Sunday, 18 October 2020

Forty years ago today - October 1980.

 Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.

***

You know, a wise man once said, "Get on with it, you moron." So, I will.

Conan the Barbarian #115, Red Sonja

Zukala's back!

And, for reasons I don't recall, he wants to sacrifice Red Sonja.

Obviously, Conan's having none of that.

Except it turns out he's having plenty of that - because Zukala's promised he'll restore Bêlit to life if Conan helps him bump off the warrior woman.

Happily, the barbarian thinks better of it and comes to Sonja's rescue, just in the nick of time.

Not so happily, throughout the tale, Rascally Roy manages to portray Sonja as barely more than another feeble damsel in distress.

Royston, let Sonja kick bottom, for once.

Fantastic Four #223, Salem's Seven

The FF, Agatha Harkness and Gabriel the exorcist have all descended upon Salem, to sort out Agatha's son and free Franklin Richards from his evil possession.

But, before they can do that, they're going to have to deal with the return of the town's very own team of super-villains.

Incredible Hulk #252

Woodgod's gone all High Evolutionary and created a whole community of animal-men for him to lead.

Now, the Hulk's ventured into their midst, in order to rescue Rick Jones and friends from their clutches.

I seem to recall this tale just sort of fizzling out, with the Hulk getting bored of fighting, and leaving.

Amazing Spider-Man #209, Kraven the Hunter

Kraven's gone into retirement, having decided that being a super-villain is unworthy of a man of his principles

Unfortunately, his disapproving girlfriend goads him into making one final attempt to get the better of Spider-Man.

And, of course, it all ends the same way it always has.

Kraven is, however, portrayed in a far more sympathetic light, here, than has traditionally been the case.

Spectacular Spider-Man #47, the Prowler

What's this? Hobie Brown is back and causing limited trouble for our hero again?

As it transpires, he isn't. The Cat Burglar from Amazing Spider-Man #30 has, in fact, returned and is running errands for fashion criminal Belladonna, in Hobie's stolen costume.

Sadly, the man seems to be more of a pathetic dupe than anything and it's not long before his employer's betraying him, in her attempts to bump-off Spidey.

Thor #300

At last, we get an answer to why Odin struck a deal with the Celestials, umpteen zillion years ago - and it all leads to Odin taking over the Destroyer and having a noticeably one-sided fight with the Celestials before Thor has a noticeably one-sided fight with them before Thor's mum turns up, from nowhere, and does a deal with the space giants to make them go away.

This implies, to me, that the solution to any problem is to just have Thor's mum show up.

Back in the real world,  humanity emits a sigh of relief, as a protracted and confusing storyline finally comes to an end.

X-Men #138, Cyclops quits

In the wake of Jean's death, Cyclops quits the team, and Kitty Pryde joins it.

I think this issue's mostly taken up with flashbacks but I could be wrong.

Captain America #250, President?

How very topical. People keep telling Cap he should run for president and, so, he gives it considerable thought before bottling it and deciding it's not his bag, man.

I'm fairly certain this issue contains a flashback to his origin because where would an issue of Captain America be without telling us how he came into being, for the gabillionth time?

Avengers #200

Thor may be celebrating his 300th issue but the Avengers are celebrating their 200th.

And they do it by unravelling the mystery of where Ms Marvel's baby's come from and how it's growing to adulthood at an alarming rate.

As far as I can recall, it's all something to do with Immortus, female abduction, mind-control, gaslighting and dubious weirdness that probably doesn't even make any sense, anyway, when you try to figure it out.

Iron Man #139, Madame Masque

Madame Masque has returned to her life of crime but, fortunately, Iron Man and friends are on hand to put a stop to whatever nefarious schemes she's concocted.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

October 15th, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

 Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.

***

This week in 1980 saw two memorable things happen in the world of British politics.

One was that Margaret Thatcher declared she wasn't for turning.

The other was that Jim Callaghan declared he wasn't for staying. The former prime minister quit his post as leader of the Labour Pary, after having lost the 1979 election.

In retrospect, it seems surprising it took him a full 18 months to get round to doing it but, then, he's the man who helped Captains Britain and America defeat the Red Skull. So, he clearly wasn't a man to give up easily.

Marvel Team-Up #5, The Falcon and Spider-Man

Hooray! Spider-Man teams up with the Falcon, though who the deadly menace is who's forced them to unite, I've no idea.

Similarly, I've not got a clue who anybody else in this issue's up against.

I do know Morbius the Living Vampire has a strip of his own, because the cover tells me so.

I am, however, intrigued by that cover's boast that this issue features, "Imaginary action with Spidey."

Hold on. Does this mean all his other adventures are true?

Failing that, I can only assume it means there's a What If? story involved.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #397

Spider-Man's just discovered the Vulture's the mystery villain who's in the process of taking over all of New York's gangs.

Unfortunately, the information's not likely to do the web-spinner any good, as he's now wrapped in chains and on a conveyor belt that's about to deliver him to a fiery furnace of doom.

Meanwhile, the Hulk and 3-D Man are in the process of smashing-up Uncle Chuck's house.

Frankly, Uncle Chuck only has himself to blame for being the one who invited Bruce Banner into his house and then setting 3-D Man on him. Clearly, this was not the best thought-out plan of all time.

This week's activities of She-Hulk and Spider-Woman are a mystery to me.

Forces in Combat #23, The Golem

I don't know anything about this week's contents but the Golem makes the front cover, which is nice for him.

Empire Strikes Back Weekly #138

Leia and the droids find themselves on a planet filled with delightful butterflies.

But is one of them a hostile shape-shifter sent to spy on them, by Darth Vader?

Elsewhere, thanks to Neal Adams' pencils, Killraven's out to get to the man we know only as The Keeper. But, first, he has to fight his way past a pair of hostile mutants.

And there's yet more of Marvel's adaptation of the first Star Wars movie. Luke Skywalker's just bought himself a brand new droid called R2-D2. But now it's gone AWOL and he has to set off in search of it.

Can it be that it's seeking out old Ben Kenobi?

And for what purpose?

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

The Marvel Lucky Bag - October 1980.

 Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.

***

Three was the number of classic films that were released in October 1980.

Those three were Superman II, The Elephant Man and Private Benjamin.

In fact, so classic were they that I've actually seen them all.

I would say Superman II is my favourite of them and Private Benjamin my least favourite. In fact, I actually preferred the TV spin-off of that movie. I'm not sure what that said about me.

But which of our random assortment of Marvel mags with that cover date am I going to prefer?

Epic Illustrated #3


That's a very striking cover from Paul Gulacy, although my inner pedant compels me to notice the pterosaur wings are anatomically inaccurate.

Admittedly, I only know that from having recently watched too many videos, on YouTube, about the beasts.

My knowledge of this month's contents is less impressive but I do know there's an Elric of Melnibone tale written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Craig Russell, a Jim Starlin story starring Vanth Dreadstar and an Almuric adventure written by Roy Thomas, among the many fantasy-packed tales and features that are crammed into its 100 pages.


Fantastic Four Annual #15, Dr Doom

"Dr Doom lives!" declares the cover, to a shocked world.

And there was me convinced he was dead and would never be coming back.

In fact, I don't know anything about the stories in this annual, other than the Dr Doom tale's drawn by Tom Sutton, which is a revelation that intrigues me. One of comics' great horror artists drawing Doomie is a highly appealing thought.

The main strip, meanwhile, clearly involves Skrulls and Captain Marvel but I don't know to what end.


Hulk Magazine #23

I've included this one purely because that's a striking cover by Walt Simonson. I'm not convinced it's one of his better efforts but it is impossible to ignore.

Inside, we get a tale called A Personal Hell, written by Jim Shooter and drawn by John Buscema who I've no doubt was delighted to find himself inked, once again, by Alfredo Alcala.

We also get a six-page Hulk adventure from Roger Stern and Brent Anderson, and a Dominic Fortune tale bearing the unfortunate title of Moo Over Manhattan.

Either that's a misprint of Moon Over Manhattan or someone's put Howard the Duck in charge of creating story titles.


Marvel Preview #23, Bizarre Adventures 1

I've no idea what goes on in this one but we clearly get a slew of yet more fantasy tales; this time, from the likes of Joe Jusko, John Buscema, Gene Colan, Denny O'Neil and Frank Miller.

Not to mention a Clyde Caldwell cover.


She-Hulk #9

Concerned about her increasing anger-management problems, Jen Walters has decided to have a sample of her blood tested by a renowned scientist.

That scientist is Michael Morbius!

I think we call all guess where that's going to lead.

Meanwhile, Jen's set out to infiltrate a mind-controlling cult and finds herself up against the female power-house that is Ultima.


Micronauts Annual #2

Confounding the expectations of some of us, the Micronauts get their second-ever annual and, thanks to Bill Mantlo, Rich Buckler and Steve Ditko, find themselves up against the peril of the Toymaster.

Haven't I already mentioned him recently? Clearly, you can't keep a good villain down.


Marvel Premiere #56, Dominic Fortune

Dominic Fortune makes his second appearance of the month - and I don't have a clue what he gets up to in it but I do know Dum Dum Dugan shows up at one point.

Wasn't Dominic Fortune originally Atlas Comics' Scorpion?

I have to say, he looks a lot cheerier on that cover than he did in the one issue of his Altas book that I ever read.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

2000 AD - September 1982.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.
 ***
Has there ever been a more emotional month than September 1982?

No, there hasn't.

And the reason for that is it was the month in which someone called Scott Fahlman posted the first-ever emoticons.

Exactly where he posted them - and why - I've no idea. Nor do I have a clue who he was or where he was, but where would the world of the internet be without the ability to post things like 😐, 😭 and👽?

Nowhere. That's where.

The sharp-eyed will have noted that one of those emoticons was an alien.

And that's no coincidence because September 1982 also saw the launch of the organisation known as the United States Air Force Space Command. I don't have any knowledge of what that was but it sounds like something that'd give Space Force a run for its money and make sure those pesky UFOnauts had better watch out.

On the film front, the month saw the release of two movies which attract the attention of the supreme being who runs this blog.

Those are Pink Floyd – The Wall and Amityville II: The Possession. I must confess I've only ever seen the latter of those two movies but have always been frustrated that it never occurred to the producers to call it Amityville II: The Repossession. Could those people not see an open goal when it opened up in front of them?

When it came to music, that month's UK singles chart was dominated by Survivor's Eye of the Tiger although that track was finally dumped from the top slot, in the month's very last week, by Musical Youth and Pass the Dutchie.

It was a similar tale on the UK album chart where Kids from Fame by the Kids from Fame spent nearly the whole month at Number One before being dethroned, right at the death, by Dire Straits' Love Over Gold, giving that band their fourth consecutive multi-platinum selling album.

But what of Tharg and his cast of intergalactic misfits? What were they up to while all this was going on?

Inside the books, we were still getting Robo-Hunter, Judge Dredd, Ace Trucking, The Mean Arena, Rogue Trooper and Tharg's Future Shocks. It would seem Dredd was on the trail of Fink Angel but the Judge Child was causing all kinds of trouble.

Amazingly, the front covers were still going on about the Fruit Gum Mystery. Never has fruit gum mysteriousness been dragged out for so long.

The front of Prog 283, meanwhile, was promising us the chance to see Tharg as we've never seen him before, thanks to something called, "The Shedding." Frankly, the mind boggles. 

2000 AD Prog 280

2000 AD Prog 281, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 282

2000 AD Prog 283

Thursday, 8 October 2020

October 8th, 1980 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

 Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.

***

Do you remember the Austin Metro?

Everyone remembers the Austin Metro.

And this day in 1980 was when they started being able to remember it.

That's because it was then that British Leyland launched its successor to the iconic Mini. According to Wikipedia, the small three-door hatchback made use of much of the Mini's drivetrain and suspension, including its engines. Despite ending up being outlived by the car it was meant to replace, the Metro continued to be in production for 18 years, with over 1.5 million sold in the UK.

Elsewhere, it was good news for the Police. In an arresting feat of commercial supremacy, their LP Zenyatta Mondatta crashed straight in at Number One on the UK album chart, while their track Don't Stand So Close to Me maintained the dominance of the singles chart it had first achieved several weeks earlier.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #396

I could be wrong but I suspect this week's Spider-Man tale may be the one that involves the Vulture's attempts to take over the mobs of New York.

I do know for a near-fact that Iron Man's about to come into conflict with the She-Hulk, in his search for a missing employee of Tony Stark's.

I can say nothing of this issue's other strips but I'm sure the He-Hulk and Spider-Woman are also up to all kinds of mischief.

The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #137

As far as I can make out, both Princess Leia and Darth Vader are still having trouble getting through customs.

Meanwhile, Killraven's still having trouble trying to survive the latest attack from Skar.

Only one of them can survive - and Skar isn't the star of the strip, so I think we can guess which one it'll be.

Elsewhere, we get more from the reprint of Marvel's adaptation of the first Star Wars movie.

And, in our tale of the Watcher, a megalomaniac sets out to destroy an entire galaxy, in order to demonstrate his awesome power, unaware that he and his universe are tiny and are being observed through the lens of a child's microscope.

Forces in Combat #22, King Kull

According to this week's cover, Kull's opponent this week is both crawling and dead. Personally, I'd say it doesn't have a lot going for it.

Still, I'm sure the Valusian king will make a suitable meal of defeating it.

In the 20th Century, Izzy Cohen's been captured by the Japanese, and Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos are invading a remote island in an attempt to get him back.

This is all I know of this epic issue.

The observant reader will have noticed the absence of Team-Up from this week's summary.

That's because it would appear there is no issue this week.

Why it's vanished from the shops of Britain, I've no idea but I do know it'll reappear in the nation's shops, next week.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

The Marvel Lucky Bag - October 1970.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.

***

Do you like films that are both hairy and subterranean?

If so, you loved October 1970, as it saw the release of Trog, the tale of modern-day characters discovering a prehistoric man still living in a cave in England.

I've never actually seen the movie but have heard it mentioned many a time, over the years, and, obviously, it's impossible to escape the suspicion that Atlas Comics' The Brute was based upon it.

But it wasn't all prehistoric shenanigans in the cinemas of the world. For, that month also saw the release of Hammer Horror's Sapphic lust-a-thon The Vampire Lovers, that story of Karnstein carnality in the 19th Century.

On the UK singles chart, October was dominated by Freda Payne, retaining the Number One slot she'd grabbed the previous month with Band of Gold. But, in the very last week of October, she was deposed by Matthews Southern Comfort's Woodstock.

Over on that nation's LP chart, things were far more volatile, with a total of four separate albums managing to claim the top spot during the month.

Those LPs were; Black Sabbath's Paranoid, Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water, Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother and, finally, the compilation album known as Motown Chartbusters Volume 4.

Astonishing Tales #2, Ka-Zar and Dr Doom

It's the second issue of the book that manages to fit both Ka-Zar and Dr Doom between one set of covers.

Ka-Zar's continuing his epic battle with Kraven the Hunter in a tale mostly drawn by Jack Kirby but with added artwork by Marie Severin and Barry Smith.

Meanwhile, far away from the Savage Land, Doom's having problems with his own bandaged duplicate, while the natives of Latveria are revolting.

Is this the end for the Bavarian backstabber?
Sub-Mariner #30, Captain Marvel

Subby discovers wrongdoers have planted a huge bomb in the ocean and will use it to destroy all aquatic life if the world doesn't give them a pile of cash.

Fortunately, both Captain Marvel and Rick Jones are on hand to help the ruler of Atlantis deal with the danger.

Music lovers will be relieved to hear that Rick sings in this issue.

Spoof #1

It's good news for Marie Severin's bank manager, as Marvel launches yet another comedy mag upon the world.

And I must confess it's not one I've ever heard of before.

Apparently, this issue contains a parody of the TV show Dark Shadows but, other than that it existed and was a mix of Horror and Soap, I know nothing of that show.


Clearly in a laughing mood, Marvel launches its second new humour mag of the month.

This time, it's something called Harvey whose cover leads me to assume it's some sort of rip-off of the work of Archie Comics.

I know even less about this one than I do about Spoof but I do know it only lasts for six issues before meeting its demise. So, I assume it doesn't prove to be what you could call a sales blockbuster.

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Fifty years ago this month - October 1970.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon.

***

October 1970 presented us with both good news and bad news from the world of music.

The good was Pink Floyd released Atom Heart Mother which became their first Number One album in the UK, although it only peaked at Number 55 in the United States. It did, however, achieve gold status in both countries and went platinum in Italy. Those Italians clearly liked their Floyd.

Not so happily, Janis Joplin died from a drug overdose and became yet another rock star to die at the age of 27.

Still alive and well was the Soviet author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn who, in that month, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

For those who like to splash around underwater, there were exciting events, as October also saw the discovery of the wreck of Confederate submarine Hunley, off South Carolina. Hunley held the distinction of being the first submarine in history to ever have sunk a ship in warfare.

Avengers #81, the Vision and Scarlet Witch

It's, for me, one of the less memorable of this era's Avengers tales, as our heroes and Red Wolf find themselves up against that bloke with the Dutch name who'll go on to become the leader of Zodiac.

Given the presence of Red Wolf, I'm assuming the villain's inflicting serious ecological damage on Native American land.

In which case, it's a massive disappointment that Tomazooma doesn't show up to teach him a lesson.
Conan the Barbarian #1, Barry Smith

Mitra's teeth! Robert E Howard's greatest creation gets his own comic and Barry Smith gets his chance to shine, as a whole new era begins for Marvel Comics, that of licensed properties.

My memories of this are that there's a dead bigfoot at the beginning of it, a queen with slaves in the middle of it, and a shot of a space-walking astronaut at the end of it. How could you not love it?

And how could you not love that cover? Bazza may not have hit his peak yet but I do have to say that's an image that'd make me want to rapidly liberate a book from its spinner rack.

Captain Amerca #130, Batroc, Porcupine and Whirlwind

What's this? Batroc, the Porcupine and Whirlwind? How on Earth can even the walking flag possibly defeat all three of those at once?

Realistically, he couldn't.

But he does.

Because it's his comic.

If I remember right, there's some villain or other trying to stir up unrest on the campuses of America, and Cap has to deliver a speech to calm down the nation. One where, proving he's not the square we may all have suspected him to be, he declares there's nothing sacred about the status quo.

Either that or he says there's nothing sacred about Status Quo. In which case, he's wrong because there's nothing more sacred than Status Quo.

I have a feeling the promised appearance by the Hulk is a cheat and he's just appearing in a film Steve Rogers is watching in the cinema, just before he goes into another of his moans about being a man out of his time.

Daredevil #69, the Black Panther

This isn't one I remember but the internet informs me Daredevil and the Panther take on a gang called the Thunderbolts while a boy's life hangs in the balance.

Given the presence of street gangs, I shall assume this is another piece of social commentary, to rival that of this month's Captain America.

Fantastic Four #103, the Sub-Mariner

It's a major shock for readers, as Jack Kirby, the man who's drawn every issue of the book from #1 onwards, disappears without trace, to be replaced by the man who draws Spider-Man.

Yes, Jazzy John makes his debut on the strip. His run on it may not be long but some of us still recall it with affection.

Meanwhile, Magneto's scheme to manipulate Atlantis into waging war on New York progresses malevolently.

Incredible Hulk #132, Hydra

Those dastardly blaggards Hydra recruit the temporary services of Jim Wilson.

I'm pretty sure they do it in order to trick him into stealing some secret plans from under Thunderbolt Ross's nose.

And, of course, that, inevitably, brings them into conflict with the Hulk.

And, inevitably, he smashes them to pieces.

But we also nearly get the death of Jim.

And we get a short-lived truce with Thunderbolt Ross.

Iron Man #30

I'm struggling very badly to remember this one but I'm assuming Shellhead's in Japan.

I think there may be some sort of Japanese nationalist stuff going on and, possibly, a robot dragon and a nice old man and his daughter who help our hero defeat the forces of evil.

And computers.
Amazing Spider-Man #89, Dr Octopus

I do believe this is Gil Kane's arrival on the strip.

And, as far as I can remember, it involves everyone thinking Doc Ock's been killed in an exploding plane - only for him to turn up, alive and well, thanks to the protective power of his terrifying tentacles.


Loki's still in Thor's body and threatening the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the Warriors Three - and Sif - have ventured into Mephisto's realm, in order to free the real thunder god from the clutches of the Lord of Evil; possibly, after Odin's banished him there, thanks to Odin being a king-sized numpty who never listens to a word anyone says.