Sunday 31 December 2017

Captain Marvel #17. How to become a better man, in just three easy steps.

Captain Marvel #17
It's New Year's Eve and we all know what happens on New Year's Eve.

I spend all evening complaining about fireworks going off and then complaining when they're over.

Some people are never pleased.

But another thing happens on this night.

And that's that we make all kinds of promises to become better people.

Needless to say, we all have the good sense to not get anywhere near keeping those promises but such a state of affairs does mean it's an ideal time to look at a man who did indeed once manage to become a better man.

And that man is Captain Marvel because, less than twenty issues after his comic was launched, the hero created purely for legal reasons was drastically reinvented in an attempt to make him more viable. And issue #17 is where the bulk of that reinvention occurred.

What happens is this.

Captain Marvel #17, Rick Jones and an alien cave
Rick Jones is keeping up the habit of a lifetime by roaming around feeling sorry for himself because no super-heroes want anything to do with him. The Hulk tried to bump him off the last time they met and now Captain America has given him the brush-off.

Admittedly, it's not really Captain America. It's the Red Skull pretending to be Captain America but Richard isn't aware of that and so does what anyone would in his position. He hitches a lift to the middle of nowhere and then follows a glowing copy of Cap into a cavern clearly created by aliens, before putting some strange-looking bands on his wrists.

I have to confess that, personally, I wouldn't do any of those things, as all of those things are clearly stupid things to do.

Fortunately, Rick Jones isn't made of what I'm made of. He's made of one hundred percent stupid. This is a boy who once drove his car into a nuclear testing site, just as a bomb was about to go off, and then sat there playing his mouth organ. For him, chasing glowing figures into alien caves and sticking ominous things on his wrists is just another day at the office.

Captain Marvel #17, Rick Jones swaps bodies
So it is that, no sooner has he banged the bracelets together, for no good reason, than he's swapped places with Captain Marvel who instantly finds himself under attack by the villainous Yon-Rogg who tries to blow him up with a robot duplicate of Carol Danvers before fleeing in his spaceship.

All that drama done with, Rick is returned to this world, from the Negative Zone and stalks off, declaring that he's going to hunt Yon-Rogg down and give him a good slapping.

It's all a very strange thing. Obviously, given that his early adventures were not exactly stellar, it made sense to reinvent Mar-Vell by giving him a new costume and powers, such as enhanced strength and the power of flight but it's a bit hard to see in what way the strip benefits from our hero having to keep swapping  places with Rick Jones every time there's trouble.

Obviously, writer Roy Thomas did it as an homage to the Original Captain Marvel and his constant place-swapping with Billy Batson but it still doesn't change the fact that it's effectively turned the comic's star into Rick Jones's sidekick, a fate that surely no hero deserves. The Captain being stuck alone in the middle of nowhere for half of every issue also severely limits his possibilities for character development.

Captain Marvel #17, Rick Jones is on a quest
At least the one saving grace is that Rick doesn't sing in this issue. It is weird how you can hate Rick Jones's singing, despite never having actually heard him do it.

Personally, I would have thought the obvious way to improve Captain Marvel would have been to have left him pretty much as he was, but with the new costume and the souped-up powers and then let him have adventures in outer space, rather than on Earth.

It does always seem strange to me that Stan Lee launched two comics in the late 1960s that featured space-born heroes - Captain Marvel and the Silver Surfer - and then had them both mostly limited to operating on Earth. You can't help feeling their potential wasn't really being fully exploited and, given his normal shrewdness as an editor, it does seem a strange blind spot on Lee's part.

The story itself is fairly straightforward, its first half there to set up Jones' meeting with Marvel and its second being there to give the Kree captain a chance to discover what new powers he has. As a result, it's lively but a bit insubstantial. On the art front, it's stylishly drawn by Gil Kane although it's not, I think, his very best work.

While merging Marvel with Jones never really made sense from a story-telling standpoint, I suppose it did at least make the finale of the Kree/Skrull War possible, so at least some good came out of it.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the futility of self-improvement. You might have more noble ideas. Either way, have a Happy New Year and don't run into any caves. You never know what might be lurking in them.

Thursday 28 December 2017

December 28th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Help! Help! I don't know what day of the week it is!

That can only mean one thing. That it's that mysterious period, between Christmas and the New Year, when time becomes strangely scrambled in our minds.

In light of such psychological trauma, I can only take one course of action.

And that's to settle down in a comfy chair and find out what's on the TV.

In Britain, it's been a bit of a Ray Harryhausen fest today - but what of this date, way back in 1977?

On BBC One, Flash Gordon was still conquering the universe. He was taking his time about it. He'd been trying to do it for weeks. He clearly needed to shake himself.

Later that day, Out Of This World was investigating UFOs. We also had the Golden Great Hits of the Monkees, Christmas With The Osmonds and Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines.

Later still that day, we got the political drama of Washington: Behind Closed Doors with its tale of skulduggery, power-grabbing and corruption in the White House.

Later than even that, we got A Christmas Ghost Story, starring Kate Binchy and Peter Bowles. I have no idea what that was about but have no doubt that Peter Bowles played a charming bounder with a moustache.

I know, it's hard to understand how I could have guessed that. I can only conclude that I must be psychic.

Marvel UK, Rampage #11, Defenders vs Xemnu

That cheeky ball of fur - Xemnu - is back.

From what I can make out, it would appear that he's taken control of a small town and it's up to our disparate dynamos to stop him.

Exactly what he wants with a small town, I cannot say but I have no doubt it's not good news for the local inhabitants.

Mighty World of Marvel #274, Hulk vs the Constrictor

The Constrictor's still being a nuisance. Given his lack of awesomeness, it's very difficult to see how he managed to last more than three panels against the Hulk. I can only conclude that the jade one was distracted by weightier concerns.

Super Spider-Man #255, Morbius

From what I can make out, Morbius has been possessed by the Empathoid and compelled to kidnap Glory Grant, in order to force Spider-Man to show up.

As if that wasn't bad enough news for the wall-crawler, the UK reprints are now just six months behind the US originals. Surely this can only mean impending crisis for our plucky company.

Marvel UK, Complete Fantastic Four #14

Apparently, the FF are still fighting Ternak. I can shed no more light on the subject than that.

I also have no idea what the back-up tale is.

I do feel that today's post isn't the most illuminating I've ever done. Needless to say, I blame Marvel UK for not putting detailed plot summaries on the front of all their comics.

Regardless, I do believe this is another Ross Andru pencilled tale, which does make it a thing of interest, in that regard.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Christmas 1977 - Marvel UK annuals, 40 years ago this month.

It's Christmas Eve!

And that can only mean one thing!

That it's time to get all over-excited and start feeling at our wrapped presents to see if we can guess what they are.

But we don't need to guess what they are - because it's 1977 and we all know what we're going to get.

We're going to get Marvel UK annuals!

Admittedly, I only got one Marvel UK annual that year but that's not going to stop me listing all of them here.

But first, there's need for a quick look at what else was happening that Yuletide. Mull of Kintyre was still at Number One on the UK singles chart, while, across the Atlantic, the Bee Gees held top slot, with the not-at-all Christmassy How Deep Is Your Love.

Meanwhile, on TV, Christmas Eve, saw BBC Two give us the original movie version of MASH.

Elsewhere, that morning, BBC One gave us Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (which he didn't). That afternoon, they gave us, Soviet Gymnastics Spectacular and White Christmas. While, that evening, we received The Duchess of Duke Street, The Dick Emery Christmas Show and that good old festive standby Starsky and Hutch.

On Christmas Day itself, BBC Two's late film was The Big Sleep.

That morning, BBC One gave us National Velvet before serving up such treats as Are you Being Served, Top of the Pops, Billy Smart's Christmas Circus, Basil Brush Through the Looking Glass, The Wizard of Oz and The Mike Yarwood Show, featuring that legendary studio performance of Mull of Kintyre by the aforementioned Wings.

But surely the most Herculean televisual feat of that Christmas Day was by Morecambe and Wise whose show attracted a gigantic twenty eight million viewers, which, needless to say, is one of the highest viewing figures ever for a TV show in Britain.

Marvel UK, Spider-Man Annual 1978

I must confess that I'm somewhat confused. I'm pretty sure the cover to this relates to the tale in which Peter Parker sets out to discover what happened to his parents and discovers the Red Skull was behind it all.

However, I could have sworn that that tale was included in the previous year's Spider-Man annual. Did they reprint the same story in two consecutive years or is my memory misleading me?

Marvel UK, Captain Britain Annual 1978

Britain's greatest super-hero since Billy the Cat and Katie may have had his comic cancelled and recently had his name removed from the cover of Spider-Man's comic but that, bizarrely, didn't stop him having an annual.

As far as I can tell, the book reprints early Herb Trimpe drawn stories.

It also appears to include a pin-up of Dr Strange, which seems a little random and anomalous.

Mighty World of Marvel Annual 1978

Hooray! I had this one - although I didn't get it at Christmas. I got it in my summer holidays.

If I remember right, it features the Gil Kane drawn tale in which Mar-Vell merges with Rick Jones and then gains revenge on Yon-Rogg.

It also gives us an adventure that features Luke Cage against Moses Magnum, a villain who always gave heroes more trouble than he probably should have.

I'm pretty sure that, despite the cover image, Daredevil doesn't appear in this annual at all, although the Hulk does fleetingly appear in a quick Rick Jones flashback.

Marvel UK, Titans Annual 1978

If I remember correctly, The Titans comic was cancelled in 1976. Needless to say, with true Marvel UK logic, that didn't prevent it getting an annual for 1978.

I have no idea which tales are featured within, although my Sherlockian intellect tells me that Annihilus may be involved.

Marvel UK, Avengers Annual 1978

This is a very odd thing. Up until I Googled for info on this year's books, I had never before been aware of this annual's existence. Equally, I can pass no comment on its contents.

I can say, however, that the colouring on Goliath's costume is a little odd. He's also missing his antennae, which were always my favourite part of it.

Marvel UK, Incredible Hulk Annual 1978

A vaguely Starlinesque cover that appears to not be the work of Jim Starlin, unless he was drawing under the pseudonym of, "Gary Brodsky," which I suspect he wasn't. I assume that Brodsky was Sol Brodsky. I know not who Gary was.

Again, of the contents, I know nothing.

Anyway, that aside, Merry Christmas to you if you celebrate Christmas. Happy Hanukkah if you celebrate that. Happy Kwanzaa if you celebrate that. Happy Pagan Winter Solstice Feastings if you celebrate that. Happy Holidays if you celebrate nothing much in particular. Happy Normal Day That Means Nothing To You if you don't celebrate anything. Happy Pointlessness if you're a nihilist.

No one can accuse this site of not covering all bases or of not spreading the love around evenly.

Thursday 21 December 2017

December 21st, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

There are mere days to go before Christmas.

And that can only mean one thing.

That it's time for me to rush outside and build a snowman.

But there is no snow.

That can only mean one thing.

That it's time for me to rush outside and build a sludgeman.

But there is no sludge.

That can only mean one thing.

That it's time for me to rush inside and  build an internetman.

An internetman constructed from the comics of my youth, of forty years ago.

See how mighty he is! See!

Admittedly, my internetman won't take me by the hand and help me fly through the sky while singing Walking in the Air but, at least, when he goes, he won't leave a tragic puddle behind.

Rampage #10, the Defenders

Last week, we got the prologue of the Evil Eye Saga. This week, we get its epilogue.

This is clearly wise thinking. Let's face it, when it comes to landmark stories, who needs the bits in between? They're just padding. We only need to know how it started and how it ended. Just imagine how much better the Kree/Skrull War would have been if they'd cut out all those pesky Neal Adams instalments and only bothered printing the first and last parts.

As for this issue, from what I can recall, our heroes go back in time to the Crusades, in an attempt to do something about the fact that the Black Knight's body has turned to stone and his soul is trapped in some limbo somewhere.

This involves fighting giant trolls that even the Hulk can't stop. Needless to say, after much turmoil and confusion, our heroes triumph over adversity.

Complete Fantastic Four #13, Ternak

In a revolutionary blow for Women's Lib, it's the Human Torch's turn to be gripped by a giant hand.

I must confess that I know nothing of Ternak.

I assume he has nothing to do with last week's Doctor Doom storyline but I have no evidence at all to back up my assumption.

I can't help feeling Medusa must be a bit cold in that outfit. Given the local climate, you'd have thought she'd have brought a coat with her.

Mighty World of Marvel #273, Hulk vs Constrictor

The Constrictor is still chancing his luck against the Hulk. I fear it's not going to end well for him.

Super Spider-Man #254, Nova and Spidey vs Photon

Can it be? Has Captain Britain fought his last battle?

It certainly seemed so at the time, as this week saw him unceremoniously dumped from the comic whose title he'd previously shared, only to be replaced by a hero of a not totally dissimilar name.

Unlike his UK counterpart, this captain, however, was not allowed to share the comic's masthead. The man nearly sacrificed his life for us in World War II. Did Marvel UK have no sense of gratitude? Did Bucky die in vain?

I'm going to have a stab at it and guess that these Captain America adventures are sourced from Gene Colan's stint on the strip.

I could, I confess, be wrong.

Sunday 17 December 2017

2000 AD - November 1979.

November 1979 was the most important month in human history.

It was the year the world ended.

Admittedly, it didn't really but it threatened to - because that was the month when NORAD and the Alternate National Military Command Center in Fort Ritchie detected a massive Soviet nuclear strike heading towards them.

Fortunately, it all turned out to be a false alarm and we all survived to panic another day.

Which was good news for Penelope Keith because that was also the month when the last episode of the first series of her sitcom To the Manor Born was watched by 23.95 million viewers, which was, at that time, the highest ever viewing-figure for a recorded TV show in the UK.

So, there you have it, a month that could give us global nuclear devastation and Penelope Keith. There's not many months could make that boast.

But what of the galaxy's greatest comic? Just what boasts could it be making that month?

I've no idea. As always, although I recognise some of them, the covers furnish me with few memory jogs as to the comics' contents.

It's good to see Black Hawk on a cover, even though he made so little impact on me that I still can't recall his adventures, despite having Googled panels from his strip.

The gigantic George sort of rings a bell.

Meanwhile, The Alien Who Came In From The Cold clearly did so in vain because I must confess that, like Vienna, he means nothing to me.

Probably the thing that means the most to me is the chance to win a Dinky Toys replica of the Starship Enterprise. It has to be said that, as a youth, I could never quite come to terms with the idea of there being a Dinky Toys version of the Enterprise. I was so used to the company producing Gerry Anderson toys that it seemed oddly heretical for them to be tackling Star Trek as well.

2000 AD Prog 137, Blackhawk

2000 AD Prog 138

2000 AD Prog 139

2000 AD Prog 140, Dinky Star Trek offer

Thursday 14 December 2017

December 14th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

There are times when the internet brings you information that totally amazes you.

While performing the massive, in-depth, weeks of research that go into every post on this site, I noticed that, on this day in 1977, BBC Two's Arena Cinema was taking a look at Peter Benchley's The Deep. The reason for this was that, apart from Star Wars, it was the biggest grossing movie of the year. Is this awesome level of success common knowledge? I had always assumed it was a notorious flop. It shows how much I know.

What I do know is that, on that very day, Bing Crosby's White Christmas stood proud at Number Twelve on the UK Top 40, making it the only Christmas song on the whole of the UK charts. This does seem quite ironic as it's just about the only famous Christmas song that doesn't reenter the British charts in December these days. It only goes to show; we might think of Christmas as an almost near-immutable tradition but it does indeed change with the passage of time.

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #253, Nova

Those pesky bee-keepers of evil show their ugly faces - or at least their ugly hats - as Nova and Spider-Man finally stop fighting each other for long enough to battle the people they're supposed to be fighting.

It is always a bit weird to see AIM getting involved in a scrap. Aren't they supposed to be scientists? Shouldn't they be in a lab, messing about with test tubes or something?

Rampage #9, Defenders vs  the Red Ghost

The Red Ghost puts in an appearance, even though that costume just doesn't look right on him.

But I do note that the cover is referring to him by the correct name, rather than perpetuating the Marvel UK tradition of labelling him, "The Mad Ghost."

I'm not sure at what point they made the switch, or why they refused to call him Red in the first place. Was it a fear of offending the communists among their readership? Was it because the mags were in black and white and they didn't want to rub that in by mentioning colour?

Anyway, what matters more is that the conclusion of this issue sets up the Avengers vs Defenders Evil Eye Saga which, I think, has already been played out in the pages of Spider-Man's comic, meaning no sign is ever seen of it in the Defenders' mag.

The Complete Fantastic Four #12, Dr Doom

Doctor Doom is back - and the FF find themselves up against a foe who seems to be a combination of Triton and an egg whisk. Truly, no more fearsome foe could exist.

Other than that, I have no light to shed upon this tale and don't know if Darkoth is still on the loose or not.

Mighty World of Marvel #272, The Constrictor

The Constrictor is on the rampage, a foe who thinks he can take on the Hulk but ends up being defeated by a street light. I think this may be the only tale I ever read with him in it. I don't know, therefore, if he was ever seen again.

Didn't this tale happen around the time that Bruce Banner got himself a new landlady, Betty Ross got a makeover and a stage magician started turning up all over the place for no reason at all?

I do recall that Banner's new landlady didn't recognise him in the slightest. Which is odd, as you'd think that Bruce Banner would be one of the most famous - or, at least, infamous - men on Earth.

Sunday 10 December 2017

Forty years ago today - December 1977.

As I sit here, typing this deathless prose, snow is falling from the skies, and the streets are being increasingly buried beneath a pure-white blanket. Faced with such nightmare horror, there's only one thing I can do.

And that's to rush straight out into it, leap onto my Time Toboggan and hurtle, full speed, down the Hill Of Nostalgia until I crash, face first, into the massive great snow bank that is 1977!

Avengers #166, Count Nefaria

The Avengers are still battling against the nefarious schemes of Nefaria - which is a shame, as I always get this incarnation of him mixed up with Graviton and can't remember which tale it is in which what happens.

I think I may have just reinvented the English language in that last paragraph. That's how powerful Nefaria is. He even has the power to warp English into something unrecognisable.

Conan the Barbarian #81

It's another day at the office for Conan.

Captain America #216, the Human Torch

I'm slightly confused. At first I assumed the Human Torch in this issue was the revived Original Torch, destined, no doubt, to disappointingly pop his clogs at the end of the tale, as he seemed to whenever he was revived.

However, the character on the cover does look much more like the modern version and I therefore assume it is he instead.

I suppose that makes more sense, as it's hard to see how the original could be in a 1970s tale when his body was, at the time, being used by the Vision.

Fantastic Four #189, the Original Human Torch

And speak of the devil...

Yes, no sooner have I finished crafting that earlier paragraph than the Original Human Torch does indeed put in an appearance.

My razor-sharp senses tell me this is a reprint of the 1960s tale in which the flaming fighter of fiendishness was resurrected by the Mad Thinker, only to turn against his resurrector in a tale that then led to the Silver Surfer meeting Quasimodo whose untrustworthy activities were enough to convince him that humanity needed to be taught a lesson.

Given that Quasimodo was blatantly not human, this seems like a strange conclusion for the Surfer to have drawn. But, then, you always got the feeling the Surfer was always looking for any excuse he could find to turn against humanity.

Regardless, I'm pretty sure the Original Torch pops his clogs at the end of this tale, just for a change.

Incredible Hulk #218, Doc Samson vs the Rhino

It's good to see Doc Samson being as positive as ever.

To be honest, I find it very hard to believe the Rhino has just beaten the Hulk, seeing as the Hulk mostly swatted him like a fly in every encounter between the pair of them that I ever read.

Iron Man #105, Jack of Hearts

Marvel's attempts to make a major character out of Jack of Hearts continues as he comes up against Iron Man. I wonder at what point they realised it was never going to happen?

Amazing Spider-Man #175, the Punisher and the Hitman

In retrospect, it was quite tiresome how gun-toting psychopaths kept showing up in 1970s Spider-Man comics but it seemed exciting and modern at the time.

Spectacular Spider-Man #13, Razorback

Hooray, it's the debut of one of the few super-heroes named after a pig.

Come to think of it, was he the only super-hero named after a pig?

Admittedly, when I say, "Hooray," I don't remember him being particularly sensational. My main memory of him is that he drove a big lorry and was constantly saying things like, "Ten-Ten," for no good reason.

Come to think of it, it's making me miss the gun-toting psychopaths now.

Still, if I recall correctly, he did help Spidey defeat Brother Power and Sister Sun, so he must had had something going for him.

I do believe this tale leads to a clash with the Man-Beast/Hatemonger, which is no bad thing.

Thor #266, Loki and the Destroyer

I do believe that, in this tale, the Destroyer is being powered by the consciousness of Balder and is giving Thor a good slapping. Other than that, I can say little of what happens.

X-Men #108

I do believe this is John Byrne's first issue on the strip, even though Dave Cockrum drew the cover.

At the time, of course, we had no way of knowing it'd be a permanent switch, nor have any idea of just how important it'd prove to be.

The change was a disappointment to me at the time, as it meant we didn't get to see Cockrum finish the story arc he'd done so much work on but it was always a pleasure to see the work of Byrne who was one of my favourite artists even before he took over the strip.

Thursday 7 December 2017

December 7th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

I'm currently watching a Star Trek episode in which the crew encounter a bunch of aliens who don't know what love is and don't know what kissing is. I'm sure it's only a question of time before Captain Kirk fully enlightens them.

By my reckoning, he's also just twenty five minutes away from destroying their god, causing societal collapse and then flying off into space, abandoning them to their fate, and expecting them to thank him.

But if those aliens don't know what love is, we certainly do.

Love is that thing all sensible people feel for comics.

And that can only mean one thing.

That it's time to look at what the loveliest comics company of them all was giving us almost exactly forty years ago.

Marvel UK, Savage Sword of Conan #2

Judging by the book's first two issues, Marvel UK seem to have had a policy of hitting the market hard, with Boris Vallejo covers, in order to arouse maximum interest from those scanning the news racks for something to read.

They were of course right. Who wouldn't be tempted to buy something that had a Boris Vallejo painting on the front of it?

I had the American original of this one. I remember it involving a sorcerer who had a well in his citadel, via which he could see into the future and the past and had used it to bring a tyrannosaurus into the Hyborian Age.

I think this may be the story that first introduced me to the word, "Citadel." Yet again, comics had proven their educational worth.

As for the dinosaur, with a grim inevitability, it escaped and Conan had to fight it.

With an equally grim inevitability, he beat it. They should have let Conan loose in Jurassic Park. The film would have been over in about five minutes, with him on the loose.

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #252, Photon

"Now it's your turn, chum!" Why do I get the feeling this issue's cover copy was written by the same person who used to do the cover copy for Captain Britain's mag?

Regardless, Spider-Man's team-up with Nova continues.

Didn't this tale involve the theft of a top secret prototype of some device or other?

I also remember it involving a speedboat chase, which was nice.

Rampage #8, Attuma

It's Attuma's turn to get his bottom kicked by the world's most overpowered super-team.

I don't like to be harsh but, much as we all love him,  I fail to see just what Hawkeye can bring to the table, given the power levels of his team mates. I mean, getting hit by a stun arrow's not really on a par with being punched in the face by the Hulk, is it?

Mighty World of Marvel #271, Hulk vs Mongu

Despite being on Earth, with the Defenders, fighting Attuma, the Hulk also manages to be on another planet, fighting Mongu II.

By the looks of it, he could do with Hawkeye's help.

Complete Fantastic Four #11, Dr Doom

As predicted by several commenters last week, Dr Doom makes his dastardly return.

I could be wrong but I think this tale may involve Darkoth turning against his creator.

Tuesday 5 December 2017

The Marvel Lucky Bag - December 1977.

It's the first week of the month!

And that means it's time for me to once more leap into my time car and drive headlong into the world as it was forty years ago for Marvel's less celebrated titles.

And I'm starting to see why they were less celebrated. Normally, a month produces a whole bunch of issues that are worthy of scrutiny but I have to say that December 1977 seems to have been a cursed cover date, as that month's Marvel publications provided very slim pickings indeed. Out of all of them, I really couldn't find any covers that screamed out at me as being worthy of inclusion.

But I'm nothing if not determined to fill a web page with meaningless words, and so, bravely undeterred, I've decided to post the following six covers as being slightly above the others when it comes to matters of intrigue.

Rampaging Hulk #6, the Sub-Mariner

I don't care what it says in that blurb; those depths don't look at all dark to me.

Regardless, given that the early Rampaging Hulk tales took place in the period straight after the scrapping of the Hulk's first Silver Age comic, I think this might technically be the first ever meeting of our hero and the Sub-Mariner.

I'm struggling to recall exactly what happens in it, other than that they have a fight, but I do vaguely recall the Krylorians in some way being responsible for the clash.

For an alien race who had marginally less credibility than the Ferengi, the Krylorians did manage to cause a remarkable amount of trouble.

Marvel Comics' The Flintstones #2

I've posted this as a reminder that, although we all think of Marvel as the home of super-heroes, the 1970s was also the era of licensed properties for the company.

Admittedly, in this case, it wasn't the era of the Flintstones for long, as the title only lasted for nine issues before disappearing from the spinner racks.

Marvel Classics Comics #30, the Arabian Nights

Not that I'm shallow but I can never see the phrase, "Arabian Nights," without thinking of the Banana Splits TV show and shouting, "Size of an elephant!"

I'm sure, however, that this comic did its best to put me - and people like me - right.

Admittedly, putting a man the size of an elephant on the front cover probably wouldn't have helped.

Howard the Duck #19

Am I to take it that, in this issue, Howard decides to retire from being a duck?

How peculiar.

And how unlikely.

Marvel Classics Comics #29, The Prisoner of Zenda

Marvel give us yet another of their literary adaptations.

To be honest, I always get the Prisoner of Zenda mixed up with The Man in the Iron Mask and don't know where one ends and the other one starts.

Marvel Premiere #39, The Torpedo

Hooray! Marvel Premiere gives us the adventures of the Torpedo!

For some reason, I know who the Torpedo is. Why I know who he is, I have no idea. Did I once read one of his adventures?

If so, I don't have a clue where.

Anyway, with that cover, Al Milgrom gives us his best Steve Ditko impression.

Sunday 3 December 2017

Fifty years ago this month - December 1967.

In this month of 1967, the least appropriately named radio show of all time was launched, as Radio 4 gave us the legend that is Just A Minute.

Far from lasting just a minute, the show has now lasted for fifty years - with exactly the same presenter at the helm from then until now. Bearing in mind that the guilty man - Nicholas Parsons - wasn't in the first flush of youth even in 1967, it does seem quite astonishing that he should still be going strong in the role even now.

But, of course, this revelation means that I shall have to tackle the subject of what our favourite Marvel heroes were up to fifty years ago, in one minute, without hesitation, repetition or deviation.

Can I do it?

Can I?

Obviously not, as I've just repeated and deviated in one go.

Rargh! These things are far harder than Kenneth Williams ever made them seem.

Avengers #47, Magneto

Don Heck and Frank Giacoia give us what feels to me like a very un-Avengers kind of cover.

I suspect the story within is the one in which Magneto and the Toad return to Earth, after escaping the clutches of the Stranger and proceed to try and re-recruit the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, causing a chain of events that will lead to the creation of the all-new, all-improved, all-heroic Black Knight.

Daredevil #35, the Trapster

Is this the one where the Trapster disguises himself as Daredevil in order to gain access to the Fantastic Four headquarters?

A full two issues before Doctor Doom decides to disguise himself as Daredevil in an attempt to gain access to the Fantastic Four headquarters?

Obviously you expect comic book plots to get recycled but you expect a slightly bigger gap between recyclings than two issues.

You also expect Dr Doom to be able to come up with a classier plan than the Trapster can.

Fantastic Four #69

The Thing's still on the rampage.

Oh well, at least he's not disguised himself as Daredevil in order to gain access to the Fantastic Four's headquarters.

Amazing Spider-Man #55, Doctor Octopus

It's a classic cover, as Doc Ock continues to be the worst lodger ever and Spider-Man tries to do something about it.

Strange Tales #163, Nick Fury, agent of SHIELD

I don't have a clue what's going on in the Nick Fury tale but, apparently, the back-up strip features Dr Strange having problems with the Living Tribunal. I think an attempt at rescuing Victoria Bentley from some dread realm might be involved.

I assume this wasn't the same dread realm that Barbara Norris was trapped in. Women did have a remarkable knack of getting trapped in dread realms when Dr Strange was around.

Tales of Suspense #96, Captain America

Is this the one where Captain America's revealed his secret identity to the world, and now everyone's out to kill him?

Tales to Astonish #98, the Sub-Mariner

I do believe that, in this tale, thanks the activities of the Plunderer, the hated surface dwellers drop depth charges on Atlantis, causing yet another war between that kingdom and the planet's air breathers.

Thor #147, Loki

Loki decides to take advantage of Thor's reduced powers, by giving him a good old lesson in fisticuffs - and inadvertently causes the creation of The Wrecker while he's at it.

I'm not totally sure what Odin's up to on that cover.

X-Men #39

I take it the Mutant-Master is still causing trouble.

Did he ever return after this tale? I have no recollection of him ever even being mentioned again. Surely even a malevolent space octopus deserves a second story at some point.