How I Got My Superpowers…

If anyone read my first ever post about how I got into comics, then I’m afraid I have an apology to make. It was a load of bollocks. I’ve only just remembered exactly when it was I became a comic fan.

And it wasnt even from reading a comic. The first time I got excited about comics was from this little picture here.


‘Waddingtons Super Top Trumps Marvel Super Heroes’ made me the man I am today. Please have a look-see at this website here for more information on all the sets released by those crazy cats at Waddingtons.

You will notice this range of Marvel Top Trumps was released between 1988 and 1992. So chances are I was between 2 and 6 when I first set my beady eyes ‘pon these chaps with their flashy pants and their enticing names. Enticing names which I got wrong. Nick Fury, Marvel’s super-spy (strength: 20,  Weapons: 6) had what looked like big fuzzy sideburns in his picture, so he became my favourite card, and was rechristened Nick Furry.

In the villains pack we also used to have there was a character called ‘The Mad Thinker’. (I’ve only in the last 3 months actually read a comic with him actually in, so I can now confirm he does actually exist after 18 years of thrilling mystery.) But anyway, since the Mad Thinker used to look like he had some muddy stains on his otherwise green overalls he became known in my mind as The Mad Stinker, and he was so mad he used to be covered in his own popsy-bangsies. The Mad Stinker is a crap card as well, with a hight of only 5’11” and Super Powers of Zero, the big shitty dick-head. The worst card of the super heroes was, and still remains, Elektra. She had a shit picture, shit strength (20) and no super powers. It was the unwritten rule of any game we played as a family (my older brother and my older sister, I think it was my older brother Hugh who was instrumental in actually purchasing the cards to begin with) that anyone who had Elektra in their hand while playing was guaranteed to lose. In fact, this unwritten rule then carried on to Secondary School when I used to play with my chums at break time, and without my ever mentioning the fact Elektra was shit she was declared a bad luck card by all other players and she was habitually left in my bag when we started a game since she spoilt the otherwise carnival atmosphere.

Interestingly, the big hero of today Iron Man is a fairly mediocre card, with strength of 25 and zero super powers. He does make up for it though with weapons of 20. Weapons was always a good area to play if it was in the double figures, since many marvel heroes shun weapons in favour of snapping necks with their bare hands. 

I’ve just done a quick check, and of the cards I still have, (Thor is missing sadly) The Thing, The Hulk and The Silver Surfer are the best cards to have. All are nice and tall, over the 6′ mark, all are heavy (particularly the silver surfer with weight ‘UNKNOWN!’ which was a mystical and fabled magic word in our games meaning it could beat any weight, the only concession to this great power being that it could only be played in defence and never as an attacking stat) and all have enormous strength and super powers. I’d say Silver Surfer was the best card though.

The only character that I do not recognise nor have ever read about is ‘The Gardener’.

Back in the '80s a gardener could have his own top trump. Nowadays you have to be a Jet, or a Tank.

Gardener is a bit of a sly old bugger. Just look, super powers 70! And he is over 7 foot tall!  And two weapons, which I think must be his stick and his orange purse.

Curiously I have absolutely no idea who the artist of these cards is. But what I think I’ll do is take them along to my comic shop ( ) and see if any of the nice chaps and chapesses there know who it was. I shall let you know.

You will also be pleased to know that new Marvel top trumps are still being produced, and I’m sure at some point I’ll tell you all about them too.

Driver For The Dead!

Seatbelts frighten the life out of him.

What was I expecting with this comic? Not a great deal, to be honest. It was published by a company I knew very little about, and by a writer (John Heffernan) I’ve never heard of. But, I did like the title ‘Driver For the Dead’. It sounds like the sort of thing that is going to be so dreadful its got to be a comic classic. One of my favourite DVD’s is a film called ‘Flight of the Living Dead’, so you can imagine my joy in finding a comic which may be ‘The Transporter’ mixed with ’28 Days Later’.

But this comic isn’t all silly! It’s Absolutly fucking Terrifying and absolutely fucking Awesome. Straight away we are thrown into the middle of an ‘Exorcist’ style possession of a little boy in the middle of Alabama, with an old voodoo witch doctor man who looks a load like Morgan Freeman (he is even named Moses Freeman) turning up to save the day and exorcise the child. Immediately we are thrust into a world of african curses, cats nailed to walls, voodoo dolls and children vomiting up snakes. It is full on creepy stuff! Then as soon as we think this Moses Freeman chap is going to be saving the day and being this mysterious ‘Driver for the Dead’, he ends up getting chomped in half by a lizard monster demon, and as he chokes to death on his own juicy gore, he hands over a business card to the parents of the possessed child.

The name on the card?



Hooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Man! Suddenly, this sneaky little comic bursts into overdrive! Alabaster Graves drives a hearse that looks like it has been modified by BA Barracus, for the Ghostbusters, using Iron Man’s technology. Its got turbos, and huge exhausts and an engine so big you can barely see out the front windscreen, with a skeleton acting as a front grill, and a huge tombstone acting as a spoiler. And this little beauty is called, rather sweetly ‘Black Betty’.

We soon learn Alabaster is no ordinary undertaker. He undertakes the jobs that no one else would want to undertake ( ahh haha!). We meet him as he is racing to get the body of a vampire’s victim buried before sundown. He has exactly 4 minutes to behead and then bury the victim in a churchyard. The churchyard is exactly 5 minutes away. Naturally,  all hell breaks loose.

And naturally, since this is a comic, the ‘Black Betty’ also doubles as a mobile weapons cabinet, so Mr Graves shoots himself a vampire to death using incendiary bullets to burn the flesh off its chest exposing the heart, then high velocity rounds to pierce it. FUCK YOU TWILIGHT!!

From then on Alabaster Graves is hired to transport the body of Mr Moses Freeman to his final resting place, with the late Mr Freeman’s niece for company, but since Moses is such a powerful sorcerer, all of the magical community are out to get his body and consume his abilities! And Away We Go!

This comic is so stupid, and so exciting, and so frightening and so fun that I just couldn’t turn it down. It took me a couple of days before I managed to hunt down a copy, which is the first issue of a 3 part series by Radical Comics. ITs an independent comic company, so it is a little more expensive an issue at $4.99 (so about £3.80  I think I paid in the end) than I usually would spend on a story I had no idea about, but the good thing about Radical Comics is that they seem to publish all their issues in a sort of magazine format rather than as a comic. By this I mean rather than being printed on usual comic paper, it’s all done on nice glossy magazine style pages, all good and thick, so it feels like your holding something big and professional in your hands. It’s also a bigger page count than you can usually expect from the average mainstream comic, 58 glorious full colour pages, compared to the usual 22! And its all nicely square bound like a proper magazine, with a spine and everything, rather than just a page folded in half & held together with a staple.

It’s a quality read in every sence. Particularly considering the best sense of all, Sight! This book looks amazing! Luckily, I do know the artist, Leonard Manco from other comic series, mainly from his work on Marvel’s ‘Blaze of Glory’, and his work here is extraordinary. It has a fully real life style, but with the otherworldly magical extras rendered in a serious and believable way, about as close as I can describe it is that its like watching Jurassic Park for the first time. It’s obviously not real, but by god this monster madness is believable. You can see people have shaving rashes, and all their suits are threadbare, and sunken eyelids from nights awake, and then you get giant snake monsters and floating green witches leaping out of trees, it’s just magnificent escapism excitement.

I always feel like I should support these independent publishers work, and like them despite the quality of the comics they put out, but in this instance Radical  Comics have put out a work of art which is superior to mainstream Mega-Publishers like Marvel and DC in every way. For $1 more, they have produced a comic 250% bigger than the average, on better quality paper, with better quality art, with a more interesting story. They have beaten any comic publisher in almost every way, yet still I doubt if this comic was even noticed by most comic shop regulars.

Well, fuck ’em! That means there is more left for me!


Published in: on August 13, 2010 at 10:56 pm  Leave a Comment  


Flaming Fists of Fury!


So here it is! The final issue in the four-part series that has been keeping me on my toes for the past quarter of a year, and what a ride it has been! We have been from the mountains of Norway to the depths of the Mediterranean Ocean, to the skies of New York, all to punch up a bunch of nutcase Nazis! So what happened this month?! Shitting hell, it turns out Baron Zemo is just a pseudonym used by the head of the Nazi research program, carried on by each successive victim of the ZEMO compound, and the latest victim is dear ol’  Tony’s dad! 

Then, as Tony gets smacked about like a ragdoll by Nazi robot ‘Arsenal’ its revealed his mechanical heart is finally giving up, with its dropping power levels flashed up in each panel and dropping steadily with each Iron fist to the face of the SS! Then Bang! Pepper Potts is smacking a lady up in the head, and Tony transforms into a damned great motorcycle, and they smash out of the castle onto a zeppelin! Naturally its on from there to victory via more jetpack fun, oricalchum trident lightning vs Zeppelin fleet experiments and submarine rescues. And then right as we think it’s all over, Tony is called in to face the one and only Dr. Doom!!! 

Writer Scott Snyder and artist Manuel Garcia have managed to achieve the impossible and have looked into the imagination of a 13-year-old boy, and pull out the most perfect comic book story of all time. And make no mistake, any one who reads comic books has the brain of a 13-year-old. Its 22 full colour pages of enormous robot suits punching at each other, while everything flammable blows up, and the only victims are Nazis, so it’s all absolutely guilt free! And man, the art is utterly superb! There is one panel I was looking at, and I couldn’t work out why it was so evocative and harrowing, and then I  realised what it was. While all the explosions and chaos is going on, Tony Stark has red rimmed and blood-filled eyes, a tiny detail added by the colourist to show that this man is fighting in a suit of armour while in the middle of a massive heart attack, yet still standing! 

The whole series has been coloured with these sort of brown and yellow sepia tones, so the blood and the fire stand out as these great bright streaks of vibrant colour from the page, and the red-headed Pepper Potts is similarly depicted as bright, clear and flawless, the literal clean bright center of each panel she is in, ready to carry Tony through despite is rusty, dented and lumbering suit and failing heart. So good on Marta Martinez (colourist extraordinaire) for brilliantly capturing the flavour and the feeling of a 40’s pulp adventure mag. 

Man Adventures!


I’m terribly sad this mini-series is over. Its been a jolly little indulgence in a sea of overly serious and overly self-important series. With every issue, every page, and every panel, this story knew it was a comic book. A little ten minutes of escapism with robots and fantastical lands and impossible escapes and happy endings. It appealed to the 13-year-old inside me, and I know I will read, and re-read this series, and it will be always as exciting and dynamic and enthralling as every classic adventure story should be.

Published in: on August 4, 2010 at 10:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Read Comics, and also like Gagging Blowjobs.

I’ve just found a jolly useful button in my blog profile page that lets me have a look and see what people type in to google or yahoo to find my blog. The results have been rather illuminating.

Search Views
pussys 2 1
palmiotti 1
reading comics is tedious 1
comic soapbox 1
comic blogs 1 1
toby pennington illustrator 1
toby pennington illustration 1
gagging blowjobs and anal fucking 1
“i read comics” pose 1
achewood chatsack is real 1
chinook helicopter crash 1
“i read comics and you should too” 1
dirty little secret comic 1
comic you should read 1
comic “my first time “ 1
vicente alcazar 1

I’ve no idea how ‘Chinnok helicopter crash’ links to a blog about drunk cartoon cats. 

But I do like how people who search for ‘gagging blowjobs and anal fucking’ are also into Marvel comics.

You better believe it ladies!

Published in: on July 13, 2010 at 8:25 pm  Comments (1)  
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The Brown Frown

In this comic his glass eye is made from magic, and it turns nice old ladies into Bigots.


In celebration of everyones favourite wally, here is the panel of Captain Britain and MI13 issue one from 2008, featuring the one and only Gordon Brown. He was helping save Britain from an alien invasion. Nice one Gordon!

Published in: on May 4, 2010 at 8:58 pm  Leave a Comment  
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We're all friends at the end of the universe

I’ve been having a few ideas of what to do with this blog over the last few days. I realised that if I just write reviews of the comics I buy and enjoy then it is just going to be a very tedious list of comics getting 8 out of ten, so I’ve been chatting to the jolly lot at my local comic shop, and every week they are going to be recommending me a random issue which is either selling well, or is a favourite of the shop staff. This way I get to broaden my horizons beyond my usual reading material, and get an exotic sample of the wider world of the comic page!

I also have an interview coming up with London-based illustrator Toby Pennington, and an interview with my friend Sarah who is new to comics on her first foray into reading pen and ink adventures!

The next set of reviews will hopefully be up by the weekend, new comic releases have been delayed by bank holiday Monday so its set everything back a few days.

Flying the Flag

Fighting for Truth, Justice, and the American Way! Well, that means fuck all to me.

I’ve always been a fan of British comic book characters, naturally because I’m English, but also because I think that there is something about a British comic book character which is a bit more human and accessable than the typical American hero. I’m going to do a sweeping generalisation here, but so far as I can tell American heros are all fighting because of their own personal hang-ups, private quests for justice, or because they feel the urge to prove themselves as human. But the British heros I know of all fight because it falls to them to take up the mantle and do their duty. It’s just Tradition. It seems as though its their job to stand firm and soldier on, knuckle down with a stiff upper lip while the rest of the country stands back and lets them get on with it. It’s the duty of the British heros to get on with it without any fuss or bother. And it seems as though it’s the duty of all British superheros to fail to sell any comics.

I'm very sorry I'm not american

The two main English superheros who have received any attention in the last few years are Captain Britain and Union Jack. I’ve also just remembered there is John Constantine from the DC ‘Hellblazer’ series, but he is less of a superhero and more of an anti-hero, and I would point out that since he is most well-known as being played by Keanu Reeves in a terrible film I’m going to ignore him. Captain Britain was revived for a short time in the fantastic Marvel series Captain Britain and MI13, written by British writer Paul Cornell who has also worked on a number of television series in the UK, including Doctor Who, and during its 15 issue run it was widely applauded as one of the best written monthly series published. It’s intelligently written plots incorporated many different aspects from the nature of being a hero, the multi-cultural population of the UK, and the British fixation on magic and folklore. This series was the most consistently well reviewed series of 2008-9, and yet after 15 issues it was canceled due to poor sales.

Union Jack is yet another British character which often draws the short straw. Created in 1975 to be part of ‘The Invaders’ squadron helping Captain America fight the Nazis, Union Jack was intended to be a British hero fighting both Nazis and curiously vampires, which seem to be running wild through the British Isles since the First World War. In the last 10 years Union Jack has appeared in only 12 comics (a 3 issue miniseries in 1998,  a 4 issue miniseries in 2006, 4 issues of Captain America and an issue of Captain Britain and MI13).

I’m sure that the reason for this failure can’t just be down to poor writing, since Captain Britain and MI13 was voted number 10 in the top 100 comic series of 2009 by the ‘ Comic Book’, and the art work in Union Jack or Captain Britain has always been second to none. I think that it just comes down to the fact that Americans arent interested in British superheros, and unless a series is popular in an American market it just isn’t going to succeed. The only successful British comic I can think of is ‘The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen’, and even that is set in a fictional Victorian London totally unlike any real Britain.

Even the issues of 2000AD or Eagle annuals I’ve had chance to read have revealed that most series are based either in alien planets or parallel universes. It appears that the United Kingdom is just so boring that no one would ever seriously entertain the notion that anything very exciting could ever happen here. Over in America one can zip about with a cape on and no one would bat an eyelid. But just you try it in London, and my goodness I expect you would be beaten red, white and blue.

My First Time

I started reading comics about 12 years ago, and today I’ve decided to start writing about them. I’m going to use this blog to chat about the comics I’m enjoying at the moment, do a few reviews of what I’m buying and reading, and discussing the various aspects of the medium.

I can’t remember the first comic I ever read, but I do remember my Granny sending me copies of  Walt Disney comics when I was about 5 or 6. I think she collected tokens for them from packets of tea, because that’s the sort of lady she is. I never had any pocket-money so couldn’t ever buy any books myself, but we had a friend across town who had a subscription to the Beano and Dandy. About every 6 months a massive bag of them would arrive on our doorstep, along with copies of Cosmopolitan for my mum. I used to get excited hoping they might have left the swizzlestick lolly attached to the covers of the Beano. There was never any lollys stuck to the front of Cosmopolitan. Reading Cosmopolitan (or ‘Cosmo’ to us fans) was always good fun because there were adverts in the back showing photos of boobs. Despite the fact I read comics, I’m a very generous and talented lover based on reading their articles on the top ten ways to keep a relationship spicy between the sheets.

Zip forward about 5 years, and I started working in a pizza restaurant (3 complaints from customers for nudity) so I finally had money to buy comics myself. Marvel UK were publishing collectors editions which were thick 78 page comics collecting three american comics in one. I think my first issue was ‘The Avengers United’ issue 15, which had a free poster, which is still on my wall.

If Cosmopolitan had free posters, I would have bought that.

From there I started buying all the Marvel comics I could, and since that point I’ve mainly stuck with Marvel. I think it’s just the costumes look better. And Marvel comics had Captain Britain and Union Jack, while I don’t think I can name a single british DC comics character. (Except Batman’s servant Alfred, but I don’t think he counts, since any real British gent would have told Bruce Wayne to fucking grow up and stop sulking a long time ago).

When I went to University I stopped collecting, mainly since I didnt have the room to keep them, and I now had pubs to hang about in all time. It wasnt untill my final year when I discovered a Forbidden Planet comic shop in Sheffield town center that I started collecting properly again. I think I now have somewhere around 1000 comics and trade paperbacks.

I’ve just had a look at my bookcase, and the general themes I collect seem to be Westerns, Cosmic adventures, Pirates, Vikings and Zombies. And Marvel superheros. My favourite book changes almost every week, but I think my favourite series is ‘The Ultimates’ by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch. I’m not sure what superpower I would like, but I think my costume would probably involve a waistcoat and a bowler hat.