Thursday 31 August 2017

August 31st, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

It's time to plunge once more into the reckless maelstrom that is the Steve Does Comics Time Vortex and see just what our favourite comics company was up to in the seven day period that ended on this very day, forty years ago.

My in-depth research tells me there was nothing interesting happening in the real world. So, clearly, those mags were going to have to fill the void that reality had consequently left in my youthful life.

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #238, the Lizard and Stegron

Spider-Man's still having problems with Stegron and the Lizard. The FF are still having problems with Thundra and the Frightful Four. The Avengers are still having problems with the Collector and his bats of doom, and Captain Britain is still having trouble with werewolves and vampires.

I think I can safely say it's a week of very little change for Marvel UK's second oldest title.

I'd totally forgotten that the Spidey tale takes place at Christmas. Judging by that cover, it doesn't seem to be a time of good will to all men. Once again, the Festive Season has let me down.

Then again, that's what happens when you insist on having it in the middle of August.

Mighty World of Marvel #257, the Hulk vs the Defenders, Dracula vs the Silver Surfer

Meanwhile, the Hulk's still taking his time getting over the death of Jarella.

To be honest, when you look at how bad his memory normally is, it's a miracle he even remembers her.

Speaking of feats of memory, I recall the Silver Surfer/Dracula death-match as being moderately controversial at the time, as not all readers liked the idea of Dracula encountering regular Marvel super-doers.

Marvel UK, Fury #25, last issue

Like a badly designed submarine, Marvel UK's first stab at doing a war comic sinks beneath the waves, never to be seen again.

But what does this mean? Where can Nicholas and his men possibly take refuge?

Surely Marvel UK know their readers can't survive without a weekly dose of his adventures?

Sunday 27 August 2017

The most forgettable comics I have ever owned - Part 21: Werewolf by Night #41.

Werewolf by Night #41, Fire Eyes
Hooray! It's the return of the feature that's become a legend on the internet. Mostly because it seems to consist entirely of issues of Werewolf by Night.

I mean, seriously, how many issues of this comic did I have?

More to the point, how many issues did I have that I have no recollection of?

Well, I can tell you. I had eight  issues and I've managed to forget the contents of all of them.

But there are special issues of Werewolf by Night. Ones where not only can I not remember their contents but, up until blundering across their covers on the internet, I had no memory of ever having possessed.

The comic in this post is one of them.

And, Reader, I'm convinced that this is the most forgettable of them all.

Who on Earth was the villain? And was he really lumbered with the name, "Fire Eyes?"

Massive amounts of Googling tell me that he was indeed lumbered with the name Fire Eyes and he did indeed appear in this issue.

Unfortunately, massive amounts of Googling also tell me nothing else about him whatsoever. Was he human? Was he alien? Was he mutant? Was he robot? Was he demon? Was he god? I have no idea.

I was going to ask, given his notoriously poor fighting skills, how did the Werewolf beat him but I'm going to guess that he didn't because I can't remember the Werewolf ever beating anyone in a fight.

Therefore, I shall assume someone else beat him, possibly a group of good guys doing something with incantations and magic goblets. Possibly there was an altar. Possibly there was an ancient tome. Possibly there was smoke. This is a pure guess but I would not be surprised if this was the case and that, subjected to such activities, Fire Eyes simply melted like a candle or some such misfortune, never to bother any werewolves ever again.

Thursday 24 August 2017

August 24th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Hot on the heels of Elvis Presley's death, this week in 1977 saw the demise of yet another icon from an era before my birth, as Groucho Marx passed away at the age of 86.

And he wasn't the only casualty of the week. Somewhat less seriously, we also saw the demise of the previous design for the Pound note, as a brand new one was unleashed upon the public.

No doubt its release was accompanied by TV news vox pops featuring such inspired street corner comments as, "It's like Monopoly money/Mickey Mouse money/that funny foreign money. It's too big/too small/too colourful/too dull. It'll never survive in the washing machine. If you drop it, you'll never find it again. How are blind people supposed to use it?" and all the other such obligatory comments that greet the release of every new item of currency.

Well, the Pound might have been changing but one thing wasn't.

And that was Marvel UK which, bucking the trend of recent years, was still giving us the same mags this week as it had the previous one.

But were they doing sterling work? Or were they just acting like a two bob outfit?

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain  #237, the Lizard

Spidey's still having trouble with the Lizard, the Fantastic Four are still having trouble with the Frightful Four, and Captain Britain is still having trouble with vampires and werewolves.

There is at least a new adventure erupting in The Avengers, as our heroes fight the Collector during that Vermont Halloween parade that was always turning up in American comics of the era, without me ever knowing it was a real thing.

I remember the tale being drawn by Don Heck in one of his less user-friendly moods.

I also remember the Avengers being thrown into a tizzy by the arrival of bats. I don't know if the Avengers should ever be thrown into a tizzy by the arrival of bats.

Mighty World of Marvel #256, Dracula and the Hulk

I vaguely recall this week's cover tale as being about a woman with a bunch of imaginary friends from her favourite books, who somehow teleports Dracula into her fantasy world, thanks to her believing him to be a fictional character.

It was all a bit strange and I'm not sure it ended happily for her but I could be wrong.

Marvel UK, Fury #24

Just one more issue to go before Fury smashes its last secret Nazi invasion tunnel.

Was the invasion tunnel a tunnel under the Channel?

I'd love to know how you could create a Channel tunnel in secrecy, seeing as it'd involve disposing of twenty five miles' worth of earth. Where exactly would you put twenty five miles of earth without anyone noticing?

For that matter, why is the soldier on the right of the picture shooting at the tunnel wall? Isn't that a rather futile gesture?

Sunday 20 August 2017

2000 AD - July 1979.

July of 1979 was a time that will always be associated with records.

It was in that month that Sheffield's Sebastian Coe broke the world mile record for the first time. He then went on to break another two world records in the space of just forty one days. Not content with that, over the course of the next three years, he broke a total of eleven world records.

What kind of madness was this?

Obviously, as a man of the people, I was always on the side of plucky habitual runner-up Peter Elliott. Surely the living embodiment of South Yorkshire.

But if July 1979 was a good month for one kind of record, it was a terrible month for another.

The kind that was round and had a hole in the middle of it.

For it was the month in which the Sony Walkman was launched - and, like fools, Sony made it only able to play cassettes and not LPs. What brand of lunacy was this? What kind of maniac would want to walk around playing cassettes when they could be playing LPs as they strolled?

Not only that but, that month, Chicago saw the infamous Disco Demolition Night in which a crate of disco records was blown up in Comiskey Park as a protest against the music form's then-ubiquity.

Not that I cared. I'm sure I was too busy catching up with the adventures of the galaxy's greatest comic.

It would appear that 2000 AD had a new logo which I think coincided with an improvement in the comic's paper quality.

It would also appear that Prog 122 featured an amazing robot game. I wish I could claim it was so amazing that I can remember it to this day but I'm afraid I have no memory of it at all.

It's interesting to see Prog 123 advertising an article about The Spaceman and King Arthur. Is that the Jim Dale movie based on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court? Despite clips from it being a fixture in every edition of Disney Time I ever saw, I don't believe I've ever seen the movie, nor even encountered it in the schedules.
2000AD Prog 120, Big Robot issue

2000 AD Prog 121, Judge Dredd

2000 AD Prog 122

2000 AD Prog 123, Dan Dare

Thursday 17 August 2017

August 17th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

In this week of 1977, former Eurovision winners The Brotherhood of Man were at Number One on the UK singles chart, with Angelo, probably the happiest song ever written about suicide.

For those not enamoured of The Brotherhood's ABBA-styled warblings, they could always take heart in the fact that Showaddywaddy were at Number Two, with You Got What It Takes.

To be honest, it wasn't a classic chart, that week.

It looks like we were all going to have to take refuge instead in the Marvel UK Hit Parade.

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #236, Stegron

Spider-Man hits the moment that stretches credulity too far for even my youthful mind, as Stegron brings a bunch of dinosaur skeletons back to life.

I think the fact that they're glowing while he does it only serves to make it seem all the more ludicrous and overly-fantastical for the web-spinner's strip.

Elsewhere, The FF are still having their Thundra/Frightful Four entanglement, Captain Britain is still battling a vampire werewolf, and the Avengers and Defenders are still fighting Dormammu for the Evil Eye.

Mighty World of Marvel #255, the Hulk

I have no idea at all what happens in this issue, and the cover doesn't do anything to quell my ignorance.

I suspect the Hulk is still on the rampage, following Jarella's death, but don't quote me on that.

I don't have a clue what Dracula's up to this issue, other than draining some young woman of her blood, which he does basically every issue, so the cover's not really telling me anything new.

Marvel UK, Fury #23, Captain Savage

Just two more issues to go before we have to wave goodbye to the comic we barely ever knew.

Interesting to see Captain Savage now sharing the cover with the man after whom the publication is named.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

The Marvel Lucky Bag - August 1977.

At last! It had to happen!

Because you The Reader demanded it, it's arrived - a brand new feature where I look at what the Marvel non-big hitters were up to in the mags cover-dated exactly forty years ago.

Needless to say, thanks to Marvel publishing nearly four dozen titles a month at the time, there's no way I can cover their whole output without going mad. Therefore, I've decided to revive the tradition of the Lucky Bag, that grand old childhood delight, where you'd buy a bag of sweets without knowing just what was going to be in it.

Admittedly, in my experience, there was always a pair of plastic lips in it. I, however, promise that the posts in this feature will never contain a pair of plastic lips.

Nova #12, Spider-Man

Just as Nova is guesting in Spider-Man's mag this month, so Spidey is guesting in Nova's, as they slug it out and then team up to solve a murder mystery that only a man with a love of calendars could ever hope to fathom.

Rampaging Hulk #4, Jim Starlin cover

Jim Starlin gives us what this mag informs us is his first ever painted cover.

And what a great cover it is.

Inside, if my memory serves me well, the green goliath teams up with a bald sorcerer to battle an evil witch who looks exactly like you expect an evil witch to look.

Tomb of Dracula #59

Dracula doesn't seem to be getting on too well with his own followers.

2001 #9, Machine Man

Machine Man makes what I believe is only his second ever appearance.

Marvellous as Machine Man may be, I do wonder what Stanley Kubrick would have made of it all.

Defenders #50

The Defenders defy the odds and hit their fiftieth issue.

I'm pretty sure I've read this one, but my memories of it are fuzzy.

It's good to see Hellcat still in there. You don't get enough super-doers wearing bright yellow.

Godzilla #1

It's the comic the whole world's been screaming out for, as Godzilla makes his mighty Marvel debut.

My memory of the strip is that it wasn't exactly compulsive reading but it did at least give Herb Trimpe something to do in his post-Hulk days. So, I suppose it served some kind of purpose.

Iron Fist #14, Sabre-Tooth

It always seems surprising that a villain so strongly associated with the X-Men - and with Wolverine in particular - should make his debut in the distinctly non-mutanty Iron Fist.

Then again, I seem to recall Deathbird making her debut in Miss Marvel of all places.

It only goes to prove the 1970s were an an unpredictable place.

Eternals #14, the Hulk

It was never totally clear whether The Eternals took place in the same universe as the other Marvel strips - and things got no clearer when the Hulk showed up, only for him to turn out to be a robot.

Just what was going on?

I have no doubt it would all have been too much for my tiny little mind to cope with, had I read this issue at the time.

Sunday 13 August 2017

Forty years ago today - August 1977.

August of 1977 was a big month for fans of space exploration. On the ground, the Big Ear telescope, working on behalf of SETI, received the legendary Wow! signal that has baffled and perplexed the world ever since. Was it proof of alien life sending us radio signals?

Who can know?

All we can say with certainty is that, clearly, we were all going to have to keep watching the skies.

And, if we did, we'd see another space-related event because, in that sky, the Enterprise space shuttle had a famous test run in which it launched from the back of a flying Jumbo Jet.

Of course, if 1977 had any real class, the Human Fly would have been standing on top of the space shuttle as it took off. I can only conclude that NASA has no sense of showbusiness.

Sadly, back on Earth, things weren't so thrilling for Elvis Presley and Groucho Marx who both chose that month in which to meet their maker.

Someone else who was suffering was Daredevil who lost his monthly status and found his mag moving to a bi-monthly schedule. Could it spell curtains for the man without fear?

Conan the Barbarian #77

What a terrible bit of speech for that mystery hand-waver to be lumbered with.

Like Conan cares if death's ten feet tall. He probably can't even count anyway. He's probably like, "Ten? That's the number after One, isn't it?"

There's a lot to be said for ignorance when you're a barbarian and it comes to walking into mystery rooms.

Fantastic Four #185

The FF are on a mission to rescue Agatha Harkness from the menacing witchcraftery of her home town.

Was her home town Salem?

Isn't Salem a real place?

And I thought people in Europe had plenty to gripe about with the way Marvel insisted on stereotyping them.

Iron Man #101, the Frankenstein Monster

It's the story the world's been crying out for, as Iron Man tangles with Frankenstein's Monster.

I have actually read this one but can't recall what happens in it.

I think there might be a mad scientist involved.

Is water also involved or was that in another story?

Amazing Spider-Man #171, Nova

Speaking of water, Spider-Man teams up with Nova in a murder mystery that's resolved thanks to the order of the months in a year.

Thinking about it, the solution to the crime does rely on a fairly unlikely coincidence that is almost certain to never happen in any murder you might ever want to try and clear up in real life.

Spectacular Spider-Man #9, the White Tiger

The White Tiger makes his debut.

I can't really remember much about this one. Or the White Tiger, for that matter. Doesn't he steal a parchment during a student protest? What he wants the parchment for, I know not.

Thor #262

Apparently, Thor's still on his quest to find the missing Odin.

Captain America and the Falcon #212, the Red Skull

After months of me saying, "Is this the issue where he gets blinded?" at last we reach the issue where he gets blinded. I knew we'd get there eventually.

Regardless, I didn't like it. It's a very unpleasant thing to happen to our hero and I don't like it when bad things happen to people.

Avengers #162, Ultron

I assume we've reached that story where Ultron decides to make a robo-wife for himself, using his, "Mother's," mind.

I can't help feeling there's something a little strange going on with this tale.

Incredible Hulk #214, Jack of Hearts

I remember reading this and not having a clue who Jack of Hearts was.

I did however decide that I wasn't impressed by him.

And that costume has way too much going on in it.

X-Men #106

From the cover, I'm assuming this is the fill-in issue in which doppelgangers of the original X-Men appear from nowhere, in the Danger Room, and start fighting their new counterparts and it all turns out they're products of Professor X's id.

It wasn't the greatest X-Men tale of all time - especially as it had only been six issues since the last time the new X-Men had had a punch-up with the originals.

Thursday 10 August 2017

August 10th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

Despite my best efforts, I can't find anything interesting that happened in this week in 1977. So much for the past being better than the present.

Therefore I'll just give a second plug to my legendary Steve Does Trailers blog that's already shooting up the UK blog charts, like an Ed Sheeran record on speed, and then get straight on with looking at what gems Marvel UK was giving us almost exactly forty years ago.

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #235, Stegron

This tale was my first ever exposure to Stegron.

I knew at once that I didn't like him.

Leaving aside his lack of social skills, he seemed a blatant knock-off of the Lizard, who's always been my favourite Spidey villain.

Clearly this meant I could never tolerate the Jurassic interloper - especially when they had him fighting the Lizard who we all know would make mincemeat of him.

Meanwhile, the seemingly interminable Mole Man saga is finally over and we get what sounds like a very overcrowded Fantastic Four tale that features not just the Inhumans and Frightful Four but also the full-on feminist force of the titanic debut of Thundra.

Elsewhere, Captain Britain is up against a werewolf. Unlike his barney with the Loch Ness monster, I have vague memories of this tale but must admit they are indeed very vague.

Elsewhere, the Avengers and Defenders are still working their way through the climax of the Evil Eye Saga.

Mighty World of Marvel #254, Incredible Hulk, statue of liberty

I had two copies of this issue and therefore used the cover of one of them as a wrapper for one of my school exercise books. I remember that remarkably well.

Sadly, I recall nothing at all about the actual insides of the comic. I'm assuming the Hulk is still on his post-Jarella rampage.

Marvel UK, Fury #22, train is destroyed in an explosion

Just three weeks to go before this book climbs into its own personal bunker and decides to end it all.

Ooh! PS. I need to make a public service announcement that I should have made years ago but have never remembered to post.

In the blog's sidebar, there's a gadget that says, "Subscribe To."

It then says, "Posts," and, below that, "Comments."

If you install a feed-reading extension on your browser and then click on the bit of the gadget that says, "Comments," from that point on, your browser will tell you when there are new comments and show them to you. This means you never need miss a comment again for as long as you live. This is especially useful if people make comments on older posts where you'd be less likely to notice them.

You should also find a similar, "Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom)," link at the bottom of the comments section, which should work in the same way.

I assume it also works with any feed-reader app you might have on your phone but I've not tried it yet, so can't guarantee it.

Sunday 6 August 2017

Fifty years ago this month - August 1967.

Do you remember where you were when Fantastic Four #1 hit the newsstands?

I don't.

I wasn't even born.

And you might not have been either but now's the chance to find out how it felt to have been present at the start of such a tumultuous venture, by being present at the start of another tumultuous venture.

That's right. It can only mean I've launched yet another blog. This time it's Steve Does Trailers, in which I give my thoughts on the latest movie and TV promos that have smashed, face first, into the internet.

So far, the highlight of it has to be my discovery of the existence of Toxic Shark, a film clearly destined to challenge Citizen Kane for the title of greatest movie of all time. Then again, there's also my weird inability to read the word, "It," properly and my thoughts on Valerian, the new Doctor Who Christmas special and Star Trek: Discovery.

Admittedly, as most of my blogs last about three months before I either lose interest in them or forget they ever existed, it might not be around for long but, while it is, you can get it while it's hot by clicking on this very link or using the link that's buried somewhere in the sidebar.

Meanwhile, back to this blog's business at hand...


Galloping galaxies! August 1967 was a big month for all people with telescopes. Not only did we get the first ever discovery of a pulsar, by graduate student Jocelyn Bell of  Cambridge University but NASA also published the first ever map of the dark side of the moon.

By sheer coincidence, Pink Floyd, a band inextricably linked to that second event, released their first album Piper at the Gates of Dawn in that month. What a tangled web Fate weaves.

But what webs was Fortune spinning for our favourite Marvel heroes in the comics that bore that month within their corner boxes?

Avengers #43, the Red Guardian

"The most talked about super-villain of the year!" makes his debut.

And it's true. I don't think anyone's stopped talking about him ever since.

Admittedly, that prediction by the blurb writer may have been somewhat overly-optimistic. However, I had a soft spot for the Red Guardian, even if he didn't last very long.

Wasn't he armed with a tiny little disc that was supposed to be his equivalent of Captain America's shield?

Or was it his belt buckle?

Whatever it was, I was never convinced it was going to be of much practical use in a fight to the death.

But is this the issue in which Hercules fights an imaginary hydra? I get the feeling someone had been watching Jason and the Argonauts before plotting this tale.

Daredevil #31, the Cobra and Mr Hyde

The one in which Daredevil's lost his hyper-senses and is therefore genuinely blind but, like a total moron, decides to fool Hyde and the Cobra into thinking he's not blind, by walking across a tightrope, towards them, despite not being able to see.

That has to be the worst plan any super-hero's ever come up with.

More staggeringly, it actually works. At the sight of DD, "Fooling around," on the rope, Hyde and the Cobra decide he's too much for them and flee in a panic.

What kind of super-villains are they? Even with his powers intact, they'd have next to nothing to fear from Daredevil. Are these really people who once had the guts to take on Thor?

Anyway, all they had to do was cut the rope when he was halfway across. Did this not occur to them?

Fantastic Four #65, Ronan the Accuser

It's another landmark FF tale, as Ronan the Accuser makes his dazzling debut. It's just a shame he was used so poorly in the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie. I've always seen him as a major villain, not some disposable, cardboard non-entity.

Strange Tales #159, Captain America vs Nick Fury

Nick Fury takes on Captain America in mortal combat.

I think we all know who's going to win that one - especially as it seems that Fury's stupid enough to try to karate chop Cap's indestructible shield.

No wonder his UK comic only lasted six months.

Tales of Suspense #92, Captain America

And Fury's getting tangled up with Cap again.

I have a feeling that, this time, it's a life model decoy on the cover and it's all a cheat designed to foil Hydra/AIM/Whoever.

Tales to Astonish #94, the Sub-Mariner

I know nothing at all about this tale but Dragorr looks like a fairly hum-drum villain.

X-Men #35, Spider-Man

I know nothing at all about this tale either but Spider-Man's clearly involved.

From my knowledge of the Silver Age Marvel formula, I'm going to assume Professor X mistakes Spidey for a mutant and sends the X-Men to potentially recruit him to their ranks, only for it all to degenerate into a scrap when the various parties display their usual maturity levels upon encountering a super-powered stranger.

Amazing Spider-Man #51, the Kingpin

The Kingpin has well and truly arrived in the Spiderverse, thanks to a classic cover.
Thor #143

The one that was reprinted in Origins of Marvel Comics.

Despite that, it's not one of my favourite Thor tales from this era and I seem to recall it having rather atypical inking for a late 1960s thunder god adventure.

Thursday 3 August 2017

August 3rd, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

On this night in 1977, BBC Two was broadcasting a repeat of Nigel Kneale's legendary 1954 adaptation of Orwell's Ninety Eighty-Four. The one which famously starred Peter Cushing and a box full of rats. Given the BBC's history of destroying its archives, it comes as something of a shock to discover the recording still exists.

Sitting here in 2017, the year 1984 is a long-distant memory but it's sobering to think there was a time when it was still seven years in the future.

And that time was 1977.

And that time is where we're about to go, in the happy days before Britain was called Airstrip One and Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #234, Light-Master

Light-Master is still causing trouble for our hero.

Even more bizarrely, the Mole Man is STILL causing trouble for the Fantastic Four. Seriously, this story's been dragging on for months now. Were they reprinting it one page at a time?

Elsewhere, the Avengers and Defenders have teamed up and have now entered Dormammu's Dread Dimension, in an attempt to prevent him doing whatever it is he's planning to do with the Evil Eye.

Come to think of it, what was he planning to do with the Evil Eye? Was his actual purpose in purloining it ever revealed?

Meanwhile, Captain Britain's still battling Nessie.

As someone forced by Marvel UK to read Captain Britain every week, I was, by this point, mostly still battling apathy.

Mighty World of Marvel #25, Hulk and Dracula

Jarella's dead and the Hulk is out for vengeance.

I don't remember the Dracula tale at all. I'm assuming, from the presence of old time pirates, that the story contains a flashback sequence, possibly to the early days of Drac's vampirehood. I do remember that, in his mag, he liked to spend plenty of time in agonised reflection upon the events that made him what he is today.

Ooh. Hold on. Maybe the ship is the ship that first brought him to England? Maybe he's on his way to Whitby. Whitby is nice. He'll like it there.
Marvel UK, Fury #21, out of ammo

Just four issues to go before someone will be telling this comic, "For you, Fury, the war is over."