Thursday 29 February 2024

March 2nd, 1974 - Marvel UK, 50 years ago this week.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon
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Fifty years ago this week saw no change at the peak of the UK singles chart, with Suzi Quatro's party-pleasing Devil Gate Drive retaining its stranglehold on the Number One slot.

However, it was a different kettle of rock on the accompanying album chart which saw Slade's Old, New, Borrowed and Blue usurp the Carpenters' greatest hits to seize the crown therein.

The Mighty World of Marvel #74, Hulk vs Maximus

The Hulk's still in Central America and still battling the evil Inhumans but, even with their abilities, it's hard to see how they can hope to defeat the puce-panted powerhouse.

But perhaps they won't have to.

When General Ross and his men show up to peacekeep the place to smithereens, it's surely not going to take much work for Maximus to trick our hero into joining forces with him.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, in a bid to cure his blindness, Matt Murdock's visiting a European state ruled by one of his old college friends.

But that college friend is a ruthless dictator and the required eye surgeon promptly dies in a revolt.

In the watery depths, the Fantastic Four are still helping the Sub-Mariner overcome an invasion attempt by Attuma's hordes - without letting Subby know they're even there.

The Avengers #24. Attuma

Speaking of underwater trouble, Cap, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are also in a fight to the death with Attuma.

And Hawkeye can't help them because he's stuck in New York, delayed by the inconvenience of having to battle the Beetle who, for some reason, has decided to single-handedly invade the Avengers Mansion!

Tragically, my knowledge of what occurs in this week's Dr Strange tale is as limited as it so often is.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #55, the Spider-Slayer

The second Spider-Slayer launches its deadly attack and gives Spidey a run for his money until the webby wonder realises the robot's attracted to anything spidery and, thus, lures it back to its creator's lab where the multiple spiders kept there for research purposes cause it to explode like the blundering oaf it is.

In Iron Man's strip, communist spy the Actor steals Tony Stark's latest plans and discovers Iron Man's secret identity!

Needless to say, Iron Man wastes no time in tricking that spy's overlords into murdering him.

With Odin miffed at Thor for having revealed his secret identity to Jane Foster, the thunder god returns to Earth, looking to be reunited with his beloved.

Only to find her hitting the town, with Hercules!

Infuriated by such shenanigans, Thor quickly comes to blows with the Olympian but how long can it be before Odin puts a spoke in the works?

And we finish the book with a Tale of Asgard in which Balder saves the ship he's on, by blowing a horn which causes the total destruction of the attacking Dragon of Utgard.

Tuesday 27 February 2024

Speak Your Brain! Part 73.

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
How exciting! I've just realised it's one of those special Februaries! The ones that have 29 days in them!

Not that that makes any difference to this site. After all, today is the 27th and would, therefore, have occurred even in a non-leap-year.

Still, perhaps it's what's playing on your mind. And perhaps it's not. It doesn't matter. As long as you have something on your mind, then we're all set to go, as today sees the return of the feature they're all talking about. The one in which the first person to comment gets to choose the day's topic for debate.

Therefore, I shall offer no guidance as to what that might be and shall merely step back, recede behind this handily placed pair of curtains and let you The Reader take the microphone.

Sunday 25 February 2024

February 1984 - Marvel UK monthlies, 40 years ago this month.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon
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February 1984 was a disastrous time for those who like to do things by halves, because it was the month in which Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson announced that after, an unlucky for some, 13 years, the UK halfpenny was to be scrapped. Personally, it's a trauma so huge that I've never got over it.

It was, however, a great time for those who liked gold.

Or indeed silver or, even, bronze, as it was the month in which the Winter Olympics kicked off in Sarajevo. Mere days after that opening ceremony, Britain found triumph, thanks to ice dancers Torvill and Dean.

In the then Soviet Union, triumph was also visiting Konstantin Chernenko who succeeded the newly deceased Yuri Andropov as General Secretary of that land's Communist Party.

Upon the UK singles chart, it will surprise few familiar with 1980s music to discover Frankie Goes to Hollywood's irresistible juggernaut Relax greeted the new month at Number One.

But even that couldn't stay on top forever and, so, by February's end, it had been supplanted by the Teutonic tunefulness of Nena and her 99 Red Balloons.

Meanwhile, on the accompanying album chart, February launched with the Eurythmics' Touch hogging pole position before being replaced by Simple Minds' Sparkle in the Rain which then had to make way for the Thompson Twins' Into the Gap

The Mighty World of Marvel #9, Cloak and Dagger

Cloak and Dagger's strip makes its Mighty World of Marvel debut when the contrasting couple ask someone called Father Delgado for sanctuary in his church.

Someone else who might appreciate sanctuary are Captain Britain and his allies. Luna, Betsy and friends are done over by the Beetles while the good captain visits Jim Jaspers' lair - only to find the villain has become all but unstoppable.

In his strip, Night Raven must tackle The Haunting of Don Salvatore Vischetti.

And in Daredevil's strip... ...well, there is no Daredevil strip. Despite the comic being called Mighty World of Marvel Featuring the Daredevils, poor old Hornhead isn't able to get into a comic that's 50% named in his honour.

Doctor Who Magazine #85, Peter Davison and Janet Fielding

The mag that's bigger on the inside than the outside gives us a preview of the undersea drama the world will come to know as Warriors of the Deep in which the Silurians team up with the Sea Devils in a bid to destroy humanity.

But that's not all because this issue also gives us a preview of The Awakening and Frontios.

As well as that, there's a review of 20th anniversary episode The Five Doctors, a comic strip called Skywatch-7 and an interview with Leela actor Louise Jameson.

The Savage Sword of Conan #76, marvel UK

I can tell you little of what transpires within this one but I do know it centres around a 40-page tale called Lady of the Silver Snows which is brought to us by the not-so-barbaric team of Chris Claremont and Val Mayerik.

Starburst #66, Strange Invaders

The nation's favourite sci-fi mag proves its foresight by previewing the upcoming alien invasion television mini-series V.

Also, Irving Kershner discusses his directorial work on The Empire Strikes Back and Never Say Never Again, we're given an interview with special effects wizard Douglas Trumbull, and columnist Barry Forshaw presents a thinkpiece about video censorship.

Thursday 22 February 2024

February 23rd 1974 - Marvel UK, 50 years ago this week.

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

If I were to declaim, to you, the words, "Come alive! Come alive!" you'd know exactly what I was saying to you.

I'd be saying, "Come alive!"

But where would I be saying it?

Why, down at Devil Gate Drive, of course.

For, verily, it was that very song which was topping the UK singles chart, this week in 1974. And that was good news for Suzi Quatro who was the woman responsible for it.

Over on the British album chart, there was no change from the week before, with the Carpenters' The Singles 1969-1973 still ruling the roost.

The Avengers #23, Attuma

But none of the above truly matters.

This is what matters.

That here is the issue where I began regularly reading the Avengers' weekly comic, rather than just seeing the occasional edition of it.

And what a way to start that era, with that rascally rogue Attuma kidnapping the winsome Wasp, as she flies across the ocean, looking to warn the world of a potential attack by the Sub-Mariner.

Needless to say, such an affront forces the world's most powerful heroes to get involved.

And involved they get by quickly getting stomped all over by the villain.

I do believe that, in his strip, Dr Strange is still battling a Baron Mordo whose power is being boosted by that of the dread Dormammu.

But, unfortunately for the villain, Dormammu's becoming increasingly distracted by events in his own dimension.

The Mighty World of Marvel #73

Unless I miss my Gamma-loving guess, the Hulk finds himself in a Central American republic where the locals reside beneath the hypnotic spell of a giant robot.

And that's not the only shock for our hero because it turns out that robot's a mere lackey.

And it's under the control of none other than Maximus the Mad!

Elsewhere, it seems like good news for Matt Murdock because one his old friends is now supreme ruler of a European country and invites the blind lawyer over for an operation to restore his sight.

However, once there, it doesn't take Matt long to realise his friend is a ruthless dictator - and has an army of robot knights!

And even more elsewhere, Attuma's proving to be a busy lad, this week, because not only must he contend with the Avengers, he's also got to foil the Sub-Mariner who - whether he knows it or not - is being aided and abetted by the Fantastic Four.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #54, the Spider-Slayer

From that cover, I think we can deduce the Spider-Slayer is back - and deadlier than ever!

Clearly, this is bad news for everyone's favourite web-spinner who's only just regained his memory after his near-death experience with Ka-Zar.

Iron Man, meanwhile, finds himself Trapped by the Mad Barbarian.

Based on Marvel UK's previous form, I'm going to assume the Mad Barbarian was called the Red Barbarian in the original US comic and has had his name changed to avoid offending whoever it is who'd be offended. I'm also going to suspect his home country's been renamed, "Bodavia."

It all involves a commie scheme to send malevolent master of disguise The Actor to steal the plans for Tony Stark's latest weapon. I think we can all assume Tony's not going to stand for that kind of malarkey.

And, almost finally, for this issue, Thor fights the Demon to recover a Norn Stone.

But is the thunder god ready for the wrath he's about to face from Odin for revealing his secret identity to Jane Foster?

And the issue closes with a two-page map of Asgard to make sure we won't get lost the next time we visit it.

Tuesday 20 February 2024

Speak Your Brain! Part 72. Of Hype and Disenchantment.

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
Hark!

Can you hear it?

In the trees? In the babbling brooks? In the air around us and upon the breeze?

Why, no. You can't.

That's because there's nothing to hear.

Wherever we traipse in the unending forest that is the internet, there lurks nothing but dread and silence.

But why?

Because there is not yet anything to say.

But, with any luck, there soon shall be.

And that's because, at the centre of that forest, we've stumbled, once more, upon the feature that even the squirrels themselves have learnt to fear. The one in which I keep quiet and whoever finds this site gets to decide the day's topic for debate.

That debate could be about anything that tickles your fancy or peels your potatoes.

Therefore, hesitate ye not, brave wanderer and announce that topic in the comments section below.

Sunday 18 February 2024

2000 AD - January 1986.

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

Some seekers of global unity may dream of hands across the water but, in January 1986, it was a case of hands beneath the sea, as the UK and France announced plans to construct a tunnel beneath the English Channel. One which would allow people to get on a train in one of those countries and ride it all the way to the heart of the other.

And it wasn't the only display of European partnership underway at the time. It was, after all, the month in which Spain and Portugal joined the European Community which would go on to become the European Union.

Not so happily for the human race, January also saw disaster when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up only 73 seconds after launch, killing its entire crew of seven astronauts.

Over on the UK singles chart, the month was dominated by just two songs. Firstly, the Pet Shop Boys' West End Girls and then a-ha's The Sun Always Shines on TV.

The album chart, meanwhile, was initially topped by Now That's What I Call Music! 6 before even that had to make way for the unstoppable behemoth that was Dire Straits' Brothers in Arms which had already been on the chart for 35 weeks at that point.

But what of the Galaxy's greatest comic? What was it up to as that year began its long hard trek towards the following Christmas?

It was up to The Ballad of Halo Jones, Sláine, Ace Trucking Co, Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog. The observant witness will have noticed that no new strips seem to have appeared during that period.

2000 AD #451, Halo Jones

2000 AD #452, Judge Dredd

2000 AD #453

2000 AD #454, Judge Dredd

Thursday 15 February 2024

February 16th 1974 - Marvel UK, 50 years ago this week.

Thanks to Charlie Horse 47 and Killdumpster for their sponsorship of this post, via the magic of Patreon
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As has been previously mentioned in this site's comments section, this week in 1974 saw the launch of a TV phenomenon.

That phenomenon was Bagpuss.

Produced by Peter Firmin and Oliver Postgate's Smallfilms company, only 13 episodes were ever made of the show that featured the adventures of a stuffed cloth cat but that didn't prevent it from becoming a low-key national treasure.

Having said that, I don't think I've ever seen a single episode of it but I have heard it spoken of in hushed whispers wherever men meet to speak in hushed whispers.

Two days after that launch, the world of football witnessed a major event of its own, as Birmingham City centre-forward Bob Latchford became Britain's most expensive player, thanks to a £350,000 move to Everton.

There were no signs of change atop the UK singles and album charts, that week, with Mud's Tiger Feet and the Carpenters' Singles 1969-1973 maintaining a stranglehold on their respective Number One spots.

I do, of course, love Tiger Feet but other tracks I approved of on that singles chart were:

Devil Gate Drive - Suzi Quatro

The Man Who Sold the World - Lulu

Dance With the Devil - Cozy Powell

The Show Must Go On - Leo Sayer

How Come? - Ronnie Lane & Slim Chance

Living for the City - Stevie Wonder

Jealous Mind - Alvin Stardust

My Coo-Ca-Choo - Alvin Stardust

The Air that I Breathe - the Hollies

After the Goldrush - Prelude

and

Lamplight - David Essex.

Should one wish to scrutinise the situation in more depth, that week's singles chart may be perused here.

While the corresponding album chart resides within.

The Avengers #22, Dr Doom

The team's new lineup gets its toughest test yet when Victor Von Doom decides that, before he next tackles the Fantastic Four, he first needs to strike fear into their hearts - and concludes that the best way of doing that is by defeating the Avengers.

Needless to say, even with home advantage on his side, that proves to be harder than it sounds.

Something else that's harder than it sounds is describing what happens in this week's Dr Strange tale. Other than being able to disclose that he must face Dormammu, I dwell within total ignorance upon the matter.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #53, Ka-Zar

Can it be?

Can Spider-Man be dead?

No.

It can't.

Not that we'll find that out until next week.

For now, we'll have to settle for a titanic tussle between man-spider and jungle lord that'll have our hero feeling distinctly waterlogged.

Meanwhile, in Iron Man's strip, things are getting wierd.

In fact, they're getting Dr Wierd, as a villain originally called Dr Strange gets renamed by Marvel UK to prevent readers becoming confused.

Now they're just left to be confused by why the villain can't spell his own surname correctly.

I don't remember much of his plan but I do know it's foiled when his own daughter gives Iron Man a couple of torch batteries with which he can regain his vigour and unleash his full might.

Meanwhile, witch doctor turned super-villain, the Demon is still rampaging around Asia - but the masked malcontent hasn't counted on Thor showing up.

Possibly more significantly, things are stirring in Olympus, with Hercules being sent to Earth, by Zeus, for reasons I don't recall.

The Mighty World of Marvel #72, Hulk vs Sub-Mariner

The Hulk's epic battle with the Sub-Mariner continues apace. And even the danger of innocent bystanders being killed isn't putting an end to hostilities!

Back on dry land, Daredevil concludes his first-ever tussle with the Stiltman, by shrinking him down to the size of an atom.

And, in another part of New York, Gregory Gideon continues to throw his wealth at the Fantastic Four, in his attempts to defeat them

And, with Dr Doom's time machine now lurking in the Baxter Building, as a trap, it looks like he just might succeed.

But could an innocent child's devotion to decency be enough to melt the heart of even the frostiest of tycoons?