Thursday, 6 April 2017

April 6th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Before I start on the vital business of the day, I should first give a plug to a guest post that I, Colin Bray and Colin Jones have inflicted upon readers of the Back in the Bronze Age blog.

It's a post that gives a history and overview of Marvel UK for those not familiar with the venture.

Long-standing readers of this site'll be amazed to discover it has actual facts in it, not just a load of pictures of covers, with me going, "I don't have a clue what happens in this one," like most of my posts are on here do. I can only assume some strange fever overcame me when I was composing my own contribution.

But Back in the Bronze Age isn't the only place where thrilling events are afoot.

They're also afoot in the dim and distant place that is April 1977. Not only is Red Rum winning the Grand National for the third time but we're seeing the debut of Mike Leigh's quintessential 1970s play Abigail's Party at the Hampstead Theatre, while, in a daring publicity stunt, the town of Hay-on-Wye is declaring independence from the UK. As it's still part of the UK, forty years later, I can only assume the declaration didn't stick.

Meanwhile, again back in April 1977, ABBA's Knowing Me, Knowing You (A-ha!) is Number One on the UK singles chart. It's one of my ABBA faves, with a video that's pure essence of ABBA distilled onto magnetic tape and served up to us in our living rooms. For some reason, I've always found the line, "In these old familiar rooms, children will play," strangely haunting. I'm not sure what it says about me, other than that I clearly have a thing about empty rooms.

But that was the real world. What was happening in the other world?

You know?

The other real world?

The one where super-heroes live?

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #26, Red Skull

The Red Skull's still trying to overthrow the British government.

Bearing in mind how long he's been trying by this point, I'd have given up by now if I was him.

The cover blurb declares, "More pages than ever!" Yes, that's right! He's taking more pages than ever to overthrow the government!

I'm not sure that's really something to boast about.

PS. Who can spot the deliberate mistake on this cover? I don't mean the line, "The greatest super-hero of all!" I don't think that's a mistake. I think that's just false advertising. There's another fatal error besides that one.

Mighty World of Marvel #236, Hulk and Planet of the Apes

Is this really a Rhino story, or is it that one where the Hulk finds himself facing replicas of his greatest enemies whilst inside Glenn Talbot's brain?

I'm struggling to recall just how replicas of the Hulk's enemies got in there. Weren't they supposed to be part of a mental block? How exactly does a mental block create tiny replicas of super-villains? It's at times like this that I wish I had a doctorate in psychology, so I could understand these things.

Super Spider-Man and the Titans #217, Hammerhead and Dr Octopus

This storyline's starting to feel almost as interminable as the Red Skull one.

Still, it's a lot more fun for lovers of silliness and it ends with a bang. Literally.

But how on Earth did Hammerhead ever manage to be a threat to Dr Octopus? When all's said and done, he's just a gangster with a hard head, whereas Doc Ock has four metal arms that are about thirty foot long. Hammerhead should never have been able to get anywhere near him.

Marvel UK, Fury #4

I really do wish I knew something about the contents of Fury, beyond, "It has Nick Fury in it," so I'd have something to say about it other than that it has nice covers and plenty of alliteration.

Still, only about another twenty posts to go before I never need to worry about it ever again.

Hold on. Doesn't that mean I'll have to endure Nick Fury's Howling Commandos squatting in Mighty World of Marvel for what seems like an eternity?

I am intrigued to see, though, that I could win an Action Man (AKA: GI Joe). As a fan of gripping hands and eagle eyes, this is thrilling news for me.

Sadly, my own Action Man possessed neither of those qualities and, in the end, he didn't possess one of his legs either, as it fell off in circumstances that are still a mystery to me.

My Action Man was called Paul. I decided this because he had a T-Shirt that had a big, red letter, "P," on the front of it. I thus decided it stood for, "Paul the Action Man."

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, he might only have been able to hop into action but he did it with style and still always triumphed over all adversaries. Action Man would have seen off Hammerhead. He'd have ignored his head and punched him in the stomach. The scar on his face told me he was that kind of man.


Anonymous said...

Carlos Ezquerra cover on Fury there.
Hope keeping him for Dredd will be a redline in the Brexit negotiations...


dangermash said...

The mistake on that Captain Britain cover. Are we talking about traffic driving on the right, with the orange car pulling out to overtake a bus? Or about the road looking like a one-way street with two lanes when it should be two way?

Steve W. said...

The anomalous nature of the road is indeed the mistake I was talking about. Whatever it is that's happening with it is clearly very strange.

Anonymous said...

Traffic issues aside, I think a bigger mistake may be the not-yet-able to-fly Captain Britain diving onto the also-unable-to-fly Red Skull so that they both fall away from Big Ben's clock face. Wouldn't that result in reddish green mess on parliament square?


Anonymous said...

DW got in before me - Captain Britain hadn't yet received his all-new, all-different magical flying staff from Merlin (as opposed to his original staff which didn't fly) so CB and the Red Skull would have plummeted hundreds of feet to the ground below. I don't remember why Merlin didn't give Cap B a flying staff in CB #1 rather than waiting till #35 or whenever it was but I'm sure the wise and mystical magician had his reasons :)

Colin Bray said...

I have the Spidey/Doc Ock/Hammerhead issue. Not Spidey's finest hour. He insists on repeatedly punching Hammerhead's, err, Hammerhead. In the end Spidey, Ock and Hammerhead simultaneously knock each other out.

This issue also features The Invaders and I must say, the art of Frank Robbins looks good in black and white.

Anonymous said...

I think Captain Britain's new flying staff was called the Star Sceptre.

Anonymous said...

Colin J - Inconsistent and baffling behaviour that seemed ridiculous was part of Merlin's cunning plan to make CB distrust the reality around him so he could eventually defeat Jim Jaspers.
Surely you knew that?


Charlie Horse 47 said...

I just want to say that you three did a brilliant job on the website back in the Bronze Age on Wednesday! Hip Hip Hooray!😁 I plan to print that out and save it for rereading at a future time! It's a classic!

Steve W. said...

Thanks, Charlie.

As for Merlin, I like to to think he learned everything he knew about planning from Odin.

Anonymous said...

Sean, I had to google Jim Jaspers as I'd never heard of him till today. I'm afraid my knowledge of Captain Britain only extends to his final appearance in Super Spider-Man in December '77. Charlie Horse, it's kind of you to say "you three" but my contribution was nothing more than a comment which appeared in the post rather than the comments section !

Anonymous said...


If you haven't read it, it's worth tracking down the Alan Moore and Alan Davis collection which reprints the entire Jasper story. The material was produced around the same time as their Marvel Man and DR and Quinch stories, and are really good. They do reference the original material within the tale.


Anonymous said...

Thats a pity Colin - as DW says, the Moore/Davis CB is well worth reading.
Its not a major plot point or anything, but I really liked the way that Moore referred back to the various earlier versions of the character. Any other writer would have ignored all that stuff, but no - CB was rubbish for a reason!


Anonymous said...

Gosh, I'm quite intrigued now !!

Steve W. said...

I too can recommend the Alan Moore/Davis Captain Britain stories. I remember being highly impressed by them when they first came out.

Anonymous said...

After Dez Skinn's revolution my interest in UK Marvel started going downhill faster than Brexit Britain on Mont Blanc - I know that Captain Britain had a costume change and his sister became a ninja but that's it.

dangermash said...

Looking at the strange view that Marvel had of the U.K. and how it was reflected in those Captain Britain strips and in ASM #95, I'm eternally grateful that rhe didn't do the same with other European nations. I dread to think what Captain Romania would have looked like. A rat-eating peasant carrying a mystic pitchfork is my guess given the portrayal of Latveria in FF & Avengers strips.

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