COMICS Alastair Mabbott

As they say, you can‘t keep a good man down, and when that man is seven feet tall. with emerald skin and rippling muscles that could stop a tank. then it‘s even harder to put him in his place. Nevertheless, it‘s something of a surprise to see The Incredible Hulk Returns (New World Video). a full seven years after mild-mannered Bill Bixby and alter-ego Lou Ferrigno hung up their ripped trousers. seemingly for good.

The new feature-length one-off finds David Banner living at peace with himself. untroubled by secret identities and intrepid reporters, until all is shattered by the appearance of Donald Blake, whom Marvel readers will remember as Thor’s secret identity. Only. in this case. Blake (played by Steve Levitt) faintly resembles Gene Vincent, and begins his life story with the immortal line. ‘You remember I always had this thing for Viking culture?‘.

For. yes. Blake can call into existence the mighty god Thor at will. This Thor calls to mind a Viking Jesse Rae far more than the Marvel Comics character, and is of such airheaded machismo that he only feels at home while scrapping with a green beast that makes him look like a 9(ilb weakling and when making


merry in that earthly equivalent of the halls of Valhalla, the biker bar. Blake burns to know why Odin wills that his son should walk the earth instead ofjoining him in the kingdom of the gods. The answer is staring him in the face. Thor is a prize jerk, but steals every scene in the picture. At least he breaks the formula that made the original Hulk series less and less interesting as it progressed.

All successes breed imitations. and the staggering success of Viz has thrown up Galaxy Publications‘ Brain Damage, a similar vat of scatological obsession which for all the eminence ofsome of its contributors (including Ray Lowry, Martin Honeysett and Larry, all apparently having off days) tries too hard to be as ‘outrageous‘ as its predecessor. A grown-up’s Oink! would be closer to the mark, but few of the strips show the sparkle of that comic. and several virtually go over the same ground as ones you‘ve read only a few pages previously. One possible exception is Hunt Emerson and Tym Manley’s ‘Arsover Tit‘ (groan), but that’s only two pages long. Certainly, if Brain Damage

wants to topple Viz from its pedestal,

its creators will have to do something about the grotesque cover adorning the dummy issue.


Mike Calder surveys the SF and Iantasy scene and lists his Top Ten of 1988.

I Sleeping in Flame Jonathon Carroll (Legend £11.95/.£5.95)

I Mona Lisa Overdrive William Gibson (Gollanez £11.95)

I Meirophage Richard Kadrey (Gollancz£l 1.95)

I The Falling Woman Pat Murphy (Headline £2.95)

I The Gold Coast Kim Stanley Robinson (McDonald £11.95)

I The Shore oi Women Pamela Sargent (Pan £3.99)

I Deserted Cities oi the Heart Lewis Shiner (Paladin £3.95)

I Islands in the Net Bruce Sterling (Legend £1 1 .95/£5.95)

I Best New SF 2 ed. Gardiner Dozois (Robinson £5.95)

I The Jaguar Hunter Lucius Shepherd (Paladin £5.95)

I Aegypt John Crowley (VGSF £3.95) First in a new quartet from the author of‘Little. Big‘. this one explores a secret history of the world, which involves Hermetic concepts ofphilosophy. the history ofscience. and medieval theology. Heavy going at times. but worth staying with.

I Millennium Ben Boya (Methuen £11.95)A sequel to ‘Kinsman'. set in 1999 in twin US and Soviet moonbases as the political climate changes and nuclear war threatens. Competent hard SF thriller.

by Henry Morton Illustrated throughout in black & White £10.95 Hardback

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The List 23 Dec 1988— 12 Jan 1989 61