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Saturday, August 24, 2019

Comic Scene #6 (September 2019)

The partly masked face of Blake Edmonds, star of Death Wish, dominates the cover of the latest issue of Comic Scene, and inside his scriptwriter Barrie Tomlinson relates how the character became a huge success with readers, who followed Blake's adventures through the pages of Speed (8 months), Tiger (53 months) and Eagle (31 months). 

The earliest episodes were collected in one of Rebellion's Treasury of British Comics collections in July and here Tomlinson lays out the history of the character, part Evel Knievel, part Phantom of the Opera. Edmonds staged some of the most death-defying stunts, and took endless risks following a horrific accident that left him hideously disfigured, but Tomlinson left it to the reader to decide whether Edmonds really did have a death wish. Even he admits that the later stories, which pitched Blake Edmonds into the world of the supernatural, were forgettable in comparison to his earlier adventures.

Tomlinson's article gets the latest Comic Scene off to an interesting start in an issue that is itself quite retro in coverage. Articles in this issue include backward looks at characters Grimly Feendish, Harlem Heroes, Hot-Shot Hamish and the Leopard from Lime St. The brief romp through the characters in Hot-Shot Hamish is again by Barrie Tomlinson, celebrating the classic collaboration between Fred Baker and Julio Schiaffino. Irmantas Povilaika, John Farrelly and Peter Gouldson each give a good account of their subjects in the other articles.

Wrapping up the backwards looking, Phillip Vaughan offers the first of a two-part  history of the 'New' Eagle from the 1980s.

We are shortly to see the return of the Vigilant, the much-anticipated follow-up to last year's team-up of old Fleetway characters. If you read my review, you'll see that my biggest complaint was that too many characters appeared across the 24-page story without being introduced... they simply turned up and readers, especially newcomers, might have felt confused or overwhelmed.

I'm pleased to see the new episode might be addressing this, as editor Keith Richardson agrees tahat "we didn't have enough pages to really introduce – or re-introduce – the characters properly ... that's something we've put right in The Vigilant: Legacy."

A good chunk of the issue is taken up with two comic strips, the second part of Lady Flintlock by Steve Tanner & Anthony Summey, a highwayman adventure set in 1751, and the debut of Milford Cross by Samuel George London & Mikael Hankonen, seemingly about a bicycle race through the prettiest village in the British Empire in 1897, but revealed at the end to be an alien invasion story witnessed by a friend of HG Wells.

The review section is, again, superb.

Details about subscriptions can be obtained from www.comicscene.org. Rates for print issues for the UK are £5.99 for one issue; £35 for 6 issues; £68 for 12 issues.You can get a pdf version for £3.99 (1), £22 (6) or £40 (12).

Payment can be made via PayPal to comicsceneuk@gmail.com. For other options, and for international rates for the print edition, visit the website.

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