Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas 1977 - Marvel UK annuals, 40 years ago this month.

It's Christmas Eve!

And that can only mean one thing!

That it's time to get all over-excited and start feeling at our wrapped presents to see if we can guess what they are.

But we don't need to guess what they are - because it's 1977 and we all know what we're going to get.

We're going to get Marvel UK annuals!

Admittedly, I only got one Marvel UK annual that year but that's not going to stop me listing all of them here.

But first, there's need for a quick look at what else was happening that Yuletide. Mull of Kintyre was still at Number One on the UK singles chart, while, across the Atlantic, the Bee Gees held top slot, with the not-at-all Christmassy How Deep Is Your Love.

Meanwhile, on TV, Christmas Eve, saw BBC Two give us the original movie version of MASH.

Elsewhere, that morning, BBC One gave us Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (which he didn't). That afternoon, they gave us, Soviet Gymnastics Spectacular and White Christmas. While, that evening, we received The Duchess of Duke Street, The Dick Emery Christmas Show and that good old festive standby Starsky and Hutch.

On Christmas Day itself, BBC Two's late film was The Big Sleep.

That morning, BBC One gave us National Velvet before serving up such treats as Are you Being Served, Top of the Pops, Billy Smart's Christmas Circus, Basil Brush Through the Looking Glass, The Wizard of Oz and The Mike Yarwood Show, featuring that legendary studio performance of Mull of Kintyre by the aforementioned Wings.

But surely the most Herculean televisual feat of that Christmas Day was by Morecambe and Wise whose show attracted a gigantic twenty eight million viewers, which, needless to say, is one of the highest viewing figures ever for a TV show in Britain.

Marvel UK, Spider-Man Annual 1978

I must confess that I'm somewhat confused. I'm pretty sure the cover to this relates to the tale in which Peter Parker sets out to discover what happened to his parents and discovers the Red Skull was behind it all.

However, I could have sworn that that tale was included in the previous year's Spider-Man annual. Did they reprint the same story in two consecutive years or is my memory misleading me?

Marvel UK, Captain Britain Annual 1978

Britain's greatest super-hero since Billy the Cat and Katie may have had his comic cancelled and recently had his name removed from the cover of Spider-Man's comic but that, bizarrely, didn't stop him having an annual.

As far as I can tell, the book reprints early Herb Trimpe drawn stories.

It also appears to include a pin-up of Dr Strange, which seems a little random and anomalous.

Mighty World of Marvel Annual 1978

Hooray! I had this one - although I didn't get it at Christmas. I got it in my summer holidays.

If I remember right, it features the Gil Kane drawn tale in which Mar-Vell merges with Rick Jones and then gains revenge on Yon-Rogg.

It also gives us an adventure that features Luke Cage against Moses Magnum, a villain who always gave heroes more trouble than he probably should have.

I'm pretty sure that, despite the cover image, Daredevil doesn't appear in this annual at all, although the Hulk does fleetingly appear in a quick Rick Jones flashback.

Marvel UK, Titans Annual 1978

If I remember correctly, The Titans comic was cancelled in 1976. Needless to say, with true Marvel UK logic, that didn't prevent it getting an annual for 1978.

I have no idea which tales are featured within, although my Sherlockian intellect tells me that Annihilus may be involved.

Marvel UK, Avengers Annual 1978

This is a very odd thing. Up until I Googled for info on this year's books, I had never before been aware of this annual's existence. Equally, I can pass no comment on its contents.

I can say, however, that the colouring on Goliath's costume is a little odd. He's also missing his antennae, which were always my favourite part of it.

Marvel UK, Incredible Hulk Annual 1978

A vaguely Starlinesque cover that appears to not be the work of Jim Starlin, unless he was drawing under the pseudonym of, "Gary Brodsky," which I suspect he wasn't. I assume that Brodsky was Sol Brodsky. I know not who Gary was.

Again, of the contents, I know nothing.

Anyway, that aside, Merry Christmas to you if you celebrate Christmas. Happy Hanukkah if you celebrate that. Happy Kwanzaa if you celebrate that. Happy Pagan Winter Solstice Feastings if you celebrate that. Happy Holidays if you celebrate nothing much in particular. Happy Normal Day That Means Nothing To You if you don't celebrate anything. Happy Pointlessness if you're a nihilist.

No one can accuse this site of not covering all bases or of not spreading the love around evenly.


Timothy Field said...

Wow these brought back some memories, a bumper year for Marvel annuals. I definitely had MWOM and both the Titans and Hulk covers look very familiar. Can't have been long after this that Grandreams took over publishing the annuals and things went rapidly downhill.
Merry Christmas Steve.

Steve W. said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Timothy.

cerebus660 said...

I remember that Spider-Man cover very well but I can't remember the contents at all. Maybe I never actually owned it but saw the adverts for it on the back of Marvel comics so many times that I convinced myself I had it. Or something. I would say "It's funny how memory plays tricks on you" but it was 40 years ago. I'm lucky if I can remember last week.

The Captain Britain annual was one I definitely owned but, if it did feature reprints of Cap's early stories, I'm sure I would have felt cheated at seeing those stories again so soon, instead of new stuff. But, of course, I can't remember if I did think that...

Have a very Merry Christmas, Steve.

Steve W. said...

Merry Christmas to you too, Cerebus.

dangermash said...

That Spider-Man annual does feature the trip to Algeria to find out about PP's parents. Plus a reprint of ASM #11 against Doc Ock.

The previous year’'s UK annual featured two reprints of Giant Size Spider-Man. The Doc Savage teamup and the Punisher teamup against Moses Magnum (who sounds like he appeared in two annuals that year).

And a Happy Christmas to you, Steve, and to all your readers.

dangermash said...

Sorry -Morocco of course, not Algeria. It's the one with the Red Skull (or maybe a doppelgänger) anyway.

Anonymous said...

By a funny coincidence, I too remember that Spider-Man cover well and know for sure I never had it... Cerebus raises the interesting possibility of the existence of a comic book equivalent to False Memory Syndrome.
Item! Enough repetition of a cover image in Marvel house ads and hype in the Bullpen Bulletins, and you'll firmly believe you read that issue of Marvel Premiere with the Torpedo.

Marvel UK annuals were generally to be avoided. Given that they were hardback book collections of old Marvel comics, its amazing they were such bad value - the editors made spectacularly poor choices.
The only time I bothered was the year - 1980? - they did an X-Men annual with some of the Neal Adams run, and a Cap which reprinted all three Steranko issues. I could never understand why they didn't do that kind of thing regularly.

Happy Chrimbo Steve, and everyone else. Have a good one.


Steve W. said...

Sean and Dangermash, merry Christmas to both of you.

Dangermash, I've just had a check and you're right. It turns out it was the 1979 Spider-Man annual I was thinking of.

Having said that, I've just checked my copy of that book and the story's not in it, which leaves me horribly confused, as I'm sure I first read it in an annual. I'm now starting to wonder if I had this 1978 annual and have totally forgotten about it. The problem is that I have no recall of ever reading a colour reprint of the Doc Ock tale.

Sean, the best Marvel UK annual I had was the 1975 Marvel annual which featured the Hulk vs Captain Omen, the Hulk vs Zzzaxx, and Marie Severin's Hulk vs the Silver Surfer yarn, interspersed with a bunch of pin-ups, including the Steranko Hulk cover with him supporting his name on his back.

Timothy Field said...

The Hulk/Captain Omen story, I'm certain I read that, would that annual have been dated 76? 75 seems a bit too early for me to have picked it up.

cerebus660 said...

Sean, I can confirm I really did read that issue of Marvel Premiere with the Torpedo. ( That's something I can remember. ) It wasn't the best...
Happy Christmas!

Steve W. said...

Timothy, it was indeed cover dated 1975.

Timothy Field said...

I must have picked up an old copy at some point. Another one of those comic related items I had as a kid but no idea where it came from.

Anonymous said...

Merry Christmas one and all - I already said Merry Christmas in the previous post but I feel you can't say Merry Christmas often Merry Christmas!

Steve, the final episode of 'Flash Gordon Conquers The Universe' explains the meaning of the title - Emperor Ming refers to himself as 'The Universe' so by defeating Ming Flash Gordon has conquered the universe.

Also on Christmas Eve 1977 BBC 1 showed 'GI Blues' starring Elvis. Over the Christmas 1977 period the BBC had a season of Elvis films, due to his recent death of course. I watched all of them and it was the first time I'd seen most of them.

And Boxing Day 1977 saw the first ever broadcast of the classic Christmas episode of 'The Good Life' - the one where Margo sends back her Christmas tree because it's a few inches too short. I watched that episode on YouTube just a couple of days ago. The Good Life had ended its' run six months previously and the Christmas episode was just a one-off.

Apologies for not mentioning anything about the annuals :)

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I have exactly 15 seconds to get coffee and open the presents...

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!

(It's 15 F / -10 C here in Chicago so I am hoping Santa brought me tickets to Tahiti!)

Steve W. said...

Merry Christmas, Charlie and Colin.

Joe S. Walker said...

Gary Brodsky was Sol Brodsky's son, but this is the first I've heard of him being an artist. I think he was a rather unsuccessful businessman.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the Gary Brodsky info, Joe. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm late, but Merry Christmas Steve, and happy new year.

I ended up with all of these annuals, albeit via a series of swaps over the subsequent year. The Titans annual reprinted the first Annihilus story which featured the birth of Franklin Richards. The Hulk annual featured most of Ditko's run from Tales to Astonish, which I'd never read before, and so was the standout of the bunch. I'm pretty sure the Avengers annual reprinted the first Yellow Jacket story, and his subsequent marriage to the Wasp. The Marvel annual was a let down after it's 1977 predecessor, having no Hulk or FF stories (obviously due to their inclusion in other annuals). Spidey did include the parents/Red Skull story, and Captain Britain was, appropriately, a let down. I wonder how far in advance these annuals were collated? The Titans annual could easily have been The Complete Fantastic Four annual and the Captain Britain annual could have featured the two issue of Team-up (rather than wasting them in the weekly) which would have sent CB off in style.



Steve W. said...

Merry Christmas, DW. The Titans annual is definitely the one I'd have appreciated most out of those because I'd never, at that point, read the first Annihilus story. The Avengers annual would have been least appreciated because I already had the tale in the weekly mag and in an Avengers Treasury edition as well. Those annuals really were a lottery when it came to contents.

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