Thursday, 30 November 2017

November 30th, 1977 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

This is it, music lovers! Grab your bagpipes and get strolling through those glens, in your wellies, because, forty years ago this week, Wings' unstoppable Mull of Kintyre leapt five places to claim the Number One slot on the UK singles chart.

It was a grip it would refuse to release for week after week after week and, when it finally let go, it had sold over two million copies to become the UK's biggest selling single of all time.

Not only that but it had seized the Number One slot by holding off the mighty challenge of Queen's We Are The Champions and Status Quo's Rocking All Over The World; two songs that would surely have been destined to reach Number One in any normal period.

And it wasn't just a big week for bagpipes. It was also a great week for technology, with the launch of British Airways' London to New York Concorde flights.

While, elsewhere, the TCP/IP test succeeded in connecting three ARPANET nodes in what would eventually become the Internet Protocol. I think we all remember where we were when that breakthrough was announced.

Meanwhile, on the 28th of the month, jazz saxophonist Archie Shepp recorded On Green Dolphin Street, the first digitally recorded album to be commercially released in the USA.

What a strange mixture of the retro and the futuristic that week had turned out to be.

Anyway, with seismic events like that unfolding, Marvel UK were clearly going to have to give us something special to divert our attention away from such history-making drama.

Super Spider-Man and Captain Britain #251, Nova

And they did give us something special!

They gave us the first meeting of what they described as, "Marvel's two greatest heroes!"

Granted, one of those heroes might not have quite lived up to his half of that billing - what with him being a thinly disguised retread of the other - but it did at least draw together two of the eight million strips that Sal Buscema was pencilling at the time and gave us a tale of murder and intrigue.

I could be wrong but I think that, inside, Spidey was also still teaming up with Captain Britain.

It was like he couldn't fight foes on his own anymore.

Rampage #7, the Defenders

I genuinely don't have a clue what's going on in this one but it would appear the Defenders' foe is so mighty that the combined power of Namor, Dr Strange and Valkyrie isn't enough to stop him, which means the Silver Surfer has to chip in too.

If it takes all that to thwart him, it sounds like he must be the greatest villain in the history of Marvel Comics.

Complete Fantastic Four #10, Darkoth

Hooray! Darkoth the death demon makes his hell-spawned debut in a tale I've still never read and know only from it being mentioned in that book of monsters I'm always going on about.

But does that right-hand cover blurb mean the back-up tale reprints the FF's first ever encounter with Doctor Doom?

Mighty World of Marvel #270, the incredible Hulk

It's all gone a bit Planet Hulk as our anti-hero gets to fight Mongu II.

Did he refer to himself as, "Mongu II?"

If so, that's a bit weird, bearing in mind that Mongu I never existed and was just a Russian agent pretending to be a space alien.

Meanwhile, speaking of villains who are not the original article, Daredevil and the Black Widow are up against Mr Fear III in a tale I first encountered in an Alan Class comic.

Elsewhere, Captain Marvel battles to free himself from the mind of Rick Jones, otherwise known as Bucky II.

And who can blame him?

Let's face it, who'd want to be stuck in the mind of Rick Jones? All that self-pity would send you mad.


dangermash said...

I would imagine Complete FF #10 was printing the second half of FF #5, so Doom would have been there but we'd also have seen him last week. We'll see him in the next two weeks too, in Marvel's first super villain teamup.

I'm thinking the guy being punched on the cover of MWOM looks a lot like Blastaar. But I've never read the comic so I could be wrong.

And I remember not liking that Spidey/Nova teamup. In the US comics it was in two parts. Part 1 in Nova's magazine and Part 2 in ASM. But in the UK reprint we only got to see part 2. Unless Part 1 was hidden away in a Nova strip in some othe comic. And I still remember whodunnit!

Steve W. said...

I still remember who did it too. For something so contrived, it's amazing how memorable that reveal was.

Anonymous said...

Rather than a monster, wasn't Darkoth just one of Dr Doom's henchmen changed by an experiment or something?
That issue of the FF was the beginning of one of the more dull Doom stories, Steve, memorable (eh?) mainly for being the first to be drawn by the late Rich Buckler.

That does sound right about the CB team-up in that issue of Super-Spider-Man - once it was over, I seem to recall they dropped And Captain Britain from the masthead and that was it for poor old Brian B in the mag completely.
Also inside, I recall the Avengers - well, Thor and Moondragon - went back in time to team-up with Marvel western characters, like Kid Colt and er... whoever, to fight Kang.
Or was it Kang...?

Can't say I was much into On Green Dolphin Street - like most listeners I much prefer Archie Shepp's 60s stuff, particularly the records he made in France like Blasé and Poem For Malcolm.


Steve W. said...

I've just consulted Wikipedia and it seems that Darkoth was indeed a phony demon created by Dr Doom by messing about with the DNA of an enemy agent who Doom then brainwashed into thinking he was a real demon. It all seems somewhat extravagant as a plan but that's Dr Doom all over.

Paul Mcscotty said...

The Defenders story in Rampage is one of my all time favourites and I still have my copy. The story is not a classic but Sal Buscema's art is exciting and it had Valkyrie (I was a 12 year old boy, any picture of a pretty girl wearing steel bra cups was going to get my attention) - - basically the villain Cyrus Black (who is not a fan of Dr Strange) challenges the Defenders to a battle that is really just a dream , Dr Strange eventually susses that out and thats about it - I seem to recall Black had a rat that he spoke to with a long name, it all sounds pretty basic but it is still a fun read after all this time

Timothy Field said...

Ahh who could forget that Super Spider-Man/Nova/Columbo crossover, a dire warning for all would-be murderers whose names might easily be spelled out with a calendar.

Anonymous said...

Mull Of Kintyre, yay!

Sweep through the heather
Like deer in the glen
Carry me back
To the days I knew then

I recall Paul Weller being interviewed on the radio and he said: "I like all of Paul McCartney's songs - except Mull of Kintyre obviously"...!!

Steve W. said...

Colin, but does this mean that Paul Weller likes Wings' version of, "Mary Had A Little Lamb?" What new and strange madness is this?

Timothy, crimes are always so easy to solve in comics. I wonder why they even bother having a police force.

Paul, thanks for the Defenders info.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Oh happy coincidence!

In March, when I attended C2E2 in Chicago with Red and Marti (hosts of "Back in the Bronze Age" blog), I bought FF 142, 143, 144 featuring Doom and Darkoth. For $2 each, it was money well spent! Anyhow I got them b/c because when they were published in 1974 I quit reading comics and I never bothered to read #144 though I had #142 and #143.

(Guess the story line was insufficiently compelling to a 13 year old but maybe a 56 year old would be engrossed?)

So when I saw your blog about the origins of Darkoth, I just felt this warm shiver up and down! Finally, Charlie could say “I read it AND I remember it!” because it was just a month ago I read it, lol. And yet, I was doggoned if I could remember Darkoth’s origin. (W.t.h. is wrong with me?)

Anyhow, Darkoth was actually a legend in a Balkan country, where part of this story takes place. Doom creates Darkoth in the context of the legend so that the Balkan folks would not think twice about a demon monster actually, not mythically, kidnapping, mangling, and killing people. They would just think it's normal and not tell the outside world. But anyhow, in issue 144, page 22, Darkoth himself states he is a cyborg created by Doom.

Charlie now can state he has read AND recalls these 3 issues!

Steve W. said...

And what a dread irony that it's an issue of the comic that I've never read. The comic book gods work in nightmarish ways.

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