Thursday, 18 October 2018

October 18th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

When it came to news, music and TV, this week of 1978 offered little that was of any interest to me. I shall, therefore, fling myself, head first, into my look at the then-current activities of our favourite comics company.

Star Wars Weekly #37

I've no idea at all as to what happens in this issue but I suspect the depicted space station isn't really going to be in the shape of a human skull and wearing a big hat, and that the way it's portrayed on the cover is mere artistic license by Carmine Infantino.

Regardless, all those floating heads look highly concerned by it, whatever it really looks like.

Mighty World of Marvel #316, Hulk vs Avengers

He might be the star of, "The No.1 T.V. show," but I can only assume the pressure of fame is getting to the Hulk because he's still receiving psycho-therapy from Doc Samson.

Meanwhile, having been trapped there by the Brute, a powerless Reed Richards finds himself in the Negative Zone and facing the senses-shattering terror of Annihilus.

Elsewhere, it would appear that, while defacing American landmarks, the Black Spectre's attempting to recruit Daredevil and the Black Widow.

Recruit them for what purpose, I do not know. For the purpose of defacing American landmarks? If so, it seems a little OTT to be recruiting super-heroes for a job as trivial and petty as landmark defacement.

Not that it makes much odds to me because I don't have a clue who the Black Spectre is.

I do know, though, that Nekra's involved in it all somehow.

And, speaking of Daredevil, this issue also contains a special feature that explains how his cane works.

Elsewhere, Iron Man's battling Mikas and the malevolent machinations of Mr Kline.

And, if all that wasn't enough, it seems we also get the first appearance of the Guardsman, as well.

Super Spider-Man #297, Dracula

It's another issue that's primarily a mystery to me.

However, based on the events of recent weeks, I would assume the Avengers are now in full-blown battle with Kang and his giant mutant coyote creature, in the Wild West and that, in Thor's strip, the thunder god and Hercules are up against Galactus.

Spider-Man and Dracula, meanwhile, are still failing to spot each other, despite being on the same ship at the same time.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

2000 AD - September 1980.

Who can know what magical things were happening in the world in September 1980?

I can.

Because I've got the internet, a thing we couldn't even have dreamt of back then.

Or could we?

Perhaps we could. For, in that very month, the Digital Equipment Corporation, Intel and Xerox introduced the DIX standard for Ethernet, which was the first implementation outside of Xerox and the first to support speeds of 10 Mbit/s.

To be honest, I don't have a clue what that means - I just copied and pasted it from Wikipedia - but it sounds like the sort of event this site could not have come into existence without.

Possibly more comprehensibly, it was also the month in which Hercules the bear - who'd gone missing on a Scottish island while filming a Kleenex advert - was found. It's genuinely astonishing to me to discover that that event was a massive thirty eight years ago. To be honest, it astonishes me even more that I remember it.

"That's all very well," I hear you demand, "But just what would Hercules have been listening to on his Walkman as he rampaged around that island?"

I'm glad you asked because, when it came to the UK singles chart that month, the Number One spot was occupied by just two songs; Feels Like I'm in Love by Kelly Marie and Don't Stand So Close to Me by the Police,

The UK album chart, meanwhile, was somewhat faster moving, with its Number One slot being claimed by Roxy Music's Flesh and Blood, Gary Numan's Telekon, Kate Bush's Never Forever and David Bowie's Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.

When it came to the galaxy's greatest comic, the big news was that, from Prog 178 onwards, Tornado officially met its maker and was removed from the masthead, meaning that 2000 AD returned to its original title for the first time since 1978.

Looking at the cover of Prog 176, I don't have a clue what The Great Human Rip-Off was. I assume it wasn't a precursor to The Great British Bake Off.

Apparently, Prog 178 came with a free badge. I have no memory of ever receiving a badge with any issue of 2000 AD. I now feel proper put out.

Prog 179 saw the Judge Child saga reach Part 24 - and it still wasn't over. They really did know how to drag out those Judge Dredd stories.

2000 AD Prog 176

2000 AD Prog 177

2000 AD Prog 178, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 179, Johnny Alpha

Thursday, 11 October 2018

October 11th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

This week of October 1978 must have been a very dull one to live through, seeing as I can find nothing that happened in those seven days that's of any interest to me whatsoever. I do note, though, that the then-current Doctor Who serial was Douglas Adams' The Pirate Planet, which was the first Doctor Who story I remember thinking was terrible. I think it was the space pirate's robot parrot that put me off.

This means that, as so often, I shall have to seek refuge within the pages of whatever madness and mayhem Marvel UK was giving us that week.

Star Wars Weekly #36

Having said that, I'm not going to find much refuge in this one, as I don't have a clue what happens in it. Nor have I been able to find out via the medium of Google. I am going to guess that Star-Lord and Seeker 3000 are still the back-up strips but have no actual evidence to support that claim.

It's striking, however, that this week's cover trumpets that, "The Empire Strikes!" Obviously, this was a couple of years before The Empire Strikes Back was released. So, does this mean someone at Marvel knew what that film was going to be called, or is the similarity to its title pure coincidence?

Mighty World of Marvel #315, the Hulk vs the original Avengers

Good grief! Look at that! Not only are we told the Hulk is, "Marvel's TV Sensation!" but that he has, "Britain's No.1 T.V. Show!" Marvel UK were clearly determined to milk his new-found fame for all it was worth, even to the extent of being willing to deface the key part of the cover in order to do it.

Of more interest to long-standing Marvel fans is the fact that the tale involves the return of the original Avengers -  presumably, in spirit only - as Doc Samson and the Hulk wander around inside the Hulk's mind, revisiting Bruce Banner's past, which I suspect will turn out to not be a happy one.

Elsewhere, Daredevil comes up against the Beetle.

Meanwhile, the back page features an ad for Mr Kalkitos rub-on transfers of the kind that I'm sure we all played with when we were youthful.

Super Spider-Man #296

I was going to say Spider-Man's still up against Dracula but, of course, as discussed last week, he isn't.

He is, however, trying to find a doctor who's urgently needed for some medical procedure or other.

The big twist is that the doctor the various characters are looking for is a woman! Something that seems to blind-side everyone involved in the tale. Was it really so amazing in 1978 that a doctor would be female? I'm sure there must have been female doctors at the time.

Back in the days when there almost certainly weren't too many female doctors around, the Avengers are in the process of breaking into Kang's HQ in the old Wild West, with the aid of the Two-Gun Kid who, interestingly, habitually refers to himself in his own head as, "Two-Gun," rather than using his real name. I'm not sure what Doc Samson would make of that personality quirk.

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - October 1978.

We in Britain would appear to be encountering a freakish autumn heatwave right now. But one thing's for certain.

And that's that it can't possibly be hotter than whatever it was Marvel was serving up in their less high-profile comics that bore the cover date of this month in 1978.

That hammer-happy chump Thor's still fighting the Invaders, in the belief that they're the bad guys and that Hitler's just misunderstood. If he believes that, there's a tower in Paris I'd like to sell him.

Despite his unenviable condition on the cover, it would appear that Union Jack gains lightning powers from Thor in this issue.

Do they last?

It seems unlikely - but Baron Blood'll be in trouble if they do.

Things aren't going too well for Ms Marvel. She's on the lookout for a missing Daily Bugle reporter but finds herself up against a race of lizard people. From whence they appeared, I could not say.

Marvel's desperate attempt to make a star of Jack of Hearts continues, as he gets a story in Marvel Premiere.

Apparently, it's because we demanded it.

I'm not sure we did.

I can guarantee the artist certainly didn't.

After several issues supplying us with lashings of Star-Lord, Marvel Preview takes a turn for the darker.

It would appear that at least one of the included tales is by Don McGregor who quit Marvel around this time and is thus uncredited.

Marvel Two-in-One celebrates its third annual by teaming up the Thing with Nova.

I must confess to having no idea who the Monitors are but they look like trouble.

Tarzan finds himself in Pellucidar.

Hold on. Isn't that where Doug McClure lives?

I don't have a clue if this comic's any good - nor if Scrappy-Doo's in it - but I suspect the Faceless Phantom will turn out to be the janitor.

I think we can guess which movie's being parodied in this issue.

I genuinely have no idea what's going on in this one but that robot looks like he means business.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

Forty years ago today - October 1978.

Watch out, Jodie Whittaker, Doctor Who may be back on our screens even as this post hits the internet but no one will be watching that because they'll all be too desperate to find out what their favourite Marvel heroes were up to in the comics that were cover-dated October 1978.

Avengers #176

I don't believe I've read this issue but the Grand Comics Database informs me that it features the Avengers battling the marmalising menace of Michael.

Maybe it's just me but I can't help feeling that, "Michael," is not a great name for a super-villain. What will they be up against next? The awesome power of Dave?

Conan the Barbarian #91

It's Conan and Bêlit up against some giant rats in a swamp.

Beyond that, I can say little but it would appear the tale also involves a wrongdoer called Ptor-Nubis who is another villain with a terrible name.

Captain America #226

It's not good news for the star-spangled Avenger as he loses his powers.

I have no doubt that, even without his physical abilities, Cap will still triumph, thanks to his fighting spirit and mental resourcefulness, proving that it may be a serum that made him super but it's always been Steve Rogers' basic character that's made him a hero.

Fantastic Four #199, Dr Doom

I'm trying to remember; is Doom's son a clone of him and does this tale finish with the good doctor residing in a psychiatric institution, as everyone else celebrates the end of his reign and Latveria's transition into a democracy?

Incredible Hulk #228

I do believe this is Moonstone's first ever appearance.

Moonstone is one of those characters I can recognise on sight but whose actual nature I have no recall of.

Is she Russian?

Is she heroine or villain?

Did she turn up later, in The Defenders?
Iron Man #115, the Ani-Men

Hooray! It's the return of the Ani-Men!

I've always had a soft spot for the Ani-Men, even though they're just a bunch of clueless lackeys, barely one step up from the Enforcers.

I do believe that Count Nefaria, Titanium Man, Spymaster and the Unicorn also put in an appearance this issue. Clearly, Shellhead has his work cut out for him this time round.

The Amazing Spider-Man #185, peter parker graduates

Peter Parker graduates from university and, instantly, my interest in his strip vanishes.

Seriously, I've looked at the covers for the next few issues and not one of them rings any kind of bell for me at all. It's amazing how the simple act of leaving an educational establishment could make my favourite super-hero become so completely forgettable to me.

Spectacular Spider-Man #23, the Cyclone and Moon Knight

Speaking of people who are forgettable, the Cyclone makes his wind-swept way back into the Marvel universe in a tale in which Spidey teams up with Moon Knight to tackle the Maggia.

Thor #276, vs thor

The new Thor shows up and, I do believe, makes off with the lovely Sif.

X-Men #114

Back in New York, half the X-Men think the other half of the X-Men are dead, while, in the Savage Land, the missing X-Men are still alive - but won't be for long if Sauron has his way.

Thursday, 4 October 2018

October 4th, 1978 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

This week of 1978 wasn't very noteworthy but I do see that You're the One That I Want  by Hylda Baker and Arthur Mullard was higher on the British singles chart than the Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta original, proving once and for all that it was the definitive and finest version.

And what of the output of Marvel UK in those seven days? Could it match those sky-high standards?

Star Wars Weekly #35

Frankly, despite the cover's demands, I cannot tell you who the space survivor is.

In fact, I can furnish no information at all about the contents of this week's issue but I would assume Star-Lord and Seeker 3000 are still present as the back-up strips.

I do know that the back cover's dominated by a very badly drawn ad for a, "Force Beam," which is clearly a lightsabre rip-off powered by two U2 batteries and available for £2.95.

I do not have a clue what U2 batteries are but £2.95 for a lightsabre sounds like a bargain and a half. Luke Skywalker, eat your heart out.

Savage Sword of Conan #12

This month's lead tale The Abode of the Damned is claimed to be a Robert E Howard tale but I can't claim to have ever heard of it. Does this mean it's a non-Conan story that someone like Rascally Roy Thomas has converted to a Conan story, or am I just displaying an egregious gap in my knowledge?

Mighty World of Marvel #314, the Hulk and Doc Samson

My knowledge of this issue is highly limited but I do know the Hulk's undergoing a good old dose of psycho-therapy at the hands of Doc Samson.

I know, it's amazing how I managed to deduce that just from looking at the cover. I must be some sort of Sherlock Holmes.

Rampage Monthly #4, the Incredible Hulk, crucified, jim starlin cover

Hooray! I have both this and the American original from which the lead strip's reprinted.

If I remember rightly, the Hulk teams up with a wizard to battle an evil witch in a tale drawn by Jim Starlin and Alex Niño, which has to be one of the dreamiest of dream combinations you could ever get in a comic.

Sadly, I can recall nothing of the back-up strips. We may have reached that run of Defenders stories which find the Valkyrie in prison but I cannot guarantee it.

Super Spider-Man #295, Dracula

It's one of the most disappointing comic book tales of my youth. Who wouldn't want to see Spider-Man square up against the lord of all vampires?

Marvel, apparently. From what I can recall, Spider-Man and Dracula never actually meet in the tale and, although drawn by my favourite Spidey artist Ross Andru, it's inked by Dashing Don Heck who I must confess is not my favourite inker of all time.

As for the rest of this issue's contents, I have little to reveal but I do know that, unusually for a Marvel UK weekly, the back cover features the last page of the issue's final strip, which is that week's Thor tale. On that page, Galactus dramatically decides that it is time for him to once more visit the Earth!

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

The Marvel Lucky Bag - October 1968.

Set, yon sun, and lower the veil of autumn's full darkness upon my evening. I care not, for my gaze is fixed upon other things. Things with covers and drawings, whose faces bear the date of this moon of one half-century ago.

What treasures will I find within?

Dr Strange #173, Dormammu

Yet again, Dormammu's foiled in his attempts to invade our world, thanks to his vow to not invade our world.

It sounds to me like it was a plan that was never in danger of going anywhere.

Captain Marvel #6

Mar-Vell finds himself up against Quasimodo and someone called Solam.

I'm assuming Solam's the large gentleman on the cover. I can say nothing of him or of this story, as I've never heard of him and, therefore, must assume I've never read the tale.

Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, Scorpio

The cover presents us with another exercise in graphic design from Jim Steranko, although I must confess I don't think it's one of his better ones.

Not that that matters because It seems this is the issue in which we discover the true identity of Scorpio.

Am I misremembering or is he revealed to be Nick Fury's brother?

Also of significance is that this issue features a letter from a youthful reader called Don McGregor. I would be so happy if I found out it's incredibly long and wordy.
Silver Surfer #2, the Badoon

Forget the Skrulls and the Kree. We don't need them anymore because the galaxy-grappling Badoon make their debut.

It's not particularly bad news for the Surfer who I remember having no massive difficulty in dispatching them. It is, however, bad news for humanity who shall later come to know the tyrannical rule of the tongue-flicking space reptiles.

The Tales of the Watcher back-up strip is The Coming of the Krills, which, despite its title, has nothing to so with homicidal prawns but is the dread tale of a man who agrees to turn off Earth's defences when would-be alien invaders offer him the most beautiful woman in the universe.

Needless to say, it doesn't turn out well for him and we all learn a valuable lesson we'd be wise to take heed of.

Sub-Mariner #6, Tiger Shark

Namor decides to sort out Tiger Shark who, I think, may at this point have taken over leadership of the now-homeless Atlanteans.

He's probably also decided to take Dorma as his bride, what with her being, seemingly, the only eligible woman in the whole of Atlantis.

Pussycat #1

Wait! What is this new and strange madness? A rude comic written by Stan Lee and Larry Lieber and published by Marvel? How have I been previously unaware of this?

It would appear to be a one-off collection of strips that had been produced for men's adventure magazines. Of its contents, I can say little but I'm sure it's all too cheeky and unsuitable for my young eyes.

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