Wednesday 30 September 2015

Web shooters! Get your genuine web shooters here!

1970s Spider-Man web shooter advert
As I've complained before, on Twitter, it's not easy to be Spider-Man when you live in Sheffield.

Not only are radioactive spiders a bit thin on the ground but any ambition to swing from skyscrapers is somewhat muted by the fact that it doesn't have that many tall buildings to swing from in the first place.

To make it worse, the ones it does have are all at least a mile apart, meaning one needs a very good aim to be able to hit one building with webbing whilst clinging to another.

Having achieved that, you would then smash stylishly into the pavement, roughly fifteen seconds after beginning your swing.

Of course, the other reason for my lack of Spider-Man style activities is that I don't have any web shooters.

Unbelievably it's true. Despite the fact that a penniless teenager managed to whip a pair up in his bedroom, in about twenty minutes, I, a genius beyond measure, with the resources of Croesus at his disposal, have somehow failed to make a pair for myself.

I did once make a Daredevil style billy club from Lego, a piece of string, and a metal hook from a Meccano set but, sadly, Lego isn't the strongest building material known to man and I suspect my contraption wouldn't have stood the test of supporting me as I swung majestically from the towering heights of Park Hill Flats.

But wait? What's this? All along, in the 1970s, there was a solution to my problems?

For just $2.19, I could've bought a genuine Spider-Man web shooter simply by cutting out a coupon?

Armed with this knowledge, I do find it amazing that, when  I watched American movies and TV shows, as a youngster, there were never any children in sight swinging around in the background, from their web shooters. Clearly they must have all been skillfully edited out, so as not to divert attention from Kojak or McCloud as they went about their crime-smashing business.

Now that I have that problem solved, all I need to do is find out from which issue of which Marvel comic I can find a High Evolutionary style Genetic Accelerator and I will at last have all the comics-related hardware I have ever desired.

Sunday 27 September 2015

September 27th, 1975 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Hold on to your telescopes because it would seem that tonight there's a supermoon in the skies.

Well, supermoons are all well and good but, here in 1975, all we care about are supermen.

But wherever could we find such beings?

Why, we can find them in the pages produced by the comic company upon whom the moon may never shine but upon which the sun will no doubt never set.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #137, the Vulture

I do believe this is the launch of the six-armed saga that's long divided fandom as vigorously as the age-old debate about whether it's Marmite or Vegemite that's best.

Personally, I loved Spidey having six-arms and think he should have kept them.

I have no opinions at all about Marmite and Vegemite, never having been brave enough to try either of them.

Marvel UK, Avengers #105

This issue sees the beginning of childhood tragedy for me, as it marks the start of the lengthy spell where the Avengers comic all but disappeared from the shelves of my local newsagent, meaning I had to to endure week after pitiful week without it.

Mighty World of Marvel #156, Hulk vs Abomination

Fortunately, the company's flagship title was still around to keep my spirits up.

And it did it with style, flinging the Abomination in my face, in a tale I cherish to this day.

Marvel UK, Dracula Lives #49

I assume this is the reprint of the Aleister Crowley inspired tale that I reviewed in this blog's earliest days.

And that review can be found by clicking on this link here.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #49

I assume we're still being given Tom Sutton's apes-on-a-ship tale.

I have no clue what the back-up tales are, though Warlock and Captain Marvel may be involved.

Marvel UK, The Super-Heroes #30, Human Torch vs Silver Surfer

This cover does look weirdly like it was coloured in with a felt-tip pen. I suspect that that was not the case. Even Marvel UK's ofttimes idiosyncratic approach to reprinting methodologies probably didn't extend that far.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

"Go Badge Mad, With Marvel!"

Marvel UK badges, December 1974 Bob Dylan once said, "Ma, take this badge off of me. I can't wear it anymore."

Clearly it couldn't have been a Marvel badge because a man would never feel such a way about such a thing. Why, he would go to his grave, clutching it to his chest, with rigor mortised fingers, sooner than have it removed from him.

I've mentioned in the past that, in my childhood, I had two Marvel badges, one with the Sub-Mariner on it and one with the Thing on it.

For some reason, Subby was bright red. Perhaps he was merely embarrassed to be depicted fighting seaweed. Or perhaps the people who were to blame for always miscolouring Dinky Toys' copies of Gerry Anderson vehicles had got hold of him.

The Thing, fortunately, was the correct colour and was accompanied by some fabulously 1970s lettering.

Thanks to my supreme detective skills (ie, getting some comics out of a wardrobe), I've tracked down the adverts for those very badges and discovered they were for sale in December 1974, which at least lets me know what I was doing in that month of that year.

I have nothing profound to say about the badges in this ad other than that, when I got mine, I was impressed by their larger-than-average size and that I think I got the best two, although I do also like the Silver Surfer and Conan ones. The Spider-Man one is also interesting for its unconventional camera angle and sense of design.

As with all offers from ancient comics, I'm sorely tempted to send off for them and see if I receive them. I like to think that somewhere, forty one years later, there's a warehouse in Tunbridge Wells with piles of these badges still in it, just waiting to be mailed out to the eager children of Britain, whatever their current ages.

Sunday 20 September 2015

September 20th, 1975 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Taking advantage of the late sunny weather, I've been murdering my privet today. It was an epic battle described by one eyewitness as shear lunacy.

But what of our favourite comic company?

Were its heroes, on this day of forty years ago, battling evil on a similarly epic scale?

Were they too vetting their hedges?

Or were they merely hedging their bets?

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #136

For some reason, this cover holds a special significance for me.

What that significance is, I have no idea but, every time I see it, it resonates with me as though it should stir a fondly-held memory of whatever it was that was happening at the time.

Marvel UK, Avengers #105, the Grandmaster

The Grandmaster's still up to no good and proving he's no mate of the Avengers.

Mighty World of Marvel #155, Rhino vs the Hulk

The Hulk gets to go to Counter-Earth.

I don't have a clue which tale the Fantastic Four story is. For the dedicated nostalgist, it is always frustrating that the cover blurbs so often give little idea as to what the back-up strips are about.

Marvel UK, Dracula Lives #48, Lilith

Lilith make her first appearance on the cover and it would seem that Tigra makes her first appearance within the covers.

I won't make the obvious point about the phrase, "Were-Woman," meaning, "Man-Woman," as I believe that millions of others have also raised that issue over the years. Somehow, it never seemed to matter how many people pointed that out to Marvel, via their letters pages, the company still carried on using the phrase.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #48

Forget snakes on planes, Tom Sutton's tale of apes on ships continues apace.

I wonder if the Warlock tale is one of those inked by Sutton as well? If so, Planet of the Apes was quite the Sutton fest at the time.

That reminds me, I have to do a post about Tom Sutton's Charlton covers, at some point, as they were rather fabby and proved he was one of the great cover artists of his era.

Marvel UK, The Super-Heroes #29, the Silver Surfer

Galactus is looking somewhat worried there. To be honest, although I've never read the tale, I suspect that the prospect of the Surfer going on the rampage doesn't worry him quite as much as the cover suggests.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

2000 AD - August 1977.

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, "I wonder what was going on in the world exactly thirty eight years and one month ago."

So am I.

I wonder it every single day.

And here's where we all find out.

The space shuttle Enterprise was test-launched from the back of a Jumbo Jet, Voyager 2 was launched (not from the back of a Jumbo Jet), Elvis Presley and Groucho Marx died and SETI detected the infamous Wow! Signal that may or may not have proven once and for all that aliens exist.

Meanwhile, in Comic Land...

2000 AD #24

...I remember reading this in a motorway service station car park.

You can stick your space shuttle, your Voyager 2 and your Wow! Signal. I don't need them when I have free access to motorway service station car parks.

2000 AD #25

This issue, on the other hand, I have no memory at all of having read, although I'm sure I must have done.

2000 AD #26

If I'm right, this cover depicts the tale in which a Mongol-style horde sets off to ravage the world, only to unwittingly destroy their own home village because it didn't occur to them that the world is round and that they've circled it and ended up back where they started. Oh, the bitter irony.

2000 AD #27

I do wonder what the full-colour postergraph involved and if I ever assembled it?

I do seem to recall assembling a multi-part poster, with the aid of glue, at some point in my youth, so perhaps this was the one.

Sunday 13 September 2015

September 13th, 1975 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

On September 12th, 1975, Pink Floyd released their classic album Wish You Were Here.

But what about the day after that? Were the heroes of our favourite comic company wishing they were here too?

Or were they merely wishing they were somewhere else?

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #135

Spidey clearly wishes he was somewhere else, as a prison riot breaks out and it's Gil Kane up-the-nose action a go-go.

On other matters, Iron Man now seems to have been fighting Whiplash for about fifteen consecutive weeks. Did they really manage to stretch that story out over so many issues?

Marvel UK, the Avengers #104, Squadron Sinister

It's one of my Avengers faves, as the Squadron Sinister makes its dastardly debut.

As for the copy at the top of the cover, I'm not sure what the Hoardes of Hell are. I can only assume they do a lot of hoarding.

Marvel UK, Dracula Lives #47

It's all high-drama in Draculaville.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #47

Unless I miss my guess, it's the start of that Tom Sutton tale where there's a bunch of apes on a gigantic ship. I seem to recall it with fondness though my recollections of it are vague.

Mighty World of Marvel #154, Hulk vs Tiger Shark

There's something very strange about this week's cover. A great big Steve Does Comics No-Prize goes to the first person who points out what it is.

Marvel UK, The Super-Heroes #28, the Silver Surfer and the X-Men

I assume this cover is symbolic and that the comic doesn't really feature the Silver Surfer teaming up with the X-Men to fight the Sentinels?

On other news, we're promised a battle issue that'll blast big brains.

But what of Doc Savage? Has his own big brain been blasted into oblivion, never to be seen again? Or is he contained within but just not mentioned on the cover?

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Forty years ago today - September 1975.

Well, it's been an historic week for us all, with Wayne Rooney becoming Britain's longest ever serving monarch and Elizabeth the Second breaking Bobby Charlton's all-time England scoring record.

But what of this month of exactly forty years ago? Were similarly momentous events taking place in the comics on the shelves of our local newsagents?

Avengers #139, the Wirlwind

Too right they were. You can never get more momentous than the return of the Whirlwind, although some of us preferred him in his days as the Human Top.

How arrogant and frisky he was in those earlier days - and how strangely similar to a young Victor Von Doom; if the young Victor Von Doom had been in the habit of spinning round at every opportunity.

Conan the Barbarian #54

It's Conan versus Conan in the tale we no doubt never thought we'd live to see.

Captain America and the Falcon #189

I really don't know what's going on here.

Daredevil #125, Copperhead

It's a grave turn of events for our hero, as Copperhead causes Daredevil no end of trouble.

Fantastic Four # 162

They always say good things come in pairs but, by the looks of it, it turns out it's bad Things that come in pairs.

Incredible Hulk #191, the Shaper of Worlds

Half Skrull, half shopping trolley, the Shaper of Worlds is back - and it can only mean trouble for the criminally underrated Toad Men.

Iron Man #78

Will Tony Stark never learn to stay away from Vietnam? Has he never noticed that only bad things happen when he goes there?

Amazing Spider-Man #148, the Jackal and the Tarantula

It's the tale that shocked the world as, at last - in the most insane revelation in the history of literature - we finally get to find out who the Jackal really is.

Thor #239

I don't have a clue what happens in this issue but I do know that Star-Quake sounds like it should be the sequel to the legendary Caroline Munro/David Hasselhoff sci-fi epic Starcrash.

To be honest, if the story inside isn't as bad as Starcrash, I may be tempted to demand my ten pence back.

Sunday 6 September 2015

September 6th, 1975 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

On this day in 1975, all sensible beings were trembling with fear - because BBC 2 was showing The Beast With Five Fingers.

Five fingers?

Hold on a minute. I've just checked - and I have ten fingers. In fact, everyone that I know has ten fingers. It's going to have to up its digit levels if it's going to strike terror into my heart. I demand at least twelve fingers from my monsters, not to mention eight elbows and fifteen toes..

But it wasn't alone in launching an assault on our sanity - because, directly after broadcasting that, BBC 2 treated us to The Maze, the tale of a Scottish lord who's really a giant frog.

How does this all tie in with what our favourite comic company was up to on the same day?

In no way whatsoever.

Spider-Man Comics Weekly #134, the Green Goblin

I don't know about the Beast With Five Fingers but Spidey's the man with slippery fingers, as the Green Goblin enacts his latest diabolical scheme.

Not only that but the webbed wonder's also mislaid the spider symbol from his back. Can things possibly get any worse for our hero?

Marvel UK, The Avengers #103, Kang

Kang's well on his way to getting everyone's favourite super-team involved in a game of chess they'll never forget.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #46

I'm not saying those apes are slow movers but they've been running away from the same scene on the cover for the last three issues now and they've still barely advanced by a foot in the intervening weeks.

Marvel UK, Dracula Lives #46

I've never read this issue but it's clear that Drac's up against a foe whose conversational technique can only be called enlightning.

Mighty World of Marvel #153, Hulk vs the Rhino

The Leader's still in control of the Rhino's body and still out to cause trouble for our hero.

Marvel UK, the Super-Heroes #27, the Silver Surfer, X-Men and Doc Savage

Unless every issue of The Super-Heroes features the Silver Surfer attacking Doc Savage and the X-Men, I must conclude that recent covers of the mag have been very good at giving no indication at all of what actually happens in the comic.

Wednesday 2 September 2015

Fifty years ago today - September 1965.

It's time for me to once more barge my way past the collapsible palm trees on my front driveway and fire myself into the air through my retractable swimming pool - because there's only one way I could possibly launch today's post and that's by declaring Thunderbirds to be so very much go.

That's right. What was arguably Gerry Anderson's greatest ever show made its debut in this month of 1965 and the world would never be the same again.

How we gasped as more Tracys than you could shake a stick at repeatedly saved us from a string of gigantic machines that always seemed to have just one fatal and disastrous flaw in their design.

Why, in comparison to such magic, surely even the adventures of our favourite Marvel heroes must have seemed pale in comparison that month.

Or must they?

The Avengers #20, the Swordsman

Captain America could certainly do with a hand from International Rescue, as the Swordsman decides that, when you have a sword in your hand, the best way to kill people is to throw them off a building.

Fantastic Four #42

It's certainly not F.A.B. for the Fantastic Four either, as the Thing's in one of his now-traditional evil phases.

Journey Into Mystery #120, Thor

I detect that the Absorbing Man may feature in this story.

This is a good thing, as he's always been one of my favourite Thor villains and many a time have I wished to absorb the power of everything I touch.

Amazing Spider-Man #28, the Molten Man

The Molten Man makes his sizzling debut in his fireproof underpants.

I do always feel it was very prescient of him to think to buy fireproof underpants before conducting the experiment that accidentally turned him into a walking inferno.

Isn't this the issue where J Jonah Jameson keeps calling Liz Allen, "Miss Brant," for some reason?

Strange Tales #136, Nick Fury, agent of SHIELD

Poor old Dr Strange. After years of playing second fiddle to the Thing and Human Torch, now he has to play second fiddle to SHIELD.

Tales of Suspense #69, Iron Man vs Titanium Man

The second greatest villain ever to feature in the title of a Wings song makes his first appearance.

This is a good thing, as the Titanium Man has always been one of my favourite Iron Man villains and many a time have I desired the power to be encased in titanium.

Tales To Astonish #71, the Sub-Mariner

If I remember rightly, Subby finds himself up against some sort of seaweed monster.

This is a good thing, as seaweed has always been one of my favourite underwater menaces and many a time have I longed to possess the power of that substance.

X-Men #13, the Juggernaut

The Juggernaut's still up to no good.

This is a good thing, as the Juggernaut has long been one of my favourite X-Men villains and many a time have I longed for the power to be an unstoppable force.

From all this, I can only conclude that when I have the ability to absorb the power of everything I touch, am encased in titanium, have the power of seaweed and am an unstoppable force that no brick wall can stop, then at last shall I be content in life.