final third of the list.

Batman Dark Knight Dynasty 

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Different Batmen throughout time battle against the immortal villain Vandal Savage

Lost Girls

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A rather graphic look at the sexual exploits of Wendy Darling from Peter Pan, Dorothy Gale from the Wizard of Oz and Alice Liddel from Alices Adventures in Wonderland. Its definately a new twist on the original characters.

The Superior Spider-Man: My Own Worst Enemy 

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Peter Parker is dead, long live Spider-man, Otto Octavious, has taken over the mind and body of Peter Parker and is determined to live out the rest of his days as a superior Spider-Man.

Judge Dredd: America 

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A stark look at the lives effected by the brutal rule of the Judges of Mega City One. Read my review here. 

Death: High Cost of Living 

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Once a century Death of the endless takes on Human flesh to better understand the soles of those she is sworn to take. Read my review here.

Wisdom: Rudiments of Wisdom

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Her Majesties very own chain smoking mutant super spy, join Pete Wisdom and his crack team of Aliens, anachronisms, octogenarians, empaths and a Beatle as they take on the threats to the realm that are just to weird to call in the police for.

Flesh The Dino Files

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Time travelling cowboys go back in time to rustle some dinosaurs, all because in the future we’ve run out of animals to eat and man kind still has a hankering for flesh, need I say more? If I do, read my review here.

The Son Of Superman 

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Superman is missing, presumed dead, and all of a sudden his son develops superpowers. Read my review here. 

The New Invaders: Once an Invader

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The New Invaders were formed to take down a Neo Nazi organisation formed by the Red Skull, and features such classic Heroes as the original Human Torch, Union Jack, US Agent, Spitfire, The Blazing Skull and the Thin Man all working together to take down the Axis Mundi.

Harlem Heroes 

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The odds on favourites for the world Aeroball championships suddenly lose half their team to a sabotaged bus, so in the wake of this tragedy, the team must pull together, train some rookies, catch their comrades murderer and bring the Aeroball World Championship back home to Harlem. Read my review here. 

If you liked this check out part one and part two of the thirty comics you should read before you’re 30

30 Comics To Read Before You’re 30 Part Two

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In part one we looked at a whole host of comics for you to sink your teeth into,

Annihilation 

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Marvels first big cosmic event that didn’t have the words infinity in the title. What happens when a host of bugs annihilates the universe, a rag tag band of the heroes and villains from across the universe comes together to  save the universe from annihilation.

Judge Dredd Complete Case files Volume One

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A look at the early cases of the lawman of the future. Feel the thrill power build as you meet Judge Dredd and the world in which he lives. Read my review here.

Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes 

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The first instalment of Neil Gaiman’s saga of the king of dreams and how his being impacts those both in dreams and in the waking world. Read my review here.

Project Superpowers 

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Take a great deal of superheroes from the public domain and then put them all together to form a super team, there you have Project Super Powers.

X-Men Messiah Complex

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Mutants are dying out, they’re an endangered species, and then suddenly a new mutant is born, and then all hell breaks loose.

Nikolai Dante Too Cool To Kill

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A Russian rogue, realises hes Romanov Royalty… in the future. This entitles him to some pretty cool weapons tech and puts him right at the heart of a lifestyle of immense intrigue and opulent luxury, all wrapped up in a sleazy charm and vodka soaked allurement. Read my review here.

Captain Atom: Armageddon 

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DC’s attempt at making its Wildstorm property more accessible to readers of its mainstream DC stuff, by taking a DC hero and throwing them into the deep end of the Wildstorm universe, just before it was rebooted.

Green Hornet Year One

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A look at the first year of operations of the Green Hornet and his faithful manservant Kato as they route out crime and corruption whilst posing as the criminals themselves.

The Eternals

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Forgotten heroes, erased from time, woken by the call of one of their own, Old heroes reimagined for the modern marvel universe all from the pen of legendary author Neil Gaiman and drawn by the equally legendary John Romita Jr.

Scarlet Traces

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The sequel to H G Well’s War Of The Worlds which sees the British Empire flourishing all with the help of reverse engineered Martian War Machines. Read my review here. 

Join again tomorrow for part three of the 30 comic books and series that you should check out before you become 30 years old

 

30 Comics To Read Before You’re 30 Part One

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I’m going to be thirty in just over a year, and whilst I’m ok with hitting that milestone, at least for the moment, so I’ve already got a big list of comics that I want to read by the time I get over the hill and now I’ve come up with a big list of the comics that you should read by the time that you hit that milestone too.

Watchmen

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Alan Moores dystopian nightmare that takes a group of vigilante’s to the edge of Armageddon and beyond.

Hellboy: Seed Of Destruction

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Hellboy The Seed of Destruction introduces us to the son of Satan who is determined to prove that the apple can indeed fall far from the tree.

Civil War

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Captain America vs Iron Man with the rest of the Marvel Universe in the middle, and all over the right to have secret identity

Button Man

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Meet Harry Ex,  a killer embroiled in a deadly game, all at the command of a mysterious voice. See my review here.

Formerly Known as The Justice League

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Once upon a time, they were the worlds greatest heroes, now they’re old, washed up and ready for a come back.

The Boys: Name of the Game

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Superheroes, the glitzy and glamorous gods of the new age, all powerful and out for a good time, but what do you do when one of these titans steps out of line? You Call in the Boys.

Avengers Versus X-men

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You take a nearly extinct X-Men and give them a slightly destructive shot at reigniting their species, and then you take the Avengers, and just sit back and watch the carnage.

The Ballad of Halo Jones

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Join Halo Jones on the shopping excursion from hell, a fast paced romp from the mind behind Watchmen and V for Vendetta. Read my review here.

Identity Crisis

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How does a superhero rehabilitate a habitual recidivist? What happens when heroes disagree with these measures? And how do they put these differences to rest? Or do they?

Spawn: Creation

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Who or what is the Hellspawn, and now that its on earth, what does that mean for humanity? Check out my thoughts on it here

Join again tomorrow for the next in this three parter chronicling the 30 comic books and series that you should check out before you become 30 years old

If you like this post check out part Two and Three.

 

Comic Review: Flesh

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Flesh was something that I wanted to take a look at, after reading the sort of sequel that takes place during Judge Dredd’s Cursed Earth Saga (which I’m fairly certain was ripped off completely to form the basis of the Jurassic Park series of films). I was intrigued to know the origin story of the dinosaur Old One Eye.

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The story that makes up Flesh sounds like some sort of dystopian nightmare, in which the world has run out of meat based products due to population expansion and just plain gluttony on the part of humanity, but it being the future man has developed time travel. So mankind, instead of adopting a vegetarian diet, has travelled back in time to the cretaceous period in order to take advantage of man’s lust for flesh. Yes you read that right, men from the 23rd century won’t eat their broccoli so go back in time to farm dinosaurs.

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The story reads more like a western rather than a sci fi dino romp, just with the part of the native American’s being played by a few rather vicious Tyrannosaurs. In particular the lead Tyrannosaur, the 120 year old Old One Eye, so named for the eye lost to one of the Dinosaur ranchers.

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Again this is Pat Mills at his thrill power churning finest, delivering the readers right into the worlds of both past and future simultaneously, which when you think merging dinosaurs with cowboys from the twenty third century sounds like a concept that wouldn’t work Pat Mills is the man to work that thing out.

The art is always something I feel a little fraudulent in reviewing, as my artistic talents stretch to bad stick men on a good day. But since I’m only going to say nice things about the work of Roman Sola, Boix and Felix Carrion, the hypocrisy seems to wane slightly, they all create a fantastic masterpiece and actually make you feel as though you’ve somehow been dropped right in the middle of both the cretaceous period and the 23rd century all in one fell swoop, they all manage to bring something to the major dinosaurs, and not to mention the horrible flying dino’s and even the Giant Spiders seem to just pop right out of our nightmares and onto the page, yes you read that right, Dinosaurs and Giant Spiders…and cowboys from the future… all in the same comic, and yet it still works.

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Given that dinosaur stories only ever seem to have one outcome the ending of the ranchers tale is only to be expected, although it does manage to have a little twist to make the last page have a bite to it. Coming from the golden age of 2000ad Flesh is really a title that you can sink your teeth into, and it has a good number of sequels for you to chew over as well.

Comic Review: Judge Dredd- America

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For one of the seminal Judge Dredd stories, this one doesn’t actually feature old granite jaw that much its one of those pieces that immerses itself in the world of Mega City One and the wider themes that make up the world of Judge Dredd. It focuses on the Benny Beeny and his relationship with America, no not the nation , America Jara, his childhood friend and for most of his life unrequited love.

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This storyline really is one of the big mood pieces of the big meg, it looks at the harsh nature of world of Dredd where the American Dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has been stripped back to one out of three, with the majority of the population oblivious to the fact that that’s bad. It shows that the cost of Justice is the loss of liberty and that its the little people that suffer, and that the freedoms people have fought for for centuries have been boiled away to nothingness all for the promise of security. Which is a harsh reflection for the political climate of the early 21st century, written a decade before such things as the Patriot Act, or cages for Asylum Seeking Children, America highlights greatly the dichotomy and divide between freedom and security.

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As Benny grows older he goes into show business and America throws in with the Democrats, a democracy seeking group of underground revolutionaries, who believe in the violent overthrow of the Judges and the establishment of a new democratic government for the people, not on the people.

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John Wagner by this point is mired in the world of Dredd, having written over 12 years of Judge Dredd stories by the time America had hit the shelves, but even with new characters like Benny Beeny and America herself, Wagner manages to capture the true humanity and human cost of the world of Mega City.

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Colin Macneil does a marvellous job immersing us in this dark and corrupt world of Mega City and sleazy side of democracy and the activist movement, it takes a true talent to showcase the falling of liberty and Macneil is true talent.

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The outcome of this story is true Dredd style and is heartbreaking to read on paper but the complimentary style of prose and penciling is just so much a blend of utter perfection on page.