Defenders (1972-1986) #146 by Peter B. Gillis

Defenders (1972-1986) #146Defenders (1972-1986) #146 by Peter B. Gillis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Introducing new villain Hotspur, who seems to have been taking fashion advice from Adam Ant, and featuring the artistic efforts of guest artist, Luke McDonnell…this issue was actually far better than I was expecting it to be. At first I thought this was going to be something of a duff fill-in affair, and the first few pages didn’t exactly fill me with hope as McDonnel takes a while to find his stride, but by the end of the book he’s rendering a group of seemingly enchanted revellers dancing around what appears to be hellfire quite beautifully.

Gillis does his usual great job of getting inside everyone’s head, as Angel’s blindness leads them to visit Dr Strange in search of a cure, and the sub-plot regarding the mysterious Andrea from the previous issue finally comes to a head and we discover who she really is.

All in all this series continues to be excellent and I’m so glad I started reading through this run. The stunning Frank Cirocco cover is just a bonus!

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G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1 by Larry Hama

G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #1 by Larry Hama

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read a lot of this series when I was young, but it was as reprints in the UK, with the name changed to Action Force, and I believe the reprints started later in the series so as to include stories about the characters that were on toy shelves in the UK at the time, so this was my first time reading this particular story of the Joes.

I was genuinely surprised to find that this is not an origin story for GI Joe. The team is already well established and used to working together. The other thing that both surprised and impressed me about this issue, considering that it’s a comic book based on a toy line that was firmly aimed at boys, is the number and prominence of strong female characters, from the Joe’s own Scarlet to Cobra’s villainous Baroness to the kidnapped Dr Burkhart…women are front and centre in this story!

That’s not to say that it isn’t full of macho men doing manly things (that being shooting things and blowing stuff up). Of course the stand out character is the silent but deadly Snake Eyes, who is effortlessly cool, clad in all black with his face completely covered with a mask. The Joe’s man of mystery has become something of a cultural icon, and rightly so.

I know that this gets a LOT better, which is why I haven’t given it five stars (heck, it probably doesn’t deserve the four I’ve given it, but I’m honestly just excited to own a copy of this book!), but this is already head and shoulders above other toy tie-in comics of the eighties. It never feels like the characters are just listing products that you can go and buy right now at your local toy store. Of course, Cobra Commander comes across as being utterly useless…but he’s Cobra Commander, that’s what he’s supposed to do…

Anyway, in summary, this is great and you should probably read it.

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West Coast Avengers #4 by Roger Stern

West Coast Avengers #4West Coast Avengers #4 by Roger Stern

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I thoroughly enjoyed this series and I wasn’t really expecting to after the first couple of issues, but Stern does a great job of building the story over the four issues and bringing it to a satisfying conclusion. The art is solid and in the house style of early to mid eighties Marvel comics, which was how comics were supposed to look in my head for many years. There are no great surprises or twists and turns, but this series establishes the West Coast Avengers as a team very well. According to the last page their story continues in the pages of Avengers #250, so I’ll be reading that next (when it arrives from eBay) rather than the first issues of their regular series!

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Defenders (1972-1986) #145 by Peter B. Gillis

Defenders (1972-1986) #145Defenders (1972-1986) #145 by Peter B. Gillis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one’s mostly filler, not that it makes it a bad comic, but this is the team winding down and licking their wounds after the battle with Moondragaon/the Dragon of the Moon. The cover teases Wolverine and the Hulk, but they’re not really in it…a Ghost Rider free Johnny Blaze is, however (but he’s mostly here to borrow money from Angel). It looks to be setting up an exploration of Cloud’s mysterious origins in coming issues, but I guess we’ll find out in time…

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