Tag Archives: Throwback

Throwback Review – The Uncanny X-Men #146 – June 1981


THE UNCANNY X-MEN #146

Reviewed by Nathan Harrison


Written by: Chris Claremont
Art: Dave Cockrum and Jeff Rubinstein
Released: June 1981
Publisher: Marvel Comics



The thing about winning streaks is that inevitably, inexorably, undeniably they must, at some point come to an end.

The Uncanny X-Men #146 came just a few short months after not one but two of the most iconic, revered, and well-regarded X-Men stories of all time – The Dark Phoenix Saga (so good they filmed it twice – badly) and Days of Future Past.
Even those with the most passing knowledge of Marvel’s mutant heroes will likely have heard of these essential parts of comic book history and they, of course, form small parts of a record-breaking and essential 17 year run on X-Men by the incredible Chris Claremont. However, even the best in the business have their off days…

This issue comes slap bang in the middle of a 3 issue tale, which sees the X-Men rescuing their foe, Arcade, from the clutches of Fantastic Four big bad, Doctor Doom. An exciting premise on paper…until you remember that Arcade is involved. While his elaborate escape room antics could be seen as a precursor to horror legend Jigsaw, Arcade appears as something more akin to a Chucky doll stuffed into a white suit and polka-dot bow tie, a look which must have seemed dated even in 1981.

Even fairly recent appearances in The Amazing Spider-Man have failed to update him in a convincing way. He’s the sort of lame, ridiculous villain that the comics try to take seriously but who’s crying out for the kind of treatment DC have recently given to Polka Dot Man in the latest Suicide Squad movie – main adversary for Deadpool’s first MCU appearance anyone?

That said, while the majority of the traps that Arcade and Doom set for Banshee, Havok, Iceman and Polaris (as well as some of the more popularly known X-Men who feature briefly) are on the silly side, there are some mind-bending and borderline scary panels – one featuring a merry-go-round with living vampiric horses stands out, as well as the twisty checkerboard hell that Wolverine finds himself in. David Cockrum and Jeff Rubinstein do a solid job of conveying the terror – when the trap itself is actually in any way terrifying. Less impactful are Havok’s trip on what appears to be Space Mountain and the whole team sliding down the pipes from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Special mention must be given to a panel from one of the final pages, which sees Havok…well…just take a look at that pose. Naughty boy!

Well hello

VERDICT

Claremont certainly can’t be blamed for going for a lighter story after the earth-shattering and emotional events of what came before, but this one sadly misses the mark. What should be a fun romp turns out to be a bit of a slog, with only a few moments of levity and the occasional nightmarish panel (you decide which category that Havok one falls under!) to break up the tedium. However, that’s not to take anything away from a legendary run which will undoubtedly feature on every comic fan’s must-read list until the heat death of the universe.


Review by Nathan Harrison 5/8/21


Throwback Review – Batman #445 – March 1990

Throwback Review – Batman #445 – March 1990
Review by Bryan Lomax

Writer: Marv Wolfman
Pencils: Jim Aparo

Inks:
Mike DeCarlo
Published by DC Comics March 1990

Batman goes to Russia to help the Moscow police commissioner catch The NKVDemon, protégé of The KGBeast, who is out for revenge against those who betrayed his master. The Demon works his way through a hit list of 10 people, much the same way as the KGBeast attempted to do in Gotham, only this time the hunting ground is his home turf in Russia. Can Batman accomplish what he once did in a city he is unfamiliar with?

‘Batman: Ten Nights of the Beast’, written by Jim Starlin in the late 80’s, is one of the seminal works of that decade. Marv Wolfman, no slouch when it comes to writing Batman, is given the task, two years later, of writing a direct sequel to that story. ‘When the Earth Dies! Chapter One: Red Square, Bloody Square’ is a pretty good starting point for it.


Wolfman bookends his story with two sequences. The opener sees Batman catching a villain in Gotham, his home turf, precisely because he knows every street, every alleyway, every sewer tunnel. The closing scene plays out similarly, only this time the villain escapes, precisely because Batman doesn’t know the layout of the city he’s in. In Moscow, the streets, alleyways and sewers belong to The Demon.

Batman #445

I love when stories are bookended. It’s a great device that writers can use to show us a change has happened, whether it be in a character’s personal growth, or in their circumstances. Here we see that Batman is Gotham. Gotham is as much a part of him as the air in his lungs. Without it, he cannot breathe, he cannot function as well as he once did. It gives his nemesis the edge.

That nemesis in question is probably the weakest element of the story, as The Demon is essentially just The Beast, only with a slightly different costume. I would rather they had just brought back The Beast himself. It would be much more fun to see a rematch with the iconic villain, where Batman no longer has the upper hand, instead of giving us a carbon copy in his place.

I always have a sense of nostalgia for Jim Aparo’s artwork. He’s not my favourite, but seeing his work always takes me back to my childhood, when I started reading comic books. It’s very much a golden era for me personally. But it’s great that both Aparo and inker, Mike DeCarlo, both return here, as it was the two of them that brought the ‘Ten Nights of the Beast’ storyline to life.


It must be said that this particular story is very dated as it assumes quite heavily on the audience’s knowledge of Russian politics of the time. And seeing Bruce just randomly bumping into Vicki Vale whilst dining out in Moscow is very quaint. Also, it seems to me that, if The Demon spent as much time doing stuff as he does gasbagging about a better Russia, he might actually stand a chance of achieving his goal. Some of his dialogue is stilted to say the least.

Batman #445


Verdict:

A great nostalgia trip for anyone who read comics as a child of the 80’s, but reading Jim Starlin’s ‘Ten Nights of the Beast’ before this is strongly recommended.


Review by Bryan Lomax, 24/07/21


Throwback Review – Silver Age DC Classics: Adventure Comics #247

Review By Andy Flood


Written by:
Otto Binder (Superboy)
Ed Herron (Green Arrow)
Jack Miller (Aquaman)
Art:
Al Plastino (Superboy)
George Papp (Green Arrow)
Ramona Fradon (Aquaman)
DC ComicsApril 1992



Originally released in 1958, Adventure Comics #247 is packed with three stories, each featuring a well known DC character.  Re-released here as part of the ‘Silver Age DC Classics’ series in 1992, this is a really attractive prospect for any fan of DC or indeed, comics in general.

The original cover was by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye and shows Superboy seemingly facing the judgement of ‘The Legion of Super-Heroes’.  Depending on the reader’s age, it’s either deeply nostalgic or else curious to see art in this style; very evocative of the era and full of elements rarely used today.  Everything from the lettering and logo through to the colours and line work are different and hint at just some of the allure of these older comics.

There was often some form of teaser or ‘pitch’ on the cover, sometimes plucked from the pages within, other times featuring headline hyperbole designed to pull the reader in.  There’s a sense of fun and a feeling of incredulity brought by the dialogue on this cover and, if you want to know whether Cosmic Boy is actually serious, you clearly need to read the story within!

The lead story is notable for being the first appearance of ‘The Legion of Super-Heroes’, comprised here of Cosmic Boy, Lightning Boy and Saturn Girl, along with cameos from un-named members of the legion who would pique the curiosity of readers back in the ‘50s

It’s a great story, full of the optimistic futurism which was prevalent during the time of writing.  We see rocket ships, jet packs and gleaming utopian cityscapes as Superboy is transported to the 30th century!  There he faces the trials of ‘The Legion’ as they attempt to assess his worthiness for inclusion in their club.  Exactly how they go about all this might be seen to be morally dubious but seeing Superboy’s powers pitched against inventive use of other singular super-powers makes for great entertainment.

We then go on to join Green Arrow as he faces ‘The 13 Superstition Arrows’, along with his trusty sidekick Speedy.  This is obviously a much earlier incarnation of Green Arrow and perhaps seems comical when compared to his more modern counterpart.  However, this is an inventive and fun yarn, with lovely art and dramatic writing typical of the age.  Current fans might get a kick from seeing Green Arrow in his early ‘classic’ form; there’s lots to enjoy and some familiar elements that remain through to today’s version.

Our second backup story features Aquaman in ‘Aquaman’s Super Sea-Squad’.  This wild ride reads almost more like one of the war comics of the ‘40s, featuring as it does several military elements.  That’s not to say that it’s not fun; despite the threat of subaquatic nuclear disaster, this remains a remarkably light hearted and thrilling read.  Will Aquaman make it on time? Will the denizens of the deep help him in his impossible task?  Will he pause to paint a nuke green?  Well, yes, as it happens.

As if these three wonderful short stories weren’t enough, we are treated to brief letters or essays from DC creators working on later iterations of the Legion, giving their perspective as they look back on this classic issue.  It’s an interesting read, and highlights the value of these early titles.


Verdict

There’s something special about picking up an old or vintage comic.  It looks different, smells different (yes, I’m weird) and certainly feels different when you read it.  There’s a magic to it which is very specific to almost any comic prior to the year 2000.  Perhaps it’s the small ads offering x-ray vision for $3.25, or a ‘master kung-fu in a week!’ scheme.  But more likely, it is the imaginative stories, focused purely on providing fun, excitement and entertainment – all things which this issue brings in spades.  Suspend your disbelief at the door and treat yourself to almost any vintage title.  Judge a book by its cover and, chances are, you’ll be glad you did.


Review by Andy Flood, 20/7/21


The Mighty Thor #271 – Throwback Review


Reviewed by Angus Woods


Writer: Len Wein

Artist: Walt Simonson


Published by: Marvel Comics
May 1978

First of all, I would like to talk about the cover art, wow, just wow, I really do enjoy the vibrant and exciting covers of old comics, of course just being about 18, I am used to the more artistic and detailed covers that we have today, but what really drew me into comics is the old style of covers with dialogue and an action packed scene. This cover has the main man Thor and Iron man smashing a missile to pieces and all I can say is it gets you hyped for the story inside so let’s go…

In this throwback issue of my favourite super hero right now Thor and Iron-Man team up to defeat the evil self-serving computer that is Faust that has sent missiles to destroy earth, made out of adamantium it is very hard for Thor and Iron man to destroy the computer from the inside.

To be completely Honest, it’s no Donny Cates, but hey what is. This is definitely a happy one-off kind of story, there is no real character development for Thor, but as I understand you rarely find it to the same type of extent in these older comics. The story move’s at an okay pace but it would have been nicer to have another hero up there with Iron Man and Thor when fighting Faust.

Not to be taken away from is the beautiful art by Walt Simonson and colours by Glynis Wein. I have always been a fan of how Thor used to look in the old comics and how his colours always popped of the page, and I have to hand it to Walt Simonson and Glynis Wein they really carried this issue, they have shown some amazing talent and understanding of each other’s work in this issue.


Verdict

Overall, this is a fun issue to pick up and add to your collection, if you enjoy Thor and Iron man, you will enjoy this there is no doubt about it. This was my first old issue of Thor I have read, and I can understand why he has been and always will be a fan favourite. The art and colours match each other so well and the cover just makes you want to read it, so go pick it up.


Reviewed by Angus Woods 16/07/2021