Sunday, 27 September 2020

Lois Lane #65 - The Musical Murder of Superman.

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

***

Lois Lane #65, Lola and Luthor
What was the first American super-hero comic you ever read?

For me, it's always been unclear as to whether it was Amazing Spider-Man Annual #6 or a coverless Superman comic featuring Lois Lane and a piano. The latter having been obtained from a jumble sale at my local community centre.

Because of it being coverless, just what that Superman comic was has always been a mystery to me and many years have I spent trying to track it down.

But now I've triumphed and can announce it was Lois Lane #65 The Musical Murder of Superman from way back in 1966.

Before anyone panics, I should point out that, despite its title, Superman's not murdered at any point in the story - not even slightly.

However, that doesn't matter because, as the cover reveals, it's an imaginary tale.

This is, of course, in contrast to all those true Superman tales we've read, over the years.

In it, thanks to being zapped by a statuette, Lois becomes temporarily evil and teams up with Metropolis super-criminal Lexo, to become the nefarious Lola.

What the world doesn't know is Lexo is, in reality, also acclaimed humanitarian pianist Luthor.

Lois Lane #65, Evil Lois
Now, Lois and Luthor get married and go on a crime spree together which ultimately leads to them paralysing Superman with a symphony Luthor's composed specially for the task.

With Superman out of the way, nothing can stop them! Nothing!

Unfortunately, that's when Lois' evil wears off and when Luthor's conscience gets the better of him.

You see, before he met Lois, he'd only stolen things so he could raise money for local charities. It was the bad influence of Lois that had sent him down the path of thieving for profit.

Suitably overwhelmed with guilt at their actions, the pair revive Superman from his paralysis and, still unaware that Luthor is Lexo, Superman arrests Lois, whereupon she's sentenced to ten years hard labour for her crimes. You have to hand it to the Metropolis criminal justice system, when it comes to punishment, it doesn't mess about.

Lois Lane #65, Lexo is killedLuthor, of course, cannot stand to see his beloved Lois in prison and launches an audacious raid to rescue her, only to quickly be shot dead by a guard.

Lois convinces the courts she wasn't responsible for her crimes - that it was the statuette that had made her do bad things - and she's released but, as the story concludes, it's made clear to us - and Superman - that she'll never, ever, get over her love for Luthor.

Lois Lane #65, Lois Lane steals the Mona Lisa
What a tragic little story, and I have to say it's genuinely touching to see the love between Lois and Luthor, one that means they're willing to sacrifice everything for each other. To be honest, it's a much more appealing romance than her relationship with Superman's ever been.

That aside, like all Superman-related stories from this era, it's completely daft but charming and its big selling point - apart from Luthor and Lois' marriage - is the art of Kurt Schaffenberger which is as consistently likeable as always.

Schaffenberger does seem to be one of those artists who get habitually ignored but he had a lovely style, a way with emotions and an obvious wit, and I can't remember him ever turning in an art job that wasn't completely impeccable.

The script's by Jerry Siegel, lending the tale a pleasing tie to the characters' very beginnings.

So, there you go; my twin introductions to American super-heroics were Amazing Spider-Man Annual #6 and Lois Lane #65 and, to be frank, there could be worse ways to first encounter the full colour derring-doings of colour-packed derring-doers.

And how appropriate that those two books should introduce me to the two heroes who are totemic of America's two biggest comic publishers. It's almost as though Fate itself was somehow guiding events...

Lois Lane #65, Lois can never love again

Thursday, 24 September 2020

September 24th, 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.

***

In these times of social distancing, I think we can safely say there was one record that was ahead of its time.

And that was Don't Stand So Close to Me by the Police which smashed straight in at Number One on the UK singles chart exactly 40 years ago this week.

Not to be outdone by that band was David Bowie who, simultaneously, smashed straight in at Number One on the UK album chart, with his latest platter that mattered Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.

Clearly, Bowie and the Police were in no mood to mess around, but what about the output of Marvel UK in that seven-day period? Was it, too, in battling form?

Team-Up #3, Thor and the Human Torch

The Human Torch and Thor team up when the Lava Men try to steal the latter's hammer and use it as a power source.

Ms Marvel's still battling the Vision, and not making a very good job of it.

We're still finding out what would have happened if Spider-Man had stopped the burglar who went on to kill Uncle Ben.

And Morbius is still doing whatever Morbius is doing, in a tale drawn by Paul Gulacy.

We also get more of the comedy adventures of Man-Spider, as related by rascally Roy Thomas in his little-known guise of The Watcher.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #394

Spider-Man's up against the miasmic menace of Belladonna and her attempts to gain revenge upon those in the fashion industry who've breached her copyright.

Despite having found a friendly little town to live in, Bruce Banner's about to be dragged into the Silver Surfer's latest bid to flee the planet Earth.

Spider-Woman's still being beset by nightmarish hallucinations.

And the She-Hulk's battling a giant metal snake that's been draining the oil tanks at Roxxon's refinery.

Most importantly of all, we have the chance to win 30 Kodak cameras, even though 30 cameras would be quite heavy to carry.

The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #135

It's an exciting week for us all when Killraven appears, as if by magic, in the pages of this book.

We start his run with Death in the Family which sees the demise of Skar and, I think, Grok.

And possibly Hawk.

It seems a strange place to start the reprints with, as I can't remember Marvel UK having published any of the stories between Herb Trimpe's run and this tale, but I could be wrong.

In the main strip, Luke and friends manage to escape the empire, after his less-than-triumphant confrontation with his father.

Monsters of the Cosmos gives us a Lee/Lieber/Kirby yarn in which an astronaut, upon landing on Mars, is forced to take an evil plant back to Earth with him.

Happily for us all, he thwarts the plant's schemes, by blowing the ship up.

Finally, this week's tale of the Watcher gives us a Lee/Lieber tale in which an evil plant from outer space lands on Earth, its mind set on conquest, only for it to be eaten by a crow.

I can't help but feel those last two tales are a little too similar to be appearing side-by-side in the same issue.

Forces in Combat #20, Nick Fury

All I can say of this issue is Nick Fury's clearly in it and, apparently, we get the 2nd great episode of Golem. I don't have a clue what that's about but I'm sure it's good reason to get excited.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

2000 AD - August 1982.

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

***

There was only one thing you wanted to do if you were a TV presenter in August 1982, and that was grab your hammer, your strawberry jam and your microwave.

That's because it was the month in which the first compact discs were produced, in Germany, and what self-respecting TV presenter could react to news like that without wanting to apply all of those things to a CD to see if it destroyed it?

I do feel like this is at least the 13th time I've announced the launch of the compact disc, in these retrospectives, but I shall ignore that fact and assume this was indeed the first time they'd been foisted upon the world.

If there's any band I don't associate with compact discs, it's Dexy's Midnight Runners who always seemed far too wilful to be impressed by such things. August 1982 saw them score their second-ever UK Number One when Come On Eileen shot to the top of Britain's singles chart and stayed there for almost the whole month, before being deposed, at the death, by Survivor's Eye of the Tiger. I know which of those two records I prefer, and it's not the one that came from a Sylvester Stallone movie.

Speaking of things that came from movies, the whole of August saw Kids From Fame by the Kids from Fame hog the very top of the British album chart.

Over in the pages of 2000 AD, we were still being treated to Robo-Hunter, Rogue Trooper, Judge Dredd, Mean Arena and Ace Trucking Co, which is a lineup that seemed to have been in place for an awful long time now.

Prog 276 was still inviting us to solve the secret of the fruit gums. Reader, I don't remember if I ever did.

Prog 277 invited me to see the mushroom men. I'm not sure I'd wish to see such a thing, even if everyone assures me their leader was a fun guy.

Prog 279, meanwhile, gave us the chance to see Duran Duran join the Squaxx Dek Thargo.

Frankly, I don't have a clue what that means.

2000 AD Prog 276, Sam Slade

2000 AD Prog 277

2000 AD Prog 278, Robo-Hunter

2000 AD Prog 279, Mean Arena

Thursday, 17 September 2020

September 17th, 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, a near-month-long search came to a climax with the recapture of Hercules, the bear who'd escaped and gone to ground during the filming of a Kleenex advert on a Scottish island.

On the UK album chart, it was time to start singing of army dreamers, breathing, and married temptresses with Russian names, as Kate Bush's third album Never Forever hit the Number One spot.

Amazingly, it was the first album by a female British solo artist to ever top that chart, and did so in style by smashing straight in at Number One.

Meanwhile, Kelly Marie was still tightly gripping the pinnacle of the UK singles chart, with Feels Like I'm in Love.

Team-Up #2, Spider-Man

Spider-Man and Daredevil are still tangling with the Unholy Three who've kidnapped a young girl and are holding her captive on Coney Island.

Am I losing my marbles or did there use to be four of them? Wasn't one of them a frogman? What happened to him? Did he decide to go solo?

If so, I'm not surprised. Why, with the powers of a frog, a man would be near-unbeatable.

In our next strip, we're yet again asked, "What if Spider-Man had stopped the burglar who killed Uncle Ben?"

Apparently, he would have had a successful career in showbusiness.

Spider-Man, that is. Not Uncle Ben.

Nor the burglar.

Elsewhere, Ms Marvel has to fight the Vision if she's to prevent a radioactive truck causing chaos and destruction.

After that, Spidey and the X-Men unite to tackle Morbius.

Then, we're once more confronted with the matter of what would have happened had a spider been bitten by a radioactive human.

And, finally, the Fantastic Four try to discover what's caused a global power blackout.

I think this is the one in which they discover aliens at the North Pole are trying to get home and, by doing so, are inadvertently endangering our world.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #393

Spider-Man finds himself, and others, being sent into a state of paranoid rage by the mechanical machinations of Jonas Harrow.

In a tale drawn by Alfredo Alcala, the Hulk's blundered into the depths of a nuclear power plant and is smashing it to pieces, threatening to plunge the whole place into meltdown.

Rather less destructively, She-Hulk battles to hold together a collapsing suspension bridge, before everyone on it's killed.

In what may be a hallucination, Spider-Woman finds herself trapped in a huge cobweb, as a SHIELD agent threatens to stab her to death.

And, in his second appearance of the issue, Bruce Banner's about to find himself drafted into the Silver Surfer's latest bid to flee our world.

Forces in Combat #19, War is Hell

All I can say about this week's book is the late Frank Charlesworth's now taken possession of a Spitfire pilot's corpse, in order to help out at Dunkirk.

Empire Strikes Back Weekly #134, Darth Vader vs Luke Skywalker

In this exciting issue, Luke Skywalker gains a father but loses a hand.

Gullivar Jones is still battling the forces of Martian evil.

Monsters of the Cosmos gives us a Lieber/Reinman tale of giant invaders who flee at the first sign of Earthling resistance, leaving behind equipment which disguises the fact they really were giants, in order to make themselves look less cowardly.

And, finally, the Watcher tells of a man who poisons a rival, in order to make contact with beings on Venus, only, when he gets there, to discover those beings are not what they seem.

Life on Venus? How strangely topical.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Forty years ago today - September 1980.

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

***

Wait! What's that sound?

It's the Past!

And it's calling us to leap right into it!

Avengers #199, Red Ronin

The Avengers complete their battle with the out-of-control Red Ronin.

If I remember correctly, Iron Man defeats it by cutting it to pieces with its own laser sword.

And we all get back to the Avengers Mansion, just in time for Ms Marvel to go into labour!
Captain America #249, Machinesmith

Captain America invades Machinesmith's secret HQ and defeats his army of androids...

...only to discover it was all a ruse by the villain, to make the star-spangled Avenger kill him by destroying the computer in which his mind now resides.

Daredevil #166, the Gladiator

I have a feeling this is one of those stories in which the authorities decide to give a super-villain his deadly costume back, in order to calm his tormented mind.

Anyway, the Gladiator's gone mad and is out to impress someone - possibly his female psychiatrist - by murdering Daredevil in a local museum.

I must confess that's the first thing I always do when I want to impress a psychiatrist.

Fantastic Four #222

Having messed about with the entrance to the Negative Zone, the Richards' only son has now been possessed by Agatha Harkness' banished son - leading to a dramatic intervention by Gabriel the exorcist!

I have to say that's a very left-field guest appearance. I mean, yes, he is an exorcist but he's not a character I'd ever expect to show up in any Marvel book, ever, and I can think of a Marvel exorcist who seems a more obvious choice for the job.


Incredible Hulk #251, the 3-D Man

Down on his luck again, Bruce Banner's taken in by a kind stranger.

Only for it to turn out he's the alter-ego of 3-D Man who's out to destroy the Hulk before he can do any more damage!

I have a feeling 3-D Man dies in this tale, suggesting it was created mainly to wrap up loose ends from the character's own short-lived series.

Thor #299

There's all sorts of stuff going on in this tale, involving the Valkyrie and a king and queen who want her and a Thor-substitute as their spouses.

That's about as much sense of it as I can make.

X-Men #137

It's an all-time classic, as the X-Men conclude their fight with the Shi'ar Imperial Guard, and Jean Grey makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the universe from herself.

Iron Man #138, Dreadnought

I don't recall too much about this one but, clearly, there's a Dreadnought on the loose.

I'm also aware we get the return of Madame Masque who seems to have reverted to her villainous ways.

Conan the Barbarian #114

I believe Conan and his latest lady friend find themselves in a castle inhabited by a giant dog possessed by the malevolent spirit of its deceased and sorcerous owner.

Needless to say, Conan soon lets it know who's boss.

Amazing Spider-Man #208

Thanks to some sort of lab accident, a scientist and his janitor brother find themselves fused into a single but conflicted entity.

Fortunately, Spider-Man's on hand to stop them before they destroy New York.

Spectacular Spider-Man #46, the Cobra

Escaping from jail, the Cobra decides to dump his usual partner Mr Hyde and strike out on his own.

And strike-out he does, as barely has he returned to his life of crime than Spider-Man shows up and arrests him, thanks to a fight that can only be labelled, "One-sided."

Thursday, 10 September 2020

September 10th, 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.

***

It's weird how you can assume people died long before they actually did.

And, so, it was a surprise, when researching this post, to discover that, on this night in 1980, BBC One's Where Are They Now? had David Jacobs going to Hollywood to find out what Fay Wray was up to.

For some reason, it had never occurred to me she was still alive in 1980, even though there was no reason she shouldn't have been.

In that edition, he also set out to learn what had happened to Brian Poole of the Tremeloes, and the young girl from the BBC Test Card.

I think I've lost count of how many TV shows have set out to discover whatever happened to the girl from the BBC Test Card.

But I must confess the Test Card always perturbed me, as I was convinced that both she and her sinister clown doll were in the habit of moving when you weren't looking.

Over on the UK singles chart, The Jam were deposed from their top slot and replaced by Kelly Marie's Feels Like I'm in Love.

Obviously, the greatest thing about that single was that it was written by Mungo Jerry's Ray Dorset, not the most obvious man, you would have thought, to write a Disco smash.

Definitely not setting the discos of Britain alight was Gary Numan, unless they were very sombre discos but that wouldn't have mattered to him because his LP Telekon was now top of the UK album chart.

Spider-Man and Hulk Weekly #392

All I know about this one is J Jonah Jameson's had a breakdown and is seeing tiny Spider-Men everywhere.

Also, it seems we're going to see more Hulk than ever before!

Which is, no doubt, very exciting.

Exactly which strip has been banished to make way for all this extra Hulkiness, I could not say.


Marvel Team-Up #1

And, just to make my life even harder work, Marvel UK launches yet another comic upon the world.

I think this means it's now publishing fourteen books a month. Will this madness never end?

In our first tale, Spider-Man and Daredevil team-up to rescue a girl, from the Unholy Three.

Then we find out what would've happened if Spidey'd stopped the villain who went on to killed his Uncle Ben.

We get a reprint of Ms Marvel's debut adventure which I'm pretty sure Marvel UK had already reprinted in the not-too-distant past.

Morbius gets a solo outing drawn by Paul Gulacy, which, it seems, recaps his origin.

Then we ask, "What would have happened if a spider had been bitten by a radioactive human?"

I'm no expert but I assume it would have died.

Next, we get a reprint of Fantastic Four #1 from way back in 1961.

And we finish off with Jack of Hearts in solo action.

This all sounds like a massive amount of content but some of these strips are just two pages long, which must be a frustrating read.

Forces in Combat #18

All I know about his one is the ghost of, "Frank Charlesworth," takes possession of a dead pilot, as his Spitfire's about to crash, in order to sock it to the Luftwaffe.

It's a tale drawn by Herb Trimpe who was put on this Earth to draw war stories.

The Empire Strikes Back Weekly #133

My knowledge of this one's limited but, obviously, Han Solo's still in Carbonite trouble.

I also know Gullivar Jones is well on track to rescue his girlfriend and on the brink of squaring up to her abductor, thanks to the pencilling skills of Gray Morrow.

I would assume we're also being treated to the latest shockers from Tales of the Watcher and Monsters of the Cosmos.

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

The Marvel Lucky Bag - September 1980.

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

***

Numerous were the movies released in September 1980 but the only one that matters to the true connoisseur of cinema is Battle Beyond the Stars, the film which transposed The Magnificent Seven into the outer cosmos and taught Star Wars a thing or two about space opera.

Admittedly, it was probably more a case of teaching Starcrash a thing or two about space opera but never mind.

Incredible Hulk Annual #9

I know nothing of this book, other than that it was created for a Coca-Cola promotion which fell through, as were Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #2 and Fantastic Four #220-221.

I also know it's drawn by Steve Ditko and Al Milgrom with a limited contribution from Walt Simonson.

However, I'd venture a guess, from the cover, that Hulkie's up against a bunch of robotic chessmen, which doesn't seem like much of a challenge to him. Can he possibly avoid being zugzwanged?

And what's this? This comic could be worth $2500 to me? How exciting! I must buy 25 copies of it!

Marvel Treasury Edition #27, Spider-Man vs the Hulk

It's the penultimate Marvel Treasury Edition and we get a bunch of tales reprinted from Marvel Team-Up.

In the first, the Chameleon tricks the Hulk into breaking his friend out of jail. Clearly, it can only be a matter of time before your friendly neighbourhood wall-crawler's on the case.

In the second, Zarrko the Tomorrow Man recruits Spidey and Iron Man to help him dispose of Kang the Conqueror. Somehow, the Inhumans and Avengers end up being dragged into it all.

And we finish off with what appears to be a brand new 5-page story starring the Angel, which seems an odd thing to feature in a Spider-Man Treasury Edition.

She-Hulk #8, the Man-Thing

It's great news for all fans of Richard Rory, as the She-Hulk finds herself in the Florida Everglades and having to tangle with the menace of the Man-Thing.

First, however, she must liberate herself from the denizens of La Hacienda, which I remember being some kind of conquistador fort hidden deep within the swamps.

Marvel Two-in-One Annual #5, the Thing, the Hulk and the Stranger

I really don't know anything at all about this one but it's clearly a case of the good, the bad and the ugly, as the Thing and Hulk get involved in whatever machinations the Stranger's cooked up this time.

Pluto and Hades are also involved, though I don't have a clue how.

But it's yet another comic that could be worth $2500 to me. I shall, therefore, buy 25 copies of it, as well.

Battlestar Galactica #19. Walt Simonson

I admit it, the only reason I've included this is because that's a surprisingly striking cover for a Battlestar Galactica comic, thanks to Walt Simonson.

And it's another book that could be worth $2500 to me!