Sunday, 23 October 2016

Steve Dillon's Nick Fury, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D

As you've probably heard by now, we sadly lost Steve Dillon yesterday. Me, I was into Steve's stuff literally from day one, right from Hulk Comic all the way throughout Doctor Who Weekly, 2000AD, Warrior and Deadline.
Even back then you knew that, like Dave Gibbons, Dillon's classically American-looking art was destined for the big time at Marvel & DC.
And when I returned to comics after a good few years of disenchantment with books full of badly proportioned grinning demons with unfeasibly large guns, it was Dillon that brought me back.
When I saw his and Garth Ennis' Welcome Back, Frank for the first time, it was like coming home to a warm log fire.
So here's that first appearance, with a 16 year old Steve giving us his mega-cool Nick Fury, from the pages of Hulk Comic ( although there's a different artist on the first episode, who I think is John Richardson. )
Anyway, yes, this is raw stuff, but man, it's got bags and bags of energy, style and rock solid storytelling..

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Jarvis Kicks Ass ( Actually it's arse but a gentleman never swears )

You gotta love Jarvis, don't' cha? Just like you gotta love Alfred.
I mean it can't be easy butlering for The Avengers, can it? Catering around Jan's constant diets as she struggles to fit into whatever costume she's wearing that week, ensuring there's enough fresh boar for both Thor AND Herc, putting up with Vizh's constant reminders that his 'synthezoid body does not require sustenance' then turning a blind eye as he nabs the last chocolate Hob-Nob.
And don't get me started on keeping Hawkeye in beer, whisky and hookers.
Still, our man bravely soldiers through it all with nary a sigh ( though he did once betray the team as The Crimson Cowl, but it would be shockingly bad form to bring that up again. )
The Jarv wasn't best served by the Marvel movies, I think, but he has had his dues on TV in Agent Carter at least, with Hayley Atwell & James D'Arcy's wonderful double act:

But there weren't that many opportunities for The Jarvmeister to shine in the Bronze Age, this little filler being a nice exception. It's as cheesy as a mature Stilton from Fortnum & Mason, but is still kind of irresistible for all that. Good show, Jarvis!

Monday, 17 October 2016

Code Name: Warlord

We never really read the British war weeklies back in the '70's, only occasionally picking one up if we'd got through every superhero book that month and still needed a comic fix.
But every once in a while I'd get a copy of Warlord, mainly for it's title strip Code Name: Warlord.
To wartime Britain, Lord Peter Flint is the epitome of upper class toffness, a despised conscientious objector who spends his time squandering the family fortune and making servant girls pregnant rather than fighting for his country.
Of course, that's all a cover and Flint is actually Britain's greatest secret agent, skilled in just about every way there is to kill a man or blow something up.
So he's basically Roger Moore as James Bond with a splash of The Scarlet Pimpernel or Zorro, and the nearest thing to a superhero the war comic's had.
He was also the head of his own fan club and ran the letters pages, extorting boys to join up as Warlord Agents, so how he also found the time to attend all those society soirees is beyond me.
Code Name: Warlord is, like Dredger, like MACH 1, like all the best British heroes, far too busy cramming as much action into every episode to bother with nancy stuff like characterization or nuance, which is of course what you paid for when you picked up a boys' paper called Warlord.
It's fun to note that Flint is one of the few upper class British comic heroes, normally we like our characters from the wrong end of the tracks, but y'know, for a toff he was cool.
Here's an early adventure that recaps the premise for those who came in late:

And here's Flint up against his arch-nemesis, the boo-hiss Nazi Major Adolph Gruber, the first episode here being by, I reckon, the late great Brian Lewis: