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Back Issue #83 September 2015 (magazine review).

January 30, 2021 | By | Reply More

I did wonder when ‘Back Issue’ would get around to the New X-Men and Alpha Flight and they did so nearly six years ago examining international heroes although it does look mostly like teams more than individuals are covered in this issue.

Looking at Franck Martini’s examination of the X-Men and Dave Cockrum’s preference for Nightcrawler and John Byrne’s for Wolverine, they all seem to have forgotten GS#1’s cover with Colossus leading as it was thought, even though he was Russian in prime colours, he would be the lead character. Even so, the X-Men did lead the way for a range of nationalities, influenced a little for potential sales in other countries, just not Russia. I’m not too sure if I would call Kukulkan a mutant as El Tigre combined a stone pendant’s parts to transform into him, in a similar way that Don Blake did with his cane to become Thor, although in his case, he wasn’t really a god.

I hadn’t realised that John Byrne had such a dislike for Alpha Flight until I read Jason Shayer’s piece on them, although things are put into perspective here. You would have to have wondered how things had turned out had Byrne had actually liked his own characters.

Robert Menzies look at Captain Britain was less about the character and more about the violence in ‘Action’, a UK comic released by IPC in 1976 likely to percolate in the backlash against his own upcoming comic. Looking back, I can barely remember ‘Action’, more so as ‘2000AD’ was released in the following year but we British don’t tend to connect that way.. In the UK, things get washed over pretty quickly when other news items take the headlines, more so as it was only in one newspaper’s agenda. Come to think of it, I can’t really recall this kind of topic coming up again since.

In fact, the next two articles examine Marvel Comics material reprinted in the UK and a few errors or rather incomplete information crops up. In Andrew Leyland’s article he cites only two of Odham’s Press’s comics, ‘Pow!’ and ‘Fantastic’, had American material, when there were actually five that did, all they all merged over a couple years as sales dropped off. The original three were ‘Smash’, ‘Wham’ and ‘Pow!’ (the latter contained Spider-Man). ‘Fantastic’ and ‘Terrific’ were closest to the look of the American version with half-length stories per issue and often reprinted some of Marvel’s SF/horror stories.

After a couple years, ‘Pow!’ and ‘Wham’ merged and became ‘Pow! And Wham’ (I had a letter in its final issue) and eventually merged with ‘Smash’. ‘Fantastic’ and Terrific’ merged and became ‘Fantastic’ and ‘Terrific’ before finally fading away. When it came to Marvel UK and I think I’ve mentioned this before, editor Bernie Jaye asked me why the sales of the UK released comics always kept dropping off after 6 months and I said it was because the kids had then discovered the American editions in in full colour and entire stories and moved on to them, hence the continually rebranding in the UK.

Oh, there’s a delightful gallery of López Espí’s cover paintings for the Spanish reprints of Marvel Comics. Some of them had dubious colour changes but when he was spot on, he really got them.

Just in case you think this ‘Back Issue’ is dominated by Marvel, Jack Abramowitz has a look at DC Comics, ‘The Global Guardians’, derived from the TV ‘Super-Friends’ cartoon series, thankfully deprived of its dog. The analysis is interesting but it does become clear how derivative they were with only Ice and Fire, with name changes, breaking through to Earth-1.

Jay Williams has a look at ‘Captain Canuck’ as created by Richard Comely back in 1975 and his on and off life in Canada. There can’t be many super-heroes who want to pray before going into battle.

The interview by Mike Eury with Steve Fastner and Rich Larson of their Marvel Portfolios back in the early 1980s are something I remember and a couple of them, drawn by John Burne and airbrushed by the pair of them are still on the wall. I think those two paintings, shown in the interview, were successful because of Byrne and have to confess their other portfolios, in my eyes, tended to fall down by having too much going on.

The look at ‘Justice League International’ by Jonathan Rikard Brown did make me think. When you look at the original JLA and even the LSH, at a more galactic scale, both teams had aliens in them so technically they were already multi-culture even if it wasn’t explored as such.

The a trip back to Marvel for a look at the French Peregrine and the Irish Shamrock, literally created for the ‘Contest Of Champions’ as throwaway characters and Dan Tandarich covers the attempts to give them a little more issue space.

This ‘Back Issue’ covers a lot of ground and a lot of thoughts about widening the character nationalities. If you want to explore something in lockdown, you might want to contemplate how many international villains there are. Of course, there’s Doctor Doom from Latvia and Batroc from France, Black Tom Cassidy from Ireland and then…You see what I mean. Have fun thinking.

GF Willmetts

January 2021

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

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_54&products_id=1194&zenid=e350debfcde211a37a787a5f5a0e6737

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Category: Comics, Magazines, MEDIA, Superheroes

About the Author ()

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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