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The Swamp Thing #7 – Review


The Swamp Thing #7

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar

Published by DC Comics

Released – 8/9/2021

As we rejoin our friend in the swamp, we find him still entangled with Suicide Squad in the Kaziranga Forest. This is shown to great effect on yet another eye catching cover from Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer. Peacemaker and his ragtag band are the red taint here, surrounded by the imposing presence of The Swamp Thing who seeks to contain them, remove their blight from The Green and from Kaziranga. This thematic contrast used throughout the story so far is really effective and often adds an extra element to many of the scenes.

Following on from the cliff-hanger last issue, we find The Suicide Squad picking up the pieces, almost literally. Some darkly atmospheric and intense scenes which call to mind the finest moments of the Predator film lead us to the title page for ‘In My Infancy part 2’. It is at once fascinating, beautiful and perfectly executed. Striking and memorable title pages have been something of a signature for this series, and this is no exception.

As we read on and Swamp Thing tangles further with the remaining members of Suicide Squad, the action is interwoven with explorations of memory, previously used as a means of recovery and growth, now manipulated and exposed at the whim of Nightmare Nurse. As she peels back the layers, Levi is forced to revisit his relationship with father and brother, his alienation from his own people, his lingering torment… Through these sequences, it’s apparent that Levi’s inner battles rival any physical struggle he may encounter.

History, folklore and belief play strong roles here, with the impact of colonialism and industrialisation looming large. Part of the Guardian of The Green is tradition or memory but in Levi, it is also progress, a striving for something new and better. Between Nightmare Nurse and Chemo, we find both Levi and The Green attacked in more ways than one. Perhaps his unique perspective will enable Levi to face these threats as Swamp Thing in a way no other could.

Once again, from start to finish, this is superlative stuff. The writing, art and lettering all form a symbiosis wherein each inform the other, where words and art come together to create perfect comic book storytelling moments. It’s a book where we get to learn things, to investigate, if we are so inclined. There is an unusual geography here which is almost a character itself, especially when viewed through the lens of history and anthropology. This might sound like this is a dry, academic story but nothing could be further from the truth; every panel, every moment is exciting. It just so happens that there is substance supporting the action, the interactions.

Ram V’s dialogue and narration, brought to life through Aditya Bidikar’s always impressive lettering, bring us entirely convincing moments of human experience, enhanced ever further by pitch-perfect work from the art team. No matter if we are seeing Levi’s shared moments with his father or his struggle as Swamp Thing as he grapples physical horrors, we are always right there with him.
Through the work of this incredible creative team, we can experience something akin to synaesthesia as we read, take in images and turn pages. We get to smell, hear, feel, maybe even taste through drawings, colours and words of great quality and depth. This is a comic which takes us way beyond our world in the best of ways.


Verdict

There’s a bittersweet sense building as I read and review this series; this is already issue 7 of 10. It’s therefore soon to end, and I’d really prefer it didn’t. I have every confidence that this limited run will be resolved in a satisfying way and yet I’m just as sure I’ll be left wanting more. It’s a great time to be into comics; there are plenty of good titles around. This is not just a good comic. It’s a great one. Read it if you can.


Review by Andy Flood, 12/10/21

The Best Vintage Pikachu Merchandise You Should Pika-Choose!


What’s cute, yellow and since 1996 has become a household name? Why, it’s the one and only Pikachu of course! Considering how synonymous Pikachu has become with the Pokemon franchise it’s strange to think that our little mousey friend wasn’t originally going to be Pokemon’s mascot, with that particular role originally set to go to Clefairy. This decision however, was changed as it was thought a mascot that would be perceived as gender-neutral in its design would be more equal in appeal to both boys and girls than Clefairy, the pink aesthetic of whom it was considered may be more popular with a female demographic. After taking center stage as Ash/Satoshi’s companion in the Pokemon anime, Pikachu would also become the star of Pokemon Yellow, a revamped version of the original Pokemon Gameboy games which took influence from numerous aspects of the popular anime series.

In the past two and a half decades Pikachu has continued to grace both the big and small screen in a variety of different Pokemon-related media. Along with an abundance of Pokemon video games, there have been Pikachu-branded planes, cars and more toys and pieces of collectable Pikachu merchandise than you can shake a Pokeball at. In this blog we will be exploring Pikachu’s impact on the success of Pokemon as a brand by taking a look at a few interesting pieces of vintage Pikachu merchandise from the golden age of Pokemania.

Tiger 35mm Pikachu Camera:

Despite being released on the cusp of the Millennium, here is a quintessentially 90’s piece of Pokemon merchandise if ever there was one. The 1999 Tiger 35mm Pikachu Camera featured a very cute Pikachu/Pokeball design with Diglett also making an appearance as the camera’s shutter button (I suppose out of all the Gen I Pokemon Diglett probably is the most applicable to be used as a button, as I can’t imagine the likes of Cloyster or Starmie would have made for very comfortable use of the camera). Fully functional, the Pikachu Camera came complete with a battery-operated flash and also had the added feature of being able to add a Pokemon-themed vignette frame around photos.

Pikachu Backpack:

Similar in design to the original “Fat Pikachu” plushies (as featured in my previous blog on vintage Pokemon plushies), the 20″ Pikachu Backpack was a very popular way of carrying your books and P.E kit to school for many kids in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. With a simple, cute and cuddly design, the Pikachu backpack was also released in a smaller 14″ version and as a 10″ gameboy carry case.

Pikachu Bubble Bath:

Produced by Grosvenor Consumer Products Ltd, the Pikachu Bubble Bath was a large plastic Pikachu figure with a bottle of child-friendly Bubble Bath fitted inside, which could be accessed via the bottom of the figure. Grosvenor have created a variety of bubble bath figures over the years, including worldwide franchises such as Disney, The Simpsons and Doctor Who, so it was only fitting that a phenomenon as big as Pokemon (and with a mascot as cute as Pikachu) should also join their ranks. Upon the western release of the Pokemon 2000 movie, a second Pokemon Bubble Bath figure was released featuring the film’s star legendary Pokemon, Lugia, alongside Pikachu.

Pokemon Yellow/Special Pikachu Edition Gameboy Colour, Pikachu & Pichu Gameboy Colour and Pokemon/Pikachu Nintendo 64:

First beginning with the Special Pikachu Edition Gameboy Colour, Nintendo have released a variety of Pokemon-themed consoles over the years including many editions of the Gameboy Advance/SP/Nintendo DS/3DS, a trend that continues today with the recent Pikachu-themed Nintendo Switch accompanying Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu. The Special Pikachu Edition Gameboy Colour was packaged alongside Pokemon Yellow, which (as mentioned earlier) was an updated version of the original Pokemon games, where the player received a Pikachu as their starter Pokemon which would follow them during their adventures throughout Kanto, in a similar fashion to Ash’s Pikachu in the anime. The console itself featured bright Pikachu-yellow casing, with graphics of Pikachu and fellow fan favourites from the anime Jigglypuff and Togepi greeting the player alongside the screen.

In 2001, following the release of the second generation of Pokemon games, another Pikachu-themed Gameboy colour was made available. This console was produced in two different colours, yellow (the same bright yellow casing that was used on the previous Pikachu gameboy) and gold, with the border of the screen featuring Pikachu and his newly-introduced pre-evolution Pichu, one of the new baby Pokemon that made their debut in Pokemon Gold and Silver.

Prior to the release of the second Pikachu-themed Gameboy however, Nintendo’s first Pokemon-themed home console found its way into the hands of gamers upon the release of the Pikachu Nintendo 64 in 2000. Featuring a large plastic Pikachu on top of the console and a Pokeball as the power switch, a variety of different versions of the console were made available in various territories across the globe. The standard version featured solely the console and a Pokemon-branded controller, whereas Toys R Us shoppers in the USA were treated to an exclusive version packaged with a pocket watch and the game Hey You, Pikachu!  

Over in Australia, an edition known as the Pokemaniac Nintendo 64 was packaged with a VHS copy of Pokemon – I Choose You!, the first volume in the initial series of Pokemon anime VHS releases. Japan received an exclusive orange version of the console, which has since become much sought after amongst collectors.

Tiger Pikachu Radio Control Car:

In 2000 Tiger produced a Pikachu-themed radio control car, which was likely influenced (though this remains to be officially confirmed) by the Pika-Bug cars, a small fleet of Volkswagen Beetles with Pikachu-style aesthetics which had been used to promote Pokemon across the United States of America from 1998 up until the mid 2000’s.

The Pikachu Radio Control Car was operated via a Pokeball-shaped remote which connected with the car through the use of radio frequency. The remote allowed the driver to change direction as they pleased by using the two joysticks that were found upon opening the Pokeball remote.

Pokemon Pikachu/Pocket Pikachu:

Originally released in 1998, the Pokemon Pikachu (also known under the name Pocket Pikachu in Japan) was a Tamagotchi-style digital pet that functioned as a pedometer. Instead of requiring users to feed/clean the Pikachu as many other digital pets of the same era did, the user’s relationship with their Pikachu grew stronger by increasing their number of steps when wearing the Pokemon Pikachu. Every twenty steps would be converted into a digital currency within the device known as Watts, which could then be used to buy presents for Pikachu and thus improving the users standing with their new digital friend.

The first version of the device featured yellow casing similar to that used on the Special Pikachu Edition Gameboy Colour, with black and white display graphics that would show Pikachu’s interactions with the user. Different animations would become accessible upon gaining specific amounts of Watts, depicting Pikachu eating, showering and watching TV amongst a number of other activities. If the user did not interact with Pikachu for a prolonged period of time, the Pikachu within the device would get angry with the player upon the Pokemon Pikachu eventually being turned on, even running away if the player’s absence went on for too long (Pikachu going AWOL wasn’t permanent however, as he could be called back by shaking the device). 

A new version of the device, the Pokemon Pikachu 2 GS, was released alongside the second generation of Pokemon Games, however this time around the player didn’t have to take care of Pikachu and the watts gained through use of the pedometer could be exchanged for items in-game.

Hasbro Electronic Pokemon Pikachu:

Last but certainly not least, my last addition to this blog list is Hasbro’s 1998 Electronic Pokemon Pikachu. Although there have been a variety of electronic Pikachu-themed toys released by a variety of different manufacturers since Pokemania first hit the world, this one is particularly special to me as (along with the electric Charmander toy from the same range) it was the first piece of Pokemon merchandise I ever got. With light-up cheeks and Pikachu-voice sound effects, this toy is also quite notable in aesthetic terms for featuring Pikachu with a semi-white face and a much shorter and rounder body than would be seen in later toys, both aspects of Pikachu’s early design which were dropped as the franchise became more widespread and the overall appearance of individual Pokemon became more consistent with how they appeared in the anime series as opposed to their designs in Ken Sugimori’s original artwork.

More Pikachu Merchandise?

Of course, as stated earlier this blog only features a miniscule example of the amount of Pikachu merchandise that is in existence, as after over 25 years of success the Pokemon franchise has put their mascot’s face on an impossibly large amount of products, each as cute as the last (though the recent and rather terrifying Pikachu-centipede style plushie might be a slight exception…). As new incarnations of video games, toys, trading cards and anime continue to introduce new fans to Pokemon, our little electric mouse friend has become a pop culture juggernaut, instantly recognisable to people of all ages. As the world of Pokemon has continued to keep up with changes in trends and technology, Pikachu has stayed in his rightful place at the centre of the franchise and I hope he continues to for many more years to come. 


Article by Emily Carney

Sources/Further Reading and Viewing:

The Toy Report – A Brief History Of Pokemon Toys:

The Phoblographer – This Pokemon Camera Will Make Your Inner 90’s Kid Swoon:

Bulbapedia – Pokemon Yellow Version:

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Yellow_Version

Nintendo64.fandom.com – Pokemon Console:

https://nintendo64.fandom.com/wiki/Pokemon_Console

Pikabugs.weebly.com – History of Pikabugs:

https://pikabugs.weebly.com/

Mewisme700 – Pikabug Update 1: Complete Initial Overview:

CrimsonPanteon – 1997 Electronic Pikachu Toys:

Wikipedia – Pokemon Pikachu:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Pikachu

Kotaku – The Virtual Pikachu That Didn’t Need Food, Just Affection:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_Pikachu

Dr Retro – Gameboy Color Special Edition Unboxing:

Serebi.net – Pokemon Pikachu:

https://www.serebii.net/virtualpet/pokemonpikachu/

The Amazing Spider-Man #75 Review



The Amazing Spider-man #75

Reviewed by Leo Brocklehurst

Written by: Zeb Wells 

Artwork by: Patrick Gleason
Released on 6/10/21

Published by Marvel Comics 

BEYOND IS HERE!

So I haven’t been THIS excited for Spider-man in quite a while now, I was hyped when this new run started because we finally got a change up from Dan Slott to Nick Spencer and my favourite artist Ryan Ottley was on the book aswell.

However, as the series progressed, we lost Ryan Ottley (on Spider-man, he is still very much alive) around the halfway point of the run and the plots got a little stale (Kings Ransom and the Chameleon Conspiracy to be specific). The stories were in my opinion, more exciting than the previous run but lacking the constant state of epic-ness and energy that the book had seen before, but now, I think things are finally going to be… amazing (forgive the pun) once again. Let’s dig in!

This time around, the story starts with a young Peter Parker walking the streets of New York with Aunt May, blowing up a piece of gum. Aunt May realises she never bought that for Pete and asks where he got it from, Peter doesn’t understand what he did but said “it felt too easy”. They end up going back to the store and paying the store clerk for the gum and once they get home uncle Ben asks to talk to Peter, giving him a speech about the man who you are in private and that you can’t hide from him. Ben turns around, disfigured by a hole in his face with spiders crawling out of it and we soon discover it was just a dream.

Peter wakes up miserable over Harry’s death (last ish) and decides to go get some fresh air outside, on a specific building where its quiet and solitary, where he has nothing to worry about. I always like little things like this, they communicate to readers that Peter is a human being; he still faces problems and tribulation and has his safe spaces of his own to go to, they really drive home the “everyman” aspect of the character. Once he gets up onto the roof of this building he sees another Spider-man swing past?! Spidey throws a slue of tricks at the imposter but they prove useless; his webs bounce right of the shady character and they run right through the wall Peter pulls down on them. Following that, a spider looking device is deployed and wraps Peter up, allowing the doppelganger to escape. The device tells Peter that he will be let go in an hour and he should use this time to “reflect on his life’s decisions” Which might be the funniest thing I’ve read all year.

The following day, Pete runs into Ben Reilly (who last appeared in Iron man a few years back I believe but I’m sure you’re familiar with the character from the infamous clone saga storyline back in the mid 90’s). They talk in a restaurant and Ben reveals it was him who was running around the night before and that’s what he’s come to talk to  Peter about. The beyond corporation has hired him to be Spider-man after acquiring the trademark to the hero from the now defunct Parker industries (the company Otto Octavius began when he was in control of Peter’s brain, when Peter regained control he totally tanked the company and had to sell off all the assets although he was unaware Otto had trademarked the Spider-man name). Ben came to tell him that he wasn’t asking to be a Spider-man but that he will be, like it or not. After all, they both have the same moral code so its not like you can keep him out of the fight. Peter has no choice but to accept it and they go their own ways.

Ben returns to his penthouse in the beyond tower to his girlfriend Janine, who just got out of prison last issue. There’s a pretty nice moment where they take in just how different their living conditions are now from a few years ago until its interrupted by Reilly’s overseer of sorts to partake in some sort of session.

We cut to later as the (typically hulk villains) U-foes are carrying out a mission when Peter arrives on the scene to stop them, he makes a joke about the stench that X-ray carries when they reply that the joke wasn’t funny the first time when, all of a sudden, Reilly breaks through the debris under him. They team up against the villains and hold their own until X-ray let’s out an explosion of ionising radiation, reducing the area to Rubble; as Ben recovers (due to his radiation proof suit) and goes to re-group with Peter he sees that Pete’s been injured pretty bad and as he falls to the ground and blacks out, the issue ends.

Things look pretty rough for Peter but it makes for one heck of a story! Before I talk about anything else I just want to talk about beautiful wrap around cover by comic book veteran Arthur Adams! This cover was jaw-droppingly gorgeous and the solicited covers for the beyond books look incredible, in other news, I loved this book! Pretty sure this is my favourite issue of Spider-man since the red goblin arc in 2018.




I didn’t realise how much the title was coasting until I came out of it and beyond looks like a non-stop thrill rife and I can’t wait!!! I’m pretty sure they had me in mind when they made the series thrice-monthly if I’m being completely honest. Zeb Wells writing was funny, exciting and did a spot-on job of all the characters personalities and the like although Wells is no newcomer to ASM, he’s done several short stories in other spider-books and scripted the awesome storyline SHED back in 2010 with legendary artist Chris Bachalo. Patrick Gleason’s art in this book is really just brilliant, I love the way he draws Spidey but I just have one teeny, tiny nit-pick on the artwork which is that it can be pretty inconsistent. I double checked and he is the only pencilled on the issue but it looks like it can be two different styles at some points. In parts, peter looks in style with Gleason’s art but in others he looks like a 3-d tracing. It’s the only problem I’ve had with his art, I don’t know whether he gets worn out or if he’s just experimenting with different styles but when that’s my biggest complaint with a comic you know it’s good, it’s sooooo good. BUY IT!


10/10

Reviewed by Leo Brocklehurst 14/10/21

The Swamp Thing #6 – Review

The Swamp Thing #6

Reviewed by Andy Flood

Written by: Ram V
Art: Mike Perkins
Colours: Mike Spicer
Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Published by DC Comics
Released: 4/8/2021

In the wake of ‘Survivor Bomb’, we come to issue 6 wondering ‘what’s next?’ and find Swamp Thing, looming from the dark of a forest, rain all around, a thermographic crosshair tracking his enraged form.  Every cover for this run has been a stand-out example of the form and this is no exception.  Mike Perkins and Mike Spicer’s cover work is exemplary and telegraphs some of the amazing visual storytelling to be found within.

Turning to the first page, we find a sinister aircraft, bristling with weaponry, framed against an infernal sky above a lush forest.  We are in Kaziranga Forest, India and, as the story unfolds against this striking backdrop, we see further aspects of the taint in The Green.

The double spread title page of ‘In My Infancy’ is astounding.  As a portrayal of Levi Kamei’s return to being through confused transformative process, it is note perfect.  As he writhes and wrestles with his strange rebirth over thirty-two immaculate panels, we then go on to see Levi is immediately under threat as the Suicide Squad touch down, tasked with his capture.  Believing the deployment of a bio-agent to have prepared the battlefield in their favour, Peacemaker, Nightmare Nurse, Heat Wave, Parasite and Chemo deploy with ill-placed confidence.

They are a task force in name only, and are clearly at odds with one another.  Even as they close in, Levi is faced with a Green that is diminishing.  He delves into memory, to tap into the depths of the Green’s power and so, as the action unfolds, we have momentary insights into Levi’s past and his struggles with family and identity.  It’s a phenomenal episode, which moves effortlessly from moments of brutality to glimpses of tender tranquility.

And I’ve no idea how they’re doing it.  Reading Swamp Thing is like witnessing comic book witchcraft; what strange, eldritch secrets do the creators employ to weave something this good?  Every page is surprising, be it mystifying, uplifting, thrilling or horrifying, each one, every panel, is of such high quality that it’s impossible not to be hugely impressed and entertained.

Ram V’s writing meshes perfectly with the deft and inventive lettering of Aditya Bidikar; with the always incredible lines of Mike Perkins’ art; with the vibrant, near tangible colours of Mike Spicer… It’s such a tour-de-force of complimentary talents that to break it down into analysis of each element as a separate entity seems like the wrong approach.  With every issue, we are transported as we read, our every sense somehow engaged and our imaginations fired up.

From quiet moments drinking tea through to loud, nasty displays of violence, we are fully immersed.  And always, the story moves forward, we come to know more of our hero and understand perhaps a little more of what is going on while glimpsing a hint of what lies ahead.  The final splash page is not only a superb piece of art but bears the words ‘to be continued…’ Rarely have I been so glad to have more to look forward to.


Verdict

Everything about this book is the absolute best of what comics have to offer.  I’m convinced that this 10 issue run will be considered a classic by a great many people.  I already count myself among them.  Swamp Thing comes with the highest possible praise and is unreservedly recommended.


Review by Andy Flood, 7/10/21


Stretford Comic Fest 2021 – Photo Gallery


Gallery from Stretfords first Wow Comix Comix Fest! – 9/10/21

We want to say a big thank-you to all you folk who made it over on Saturday for Stretford’s first ever comic fest! It was great to see so many of you make journey over, we hope you all had as much of a blast as we did.
And, of course, a big thanks goes out to all of the fantastic creators and special guests too, who we could not have done it without!

Its great to have our events finally back on after such an unpredictable couple of years, and we are really looking forward to being able to put more on in 2022! So watch this space!

Here are a few of the photos that we took on Saturday’s Comic Fest in Stretford…

Batman #113 – Review

Batman #113

Reviewed by Bryan Lomax

Writer: James Tynion IV (Fear State Part 2) and Brandon Thomas (Clownhunter Part 2)

Art: Jorge Jimenez (Fear State Part 2) and Jason Howard (Clownhunter Part 2)

Letters: Clayton Cowles
Released: 21/09/21

Published by DC Comics

Gotham City remains in the grip of fear as the false Oracle continues to disseminate misinformation, telling the world of Batman’s demise, and pushing its people further into a state of paranoia. Meanwhile, Batman, very much alive, goes in pursuit of the evidence that he needs for Commissioner Renee Montoya to make a move on Simon Saint and shut down the Magistrate program. He begins by letting Ghost-Maker into his mind in order to remember what really happened to him when the Scarecrow had him bound and drugged. But this leads to revelations, not from his own mind, but Ghost-Maker’s.

I love how confidently Batman tells Simon Saint that he’s going to tear down everything he’s doing. It’s Batman at his most bad-ass and it’s awesome! On the flip-side of that, seeing Barbara aka the real Oracle, seemingly able to do nothing but slam her fist against her keyboard, is somewhat frustrating, as she is usually the one able to take control of the cyberspace.  Check out Catwoman #35 to find out who is behind the fake Oracle.

Also frustrating, but not entirely unexpected, is seeing Commissioner Montoya sitting behind a desk almost drowning in her sorrows as she struggles to police the city. Once, just once, I’d love to see the Gotham City PD being a bit more instrumental in helping Batman to bring down the villains’ schemes, instead of relying on him to do everything, thereby justifying their existence. In fact, the Fear State story-line calls for that, given Saint’s Magistrate program was instigated as a way of tackling the crime that is “too big for the police to handle”. It would be a great big middle finger at Saint to have Montoya and her officers be the one to work him and bring him down, while Batman and his posse take on Scarecrow and Peacekeeper-01.

The real standout section of this issue is when Batman and Ghost-Maker get together. There are a couple of times I actually laughed out loud, whether it’s the homoerotic framing of a situation being undercut by flashes to all of Batman’s very hetero-dalliances, or Ghost-Maker’s bland description of Bruce’s life history peppered with comments that allude to Ghost-Maker’s own “greatness”, the two men make for an entertaining double-act.

Props once again to Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey whose art and coloring rank as my favorite in the current roster of Batman related titles on the market. 

I wasn’t particularly fond of the supporting story-line, “Clown-Hunter Part 2”, as it was pretty much over before it got going, which is unfortunately the case, more often than not, with these shorts that seem tacked on to the back these days. Bring back the letters page, that’s what I say!


Verdict

Some great interplay between Batman and Ghost-Maker makes for a highly entertaining chapter of the Fear State saga.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 03/10/21

Darth Vader #16 Review

Darth Vader #16

Reviewed by Nathan Harrison

Written by: Greg Pak

Art: Raffaele Ienco

Released: 15/09/2021

Publisher: Marvel Comics

One of the biggest advantages of a major crossover event such as War of the Bounty Hunters is that stories can be told from all sides. Comic books only have so many pages that they can fill, so telling a story with an epic scope and dozens of key characters can sometimes be hampered by simply not having enough space to cover every potential aspect. This issue is a prime example of the comic book event doing what it always should, as events depicted in Darth Vader #16 run in tandem with the recently released fourth issue of the core mini-series and it makes for a thrilling aside which could not have been given adequate room to breathe had it been placed into the already very hectic main issue.

What we’re presented with is a heart in mouth, cat and mouse chase of an issue, which sees Luke feeling the hot breath of Vader’s TIE fighter down his exhaust ports once more, while a number of ongoing plot strands come together at breakneck pace. The shift between each aspect of the issue is deftly handled by Greg Pak, and Raffaele Ienco’s art remains simply stunning throughout, from the opening broad panels continuing the trippy fever dreams of an obsessed Vader (rendered in a wonderful murky crimson by Jason Keith and Rachelle Rosenberg) to the frenzied space chase that forms the crux of ‘Target Skywalker’.

One of the most iconic aspects of Star Wars (among an absolute plethora of them) is the masterful sound design of Ben Burtt. Without the imposing scream of the TIE fighter, the phasery slap of the lasers and the instantly recognisable beeps and woops of a concerned R2-D2, original trilogy dog fights would be a shadow of what they are. Props, then, to VC’s Joe Caramagna for his lettering across this issue, which shoots each sound straight between your eyes. His letters sometimes almost take over entire panels, just as the sounds themselves take over the senses when watching one of the movies – it’s pitched just right and shows that even a comic book, usually made up of no more sound than the occasional turn of the page, can become an absolute cacophony in the right hands.

Amongst all the action and the noise, however, Pak continues to deliver some of the best dialogue across all the Star Wars comics, especially when dealing with Ochi of Bestoon and Administrator Moore, whose face-off towards the end of the issue almost makes for a bit of light relief before the devastating conclusion which, much like its equivalent in the core series, sets up one hell of a final battle to come.


VERDICT

Pak and Ienco continue to produce an excellent book, which turns into a white-knuckle roller coaster for its 16th issue. The pace is such that it almost feels as if it’s over in the blink of an eye, but what that eye sees for the duration of the issue is some beautifully conceived space battle art and some of the best storytelling in the Marvel Star Wars roster.


Review by Nathan Harrison


Stretford Comic Fest – Saturday 9th October 2021


Wow Comix are teaming up with Stretford Mall to bring the town’s first FREE ENTRY comic event on Saturday the 9th of October!

Fans of comic book pop culture will find lots of stalls showcasing comic book products and memorabilia, and there’ll be plenty of special guests appearing giving attendees the chance to hang out with some Sci-Fi stars for autograph sessions and pics.

Attendees will also be invited to get in on the ‘cosplay’ act via a competition for the best-dressed character. Families and fans are encouraged to come dressed as their favourite comic book character, superhero/villain or any pop culture icon and a cosplay winner will be judged on the day taking home the Best Dressed Comic Fest Crown and some fantastic prizes!

Here is a quick look at some of our special guests…


Marc Jackson

We are very pleased to announce a late addition to Stretford Comic Fest. Our good friend Marc Jackson will be joining us this Saturday.

Marc is a cartoonist from Macclesfield in Cheshire. He has created comics and characters for the BEANO, Aces Weekly, Comicscene and various other publications. His work will shortly be seen in the Phoenix.

Marc has created a comic in partnership with Able Child Africa, seeking to help disadvantaged children in Rwanda navigate basic hygiene issues and the Corona Virus.

Marc runs cartoon art workshops in Schools, Libraries and at different festivals. He is the man behind the very popular MACC-POW! comic art festival in his home town of Macclesfield and this year opened ROOM FOR COMICS, a creative space dedicated to the teaching and love of comic art.


Rachael Smith

Rachael Smith’s debut graphic novel House Party came out in 2014 with Great Beast Comics to critical acclaim. The Rabbit, released by Avery Hill Publishing in 2015, is her second graphic novel and was nominated for Best Book in the British Comic Awards 2014/15. Rachael is also the creator of Flimsy the Kitten and One Good Thing. She currently works with Titan Comics on her monthly strip for the Doctor Who comic series, and is working on her new webcomic, Bess, which launched November 2015. She lives in Hebden Bridge, in Yorkshire, in the UK.

http://www.rachaelsmith.org/


John Jackson & Brian M Clarke


 Brian M Clarke (Crikey!Mancunian ); John Jackson (Albert the Mouse, Cyborg GerbilsCount DuckulaMancunian) are the creative force behind Wallop! Comics, which started after two self-published two issues of the new British superhero comic Mancunian.
They have also just released the fantasic Wallop! Annual, a 64 page book that is packed full of great entertainment for kids and ‘big kids’ alike, with features from Keith Robson (The DandyStarblazer, for IPC on Jinty and Buster); Alessandro GiampaelettiKev F Sutherland (Oink!BeanoViz2000ADStar TrekDoctor Who Adventures); Dave Windett (The DandySpookytownInspector Gadget, Tiny Toons); Joe Matthews (The BeanoLooney TunesTom & Jerry ComicBob The Builder); Chris MatthewsMike Collins (Marvel Comics, DC Comics, 2000ADDoctor Who); and Marc Jackson (BeanoAces WeeklyComic Heroes magazineComic Scene).


Neil ‘Bhuna’ Roch

Comic book artist and creator on a number of projects, most recently for Killing Moon Rises 1 – A 32 page full colour Sword & Sorcery comic from the team that brought you the award nominated Killing Moon.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bhuna/killing-moon-fantasy-graphic-novel


Victoria Bates

For fans of fantasy fiction, up and coming young author Victoria Bates will be attending Stretford Comic Fest to sign copies of the first two instalments of her fantasy series “Regal”.

https://www.amazon.com/Victoria-Bates/e/B079MFGVRH%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share


David Leach

The Man behind cult favourite Psycho Gran will be joining the guests at both Bury and Stretford Comic Fests. David is one of our most experienced comic professionals having worked for both Marvel UK and US as well as many of the major UK publishing houses over the last 30 years.His work has appeared in publications as diverse as Toxic and The Sunday Times. He has written for Spiderman, Ren & Stimpy and numerous other strips. He is currently Senior Creative Editor at Titan Comics and is editor of the popular Blade Runner series. He has been the winner of “Come Dine With Me” on TV and recently designed an advertisement for Wow Comix featuring Psycho Gran.

https://twitter.com/davidleach2000?lang=en


Nathan Head

Announced as appearing at both Bury Comic Fest and Stretford Comic Fest is actor Nathan Head. He is best known for his star roles in films Theatre of Fear and Exorcist Chronicals.The Manchester trained actor enjoyed success in the theater before being spotted and signed to the cast of thriller Archangel Murders. He has since enjoyed a successful career in film often involving the use of horror prosthetics, creature make up and special effects costumes.

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2368987/



Colin Mathieson

Latest guest announced for Stretford Comic Fest is Colin Mathieson. Colin is best know for his Moments of Adventure series and his work with Accent UK comics.

You can even find some of his work down in the National Army Museum in London.

He is currently hard at work on his Zulu Wars graphic novel about which you can find out more at https://momentsof adventure.blogspot.co.uk.


Willie Coppen

One for the Star Wars fans out there. Bury Comic Fest and Stretford Comic Fest have just added actor Willie Coppen to their guest lists.Willie is best known for Star Wars Episode V1: Return of the Jedi as well as various films and TV shows. He recently played the title character in the movie Perran which is currently in post production.


Liam Mulvey

And the guests just keep coming. Actor Liam Mulvey will be attending both Bury and Stretford Comic Fests as a guest. Liam is best known for playing Libertus Ostium in Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy Xv Comrades.He will be available for photos and autographs on the day.


Dan Whitehead

Latest announcement from Stretford Comic Fest and Bury Comic Fest is that writer Dan Whitehead is joining the guest list for both events.Dan is a prolific writer whose work spans comics, games and television. He is the author of graphic novels Ella Upgraded, Frankenstein Texas and the upcoming Hex Loader. As well as developing his own projects he has also written for Star Wars, Minecraft and Looney Tunes.
https://twitter.com/DanWritehead?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor


If our Bury event last week was anything to go by then this should be a cracker too! We hope to see you there on Saturday! For more information or any questions please feel free to email us – info@wowcomix.com


This Month’s 10 Hottest Pre-Order Picks From WowComix.com!


Whether you’re looking to get a head start on your Christmas shopping a little early this year, or for some exciting new comics, graphic novels or action figures to add to your collection, here at Wow Comix we have a mountain of awesome new items currently available for pre-order! We’ve put a small list together of some of our personal favourites, featuring new products from well-known publishers and brands alongside a few things you may not have seen before. So if you’re in the mood to treat yourself or a loved one but you’re not too sure where to start, keep reading for some of this winter’s hottest (or should that be coolest?) new titles and collectables!


10. Buffy The Last Vampire Slayer #1

Due to be released this December, Buffy is back as we’ve never seen her before!

Can a lone Slayer save what’s left of humanity?

Buffy Summers is the last Slayer. Now in her 50s, she wages a one woman fight against the forces of darkness, who prey on humanity in the daylight unimpeded thanks to a magical catastrophe that has nearly blotted out the sun.

The same disaster robbed Buffy of her friends and ended the Slayer-line, forcing her into an endless guerilla war. That is, until she stumbles across something she hasn’t seen in a long time – hope, in the form of a prophecy and the young girl who carries it.

The Multiverse explodes as writer Casey Gilly (Femme Magnifique, You Died) and artist Joe Jaro (Firefly) bring you a dystopian tale of Buffy Summers as you’ve never seen her before for fans of Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, Batman: Last Knight On Earth, and Future State: Wonder Woman.

https://wowcomix.com/buffy-the-last-vampire-slayer-1-08-12-21-dynamite-comic/



9. Attack On Titan Omnibus Volume 2

The latest collected edition from the massively successful Attack On Titan manga series, this outing sees the Survey Corps trying dangerous new tactics to reclaim their land from the human-devouring Titans!

It’s never been easier to attack Attack on Titan than with these new, giant-sized 3-in-1 omnibus editions! The Survey Corps develop a risky gambit – have Eren in Titan form attempt to repair Wall Rose, reclaiming human territory from the monsters for the first time in a century. But Titan-Eren’s self-control is far from perfect, and when he goes on a rampage, not even Armin can stop him! With the survival of humanity on his massive shoulders, will Eren be able to return to his senses? This omnibus includes volumes 4-6.

https://wowcomix.com/attack-on-titan-omnibus-volume-2-08-12-21-kodansha-graphic-novel-tp/


8. Devil’s Reign #1

Kingpin (AKA Wilson Fisk) has gone from crime boss to mayor of New York and his new-found political power (coupled with his rather large evil streak) could lead to the downfall of our favourite Marvel superheroes!

The story that’s been building for years is here! Wilson Fisk went from Kingpin to mayor of the biggest city in America and is going to bring his full criminal and political power to bear on the super heroes who call NYC home. The man who once destroyed Daredevil has set his sights on The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Captain America, Spider-Man, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and more. And since it’s Fisk, once he takes them all down, you know he’s going to sign it.

CROSSBONES! TASKMASTER! TYPHOID MARY! SHOCKER! WHIPLASH! RHINO! KRAVEN! Fisk has an ARMY of super villains at his command—and this is just his opening salvo. For years, Fisk has waited for his time to strike, and YOU WON’T BELIEVE the aces he’s got up his sleeves!

https://wowcomix.com/devils-reign-1-01-12-21-marvel-comic/



7. Star Wars: The Vintage Collection Clone Wars Aayla Secura Figure

A fan favourite from the Clone Wars animated series, here’s Jedi Knight Aayla Secura complete with robe and lightsaber!

Celebrate the legacy of Star Wars, the action-and-adventure-packed space saga from a galaxy far, far away, with premium 3.75-inch scale figures and vehicles from Star Wars The Vintage Collection. Figures feature premium detail and design across product and packaging inspired by the original line, as well as the entertainment-inspired collector grade deco that fans have come to know and love. (Additional products each sold separately.  Subject to availability.)

A cunning warrior and Jedi Knight during the rise of the Clone Wars, Aayla fought alongside Clone Commander Bly on many exotic battlefields

Featuring premium detail and design across multiple points of articulation inspired by Star Wars: Clone Wars, this collectible Star Wars The Vintage Collection 3.75-inch-scale figure makes a great gift for Star Wars fans and collectors.

https://wowcomix.com/star-wars-the-vintage-collection-clone-wars-aayla-secura-figure-01-04-22-hasbro/



6. Disney’s Stitch: Stitch & The Samurai Volume 1

Whilst on the run from galactic authorities, loveable alien Stitch finds himself mistaken for a tanuki and taken under the wing of a Samurai Warrior!

While fleeing the Galactic Federation, Stitch’s spaceship malfunctions and he makes an emergency landing… not in Hawaii, but in sengoku-era Japan! Discovered by the brutal warlord Lord Yamato and his clan, Stitch’s incomparable cuteness is no match for the battle-weary samurai, who decides to bring the “blue tanuki” home with him. Will Stitch’s love of chaos turn into a formidable advantage for the samurai’s influence? Or will his cute and fluffy form disarm the noble lord’s stern facade?

https://wowcomix.com/disneys-stitch-stitch-the-samurai-vol-1-10-11-21-tokyopop-graphic-novel-tp/




5. Swamp Thing: Green Hell #1

New from author Jeff Lemire and artist Doug Mahnke comes a DC Black Label gore-fest straight from the swamp!

The Earth is all but done. The last remnants of humanity cling to a mountaintop island lost in endless floodwater. The Parliaments of the Green, the Red, and the Rot all agree: it’s time to wipe the slate clean and start the cycle of life over again. And to do so, they’ve united their powers to summon an avatar—one of the most horrific monsters to ever stalk the surface of this forsaken planet. Against a creature like that, there can be no fighting back…unless you have a soldier who understands the enemy. Someone who has used its tactics before. Someone like Alec Holland.

Of course, it would help if Alec Holland hadn’t been dead for decades…

Jeff Lemire—the author of the smash hits Joker: Killer Smile and The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage, along with the graphic novel that inspired the television sensation Sweet Tooth—returns to Black Label with one of the greatest artists in modern DC history, Doug Mahnke, in tow! Together they’ll unleash a gory, gruesome monster mash, where the fate of humanity rests in the hands of someone who isn’t human at all!

https://wowcomix.com/swamp-thing-green-hell-1-28-12-21-dc-comic/




4. Loki: Glorious Purpose Poster

Here’s one for fans of the hugely successful Disney + show, add a little mischief to your wall with this awesome Loki poster!

It’s time to embrace the true powers of Loki as you add this awesome poster to your home. Featuring the God of Mischief himself, this is sure to be the perfect way to show off your love for the future Marvel classic. Official merch.

https://wowcomix.com/loki-glorious-purpose-poster-31-12-21-pyramid-international/


3. Star Wars: Life Day #1

Inspired by the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special, get into the festive spirit with Han and Chewie!

THE GALAXY’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY!

Happy LIFE DAY! Celebrate the galaxy’s favorite holiday with a collection of festive tales from all across the STAR WARS SAGA! Life Day is the last thing on HAN SOLO’S mind when he and CHEWBACCA find themselves outgunned and under fire. But Chewie won’t give up hope, remembering the lessons of Life Days past and present. As for Life Days yet to come… Well, they’ll have to survive the night first!

https://wowcomix.com/star-wars-life-day-1-17-11-21-marvel-comic/


2. Pokemon: Articuno Articulated 6 Inch Figure

An ice type Pokemon perfectly suited to the coming winter season, this new addition to the Pokemon select range is a must-have!

With more detail, more points of articulation, and more ways to play and display than ever, this 15cm super articulated Articuno is the perfect addition to any Pokémon trainer’s team! Every Select super articulated figure comes with 15+ points of articulation, high levels of detail, and a posing arm accessory so you can pose Articuno any way you’d like!

With authentic details that make this Articuno figure look like it flew right out of the Pokémon animated series, you can pose Articuno to recreate all of your favourite moments! Gotta Catch ‘Em All! Each sold separately.

https://wowcomix.com/pokemon-articuno-articulated-6-inch-figure-release-date-tbc-jazwares/



1. Absolute Doomsday Clock

Coming in 2022, the DC Universe meets Watchmen in this colossal-sized edition of the Doomsday Clock mini-series!

NOTHING EVER REALLY ENDS. The world of Watchmen collides with the DC Universe in a story that rewrites the past, present, and future of comics!

Doomsday Clock finally gets the Absolute treatment! Dr. Manhattan, a near-omnipotent being from the Watchmen universe, has been using his powers to rewrite the DC Universe–reshaping some heroes’ histories, erasing other heroes altogether, and playing with the fates of the good and evil alike.

But why? What does a godlike being from another world stand to gain from the DC Universe? The mystery remains, but now that our heroes know they’re being toyed with,what can they do to stop it? The clock is ticking…

From Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, and Brad Anderson, the critically acclaimed team behind Shazam! and Batman: Earth One, this collection includes the full groundbreaking 12-issue miniseries.

https://wowcomix.com/absolute-doomsday-clock-14-06-22-dc-graphic-novel-hc/


Pokemania At The Movies: A Look At The Merchandise and Promotion Of The Early Pokemon Films

In the late 1990s the Pokemon franchise was taking the world by storm, a storm which grew even bigger upon the release of Pokemon: The First Movie and the subsequent Pokemon movies that followed. Currently there are a staggering 23 animated Pokemon movies and 1 live action movie (Pokemon: Detective Pikachu) in existence, but for this article I will be taking a look back at the first 3 Pokemon movies and some of the merchandise/promotions that surrounded them. As a UK-based Pokemon collector a lot of the promotions I will be discussing here will be either UK-based, or were released in the UK alongside other parts of the world, however I do hope to include lesser known merchandise and information that will hopefully allow everyone reading to take a little trip down memory lane with Ash, Pikachu and the rest of the gang!

Pokemon The First Movie and Pokemon 2000 Burger King Toys:

The Pokemon franchise has teamed up with a multitude of different food and drinks brands/outlets over the years, particularly in the early days of promoting their movies. Burger King included an array of Pokemon merchandise with their kid’s meals when promoting the first and second movies, including beanie toys, light-up figures and action power cards amongst others.

These campaigns weren’t without controversy however, as during the promotional campaign for the first movie two infant children died due to getting part of the plastic Pokeball (in which the promotional items were encased) caught over their mouths and noses which led to them suffocating. This resulted in the toys being recalled and has since led to similar Pokeball toys (such as the ones that were included in Hasbro’s 1999 and 2000 action figure lines) having air holes implemented into the design of the toys.

Despite these issues, the Burger King toys remain popular on the Pokemon collectors market, as do other promotional items associated with the campaigns, such as the cardboard Burger King crowns and kid’s meal boxes from the Pokemon 2000 promotions which included branding featuring Ash, Pikachu and Lugia.

Pokemon Movie Soundtracks and Promotional Singles:

The first 3 Pokemon movies all received releases of their respective soundtracks onto CD (and audio cassette, in the case of the first and second movie). The scores to the movies were also separately released, however mainstream marketing tended to lean more towards promoting the soundtrack CDs, which featured contemporary pop artists and songs rather than the thematic instrumentals from the films’ scores.

The soundtrack for Pokemon: The First Movie was released in November 1999 by Atlantic Records and the tracklisting for the record serves as a sort of snapshot of late 90’s bubblegum pop, featuring artists such as *NSYNC, Britney Spears and Aaron Carter. Pokemon 2000’s soundtrack was similarly centred around songs from contemporary pop artists, featuring the likes of Westlife and Dream Street, however it did also include Pokemon-themed songs written by artists for the movie, such as Weird Al Yankovic’s “Polkamon”.

Pokemon 3’s soundtrack continued this theme with the majority of the soundtrack being orientated around the characters within the franchise, which is unsurprising considering many of the songs included could be found on other Pokemon soundtrack media, such as the Totally Pokemon CD. In the UK however, Pokemon 3 was promoted in the contemporary music realm with the single “Gotta Catch ‘Em All”, released by the band 5.0 Grind featuring Pokemon Allstars.

The single was available to purchase from UK music retailers upon its release, and a promotional CD-ROM sampler was also included with the Daily Express newspaper. 5.0 Grind performed the single on Nickelodeon UK (despite the fact Pokemon wasn’t aired on Nickelodeon at that time) and the single reached number #57 in the charts. The artwork for the copies of the single released into UK music stores featured Pikachu alongside Mewtwo, despite Mewtwo having nothing to do with the third Pokemon movie. This inclusion could be due to hearsay that Mewtwo was going to appear in Pokemon 3, which later proved to be misconstrued as Mewtwo actually re-appeared in Mewtwo Returns, a straight to VHS/DVD feature-length special which was also released in 2001. 

In a similar vein to the contemporary songs associated with the previous movies, “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” is very much of its era, encapsulating the rap-metal/skate rock trends of the early 00’s (albeit watered down for a younger audience and occasionally featuring Ash Ketchum giving shout-outs to his various Pokemon). Personally, as cheesy as the track is I do find it to be quite catchy and I must give kudos to the band for the conviction they showed during their Nickelodeon performance, as I imagine it must be quite hard to simultaneously rock out in front of a crowd of small children and keep a straight face, particularly in the section of the song when a sample of Jigglypuff singing its lullaby plays over the top of the track.

Retail and Newspaper Promotions:

As well as the free Daily Express “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” CD-ROM, a number of other newspaper and retail outlets also ran Pokemon movie promotions during both the cinematic and VHS/DVD releases of the films. The Daily Mail gave away a free promotional VHS tape that gave fans a sneak peek at Pokemon: The First Movie and included other details about the franchise, such as interviews with staff from 4Kids Entertainment which provided a view into how the original Japanese version of the movie was adapted for western audiences.

Woolworths and Warner Brothers stores in the UK also ran Pokemon movie promos during the release cycle of the first movie, offering exclusive promo cards and money off vouchers upon the VHS release of the film. Pokemon promotions from this period also found their way onto snack foods, with Odeon Cinemas in the UK running a competition featured on their popcorn boxes in which fans could win a Nintendo 64 console and a copy of Pokemon Stadium. 

Trading Cards:

Well I couldn’t really write a blog about the promotion of the early Pokemon Movies and not include the cards which were given to ticket holders and packaged with home media releases of the movies could I? Probably the most well known of these cards are the 4 Wizards Of The Coast Black Star promo cards which were available alongside the first movie’s cinematic release, featuring Mewtwo, Pikachu (still sporting his Ken Sugimori-illustrated roundness, which I personally feel is how Pikachu should look and would very much like to see the return of Chubbychu), Dragonite and rather randomly, Electabuzz. Following the extreme renewal of interest in vintage Pokemon TCG cards in recent years, the value of these cards continues to grow (particularly as a complete set) so if you have any in your collection be sure to take good care of them!

A new version of the Mewtwo card was also included alongside VHS copies of the first movie upon its home media release. Promotional TCG cards were also available during the theatrical release of Pokemon 2000/The Power Of One, with Moltres, Zapdos and Articuno being featured. An Ancient Mew card based on the one owned by the film’s antagonist, Lawrence III, was also released, however it was only available along with the purchase of a movie ticket during the first week of the film’s release, as after this fans would only be able to receive a card featuring one of the legendary birds. In a similar fashion to the second Mewtwo card that was released with VHS copies of the first movie, a new Pikachu card was included alongside home media copies of Pokemon 2000.

Later in the course of the early Pokemon movies, in 2001 a promo card featuring Entei was available for ticket holders upon the release of Pokemon 3: Spell Of The Unown, with another promo card featuring one of the Unown being included with VHS and DVD releases of the movie.

As well as the Wizards Of The Coast-produced TCG cards, Topps Trading Cards also produced a line of trading cards featuring images of scenes from Pokemon: The First Movie, Pikachu’s Vacation and Pokemon 2000. As well as the regular Topps movie cards, rare silver foil and rainbow foil versions of cards were also randomly inserted into some packs, mirroring the ever-popular shiny hunting that helped make the TCG cards so popular.

Some of the Topps cards from the Pikachu’s Vacation animated short are notable for having some errors when it came to the names of new Pokemon, with Snubull being incorrectly named “Buru” (which may have been a mis-translation of Snubull’s Japanese name, Bulu) and Marill being named as “Pikablu”, which is perhaps an indirect reference to the rumours of a new version of Pikachu named “Pikablu” that cropped up when Marill’s design was first seen by fans. These errors were probably due to the fact that the Gold and Silver games had not yet been released in the west and that the english-language names of several new Pokemon were still being revised, as the Topps cards themselves were put into production before the western versions of Pikachu’s Vacation and the First Movie had been completed and non-Japanese audiences were yet to be familiarised with the 100 new Pokemon that would be introduced in the Johto region-based games and anime.

Other Pokemon Movie Toys:

As well as the Burger King toys, numerous other Pokemon movie toys were released. Hasbro released several different packs of Pokemon figures showcasing characters that were featured in the first 2 Pokemon movies. These packs were similar to the battle figures that were also released by Hasbro, featuring the same card battle discs that came with each character.

Hasbro also released an electronic Lugia toy following the release of Pokemon 2000, which made sounds based off the ones Lugia makes in the movie. This was quite a large toy and it was possible to fit the Ash Ketchum figure from Hasbro’s 2000 Deluxe Trainer figure line on Lugia’s back and recreate scenes from the film.

As the Pokemon world featured a vast array of characters and locations, it was an ideal choice to be transformed into Polly Pocket-esque playsets, which were popular within a variety of franchises in the 1990s. Several playsets inspired by the Indigo League and Orange Islands anime series were released by Tomy under the Pokemon House brand (known in Japan as Pokemon Mate) and when it came to the early Pokemon movies they didn’t hesitate to create playsets for them either. Pokemon 2000 had the most of these playsets produced, with the Fire, Lightning and Ice Islands from the film all receiving individual playsets along with the shrine at Shamouti Island which included Lugia keeping a watchful eye over the shrine.

Pokemon 3 seems to have had much less merchandise produced for it in comparison to the first two Pokemon movies, which is a shame as I personally consider the animation and story in this film to be fantastic and I think it deserves far more recognition than it currently receives. A Pokemon House playset inspired by the third movie was produced, however it is incredibly rare to come across. The playset was a deluxe model, featuring the Hale family home in the crystallised Greenfield which Ash and Co. had to rescue Ash’s mother from in the movie.

Books and Comics:

As is common with many movies from franchises aimed at children, the Pokemon films were also adapted into novels. Mewtwo Strikes Back: Pokemon The First Movie was written by Tracey West (who also adapted the Indigo League, Orange Islands and Johto Journeys anime series into children’s books) and published in 2000 following the western release of the movie. The book proved to be a favourite at Scholastic book fairs, which is where I purchased a copy from myself as a child when a book fair was held at my primary school. As I recall, a lot of other kids also bought the book and I’m sure our teacher was thrilled when we all handed in our weekly book reports exclaiming that Ash’s “death” during Mew and Mewtwo’s stand-off was the world of fiction’s biggest tragedy since Of Mice and Men’s Lennie last told George about “tending the rabbits”…

The animated shorts that played before the cinematic releases and VHS copies of the first 3 Pokemon movies (Pikachu’s Vacation, Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure and Pikachu And Pichu) were also adapted into Tracey West-penned novels as were Pokemon 2000 Pokemon 3, however much like in other areas of merchandising, the novelisation of the third movie was (and still is) seldom seen in comparison to its two predecessors. The First Movie was also released as a five-part comic series by Viz Media in 2000. This comic was a re-release of a 1998 graphic novel version of the movie which had been originally published by Japanese media publishers Shogakukan Inc as a singular title. The first four issues of the comic collected the story from the main film, while the fifth issue presented the story from Pikachu’s Vacation.

Much like the first movie, the comic adaptation of Pokemon 2000 had originally been released in Japan as a singular graphic novel and was presented to western audiences in five monthly comic releases, with the initial four comics containing the second movie story and the fifth comic showcasing the story from the Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure short. The Pikachu’s Vacation and Pikachu’s Rescue Adventure comics were later collected into the All That Pikachu! graphic novel, which was released by Viz Media in 2006.

Unfortunately Pokemon 3 did not receive a graphic novel or comic book release, which I think is quite a shame as I personally find it to be the most visually enticing of the early Pokemon movies and feel that it would look excellent in a panel by panel format. In recent years the comic book adaptations from the movies (particularly the first movie) have become favourites for fans to get signed by the voice actors from the Pokemon anime and signed collections of these comics can be found quite readily, which could make for a very cool addition to any collector’s arsenal of Pokemon movie merchandise (provided you have a spare £150-£300 available).

As a Pokemon fan and collector, one of my favourite things about the early movies and all the merchandise surrounding them was how they perfectly encapsulated the buzz that accompanied the release of each film, as there was nothing more exciting as a Pokemon-loving kid in the late 90’s/early 00’s than discovering the latest legendary Pokemon and new places that came along with each movie. Personally I think it would be amazing if a new animated Pokemon movie were to receive as wide a cinematic release as the early films did, or perhaps if one of the first three movies were remastered and re-released into the cinemas (maybe even in conjunction with an upcoming event or milestone, 30th anniversary I’m looking at you) as I would love for Pokemon fans old and new to have the opportunity to relive the magic of Pokemania at the movies all over again.

Written by Emily Carney

Sources and Further Reading:

Pokemon The First Movie: Free Daily Mail Promotional Video –

Hypebeast – Pokemon The First Movie Promo Toys + Cards –

https://hypebeast.com/2016/10/pokemon-the-first-movie-release-promo-toys

Burger King Pokemon The First Movie Promo Toys –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/1999_Burger_King_promotional_Pok%C3%A9mon_toys

Pokemon The First Movie Woolworths Promo Postcard –

https://picclick.co.uk/Pokemon-The-First-Movie-Woolworths-Promo-Postcard-233954948134.html

Pokemon 2000 Burger King Promo Toys –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/2000_Burger_King_promotional_Pok%C3%A9mon_toys

Pokemon Wizards Of The Coast Cards –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Wizards_Black_Star_Promos_(TCG)

5.0 Grind – Gotta Catch ‘Em All Pokemon 3 Promo Single Nickelodeon UK Performance –

Pokemon 2000 TV Spot #1 –

Worcester News – 5.0 Grind: Gotta Catch ‘Em All Review –

https://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/7730479.gotta-catch-em-all-50-grind-featuring-pokemon-allstars/

Pokemon Go Event: Pokemon The First Movie Screening –

Plague Von Karma’s Pokemon Prototype Research Blog – 5.0 Grind’s “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” Daily Express Interview Promo Disk –

https://plaguevonkarmabeta.weebly.com/blog/50grinds-gotta-catch-em-all-daily-express-interview-promo-disk

Ancient Mew (The Power Of One Promo Card) –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Ancient_Mew_(The_Power_of_One_promo)

Pokemon In The United Kingdom –

https://bulbapedia.bulbagarden.net/wiki/Pok%C3%A9mon_in_the_United_Kingdom

Horatiolikestoys – Pokemon Hasbro Electronic Lugia Figure –