Thursday, 20 July 2017

July 20th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

As I write this deathless prose, I'm watching an episode of Star Trek in which Lieutenant Uhura is singing.

Faced with such terror, I have no recourse but to flee into the past. In fact, I'm going to flee so far into the past that I'm going to run face-first into 1977 and the wondrous comics that reside within that epoch.

But what will those comics contain? What?

Super Spider-man and Captain Britain #232, Kraven

It would seem, from my in-depth research, that this issue reprints part of the Defenders tale in which Thor battles the Hulk, in pursuit of the Evil Eye. I remember being very frustrated that, as always, their battle proves inconclusive.

But, from inconclusive to non-concluding. The Fantastic Four are still tangling with the Mole Man, Kala and Tyrannus, in a story that seems to have been dragging on since the beginning of the universe. It's odd that I have no memory of it feeling so interminable at the time.

Is the Manipulator that man who wanted to take over an African country with the aid of the Queen and the Royal Navy? What a bounder.

Mighty World of Marvel #251, Dracula and the Hulk

Dracula's getting stuck into his nuptials. I'm assuming the lucky woman is Domini.

As for the Hulk, I get the feeling this is the story in which Jarella meets her maker.

Didn't Thor fight the Crypto-Man straight after discovering the origin of Galactus, towards the end of Jack Kirby's run? I believe Kirby's plan was for Thor and Galactus to team up to fight the robot but Stan Lee nixed that and Thor had to tackle him alone.

Quite why Galactus would have wanted to fight Crypto-Man and why he would have needed Thor's help to do it, I have no idea.

Marvel UK, Fury #19

Just six more issues to go before Marvel UK's newest mag finds that, for it, the war is over.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

2000 AD - June 1979.

Today has been a pivotal moment in the history of humanity, with the announcement of a female Doctor Who.

Obviously, this has caused some consternation amongst the ranks of those who can't believe a woman can master the inherently male skill set of walking up and down corridors, holding a screwdriver and recklessly endangering everyone around them.

To me, it seemed a logical development after fifty three years of the part being played by men. It's a bit hard to claim the magic of the the show is that it keeps changing, if it doesn't really change any more than it has to.

Now all they have to do is make new showrunner Chris Chibnall regenerate into someone whose every Doctor Who and Torchwood script hasn't left me wanting to tear my brain out and bash it against the wall, in soul-destroyed torment, and they'll have it sorted.

But, if July 2017 is a pivotal moment in history, it's nothing compared to June of 1979, which gave us not one but two equally ground shaking moments.

The first was that McDonalds introduced the Happy Meal.

And the second was that Bryan Allen flew the pedal-driven Gossamer Albatross across the English Channel, which, if I remember correctly, was the first time a human-powered machine had flown across that stretch of water. What a grand new era of aviation it ushered in and, within ten years, we were all flying around in our own personal leg-powered planes.

Hold on a minute. We weren't doing that.

And we still aren't doing it.

Whatever happened to pedal-powered planes and how come I never heard of the concept ever again? Those things could fly across the Channel. Surely that was enough to make them catch on? Think of the saving in air fares and jumbo jet petrol.

While we contemplate that dread thought, it's probably best to look at what the galaxy's greatest comic was up to in that month of that year.

It seems there were interesting developments afoot.

For a start, in Prog 116, we get to meet Judge Dredd's niece Vienna. I must confess I have no memory at all of her but I assume she was named after Rigsby's cat in Rising Damp, as it was too early for her to be named after the Ultravox song. If she was Dredd's niece, does that mean she was Rico's daughter?

Prog 119 sees the start of Disaster 1990, a prequel to Invasion which also stars Bill Savage. But this means that Bill Savage had to live through a disaster and an invasion? He wasn't exactly what you'd call lucky, was he?

That issue, we also get the first appearance of the ABC Warriors, although weren't the ABC Warriors just the Ro-Busters by another name?

Finally, in Prog 119, we get a tribute to the latest James Bond flick Moonraker. I must confess that Moonraker was the first Bond movie I can recall not liking, as it was far too jokey for my tastes and I didn't like that Jaws was a good guy and was having a romance with his own personal Harley Quinn. With that film, I felt the makers were dismantling all the epic awesomeness of The Spy Who Loved Me (surely the greatest movie ever made), right before my eyes. I can't even remember the theme tune. That's how bad it was.

2000 AD, Prog 115, Dan Dare and the Mekon

2000 AD, Prog 116, Johnny Alpha

2000 AD, Prog 117, Judge Dredd

2000 AD, Prog 118, Johnny Alpha

2000 AD, Prog 119, Roger Moore

Thursday, 13 July 2017

July 13th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

All I can say is that this is a very exciting day for me.


Because, as of this week in 1977, the demise of Captain Britain's mag meant Marvel UK were only publishing three titles a week, meaning I now have to do less writing than I previously had to in order to complete these posts.

Granted, some might argue that this meant Marvel UK was dicing with death at this point in its history and that that was therefore a bad thing but I am, of course, determinedly reprehensible and therefore only care about myself.

So, let's see what they had to offer us in this thrilling new era of laziness.

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #231

It's the team-up we've all been dreaming of, as Captain Britain's strip joins the pages of Super Spider-Man.

I have to confess it wasn't what I'd dreamed of. I was thoroughly fed up of Captain Britain by this point, with his talk of jubilees, empires and commonwealths, and his silly flying stick and his foes with monocles. To be honest, I really couldn't wait for him to go away.

I mean, if he'd been called Captain Sheffield, it would have been different. All his talk of subsidised bus fares, underpasses, dual carriageways, roundabouts, pigeons, ferrets, malfunctioning fountains, Rotherham's status as an independent town, the M1 and Synth-Pop would have been endlessly fascinating to me.

Mighty World of Marvel #250, Hulk and Dracula

I don't recall too much about this issue but I was a big Hulk fan and I loved Marvel's Dracula strip and I was a big admirer of Daredevil's underpowered but lively antics, so have no doubt at all that I enjoyed this comic very much.

Was Captain Marvel still in the book in this period?

If so, that would have made me love it even more.

Marvel UK, Fury #18

The great news for me is that there are just seven more weeks of Fury to go, which'll soon make my life on this blog even easier.

The bad news is it means there are only eight more weeks to go before Fury and his commandos join the pages of Mighty World of Marvel.

Captain Britain in Super Spider-Man? The Howling Commandos in Mighty World of Marvel? Was there to be no end to my torment in this era?

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Forty years ago today - July 1977.

As I type these words, it's the present.

And that can only mean one thing.

It's not the past.

But there was a time when the past was the present and the present was the future.

That time was forty years ago.

Granted, it was also any time at all in the entire history of the universe.

However, acknowledging that wouldn't give me an excuse to look at what Marvel Comics was up to forty years ago. So, it's best I draw a veil over that fact and plough on with my plunge into nostalgia.

Avengers #161

My memory of this story is that Ant-Man gives the Avengers' butts a good kicking with his awesome ant powers.

Whether that's what really happens, I couldn't guarantee, although I do remember him giving Iron Man serious problems by sending ants inside his armour.

Is Jocasta involved in this story? Is Ultron involved? I have a feeling they might be but I could be talking rubbish.

Captain America and the Falcon #211

I'm not sure what happens in this one but Arnim Zola seems to be involved.

You can't help feeling Cap must be fed up of Nazis by now. Thirty two years after the war ended, and they still won't go away.

Fantastic Four #184, the Eliminator

I remember liking this one. I do believe that nice man's kidnapped Agatha Harkness and that it all leads our heroes to Salem and civic witchcraftery beyond mortal comprehension.

Incredible Hulk #213, Quintronic Man

It's another one that I remember!

I also recall the Quintronic Man being a terrible idea for a means to tackle the Hulk, as it never made any sense to have five different people controlling one robot. I also remember them as not being the highest quality individuals anyway.

Iron Man #100

Iron Man hits the Big One Hundred.

Apparently, the Mandarin is present for this story but I don't know just what he gets up to.

I do detect a Jim Starlin cover though.

Thor #261

I really don't have a clue what's going on in this one either. It vaguely reminds me of that story where our heroes find themselves on an enormous planet full of giants with a vacuum cleaner that Hoovers up planets. However, I know it's not that one, as we've already done it.

Conan the Barbarian #76

Conan's nothing if not an iconoclast.

I'm sure he'd tell us that himself if it didn't have more than two syllables.

Daredevil #147

I don't think I've ever read this one.

Spectacular Spider-Man #8, Morbius

I'm not totally sure what happens inside but I am certain that's a Paul Gulacy cover.

I believe Morbius may be possessed by the Empathoid who makes him do bad things.

Admittedly, I'm not convinced Morbius needs to be possessed in order for him to do bad things.

Thinking about it, I believe that's the only Paul Gulacy artwork I've ever seen that doesn't involve Shang-Chi.

Amazing Spider-Man #170, Dr Faustus

Dr Faustus is doing the, "Convince Spider-Man he's going mad," routine that's normally left to Mysterio.

I did always like Faustus. I like a villain with brains, even if he doesn't have the brains to realise that a man of his talents doesn't need to commit crimes to make a fortune.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

July 6th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

It's time to restring our rackets and stock up on Pimm's because, in this week of 1977, Virginia Wade won Wimbledon. What an unlikely thing it was for a British tennis player to win that competition and how certain we were that we'd never see a Brit emulate that feat ever again for as long as we lived.

But what of the stars of our favourite mags that week? Were they having a late rally? Were they giving their foes a backhand smash? Or was it simply game, set and match for the heroes of Marvel UK?

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #39, final issue

Virginia Wade winning Wimbledon, and now Captain Britain sharing a cover with the Queen in her Silver Jubilee year? Could this week possibly get any more British?

Capturing the zeitgeist as it did, it's no wonder the comic was a massive success and destined to last for many decades to come and...

...Wait? What's that? This is his last ever issue and, from next week onwards, he'll have to settle for being a half-hearted back-up strip in Spider-Man's mag before being scrapped completely? Did this nation have no appreciation for all he did for us?

Mighty World of Marvel #249, Hulk and Dracula Lives

I recognise that man with the horns and I recognise that man without the face. The trouble is I'm struggling to recall just why I recall them and just what it was they did that made them so recollectable to me.

I'm taking it, from the cover, that we've reached the period in which Drac gets mixed up with a Satanic cult and gets himself a wife, a love-life and a son. You never saw Christopher Lee getting up to that kind of thing.

Super Spider-Man and the Titans #230, the Tarantula

The cover rings a bell but the story doesn't.

But we have just one more week to go before the word, "Titans," no longer adorns the front of Marvel UK's second-longest running comic.

Marvel UK, Fury #17

Speaking of disappearing titles, there's just eight more issues left before Fury suffers the same fate as Captain Britain's mag.

But, hold on. Does this mean that, soon, Marvel UK will be down to just two mags a week? How come I never noticed at the time just how close to extinction the once magnificent enterprise was venturing?

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

The Inhumans TV trailer.

If there's anything the world needs more of right now it's adaptations of comic books. Why, there are barely any films or TV shows being made nowadays that are based on the adventures of people from Super-Hero Land.

And so it is that, to fill this massive gap in the market, this September, ABC and Marvel are going to be giving us their TV version of The Inhumans.

As we all know, Marvel have been keen to make the Inhumans a thing for some time now, in an attempt to make them fit the hole created by the rights to the X-Men belonging to Fox. For the last couple of seasons, they've shoe-horned the concept into the Agents of SHIELD show, which is obviously a great idea, as so many people watch Agents of SHIELD.

This in mind, can the new show possibly replicate the success of Fox's X-Franchise?

I have to say that looks very very dull, with nothing at all in it that would make me want to watch it.

An obvious failing is that it presents us with nothing that even vaguely resembles characterisation from its cast. Only one character - who I assume is Maximus the Mad - even gets anything to say, while everyone else just sort of stands around.

This is possibly not a surprise. Admittedly, I don't know what the Inhumans are like in their comic book form these days but, back when I used to read their adventures, they basically had no personalities at all and were just a bunch of super-powers on legs. In fairness, the trailer gives the impression that that policy's been adhered to. I also have to say that, while I'm no expert on acting, the bloke playing Maximus doesn't strike me as being the greatest thespian that money can buy.

I've also seen criticism of the CGI and it doesn't exactly look epic but, let's face it, no one with any sense watches a drama for the CGI, so I don't care about that.

On the plus side, Crystal has the black, bandy, circle thing going on with her hair.

On the negative side, Medusa's hair seems to have no life in it whatsoever.

Come to think of it, do we even get to see any of the Inhumans, apart from Black Bolt and Lockjaw, use their powers?

So, having seen the trailer, I do fear the worst.

But who knows? Perhaps, in a groundbreaking move, they've brilliantly left out the good bits in order to surprise us all when it's finally broadcast. Only time and the Terrigen Mists will tell...

Sunday, 2 July 2017

Fifty years ago this month - July 1967.

In this month of 1967, colour TV arrived in Britain with BBC Two's broadcasting of that year's Wimbledon. I have a feeling David Attenborough may have been responsible for that, in his role as Channel Controller.

Needless to say, I saw that move for the gimmick it was and still insist to this day on watching all television in black and white and listening to all music in mono.

Sadly, Marvel UK had yet to be invented at that time and so, if I'd been reading super-hero comics back then, I'd have had no choice but to read them in colour. Where will this rampant march of out-of-control technology ever end?

Daredevil #30, Thor

It's that classic issue in which Matt Murdock wears his dark glasses under his Daredevil mask under a Thor mask. Where on Earth do these people get their masks from?

Come to think of it, wasn't he also pretending to be Mike Murdock while he was doing it? It's madness! total madness!

Fantastic Four #64, the Sentinel

It's one of my faves, as the FF go full-on Däniken and the Kree Sentry makes his island-shattering debut.

I love this story and, as I've said on here before, I do always feel it should have been in Origins of Marvel Comics as the second FF tale, instead of the Thing vs Surfer story they actually used.
Amazing Spider-Man #50

It's yet another classic, as Spidey throws his costume in the bin and retires forever from fighting crime.

I believe the Kingpin makes his debut in this story as well. How could anyone not love Spider-Man in this era?

Strange Tales #158, Dr Strange and the Living Tribunal

I don't know what's going on but I know this is the second ever appearance of the Living Tribunal, him having made his debut in the previous issue.

I never really understood why he had a body. He would have been much better as just a floating head.

Thor #142, the Super Skrull

It's the battle we all wanted to see, as Thor tackles the Super-Skrull.

I'm struggling to recall how the fight turned out, or even why they were fighting but I suspect it didn't end happily for Skrully.

X-Men #34, Tyrannus

Hooray! It's the return of Tyrannus, the Marvel villain who I feel most closely resembles me.

I'm not totally sure who the big metal man is.

Whoever he is, he's no Mogol.

Now I'm depressed by remembering the fate of Mogol.

Poor old Mogol. Will we ever see his like again?

Tales to Astonish #93, Hulk vs Silver Surfer

It's my favourite Marie Severin drawn Hulk tale as Hulkie gets his bottom spanked by the cosmic complainer.

I remember Marvel UK waiting until well into the Herb Trimpe era before finally letting us see this tale. Bearing in mind its awesomeness, it's always baffled me that they took so long to publish it.

I would assume it was because they were waiting until we'd been introduced to the character in their Fantastic Four reprints, but such logic didn't prevent them reprinting the Hulk's first meeting with the Inhumans long before those characters made their debut in the FF's strip.

Tales of Suspense #91, Iron Man

Didn't the monstrous Crusher have something to do with Fidel Castro? Wasn't he a wrestler who weighed too much for his own good?

Then again, perhaps he was a scientist who weighed too much for his own good.

Or perhaps there were two Crushers and one was a wrestler and one was a scientist?

Avengers #42, Diablo

Diablo's still causing trouble for our heroes and still using technology that it makes no sense for Diablo to be using.

Aw, who cares? We get to see Hercules fighting Dragon Man and that's what we really pay our money for.

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