Thursday, 11 August 2016

August 11th, 1976 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

On this day in 1976, the BBC's Sky at Night show was broadcasting and analysing photos sent from Mars by NASA's Viking 1.

Sadly, Viking 1 was a big letdown, as it turned out its pillaging function wasn't working and it just sat there taking holiday snaps.

On top of that, it had no eye for a decent photo. The pictures it sent back contained no Martians and it made the Red Planet look like one of those Sussex quarries that Dr Who was always trying to pass off as alien worlds. Who would have guessed that that show would prove to be so scientifically accurate?

Fortunately, if Mars was letting us down, we at least had the output of Marvel UK to keep us thrilled.

Marvel UK, The Titans #43, The Fantastic Four vs everyone

Hooray! It's that one where the Fantastic Four come up against robot duplicates of all their greatest foes - and of the Mole Man.

To be honest, it's not a great tale, as the robots can't fight their way out of a carrier bag and the Mad Thinker and the Red Ghost - who're behind the scheme - manage to blow themselves up.

What a pair of idiots.

I assume the Sub-Mariner tale is the one where he and the Thing tussle over the Serpent Crown, and Betty Dean shows up and bemoans the fact that she's now the horrifically old age of, erm, fortyish.

The Sub-Mariner in this era had some of my favourite John Buscema art ever.

Marvel UK, Planet of the Apes #95

I really don't have a clue what's going on now. I assume that's the Last Gasp Magick Man who's being abducted?

Super Spider-Man with the Super-Heroes #183, the Tarantula

The Tarantula makes his stabby debut.

I always had a soft spot for the Tarantula. He might not have been very good at being a super-villain but he had an appealing costume and you had to admire his optimism in thinking he could take on a super-powered foe, when he himself had no powers at all.

Has there ever been a good super-villain whose talent is jumping around? The Kangaroo was rubbish. Batroc was rubbish. Leapfrog was rubbish. The Toad was rubbish. I am starting to spot a pattern here.

Mighty World of Marvel #202, Vision vs Super-Skrull

It's a nightmare come true. It's the week when The Mighty World of Marvel finally increases in price to 9p. No wonder the government had to go to the IMF for more money in 1976. They clearly wanted to be able to carry on buying all four of Marvel UK's mags.

Meanwhile, it's the fight we all wanted to see, the Vision vs the Super-Skrull.

Well, admittedly, they never quite get round to having a fight, as the Vision acts like a big sad quitter and departs the scene but it's all beautifully drawn and it's always fun to see the Super-Skrull up to no good.


Dougie said...

The masterminds of the FF 100 plot are Puppet Master and Mad Thinker. Red Ghost does appear, though.

Steve W. said...

Argh! You're right. The Ghost's presence on the cover scrambled my brain.

Aggy said...

Thankfully the leaping and jumping heroes are better... Frogman. Bouncing Boy. Speedball. Errr....

Steve W. said...

Has there ever been a super-hero called Roger Ricochet? If not, I hereby claim copyright on him.

Steve W. said...

I have no doubt I shall make a fortune out of him.

Anonymous said...

Steve and Dougie, I believe you may both be incorrect about the Red Ghost appearing in that FF story - surely that was a robot duplicate?
(Yes, sadly I am that pedantic)


Steve W. said...

Sean, you are indeed right. It was a robot duplicate.

Unless the real one showed up at the same time as all the robots did, by an incredible coincidence.

Anonymous said...

Steve, at least when I commented the captcha informed me that I'm not a robot. Thats always reassuring.


The Artistic Actuary said...

In fact, Sean, isn't that a robot duplicate of sorts of the Red Ghost taking a pounding on the front of MWOM?

And did I hear once that he was called by a different name in the UK? The Mad Ghost? Something like that?

Anonymous said...

My greatest regret from those days is that I dropped Spider-Man just a few weeks before it went landscape and didn't get it again till it merged with Captain Britain in July '77 so these Super Spider-Man covers are a weekly reminder of my stupidity :( The Avengers didn't stay for long in MWOM - only another ten weeks till they transferred to The Titans and only another six weeks after that they moved to the merged Super Spider-Man & The Titans so in 1976 the Avengers appeared in four different weeklies.

Steve W. said...

Dangermash, he was indeed known as the Mad Ghost in the UK. The reasons for this aren't clear. I've always assumed that it was decided that 1960s Reds-Under-The-Bed Cold War paranoia wouldn't make as much sense in 1970s socialist Britain as it had in 1960s America but I don't know this to be fact. It could just be because he wasn't literally red in colour and it may have been thought it might confuse the younger readers.

I seem to remember the Red Barbarian in the early Iron Man stories being renamed the Mad Barbarian in the UK reprints as well.

Colin, it's amazing how we took all this chopping and changing of mags in our stride.

Anonymous said...

That is actually right about communist references being removed from British Marvels, Steve; if you're interested in confirmation, you can find it in a piece by Tony Isabella on his first job at Marvel editing reprint material for early issues of MWOM at


Steve W. said...

Thanks for that link, Sean. It's nice to know I was right.