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Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Speak Your Brain! Part XIX.

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

The Steve Does Comics Megaphone
Image by Tumisu
from Pixabay
Once more we're into the second half of a month and once more the day's a Tuesday.

That can mean but one thing.

That I've run out of ideas and it's time for the thrilling return of the greatest feature to hit the Internet since I stole it from Back in the Bronze Age. It's the one in which the first person to comment gets to decide what the rest of us should discuss.

It could cover almost any subject; be it sport, art, films, books, cooks, music, mucous, fairy tales, fairy lights, fairy cakes, myth, moths, magic, murder, mystery, mayhem, May Day, sofas, sodas, sausages, eggs, whisky, broth, Bath, Garth Marenghi, Garth Brooks, Bruno Brookes, Bruno Mars, Mars Bars, wine bars, flip-flops, flim-flam, flapjacks, see-saws, flowers, flours, bread bins, bin bags, body bags, bean bags, cola, pancakes, pizzas, sci-fi, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi, horror, sewage, saunas, suet, Silurians, Sontarans, sins, suns sans or sandcastles.

It might not be any of those things.

Only you The Reader can decide.

Sunday, 16 January 2022

2000 AD - December 1983.

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

Michael Jackson was not like other boys.

I know that because he said so in his video for Thriller.

And he did it, this month, in 1983.

It's true. That very mini-movie was first aired on MTV, right then and there and, no doubt, enlivened the life of anyone who had the soul for getting down.

In the world of politics, Brunei wasn't only getting down, it was getting out and about. That's because, that very December, it gained independence from the United Kingdom.

It does strike me how many times, during the history of this feature, I've typed the words, "...gained independence from the United Kingdom." Bearing in mind that, even in the 1960s, I thought of the British Empire as being a thing from ancient history, it's startling just how many places were still gaining independence in the 1980s.

As you'd probably expect, cinemas, that month, saw the release of a whole slew of movies. Among the most celebrated were Christine, Scarface, Terms of Endearment, Yentl and Silkwood. Of those, I've definitely seen Christine. I'm not sure if I've seen Scarface. Is that the one with the chainsaw? The other three movies, I've definitely never seen.

On the UK singles chart, while all that was going on, things were very calm, as there was only one Number One in the whole of December.

And that was Only You by the Flying Pickets, the acapella cover of the Yazoo song, which proved mighty enough to see off challenges from both Paul Young's Love of the Common People and Slade's My Oh My.

On the British album chart, meanwhile, there was better news for Paul Young who started off the month tightly gripping the top spot, with his No Parlez LP.

But even that had to make way for the towering juggernaut that was Now That's What I Call Music by my favourite act Various Artists.

As the lack of digits at the end of that title suggests, it was indeed the very first of the series that's still going strong, to this very day.

Also still going strong is the galaxy's greatest comic, though, somewhat predictably, it was, at the time, giving us Judge Dredd, Sláine, Nemesis the Warlock, Tharg's Future-Shocks, Rogue Trooper and Strontium Dog. It would appear, from that December's covers, that Mega-City's finest were finding themselves up against a plague of dinosaurs.

And, if dinosaurs weren't enough to keep us all happy, we had the chance to win the Activision video games that'd make our Christmas complete. 

2000 AD, Prog 345, Strontium Dog

2000 AD, Prog 346, Judge Dredd

2000 AD, Prog 347

2000 AD, Prog 348, Tharg

2000 AD, Prog 349, Nemesis the Warlock

Thursday, 13 January 2022

January 13th 1982 - 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
***

A wise man once remarked, "Do not despise the snake for having no horns. For who is to say that snake will not, one day, grow up to be... ...a dragon?"

That man was Burt Kwouk and he was, once more, visiting our TV screens on this night in 1982, thanks to BBC Two repeating the very first episode of The Water Margin, that tale of 108 Chinese warriors who did something or other so impressive the Japanese made a TV show about it and the BBC bought it.

That was certainly very thrilling but, for those who preferred pursuits more sedentary than the martial arts, there was also good news, as this was the week the Commodore 64 was launched. So mighty was it that it would go on to become the best-selling personal computer of all time.

It was clearly a success story that could warm the coldest of cockles and, right then and there, the people of Britain needed their cockles warming because, right across the realm, temperatures were plunging to nightmare lows.

So bad was it that −27.2 °C was recorded in Aberdeenshire, equalling the UK record previously set there in 1895.

Not having to worry about the cold was Mark Thatcher, son of Margaret, who managed to disappear in the Sahara desert, during the Paris-Dakar rally.
 
When it came to the UK singles chart, there was a change at the top, that week, with Bucks Fizz's classic The Land of Make Believe finally displacing the Human League.

But it wasn't all bad news for the synth-happy band, as their Dare LP was still ruling the UK album chart.

For any who may care, these are the other tracks that I approved of on that week's British singles chart:

Don't You Want Me - the Human League

I Could Be Happy - Altered Images

It Must Be Love - Madness

The Model/Computer Love - Kraftwerk

Young Turks - Rod Stewart

Being Boiled - the Human League

Golden Brown - the Stranglers

Bedsitter - Soft Cell

Cambodia - Kim Wilde

Under Pressure - Queen and David Bowie

Tainted Love - Soft Cell

I Go to Sleep - the Pretenders

The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum) - the Fun Boy Three

The Voice - Ultravox

Waiting on A Friend - the Rolling Stones

And 

Joan of Arc - Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark

And, should you wish to investigate the topic further, that chart can be found here.

While the associated album chart is located here.

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #462

It would appear that, this time, Spidey finds himself confronting the Speed Demon - previously the Squadron Sinister's Whizzer who, not unreasonably, has decided he needs a name change.

To celebrate that name change, he goes on a stealing spree which leads to a confrontation with the wall-crawler in a department store.

There's also a one-page pin-up dedicated to the Molten Man.

And, of course, we get the chance to win a Raiders of the Lost Ark T-Shirt.

Marvel Classics Comics #8, Robinson Crusoe, Marvel UK

Marvel gives us its adaptation of Robinson Crusoe, from the pens and pencils of Doug Moench, Sonny Trinidad and the Tribe.

Captain America #47, Marvel UK

It would seem Cap's still trying to rescue that girl from that castle and, on top of all the other weirdness that's breaking out, he now has to contend with doorknobs that can turn into serpents.

Thor's in this issue too but I don't have a clue what he's up to.

But I do know we get a Fantastic Four pin-up.

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

The Marvel Lucky Bag - January 1982.

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

Mere days ago, I scrutinised what Marvel's big hitters were doing in the comics that bore the cover date of this month in 1982.

But what of their other heroes?

The ones no one cares about? What was a random sampling of them up to?

The Dazzler #11, Terrax

I don't know what transpires in this adventure but it's obvious the Dazzler has to confront the power of Terrax, which, you'd have thought, is going to be a very short fight.

But, if Terrax is involved, that means Galactus must be too.

And, indeed, he is.

At least if the cover's to be believed.

Power Man and Iron Fist #77, Daredevil

My most recent post made mention of the fact that Iron Fist and Power Man are guest-starring in this month's Daredevil.

And what do you know? The man without fear's returning the compliment in their mag.

It would seem a young Russian ballet star's besotted with her American co-star but international politics - and two bodyguards - are stood in the way of romance.

So, our trio of heroes try to help out and find themselves accidentally performing in a ballet, as they battle the bodyguards.

Meanwhile, in a development we've all demanded, Foggy Nelson gets to tap dance.

ROM #26, Galactus

Galactus is a busy man. Not only is he mithering the Dazzler, he's also bothering ROM - because he's out to eat the space knight's homeworld.

Obviously, our hero can't allow that to happen. So, he confronts the interplanetary glutton and offers him a far better meal, instead.

The Dark Nebula of the Dire Wraiths!

Crazy Super Special 1982

Crazy gives us 84 pages of unbridled hilarity, including, it would seem, a send-up of the X-Men.

Micronauts #37

The Micronauts are showing a remarkable amount of staying power, having now reached their 37th issue - and they still have over 20 left.

How much of this is down to their own appeal and how much is down to the never-ending parade of guest stars the book seems to have, I cannot say.

This time out, the tiny titans, somehow, find themselves in the X-Men's Danger Room and are soon assisted by Nightcrawler in confronting their latest foe.

The Savage She-Hulk #24

I don't have a clue what that thing on the cover is but it's certainly intriguing enough to make me want to buy the book.

According to the Grand Comics Database, She-Hulk's attacked by Ralphie's most powerful mutation yet - the Earth-Lord.

I don't know who Ralphie is.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Walters finally accepts that his daughter's the She-Hulk.

I assume this means he's finally going to stop trying to kill her.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Forty years ago today - January 1982.

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

Brace yourself, dear Reader. For it is time, once more, for me to defy time itself and leap forward into the past.

Avengers #215, The Molecule Man.

As far as I can remember, the Silver Surfer manages to unleash the deadly menace of the Molecule Man upon the planet.

Fortunately, the Avengers are soon on the scene, to tackle the valency-violating villain.

Not so fortunately, they don't do so well against him.

And Tigra's picked the very worst time to have a psychological meltdown.

Conan the Barbarian #130

I do believe Conan's in far-off Khitai and still helping the wife of his old friend take on an evil sorcerer.

Long-time readers will not be startled to discover the barbarian is triumphant in all his battles there.

Even the one against a magical female ninja.

Daredevil #178

Daredevil discovers three really is a crowd, when Iron Fist and Power Man show up and cramp his style.

They've been hired by Foggy to protect a stooge who's agreed to prove the link between a new mayoral candidate and the Kingpin.

Speaking of whom, while all this is going on, Kingie's having a meeting with Elektra about the prospect of him hiring her.

Fantastic Four #238, John Byrne and Dr Doom

Here's a twist no one saw coming.

Mostly because it's extremely unlikely.

This month, it turns out Johnny's girlfriend Frankie also has flame-based powers.

But how?

That's just it. She doesn't recall.

However, as her memories return, she realises she gained them by accident when her stepfather Phineas Horton tried to revive his World War II creation the original Human Torch.

Incredible Hulk #267. Glorian

Bruce, Rick and Betty decide to return to Bruce's old cave in the desert, in order to work, yet again, on a cure for the scientist.

But fate intervenes when Glorian shows up in a nearby town and starts making the residents' dreams come true.

For some reason, this can't be allowed, and a fight soon ensues.

Iron Man #154, the Unicorn

The Unicorn reappears. 

And he's gone completely round the bend. 

If I'm not mistaken, after defeating Iron Man, he ends the tale by deciding to walk all the way to Russia.

Unfortunately, there's an entire ocean between America and Russia and, therefore, walking there is a great way for him to accidentally drown himself.

Amazing Spider-Man #224, the Vulture

The Vulture's been hospitalized and is in poor spirits but makes a rapid recovery when he befriends Aunt May's life-affirming fiancé. 

Suitably reinvigorated, the criminal resumes his career of larceny, choosing to hide-out in May's nursing home.

Of course, this leads to the inevitable scrap with Spider-Man.

Captain America #265, Sultan

Our hero's captured by the Sultan, causing Spider-Man and Nick Fury to rush to the rescue.

Unfortunately, the issue ends with our heroes plunging from the sky, and the villain firing a nuke at the nation's capital.

Thor #316, the Bi-Beast

It's nice to see the Bi-Beast back, and fighting someone other than the Hulk.

Fired from his job, Don Blake takes on a new role as doctor on a ship belonging to Stark Industries.

Needless to say, it all takes a turn for the worse when the Bi-Beast captures the vessel, looking to turn its crewmen into his own personal army.

X-Men #153, Kitty Pryde

It's a very odd tale, as Kitty decides to tell the youthful Ilyana Rasputin a fairy tale to get her to nod off.

A fairy tale in which all the characters are weird variants of the X-Men.

Spectacular Spider-Man #62

I've a feeling the Gold Bug decides to pull off a major heist, in order to restore his credibility with the mob.

But the 24-carat moron manages to steal a highly radioactive something-or-other from ESU. A something-or-other that puts him and the mobsters he's trying to impress in deadly peril.

Wasn't Moonstone out to pull off an impressive crime to rebuild her credibility with the mob, last issue?

Things are starting to look more than a little familiar in Spideyland.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

January 6th 1982 - 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
***

The start of 1982 was a great time if you had a silly haircut, a couple of synths and two singing dancers who couldn't really sing or dance that well.

That's because you were the Human League and you were ruling the roost on both the British singles and album charts. Don't You Want Me? was seeing off the challenge of Bucks Fizz's Land of Make Believe in the 45 rpm stakes, while Dare was thwarting the challenge of ABBA when it came to 33 & 1/3.

Could life get any more exciting if you were that band?

Yes, it could. Because, on top of that, you could be reading the eighty-five million comics Marvel UK had out at the time.

X-Men Winter Special #1, Marvel UK

It's got no date on the front of it and even the copyright statement on its opening page doesn't give a year of publication.

However, its inside front cover features a house ad for Marvel UK's recent 1981-1982 annuals, as featured on this very blog.

Therefore, we can be assured it's a special for this very winter.

And what thrills we get.

For a start, it asks the vital question, "What If the Phoenix Had Not Died?"

I'm pretty sure Marvel UK hasn't yet published the tale in which she does die. So, I'm not sure its publication is the greatest piece of timing ever seen, what with it being a humongous great spoiler.

Then again, I remember a Marvel UK calendar once giving away the fact Gwen Stacy was going to die. Therefore, the company can be said to have form in such matters.

But, this being a special, we don't only get that. We're also presented with the Angel's origin and the story of how he joined the team, as originally recounted in Uncanny X-Men #55 and #56.

Marvel Classics Comics #7, Marvel UK

It's Marvel Classics Comics #7 and it's a total mystery.

Try as I might, I've not been able to discover anything about it or of its contents.

I do know, though, that there are only five more issues to go before cancellation smacks it straight in its classic face.

Marvel Superheroes #381, Scarlet Witch

It's time for us to learn more of the origin of Wanda and Pietro.

And it turns out their real father's Magneto!

Or, possibly, he's not.

Or, possibly, he's a mad old puppeteer.

Or, possibly, he's not.

By now, I'm thoroughly confused.

Also confused is Captain Britain who's been devolved into a monkey.

Fortunately, he quickly reverts to human form.

Which sounds like good news but then he's attacked by the Status Crew who've been sent after him by the home secretary.

Finally, in this month's 1960s Avengers reprint, we get more action from the original Red Guardian, as we discover more about the Black Widow's background.

Doctor Who monthly #60

The mag dedicated to our favourite sci-fi show presents an episode guide that spans Spearhead from Space to Terror of the Zygons and, no doubt, everything in between.

Not only that but we also get features dedicated to Planet of the Spiders, Sarah Jane Smith and K9.

Spider-Man #22, the Green Goblin

Unless I miss my ever-loving guess, this is the one in which the Green Goblin discovers Spider-Man's true identity and Spider-Man discovers the Green Goblin's.

Clearly, only the death of one of them can sort this mess out.

But whose death?

Whose?

Savage Action #15

It's the end for the savagest, most actionest comic Marvel UK's ever produced, as the mag hits the buffers after just fifteen issues.

Does it do so with style?

I don't know but I do know it goes out with adventures for Man-God, Night Raven and Brother Voodoo.

The Brother Voodoo tale's entitled The Resurrection of Papa Jambo and, in it, our hero travels to Haiti to stop Dramabu and his zombie army.

I keep misreading it as, "Drambuie." I'm not sure what that says about me.

We also get a two-page interview with artist John Stokes.

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #461

I don't have a clue what happens in this one but I do know it's going to give us the chance to win a TV.

And, once we have that, we can watch Spider-Man's TV show!

Blockbuster #8, Iron Fist

Can anything save Iron Fist as he comes up against the menace of Scimitar?

Looking at that cover, one hesitates to point out that Scimitar's clearly going to be hit by the train before Iron Fist is. This does seem a major flaw in his plan.

In other news, Colleen's been brainwashed by Angar and now hates Iron Fist.

Elsewhere, the Inhumans are in a tale called Star-Search: Dust and Demons. A tale, of which, I know nothing.

Finally, Omega rescues Teresa and holds someone called El Gato to a draw.

Blake's 7 #4, Marvel UK

I don't know too much about the innards of this one but I do know we get a full-colour poster of Servalan, and an 8-page comic strip called Battle Cruiser. A strip of which I know only that it's drawn by Ian Kennedy

Still, excitement's guaranteed because, this month, we could win ten Earth Invader games.

I'm assuming Earth Invader is some sort of Space Invaders knock-off and I will, therefore, be terrible at it.

Captain America #46, Marvel UK

Judging by that cover, Cap's still laying siege to that castle on that mountain. The one in which a young girl's being held captive, and everything keeps going weird.

But, first, he has to deal with a man who wants to sit on top of him.

And, it seems, from the front cover blurb, that we get yet another retelling of the shield slinger's origin.

Tragically, I know nothing of this week's other strips but I do know we get a poster of The Thing, "as he appears in the TV cartoon show."

Which TV cartoon show isn't exactly clear.

Future Tense #41, the Micronauts

I was about to say Marvel UK's premier sci-fi adventure mag is still going strong but it seems this is the last-ever issue and none of its strips continue in any other books.

How much style does it go out in?

That I cannot say.

But I can say the main tale features the Micronauts and is titled Betrayal.

In his strip, Captain Marvel's summoned into the Shadow Realm to defend its inhabitants from the Screamers.

And, in this month's Star Trek strip, we get more of the tale the world knows as We Are Dying, Egypt, Dying!

Fantastic Four pocket book #22, Marvel UK

I do detect the story in which Benjamin J Grimm finds himself abducted to another world and has to fight Torgo the robot, for the entertainment of Skrulls who think they're 1930s gangsters.

Savage Sword of Conan #51, Marvel UK

While other Marvel UK mags falter, Conan's monthly keeps trundling right along.

And, this time, we're treated to The Gem In the Tower, adapted from an L. Sprague de Camp and Lin Carter short story of the same name.

On top of that, we're offered The Return of Sir Richard Grenville which appears to be based on a Solomon Kane based poem by Robert E Howard.

Marvel Madhouse #8

More merry madhouse mayhem from Marvel.

The Empire Strikes back monthly #153, marvel uk

Here's an exciting prospect because this month's Empire Strikes Back yarn's from the offices of Steve Moore and Alan Davis and is titled Dark Knight's Devilry.

Not so excitingly, I don't have a clue what else happens in this issue.

Rampage Magazine #43, the X-Men

Judging by that cover, I'm going to assume this is the X-Men tale in which Moira's testing Jean's powers, on Muir Island.

Unfortunately, for everyone concerned, Jean's starting to have hallucinations caused by Mastermind.

And then Moira discovers Proteus has escaped!

Sadly, I've been able to discover nothing about this month's back-up strips.

X-Men pocket book #22, El Tigre

It would appear the X-Men are up against the maddening menace of El Tigre.

He's a man I know nothing about but, judging by his name, I would assume his mischief-making's based in either Central or South America.

Chiller pocket book #22, Dracula

It looks like bad news for Vlad, as his worst enemies have him cornered.

From the cover, I'm going to conclude this reprints Tomb of Dracula #13 in which the indomitable vampire hunters pursue the fiend into the English countryside, and Blade manages to kill him.

However, we shouldn't mourn the killer count too soon, as I have it on good authority that he's back, next week.

Worzel Gummidge magazine #4, Marvel UK

The UK's most popular scarecrow hits his fourth issue and does so offering us the chance to win four giant Worzel and Aunt Sally dolls.

Upon seeing the word, "giant," why did I immediately assume they're life-sized and, instantly, have terrible fears about what they'll be used for?

Starburst #41, Marvel UK

The king of British sci-fi mags is back and takes a look at Heavy Metal. The film, not the music genre.

We also see the return of the Fantasy Females photo gallery, including Joanna Lumley, Jane Seymour, Jenny Agutter and the inevitable Caroline Munro.

And there's an interview with film director Michael Armstrong

But, perhaps most excitingly for fans of horror cinema, there's Part One of a history of Amicus, the production company that dared to challenge Hammer.

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

The Marvel Lucky Bag - January 1972.

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

January 1972!

Where would Oasis have been without it?

Without one of their biggest hits. That's where.

It's true. The month kicked off with the New Seekers' I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing hogging the top of the UK singles chart.

Oasis were, of course, famously, sued for stealing that song's tune for their single Shakermaker.

However, mighty as they were, even the New Seekers couldn't own the top spot forever and, as January came to an end, they had to make way for T. Rex's Telegram Sam.

Come to think of it, didn't Oasis once borrow the riff from Telegram Sam, as well?

Over on the British album chart, there was also good news for Marc Bolan's band, as the month began with their Electric Warrior LP ruling the roost.

Admittedly, a couple of weeks later, it lost that crown to George Harrison and Friends' Concert for Bangladesh, before once more reclaiming the throne, as January faded.

Avengers annual #5, Spider-Man

The world's mightiest super-team's handed its fifth annual.

And does so with the help of Spider-Man.

Two tales are contained within, reprinted from Avengers #8 and #11.

In the first, Kang shows up and demands to be made ruler of Earth. The Avengers also show up but need the Wasp and Teen Brigade to delay him until they can put an end to his evil plans.

In the second, Kang creates a robotic Spider-Man and sends him back in time to battle the gang.

Captain America annual #2, The Final Sleep

Who wouldn't want to own this one, as Cap comes up against the latest of the Red Skull's interminable parade of buried robots?

This time, it's the one that's made up of separate machines that combine to create a flying bomber with a big metal head sat on top of it.

We also get a Not Brand Echh tale called The Revengers Vs. Charlie America.

Daredevil annual #3, Spider-Man

Spider-Man's busy this month. Not only is he guesting in the Avengers' latest annual, he's also co-starring in Daredevil's.

That can only mean the duo must put aside their conflicts, to unite against the insufferable menace of the Masked Marauder. Otherwise known as Foggy Nelson's landlord.

Incredible Hulk annual #4

There's plenty of Hulk action in this one.

Which is a good thing, as it's a Hulk annual.

The Leader's dead and our hero's zapped into the future. There, he fights King Arrkam's forces before Arrkam convinces him to, instead, fight the Executioner.

But what's this? Back in our own time, thinking the Hulk dead, Rick Jones tells Glenn Talbot he was actually Bruce Banner?

Oh, Rick, you wally.

After all that drama, Marvel clearly feels we need something a little lighter, because we're then handed a Not Brand Echh reprint that goes by the name of The Ever-lovin' Thung vs. The Inedible Bulk!

Sub-Mariner #45, Tiger Shark

Hooray! I had this one when I was a youth!

As far as I can recall, Subby's gone in search of his dad but he's not the only one on such a mission.

For Llyra and Tiger Shark have now found the missing man and have abducted him.

As if that wasn't enough for The Avenging Son to deal with, he also has to contend with the Human Torch's interference.

Sub-Mariner annual #2

And I owned this one too!

Subby battles to save Lady Dorma from the Faceless Ones before returning to Atlantis to battle Warlord Krang who's, once again, seized the throne.

Chamber of Darkness annual #1

Not to be left out when it comes to all this annual action, Chamber of Darkness gets its one and only special.

And I don't think anyone'll be amazed to discover it consists entirely of reprints. 

All of which come from issues #1 and #2 of the regular monthly.

Thus it is we get It's Only Magic!, Mr. Craven Buys His Scream House!, Always Leave 'Em Laughing!, The Face of Fear! and The Day of the Red Death! as produced by the hearts and minds of Stan Lee, John Buscema, Dennis O'Neil, Tom Sutton, Gary Friedrich, Archie Goodwin, Syd Shores, Roy Thomas and Don Heck.