Thursday, 29 June 2017

June 29th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

A mere fortnight ago, all talk on this blog turned towards that legendary film Carry On Screaming.

And now it must turn towards Carry On Spying because, on this night of exactly forty years ago, BBC One was showing that very movie.

To be honest, although I recall liking it, I'm struggling to remember what actually happens in it. I seem to remember Barbara Windsor having a photographic memory, Hattie Jacques being an hermaphroditic arch-villain and Lance Percival basically playing the role Kenneth Williams normally did. But what was the actual story? Was a fez involved? Was a conveyor belt covered in dinner plates involved?

I know not.

What else don't I know?

What Marvel UK was up to in the seven day period that led up to that very night.

But, you know what?

I'm about to find out...

Marvel UK, Captain Britain #38, the Highwayman

Captain Britain there, in danger of being the first super-hero ever to be killed by a three foot fall.

But the main claim to fame of this issue is that it features the Nick Fury story whose Jim Steranko cover features him floating around in a space suit. Surely it has to be Fury's most iconic cover ever.

Is that cover also reproduced in this issue?

Sadly, I cannot answer that but I certainly hope so.

In other news, the FF are still fighting the Mole Man, Tyrannus and Kala, while Spider-Man's teaming up with Captain America against the Grey Gargoyle.

Mighty World of Marvel #248, Hulk and Dracula

At last! Because I demanded it! The origin of the Hulk!

In all honesty, I can't actually remember demanding it. Plus I'm not sure in what way it qualifies as, "At last!" I could have sworn his origin had been tackled already before this point. But I must have imagined that, as no comic book blurb would ever lie to me.

Regardless, this would appear to the story in which Herb Trimpe returns and Jade Jaws tackles Kronus: Master of Time.

Meanwhile, Gene Colan's Daredevil is up against the Scorpion, and Captain Marvel's doing something on the Moon. Could this be part of the story that features the Lunatic Legion? Then again, could it be the start of the saga of the trial of the Watcher?

Super Spider-Man and the Titans #229, the Tarantula

It's the start of two brave new eras in one comic.

First of all, the book reverts to the portrait format it started off with and, secondly, we get the start of the era in which the main strip alternates between Amazing Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man stories. And what better way to celebrate such a move than by giving us the return of the epic menace of The Tarantula?

I'm trying to recall which other strips survived the comic's format change. I'm pretty sure one of them was Thor. Were Captain America and the Avengers likewise spared the axe?

Fury #16, Mission Capture Hitler

I'm willing to go out on a limb and bet good money that they don't succeed in capturing Hitler.


dangermash said...

I think you're right about which four strips survived the cut in SSMatT Steve, and that Iron Man and the Invaders drop out at this point.

But Thor and Captain America only have two or three weeks left before two other strips take their place.

With Iron Man, Thor and Cap all taking breaks I'm amazed that MTU, Captain Marvel and Dracula keep appearing in other magazines each month but hey ho.

Steve W. said...

Spider-Man's mag without Thor and Iron Man must have felt strange at the time, bearing in mind that they'd been in it since its early days. Captain America and Marvel Team-Up I could live without. On the other hand, I loved Dracula and Captain Marvel in MWOM.

pete doree said...

So it was you that DEMANDED IT, Steve. D'you know, I always wondered, whenever I saw a Bronze Age cover that said 'Because You DEMANDED IT!!!' whether I'd demanded it and just forgotten doing that.
So can I blame you for The Torpedo / Jack Of Hearts / Uri Geller meeting Daredevil etc etc etc? Apparently, we demanded that, but clearly it was you all along...

Anonymous said...

The Avengers stories at this time were up to the big Defenders cross over. I recall being a bit confused at the time but can't remember if this was because I wasn't paying attention or that Marvel UK only printed the Avengers stories. The Defenders 'proper' didn't't start until Rampage weekly, but we established, here, a few months back that early Defenders stories had appeared in MWOM. Did they simply print the Avengers and Defenders issues back to back?


Charlie Horse 47 said...

That Steranko cover you reference with Fury in his space suit in front of the moon is the forking bomb! Iconic indeed! His Hulk Annual cover with the logo on Hulk's back is forking iconic too! For a guy who really didn't spend all that many years in comics, he probably has the most memorable covers??? Definitely left his mark on Marvel and comicdom!

Indeed Fury probably never captured Adolf but maybe he gave him a wedge-ee at least???

Anonymous said...

Charlie, I always loved that cover from the next issue of SHIELD too, the one with Fury running from the clocks and newspaper cuttings.

Steve, so far as I recall, that CB issue just reprinted the SHIELD story - not sure how much of a claim to fame can be made for Frank Springer's work - but Steranko's cover did eventually appear in the UK on the front of the first issue of Future Tense (the short-lived early 80s title that reprinted stuff like Starlord, Micronauts etc).

On the subject of CB - didn't the Highwayman speak a bit like an extra from the Sweeney? "Captain Britain you slag...", that kind of thing (well, maybe not exactly like that, but you know what I mean)
I think this was the issue that the plot thickened, and we found out his guv'nor was the Manipulator (how do they come up with these names?), who proceeded to hypnotise CB so he'd kidnap the queen.
Didn't he want the queen to order an invasion of some African country? You think it would have made more sense to kidnap Jim Callaghan, but I suppose he'd already had a guest star slot and it wasn't his silver jubilee.

That Fury cover is an improvement on the last one - good to see Carlos Ezquerra back on form.


Steve W. said...

Pete, you can blame me for everything. It was all my fault.

DW, I can confirm that they printed the Avengers and Defenders stories back to back in that epic saga.

Charlie, Steranko did indeed produce some very striking covers.

Sean, I do remember the Highwayman having unlikely speech patterns for a man with a monocle.

Colin Jones said...

In two weeks Captain Britain and the Fantastic Four join Super Spider-Man.

dangermash said...

Yes Steve, it felt weird losing the two longer standing strips. I was gutted to lose Iron Man but was never that attached to Thor (too immature at that age to appreciate the grandiosity or the artwork). Glad to keep Avengers, though, which had risen up to become my second favourite strip. I won't be disappointed to lose Cap either - his solo series never really grabbed me after moving from Titans to Spider-Man. As for Invaders, good riddance!

Thank I've said before that Spider-Man was the only comic I got each week, so losing/gaining strips would have felt like a bigger deal to me than it would for you with what I'm guessing was probably 3 comics/week at this time.

Steve W. said...

Colin, not that I'm totally sad but I am weirdly excited by it.

Dangermash, I too was glad to see the back of The Invaders. Sadly, I have a feeling it wasn't too long before they re-emerged in Mighty World of Marvel. What with the Howling Commandos turning up in that mag and also the Invaders, it felt like a never-ending nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of "BECAUSE YOU DEMANDED IT" I remember an old issue of World's Finest with that bold phrase on the cover that teamed up Batman and Supergirl.
I demanded no such thing. But I picked up the back issue out of curiosity. I have no recollection of what the story was.


Charlie Horse 47 said...

Guys, guys, guys...... How can you not like Invaders drawn by Frank Robbins??? One I'd pretty much checked out of comics, around 1976, that was the only series I would still pick up! You sure you don't want to re-read it? I'm sure it's collected in an archive of some sort.

Anonymous said...

Some people seem to like that guy's stuff and some people don't.
I don't dig it myself, Charlie, but to each his own.
Robbins was a pretty competent draftsman who did some nice work on newspaper strips and book illustrations, but his comic book stuff didn't do it for me. Interestingly, he wrote some decent Batman stories in the '70's. I don't think comics were a good fit for the guy, but I'm sure he had bills to pay like the rest of us so I don't knock him.
Like me, for example, I should never have taken that job as a bartender. What was I thinking. I thought it was gonna be like Cheers but it wasn't.
The Kirby covers on those Invaders comics, touched up by Romita, were great, however.


Steve W. said...

The only time I ever liked Robbins' art was when he was doing The Shadow, or sci-fi stories. His style never felt right to me when it came to spandex clad super-heroes. The Invaders was also a problem for me to read because, apart from DC's Weird War Tales, I was never gripped by war comics.

Anonymous said...

You weren't gripped by Fiends of the Eastern Front in 2000AD, Steve? Perhaps you have no memory of the series (what are the chances?), but hard to picture it not appealing to anyone keen on Weird War Tales.

Personally, I like war comics; it would be nice to say thats because of artists like Russ Heath and John Severin, or writers like Pat Mills and John Wagner breaking ground on Charley's War and Darkie's Mob or whatever, but to be honest any old rubbish with dialogue like "Achtung schweinhund!" often does the trick.
(Not the Howling Commandos though. You have to have some standards)

Btw, if the Invaders moved to MWOM it couldn't have been for too long as they ended up in the Complete FF.


Steve W. said...

I must admit to having no memory at all of Fiends of the Eastern Front. Were they vampires or something?

I remember Rogue Trooper but that was another strip that I didn't like because of it being a war strip.

Timothy Field said...

The first run of Fiends is an absolute belter that would lend itself well to a movie, think 'The Keep' but coherent and minus the Tangerine Dream soundtrack.

Anonymous said...

Indeed. And you can always listen to Tangerine Dream while reading it(lovers of 70s Euro-prog will probably find Goblin a better fit though).

Rogue Trooper was a bit up and down, Steve. More often than the latter.


Anonymous said...

PS Dunno what happened there - that should have been "more often than not the latter"


Steve W. said...

Sean and Timothy, I shall look into Fiends of the Eastern Front further, via the magic of Google.

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