Sunday, 7 July 2019

JURASSIC PARK #12: SINK YOUR TEETH IN

<< GO TO ISSUE 11
<< SELECT ANOTHER ISSUE


Another issue of Dark Horse International's UK version of Jurassic Park hit newsagent shelves 25 years ago to the day and the front cover saw a bit of a change, one it would continue with each month from now on.  The American cover by Michael Golden is enhanced by a new border, the large logo and a better use of headlines than last month, that's for sure.  Inside, it's a mix of gloss and matt paper totalling 32 pages so it's definitely on the increase again after last time, though not back to full capacity just yet after the break resulting from the beginning of Dark Horse International's dissolving.  At this moment the comic still seemed to be published by them, but in reality the company's titles were in the process of being saved by another publisher, which I'll get into more when the transition is complete.  For now, let's concentrate on the issue at hand.

There are again two strips inside, with the Jurassic Park continuation and the phenomenally entertaining Age of Reptiles getting a chunkier 50% split each of the interior pages.

JURASSIC PARK: RUSH! - PART ONE
Writer・Steve Englehart  Penciller・Armando Gil
Inker・Fred Carillo  Letterer・John Costanza
Colourist and Story Editor・RenΓ©e Witterstaetter


This even split means we get half of this particular American story, the most we've had printed this side of the pond so far in one issue.  In a couple of months, after Rush!'s finale we'd get even more per month but, again, we'll get to that later.  This month's story kicks off exactly where we were precariously left last time, with the cargo plane carrying Dr Alan Grant, Dr Ellie Satler and the juvenile velociraptors about to crash somewhere in Southern America.  Apart from the title page above that's all we see though, as on the next page we find Grant waking up in an unknown bed, his arm and leg in plaster, talking to a mysterious man on a small television screen who, initially at least, appears to have saved their lives.

But as is normally the case in any Jurassic Park story, be it comic book form, the movies or Michael Crichton's original novels, human greed has a key role in the proceedings.  The man in question is called Rafael and is referred to by politicians and media as the "Columbian Criminal", so it's clear what he is.  He also believes he's not responsible for his crimes, the demand for what he provides would continue with or without him, so he just chooses to profit from this inevitability.  But he also feels he has to protect said profits.


That's right, he's placed collars on the remaining 'raptors (one is still recovering after Ellie saved its life last month) and is going to train them as guard dogs to both protect him from the government and to attack his competition.  Of course, we all knew when reading this that it would never work out that way, but it's interesting to read this today after seeing the first two Jurassic World films.  What's yet to come in one of the following issues in particular will really surprise fans of the newer movies (and surely there can't be anyone who isn't a fan).

But back to the issue at hand and those collars are for more than just attaching to what must have been pretty thick leads.  They're electroshocks.


While the U.S. Army hunts down the crashed plane we get a few pages of Rafael trying to get the 'raptors to sit like obedient dogs, but they're having none of it.  Continually trying to jump up to the platform the humans are on, they're shocked and fall back to the ground with a thud over and over.  But then we get a close up of one of the creatures seemingly too tired to try again and a grin appears on its face (again, reminding me of a scene in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom).  They seem to submit to the torture and look obediently towards their master in a sitting position, but it's just a ploy to throw Rafael off his guard and put the dinos in a better leaping position.

But it doesn't work and they get electrocuted one final time before collapsing, exhausted, in a heap.  The story ends with Grant's and Satler's objections forcing Rafael to bring his guards in and instruct the doctors to go and take care of the dangerous animals they seem to care so much about.  We're left with them being led to the enclosure and there's no sign of a young Owen Grady to help them!

The artwork has definitely gone up a grade or two since last time, in particular the dinosaurs look like what they're supposed to again, and the story itself was fascinating to us young readers.  The dinosaurs were on the mainland for a start and this was long before the Tyrannosaurus rex terrorised San Diego in the second film, there were also interesting new characters being introduced and a real feeling of these being desperate times for our heroes, a real sense of danger and foreboding that suited the franchise perfectly.  It was a great cliffhanger and the whole story was finally going somewhere after the previous issues seemed to be laying a lot of essential, interesting background work to establish the comic as the official sequel, while also establishing that it'd be doing its own thing.  Great stuff.

AGE OF REPTILES: CHAPTER SEVEN
Writer and Artist・Ricardo Delgado
Colourist・James Sinclair

It's hard to believe we're only seven parts into the simply brilliant Age of Reptiles, the connection the reader has with these silent comic stars feels like we've known them for a lot longer.  The grandiose setting and stunning artwork also makes it feel like it's been going for a lot longer, such is the epic nature of Ricardo Delgado's strip.


This gorgeous opening scene sees the pack of vicious deinonycuses tagging along behind an ultrasaurus who soon collapses and dies from the wounds the smaller dinosaurs had inflicted upon it.  But it soon transpires they're not the only ones who were out hunting, as a pack of mismatched animals soon appear, seemingly led by carnosaurus Hades.

If you're wondering how I know their names check out the review of #9.  So Hades and his pack, or gang, interrupt the feeding of the stars of the strip and it's all very moody stuff.


But what I didn't expect was for this to lead to a fantastic one-on-one fight between two of the deinonycuses!  It appears most of them want to make a quick getaway to save their own hides against what is a seemingly superior force, but Quetzal is having none of it and wants to stand and fight for the giant meal they've killed.  One of the others makes a gesture for them to leg it and pack leader Dark Eye agrees and makes the call to scarper, leaving Quetzal as bait for Hades etc. while they make their escape.

But Quetzal (the one with the spikes coming out the back of his head) jumps the other deinonychus who gestured to leave (unnamed, the the one with the brown mark further down their nose) and they end up in a fight to the death inside the skeletal remains of another long-dead giant.  This fight scene is quite a few pages long and is simply spectacular, this double-page spread below being a particular highlight.


Age of Reptiles isn't a strip for those that like to rush through their comics, this is for people like myself who really take their time, who savour every little detail in each and every panel before moving on to read the next one.  Especially since this strip contains absolutely no words at all, changing scenes, times of the day and handling transitions all through visual queues.  There's so many little details that tell this story, you'll spend just as long with it as you would with a wordy strip from any modern comic.  The only downside this time is that it ends with "Next issue: The Final Battle", meaning we've only one more chapter to go.  I'm going to miss these characters.

A consistently great title, Jurassic Park has evolved and changed as it went along.  My favourite format was definitely when we had three semi-related strips but for the rest of its run we'd have the main JP story and one back up.  But that's not to say there's no more changes afoot.  Whether its constant changing was because of the situation the publisher found themselves in, or whether Dark Horse were just more flexible in their approach to comics we'll deal with later.  But for now, once again I highly recommend you track these down on eBay or the like, they're definitely worth the effort and you'll love the entire series.

The next issue will be joining us here on the blog on Sunday 4th August.  August already?!


Saturday, 6 July 2019

TRANSFORMERS INSTAGRAM: MONTH #22 of 77

<< GO TO MONTH 21
<< SELECT ANOTHER MONTH


June 1987 may only have had four issues of Transformers, but Marvel UK certainly went all out to make sure it was still right up there with the best months of the comic's entire run.  The Wanted: Galvatron - Dead or Alive story came to the end of its weekly run, with what felt like a four-issue climax!  Yes, the ending was frustrating but it gave readers something to look forward to and it'd all be worth it in the end.  But back to the present and just take a look at these four covers and you might get an idea of how exciting this month must have been all of those 32 years ago:


Actually, never mind 32 years ago, it's been a hell of a ride in 2019!  Death's Head is such a great character but I have to say Ultra Magnus has surprised me.  I've come to really love this particular Autobot recently, particularly when rendered by the talented Dan Reed, and this month only cemented him as a firm favourite reading these comics this time around.  The outcome here is even more crushing given what I can remember from this year's Transformers Annual, but it just goes to show how these little plastic toys were taken and made into proper three-dimensional characters, that even now as a forty-one-year-old man I'm still getting attached.

ISSUE 117
6th June 1987


#117: Exactly 32 years before this Instagram post and... okay, first things first: That cover!  Geoff Senior knocks it out of the park and inside Will Simpson brings a serious edge to the action featuring Death's Head, Galvatron and Ultra Magnus.  Glorious looking stuff, edgy and intense, all building to a brilliant climax that I remember thinking (when I read these by bingeing about ten or more years ago) must've frustrated a fan or two.  You'll see what I mean.


Grimlock's answer to one particular letter from a reader is a perfect example of how Marvel UK did these pages like no one else.  Then we finish with The Inhumanoids, which started as a slow burning horror story and has built itself into a wonderfully over-the-top action-fest of biblical proportions.  With plenty of humour to boot.

Cover by Geoff Senior
Hunters: Part One pencils by Will Simpson, inks by Tim Perkins and colours by Steve White
The Coming of the Inhumanoids: Metlar Unleashed pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Danny Bulandi with colours by Julianna Ferriter

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@jamjarjail - "Death's Head was a genius creation, funny, scary and charismatic.  Any time I ever see or hear someone say 'bounty hunter', I still automatically think 'Freelance Peacekeeping Agent, yes?'."

ISSUE 118
13th June 1987


#118: This week we had rebirths and endings and it's all a little emotional.  First up, Wreck-Gar makes a reference which really hasn't aged well, while he looks over the dead Bumblebee, then Ultra Magnus' friend Cindy gets the best line of the issue.  But it's all outshone by the rebirth of Bee as Goldbug!  Exciting times ahead.


But, it's sad news on the Inhumanoids front, as this cliffhanger with Sandra Shore decomposing into a nightmarish monster is the last we'll ever see of them!  We'd caught up with their U.S. comic but before it could return to our shores the American Marvel cancelled it.  Boooo!  Time to hunt out the DVD to see what happened next.

Finally, did anyone else see these Cherry Coke ads back in the 80s and think the same thing I did?  "Ouch!  They'd be cut to ribbons!"  Just me?

Cover by Lee Sullivan
Hunters: Part Two art by Jeff Anderson and colours by Steve White (I assume, no credit is given for the colouring.)
The Coming of the Inhumanoids: Metlar Unleashed! pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Danny Bulandi with colours by Julianna Ferriter

ISSUE 119
20th June 1987


#119: For this issue of the UK's Transformers an exciting cover introduced us to some terrifying Galvatron action inside.  Remembering certain later strips, I have to say Dan Reed is just perfect for bringing the insanity of the future Decepticon to the page.  The ending here also reminds me of a fantastic story in one of the annuals, meaning that must be something to look forward to this Christmas!


Contrary to the editorial, The Inhumanoids wouldn't be back, but the comic would go all-Transformers so that's something to look forward to this autumn as well.

The Iron Man of 2020 returns to the pages of Transformers (he was a guest star in Machine Man in the early issues) with his own back up strip and the arrogant, self-serving Arno Stark is an interesting villain to have behind the suit.  I look forward to seeing how he develops into a future (at the time) version of the hero.

The comic finished with another classic Robo-Capers from Lew Stinger, who supplied the following little snippet of information as a comment on the original Instagram post:

@lew.stringer - "I still remember drawing that strip.  I did what you see as the blue lines on an acetate overlay (in black ink) so that Marvel could print them in solid blue.  Doing part of the production process myself was the only way to get it exactly how I intended it to look.  Turned out well I think."

Cover by Will Simpson, Dave Harwood and John Burns
Fire On High!: Part One art by Dan Reed and colour by Steve White
The Iron Man of 2020: Man of the Year pencils by Mark Beachum, inks by Bob Wiacek and colours by Bob Sharen

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@the._inevitable.k - "Iron Man 2020 was great, still a fan of the character and Marvel seems to have plans for him next year.  Dan Reed's Ultra Magnus may be my favourite."
@gazmondo595 - "Iron Man 2020?  I didn't even remember this but I have a distinct memory of that picture in your photograph.  I mustn't have thought Arno Stark was all that memorable!  Lol."

ISSUE 120
27th June 1987


#120: With this issue Wanted: Galvatron - Dead or Alive came to its climax.  Sorta.  Geoff Senior returned to bring us some superb fight scenes, perfectly demonstrating why he's a fan favourite to this day.  Rodimus Prime and Death's Head are no match for the crazed Galvatron, whose insanity made for compulsive reading!


What a shame it ended like this (below), leaving most Transformers fans without a conclusion until Christmas!  Yes, the annual was out in August but most young readers (and now, this much older reader) had months and months to wait.  Goldbug is back next week in a story set after the conclusion to this, so it all feels like an awkward marketing scheme for the annual rather than for a proper storytelling reason.  Maybe it excited the kids, but reading it now it just feels cheap and, after eight weeks of building up, to not get a proper ending is just annoying.


Thank goodness for Geoff's gorgeous art then.  The annual would be awesome (I know that much from memory) though.

Cover by Jeff Anderson
Fire On High!: Part Two art by Geoff Senior and colour by Steve White

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@gazmondo595 - "Brilliant cover, incredible storyline and absolutely amazing artwork and colouring!"
@captainalexis - "The issue dated a day before my birthday when I got Misfire, Target Master Hot Rod, Slugslinger and Highbrow.  Ahh, happy days."


Wow.  I think I need a breather after all of that.  As usual the first issue of the following month, July 1987, is already up on the blog's Instagram and it's back to the American stories and the pace does calm down somewhat.  At least for one week so far anyway.  But Spider-Man does pop up in the back up story, which is always a good thing.  Later this year there's so much to come, like the crossover with Action Force weekly, an all-Transformers comic for sixteen weeks and that superb Annual as mentioned above.  We're only halfway through an amazing year for this comic, what's to come has the potential to be even more so.

To pick up any of the stories featured you can visit these sites to buy individual collections or the series in partwork form:



Sunday, 30 June 2019

TRANSFORMERS INSTAGRAM: MONTH #21 of 77

<< GO TO MONTH 20
<< SELECT ANOTHER MONTH


What a month!  Starting off with an amazing story for Grimlock, Marvel UK's Transformers weekly moved on to another of its main epics and this time it's none other than Galvatron: Wanted Dead or Alive.  As a sequel to Target:2006 this has all the ingredients you could wish for: Ultra Magnus, Galvatron, Wreck-Gar, Rodimus Prime, Kup, time travel, shocking deaths and even greater rebirths.  But does it still hold up today?

What do you think?:


On top of all this The Inhumanoids continues apace as the best back up strip the comic has had up to this point in the series, even if it is moving more towards action than the superlative horror-esque story it began as.  Then, to bookend the month of May 1987 we had more Dinobots action in the shape of the next Collected Comics special and a reprinting of a classic story for Grimlock et all.

For any fans of the series one look at that selection of cover images above will say it all.  Those are classic, iconic images and Marvel UK's The Transformers was certainly living up to all the hype!

ISSUE 112
2nd May 1987


#112: 32 years ago on this day Dinobots (and dinosaur) fans were in for a treat with the latest edition of Transformers UK.  After the bombastic Grimlock we've seen, it's great to see how he thinks when not with his teammates.  His interactions with a human here are all portrayed through their inner thoughts and interpretations of each other's non-actions.  It's clever stuff.


When she's in trouble he launches himself - literally - into the fight and fans had to be satisfied with the action!  The Dinobots vs Trypticon certainly doesn't disappoint, in fact it's one of my favourite action scenes so far in the whole run.  It's all just such great fun from start to finish.


Also, the first Hasbro toy advertisement for The Transformers: The Movie characters Rodimus Prime and Wreck-Gar.  Ba-Weep-Grana-Weep-Nini-Bon indeed.

Cover by Herb Trimpe and Tim Perkins (recoloured for the UK comic)
King of the Hill!: Part Two pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Ian Akin and Brian Garvey and colours by Nel Yomtov

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHT:
@regulon_four - "Great cover!!  I need that one... πŸ€”  I think.  Grimlock diving on Trypticon's back is an awesome panel πŸ‘πŸ»"

ISSUE 113
9th May 1987


#113: It's another 32nd anniversary and this time it's the turn of Wanted: Galvatron - Dead or Alive, one of the most fondly remembered Transformers epics from Marvel UK.  But, even more importantly, it's the same anniversary for a certain Freelance Peace-Keeping Agent, yes?

Simon Furman and Geoff Senior's creation, Death's Head, first appeared in these very pages and boom, does he make an impact!  A perfect introduction and I can not wait to see more of him over the next seven weeks.  I remember reading his own comic (which came later) so these are definitely going to be fun times, that's for sure.


Elsewhere, The Inhumanoids back up rather awkwardly introduces a couple of vehicles from the short-lived toy range, but the strip is still a great read.  The human characters are really gelling, the humour has come to the fore and the monsters are still suitably monstrous.

Cover by Geoff Senior
Wanted: Galvatron - Dead or Alive Part One art by Geoff Senior and colours by Steve White
The Coming of the Inhumanoids: The Battle Down Below! pencils by Jose Delbo, inks by Art Thibert with colours by Julianna Ferriter and Paul Becton

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@gazmondo595 - "Death's Head is the greatest single character to come out of Transformers and from Marvel UK.  Such amazing storylines too!"
@darrencgregson - "You may know this already?!  There is a four-issue Death's Head mini-series starting in July [this year]."
@theoinkblog - "Unfortunately Simon Furman and Geoff Senior aren't involved, so I doubt I'll buy it.  Neither of them consider DH2 and 3 from the 90s as canon and I never liked them either.  I love sequels and remakes etc. as long as they're good, but with DH I only enjoyed the original."
@rudy_zissou - "Tried to build 'Trappeur' out of Lego as a kid... in my mind I remember it looking just like that.  In reality it probably never did lol."

ISSUE 114
16th May 1987


#114: This week, Wanted: Galvatron - Dead or Alive continued its shocking storyline.  We've got some lovely shadowing of a famous The Transformers: The Movie scene, showing Rodimus Prime's attempts to follow in Optimus Prime's footsteps, but with a more ruthless edge.  I'm looking forward to seeing how his character develops.

Death's Head arrives on Earth in 1987 and poor old Bumblebee is unlucky enough to be the greeting party.  Even though it's a completely different version of the character, after seeing Bee in the movies (and in particular his own), this is even more heartbreaking than it was the first time I read it.  There's a reason writer Simon Furman did this to him, but more on that next week.


Also, I'm really going to miss The Inhumanoids strip, but it's here for at least another four weeks, this issue ending a chapter of the US strip, so the next one will last at least that long.

Cover by Jeff Anderson
Wanted: Galvatron - Dead or Alive Part Two pencils by Will Simpson, inks by Tim Perkins and colours by Steve White
The Coming of the Inhumanoids: Battle Down Below! pencils by Jose Delbo, inks by Art Thibert with colours by Julianna Ferriter and Paul Becton

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@gazmondo595 - "And cue the birth of Goldbug!  Death's Head kicks ass! πŸ‘ŠπŸ»πŸ‘ŠπŸ»πŸ‘ŠπŸ»"
@theoinkblog - "Indeed!  Rebuilt by G.I. Joe in the US storyline, but by someone else in ours... πŸ˜‰"
@captainalexis - "Will Simpson's pencils are quite an acquired taste but I personally love his taught, sinewy style."

ISSUE 115
23rd May 1987


#115: This week an already memorable storyline continued to build towards its shocking outcome.  It's great to finally see Dan Reed's art, whose work I remember fondly.  Some friends of mine didn't like it but for me his art was always just so exciting!  I can remember the comic itself asking of Dan's handiwork, "How does metal bend like that?, ha!"  But, you could say all the artists drew the Transformers with bending metal around their mouths, like with that great Lee Sullivan cover.


Just look at that image of Galvatron!  As a fan, I can't wait to see more of Dan's work, for example the epic scenes he'd later draw for Time Wars.

Elsewhere, it's time for celebrations as another U.S. Inhumanoids strip starts, meaning a few more guaranteed issues at least (though I do believe these are the last, boo!) and then there's examples of how to do a great toy advert and how not to do a great toy advert.


Cover by Lee Sullivan
Burning Sky!: Part One art by Dan Reed, colours by Steve White
The Coming of the Inhumanoids: Metlar Unleashed pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Danny Bulandi with colours by Julianna Ferriter

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@regulon_four - "Look at that full page with Galvatron, just πŸ€©πŸ€©πŸ€©πŸ‘ŒπŸ»πŸ‘ŒπŸ»πŸ‘ŒπŸ»"
@the._inevitable.k - "It took me a while to like Dan Reed.  Definitely one of the greats, though."
@jamjarjail - "I never liked his style as a kid but rereading as an adult I love it now.  The City of Fear story (zombie Transformers) he did was brilliant, his art really added to the creepiness of it.  I also loved the idea that Cybertron's Greatest Warrior would rather just be driving about, admiring trees.  And how he always ended up drawn into conflict with the one Decepticon he was afraid of."
@theoinkblog - "I'm really loving the character of Ultra Magnus this time around.  Even though he was underused in the movie, I still hear Robert Stack's voice as I read these."

ISSUE 116
30th May 1987


#116: For this issue Jeff Anderson's cover was made even more impactful with the black and white logo, don't you think?  Inside, Geoff Senior is the perfect choice (again) for another showdown between Galvatron and Ultra Magnus.  However, between all the action the story also has a heart, with Magnus' character cementing him as a firm favourite of mine.

He really does get the crap beaten out of him though, doesn't he?


But, with his new human friend in danger he flips and turns on his attacker in a superb story which ends with a piece of tech I remember all too well, which is set to bring so much calamity.


As Galvatron seeks to use the Earth's core, The Inhumanoids strip decides to set itself in that very place, stepping it up a gear with a full-on war being raged deep within our planet.

 Cover by Jeff Anderson
Burning Sky!: Part Two art by Geoff Senior, colour by Steve White
The Coming of the Inhumanoids: Metlar Unleashed pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Danny Bulandi with colours by Julianna Ferriter

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHTS:
@gazmondo595 - "I love the artwork in this... and the violence!  This was an epic and amazing storyline!  Was this a Marvel UK exclusive?"
@theoinkblog - "It was indeed, anything with solid colouring instead of the small dots was a UK exclusive πŸ˜‚"
@darth_tater77 - "Geoff Senior's work in this issue is soooo good!  I still remember this issue."

COLLECTED COMICS 6
SUMMER SPECIAL 1987


CC#6: Extra comic time!  On the same day as #116 two more classic Transformers strips (classic even by 1987) were wrapped up in a new Geoff Senior cover and collected in, well, Collected Comics 6, this year's Summer Special.  It may only come in at 24 pages, the same as the weekly, but it's a great read.  I just don't understand why this and the first two parts of the story in CC#5 weren't combined into one big fat 'special' special.


But that doesn't take away from all the Dinobots action.  Who doesn't love these characters?  Some great set pieces and, interestingly, the final page (below) is edited, with some panels swapped about and one replaced, the rogue piece of Geoff's art standing out a mile.  This was to remove references to the original comic's next story.  You can see the original page in the final photo.


Another fun addition to the collection.

Cover by Geoff Senior
The Wrath of Guardian! art by Barry Kitson, colours by Gina Hart
The Wrath of Grimlock! art by Barry Kitson, colours by Steve Whitaker and Stuart Place

COMMENTS HIGHLIGHT:
@gazmondo595 - "Circuit Breaker!  It was a fantastic expanded universe they built and crafted in the comics.  It gave it real depth!"


There we have it!  May 1987 was a fantastic month, but things were just about to get even better in June.  The Wanted: Galvatron - Dead or Alive tale would continue all the way through the following month, with a climax that... well, you'll have to see.  It ends.  But it doesn't end.  It's satisfying, yet frustrating.  What on Earth am I on about?  How do I know all this if I'm reading them in real time?  Well, as this post has come to the blog late this month I've already read the month's comics (one per week) and have showcased them on the blog's Instagram, if you want to check them out now.  Or, alternatively, just hang tight and in a few days you'll find the next roundup right here.  Until next time, Make Mine (1980s) Marvel.

Don't forget, you can purchase all of these classic stories to own yourself in some wonderful collected graphic novels: