Monday, 16 August 2010

Marvel..ous bedding!

I opened up the latest issue of The Invincible Iron and let out an audible gasp, surprisingly this is something that I don't normally do when I'm reading my comics, but this advert for the 'sweet dreams' bedding and accessories on the inside front cover was, I have to say, worthy of such a reaction. I wonder if they do this in an adult king size?

I can't really see my long suffering wife snuggling up to me under the creased muscles of the Hulk and the Mighty Thor, but you know we could take it in turns, one week it could be Cath Kidson polka dots and flowers and the next week heroes of the Marvel Universe. I've already spotted a natty pair of 'Man of Steel' underpants going for a fiver down at Primark, I can just see myself slipping under the covers wearing these with a wry smile on my face. Maybe that should read 'Balls of Steel'.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

mmm... fresh Gopher!

Marshal James Book's battle with the ruthless outlaw and American Vampire, Skinner Sweet, may have ended but his struggles certainly haven't.

Now he has a new weakness, and that weakness is a hunger for blood. The first arc of Scott Snyder's American Vampire has been very well received, with a back up story from horror writer Stephen King. Vampires may be wearing thin, but this has been an engaging series so far and well worth picking up in trade.

From American Vampire, issue 5

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The longest walk

Man of Steel hoofs it across the great American heartland, like a strange mix of David Carradine in Kung Fu and The Littlest Hobo, Superman is digging deep to reconnect with the common man, the restless lone Kryptonian canvasing for the popular vote, but has the readership got the energy to see through this period of soul searching and readjustment, in this 12 issue arc? Issue 701 was the first leg of the journey, the art was nice and I did like his final encounter where we get treated to Superman the philosopher.

I'll stick with this, I like a good walk and I can stick drawing pins into a wall map to track his progress. He should be raising money for charity though, surely this is a missed opportunity for DC?

There's a voice that keeps on calling me
Down the road, that's where I'll always be.
Every stop I make, I make a new friend,
Can't stay for long, just turn around and I'm gone again ....

Monday, 28 June 2010

Once Upon a Time in the DC Universe

Liberty's silhouetted arm reaches up into the sulfurous night sky above the city that never sleeps, its skyline brightly etched in the swirling waters of the Hudson. The red beacons atop the Brooklyn bridge blink as a tug boat trails a plume of smoke below.

So begins DC's 'Legacies', an old man looks back on his life long obsession with the mysterious masked men of Justice, his bookshelves crammed full with old newspaper articles, photographs, cuttings from magazines. He introduces himself as Paul Lincoln, a once upon a time street punk growing up on the hard streets of Suicide Slum. Together with his friend Jimmy they earn their keep making collections for Moran, a gangland boss running protection rackets on local business'.

Paul has a conscience and a heart and isn't so sure, but his friend Jimmy sees only the quick lucrative buck and a path leading out of the gutter where the have not's huddle round burning oil drums to keep warm. In this era of mobster rule we see the first costumed avengers swing into action, determined to clean up the city, to bring back law and order and give back hope to the honest man.

The two boys have their first run in with this new breed of hero when the masked Crimson Avenger bursts in on Moran's hideout with guns blazing, and again whilst helping to move illegal booze from a warehouse down on the docks when the Sandman and the Atom drop in, leaving the boys a calling card. It is at this point that the two boys choose their separate paths. Jimmy continues to follow a life of crime but Paul is enthralled by the mystery and daring do of these fearless vigilantes of justice, and it isn't long before a group of them team up to form the Justice Society of America.

So begins a new day, the dawn of the Golden Age. Written by Len Wein, and drawn and inked by the superstar father and son team of Andy and Joe Kubert, by the second issue we reach the end of the Golden era and the disbanding of the Justice League in the cold war era. Pulled before a special congressional hearing into un-American activities the members of the JSA are asked to remove their masks and reveal to the world their true identities, but they refuse and in a blinding flash they vanish from the building.

I've loved this series so far, the artwork has been great, very atmospheric, giving the reader a tangible whiff of prohibition America. It would have been nice if the friendship between Paul and Jimmy had been fleshed out a bit more and I was reminded of Sergio Leone's gangland movie epic 'Once Upon a Time in America', the four hour long tale of Jewish youths growing up on the streets of New York to become prominent crime figures.

Only in the evocative Kubert rendering of life on the streets, the colours and attention to detail opening a portal between now and 1984 when I sat uncomfortably watching as the haunting soundtrack of pan flutes hard wired itself indelibly into my brain.

Still from the film - Once Upon a Time in America

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Gardeners reading

Jessie here is reading about the lives of agricultural labourers in the 1800s. The guy photographed on the cover is a ditch digger, and at the time this photo was taken he was in his 80s and still working long hours and not even able to afford to buy a loaf of bread. The life of a Victorian labourer was not a good one!

David's taste for dystopia is well and truly met here with this set of essays by Huxley. Its a return to Brave New World, Huxley's fantasy vision of a future mired in over population and individuals controlled through scientific progress. It is within these pages that he argues that his fictional prophecies aren't too far wide of the reality checkpoint.

For good comics you can't go too far wrong with the 3 times monthly episodes of the Amazing Spiderman. This is the final part of the 'Shed' storyline. Army doctor Curt Connors has spent a lifetime researching cellular regeneration after losing an arm in combat. The downside being that he has been infected by the lizard serum that he's been using and the lizard side of his brain is looking to take control of his body.

Animal instincts such as territory and strength come into play when his current boss at a pharmaceutical company engages Conners' pretty female assistant in a romantic affair. Jealousy triggers the Lizzard and results in a carnage, that includes the death of Conners' own son. The Lizard seeks ultimate control and as we see Conners slipping away, Spiderman is stretched both physically and emotionally to breaking point.

It would not be a spoiler alert to inform you that Spiderman wins the day, but in the end it is an exhausted and distraught Peter Parker who turns up at his Aunt May's doorstep seeking solace, and in there lies another story. Top marks!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Destination: Further

From DC's Brightest Day, issue no.3

Hawkman and Hawkgirl have tracked the evil Egyptian priest Hath-Set deep into the Peruvian jungle where he has used the bones of Hawkman and Hawkgirl's many incarnations to activate a gate/portal to another world. The Hawk couple arrive just after Hath-Set has crossed over. Either that or the Hawks have traveled back in time to a Grateful Dead concert and are now 'enjoying' the visuals during the hour long Space/Drums section of the show.

Monday, 21 June 2010


I arrived at work this morning to find this phone charm draped over the top of my 'Garden Soundtracks' blackboard. I'd like to think that it was a little token gift for me in recognition for all my hard work that I have put into chalking up these daily playlists for last couple of months, although I know its more likely that someone dropped it nearby and a helpful soul has placed it there. For what its worth I'm going to pretend it was for me.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Dinosaurs of the deep

A naval submarine leaves the warm sheltered waters of its Pacific Island base on a mission to discover the reason why an important weather station on the polar ice cap X-3, is no longer relaying data which is being used by bomber command. A small group of elite frogmen, UDT7, are sent out on underwater recon to check on the sub's course.

What follows is a series of bizarre encounters with giant Leviathan monsters of the deep. With each passing encounter the frogmen have the more desperate they become to convince their skipper of what they have been seeing. However after several attempts at capturing the monsters on film prove fruitless they begin to doubt their own sanity. Did they really come face to face with living dinosaurs or have they been suffering hallucinations brought on by the effects of instant Nitrogen Narcosis?

Arriving at the polar ice cap, the Captain sends his men 'topside' for operation 'Deep Freeze'. Once again the men are faced with a dinosaur who is attacking the abandoned weather station, hurriedly scrabbling to photograph the beast the men are again foiled as the sub zero temperatures freeze their equipment. The dinosaur turns on the men, is distracted by the sub just below the ice, it grabs the vessel and plays with it as if it were a bath toy before dropping its prey, sending both the sub and the frogmen flying into the icy waters.

One frogman survives, pulling himself out of the water onto an ice flow. As if by magic another submarine arrives to save the day. The frogman is too cold to tell his rescuers of the horrors he has witnessed, but is delighted when the missing sub is spotted emerging from a dense fog bank. His fellow crewmen all survived, including the skipper, and now the joke is on him as he fails to convince the rescue party of his tall tales of the 'War That Time Forgot'.

From Star Spangled War Stories, no. 112 December 1963. This was one of my London Comic Mart finds which I bought for the cover art, and also because it was cheap, £2. Despite all the ink stamps on the cover which I think gives it a warm fuzzy vibe and adds to its appeal, the interior artwork is very crisp and there were no loose pages. Also in the back was another short story entitled 'No Escape from Stalag 7!' which has loads of German tanks being blown up, although I haven't got round to reading it yet.

From the same comic was this lovely advert for the good ol' American Public Library. "Kids, avoid pesky volcanic ash, flight cancellations, stale cabin air, tropical diseases, stormy seas, jet lag, stress, food poisoning etc etc..., stay at home and read about other peoples adventures at your friendly local library!"

Sensible, very sensible!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Just call me Jack.

In a different life, pre - wife, pre- kids, pre - comics, in training for my life as a gardener, mid metamorphosis from young innocent to settled reflective man I was known to some old friends as 'Flash'. Not because I was able to tap into the speed force, but because I was slow, slow to get the joke, slow to grasp the concept, slow to finish. After a short time this affectionate moniker was dropped in favour of 'Jack', as in Jack Flash.

I digress, and segue slowly into my appreciation of the new Flash series from Geoff Johns and Francis Manapul. Maybe because of my sluggish ways I have been drawn to the Flash character, I tried to follow the red and gold speed freak once before in the recent Flash: Rebirth mini series, but got completely confused and dropped it after issue 2. It was Francis Manapul's dizzy pencils and wonderful city scenes that tempted me to try again with Flash 1, just released last week. So far so good, loving it's juicy panels, pacey pencils and stunning artwork.

I wonder what happened to the guy who nicknamed me 'Flash', he was a jolly geordie from Jarrow that was inclined to whistle like a demented Blackbird at 6am as he went about his morning routine kicking his fellow students bed frames with his steel toe capped work boots.
" Howay Flash, get oot y' sack!"

Still dark outside, frost etched windows, tractors, stone walls, ragged sheep, cold boots and grey skies. Aah, its all coming back to me now, slowly.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

May the banana be with you!

Scan from Captain America. Vol.1 No.238 October, 1979

Abducted by aliens?, Need to send out an urgent S.O.S?, then look no further than the fruit bowl. That's right a banana could be all you need to save your own skin.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Lessons in game warfare.

"Go ahead punk, make my day!"

This brutal looking fella is a Chaplain, a man... of the cloth?, spiritual leader to the Space Marine Terminator squad, and as befits his appearance, a bringer of death! He also happens to be a dream come true to any hormonal 10 to teen year old boy, what with the skulls, chains, heavy armour, iron crosses, eagle motifs and superior fire power. Throw in some paint, glue, and a shop full of like minded geeks, a bit of Led Zeppelin and you have the perfect recipe for happy children, parents who suddenly find themselves with spare time on their hands, and this is the only negative point, a hobby that sucks up money at an alarming rate.

The figure above was my 10 year old son's latest artistic creation which he painstakingly spent a Saturday afternoon on. He's hoping that the guys in the shop will display it in their glass cabinets, I hope so because the Chaplain looks in no mood to be turned down.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Werewolf by Night

Werewolf by Night Vol.1, No.31 - 1975.

Let's just say that your whole world is gigantically pear shaped if you happen to be Jack Russell, a seemingly normal blond haired Californian 19 year old boy, who's father has been cursed by a mystical book called the Darkhold. As luck would have it, Jack inherits the curse and as a result is stuck in a perpetual Michael Jackson 'Thriller' loop.

So what do you do if a full moon is forecast? Well, in 'Death in White', Jack has planned a ski trip with girlfriend Topaz, along with Chuck and his new girlfriend, the recently widowed Elaine Marsten and her 7 year old daughter Buttons. Laughter and frivolity ensues as the two couples head off into the mountains with a teetering roof rack of suitcases. Jack's more than happy to roll around in the snow with Topaz but the precocious little Buttons has other ideas. Teasing and snowball fights aside, its wall to wall rosy cheeks and heavy duty knit wear as they settle in for romantic fireside cuddles and tankards of hot Grog until the Manager informs everyone that heavy blizzards are due to hit the following day.

Fearing that their secret plans are threatened by this turn of events, Chuck catches Jack's attention out of the girls earshot. Quick to shrug off Chuck's suggestion that they scrap their plans to leave him in the lonely mountain backwoods ahead of the full moon, Jack assures his friend that their plan will work better now as they are guaranteed not to run into anyone. The next day the boys convince the girls that Jack needs to return to the city due to work commitments, and instead of driving to the train station they head off the road and into the woods.

Jack sits and waits for nightfall as Chuck's car disappears from view. Unfortunately for Jack the little girl has run away from the ski lodge and has got lost in the woods. Wasting no time, Buck steals a snowmobile and heads off to find the Werewolf before it can get to the girl. Poor old Chuck throws himself into a fearful battle with his best friend, the Werewolf's claws slash out as the monster sees only prey in the form of a 7 year old girl and he smells only fear and blood as Chuck crawls helplessly away through the reddened snow. Putting himself between the Werewolf and the girl, not only to save her but also to save Jack from certain madness if he is to discover later that he has killed a young child. In the end Jack kills his best friend.

I really enjoyed the writing in this comic which was the work of Doug Moench, best known for his work on Batman and Detective comics in the 80s and 90s. He also did some newspaper work where he, amongst other things, interviewed The Who and The Monkeys.

Finally, from the same comic is this wonderful ad. In 1975 you could snag yourself a bathroom towel set or a big ol' beach towel featuring every one's favourite canyon jumpin', double decker hoppin' stunt man, Evil Knieval! For 5 dollars you could be drying off with some top quality Evil cotton.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Trains, Migrains and old comics

Challengers of the Unknown- no.80, 1973.

Sorry about the break in posts, I've been resting back due to a series of Migraines, 3 in the last 3 weeks to be exact. I had an interesting trip down to London for the Comic Mart near Kings Cross station last weekend, to start with there were no trains to Kings Cross on Sunday, so by way of Liverpool Street and a chaotic Underground besieged with engineering works and a fatality on the mainline between Cambridge and London, I eventually arrived at my destination at 1pm, 2 and a half hours after leaving Cambridge.

Instead of doing the sensible thing of eating lunch first, I chose instead to head straight for the comics. I'll admit that I am not very good at hunting through the bargain boxes for good deals, and most of the other stuff is too expensive for me. However, I did find a few things that tickled my fancy.

Unfortunately this trip was jinxed from the start because after only an hour and a half a migraine came on. Sickening vertigo, carpet swimming around beneath me, I gingerly weaved through the crowd, trying not to crash into anyone on my way to the foyer to sit down. I popped a Paracetamol, packed my bag and left.

The scan above is from Challengers of the Unknown, no.80, a 1973 reprint of Showcase, no.11 from 1957. The Challengers were Kirby's precursor to The Fantastic Four, and in this story they face a jolly green race from outer space, The Tyrans!

Beware the Tyrans!- interior Jack Kirby artwork.

And from the same comic is this lovely advert for kids Raleigh bikes, remember the ten speed racer? I had a blue one just like the one below. I crashed it twice, once when I swerved to avoid a car coming round a sharp bend on our estate, I hit the curb, went over the handlebars and landed in a rose garden. I spent the next hour getting thorns pulled out of me. The second time I crashed into the back of a parked car whilst looking down to change gears, once again I flew over the handlebars and landed Sweeny style on top of the car. My dad was more worried about my watch than me.

Check it out, in 1973 the cycle dealer could tempt you with 73 different Raleigh models!

Make mine a Raleigh!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Ghost birds

And still we shuffle heavily around on the cold hard earth, our movements slowed as the final gasp of winter tugs at our finger tips and the bony hands of March grab at our ankles. Birds fall away from the bare branches and leave their ghostly images on glass.

In this sluggish melting of winter, caught between the Snowdrops and the much anticipated Daffodils and Tulips, there is much bird activity round about. A few weeks ago our Jessie had the chance to help out with some bird ringing here at the college. A student of Natural sciences who we have nicknamed 'Moth Girl' due to her moth trapping activities in the Summer months, has been setting up mist nets in the grounds to get a better understanding of the local bird population. As a result we keep spotting Blackbirds with 'bling'.

Close encounters with a male Bullfinch.

Early indication that the Blue tits have turned into Zombies.

I don't know about Ghost birds, but our resident feathered friends can at times feel more like Zombie birds. In their desperate pursuit of food they have made us prisoners in our own Bothy.

Blackbirds eye us intently through the glass, Magpies hungrily wait for us, 'us' being the operative word. There is only so much bread and butter that they are prepared to endure when what they really want is gardeners flesh! The sickening rasp of crows on the cold air, cadavers steaming on the bare earth, birds ripping at bloody innards and squabbling amongst themselves like Vultures, head feathers slick with blood.

I've never read a zombie comic before, maybe I should give one a go.

Monday, 22 February 2010

"Don't ever eat the corn dogs!"

The husband and wife management team, Bobby and Paulette, of the Adventureland amusement park inspect the latest consignment of corn dogs. After deciding that they can risk exposing the public to the decidedly off smelling dogs, Bobby calls to one of his employees and instructs him to "Fire em up!"

Welcome to Adventureland. James Brennan has recently graduated from college with a degree in comparative literature, and finds to his dismay that his planned bohemian wanderings across Europe have to be put on the back burner when his parents drop the bombshell, they've run into financial difficulty and can't give him the money. He quickly learns that a degree in comparative literature just ain't cutting it when it comes to Summer jobs. After an exhausted search he finally manages to get a job down at the local amusement park. And so his journey of self discovery begins.

'Life lessons at the Carny'.

Cue a cast of coming of age teenagers working dead end carny jobs. James finds a soul mate in Joel, a lank haired, bespectacled, pipe smoking college graduate with a degree in Russian literature, who views his life through a dark cloud of sarcasm. The apple of James' eye, the summer romance that he'll remember for the rest of his life is Em, played by Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame.

'Just blowin' bubbles. Lisa P'.

However, despite the Favourable reviews for Kristen's part in this film I personally find her hard to get on with, a bit too much biting of the bottom lip, folding of arms, and all that nervous fiddling with her hair drove me to distraction. According to the trivia she was clocked touching her hair 55 times from start of movie to finish.

Stealing the show though was the enigmatic femme fatale, gum chewing, bubble blowing, danceaholic, virgin for life Lisa P. Her and her friend/dance partner operate the park's rides in between bouts of seductive self absorbed dance routines. Lisa P. at one point confides in James that her perfect Summer consists of hanging out by the swimming pool by day and dancing the night away. For those of you out there who know your comics, Lisa P's character reminded me of the 'phonomancer', dance floor starlet with the infinite depths of the cosmos reflected in her eyes, Penny B, from the British indie comic Phonogram: The Singles Club.

Lisa P and her sidekick also reminded me of a couple of girls from my secondary school days, Sharon and Tracy. Very pretty, also bubblegum chewing, self obsessed and well aware of their effect on the boys at school. They had a habit of sunbathing behind the chemistry labs at lunchtime, which may have accounted for the amount of boys volunteering to nurse their science experiments through the lunch break.

Director, Greg Mottola , who was responsible for the comedy film Superbad, did a good job here keeping the movie's teen comedy aspect from sinking the ship into familiar lost the plot territory, the wire walking wavered at times, but in the end the mixture of love story, humour, nostalgic love letter to the 1980s, a sharp script and a great soundtrack should ensure that this film enjoys future cult status.

Talking of the soundtrack, one track in particular gets played over and over again on Adventureland's tannoy system was Falco's 'Rock Me Amadeus'. The Austrian band had a number 1 hit with this track in the UK in 1986, the film is set in 1987. My memory is pretty poor but I do remember buying this as a 12 inch single, which I still have. After buying it I went back to a mates house where we threw the sash window wide open, put the needle on the record, chilled out on the flat roof and periodically nipped back in to play it again and again. At one point in the film James jokingly says that he will stab himself in the ear if he hears it one more time!

On a final note there are a fair few memorable quotes from the film, but one of my favourites is when a girl says to Joel - What are you majoring in?, to which Joel replies "Russian literature and Slavic languages." "Oh wow", she responds, "that's pretty interesting. What career track is that?", Joel dryly responds - " Cabby, hot dog vendor, marijuana delivery guy. The world is my oyster."

'Satellite of Love'

Friday, 19 February 2010

Raleigh Shopper spotter

Alright you got me, I spot, I collect and I'm always on the look out for something to obsess about.

We were a mere 50 meters away from the Games Workshop and my 10 year old son was itching to get in there, its something that he will remember for the rest of his life, the miniature plastic models, Orks with grotesque faces, fantasy figures with medieval clubs, massive canons and guns grafted onto muscle bound torsos, the intoxicating smell of craft glue, spray paint, sweaty teenage boys and take away food.

And yet I held him back short of his goal so that I could take a photo of a rusty old Shopper bike. Poor little chap, he just stared at me in disbelief as I stalked my prey, his dismay turning quickly to irritation as I took photos from every possible angle. And finally an exasperated "Daaaad, that's just plain weird!" Mmmmm, weeell...

The Raleigh Shopper, an icon of the British urban landscape, wraith of many a brutalist 1960s shopping precinct and for many years considered deeply naff, worthy of a hearty giggle as it pootled through the gawping shadows of teetering tower blocks, through the angled conflagrations of grey housing estates whose street names dreamt of warmer climes.

Raleigh's answer to the popular Moulton bicycle reached the height of its popularity in the mid 1970s, and came in many different guises. Recently it has enjoyed a cult revival along with other vintage bikes. So as the 'Fixie' wave brakes with a wash of cheap models window dressing the high street, small fleets of Shopper bikes can now be seen beetling around the campuses of University towns across the land.

They seem to be very popular here in Cambridge, UK, as you can see here I have spotted a few. On our regular trip to the Games Workshop we still encounter the rusty brown Shopper that first caught my attention. My son points it out, saying "Look dad its still there, it hasn't moved."

And he's right, there it sits, unloved, with empty beer bottle chucked in its front wire basket, seeing out its twilight hours behind Pizza Hut as the Saturday shoppers bustle back and forth.

Who owned you, why did they desert you? The stories you could tell if only you could. Soundtrack anyone?, Blondie's 'Atomic' plays to fade, or an alternative top 70s tune of your choice.

Ding - a - ling, Shopper bling!

Lovely bronze BSA Clipper.

Vintage badge of honor.

Perky blue Solitaire with white wall tyres.

... and I heart my retro bell.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Story time for The Nightwing.

Of all the Superman titles in the world of comics that have spent the last year dealing with the repercussions rippling out of the creation of the planet New Krypton, Action Comics and its main characters, the Kryptonians Thara ak - var (Flamebird) and Chris Kent (Nightwing), is the one that has kept me most interested.

Initially the World of New Krypton event was a thrilling new venture for the Superman comics line, but unfortunately it has just been dragging on for far too long. In that time numerous story threads popped up and not all of them led anywhere, most annoying of all, for those of us that completed the arc, was that there was no feeling of completion at the end of the run. At times it felt as though the writers were themselves struggling to bring the floating behemoth into harbor. Anyway, here comes the war, or should that be chapter 2 of W.O.N.K the never ending mega event.

However, as I was saying, I have been enjoying the trials and tribulations of Flamebird and Nightwing in Action comics and also Supergirl in her own title. If I had not been reading all the other Superman titles then my enjoyment of Action comics and Supergirl would not have been the same, so for that reason alone I am glad that I have made it this far in the marathon, standing here on the sidelines as I am with a silver foil blanket draped across my shoulders, re-hydrating, muscles gasping for oxygen as I ready myself for the Krypton - Earth war.

I loved the most recent issue of Action comics, no.887, furthering the back story to the Kryptonian couple, sent to Earth to route out General Zod's sleeper agents. A great chunk of the issue is given over to a Kryptonian history lesson of epic fairytale proportions. The love story of the Flamebird and Nightwing, as old as creation itself, laid down in the book of Rao, the flames of chaos tamed by the stillness of the shadows. The two demi - Gods were meant to be, their love for each-other unparalleled since the beginning of time.

Sadly though, their union was marred by jealousy, hatred and vengeance. All the anger and bitterness was not directed at each other, but instead it came from a third party, a Kyptonian God of creation called Vohc - 'The Builder', no not Bob, or even Vac - 'The Hoover'.

Between The Flamebird and Vohc existed the balancing forces needed for the evolution of their home world. The Flamebird's sole task in life was to renew all that was fallow, scorching the earth with flames that gave way for regeneration and rebirth. Vohc reveled in his skills as a master craftsman/builder, each time improving on his previous efforts in the wake of The Flamebird's spring clean. Working in the hours of twilight he befriended the lonely Nightwing who lived in the shadows and was invisible to all eyes, all except Vohc who felt sorry for The Nightwing.

And so he introduced The Flamebird to Nightwing whose love for each other soon blossomed. As a result Vohc's unrequited love for the Flamebird turned sour, and in an act of revenge against her he trapped Nightwing in a phantom zone, only offering Nightwing's freedom to The Flamebird on the condition that she withdraw her love from him and that they spend the rest of eternity apart.

It would be a shame if the arresting story line of The Flamebird and Nightwing were to peter out in the coming 'War of Supermen' event, this adventure story of young lovers on the run deserves its own title. Each month reveals a little bit more of the mystery that holds these two together. Whatever happens, I'll still be rooting for them.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Snapshot of the garden year

As you can see from this latest addition to the blog, a new photograph taken at work in the college gardens will appear every few days or so in the right hand column. I was using twitter links to fliker for this but I filled up on my quota of free space.

I think it adds something to my blog which claims to be mostly about gardening, but is actually mostly about other stuff, which means I am making the cardinal sin of not sticking to a single subject. But does that result in less readers? What the hey, hope you like the photos.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Batgirl and the machine that goes 'Hummmmmmm'

Note the train graffiti that says 'Jokerz'

In this final chapter of the 'core requirements' arc we get to see bickering twosome, Batgirl and Damien on a rescue mission to save Batman who's bat mobile crashed in the last issue. The high stakes gaming villain, Roulette, tried to take down Batman using a cast of baddies who were competing to see who could get to him first whilst Roulette took bets on the outcome.

Batgirl needs to get to the scene before the precocious Damien does, but without wheels she's looking a bit compromised. Oracle to the rescue. Batgirl is directed to an underground garage far below Oracle's apartment where she finds a set of wheels of a completely different kind.

Looking like a cross between bomber (motorhead sprang to mind), a toboggan and a circus canon, I had a hard job stifling the chuckles. Just before Stephanie 'The Human Cannonball' exits 'Ricochet', as the machine is called, she is seen motoring past a roadside poster advertising 'Gotham Circus'.

How about some extra long sound effects? Canon/bike/bomber getting ready to fire Batgirl - 'sssllllliiiiiddddeeechunk', that's a whopping 25 letters! Or how about the machine that goes - 'Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm', that 23 letters, 1 H, 1 U and 21 M's!!

Damien's bike can only muster 22 letters at full throttle with - 'Wiiinnnnnng-weh-innnnnng'

And finally the sound of Batgirl and Damien sliding down a steeply pitching roof - 'Krrrrruuuuunnnncchhh', 20 letters, not bad!