Thursday, 7 September 2017

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

No doubt, the week leading up this date in 1977 was a time for panic for all Marvel UK fans, as the once mighty venture was now down to just two comics.

Ironically, they were also the first two comics the imprint had launched, all the way back in the heady days of the early 1970s.

But could it mean that doom was awaiting the entire venture?

Or could it pluckily fight its way back into contention?

These were the obvious questions I should have been asking at the time. And yet I'm pretty sure I was still totally oblivious to just how close to extinction the brand was.

Perhaps I was too distracted by events of September 5th, on which Voyager One was launched. How little we guessed at the time that that the vessel would one day return to haunt us, being stopped only in its destructive God-complex rampage by Captain Kirk and the crew of the Enterprise in the first Star Trek movie. How did NASA not foresee this calamity coming? How?

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #239, the Vulture

Spidey's still battling against the Vulture.

Doesn't this lead to a battle with the Hitman, and that famously dramatic Dave Cockrum cover?

Elsewhere, the FF are still foiling the Frightful Four and Thundra, and the Avengers are still clobbering the Collector in Vermont.

Meanwhile, Captain Britain gives us what's claimed to be the first ever appearance of Dr Claw.

As I have no recollection of him at all, I suspect it may also have been the last ever appearance of Dr Claw as well.

From what I can find of him, via the medium of Google, he seems to have been an unwell looking man in a wheelchair who arranged for Cap and four other high-profile Brits to take a holiday on an island full of giant monsters and mutants.

I don't think I'll be using him as my travel agent next summer.

Mighty World of Marvel #258, the Hulk vs the Defenders, and Dracula vs the Silver Surfer

Hooray! Totally failing to learn the lesson that no one in 1977 Britain is interested in Nick Fury and his Howling Commandos, Marvel UK move them back into Mighty World of Marvel, presumably stealing a slot from a more popular strip.

But which strip was ditched to make room for them?

My suspicion would be that it was Captain Marvel  but I have no evidence to back this theory up. It's just that I can't think of anyone else who it could have been.

If that was the case, as a Captain Marvel fan, I have no doubt I was suitably outraged.


dangermash said...

Yes Steve, this is from an early SSM and will feature the Hitman sometime soon, with that cover of Spider-Man hanging helpless in the air.

That MWOM cover is cramped as hell with the big masthead, the split scenes and the word balloons.

And MWOM is now featuring two non- superhero strips alongside Hulk and (I'm guessing) Daredevil. I'm sure Titans and Superheroes had lineups no worse than that before hitting the bullet.

Aggy said...

Pssst.... V'ger was Voyager 6 not Voyager 1.... sssshhh no one noticed :)

Steve W. said...

Dangermash, MWOM really was ridiculously unfocused by this point. The Hulk, Daredevil, Dracula, and the Howling Commandos. How did the brains behind Marvel UK convince themselves these strips went together?

Aggy, there were six Voyagers? Why did Patrick Moore never tell me about this?

Then again, he never told me the moon had blown out of Earth's orbit in 1999. I had to find that out for myself.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I'm really bumming that I can't see a Sgt Fury cover this week! I guess I'll go read an Andy Capp paperback and reminisce about the good ole days to cheer me up!

Anonymous said...

I notice the Mighty World of Marvel includes Dracula's somewhat-less-than-epic clash between Dracula and a very confused Silver Surfur, who instead of merely vaporizing Drac or bombarding him with ultra-violet rays and turning him to dust, flies around and does some heavy philosophizing.
That's Drac's job in this comic! No wonder he gets steamed.


Anonymous said...

I actually don't mind that Marvel mast-head. The Howling Commando heads seem quite intriguing. That said, the internal line up is bonkers. Marvel were wholly re-active by this time as surely no-one would have deliberately planned this line up. That's also a nice Spidey cover, although that background building is either very small, or the people clinging to it are relatives of Henry Pym.


Timothy Field said...

As a kid I was aware of Marvel UK's underdog status in the comic market (one of the reasons I liked it) but it's only looking back now I can see what an uphill struggle it was.
Who ever was in charge should probably seek a new career in another branch of the arts.

dangermash said...

I see what you did there Tim.

Anonymous said...

But only a few more weeks till the launch of The Complete Fantastic Four, Rampage and the Savage Sword of Conan monthly - Marvel UK will rise again !

Aggy beat me to the revelation that the Voyager in 'Star Trek: The Motion Picture' wasn't Voyagers 1 or 2. Amazingly, a billion years from now those little Voyager spacecraft will still, voyaging...through our galaxy long after humanity itself is extinct - that's a really profound thought !

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Tim - maybe "whoever " could have found a career in acting or singing, for instance?

Timothy Field said...

Maybe form some kind of electro-pop duo

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Doesn't seem plausible but a good suggestion!

Anonymous said...

By the way, that MWOM cover features the Defenders who weren't officially introduced to UK Marvel until Rampage No.1, on sale October 12th 1977.

Timothy Field said...

Colin, I recall first seeing the Defenders in Super Spider-Man Weekly in the Avengers/Defenders war, then when they finally did make their proper debut in Rampage there was a catch up page in one of the issues to fill in the continuity gaps.

Steve W. said...

My first exposure to them was in Mighty World of Marvel, in the summer of 1975, when Dr Strange, Hulk and the Sub-Mariner teamed up to tackle Dormammu.

Timothy Field said...

Marvel UK did give us a lot of stories in a short time, they were all over the place timeline wise though.

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