I’m a sucker for variant covers that pay homage to Marvel comics Conan #1 by Barry Windsor-Smith. That cover is one of my all-time favorites, so when a modern comic honors that I’m usually going to part with some cash. While I was in Newbury comics this afternoon they had Barbaric #1, from Vault comics on the shelf. I took one look and was all in. I got home, read it, loved it, and immediately texted my buddy John at work and asked him to put it on my pull list.
Writer – Michael Moreci Artist – Nathan C Goodeen Colorist – Addison Duke Letterer – Jim Campbell Variant cover artist(s) – Nathan Gooden & Tim Daniel
I’m not going to write a detailed synopsis of the book because if you’re at all interested in reading the comic I’d say head down to your local comic shop and buy a copy. I will say that the story introduces the reader to the main character, Owen the Barbarian, in an exciting fashion. Owen and his ax are in an arena being forced to do battle with three criminals while the blood thirsty crowd watches. Following the events in the arena, which includes some great dialog and bloody action, we get part of Owen’s history.
There is just enough to the backstory that the reader can understand what is going on in the present without being overwhelmed in origin tales. The comic ends with an action packed introduction to an unnamed witch who sets up the events for the next issue.
What really got me wrapped up in this comic is the dialog and the pacing of the story. It grabbed me right away with tough talk from Owen which he backed up with his ax. There is a curse that is intriguing and is set up in such a way that you need to keep turning the pages to find out what’s going on. Satisfyingly, the basic questions get answered right away, so now I really want to see what happens next.
The dialog is filled with enough humor that I don’t take it too seriously, and the book is not weighted down with lofty language that clutters the page. There are three well done acts that fill the comic leaving only two house ads at the end. It was very nice to read a story that doesn’t end two pages after the staples.
It is also worth mentioning that this is an adult story with gore, bloodshed, swearing and nudity. While I can sometimes be judgmental about that kind of thing when mixed with fantasy story telling I think that all works perfectly here. The tone is set early and is consistent throughout the issue.
I know that’s not much of a review, I was just so excited after reading a really good comic that I wanted to write about it. I commend the team at Vault comics for putting together a quality comic with a great story, great art, and great writing. I can’t wait until the second issue comes out.
Spring is in the air and I’m dusting off the keyboard and blog in order to once again join up with an amazing group of pod-casters and bloggers for the one and only Super-Blog Team-Up. An event like no other, where like minded pod-casters and writers get together to discuss and write about pop culture as it relates to a specific theme. For this outing “The Doctor is In” and we’ll be taking a look at Dr. Doom, Dr. Thirteen, Dr. Voodoo, and Lucy Van Pelt to name a few of the fictional practitioners that are there to tend to the ill and care for the sick…maybe. Join us, won’t you?
For my Team Up entry I want to examine the Marvel Comic Doctor Who adventures and what got me interested in these old comics and the classic Doctor Who adventures in the first place. In order to understand how I got here we have to go all the way back to February of 2019, when one of my favorite pod-casters devoted a whole month to a network wide event hilariously called Feb-Who-Ary. But we’ll get there in due time.
My first exposure to Doctor Who came in the sixth grade when a classmate would wear a ridiculously long scarf to school and espouse on the virtues of the TV show that aired on PBS called Doctor Who. I may have watched 20 minutes of the show before realizing that it did not impress me. It could not compare to the wonderful adventures that took place in the universes of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, or Buck Rogers. At that young age the budget restricted show could not hold my attention and I was not in a place to appreciate British science fiction and humor.
Hop in the Tardis and head into the future twenty some odd years and my brother convinces my wife and I to watch an episode of the modern Doctor Who called “Blink”. I was blown away and all in. We devoured the new stories with Christopher Eccelston, David Tennant, and Matt Smith and their wonderful partners Billie Piper, Karen Gillan, Freema Agyeman, and Catherine Tate. Eventually our interest died off as the quality of the stories changed. During those years of watching the modern stories I did feel that something was missing from my experience. Where was the scarf? Where was the combination of great storytelling and special effects put together with rubber masks and paper mache that paved the way for this modern super series?
Back the present where I listen to six or seven pop culture and comic book related podcasts on a regular basis. The really good ones have an impact on me in that I want to follow up on and experience that subject in a more personal way, whether it is watching a movie for myself or reading the comic that was discussed. Enter the podcasts on the Relatively Geeky Network where Professor Alan, Em and their friends & guests took an extended look at the wonderful world of Doctor Who in the Feb-Who-Ary event. Over the course of the month and into March they discussed Doctor Who in a way that I had not experienced the property for myself. They talked about the TV shows, the actors and actresses, the conventions and the comics. Since that time I’ve really made an effort to learn more about the classic Doctor Who material and have been very pleased to find a good deal of it is available on various streaming platforms.
The podcast episode that stood out the most for me was Quarter Bin Podcast #131 where Professor Alan and Shagg, from the Fire and Water network, took an in depth look at Doctor Who #8 and the Doctor Who comics in general. Listening to them talk about this comic that they both loved made me want to read it for myself. From that point on I’ve been on the lookout of the Doctor Who Marvel comics whenever I’m bin diving. I’ve picked up a couple over the last two years which brings us to the main event.
Doctor Who and the Time Witch
Writer – Steve Moore Artist – Dave Gibbons Editor – Paul Neary Reprinting material from – Doctor Who Weekly 35 – 38
The story begins with a woman, Brimo, being dragged by armed aliens towards a small chamber, sentenced to imprisonment for life, for get this, “using her subconscious mind to conspire with creatures unknown to pervert the course of destiny”. Whatever that means. Over the next few panels, eons pass for Brimo in her solitary confinement. Eventually the plant she is on disappears and the sun goes nova sucking her into a black hole and nothingness. Things are now very different for Brimo.
She appears to be in a white void of nothingness. She also realizes that she has the power to create a reality around her with just her mind and heart’s desires. We then cut to the Doctor and his companion Sharon in the Tardis. As the Doctor is telling Sharon that she’s got to keep up with studies while on adventures with him a rupture in time starts to appear in the Tardis. The Doctor is quite concerned that something that should not be happening is. Just as quickly as the rupture opens the Doctor and Sharon are sucked from the Tardis to a new planet. A larger than life alien dressed in something resembling samurai armor, named Meltron, is there. Meltron offers the visitors tea while the Doctor questions him on where they are.
The Doctor is concerned that energy from his dimension is being sucked into this new dimension by whomever is in charge and thinks that could lead to a very bad outcome. While Brimo, master of all reality in this dimension, sees the visitors with Meltron and decides to do something about them. While she attacks, the Doctor has been able to figure out that he too can control reality in this dimension. He thwarts each of Brimo’s attacks all the while trying to explain to Brimo and Sharon what is really going on.
As the battle progresses with the moves and counter moves made by Brimo and the Doctor growing more sophisticated Brimo appears to have the upper hand. In the end though the Doctor tricks Brimo into conjuring up her original solitary prison that once again she cannot escape from. The Doctor and Sharon leave the wacky dimension in the Tardis ready for another adventure.
The Tides of Time Part Seven
Writer – Steve Parkhouse Artist – Dave Gibbons Editor – Alan McKenzie
The lead story in this issue of Doctor Who features the fifth Doctor. The story is the last part of a series with this chapter originally featured in Doctor Who monthly #67. The story is a little hard to follow because it is the final chapter and there is little exposition. It actually took me a couple of times reading to grasp what was happening. I’ll try to be brief.
The Doctor and a man named Justin, dressed like a knight, are waiting for coordinates that will be given to them when the higher evolutionaries have completed the task of suspending time. I think. These coordinates will allow the Doctor and Justin to find the “event synthesizer” and the demon who stole it, Melanicus. Those things happen and the Doctor and Justin are transported in the Tardis to Earth. An Earth that is in ruins. As the Doctor and Justin leave the Tardis they hear music coming from a bombed out church.
They enter the church only to find the organ and the demon. Justin attacks the demon and there is a brief battle. When Justin has to assist the Doctor with a zombie that is attacking him the demon gets away. The demon Melanicus climbs to the top of the church only to be shot in the eyes by a being that is all black and appears to be filled with stars. Melanicus falls past a window and Justin leaps through it with his sword driving it into the demon’s heart. There is a massive, blinding explosion and the Doctor is hurled through time and space (?) only to awaken in what appears to be the same church, fully reconstructed, with a statue that looks like Justin.
The story closes with the Doctor being greeted by someone he knows and joins a cricket match. As this happens he is observed by the strange all black being who is communicating telepathically with his “masters”. They refer to him as Shade, tell him that he has done a good job, and that he should return to Gallifrey. I have no idea what any of this means, but I suspect it probably is a call back to something that happened at the very beginning of the adventure.
Doctor Who Time Slip, and other features.
This issue contains another story featuring the fourth Doctor where time moves backwards and the Doctor reverts to his original form, the first Doctor. There is a text piece about what is going in the world of Doctor Who, conventions and that kind of thing, followed by a one page text piece about the Doctor Who villain, the Meddling Monk.
Both comics close with a story that is opened or closed by the fifth Doctor and feature characters from Doctor Who, I believe, but are not stories about the Doctor himself.
Each of the comics contain exactly what I was looking for when I bought them, classic Doctor Who stories that are completely new to me despite the fact they are over 35 years old. I’m a big fan of Dave Gibbon’s work from Rogue Trooper and Judge Dredd to his work at DC, notably Watchmen and The Sinestro Corp War. The first story with the Time Witch is a little easier to take in because it is a self contained story, while with the Tides of Time I was a little lost having not read the previous chapters.
As we come out on the other side of the pandemic, I am looking forward to continuing the search for more issues from this series. Heck maybe I’ll find some of the Marvel Premiere issues where the Doctor was first brought to Marvel readers before getting his own series.
Similar to Doctor Who adventures where one action can have ripple effects across time I really want to stress how important those podcasts that Professor Alan and his friends and family put together were for me. Without that impetus who knows if I would have discovered such a desire to look into the world of classic Doctor Who. Sure I knew about Tom Baker and his cool scarf and the battles between the time lords and the Daleks but until Feb-Who-Ary I was pretty content with my collection of David Tennant DVDs gathering dust on the shelf. Those podcasts that were filled with such passion and knowledge they made me curious about that world and what it was like. They made me want to seek it out, find out who the Brigadier was, to see what Dave Gibbons’ Doctor looked like in full color Marvel comics, to see what that young boy I knew in the sixth grade was so keen on when he wore that dorky scarf to school.
That’s really the point here. Through this great comics community, that the Super Blog Team up is part of, we share in each other’s passions. We discover new worlds that we didn’t know existed before. I’m very glad to be part of that community which is why I am going to encourage you to visit my fellow pod-casters and bloggers and check out these other awesome Super Blog Team Up entries. Click the links below for more great Doctors, they’re good for what ales you.
Is Radioactive Man #1 one of the most meta comics ever published? In May 1991, The Simpsons, “Three Men and a Comic Book”, aired. In the classic episode Bart, Milhouse, and Martin pool their money to buy a copy of Radioactive Man #1 to share between the three of them. Eventually their own greed gets the better of them and the comic book is destroyed in a storm as they fight over it. In January of 1993 Bongo comics published a real life version of Radioactive Man #1.
The comic features two covers, a regular newsstand version and the direct market edition which has a glow in dark image and a poster inside. Published at the height of 90’s speculation, I highly doubt there is an issue of the direct edition with the poster removed. Despite the missed opportunity to have the cover look like the comic featured in the cartoon it is nonetheless a striking image of the titular hero in the foreground and mushroom cloud in the background. Another nice little touch to the parody was that it has a cover date of Nov 1952.
The story itself is a throwback to early superhero origin stories, mashing up bits of the Incredible Hulk and Superman along with other common tropes. One of the most clever bits is the fake advertisement on the back cover which looks like one of the old Atlas ads that promised to turn a wimp into a jock. This ad instead promises to turn a kid into a superhero. The comic strip features a child whose parents are killed, just like Bruce Wayne’s, and he vows revenge by buying Atlasman’s home study course.
Overall, the parody of the comic featured in the Simpson cartoon is both clever and, at the same time, just another comic released at a time when gimmick covers were all the rage and number one issues were plentiful. Despite all that I think, as a Simpsons fan, it is fun to say I own my own copy of Radioactive Man number one, and that I don’t have to share it with Bart, Milhouse or Martin. Maybe I should get it graded. Would that make it even more meta?
I’ve been working on cataloging my comic book collection for years now. It is a long, time consuming, but extremely enjoyable process. As I go through my boxes, bagging, boarding, and entering comics into my database, I sometimes wonder, “Why did I buy this comic?”. Tonight I came across just such a book when I was going through a box of mid nineties DC books, mostly from the Vertigo line: The Invisibles #1.
Generally speaking I think of Vertigo books as being “high brow” comics meant for people who like sequential art but want something more than funny animals, superhero beat ‘em ups, or giant robots. My problem is that there are very few Vertigo series that I have bought and read and been happy about it when I was finished. Warren Ellis’s “Transmetropolitan” was something my brother turned me on to and I really enjoyed. I ended up reading the entire series. More often than not though I find Vertigo to be a pretty boring line of comics. That is not to say I think they are bad comics, after all some of the most talented creators have worked on Vertigo lines, Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman”, Garth Ennis’s “Preacher”, and Grant Morrison’s “Doom Patrol” are some of the most well regarded comics ever published.
While I think The Invisibles is not quite in the same company as Sandman and 100 Bullets, it definitely has its fans. Personally I’m not one of them and that is why I wonder why I bought this in the first place. I suppose it could have been that I knew that Grant Morrison was, and is, one of the top writers in the business. It could have been that I liked Transmet’ so much that I thought I should try other Vertigo titles. It even could have been that my brother said it was going to be good and I acted on his recommendation, something that if you were to ask him now, I have never actually done. Heck, anything is possible I suppose, but for the life of me now I cannot remember what the impetus was that made me buy this comic.
Creators: Writer – Grant Morrison Artist – Steve Yedwell
I own the first five issues of The Invisibles. I remember reading them and not understanding a blessed thing. I re-read the first issue before writing this and I still don’t understand what the deal is. I can understand the angst of one of the main characters, Dane McGowan, and that he is being recruited but that’s about it. I don’t understand why there is a grenade on the cover, why a young John Lennon and Paul McCartney show up, or who and what the heck King Mob is. The art is good and not nearly abstract as the cover might indicate and if I didn’t find the story so boring or confusing I might have given it more of a chance than I did. As it is I only bought five issues and after looking at them now I still don’t care enough to give the series another chance and really go down that rabbit hole.
I’ve read enough about The Invisibles now that I know many people consider it some of Morrison’s finest work, that it is challenging, that you just have to “go with it” to appreciate and enjoy it. The three volumes of the series have been collected several times including a massive 1500 page omnibus so it can easily be enjoyed by new fans. I respect Morrison’s ability to get his story published, for the most part how he wanted to. If you’re reading this and you were a fan of The Invisibles let me know, I’d love to know what you liked about the series and why. For me these are just five comics in my collection that I cannot recall why I bought way back when.
I’ve written on this blog that I’ve collected comics for most of my life. When I was a wee lad it wasn’t so much collecting as it was just buying comics and reading them. My brother and I would look at the comics at the Springdale Stationary and get to pick one after church on Sundays. Like most kids we would read them over and over, not caring about preserving them for the future. They got bent and ripped but that didn’t matter, we still enjoyed the heck out of them. Some of our earliest comics were Disney and Looney Tunes comics, Battlestar Galactica (we loved the TV show), and Shogun Warriors.
I mentioned that we didn’t care about keeping our comics in great condition, we weren’t thinking about the future, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t keep them. Many of the things from our childhood have long been gone from our lives as we moved and grew up but not our comic books. We’ve managed to hold on to those well worn treasures to this day. Look at the picture above. Notice the creases in the cover, the rips and worn edges. Check out the spine of the book, the cover is practically coming off. It has been warped from folding it back so the comic could be read holding it with one hand*. Just looking at this comic brings me right back to 1979, to that stationary store, kneeling on the newspapers with my brother eagerly going through that lower shelf of the magazine rack where the comics were kept.
*Editor’s note – when we were a little older and actually started collecting comics the practice of folding the comic around itself was the first habit we had to break to be “serious” collectors.
Writer – Doug Moench Artist – Herb Trimpe Inker – Dan Green Letter – Jim Novak Colorist – Andy Yanchus Editor – Al Milgrom EiC – Jim Shooter
The open splash page has the reader at Shogun Sanctuary where the amazing Shogun Warriors are being recharged with solar power. Dr. Tambura is working with his staff on preparing the mechs for their next adventure and their pilots are training on how to control them better. Elsewhere the villain, Maur-Kon, is working on a plan to defeat the doctor and his “giant robots” by using science instead of his evil magic.
As the new group of pilots get to know each other better we get some background on one of the pilots, Ilongo Savage, an oceanographer. Story-time is interrupted by Dr. Tambura as he takes the team, Richard Carson, Genji Odashu, and Savage to review their last battle. They need to learn more about the machines they are piloting and how to best use their abilities. There is a pretty cool explanation of what Carson could have done better against the Rok-Korr elementals they faced in the last issue.
Back at Maur-Kon’s volcano lair his techno-mages have created the awesome Mech-Monster. A giant purple and yellow machine that looks a bit like a dragonfly with a bull’s head. The team gives Maur-Kon a demonstration of the weapons on the monster, canons on the side of its head and a laser blaster built into the tale. Maur-Kon is pleased and tells his mages that they’ll test the monster against the Shogun Warriors tomorrow. Meanwhile his lieutenant, Magar, who believes in magic over technology, has other plans for the fearsome machine. He takes control of it after everyone has left and brings it to the “Pool of Dark Life”, a lava pool that will be used to convert the machine into some unknown terror. He is interrupted by some guards and loses control of it, but his goal is achieved. The Mech Monster is transformed into a living, breathing, creature that still seems just as powerful as the original creation.
At Shogun Sanctuary the team has wrapped up their training and Genji decides she wants to take Combatra out for a test drive to see if she can put some of her newfound knowledge to practical use. Dr. Tambura gives her the thumbs up and she heads off into the night. While Genji is out she comes across the nearby city which is engulfed in flames. The living mech monster has attacked and now has its sights on Combatra. Genji calls back to HQ for assistance and prepares to defend herself and the city. She splits Combatra into the five individual ships that form the giant robot in an exciting cliffhanger that will lead right into the next issue.
As far as the story goes this is a really good example of a kids comic of the era. There was a Shogun Warrior toy line that the comic was meant to support and after reading this comic I don’t know how any kid wouldn’t be asking their parents for a new toy. The Shogun Warriors are prominently featured but there is a lot of character development and exposition to support an actual story.
It’s been a long time since I read one of these comics but I got everything I needed to know about the characters in this single issue, or at least enough to understand what is going on. The leader is the brainy scientist Dr. Tambura, the crew features a diverse team of young professionals, and the villain is the menacing Maur-Kon who uses science and magic to accomplish his goals. We learn about the abilities of the Shogun, that Radian is powerful and Combatra is actually a collection of vehicles that form the big warrior. That particular idea would be featured in much of the programming my brother and I enjoyed in the era from Voltron, to the Transformers, and the Gobots just to name a few.
This particular copy of Shogun Warriors #4 is an artifact from my childhood. It is a saddle stapled newsprint periodical that my brother and I managed to hold onto for forty one years. Despite the fact that most of the things that were part of our childhood are nothing more than memories now my brother and I never threw out our comics. They were more than advertisements for toys or disposable bits of entertainment to us. They were a shared experience. They were gateways to other worlds. They were what fueled our imaginations and they were important to us.
I’ll close this out this trip into the long boxes with a picture of the cover of the next issue that features Raiden battling the Mech Monster.