Back Issue #112 June 2019 (magazine review).

In a weird quirk of fate, I had Back Issue # 113 a few days before # 112. The problem with faulty time travel machines.

As you can tell from the cover, the opening piece focuses on the Gerry Conway/Al Milgrom created character Firestorm. There are interviews with them and practically most of the other people who worked on the character. I doubt if it’s a surprising reveal that Firestorm is a mish-mash of various sources, some even Conway created himself while at Marvel. The only thing that isn’t noted is the similarity of head space between Ronnie Raymond and Dr. Martin Stein and Captain Mar-vell and Rick Jones.

As editor Mike W. Barr says about removing Firestorm from the back-up feature in ‘The Flash’ comicbook, the Nuclear Man was a ‘derivative character’. That’s not to say wholly derivative. Going through this 20 page piece, there were a lot of new introductions in villains and supporting characters and a couple have even turned up in the recent DC based TV series like Killer Frost in ‘The Flash’ and Felicity Smoak in ‘Arrow’. The Fury Of Firestorm # 23-24 and digital space with villains Bug and Byte in 1984 predates William Gibson’s ‘Neuromancer’ by a few months. However, I think I might contend that as Deathlok entered cyberspace in 1974-75, a decade before both of them.

Keeping to the nuclear-theme of this Back Issue’, we look at Marvel’s villain, Chen Lu aka the Radioactive Man in an article by James Heath Lantz. Considering the number of defeats he’s had, often by the ‘weakest’ super-heroes, you do have to wonder how he keeps going.

Dave Gibbons gets two visits into this issue. The first covers his single issue of drawing the first ‘Hulk’ story in the UK based off the TV series back in the 1970s. He’s also working on his autobiography which should be interesting when it comes out.

I did wonder if things were being pushed a bit with the two-issue appearance of Microwave Man in ‘Action Comics’. Oddly, writer Bryan D. Stroud doesn’t appear to know that Microwave Man’s alter-ego Lewis Padgett was the alter-ego of married SF prolific writing couple Henry Knutter and C.L. Moore. The problem with microwaves is that unfettered by ovens, doesn’t have much energy over long distance.

I can’t recall coming across the Peter Pan publisher production of ‘The Amazing Adventures Of Holo-Man’ record/book although did buy and still own some of the Marvel ones they also did. Looking at his likeness, he really does look colour splattered. There’s some mention of holograms and hope there is some coverage of Marvel’s hologram cover inserts in a future issue.

Dr. Manhattan is discussed by teachers Hal Halbert and Tom Powers, with a female perspective added by Amanda Powers who also transcribed it. I would disagree with them on a couple things. I don’t see the ‘Watchmen’ film as a failure and neither does Dave Gibbons in his second interview this month. I always thought Rorschach’s desire for Dr. Manhattan to kill him was because he believed his diary left in New York would reveal the whole story not a mercy killing as they propose. There is also discussion pieces by Dave Gibbons, colourist John Higgins and an interview with comicbook artist Gary Frank on his work on ‘Doomsday Clock’.

Something I knew little about until now is the super-hero comicbook ‘Radioactive Man’ from ‘The Simpsons’ which transcended the TV series and parodied comicbook companies as interpretation.

Although I think a couple of the choices for this ‘atomic’ issue a little weird, I also concede that if everything is to be explored then there has to be suitable spots to include them. As always, this increases the knowledge base and making for an informative ‘Back Issue’.

GF Willmetts

May 2019

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 8.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 7.61 (US))

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Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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