Thursday, 6 October 2022

October 7th 1972 - 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

Some events in human history are so pivotal that, like a dam filled with water, they cannot be held back. And so it is that I shall dive straight into my look at what's destined to be the most important event since the Big Bang itself! 

The Mighty World of Marvel #1

It's October 1972 and, for far too many years, it's been the case that any Brit who's wanted to catch up with the history of the Marvel universe has had to read reprints contained within Alan Class and Odhams comics. Or even the Silver Surfer and Spider-Man strips in TV21.

But, suddenly, and with a fair amount of ballyhoo, there is, at last, an official outlet for our favourite heroes, as Mighty World of Marvel #1 hits our shops - and things will never be the same again!

What strange beings are introduced into our lives. The Hulk! The Fantastic Four! The Amazing Spider-Man! Stan Lee!

Three of those get their origins reprinted in this issue. The fourth gets to deliver a message to us about this thrilling new era in comics.

And, within all those tales, all reference to commies has been excised!

That alone would be enough to make anyone's head explode. But there's more!

We also get a free Hulk iron-on transfer!

And we can cut out a coupon, as part of the process towards acquiring a free poster and destroying the value of our new, treasured possession!

Could any experience be finer?

Nay, it could not!

But, before we leave - in order to compare and contrast - let's take a final look at the weekly books Marvel UK would be putting out exactly one decade later.

Fantastic Four #1, Marvel UK, 1982

On the 10th anniversary of the launch of Mighty World of Marvel, four of the stars of that book are given their own comic. And, in time-honoured tradition, we get a free gift which appears to be some sort of flying contraption.

When it comes to drama, this issue features a reprint of Lee and Kirby's origin of the Fantastic Four, so that new readers can get a handle on who this odd quartet really is.

But we also get a more modern adventure, as we're presented with a reprint of Fantastic Four #105,
the Lee/Romita tale in which Crystal collapses and a monster stalks the streets of New York, with only Sue Richards on hand to confront it.

Spider-Man #500, plus the Hulk, Marvel UK, 1982

Spidey's comic hits its 500th issue by merging with the Hulk's. If only the FF had been included, this would be The Mighty World of Marvel in everything but name.

I know little of this issue's contents but I do know we get the chance to win a free badge and, judging by that cover, the Circus of Crime would appear to be on hand.

Hanna Barbera's Scooby-Doo and His T.V. Friends #33

And we depart this post with a mystery, as Scooby-Doo and His TV Friends #33 evades our detection when it comes to both the book's front cover and its contents.

I like to think that's how Scooby would have wanted us to depart this post.

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

The Marvel Lucky Bag - October 1972.

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

I don't like to boast but I've seen a housefly, a horsefly and even a botfly but I've never seen an elephant fly.

Come to think of it, I have.

I've seen it in Dumbo.

And, if I'd had a ticket to the cinema, this month in 1972, there's a fair chance it would have got me in to see that movie, thanks to it being out on re-release.

Then again, the ticket may also have been for Last Tango in Paris which was also doing the rounds. Let's hope no one got their tickets mixed up and took their kids to see the latter film when they'd meant to show them the former.

Over on the UK singles chart, it was good news for David Cassidy who began October at Number One, thanks to his smash hit single How Can I Be Sure?

Well, he couldn't. And that's why, just two weeks into that month, he was cruelly dethroned by Lieutenant Pigeon who seized the top spot with Mouldy Old Dough and then stayed there for the rest of October.

Proving totally immovable at the top of the UK album chart was the LP the world knew as 20 All-Time Greats of the 50s by that classic 1950s act Various Artists, thus demonstrating that the early-1980s Rock and Roll revival began in 1972.

Doc Savage #1, Marvel Comics

But forget the Rock and Roll Revival.

Because the Doc Savage Revival is here!

And probably ends very soon afterwards.

Regardless, the Man of Bronze can finally thrill the reader of the 1970s as much as he did the reader of the 1930s.

Sadly, I can't say just what Doc does to thrill him/her, as I've never read this tale but I'm sure it's bound to be bad news for any villains he encounters.

Adventure into Fear #10, Man-Thing

And hold onto your swamps because the Man-Thing's also back!

After an, admittedly, much shorter absence.

In this month's thrilling adventure, Manny decides to take swift action when he discovers an infant being abandoned in the Everglades.

But that's not the only story, this issue.

We also receive The Spell of the Sea Witch! and There Is Something Strange About Mister Jones! in which a crook tries to mug Davy Jones.

That's Davy Jones of the Locker fame. Not of the Monkees fame.

Gunhawks #1

Marvel gains yet another Western mag to add to the five million it's already publishing each month.

This time, it's Gunhawks that gets an unleashing, with a tale entitled The Thundering Herd.

Journey into Mystery #1

From a launch to a relaunch, as Journey into Mystery finally returns but with no sign of Thor in it.

Instead, we get the mind-numbing terror of Dig Me No Grave!, House! and You Show Me Your Dream -- I'll Show You Mine!!

Jungle Action #1

It's our fourth issue #1 of the month, as Jungle Action hits our lives for the first time.

The book will, of course, go on to achieve immortality as a home for Panther's Rage but, for now, it's happy to give us Lorna the Jungle Girl, Tharn, Bazo, and Jann of the Jungle. All highly original creations, I'm sure.

Sub-Mariner #54

I do believe this is the one in which Subby encounters a bunch of aquatic mutants who're convinced they can never fit into any civilised society.

Namor thinks they can.

And he says so.

But then his Imperial Guards show up and - based purely on the mutants' appearance - immediately prepare to shoot them.

Thus it is that the Avenging Son must contemplate the uncomfortable truth that the outcasts may have been right.

Sunday, 2 October 2022

Fifty years ago today - October 1972.

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

There was trouble at the mill in October 1972 because it was the month in which Emmerdale Farm, the long-running soap set in Yorkshire, was first broadcast on the UK's ITV network. So successful was it that it's still running, to this day, albeit under the abbreviated title of Emmerdale.

There was also good news for Chris Carter, as the month saw the first female FBI agents enter service, thus making it possible for him to create The X-Files.

Admittedly, he was only sixteen at the time. So, we'd have to wait another couple of decades for him to do it.

The month also saw good news for the European Community, as Denmark joined it.

The Faroe Islands, however, chose not to.

Conan the Barbarian #19, Barry Smith

Conan the Barbarian #19 sees Barry Smith's cover enhanced by a rather lovely colour scheme.

But, inside the book, things aren't so lovely, as Conan now has a job with the Turanian military and is laying siege to the city of Makkalet. However, in the fighting, his friend Fafnir gets wounded by a flaming arrow.

Amazing Spider-Man #113, Dr Octopus

Dr Octopus is back - and at the worst possible moment, as Spidey's suffering from an ulcer brought on by the stress of Aunt May having gone missing!

Avengers #104

I do believe our heroes are still fighting the Sentinels, down under.

I must confess I've always liked the Sentinels far more in this appearance than I ever did when they turned up in The X-Men.

Captain America #154

Phony Captain America kidnaps the Falcon and tortures him to locate the whereabouts of Real Captain America.

Once he escapes, the Falcon rushes to the Avengers Mansion.

But Phony Cap's been watching him!

Daredevil #92, the Blue Talon

The Black Widow and Danny French are captured by Damon Dran and interrogated about Project Four.

And they're not the only ones with problems, as a reporter claims Matt Murdock's secretly Daredevil!

Until Matt shows up at a fight between DD and the Blue Talon.

How can this be possible?

And just what is the Black Panther's part in all this?

Fantastic Four #127, Mole Man and Kala

For reasons I can't recall, the Fantastic Four find themselves, once more, in the subterranean world of the Mole Man, Kala and Tyrannus, ensnared in that trio's latest round of mutual treachery and backstabbing.

Incredible Hulk #156

Hooray! The Hulk's back in Jarella Land!

The bad news is that, thanks to the machinations of the evil Lord Visis, our hero must fight amongst himself!

Iron Man #51

I don't remember too much about this one but I do recall the axe-swinging villain on the cover's known as the Cyborg-Sinister but is better known to most of us as the Super-Adaptoid!

Thor #204, Sif

It's always great to see Thor and Sif in good, defeatist mode.

Then again, maybe they have reason for it. After all, one by one, their friends are being abducted by Mephisto!

X-Men #78, Merlin

All I know of this one is what's revealed on the cover. Which is the X-Men seem to be up against Merlin the magician.

But years of comic reading experience make me suspect the villain may not be who he claims to be...

Adventure Comics #424, Supergirl

That's Marvel's output for the month looked at but, lest we forget, the company's not alone in the US market. After all, it has a rival. And, thus, to contextualise The House of Ideas better, we must study a random sampling of what that rival has to offer.

A stylish Bob Oksner cover finds itself wrapped around a Supergirl tale in which the maid of might unearths just where a syndicate boss has been hiding the bodies of his victims.

Admittedly, firing them into space does seem a little extravagant but it's a comic and practicality is, therefore, not a concern.

We also have a back-up strip in which an alien race attacks the Earth, thinking itself invincible.

I bravely predict it will be well and truly vinced.

The Brave and the Bold #103, Batman and the Metal Men

It's the team-up you thought you'd never see, as Batman teams up with the Metal Men.

Sadly, that's all the info I can impart but I do know it's scripted by Bob Haney. So, anything can happen in the next twenty-three pages.

And probably will.

Justice League of America #102

The Justice League and Justice Society are still trying to find the Seven Soldiers of Victory but, no sooner do they succeed in that task than the Hand makes his move to destroy Earth-2!

Superboy #191

It's one of my Superboy faves, as Kathy the Kooky Genius returns to help our hero rescue her kidnapped parents.

We also get a Cary Bates/Dave Cockrum Legion of Super-Heroes tale in which Dr Regulus tricks Sun Boy into recharging his powers for him!

The Unexpected #140

It's thanks to a striking Nick Cardy cover that I've included this one.

Within, we get three tales of intrigue and surprise. 

In the first, Cort Roberts tries to control his family, until his son becomes a seething mass of hatred. That's puberty for you.

In the second, Owen Rogg kills his friend and takes his place on an expedition.

And, in the third, we meet a millionaire who'd pay anything to see again.

Wonder Woman #202, Fafhrd the Barbarian and the Gray Mouser

It's the story you thought you'd never see!

Mostly because it makes no sense.

In a tale written by Samuel R Delany, Diana Prince and Selina Kyle somehow find themselves trapped in another dimension and caught up in an adventure involving Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.

What next? Elric?

Thursday, 29 September 2022

September 29th 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

Ten years after the imprint's launch, we find Marvel UK publishing three titles a week, compared to the single title it was publishing a decade earlier. I suppose a threefold increase in output constitutes a triumph. So, hooray for Marvel UK!

Therefore, as nothing interesting was happening in the world on this week in 1982, and there was no change at the top of either the British singles or album charts, I shall fling myself straight into the company's tenth-anniversary awesomeness.

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #499

What's this? Spider-Man and the Gargoyle?


Marvel's flagship hero and the Hulk's oldest foe?

Can it be true?

Yes, it can be, though I've no idea how, as I've never read this tale. I'm assuming, however, that it's reprinted from the pages of Marvel Team-Up.

Regardless, we also get a free Jack Kirby Fantastic Four poster that depicts the Thing struggling to retain his balance on one of Reed Richards' less practical flying devices.

But, of course, what really matters is we can win one of those fancy new Dungeons and Dragons games that all the hip kids are talking about!

Incredible Hulk #27, Marvel UK

The Hulk's final issue goes out in style by giving us a painted cover by Bob Larkin.

Sadly, I'm uncertain as to just which tale's contained within. Given the provenance of recent tales, it's possible we're being served up a reprint of the US Incredible Hulk #131 in which the green grappler first encounters Jim Wilson and chocolate bars - and then has to fight Iron Man.

We also have a tale dedicated to everyone's favourite stunt cyclist Ghost Rider but I've no idea at all as to just what he's up to, this issue.

Speaking of having no idea, it's Hanna Barbera's Scooby-Doo and His TV Friends #32.

And what are he and his TV friends up to, this week?

In the immortal words of Toyah Wilcox, it's a mystery.

But, then, mystery is the whole point of Scooby-Doo. So, how can we complain?

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Speak Your Brain! Part XXXVIII.

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 again, a Tuesday brings us face-to-face with the internet's hottest feature. The one in which the first person to comment gets to pick the topic of the day!

But what might that topic be?

Could it be art, films, flans, plans, books, bagels, cooks, nooks, crooks, ducks, drakes, pixies, rocks, music, mucous, fairy tales, fairy lights, Fairy Liquid, fairy cakes, Eccles cakes, myth, moths, maths, magic, tragedy, comedy, dromedaries, murder, larders, Ladas, mystery, mayhem, molluscs, Moorcock, May Day, mangoes, bongos, drongoes, bingo, Ringo, Pingu, Ringu, Christmas Day, New Year's Day, Doris Day, Marvin Gaye, Marvin the paranoid android, Brookside Close, Ramsay Street, Coronation Street, Albert Square, Scarlet Street, Dead End Street, chickenpox, the Equinox, parallelograms, rhomboids, androids, asteroids, The Good Life, the Next Life, pomegranates, granite, marble, marbles, maples, staples, fables, stables, sofas, eggs, pegs, legs, dregs, moons and supermoons, sodas, sausages, eggs, whisky, broth, Bath, baths, Garth Marenghi, Garth Brooks, Garth Crooks, Bruno Brookes, Bruno Mars, Mars Bars, wine bars, flip-flops, flim-flam, flapjacks, backpacks, see-saws, jigsaws, dominoes, draft excluders, blockheads, blackheads, dunderheads, deadheads, webheads, flowerpots, Bill and Ben, Ben and Jerry, Tom and Jerry, flour pots, bread bins, bin bags, body bags, body horror, shoddy horror, doggy bags, bean bags, coal sacks, cola, cocoa, dodos, Dido, Soho, Solo, silos, windows, day-glo, glue, Gloy, Bostik, pancakes, pizzas, pastas, pastors, baking soda, sci-fi, Wi-Fi, Hi-Fi, sewage, saunas, suet, Tomorrow People, Forever People, Party People, Sheila Steafel, steeples, Silurians, Sontarans, Sea Devils, sins, suns, sans, sense, sludge, slumps, sumps, sunshine, slime, soup, sandwiches, servants, Sultanas, Santana, Sultans, grapes, grappling or sandcastles?

It could be.

But, then again, it might not.

Sunday, 25 September 2022

Marvel Spotlight #5. Ghost Rider: A legend is born!

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

Marvel Spotlight #5, Ghost Rider
The Ghost Rider. He was in two terrible movies that starred Nic Cage.

But, then again, he achieved the remarkable feat of single-handedly making TV's Agents of SHIELD actually watchable.

However, he didn't start out life on either the big screen or the small screen.

He started it on the small page.

The comic book page.

And here's where we take a look at that start, as we visit his first-ever adventure, thanks to the pages of Marvel Spotlight #5.

Marvel Spotlight was, of course, the book that first introduced the Son of Satan to the world, and all sane judges know the first Son of Satan tale's one of the comic book highlights of the 1970s. So, how will Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog's offering compare to that one?

Ghost Rider, Marvel Spotlight #5, It Begins!
It's night time and a strange figure rides the streets of whatever town it is we're in.

It's the Ghost Rider, a motorcyclist with a flaming skull for a head.

Who is he?

Where's he from?

And doesn't he know it's illegal to ride without a helmet?

But he's not the only one crimeing on the streets tonight. So are two murderers who decide they should try to kill him because he's the only witness to their latest slaying.

Fools! As though the mighty Hell-spawned of Ghost Rider has anything to fear from the likes of them!

Well, it turns out he does because he's completely useless in a fight and has no choice but to flee them.

Marvel Spotlight #5, Ghost Rider, first appearance
Finally, trapped by a dead end, our hero must, at last, unleash his full power!

Of jumping off a plank, with his bike, allowing him to escape before they can hurt him.

But now it's dawn and, his pursuers left far behind, the terrifying figure transforms into a more conventional form. That of Johnny Blaze, motorbike stunt rider. And, here, we discover just how he got his amazing, "powers."

He's a man whose adoptive father - motorbike stunt rider Crash Simpson - had only a month to live, due to an unnamed disease. To prevent his death, Johnny struck a deal with the Devil who agreed that Simpson wouldn't die from the unnamed disease if Johnny agreed to become his servant in Hell.

Marvel Spotlight #5, Ghost Rider, Satan appears
For some reason, Johnny decided this was a great deal and eagerly said yes.

Happy as Larry with his pact with evil, Johnny was then shocked when Crash promptly lived up to his name and died in an attempt to jump over some cars. Thus, as promised, not dying from the disease.

And now that means Johnny must serve Satan!


Except he mustn't. Just as Satan's about to take him to Hell, Johnny's girlfriend Roxanne shows up and drives the fiend away with the self-declared goodness of her soul. There's a woman with a high opinion of herself. One that's not necessarily justified by her behaviour at any other point in the book.

Thanks to that, whenever it's nighttime, Johnny Blaze turns into the Ghost Rider and zooms around the streets, on his bike, in order to avoid being seen by anyone. I'm not sure how riding around the streets, at night, with a flaming skull, making big motorbike noises, is a good way to avoid being noticed. Wouldn't it make more sense for him to just stay in his house?

Marvel Spotlight #5, Ghost Rider, Satan is back
I've already mentioned that the Nic Cage Ghost Rider movies are catastrophically bad but it's depressing to discover the original story's no better, stricken with clunky dialogue, unlikely behaviour and hateful characters.

Johnny's clearly a moron, having a level of trust in the Devil that makes you wonder if he knows who the Devil even is. At one point, he cheerfully reminds himself, "I have the Devil's word on it."

Not one of the characters is remotely likeable. His adoptive mother uses her deathbed as leverage to blackmail him into not riding a bike. His adoptive father keeps calling him a coward and trying to bully him into riding a bike. His girlfriend Roxanne makes it clear she's only willing to love him if he's willing to endanger his life every night.

And yet, somehow, he's willing to do anything for these people.

Marvel Spotlight #5, Ghost Rider, the death of Crash Simpson
Then again, he's not noticeably likeable himself. His reaction to the death of Simpson is to instantly climb aboard his bike and attempt to complete the stunt that just killed the man, leaving his body still warm on the floor and making no secret he's doing it purely for his own personal glory.

But perhaps the biggest letdown is just how pathetic the Ghost Rider himself is. There are clear parallels with the early Hulk, in him being a tortured soul who changes into his monstrous form at night but this is a very feeble Hulk who can't even fight off two perfectly normal criminals.

Granted, he does have the ability to fling a modest dollop of Hellfire from his index finger but, this being a 1970s comic, he's clearly not allowed to use it on people, just as the Valkyrie was never allowed to use her sword on them.

All in all, you don't really read this tale and think the character has any great potential. Nor do you feel any urge to read his future adventures.

With its clumsy dialogue, charmless characters and massive lapses in logic, it feels like something Atlas Comics would have produced. The difference being that, at least an Atlas take on the character would have seen him leaving a trail of corpses behind him. Admittedly, they'd be ones who'd been eaten by him.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

September 22nd 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

I've no doubt humanity was feeling pretty pleased with itself, this week in 1982.

After all, it was the week in which the first International Day of Peace was proclaimed by the United Nations. After that announcement, surely, an end to all war and conflict was now mere days away.

Sadly, there wasn't much peace to be had in the world of American Football. The truth is the National Football League Players Association downed tools and called the first in-work stoppage in the NFL's 63-year history. The strike would last for 57 days, reduce the regular season from sixteen games to nine and force an expanded 16-team playoff tournament.

Also not working - but for less voluntary reasons - was the British population, with an estimated 14% of the workforce now registered unemployed.

How would Scott Fahlman have reacted to this news?

No doubt with the use of an emoticon. For it was he who, this week, became the first ever person to post one. And, thus, was history created. 😀

Super Spider-Man TV Comic #498, Mr Hyde

Now Spidey's got problems - because Mr Hyde is back and he's out for revenge against his sometime partner the Cobra. Can our hero save the slippery scoundrel before it's too late?

There's also a colour-packed feature about the brand new Ridley Scott epic Blade Runner.

But there's more than that because the cover's still demanding to know whether my drawing's inside. I'm fairly sure it's not. I distinctly remember leaving it somewhere else.

Intriguingly - following the chance to win a Dr Strange record, last week - this time, we have the opportunity to win a Spider-Bag!

Incredible Hulk #26

The Hulk's looking very miffed on that cover.

As well he might because, sadly, I can unearth no info about just which of his adventures graces the inside of this book.

Given the material the mag's been reprinting lately, it's highly possible it could be sourced from the US Incredible Hulk #130 in which, after yet another disastrous attempt to cure himself, Bruce Banner and his alter ego get split into two totally separate beings.

Now, the conscienceless Hulk's out to track down and kill the hated Banner.

But beyond even that, excitement mounts, as the cover promises us details of a brand new comic!

Granted, it's not that exciting, as it's news of a mag that'll be created by the merger of this book with Spider-Man's, meaning the green galoot will no longer have his own UK title.

But what's this? After a few issues of Ghost Rider being the book's back-up star, it would appear the Son of Satan's suddenly putting in an appearance!

Hannah Barbara's Scooby-Doo and this TV Friends #31

Scooby's back and he tells us how to make paper fish that we can hang from our ceiling.

Elsewhere, a criminal's hiding out in Yogi's cave, waiting for the Statute of Limitations to run out on his crimes.

And he's taken Boo-Boo Bear hostage!

Can Yogi and the Park Ranger possibly rescue the hapless ursus before it's all over?