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Back Issue #115 September 2019 (magazine review).

September 7, 2019 | By | Reply More

‘Back Issue’s topic this time is SF super-heroes. I decline to use the term ‘Sci-Fi’ as on its cover as it tends to represent inferior SF and many of the examples here clearly aren’t. Well, sort of. The dividing line between super-heroes and Science Fiction has always had some vagaries as a topic and the use of similar tropes.

If you only thought there was only the Earth-2 Starman, there was another one in DC Comics’ ‘1st Issue Special’. Its author, Gerry Conway, explains to writer Richard Arndt that the series was commissioned by Carmine Infantino because readers like buying first issues. I know I picked up some of this series, but can’t remember this particular issue and this Starman one-off, which bears no relationship to any others and with a mundane origin. Does being a prince becoming a requisite for having super-powers?

Ian Millsted’s look at Judge Dredd is quite comprehensive and only a couple things I would like to add, mostly because I lived through it. He misses out the American reprints by Quality Comics 1983-86 where Judge Dredd and various 2000AD character got reprinted in colour.

None of us missed out on getting these because the paper quality would last longer than the originals in black and white, Although he references John Byrne drawing one Dredd story, he probably missed an interview in, I think, ‘The Comics Journal’. There, Byrne saw Dredd being ordered to keep order at a sports game as a demotion whereas we Brits see Dredd going anywhere that needs obedience to the law. Dredd doesn’t care where it is, as long as he’s doing his job.

Robert Menzies interviews comicbook artist/writer Walt Simonson about his homage to Judge Dredd with the time-travelling Judge Peace in ‘Mighty Thor’ and ‘Fantastic Four’ comics. I remember reading them in the day and thought of him that way, too.

Then we have another Starman, from writer Paul Levitz and artists Steve Ditko and Romeo Tanghal, which was more SFish and mostly self-contained in the DC Universe. I’m beginning to think there should have been a set of them. More so, as this was also an alien royalty.

Of course, the biggest section of this issue is devoted to Jim Starlin’s ‘Dreadstar’ as told and interviewed by Jarrod Buttery. Although I read the early stories in ‘Epic Illustrated’, there were large chunks of it towards the end that I hadn’t, like the Peter David era on the title.

Following on from that are some sketches by Curt Swan, Jack Kirby, Jack Williamson, Ron Lim and Dan Jurgens.

DC Comics ‘Jemm, Son Of Saturn’ back in 1984 was a weird one for me and only have dim memories of it. Ed Lute fills in a lot more on the 11 issue series and holds the distinction for its time as having the worse sales when it was stopped. I tend to agree with my original thoughts at the time that he was too close to the Martian Manhunter, which was only revealed much later. In my opinion, it would have been better had they made the connection earlier and then kept them apart.

These days, the return of characters is rather more commonplace than in the 1980s. Back when Marvel’s Nova character was first brought out, it was supposed to be seen as the new Peter Parker for a new generation. Bought out in 1976, his title only lasted 3 years. He was brought back in 1989 as part of the ‘New Warriors’ comic in a Tom Defalco plan for a team book with its members splitting into their own titles so gained a new life.

Doug Smith’s article goes over this second period of the character, as well as the problem of Marvel having the same name for two characters, the other being Frankie Raye, one of the heralds of Galactus. Although it was only briefly mentioned in the article, it did make me wonder if an article covering multiple use of names and certainly one on the heralds of Galactus should be covered.

I’m mentioning the letters pages this time because it covers # 109 and the reaction to the 1978 ‘Superman’ film with some unseen photos from same which makes for a lovely postscript.

There is a lot of ground covered in this ‘Back Issue’ and you’re going to have your knowledge expanded as always.

GF Willmetts

September 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))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_54&products_id=1430

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Category: Magazines, Superheroes

About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 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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